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..
The Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough are taking a break at the Eye of Orion, one of the most tranquil spots in the universe. In the TARDIS control room, the Doctor has just finished renovating the control console, which now has a more hi-tech look. Turlough is sketching. Tegan is enjoying the peaceful atmosphere. It’s a change from their non-stop adventures that leave them no time to relax. The Doctor goes outside to join his companions and enjoy the peace and quiet. When Tegan wonders why it is so restful there, the Doctor explains that it is because of the bombardment of positive ions.
Elsewhere, in a hidden chamber, a dark figure — who shall be referred to as the Player — manipulates the controls of a forbidden device called the Time Scoop and kidnaps the First Doctor as he walks through a rose garden. The Player takes a figurine of the First Doctor from a window-shaped wall alcove and places it on one of five spots on a diorama, which lights up in response.
Back on the Eye of Orion, the Fifth Doctor feels a pain in his chest, but dismisses the thought that anything is wrong with him as Turlough and Tegan look worriedly at him.
Elsewhen, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is at a UNIT reunion. He talks to his replacement, Colonel Crichton, about his former scientific adviser, the Doctor; it seems that UNIT had been unable to track him down for the reunion. The Brigadier says, “Wonderful chap — all of them”, which confuses the Colonel. Suddenly, the Second Doctor bursts through the door, having barged past the sergeant on duty, happy to see his old friend. They take a walk. As they walk and talk in the yard about their times together, the Second Doctor tells the Brigadier that he must go as he is bending the Laws of Time. However, they are snatched up by the Time Scoop. Models of them appear in the wall alcove and the Player puts them in the spot next to the First Doctor.
The Fifth Doctor feels another pain and collapses after reassuring Tegan and Turlough that everything’s all right.
Elsewhen, the Third Doctor is driving his vintage car, Bessie. He notices the Time Scoop coming towards him. He tries to evade it, but is taken anyway, appearing as a figure in the wall alcove and placed into the next spot on the diorama.
The Fifth Doctor tells his companions he must get back to the TARDIS. There is something definitely wrong with his past and he is in immediate danger. As he puts it, “A man is the sum of his memories, a Time Lord even more so”. He is nearly to the TARDIS when he collapses in pain as his third incarnation is snatched. He tells his companions he has to find “my other selves…”
Sarah Jane Smith is about to leave home. K9 warns her not to. He senses there is danger, and it somehow involves the Doctor. He suggests she take him with her. Unfortunately, her car is out of action and she has to take the bus. Believing K9 is overreacting, she dismisses his worry and heads off.
Somewhen else, the Fourth Doctor and Romana II are enjoying a punt along the River Cam in Cambridge. They are Time Scooped by the Player as well. However, to the growing anger of whoever is taking the Doctor’s incarnations out of time, he cannot take the Fourth Doctor and Romana from the wall alcove as figures. They have been trapped in a time eddy in the time vortex and do not rematerialise. The Player angrily slams a black-gloved fist onto the control panel. Waiting at the bus stop, Sarah is snatched by the Time Scoop, and her figurine placed in the diorama alongside the Third Doctor.
The Fifth Doctor and his companions have entered the TARDIS. After setting a destination on the console and starting the TARDIS off he collapses. He begins fading into the Time Stream, but Tegan and Turlough keep him in existence by encouraging him. The TARDIS lands, and the scanner shows a desolate, rocky landscape — the Death Zone on Gallifrey.
All the Doctors and their companions, save the Fourth Doctor and Romana, have actually been deposited on a desolate, rocky landscape — the Death Zone on Gallifrey. Figures of the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough have been placed on the diorama section next to the First Doctor — the spot where the Fourth Doctor and Romana should have gone is flashing.
Meanwhile, in the Capitol on Gallifrey, the Inner Council of Time Lords, headed by Lord President Borusa and consisting of Chancellor Flavia and the Castellan, are in session. Despite the regenerated and still arrogant Borusa’s misgivings, the High Council has voted unanimously to call in the Master to go into the Death Zone to help the Doctor, who has been taken out of time and no longer exists in any of his regenerations. They explain that the Eye of Harmony is being drained by whomever is taking the Doctors out of time, endangering all of Gallifrey. Offered a pardon and a new cycle of regenerations if he rescues the Doctors, the Master accepts. He is given a copy of the Seal of the High Council by the Castellan to prove his credentials and a transmat recall device. He is transmatted to the Death Zone.
