25 November 1983
Anthony Ainley (The Master), Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Richard Hurndall, William Hartnell, Tom Baker (Doctor Who); Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), Carole Ann Ford (Susan), Nicholas Courtney (The Brigadier), Lalla Ward (Romana), Phillip Latham (Lord President Borusa), Dinah Sheridan (Chancellor Flavia), Paul Jerricho (The Castellan), David Banks (Cyber Leader), Mark Hardy (Cyber Lieutenant), Richard Matthews (Rassilon), Frazer Hines (Jamie), Wendy Padbury (Zoe), Caroline John (Liz Shaw), Richard Franklin (Captain Yates), David Savile (Crichton), John Leeson (Voice of K-9), Roy Skelton (Dalek Voice), John Scott Martin (Dalek Operator), Stuart Blake (Commander), Stephen Meredith (Technician), Ray Float (Sergeant), John Tallents (Guard), William Kenton (Cyber Scout), Keith Hodiak (Raston Robot).
|Written by||Terrance Dicks|
|Directed by||Peter Moffatt|
|Produced by||John Nathan Turner|
Someone is plucking all the incarnations of The Doctor out of time and placing them in the Death Zone on Gallifrey, where they will meet old friends and enemies and play out the deadly Game of Rassilon, for the ultimate prize. But to lose is to win, and he who wins shall lose..
- This 90 minute anniversary special was shown as part of the BBC Children in Need telethon.
- Sarah says she gets vertigo. Sarah expresses her fear of heights. (Genesis of the Daleks). Elisabeth Sladen said she wished she hadn’t filmed the shot of her rolling down the embankment because it didn’t look very good afterwards.
- Footage of Sarah Jane and K9 from early in this story was later used in the 2009 episode The Mad Woman in the Attic.
- Romana would later recall that she was shocked that the Doctor ran away from his responsibilities when he was appointed Lord President. (Extermination).
- Wendy Padbury was pregnant during the recording of The Five Doctors, and the costume she wore was in part designed to, in her words, hide the bump”. Sadly, she miscarried soon after wrapping.
- The Castellan claims that “The Doctor wants revenge” possibly referring to the Time Lords‘ recent attempt to execute the Doctor. (Arc of Infinity)
- The Brigadier recognises Tegan and later the Fifth Doctor. (Mawdryn Undead)
- The story opens with a pre-titles clip of William Hartnell from Episode 6 of The Dalek Invasion of Earth
- Released on video, laserdisc and DVD.
- Novelised as Doctor Who – The Five Doctors by Terrance Dicks.
- Doctor Who Magazine Archive: Issue #313.
- The Time Lords offer the Master a complete new life cycle, which they grant him later for other reasons (The Sound of Drums)
- The Second Doctor says that his ancestors had “tremendous powers, which they misused disgracefully”.
- Borusa sends the Doctors to the Death Zone using the time scoop.
- The Dark Tower is accessible from three points, which are revealed in a Gallifreyan nursery rhyme: “Who unto Rassilon’s Tower would go/Must choose Above, Between, Below!”.
- The story united the then-current Fifth Doctor with his predecessors in an adventure which also featured several of his past and current companions and enemies.
- In addition to its inclusion of a number of characters not normally seen together, The Five Doctors was the first episode of Doctor Who ever to premiere abroad, the only other being the 1996 television film. It was also the first Doctor Who narrative broadcast as a part of the UK’s Children in Need charity telethon.
- For the first, and so far only time, a previous incarnation of the Doctor is brought into an episode by having a different actor play him on screen; Richard Hurndall took over the role of the First Doctor, as William Hartnell had passed away in 1975.
- Although it was broadcast only a month before Season 21, The Five Doctors is generally considered the seventh and final story of Season 20, which had otherwise concluded the previous March. As such, the story concluded a loose story arc from Season 20 that involved the Doctor and his friends attempting to reach the Eye of Orion.
- This story officially commemorated the twentieth anniversary of Doctor Who.
- The Radio Times programme listing was accompanied by black and white photographic cut-out images of a Dalek from The Power of the Daleks (printed back to front for artistic reasons), with a comic strip-style speech bubble reading EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!”, and K9 from The Invisible Enemy, with a speech bubble reading NEGATIVE NEGATIVE”. The accompanying caption read The dreaded Daleks return, they are determined to ruin Doctor Who’s 20th anniversary celebrations and to wipe out the world. Can K9 help? 7.20 p.m.”
