Doctor Who: Logopolis (1981)

UK, 28 February -21 March 1981
4 episodes, average 25m each
videotape, colour, 4:3
mono, English
Previous Serial: The Keeper of Traken (1981)
Next Serial: Castrovalva (1982)
Series: Doctor Who (1963-1989) – series 18, episodes 25-28 episodes

A British television science fiction serial directed by Peter Grimwade from scripts by Christopher H. Bidmead. It was Tom Baker's final story as the and the first for new companion Tegan played by Janet Fielding.

Plot Summary

The Doctor returns to Earth in search of a police box to measure so that he can fix the . Picking up an air hostess named Tegan along the way, The Doctor and Adric take the to the planet where the natives are genius mathematicians with skills to recalculate the block transfer computations that The Doctor requires. But is also using Logopolis as part of a plan to hold the Universe to ransom, a plan that backfires, destroying the Traken Union and Logopolis. The TARDIS crew, reunited with of Traken, flee to Earth for a final and fateful confrontation with The Master…


* = uncredited

Director: Peter Grimwade [parts 1-4]
© BBC MCMLXXXI [1981] [parts 1-4]
Executive Producer: Barry Letts [parts 1-4]
Producer: John Nathan-Turner [parts 1-4]
Production Manager: Margot Hayhoe [parts 1-4]
[Written] By: Christopher H. Bidmead [parts 1-4]
Script Editor: Christopher H. Bidmead [parts 1-4]
Studio Lighting: Henry Barber [parts 1-4]
Senior Cameraman: Reg Poulter [parts 1-4]
Film Cameraman: Peter Hall [parts 1-4]
Technical Manager: Terry Brett [parts 1-4]
Film Editor: Paul Humfress [parts 1-4]
Vision Mixer: Carol Johnson [parts 1-4]
Videotape Editor: Rod Waldron [parts 1-4]
Title Music by: Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop *
Title Music Arranged by: Peter Howell *
Incidental Music: Paddy Kingsland [parts 1-4]
Studio Sound: John Holmes [parts 1-4]
Film Sound: Jim McAlister [parts 1-4]
Special Sound: Dick Mills [parts 1-4]
Costume Designer: June Hudson [parts 1-4]
Make-Up Artist: Dorka Nieradzik [parts 1-4]
Visual Effects Designer: John Horton [parts 1-4]
Video Effects: Dave Chapman [parts 1-4]
Title Sequence: Sid Sutton [parts 1-4]
Designer: Malcolm Thornton [parts 1-4]
Production Assistant: Patricia Greenland [parts 1-4]
Assistant Floor Manager: Val McCrimmon [parts 1-4]
Production Associate: Angela Smith [parts 1-4]

Part One
Tom Baker (Doctor Who)
Matthew Waterhouse (Adric)
Janet Fielding (Tegan [Jovanka])
Dolore Whiteman (Aunt Vanessa)
Tom Georgeson (Detective Inspector)
Anthony Ainley (The Master)

Part Two
Tom Baker (Doctor Who)
John Fraser (The Monitor)
Janet Fielding (Tegan [Jovanka])
Matthew Waterhouse (Adric)
Sarah Sutton (Nyssa)
Anthony Ainley (The Master)
Tom Georgeson (Detective Inspector)

Part Three
Tom Baker (Doctor Who)
John Fraser (The Monitor)
Anthony Ainley (The Master)
Janet Fielding (Tegan [Jovanka])
Matthew Waterhouse (Adric)
Sarah Sutton (Nyssa)

Part Three
Tom Baker (Doctor Who)
Peter Davison (Doctor Who)
John Fraser (The Monitor)
Anthony Ainley (The Master)
Janet Fielding (Tegan [Jovanka])
Matthew Waterhouse (Adric)
Sarah Sutton (Nyssa)
Christopher Hurst (security guard)

Adrian Gibbs []
Ray Knight, Peter Roy, Derek Suthern [policemen]
George Ballantine, Douglas Bather, Jim Delaney, Billy Gray, Jimmy Mac, Brynchan Powell, Terry Randle, Evan Ross, Roy Seeley, Charles Stewart, Colin Thomas, John Tucker, Walter Turner, Peter Whitaker, Bill Whitehead [Logopolitans]
Robin Squire [Pharos technician]

Extracts included in
Talking about (2009)

Production Notes

By July 1979, increasingly tired of dealing with scripts that he felt were below par, Tom Baker decided that a record-breaking seven years was enough and that it was time to give up the keys to the TARDIS. He wasn't always seeing eye-to-eye with his new producer John Nathan-Turner, wasn't getting along with co-star Matthew Waterhouse and disagreed with some of the decisions that Nathan-Turner was making about the show's direction so the timing felt right for him to move on. Nathan-Turner and his script editor Christopher H. Bidmead began making plans for the transition to the new Doctor, including writing a trilogy of stories that would not only help to ease viewers – many of who had grown up not knowing any other actor in the role – into the new era but also re-introduce The Doctor's old adversary The Master.