In the Zone, the Doctors face many dangers. The First Doctor finds himself in a hall of mirrors and is reunited with his granddaughter, Susan. Their reunion is cut short when a Dalek arrives and tries to kill them. They trick the Dalek into destroying itself by pushing it into a dead end, where its energy weapon ricochets and destroys it; as the Doctor points out, “It’s very dangerous to fire energy weapons in an enclosed space!” The Second Doctor and the Brigadier escape from a squad of Cybermen, and the Third Doctor rescues Sarah from her fall down an embankment. Sarah is confused; she had watched the Third Doctor regenerate into the Fourth (Planet of the Spiders), but is glad to see the Doctor she once knew.
The Second and Third Doctors explain to their companions that in Gallifrey’s past, known as the Dark Time, the Time Lords greatly misused their powers. A device called the Time Scoop plucked beings out of their times and placed them in the Death Zone, where they fought each other in a sort of gladiatorial game for the Time Lords’ amusement and entertainment.
The Doctors’ goal now is to reach the Dark Tower, where the Time Lord founder Rassilon is entombed, although there is some doubt as to whether Rassilon is actually dead.
The Master meets and fails to convince the Third Doctor he is there to help. The Doctor thinks the Master’s Seal of Rassilon is a forgery, and when the Master hands it over to try and prove it is genuine, the Doctor confiscates it, thinking the Master has stolen it, and says “I’ll return it at the first opportunity!”. The Master flees when thunderbolts flash down from the sky. The Third Doctor only sees this as confirmation that this is all a plot of the Master’s, especially when another thunderbolt disables Bessie.
The Doctor and Sarah are forced to continue their journey on foot.
The First Doctor and Susan find the TARDIS; the presence of the First Doctor seems to stabilise the Fifth for the moment. Together, they scan the tower and find three entrances — one at the apex of the tower, the main gate at the base and one underground, but a force field prevents the TARDIS’s entry, or even it moving within the Death Zone. The Fifth Doctor takes Tegan and Susan towards the main gate, but encounters the Master, who has no better luck convincing the Fifth Doctor of his bona fides than he had the Third. At that moment, the two are confronted by Cybermen. When they try to run away, the Master is knocked out by an explosion caused by a Cyber-gun blast. The Fifth Doctor finds the Master’s recall device on his unconscious body and transmats himself to the Capitol. Tegan and Susan start back to the TARDIS to warn the others, but Susan trips and sprains her ankle and needs Tegan’s help.
In the Capitol, the Fifth Doctor is informed of the situation by the High Council. The Doctor realises he has done the Master an injustice and that they were found too easily by the Cybermen. Like the Daleks, the Cybermen were never brought to the Death Zone in the Dark Times because they fought too well. He opens the recall device and finds a homing beacon inside.
The Castellan — who had given the device to the Master — is arrested, and Borusa orders the Commander to search the Castellan’s office and living quarters.
Tegan and Susan have told the First Doctor what happened to the Fifth Doctor. The First Doctor decides to head for the main gate himself. Tegan insists on accompanying him, much to his dismay. Susan and Turlough remain in the TARDIS to wait for the Tower forcefield to be deactivated so they can move the ship there.
The Master, confronted by the Cybermen, offers himself as a guide to the Tower in order to save his own life.
While waiting for the First Doctor and Tegan to get to the Tower, thumping is heard outside the TARDIS; the scanner reveals a squad of Cybermen carrying a coffin-like box and lots of cables.
A box containing Black Scrolls of Rassilon, forbidden knowledge from the Dark Times, has been found, supposedly in the Castellan’s quarters. The scrolls spontaneously combust before anyone can examine them, and Borusa orders the Castellan to be taken for interrogation, authorising the use of the mind probe — much to the Castellan’s horror. However, as the Castellan is escorted outside, there is the sound of a staser shot and a cry.
The Doctor rushes out to find the Castellan dead, a gun by his hand; the Commander reports he was shot while trying to escape.