- Robert Holmes was initially commissioned to write the special, which initially had the working title The Six Doctors because it originally included a robot impostor of one of the Doctors. Holmes, however, was unable to come up with a workable script, so Terrance Dicks was commissioned to write the piece. Ironically, the story immediately preceding The Five Doctors, The King’s Demons, did in fact introduce a robot character, Kamelion, with the ability to impersonate others. However despite being introduced in that story as a new companion, not only is Kamelion not referenced or seen once in The Five Doctors, the character disappeared from the series for a full year because of technical difficulties.
- The Five Doctors was co-produced with the Australian Broadcasting Commission who put in AUD $60,000. This was the first and only occurrence of this during the classic series. Later, the TV movie and first four seasons of the new series would also incorporate non-UK support.
- The companion-hallucination cameos were last-minute additions to the script.
- William Hartnell was deceased by this time and Tom Baker declined to return to his role as the Fourth Doctor as he felt it was too soon after his departure from the show (a decision he later said he regretted).
- An early idea to incorporate footage of Hartnell and Baker into the story’s action in a way similar to the contemporary film Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid was abandoned in favour of hiring actor Richard Hurndall to give his own impression of the First Doctor, while clips of Baker and Lalla Ward from the unfinished and (at the time) never-before-seen story Shada were used to show only the Fourth Doctor’s abduction and return, without any interaction between himself and the other Doctors. For a publicity cast photo, a waxwork figure from Madame Tussauds of Baker as the Doctor was used, although according to discussion on the Special Edition DVD, Baker himself was at one point supposed to take part in the photo shoot, but pulled out.
- Terrance Dicks had already completed his first draft of the script when Tom Baker pulled out of the project. In discussion on the Special Edition DVD, Dicks said that this had originally had the Fourth Doctor betray his other selves as he felt that this version was the most likely to do so.
- After Baker pulled out, he came up with the idea of the Fourth Doctor being trapped in the time vortex, thus endangering the existence of his other selves. This, he felt, brought more dramatic tension because of the possibility that the Doctors could cease to exist if they didn’t defeat the villain. In the Fifth Doctor Handbook, Dicks is quoted as saying:
My feeling is that it all worked better the way it ended up. Five Doctors were just too many to handle but four worked very nicely, and you do at least see Tom. The other thing that I found quite amazing was how well the scenes from Shada fitted in. I’ll swear that if you didn’t know, you would think it was written for the special.
- This story was first broadcast via satellite on 23 November 1983 to North American viewers, before its transmission in the UK. However, this version had a number of small edits. UK viewers saw the unedited version during Children in Need broadcast on 25 November 1983 as well as a short pre-recorded interview with Peter Davison and Terry Wogan shown directly after.
- Terrance Dicks has said he was displeased with Eric Saward’s changes to his original story. He especially felt the Cyberman, for whom Saward had a particular fondness, were overused in the finished story. On the Special Edition DVD, he says that he really had to fight for the inclusion of a Dalek in the special despite the fact they were so iconic in the series.
- The story was repeated as the four-part overseas version from 14 August to 17 August 1984. The Radio Times programme listing for the reshowing of part one was accompanied by one of the publicity photos taken of the Doctors, in black and white (Peter Davison sitting astride K9 with his hat on its head, surrounded by the other actors and the waxwork figure of Tom Baker), with the accompanying caption Five reincarnations of the inter-world commuter – Patrick Troughton, Richard Hurndall, Peter Davison, Tom Baker, Jon Pertwee — Doctor Who: 6.15″.
- A 102 minute Special Edition of the story was released on VHS in 1995 with extended scenes and dialogue added or deleted, and some of the visual effects and the voice of Rassilon redone. The resulting version continues to receive mixed reactions from fans.
- This was only the second time in the series’ history that there was a pre-credits sequence. Castrovalva (1982) was the first such story. Subsequently, Time and the Rani (1987) and Remembrance of the Daleks (1988) also featured pre-credits teasers. This idea was re-used in the TV movie. The pre-credits sequence became a regular occurrence starting with the 2005 series episode The End of the World.
