The final six-episode story of Doctor Who season fourteen was "The Talons of Weng-Chiang." Although the villains initially appear to be members of a Chinese tong group operating in nineteenth-century London, in the last two episode, it is revealed that the character the Chinese assassins are worshipping as the god Weng-Chiang is actually Magnus Greel, a war criminal from fifty-first century Australia. Greel had traveled back to the nineteenth century using a time cabinet, but the temporal journey damaged his cell structure and left him in need of stolen life essences to prolong his existence.

The presence of an evil time-traveling human always struck me as a very odd feature of this story. When I found out that the villain was originally intended to be the Master (who had already been seen in decayed form earlier in the season, in "The Deadly Assassin"), things seemed to make a lot more sense. What I have not found any information about is at what stage in the script preparation the Master was removed. So when was Greel introduced to the story to replaced the Master?


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All evidence points to this being changed during the later stages of pre-production.

According to the article in Doctor Who Magazine issue 475, the change was the request of producer Philip Hinchcliffe, as he "didn't want to have the Master revealed as the secret villain twice in the same season".

Scenario and script-writing is usually the first stage of pre-production, and it appears that an original draft of the script featuring the Master was given to the producer, who then ordered it to be re-written, before they reached the production stage. This is backed up by the fact that several elements in the finished shooting script were clearly written to be the Master, and then altered. The 'time cabinet' is an obvious substitute for his TARDIS, but the most telling element is that he mentions regeneration, saying that "she [Leela] will be the first morsel to feed my regeneration".

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