You may wish to consult Enlightenment (disambiguation) for other, similarly-named pages.

Enlightenment was the fifth serial in season 20 of Doctor Who. It saw the introduction of the Eternals. It also saw the conclusion of the Black Guardian trilogy, with the redemption of Turlough and the first appearance of the White Guardian since The Ribos Operation.

A large number of model shots were used in this story to create the racing scenes and their associated locations.

Synopsis Edit

Materialising on an Edwardian sailing yacht in space, the Fifth Doctor and his companions Tegan and Turlough find themselves caught up in a mysterious and deadly race. The prize is Enlightenment - the wisdom to find your heart's desire - and it quickly becomes clear that one of the crews will let nothing and no-one stop them claiming victory.

As the Black Guardian pressures Turlough to complete his side of their murderous pact, it seems that the Doctor may not survive to cross the finish line...

Plot Edit

Part one Edit

Turlough's sabotage of the TARDIS has left the control room dark and on backup lights until the systems are repaired. Tegan and Turlough play chess. The Doctor thinks he hears a voice calling him. He instructs Turlough and Tegan to increase the power as he walks into the corridor. He sees the White Guardian having trouble materialising in the TARDIS. Trying to make out what the Guardian is saying, the Doctor learns danger awaits him. He is given a set of coordinates. Before the White Guardian can explain further, the Black Guardian appears and interrupts the communication.

The Doctor sets the coordinates and the TARDIS materialises in what appears to be a ship's hold. Leaving Tegan in the TARDIS in case the White Guardian tries to contact them again, he and Turlough leave to explore, barely avoiding one of the officers. The officer has a mechanical, blank expression and is dressed in an Edwardian naval uniform.

Dinner Party

The Doctor and Tegan have dinner.

The Doctor and Turlough enter a room and find it occupied by the crew of the ship. After being ignored and then confronted by the crew, who think the Doctor is their new cook, the Doctor speaks with the crew and learns that they remember nothing of coming aboard. They have been below decks the whole time and the ship has been entered in some sort of race.

Tegan leaves the TARDIS and meets the ship's first mate, Marriner. An officer with the same distant look escorts the Doctor and Turlough to see Captain Striker, who offers them dinner. The dinner is interrupted when the wind picks up and the officers announce that the race has begun.

In the wheelhouse, the Doctor sees a map of the race course, complete with "marker buoys" which he recognises as the planets of Earth's solar system. Marriner operates anachronistic electronic controls; a viewscreen activates to show the other contestants - a Greek trireme, a 17th century pirate ship and other vessels from different times, all floating in deep space.

Part two Edit

Striker and his officers are Eternals, beings who live in the "trackless wastes of eternity," as opposed to the Doctor and his companions, who are "Ephemerals." As the ships round Venus, the trireme captained by Critas the Greek explodes when it tries to overtake the pirate ship. Striker believes it was the gravitational pull that did it, but the Doctor suspects otherwise. Tegan feels ill, so Marriner escorts her to a room which she soon realises is a mixture of her room in the TARDIS and her rooms in Brisbane - they have been reading her mind. Marriner seems quite taken by Tegan, finding her mind fascinating and full of life.

Greek fireworks

The Greek's ship explodes.

In conversation with Striker, the Doctor learns that Eternals use Ephemerals for their thoughts and ideas. The Eternals have lived for so long they are unable to think for themselves. They need human minds to give them existence and entertainment — that is why the ships use human crews. The purpose of the race, however, is more than entertainment. The prize is Enlightenment, the wisdom to know everything.

The TARDIS is found by the Eternals, who make it vanish. Trapped on board the Edwardian ship, the Doctor and his companions go on deck in space suits. Turlough hears the voice of the Black Guardian taunting him, saying that he is doomed to eternal life aboard the ship. Unable to take the strain, he leaps overboard into space.

Part three Edit

Turlough is rescued by the Buccaneer, the pirate ship commanded by Captain Wrack. She toys sadistically with Turlough with a knife, but he convinces her that he jumped overboard to throw in his lot with her, to find out the secret of how she will win the race. Wrack sends her first mate to present Captain Davey, one of the other competitors, with a jewelled sword, and party invitations to the other captains.

