Doctor Who: The Five Doctors (1983)

UK, 25 November 1983
90m
videotape, colour, 4:3
mono; Dolby Digital [Special Edition], English
Previous Serial: The King's Demons (1983)
Next Serial: Warriors of the Deep (1984)
Series: Doctor Who (1963-1989)

A British science fiction television episode directed by Peter Moffatt from a script by Terrance Dicks. This was a special feature length episode broadcast during the BBC's annual Children in Need (1980-) telethon to celebrate 's 20th anniversary. It was co-produced with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation who were uncredited on screen but whose involvement makes this the first story to be an international co-production. It featured appearances from all five Doctors (William Hartnell appears in a brief sequence from The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964) with Richard Hurndall playing the in the rest of the story) though Tom Baker decided not to reprise his role as the Fourth Doctor so soon after leaving the role so his scenes (with Lalla Ward as Romana) were taken from the unfinished story Shada. Several former companions and monsters also featured.

Premise

's previous incarnations are taken out of time by a mysterious figure affecting the latest incarnation. The Fourth Doctor becomes trapped in a time vortex while the others and some of their companions are deposited in the Death Zone on Gallifrey.

Credits

* = uncredited

Crew
Director: Peter Moffatt
© BBC MCMLXXXIII [1983]
BBC, Australian Broadcasting Corporation *
Producer: John Nathan-Turner
Production Manager: Jeremy Silberston
[Written] By: Terrance Dicks
Script Editor: Eric Saward
Studio Lighting: Don Babbage
Camera Supervisor: Alec Wheal
Film Cameraman: John Baker
Technical Manager: Derek Thompson
Film Editor: M.A.C. Adams
Vision Mixer: Shirley Coward
Videotape Editor: Hugh Parson
Title Music Composed by: Ron Grainer
Title Music Arranged by: Peter Howell *
Incidental Music: Peter Howell
Studio Sound: Martin Ridout
Film Sound: John Gatland
Special Sounds: Dick Mills, BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Costume Designer: Colin Lavers
Make-Up Artist: Jill Hagger
Visual Effects Designers: John Brace, Mike Kelt
Video Effects: Dave Chapman
Designer: Malcolm Thornton
Design Effects: Jean Peyre
Graphic Designer: Ian Hewett
Properties Buyer: Robert Fleming
Production Associate: June Collins
Production Assistant: Jean Davis
Assistant Floor Manager: Pauline Seager

Additional Special Edition Credits
Additional Film Editing: Tariq Anwar
Video Effects: Jo McGrogan, Alison Rickman, Steve Roberts
Videotape Editor: Paul Vanezis
Dubbing Mixers: Benedict Peissel, Andy Freeth

For BBC Worldwide
© BBC MCMXCIX [1999]
Produced by: Paul Vanezis
Research: Richard Molesworth
Executive Producer: Sue Kerr
Programme Consultant: Ian Levine

Transmission Version Cast
Peter Davison, Jon Pertwee, Patrick Troughton, Richard Hurndall, Tom Baker, William Hartnell (The Doctor)
Janet Fielding (Tegan [Jovanka])
Mark Strickson (Turlough)
Elizabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith)
Carole Ann Ford (Susan)
Nicholas Courtney (The Brigadier)
Lalla Ward (Romana)
Anthony Ainley ()
Phillip Latham (Lord President )
Dinah Sheridan (Chancellor Flavia)
Paul Jerricho (The Castellan)
David Banks (Cyber Leader)
Mark Hardy (Cyber Lieutenant)
Richard Matthews ()
Frazer Hines (Jamie)
Wendy Padbury (Zoe)
Caroline John (Liz Shaw)
Richard Franklin (Captain [Mike] Yates)
David Savile ([Colonel Charles] Crichton)
John Leeson (K9)
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)

Special Edition Version Cast
Peter Davison, Jon Pertwee, Patrick Troughton, Richard Hurndall, Tom Baker, William Hartnell (The Doctor)
Janet Fielding (Tegan [Jovanka])
Mark Strickson (Turlough)
Elizabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith)
Carole Ann Ford (Susan Foreman)
Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart)
Anthony Ainley (The Master)
Phillip Latham (Borusa)
Lalla Ward (Romana)
Dinah Sheridan (Chancellor Flavia)
Paul Jerricho (The Castellan)
David Banks (Cyber Leader)
Mark Hardy (Cyber Lieutenant)
Richard Matthews (Rassilon)
Frazer Hines ()
Wendy Padbury (Zoe)
David Savile ([Colonel Charles] Crichton)
Caroline John (Liz Shaw)
Richard Franklin (Captain [Mike] Yates)
John Leeson (K9)
Roy Skelton (Dalek voice)
John Scott Martin (Dalek operator)
Ray Float (sergeant)
Keith Hodiak (Raston robot)
Stuart Blake (commander)
Stephen Meredith (technician)
John Tallents (guard)
William Kenton (Cyber Scout)