President Borusa refuses to allow the Doctor to return to the Death Zone and orders Flavia to look after him.
The Second Doctor and the Brigadier are exploring a series of caves in the hope of reaching the lower entrance to the Tower when they encounter a Yeti, apparently left over from the previous games.
Taking refuge in an alcove, the Doctor tries to chase the Yeti off with a firework, but only maddens it, causing it to collapse the entrance to the alcove. However, the Doctor detects a breeze blowing further back, and discovers the underground entrance to the Tower.
The Fifth Doctor voices his concerns to Chancellor Flavia. He says that while the Castellan was stubborn, he was devoted to his oath of office and could never have been a traitor and that his reaction to the Scrolls was not that of a guilty man, but sheer disbelief. He suspects that the traitor is still at large.
Flavia decides to have a word with the Captain, while the Doctor will speak with Borusa.
On the surface, the Third Doctor and Sarah come across a Raston Warrior Robot. According to the Doctor, it is “the most perfect killing machine ever devised”. Able to move with blinding speed and fire bolts of metal at its targets, it detects its victims by motion. The Doctor and Sarah cannot move without attracting the robot’s attention, but luck is on their side when a squad of Cybermen come over the ridge.
The robot quickly eliminates by the entire squad. Taking advantage of the distraction, the Doctor and Sarah run past the robot, taking some rope and spare bolts from its cave.
The First Doctor and Tegan reach the main door and open it using an entry coder hidden under a large bell.
After climbing a cliff, much to Sarah’s dismay, the Doctor and Sarah find that there is no clear way across the empty space to the top of the tower. The Doctor uses the rope and bolts for a grappling hook. He and Sarah abseil across the gap to the top of the Tower, to the amusement of the Master far below.
On the main floor of the Tower, the First Doctor and Tegan find a chessboard floor blocking their way. The Doctor quickly determines the chessboard is a trap — electrical bolts will destroy anyone attempting to cross unless they find the safe path. The Master appears at this point, warning them the Cybermen are close behind. While the Doctor and Tegan hide, the Master lures the Cybermen onto the chessboard, where all but the Cyber-Leader (who waited behind) are killed by the trap. He also tricks the Cyber-Leader into trying to cross with him before fatally blasting him with a Cyber-weapon. Enjoying this little piece of butchery, the Master blithely steps across the board, moving into the Tower after telling the Doctor that “it’s as easy as pie.” The Doctor realises that the Master means the Greek letter pi and the safe path is calculated by means of the mathematical constant. Armed with this knowledge, the Doctor and Tegan make their way across the trap.
In the Death Zone, the TARDIS is now surrounded by Cybermen, who start to assemble a bomb to blow it up. Inside, Turlough and Susan watch helplessly, not knowing what to do.
The Second and Third Doctors encounter more obstacles while moving separately through the Tower, with the mind of Rassilon emitting intensifying fear. They also encounter what appear to be their previous companions, the Third meeting Captain Mike Yates and Liz Shaw and the Second Jamie McCrimmon and Zoe Heriot.
The Doctors soon realise they are just phantoms to impede their progress through the Tower and the spectres vanish with a scream.
The First Doctor blithely ignores the fear as an illusion, considering that “at my age, there’s little left to fear!”
Finally, the first three Doctors reach the tomb: Rassilon’s sepulchre. While the Brigadier, Sarah and Tegan get reacquainted, the three Doctors try to translate an inscription in Old High Gallifreyan on a pedestal near a control panel — squabbling amongst themselves as usual.
The Fifth Doctor finds Borusa has vanished from the Council Chamber, but the guards insist the President could not have gotten by them at the only entrance. The transmat is out of power, so the Doctor deduces there must be a secret door and orders the guards to notify Flavia that the President has disappeared. After an intensive search, he realises that the Harp of Rassilon, standing in the Council Chamber, is the key and that a tune will open the door. He starts experimenting.
In the tomb, the Doctors have deciphered the inscription. Rassilon had discovered the secret of immortality. He was willing to share it with whoever overcame the obstacles to the tomb and took the ring from his body and put it on. However, a line troubles the First Doctor, who wonders just what it means: “To lose is to win and he who wins shall lose.” The Master steps out of the shadows, brandishing his tissue compression eliminator, to claim immortality himself and to kill the Doctor “three times over”, but the Brigadier moves up behind the Master and surprises him.
