Doctor Who - Terminus
Doctor Who – Terminus

Terminus: Part 4

Broadcast on February 23rd, 1982 (10.1 million viewers)

The second part of the so-called ‘Black Guardian’ trilogy sees the TARDIS land on a ship which is transporting people suffering from Lazar disease to Terminus. After the introduction of Turlough in the previous story, this adventure sees the departure of another companion, delivering an emotional farewell.

Doctor Who - Terminus
Doctor Who – Terminus

The story is also well-remembered for the Glam-rock pirates Kari and the ludicrously over-the-top and hysterical Olvir, as well as the curious Garm, with roots based on tales of Cerberus and the name Garm taken from Norse mythology as a canine creature which guarded the underworld. The realisation is a bit disappointing given its legendary influences but a gigantic humanoid with a face like a dog and glowing red eyes would’ve been a daunting task for the production team of the early 1980’s but it is certainly an impressive creation. What is nice however is that despite appearances the Garm is not a dangerous threat to the TARDIS crew but is, in fact, the hero of the piece, neatly subverting expectations. Additional references to Terminus being in the centre of the known universe and the drama of this episode being focused on a seemingly immovable red lever which would bring about the destruction of the universe is a little muddled. Whilst it attempts to add depth to the story it fails to elevate the narrative and more time may have been focused on the far more interesting themes of disease and death. Similarly, the Vanir and their forced labour in order to stay alive by using the Hydromel supplied by their employers has the potential to provide an interesting commentary on healthcare provisions and how they are controlled by pharmaceutical companies.

Memorable Moment (Spoiler warning)

Doctor Who - Terminus
Doctor Who – Terminus

Nyssa succumbs to Lazar disease during this story, having a dramatic and at the time controversial effect on her ability to keep her clothes on.  For example, in this episode she is seen lying prone on the floor in boots and a delicate dress, a particularly bold costume design choice, it also serves as a symbolic moment where the daughter of Tremas of Traken has become a woman, her education gained travelling with the Doctor now provides her with the maturity to make the decision to leave the TARDIS for a very worthy cause, to help people. Her departure is a touching scene, heightened by the use of incidental music from her first appearance in ‘The Keeper of Traken’. Credit too to actors Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding who bring tears to the eyes of the viewer as the two friends say their farewells. It is refreshing to see how Nyssa is more upset by losing her friend and travelling companion Tegan than she is about leaving the Doctor, demonstrating that sometimes it is not always the companion’s relationship with the Time Lord that is the most important to them.


The Doctor – Peter Davison
Nyssa – Sarah Sutton
Tegan Jovanka – Janet Fielding
Turlough – Mark Strickson
Kari Liza – Goddard
Olvir Dominic – Guard
Black Guardian – Valentine Dyall
Valgard – Andrew Burt
Eirak – Martin Potter
Sigurd – Tim Munro
Bor – Peter Benson
The Garm – R.J. Bell
Tannoy Voice – Michael Mulcaster


Director Mary Ridge
Producer John Nathan-Turner
Writer Steve Gallagher

Also first aired On This Day…

  • Death to the Daleks: Part 1
  • The Visitation: Part 4
  • Planet of Fire: Part 1
  • The Two Doctors: Part 2



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