Season 26 of Doctor Who ran between 6 September 1989 and 6 December 1989. It starred Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor and Sophie Aldred as Ace. Season 26 was also the final season in the original run of the TV show. The season opened with Battlefield and concluded with Survival.
On 23 December 2019 the Blu-ray Box Set for the season was released with rare restored extended cuts of The Curse of Fenric; VHS extended version, The Curse of Fenric; DVD special edition, Battlefield; VHS extended version and Battlefield; DVD special edition, 5.1 surround sound and isolated scores on all 14 broadcast episodes, plus 5.1 sound on all extended versions of The Curse of Fenric and Battlefield, "Behind the Sofa"; new episodes with Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred, plus companions Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton, Anneke Wills and Jodie Whittaker-era writers Pete McTighe and Joy Wilkinson, Showman – the Life of John Nathan-Turner; a feature-length look at the life and career of Doctor Who’s longest-serving producer, who fought to keep the programme on-air during the 1980s; Contributors include Peter Davison and Colin Baker, Making The Curse of Fenric; a brand new documentary featuring Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Tomek Bork, Nicholas Parsons, Cory Pulman, Marek Anton, Ian Briggs, Andrew Cartmel, Mark Ayres and Ian Collins featuring unseen behind-the-scenes footage and photographs, In Conversation; Matthew Sweet chats to companion Sophie Aldred, The Writers’ Room; Ben Aaronovitch, Marc Platt, Ian Briggs, Rona Munro and Andrew Cartmel discuss their work on Season 26, Becoming The Destroyer; actor Marek Anton and prosthetics designer Stephen Mansfield recall the creation of one of Doctor Who’s best-ever monsters, brand new Ghost Light extended workprint, unseen studio footage, rare archive treats, convention footage, HD photo galleries, scripts, costume designs, rare BBC production files and other gems from the archive in PDF. The trailer for the release, Ace Returns!, was created by Pete McTighe.
The season consisted of four stories and fourteen twenty-five-minute episodes. It was the final season of the "classic" series; the BBC announced in 1990 that it would not be producing a 27th season. However, Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred reprised their roles as the Doctor and Ace respectively for a special episode of Search Out Science entitled Search Out Space, which aired that year. A one-off Children in Need special, Dimensions in Time, appeared in 1993, after which a television film, co-produced by an American network, followed in 1996. The series finally returned in 2005. However, the BBC chose to restart the season numbering with Series 1. Season 26 featured the return of Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier and the last televised appearance of Anthony Ainley as the Master. Unusually for a Doctor Who season, aside from some scenes in Survival, all the stories took place on Earth. Apart from Battlefield, the stories followed a loose character arc, as Ace came to terms with her past. As for the Doctor, he had become darker in personality, treating others as pawns in the battle between good and evil while dressing in dark clothes to match his personality change. This was the first and so far only season to be produced entirely out of broadcast order.
|1||Battlefield||Ben Aaronovitch||4||Return of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (as well as his final appearance in the regular series as a human).|
|2||Ghost Light||Marc Platt||3||Last story of the classic series filmed.|
|3||The Curse of Fenric||Ian Briggs||4||First appearance of Fenric.|
|4||Survival||Rona Munro||3||Final appearance of Ace, and the Master portrayed by Anthony Ainley. Last serial in the original series.|
- Morgaine - Jean Marsh
- Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart - Nicholas Courtney
- Peter Warmsly - James Ellis
- Brigadier Winifred Bambera - Angela Bruce
- Mordred - Christopher Bowen
- Ancelyn - Marcus Gilbert
- Doris Lethbridge-Stewart - Angela Douglas
- Pat Rowlinson - Noel Collins
- Elizabeth Rowlinson - June Bland
- Shou Yuing - Ling Tai
- Sergeant Zbrigniev - Robert Jezek
- Flight Lieutenant Lavel - Dorota Rae
- Knight Commander - Stefan Schwartz
- Major Husak - Paul Tomany
- The Destroyer - Marek Anton
- Josiah - Ian Hogg
- Mrs. Pritchard - Sylvia Syms
- Redvers Fenn-Cooper - Michael Cochrane
- Control - Sharon Duce
- Gwendoline - Katharine Schlesinger
- Reverend Ernest Matthews - John Nettleton
- Nimrod - Carl Forgione
- Mrs Grose - Brenda Kempner
- Inspector Mackenzie - Frank Windsor
- Light - John Hallam
- Dr. Judson - Dinsdale Landen
- Commander Millington - Alfred Lynch
- Captain Bates - Stevan Rimkus
- Sgt Leigh - Marcus Hutton
- Perkins - Christien Anholt
- Captain Sorin - Tomek Bork
- Sgt Prozorov - Peter Czajkowski
- Vershinin - Marek Anton
- Petrossian - Mark Conrad
- Rev Wainwright - Nicholas Parsons
- Miss Hardaker - Janet Henfrey
- Jean - Joann Kenny
- Phyllis - Joanne Bell
- Nurse Crane - Anne Reid
- Kathleen Dudman - Cory Pulman
- Baby Audrey - Aaron Hanley
- Ancient One - Raymond Trickett
- Paterson - Julian Holloway
- Karra - Lisa Bowerman
- Midge - William Barton
- Shreela - Sakuntala Ramanee
- Harvey - Norman Pace
- Len - Gareth Hale
- Derek - David John
- Stuart - Sean Oliver
- Ange - Kate Eaton
- Squeak - Adele Silva
- Woman - Kathleen Bidmead
- Neighbour - Michelle Martin
Adaptations and merchandising
- Battlefield (extended episodes version) (1998)
- Ghost Light (1994)
- The Curse of Fenric (extended episodes version) (1991)
- Survival (1995)
DVD & Blu-ray releases
All serials of season 26 were released individually on DVD between 2003 and 2009. The complete season was upscaled in 1080i50 high definition and was released on Blu-ray as Doctor Who: The Collection - Season 26 in the UK on 27 January 2020.
It was later released in Australia on 11 March 2020 and was released in the US under the title Doctor Who: Sylvester McCoy - Complete Season Three on 24 March 2020. The Blu-ray box set included the extended Special Edition cuts and VHS extended versions of Battlefield and The Curse of Fenric and a workprint cut of Ghost Light.
|Serial name||Number and duration
|R2 release date||R4 release date||R1 release date|
|Battlefield||4 × 25 min.
1 × 96 min.
|26 December 2008||5 February 2009||5 May 2009|
|Ghost Light||3 × 25 min.||20 September 2004||3 February 2005||7 June 2005|
|The Curse of Fenric||4 × 25 min.
1 × 104 min.
|6 October 2003||11 February 2004||1 June 2004|
|Survival||3 × 25 min.||16 April 2007||6 June 2007||14 August 2007|
|The Collection - Season 26||14 x 25 min.
1 x 96 min.
(Battlefield Special Edition)
1 x 104 min.
(The Curse of Fenric Special Edition)
|27 January 2020||11 March 2020||24 March 2020|
|Serial name||Amazon Video||iTunes|
|Battlefield (4 episodes)|
|Ghost Light (3 episodes)||✓||✓|
|The Curse of Fenric (4 episodes)|
|Survival (3 episodes)||✓|
Behind the scenes
- The producers had already outlined basic plots for the next season of Doctor Who when the programme's cancellation hit. In that season, it was proposed that Ace should leave, and a new companion should join. Also planned was that the entire season should do more to explore the darker side of the Doctor. While the scripts never saw a TV screen (and in some cases did not exist beyond a rough outline), they were eventually completed and produced as full-cast audio plays in Big Finish Productions' collection The Lost Stories.