- This serial explicitly indicated in dialogue that the Davison incarnation of the Doctor was in fact the fifth, officially discounting fan speculation dating back to The Brain of Morbius that the First Doctor wasn’t actually the first. Amusingly, Terrance Dicks wrote both stories (albeit writing Morbius under a pseudonym).
- Just as the Doctor is (almost) never referred to as Doctor Who”, so too are the terms First Doctor, Second Doctor, etc. never actually uttered on screen. This episode comes closest to breaking that precedent when the First Doctor asks the Fifth, Regeneration?” and the Fifth replies, Fourth”.
- The Quarks were set to return in this story, but were removed from the script at an early stage and replaced by the Raston Warrior Robot, which is the only new monster” featured in the special.
- This story marks the end of a long series of linked storylines that began with The Leisure Hive. Each story had been linked in some way, either as direct continuations, or in more subtle ways such as dialogue references to previous events. In this case, The Five Doctors is linked to The King’s Demons and earlier stories by the fact it resolves the subplot of the Doctor finally arriving at the Eye of Orion.
- Commander Maxil, last seen in Arc of Infinity, was at one point to have appeared. The character was dropped from the final script, most likely due to actor Colin Baker’s imminent appointment as the Sixth Doctor.
- Two versions of the end sequences were made. For the original broadcast version the Doctors and companions were returned using the TARDIS, with an image of the TARDIS splitting off” from the remaining one and the accompanying dematrialization sound effect. For the Special Edition version the Doctors and companions were returned via a Timescoop effect after they entered the TARDIS. The two versions also used different footage from Shada to show Tom Baker’s Doctor’s return to Earth.
- Discounting the Brigadier, this story has the distinction of marking the first time companions from different eras had met and interacted. This would occur only once more in the original series, in The Two Doctors when Peri and Jamie meet. It has occurred several times in the 2005-present revival.
- Dicks’ original script featured Autons, with the Third Doctor saving Sarah Jane from them in Bessie. This was cut as there was not enough time to film it. It was replaced with Sarah falling down a hill. Eric Saward said afterwards simply, It was a lot simpler.”
- This story was the first ever in which the Daleks and the Cybermen both featured (though they did not meet). This would not occur again until the Series 2 finale Army of Ghosts/Doomsday in 2006 (excluding the Cyberman head seen in Dalek). They would feature in the same stories again in The Pandorica Opens, Return to Earth, and The Mazes of Time, although The Five Doctors sees the only time the Mondasian Cybermen have featured in one such story. All the others appear to have been the Cybus variant.
- This marks the only time the Third Doctor ever came close to meeting with the Cybermen on screen. He only observes them, however, and avoids any encounter. He would meet them again in The Blue Tooth.
- The Brigadier’s line, Wonderful chap, all of them,” is a slightly altered version of a line he said in The Three Doctors, Wonderful chap, both of him”.
- In the blooper reel added in the twenty-fifth anniversary edition, a clip has the director shouting for a reshoot. Peter Davison says in response, Shit”. The Dalek also said, Bugger, I lost them!” in another blooper. Jon Pertwee also said, Shit,” when Bessie failed to go. He added that his car was a sod to drive at the moment.
- The Raston Warrior Robot costume is a silver repaint of one of the Cyberman androids’ costumes from Earthshock.
- Peter Davison would later parody the Fifth Doctor’s I am being diminished” speech in the second episode of the second series of his black comedy, Rigor Mortis. Davison’s character, a workaholic pathologist, doesn’t respond well to a sudden drought of deaths. Undergoing a form of withdrawal, he says: I am being diminished, whittled away, piece by piece. A doctor is the sum of his contributions to humanity, you know; a pathologist even more so.”
- Most of the credits theme is a slightly remixed version of the original credits theme. When it gets to (and past) the middle eight, though, it reverts back to Davison’s.
- In early drafts of the script, some of the Doctor and companion combinations were different. Originally, the Fourth Doctor would have been paired with Sarah Jane, the Third Doctor with the Brigadier and the Second Doctor with Jamie. When Frazer Hines proved unavailable for more than a cameo appearance the script had to be altered, pairing the Second Doctor with Victoria Waterfield. This was revised again when Deborah Watling became unavailable and Tom Baker decided not to appear, resulting in the pairings as they were screened.
