Peter Davison as the 5th Doctor (c) BBC
Peter Davison as the 5th Doctor (c) BBC

Four to Doomsday: Part 1

Broadcast on January 18th, 1982 @ 6.55pm (8.4 million viewers)

Due to script issues behind the scenes, ‘Four to Doomsday’ would be the first story featuring the new Fifth Doctor to go before the cameras. As a result Part 1 of this story gives us Peter Davison’s first performance as the Time Lord, with the exception of him sitting up at the conclusion of ‘Logopolis’ (1981) and although ‘Castrovalva’ had already been broadcast it was actually the fourth story to enter production.

Peter Davison - Four To Doomsday - Doctor Who (c) BBC
Peter Davison – Four To Doomsday – Doctor Who (c) BBC

As would become a running theme following the ‘Logopolis/Castrovalva’ regeneration double, the Doctor is attempting to get Tegan back to Heathrow for her flight but the TARDIS has materialised in an unknown location, which certainly doesn’t seem to be Earth. Early clues about the Doctor’s new personality indicate a curiosity and an eagerness to explore but later show a fragility and a lack of confidence which had been so familiar with his previous incarnation. The dynamic between the three companions is also an interesting one, all of them have their own unique characters and are relatively new to journeys with the Time Lord. Adric, being the slightly more experienced, wields his knowledge in an attempt to prove himself as the Doctor’s second in command, sometimes in a pretentious way, “pass the sodium chloride”, but at times, he is the most childish of the group. Nyssa is described as “only a girl” but rather than that being a matter of youth, it is more an indication of her desire to learn. Tegan is a unique companion, with no desire to explore the universe, she simply stumbled aboard and wants to get back to work and is not shy in vocalising her irritations. Together the trio provide a curious dynamic to accompany the new Doctor, cast in the role of guardian over his three young companions.

Doctor Who - Four To Doomsday - Doctor Who (c) BBC
Doctor Who – Four To Doomsday – Doctor Who (c) BBC

Whilst the Doctor examines the environment as is often the case in these situations in Doctor Who, his movements are being observed by an unseen intelligence. It is a tentative start, with a slow build-up and most of the dialogue stemming from the off-screen observers. When revealed, those observers suffer from being typical Doctor Who creations, remaining humanoid in appearance but with some extensive make-up and prosthetics to try to disguise it. Like the remainder of the story, there is little that is truly groundbreaking or revolutionary with Monarch and the Urbankans but the costume is excellent and Stratford Johns’ strong vocals lifting the generic appearance.

Memorable Moment

The cliffhanger for this episode is something of a rarity in Doctor Who, built on a concept rather than any specific peril. After meeting a number of human beings from Earth’s history and a variety of cultures, another two humans introduce themselves, declaring that they have already met as they are Enlightenment and Persuasion, the two Urbankans met previously. Although this is not crystal clear they are the physical realisation of Tegan’s sketch. As a result, this is not a cliffhanger based on danger but like the rest of the episode creates intrigue with the viewer, posing a number of questions with the answers to be uncovered in the following three episodes.

Also first aired On This Day…

  • The Daleks: The Expedition
  • The Krotons: Episode 4
  • Robot: Part 4
  • Snakedance: Part 1


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