Uncredited Cast
Gilbert Gillian, Myrddin Jones, Emyr Morris Jones, Richard Naylor, Mark Whincup, Lee Woods []
Lee Woods [Yeti]
Mark Bassinger, Norman Bradley, Graham Cole, Johnnie Mack, Ian Marshall-Fisher, Charles Milward, Alan Riches, Lloyd Williams, Frederick Wolfe [extras]

Includes extracts from
Doctor Who: The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964)
Doctor Who: Shada (unaired)

Production Notes

In 1981, producer John Nathan-Turner was very aware that a significant date was just over the horizon – 23 November 1983 would mark the 20th anniversary of Doctor Who and clearly something needed to be done to celebrate. At first, Nathan-Turner thought that the celebrations could form part of a normal run of the programme, but those plans were scuppered when the BBC decided to change Doctor Who‘s scheduling, moving it from its usual autumn/winter run to a truncated 13 weeks starting in January. Nathan-Turner tried to persuade David Reid, the BBC's then Head of Series and Serials, to move Series Twenty to the autumn of 1982 but Controller of Programmes for BBC One, Alan Hart, refused to change his scheduling plans. Instead, he suggested that the programme's twentieth anniversary be celebrated with a one-off, feature-length special though this would need budget from Series Twenty be diverted, leading to the loss of two episodes. To rustle up additional funding for the special, Nathan-Turner approached BBC Enterprises who were interested but couldn't make the money available quickly enough, so instead signed a deal with the Australian Broadcasting Commission who also co-financed the BBC's adaptations of Day of the Triffids (1981) and Tripods (1984-1985). Perhaps convinced by the presence of an Australian companion, ABC agreed to pay AUS$60,000 towards the special.

As with the tenth anniversary special, The Three Doctors, Nathan-Turner planned to re-unite all previous Doctors, Tom Baker being the one least likely to return as he'd only relinquished the role the year before after seven series in charge of the TARDIS. He was the first actor approached in April 1982 and expressed interest in reprising the role, conditional on his approving of the script. During that summer, Jon Pertwee and Patrick Troughton expressed interest in the idea and Nathan-Turner set about looking for a replacement for William Hartnell, who had died in 1975. He considered Geoffrey Bayldon, much beloved as another traveller in time, in Catweazle (1970-1971) but eventually opted for Richard Hurndall, recommended to him by Ian Levine.

With the lead cast provisionally in place, a script was needed. Script editor Eric Saward suggested one of his predecessors, Robert Holmes who, despite his reluctance to rely on old characters, monsters and continuity, agreed. Nathan-Turner had already decided that Anthony Ainley's incarnation of The Master should appear and Saward was keen that the Cybermen take a key role, though both agreed that as the special was going to be shot largely on location that the and K·9 would play little to no part in the story. Reid officially gave the go-ahead for the special on 15 July, on 2 August Holmes was commissioned as the writer and he set about writing what was then called The Six Doctors, with Hurndall to be revealed as a cyborg imposter, hence the “Sixth Doctor.”

But Holmes was soon finding himself struggling with the idea of so many Doctors and past companions and suggested to Nathan-Turner that he commission a stand-by storyline from another former script editor, Terrance Dicks, just in case he couldn't come to grips with The Six Doctors‘ problems. After returning from a Doctor Who convention in the States, Dicks met with Saward and agreed to have something ready, just in case. Then, on 13 October, Holmes contacted Saward to tell him that he felt unable to continue with The Six Doctors. Saward offered him the chance to write a four-parter for the main series (which would turn out to be The Caves of Androzani) and Dicks stepped in to replace him on the special, insisting that, despite the logistical difficulties, both the Daleks and K·9 should at least be recognised in the special – and indeed he did manage to squeeze in very brief scenes for both.