- The scenes in which the Second Doctor and the Third Doctor are captured were reused and put on new backgrounds to show Clara Oswald going throughout the Doctor’s timeline. (The Name of the Doctor)
- This was the first TV story to air as a single (albeit extended) episode since Mission to the Unknown.
- The plinth in the Tomb of Rassilon contains writing in Old High Gallifreyan.
The Five Doctors was to feature Omega. Though various past villains were considered for inclusion in this story, Omega was never one of them, other than the Second Doctor’s dialogue reference. In addition, the character had appeared at the start of the season in Arc of Infinity
Richard Hurndall died months after the episode aired, in April 1984. There is an associated rumour questioning whether he lived long enough to be paid for his work, which was discussed in the 25th Anniversary Edition DVD commentary.
The Master’s real name is Jehoshaphat. This originated from fan writers misunderstanding the Third Doctor uttering the word upon recognising the Master. In truth, it was a somewhat antiquated exclamation of surprise — a shortened version of “Jumping Jehoshaphat!”
In early drafts, the First Doctor was to appear with Dodo and Steven, and K-9 was to accompany the Fourth Doctor and Romana II (or Sarah) throughout the episode. Susan was the only companion ever considered to appear alongside the First Doctor. While K-9 was present throughout most of the draft scripts, none of them had him appearing in more than a small cameo.
Kamelion was supposed to appear for this story. He was never intended to take an active part in the story, due to the difficulty in operating the Kamelion prop. An explanation for his absence may have been in one of the draft scripts, though no firm evidence exists for this.
Colin Baker was to have played Maxil, but the plan was dropped because Baker had been cast as the Sixth Doctor. Maxil was to have appeared in The Five Doctors, but the character was dropped because Baker was unavailable, not because of his being cast as the Doctor; in fact, Baker wasn’t offered the role of the Doctor until June 1983, well after production of The Five Doctors concluded.
Plas Brondanw, Llanfrothen, Penrhyndeudraeth, Gwynedd (Eye of Orion)
Tilehouse Lane, Denham Green, Buckinghamshire
West Common Road, Uxbridge, Middlesex
Carreg Y Foel Gron, Ffestiniog, Gwynedd
Cwm Bychan, Llanbedr, Gwynedd
Denham Manor, Halings Lane, Denham Green (UNIT HQ)
North Common Road, Uxbridge, Middlesex
Ealing Television Film Studios, Ealing Green, Ealing
BBC Television Centre
If you’d like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode’s discontinuity discussion.
When the Cyberman attacks the Brigadier, the jeans of the actor playing the Cyberman are visible.
The long shot of the Third Doctor and Sarah sliding to the top of the tower reveals their slide rope doesn’t go from a high location to a lower one, or from two positions along a straight line. Rather, the tower is actually above the position from which they start.
At one point in the caves, a boom microphone is visible above the Second Doctor’s and the Brigadier’s head (and it stays there for around three seconds).
When the Master arrives in the Death Zone, he is wearing a black cloak which he was not wearing when he stepped into the transmat. Peter Davison and Terrance Dicks joked that the transmat functions included a “cloak dispenser” in their commentary on the 25th Anniversary DVD. (Alternately, since the Master’s arrival in the Death Zone is not seen, he may have acquired it off-screen in between scenes.)
After the Raston Warrior Robot defeats the Cybermen, there are several small fires burning on the ground; when the scene is cut for when the Robot jumps and vanishes, the fires disappear.
The cables on the head of the Cyberman who watches the First Doctor and Susan approach the TARDIS are disconnected (the shot was removed from the Special Edition for this reason.)
In the shot immediately between the ring reappearing on Rassilon’s hand and Borusa turning to look at the empty space on the bier, an aerial shot shows the stone carving of Borusa is already in place, but the space it occupies is blank again in the next shot.