The Third Doctor kicks the weapon out of the Master’s hand, while the Brigadier delivers a hefty blow to the Master’s chin. The Master falls to the floor, out cold, and is tied up by Sarah and Tegan.
The Fifth Doctor realises that the tune is shown in a painting of Rassilon playing the Harp, where the sheet music is clearly depicted. He plays the tune, which opens the door. The Doctor enters the secret chamber and finds the dark figure of the Player who has taken his other selves out of time: Borusa. The Lord President is not satisfied with ruling Gallifrey for all his remaining regenerations — he wants to be President Eternal and rule forever. Like the first three Doctors, Borusa has determined that Rassilon discovered the secret of immortality and he means to claim it, sending the Doctors into the Zone to clear the way of obstacles for him. Using the Coronet of Rassilon, Borusa overwhelms the Fifth Doctor’s will, forcing him to obey his commands.
The Third Doctor fixes the control panel by reversing the polarity of the neutron flow, allowing the TARDIS to transport itself to the tomb just seconds before the Cybermen’s bomb detonates.
The Second Doctor contacts the Capitol. The Fifth Doctor answers, still under Borusa’s control, and tells his other selves to await his and Borusa’s arrival. The First and Third Doctors are suspicious, but the Second doesn’t believe them. Transmatting to the tomb with the Fifth Doctor, Borusa paralyses the Doctors’ companions with the command “Be silent! Be silent, all of you! Do not move or speak until I give you leave!” Then, Borusa tries to control the minds of the First, Second and Third Doctors. However, they combine their wills against him to free the Fifth Doctor. As Borusa declares that Gallifrey will believe its President’s word over that of the notorious renegades, a booming voice echoes through the chamber. It is Rassilon, who appears as a large face in the air, demanding to know who disturbs him. Borusa steps forward to claim his prize of immortality and, while the other Doctors protest, the First Doctor holds them back, telling Rassilon that Borusa deserves the prize. Rassilon instructs Borusa to take the ring from the body and put it on. Borusa does so, but finds himself paralysed as three stone faces carved into the side of Rassilon’s bier briefly come to life; they are the others who sought immortality, and received it: they are now frozen in stone forever.
The ring vanishes from Borusa’s finger and returns to Rassilon, while Borusa himself disappears and reappears as a stone face in an empty space on the bier. The faces, including Borusa’s, then become stone once more. Borusa has found his immortality, but not the way he wanted it.
Rassilon asks the Doctors if they want immortality too — all four frantically say “No!” The Fifth Doctor asks that they all be returned to their proper time and the Fourth Doctor be freed from the time vortex. Rassilon does so, and the Fourth Doctor departs in the TARDIS with Romana. Then, Rassilon sends the Master — who is just coming to, and is grinning — back to his own time, saying “His sins will find their punishment in due time.” After telling the Doctors to say their goodbyes, and that they have chosen wisely, Rassilon vanishes, returning to his eternal rest as the companions find themselves released from Borusa’s psychic hold. The First Doctor smugly tells the Fifth that he finally understood the proverb “To lose is to win and he who wins shall lose”.
The prize was yet another trap — a means for Rassilon to discover who wanted immortality (and were thus a danger to Gallifrey) and get them out of the way.
The Doctors and their companions say their goodbyes to each other — with a few snipes between the Doctors — and re-enter the TARDIS, save for the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough. As the three watch, the Doctors and their companions are transported back to their proper times in offshoots of the TARDIS splitting off from the original; Rassilon has used temporal fission to send them home. Chancellor Flavia arrives with guards and tells the Doctor that with Borusa’s disappearance, the Council has appointed the Doctor as President. The Doctor orders Flavia back to the Capitol, saying that he will follow in his TARDIS and she has full deputy powers until his return.
Once in the ship, however, he tells Tegan and Turlough he has no intention of returning. Tegan asks if the Doctor really intends to go on the run from his own people in a “rackety old TARDIS.” The Doctor replies, smiling, “Why not? After all, that’s how it all started…”
- 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