On board the Edwardian ship, Striker refuses the invitation, but the Doctor accepts, hoping to retrieve Turlough. Marriner offers to escort Tegan and the Doctor to the Buccaneer as an asteroid storm hits the ships. As Davey's ship draws level with the Buccaneer, Wrack takes Turlough down in the hold and shows him the entrance to a locked chamber with a vacuum shield, but leaves him outside when she enters. Through the door, Turlough hears the voice of the Black Guardian. Davey's ship explodes, apparently hit by an asteroid. The Doctor, though, again suspects otherwise, especially since, like Critas's ship, Davey was also challenging the Buccaneer.

Ship ahoy

The race continues.

On board the Buccaneer for the party, the Doctor and Tegan mingle. Turlough sneaks off to examine the locked chamber. He finds an eye-shaped grid open to space, but a pirate locks the door and turns off the vacuum shield. Fortunately, the Doctor finds Turlough before he suffocates.

The Doctor notices the eye-shaped projector above the grid. He theorises that this must be how Wrack transmits the power to destroy the other ships, with some sort of focus. He remembers Critas was wearing an out-of-period clasp with a red crystal. Turlough tells him of Wrack's gift to Davey and the Doctor realises the red crystal is the focus. Before they can act on it, they are captured by Wrack's first mate. Meanwhile, Wrack has managed to lure Tegan away from the party to her wheelhouse. She freezes her in time and plants a red crystal in her tiara.

Part four Edit

Brought before Wrack, Turlough accuses the Doctor of being a spy and claims he was trying to capture him. Wrack sends the Doctor, Tegan and Marriner back to the Edwardian ship. The Doctor believes Turlough is trying to prove himself trustworthy by stopping Wrack. Unfortunately, Wrack sees into Turlough's mind. She is about to sentence him to walk to plank. She pauses when Turlough tells her that he, too, serves the Black Guardian.

As the ships near the crystalline space station of the Enlighteners, the Buccaneer pulls level with the Edwardian ship. Wrack brings Turlough again to the chamber, this time letting him witness her summoning the power of the Black Guardian. The Doctor, seeing the Buccaneer pull close, realises the focus must have been smuggled aboard somehow. When he describes it, Tegan tells him about the crystal in the tiara. The Doctor smashes the crystal, but only multiplies the power by the number of fragments.

The Doctor gathers the pieces, rushes up to the deck and, just in time, hurls them overboard. They explode. The wind dies and Wrack pulls ahead of the Edwardian ship. The Doctor demands the TARDIS be released to him to stop Wrack from winning and Striker reveals that it was concealed in the Doctor's own mind. Travelling in it to the Buccaneer, the Doctor tries to reason with Wrack, but her first mate shows up with Turlough and she orders the Doctor thrown into space. While Tegan watches from the Edwardian ship, two bodies are ejected into space and the Buccaneer reaches the finish. Marriner is fascinated by the grief that Tegan experiences while believing the Doctor was killed by Wrack. The human crew of the Buccaneer vanish as Tegan, Striker and Marriner board to give their respects to the victor.

Wrack and Mansell in Space

Wrack and Mansell in the void of space.

The Enlighteners turn out to be the Black and White Guardians and the winner is the Doctor, who brought the ship in with Turlough's help when Wrack and her first mate met with an "accident." The Doctor, however, refuses the diamond crystal holding Enlightenment, saying that he's not ready for it. The White Guardian dismisses Striker and Marriner. Marriner resists; he wants to stay with Tegan. However, neither Tegan nor the White Guardian is moved by his pleading. He and Striker vanish into eternity.

As Turlough helped the Doctor bring the ship in, he is entitled to a portion of the prize. The Black Guardian reminds Turlough of their bargain and says that he can give up the diamond or sacrifice the Doctor to gain both Enlightenment and the TARDIS.

Turlough struggles with the decision. He hurls the diamond at the Black Guardian, who vanishes in screams and flames. The Doctor points out that Enlightenment was not the diamond, but the choice itself. The White Guardian warns again that the Black Guardian will return, even angrier now that he has been thwarted twice. He vanishes. Turlough asks the Doctor to take him back to his home planet, and the Doctor agrees.

Cast Edit

Uncredited cast Edit

Crew Edit

References Edit

Astronomical objects Edit

Foods and beverages Edit

  • The Doctor replaces his celery at the party.
  • The Doctor takes a glass of champagne to stop Tegan from taking it.
  • Red wine and rum are also drunk.

Games Edit

  • Tegan and Turlough play a game of chess while the Doctor works on the TARDIS.

Individuals Edit

  • The Eternals put a photograph of Tegan's aunt Vanessa in her cabin.
  • Farley and Wade were abducted from Earth.