Three different incarnations of Borusa had previously met the Doctor on various return trips to Gallifrey. (The Deadly Assassin, The Invasion of Time, Arc of Infinity)
The Brigadier refers to Yeti (The Web of Fear) and Cybermen. (The Invasion)
The Second Doctor mentions Omega. (The Three Doctors)
The Second Doctor criticises the redecorating of UNIT HQ in much the same way he did the redesigned TARDIS console room. (The Three Doctors)
Sarah is seen with K9. (A Girl’s Best Friend)
The Fourth Doctor gets stuck in a time eddy. The First Doctor previously got stuck in a time eddy. (The Three Doctors) However, unlike the Fourth, the First was able to communicate and assist.
The Second Doctor is wearing his fur coat. (The Abominable Snowmen, The Ice Warriors) He later wears it several times. (Beyond the Ultimate Adventure, Time and the Rani, and A Cold Day in Hell!)
The Eighth Doctor and the Fifth Doctor would later encounter a Raston Warrior Robot at the Eye of Orion, shortly after the Fifth Doctor’s role in events here. (The Eight Doctors)
The Brigadier recognises Tegan and later the Fifth Doctor. (Mawdryn Undead)
The Time Lords offer the Master a complete new life cycle, which they grant him later for other reasons. (The Sound of Drums)
They also later grant the Doctor a new regeneration cycle as his otherwise final body is about to die. (The Time of the Doctor)
The Third Doctor initially does not recognise the Master in his stolen body (The Keeper of Traken), but eventually does. (Terror of the Autons)
The Brigadier recognises the Master – and then promptly punches him. (Terror of the Autons)
The First Doctor fails to recognise the Master, who then tells him that they went to the Academy together. (Terror of the Autons, The Deadly Assassin, The Sound of Drums)
The Doctor is called upon to once again become Lord President of Gallifrey. He ran for the position initially in order to save himself from trial, (The Deadly Assassin) then ultimately assumed the role (followed shortly thereafter by his resignation from it) to prevent an invasion of Gallifrey. (The Invasion of Time) He was ultimately removed from office for abandoning his duties, but would later be offered the presidency again in his sixth incarnation, which he declined. (The Ultimate Foe) When confronting the Daleks, the Seventh Doctor described himself as “President-Elect of the High Council of Time Lords”. (Remembrance of the Daleks)
The Brigadier’s says “Wonderful chap, all of them,” referring to all five incarnations of The Doctor. He previously said “Wonderful chap, both of him”, referring to his second and third incarnations. (The Three Doctors)
The First Doctor appear annoyed when Tegan Jovanka calls him “Doc”. He had previously disliked that, (The Time Meddler) and would continue to dislike it in his later incarnations. (The Twin Dilemma, The Ultmate Foe, Dreamland) His exact words, “Kindly refrain from addressing me as ‘Doc'”, would later be used in his sixth incarnation. (The Twin Dilemma)
According to one source, before the Fifth Doctor arrived in the Capitol, the Master’s transmat recall device sent him to an alternative Death Zone where he met his former companions Ian Chesterton, Steven Taylor, Sara Kingdom, Polly Wright and Nyssa and battled the Daleks and the Sontarans. (The Five Companions)
The Second Doctor calls the Third Doctor “Fancy pants”, to which the Third Doctor replies “Scarecrow”, continuing their somewhat antagonistic rapport. (The Three Doctors) The Second Doctor would later be killed by a scarecrow. (The Night Walkers)
Romana would later recall that she was shocked that the Doctor ran away from his responsibilities when he was appointed Lord President. (Extermination).
The Seal of the High Council taken here from the Master by the Third Doctor, would later be used by the Eleventh Doctor to interpret a message from Gallifrey as the Time Lords attempted to return from a pocket universe. (The Time of the Doctor)
Sarah expresses her fear of heights. (Genesis of the Daleks)
The Castellan claims that “The Doctor wants revenge” possibly referring to the Time Lords’ recent attempt to execute the Doctor. (Arc of Infinity)
The Fourth Doctor’s temporary abduction is revealed to have essentially ‘erased’ the original version of Shada, prompting the Eighth Doctor to contact Romana and K9 for help in tying up a loose end at Cambridge (Shada).
- The “Old High Gallifreyan” writing includes the phrase “δ³Σx²”, which was given as the Doctor’s name in the 1972 behind-the-scenes book The Making of Doctor Who, by Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke