Doctor Who -Timelash (c) BBC
Doctor Who -Timelash (c) BBC

Timelash: Part 1

First Broadcast March 9th 1985 @ 5.20pm (6.7m viewers)

‘Timelash’. A much maligned story from Colin Baker’s time as the Sixth Doctor and it is difficult not to join in with the ‘Time-lashing’. Firstly, some context. This was writer Glen McCoy’s only contribution to Doctor Who, having initially submitted the script featuring the Daleks before being asked to resubmit it after removing them. Intrigued by the stories of HG Wells and how he may have got his ideas, the story also introduced the planet of Karfel to the viewer, a location the Doctor has visited before in an untelevised story. An unappealing planet with a hierarchical structure under the control of an overseeing ruler, the Borad.

Whilst the Timelash punishment is supposed to be a fate worse than death, an exile down a time corridor to some unknown location. Unfortunately, the way in which the two rebels stumble into the tinsel covered pyramid verges on the laughable. The irony of course is that the Timelash machine expels the unfortunate to Earth and after the TARDIS infiltrates it, the far less than horrible wastes of Scotland in 1885, completely belittling the episode’s cliffhanger. Equally ridiculed is the performance of Blake’s 7 actor Paul Darrow, thoroughly enjoying the role of Tekker, allegedly a response to Colin Baker’s over the top performance in a guest appearance on that other BBC sci-fi show. In fact the character is one of the more entertaining aspects of the show, his rigid pomposity and reptilian smile at least elevating the viewers interest beyond mild tedium.

Memorable Moment (Spoiler warning)

Borad - Doctor Who -Timelash (c) BBC
Borad – Doctor Who -Timelash (c) BBC

The real triumph of Timelash, perhaps the only one, is the Borad. He is one of the rare occasions in Doctor Who where the villain’s malevolence comes across quietly, with a brooding menace that doesn’t require the actor to shout and rant. Particularly memorable is the visualisation of the Borad, merging the features of actor Robert Ashby with the Morlox creature but sadly the features of the Borad are not revealed until part two, leaving an episode which is memorable for all the wrong reasons. However, the lair of the Borad is sparingly lit, full of atmosphere and adding to the intrigue of this unseen character, whilst the rest of the story is garishly over-lit to a flat blandness.

The story also suffers from budgetary restraints and may have worked more effectively as two 25 minute episodes because it lacks a pace and dynamism despite possessing the potential of a planet attempting to overcome an oppressive dictatorial ruler who has triggered an interplanetary conflict. Sadly, that plot is overshadowed by the visual signature of the story presented.

The Cast:

The Doctor – Colin Baker
Peri Brown – Nicola Bryant
Vena – Jeananne Crowley
Mykros – Deacon Eric
Tekker – Paul Darrow
Herbert – David Chandler
The Borad – Robert Ashby
Old Man – Denis Carey
Kendron – David Ashton
Brunner – Peter Robert Scott
Sezon – Dicken Ashworth
Katz – Tracy-Louise Ward
Android – Dean Hollingsworth
Guardolier – James Richardson
Bandril Ambassador – Martin Gower


Director – Pennant Roberts
Producer – John Nathan-Turner
Writer – Glen Mccoy

Also first aired On This Day…

  • The Web of Fear : Episode 6
  • Death to the Daleks : Part 3
  • Earthshock : Part 2
  • Enlightenment : Part 4
  • The Caves of Androzani : Part 2


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