Spacecraft Edit


  • The turbulence the TARDIS experiences is time override, according to the Doctor.
  • During the partial blackout, the Doctor use an electric torch to inspect his TARDIS.

Species Edit

Story notes Edit

  • The original title for this story was The Enlighteners. Portions of Barbara Clegg's story were reworked by Eric Saward to fit into the Black Guardian trilogy, including substituting the two Guardians for her "Enlighteners". Since there were no longer any Enlighteners as such, the story was renamed Enlightenment.
  • Peter Sallis was originally due to play Striker but an industrial strike (ironically) caused his timetable to change, so, unfortunately, he couldn't play the role. The role was played by fellow sitcom actor Keith Barron.
  • Every story during Season 20 had the Doctor face an enemy from each of his past incarnations. In this trilogy, the enemy was the Black Guardian, who last faced the fourth incarnation at the conclusion of the Key to Time saga in The Armageddon Factor (1979).
  • This was the first Doctor Who production to have been both written and directed by women, Barbara Clegg and Fiona Cumming respectively. The second, The Witchfinders, also starred a woman as the Doctor.
  • The Doctor replaces his stalk of celery with one from Captain Wrack's ship. Rather curiously, both stalks come from buffets which are essentially figments of other people's imagination (Castrovalva and the Buccaneer both being "unreal").
  • The TARDIS camera is located in the beacon atop the police box; Lieutenant Marriner climbs to the top of the ship to peer inside, but apparently cannot hear Tegan.
  • Although the dialogue in which he gives the information is inaudible, the script (or lip-reading his initial message) makes it clear that the White Guardian's mission is for the Doctor to stop Wrack winning the race, which would have devastating consequences for the whole universe.
  • Although it is popularly believed that the story originally featured a suspenseful scene where Wrack and Mansell menace the Doctor at knifepoint in the TARDIS control room which was cut at the editing stage, this is not the case. The photographs that exist of this were specially posed for publicity purposes only.
  • The plot is similar to that of The War Games: both involve aliens abducting humans from various points in Earth's history and using them for their own ends.

Ratings Edit

  • Part one - 6.6 million viewers
  • Part two - 7.2 million viewers
  • Part three - 6.2 million viewers
  • Part four - 7.3 million viewers

Filming locations Edit

Production errors Edit

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • In part one when the ship experiences turbulence, the liquid in the glasses doesn't. The effect used to achieve the shake — that is, literally shaking the camera — doesn't actually have a physical impact on anything in the shot.
  • The cliffhangers and reprises in the next episode don't always match in this story. Of course, none of the following are evident in the 21st century "special edition" omnibus compiled by the director for the DVD.
    • Part two ends with Turlough climbing onto the railing and jumping off, with the Doctor shouting, "NO!". The next episode, however, begins with Turlough climbing onto the railing with the Doctor shouting, "Don't be an idiot!" before Turlough jumps off.
    • When Wrack freezes Tegan at the end of part three, her eyes are wide open, yet when she is unfrozen again at the beginning of part four, her eyes are shut.

Continuity Edit

Home video and audio releases Edit

DVD releases Edit

This story was released as a two-disc set, along with Mawdryn Undead and Terminus, as part of the DVD set The Black Guardian Trilogy. The second DVD was a Special Edition movie-length feature with added modern CGI, a 5.1 remix and 16:9 widescreen.


Disc 1 - original televised edition Edit

Disc 2 - special edition Edit

  • Feature Length Version - A totally new edit of the story featuring 5.1 Surround Sound and new CGI effects, overseen by original director Fiona Cumming
  • Re-Enlightenment - Making of the new version
  • Original Edit Comparison
  • Film Trims
  • Finding Mark Strickson - Career retrospective
  • Finding Sarah Sutton - Career retrospective
  • Russell Harty's Christmas Party - 1982 clip with Peter Davison
  • PDF DVD-ROM material - Radio Times Doctor Who 20th Anniversary Special, Doctor Who Production Bible
  • Easter Eggs
    • On Disc One, go to the first Special Features page, navigate to Single Write Female and press left to highlight a hidden logo. Press Enter/OK to see a short presentation of interesting facts related to the story.
    • On Disc One, on the second Special Features page, go to Coming Soon and then press left. Press Enter/OK to see Peter Davison and Janet Fielding talk about a costume mishap the latter experienced.
    • On Disc Two, on the first page of Special Features, navigate to Finding Mark Strickson and press left. Press Enter/OK to see a gallery of photos.

Box set Edit

Video releases Edit

External links Edit

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