Nathan-Turner had wanted Waris Hussein, director of the original serial An Unearthly Child, to take on the special, now known as The Five Doctors, but his career had taken him to the States where he was too busy to accept the assignment. He offered the job to Douglas Camfield instead, but he also turned it down due to ill health and a lingering resentment towards Nathan-Turner who had turned down the director's previous requests to come back to the show. The job went instead to Peter Moffatt, who had recently directed the serial Mawdryn Undead.

Dicks' script went through many changes, some of which were forced upon him. Originally, he'd planned for Baker's Fourth Doctor to take the lead in the story, with The First Doctor largely confined to the TARDIS with Susan, Tegan and Turlough. On 9 December, Baker was sent copies of the scripts-in-progress and seemed pleased enough with what he read, agreeing to return to the role. But a bombshell landed on Nathan-Turner's desk on 29 December when Baker's agent contacted him to tell him that Baker had changed his mind and was no longer interested in appearing in the special. He agreed, however, to allow the production to reuse footage of him from the abandoned serial Shada.

Dicks was forced to perform his biggest rewrite so far, switching the focus of the story onto Peter Davison's , and having the Fourth and his companion Romana trapped in a time vortex, leaving Baker and Lalla Ward to appear in a few minutes of previously unseen footage shot in Cambridge for Shada. Adding to Nathan-Turner's woes was the huge cast of companions he'd hoped to assemble. Some had readily agreed to reprise their roles, others were less sure, and a period of uncertainty followed, with Dicks unsure who he should be writing scenes for. Indeed, not everyone was in place when filming began with the Eye of Orion scenes featuring the Doctor, Tegan and Turlough and the First Doctor being abducted by the time scoop from the rose garden which took place at Plas Brondanw in Llanfrothen from 5 March 1983.

Further location filming took place at not one but two quarries, Carreg y Foel Grom and Manod Quarry, near Blaenau Ffestiniog, standing in for the Death Zone on Gallifrey. Nathan-Turner assisted with some second unit work while Moffat had to deal with the fact that the original material shot for the Eye of Orion scenes had been damaged and needed to be reshot – though Mark Strickson as Turlough, believing that he wasn't needed on location again, had gone on holiday leaving no way of contacting him. He was only found when a family member heard a radio appeal for him to get in touch and he returned to the Welsh locations. Elsewhere, the Third Doctor's planned entry into the Dark Tower aboard a makeshift hang-glider was abandoned when the effects team couldn't come up with a decent prop and Pertwee objected to how silly it all looked, leaving Moffatt and Nathan-Turner to improvise the Doctor crossing precipice on a wire.

Location work also took place at Cwm Bychan lake near Llanbedr, at Denham Green in Buckinghamshire and in Uxbridge, London before the production relocated to BBC Television Film Studios in Ealing, London on 18 March and then to BBC Television Centre Studio 6 in White City, London on 29 March. In post-production, Nathan-Turner had a scene from The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964) edited into the start of the special so that William Hartnell would be present in some form and composer Peter Howell worked on a new version of the theme tune for use over the end credits, one that would combine his revamped version with Delia Derbyshire's original.

With the arduous production finally complete, plans were being laid for broadcast. Nathan-Turner had wanted it to go out on the anniversary date, 23 November 1983, but the BBC decided to push it back by two days to include it in their annual charity telethon Children in Need, much to Nathan-Turner's dismay. This meant that the special would be seen first, on the 23rd, in the States on over a hundred Public Broadcasting Service stations before it was seen in the UK. In later years, the special was released several times on home video with new special effects added and a different ending.

References

Periodicals

  • Doctor Who Figurine Collection: Rare Daleks no.10 (2017) – illustrated articles
  • Doctor Who Program Guide 25th Anniversary Edition by James C. Armstrong Jr, Michael L. Brown p.72 – credits, episode list
  • Radio Times vol.242 no.3138 (31 December 1983) p.85 – letter
  • Starburst no.361 April 2008) p.115 – DVD review (Reviews: DVD by David Richardson)
  • Starburst Special no.44 Summer Sci Fi Films pp. 104-108, 110-120, 122-130 – illustrated article (The future is shiny by David Richardson)
  • Television Today 10 March 1983 p.19 – credits
  • TV Zone no.78 (November 2007) pp.32-39 – illustrated article (Sarah Jane: Her complete adventures so far)
  • Video Business vol.5 no.24 (12 August 1985) p.12 – note

Books

  • Doctor Who: The Television Companion by David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker pp.441-444 – credits, synopsis, review