The stories – the last two of season eighteen (The Keeper of Traken and Logopolis), and the first of season nineteen (Castrovalva) – would not only see Baker hand over the lead role but would introduce two new companions. Nyssa (played by Sarah Sutton) had first been seen in The Keeper of Traken in what was originally meant to be a one-off appearance but the production team decided that she would make a suitable companion for the new Doctor, so Bidmead wrote her into the scripts for Logopolis.

Another companion, Australian air hostess (Janet Fielding) was added to the TARDIS team as part of Nathan-Turner's plan to woo the Australian TV network ABC. The company had been running episodes of Doctor Who for some time and the BBC's Head of Drama, Graeme McDonald felt that it might be possible for ABC to start helping to co-fund the show. Nathan-Turner agreed and started talking to ABC executives but a deal that was amenable to both parties was proving hard to reach. Reasoning that an Australian companion might help to smooth the way, Nathan-Turner and Bidmead started fleshing out the character that would eventually become Tegan, who would join Nyssa and the already established Adric (Waterhouse) as the Doctor's companions.

Bidmead has also decided that season eighteen would be his last as Doctor Who‘s script editor, a role he'd only held for a year and though he was keen to move on as soon as possible, he was finding it hard to bring suitable new writers to the show. So reluctantly he decided to take on the task on writing Tom Baker's final story himself, particularly as it involved the establishment of a new companion, bringing back a character seen only a week or so before and confirming her as a companion too, re-establishing The Master (seen only once, in The Deadly Assassin (1976), since his run of appearances opposite Jon Pertwee's Third Doctor which had ended with original actor Roger Delgado's death in a car crash in June 1973), and of course the departure of Baker and the first glimpse of his successor.

As Bidmead worked on his four scripts for Logopolis (from the Greek for “city of words”), Nathan-Turner approached a number of actors to take on the mantle of The Doctor, including Richard Griffiths and Iain Cuthbertson, neither of who were interested. But it turned out that the Fifth Doctor was right under his nose the whole time. His office walls were covered in photographs from previous shows that he'd worked on, one of which was the popular Yorkshire vet drama All Creatures Great and Small (1978-1990). One of the photographs was of the show's youthful co-star, Peter Davison and the producer felt he would be the marked contrast to Baker that he was looking for. At first Davison was unsure and turned down Nathan-Turner's offer but by now the producer was determined that Davison was the man for the role and kept gently pressing him to reconsider. Although he had qualms about joining such a long-running and well-loved show, and felt that at 29 he was far too young for the role, Davison eventually agreed.

Baker's imminent departure was leaked to the world on 24 October 1979 and Nathan-Turner called a hastily arranged press conference to confirm the news. Baker suggested to the gathered journalists that the next Doctor might be played by a woman but Davison was confirmed in the role on 5 November when he appeared on the BBC's news magazine programme Nationwide to confirm the news. A contract was formally signed a week later and in early December, work began on recording Logopolis under the direction of Peter Grimwade. Location work came first, with the scenes set around the home of Tegan's Aunt Vanessa (Dolore Whiteman) completed first on 16 December. Planned filming for the following day was abandoned when industrial action at the BBC caused a day's delay in studio work on The Keeper of Traken so production on Logopolis was deferred for two days, beginning again 18 December. The BBC's Overseas Monitoring and Receiving Station at Crowsley Park in Sonning Common, Berkshire stood in or the Pharos Project, a radio telescope that would play a vital role in The Master's latest scheme and would also be the site of the Fourth Doctor's last few moments. Over the Christmas break, Bidmead officially left the programme, leaving script editing duties to his interim replacement Antony Root though he would continue to write for the show, including the scripts for the concluding part of the trilogy and Davison's debut, Castrovalva.

Production on Logopolis resumed at BBC Television Centre's Studio 3 in early January, with the 9th set aside for the regeneration following The Doctor's fall from the Pharos Project antenna. Nathan-Turner had wanted Baker to emit a despairing scream as he fell, something that angered Baker – he felt that crying out in his final moments would have made his Doctor seem less heroic and he refused to do it. After a final three days of recording in Studio 6 between 22 and 24 January, Logopolis was complete and Tom Baker took his leave of the programme that had consumed his professional life for the last seven years.

The serial was broadcast between 28 February and 21 March 1981 and the final episode was the last to be broadcast in the traditional Saturday evening tea-time slot for three years. The departure of Head of Drama Shaun Sutton, a staunch defender of Doctor Who, left the show vulnerable to less friendly executives who were already looking with some concern at the recent decline in ratings, a drop of around two million viewers since its peak a few years before. Although Logopolis did reasonably well in the ratings, the delay in launching season nineteen, caused by Davison's commitments to the sitcom Sink or Swim, gave the BBC's board the opportunity they needed to try something different and when the show returned for Davison's debut story in January 1982 it was the first story to be broadcast in the new twice-weekly format, initially on Monday and Tuesday before it returned to Saturday nights in 1985 with Attack of the Cybermen.


Doctor Who Program Guide 25th Anniverary Edition by James C. Armstrong Jr, Michael L. Brown p.65 – credits, episode list
Doctor Who: The Television Companion by David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker pp.394-400 – credits, synopsis, review