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Death-Watch was the twelfth episode of Series C it was first broadcast 24 March 1980.


From the VHS release:

The United Planets of Teal and the Vandor Confederacy are at war. Now their two champions must do battle before the panel of arbiters to decide the outcome, while the universe looks on. Simple enough. Except Tarrant's brother is the First Champion of Teal and Servalan is the neutral arbiter...


Onboard the spaceship Teal Star, passenger Deeta Tarrant is accosted by a woman named Karla before an assassin tries to shoot him. Deeta kills the assassin then turns his gun on Karla, having realised they are both agents of the Vandor Confederacy. Karla explains the move is legal since Teal and Vandor are now at war. She draws her gun and Deeta kills her.

On the Liberator, after getting Orac to give a speech about how they need rest, Vila informs the crew of the outbreak of war. He, Avon and Tarrant explain to a bemused Cally and Dayna that the war is fought between two champions, with outsiders treated as honoured guests amid a carnival atmosphere. They set course for the planet selected for the combat, tuning into the public visicast as they do so. They learn that Servalan has been appointed neutral arbiter alongside the representatives of Vandor and Teal. Tarrant recognises Deeta, his older brother.

Deeta, Teal's champion, makes his way to the combat ground with civil service representative Max. Max tells him that little is known about his opponent, Vinni, who appeared out of nowhere and killed the previous champion and his son in duels to gain the position. Tarrant turns up looking for Deeta but Max meets him, saying Deeta will see him after the combat. He explains the losing side is expected to give up territory. He gives Tarrant a number of neural discs which can be used to observe the combat from the point of view of Deeta or Vinni.

Vila and Dayna return to the ship after finding none of the carnival promised but Avon goes to see Servalan. He knows that a Federation fleet is massing by the border with Teal and Vandor and suspects the rules of the contest are going to be violated, leading to open warfare. In that case, Servalan will be able to move her forces in under the guise of a peace keeping operation and annexe both territories.

Avon instructs Tarrant, Dayna and Orac to watch the contest for any sign of irregularities. Deeta and Vinni enter the combat ground and, after a brief game of cat and mouse, Vinni challenges Deeta to meet him in the open for a shoot-out. Even though he is standing behind Vinni with a clear shot, Deeta agrees. Vinni fires first, wounding Deeta, who croaks a last message to Tarrant before Vinni shoots him a second time and kills him.

The Liberator crew surmise that Vinni had no fighter's instincts but fast reactions. With this, Avon realises Vinni is a robot, which Servalan is aware of, having orchestrated the situation, and plans to expose with a medical scan. He has Dayna disrupt the scan, using her blood feud with Servalan as justification, then has Tarrant challenge Vinni to a duel. Orac taps into the combat ground computer and Cally telepathically lets Tarrant know where to position himself to ambush Vinni. Tarrant kills Vinni with a weapon devised by Dayna, destroying him utterly and leaving no evidence.

Avon and Tarrant explain the situation to Max: Orac has looked over the rules and since the medical examination was never completed the result is void. They advise that Max use his veto to remove Servalan as arbiter and have examinations of both champions before the replay. They then hastily leave the planet after Avon tells Tarrant he is now champion of Teal.



Story notes[]

  • Steven Pacey appears uncredited as Deeta Tarrant.
  • This is the last episode in which Servalan is identified as President of the Federation.
  • Steven Pacey named this as his favourite episode.
  • Chris Boucher named this as his favourite episode due to the western influences.
  • While Steven Pacey enjoyed filming the duel scenes, he didn't enjoy filming Deeta's death scene, as it involved him lying on a cold ground for a long time while the crane shot was set up.
  • Avon and Servalan's kiss was improvised onset by Paul Darrow and Jacqueline Pearce.



Filming locations[]

Wembley Exhibition Halls. Southall Gas Works.

Production errors[]

To be added.


  • This is the second and final episode where Avon and Servalan are seen to kiss, the first being "Aftermath".
  • Servalan killing Dayna's father, which also occurred in "Aftermath", is mentioned twice.


Karla: You're taller than I expected.
Deeta: I usually stand in a hole.

Vila: (On Orac) Are you sure you can't redesign him as something useful? Like a drinks dispenser, or an empty space? I think he'd look really good as an empty space.

Vila: How can you enjoy yourself staying here?
Cally: Well, maybe it's got something to do with the fact that you won't be.

Home video releases[]

Series 3 DVD

DVD cover

  • Original BBC video release (Volume 19) in 1992.
  • Fabulous Films video reissue (Volume 19) on 7 June 1999.
  • DVD release as part of the Series 3 box set on 20 June 2005.

External links[]