New to Doctor Who or returning after a break? Check out our guides designed to help you find your way!



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

The Five Doctors was the 20th Anniversary Special of Doctor Who. It was part of neither season 20 nor 21, but an original Children in Need special, presaging a connection between Doctor Who and the charity that became more regularised by Russell T Davies in the 21st century.

This Multi-Doctor story featured an unprecedented four incarnations of the Doctor on-screen at once. Incumbent Peter Davison, naturally, appeared as the Fifth Doctor, with Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee returning as the Second and Third Doctors, respectively. However, for the first time ever, the role of the First Doctor was given to Richard Hurndall, a look-alike actor and spiritual successor for the late William Hartnell, who had passed away on 23 April 1975.

Although the title billed five Doctors, Tom Baker declined to return as the Fourth Doctor. His Doctor's part in the special would be downplayed from a personal appearance to a limited role using previously-filmed, but never broadcast, footage from the then abandoned story Shada.

The Five Doctors also featured a record number of returning actors who had played companions to the Doctor over the years, although a few of the actors only appeared as illusions of these companions. Notable was Carole Ann Ford's return as a much older Susan Foreman, the first time she would play her character in an adult portrayal until her career in Big Finish Productions. Other appearances included Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury as Jamie McCrimmon and Zoe Heriot, Caroline John and Richard Franklin as Liz Shaw and Mike Yates, and Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Finally, the story saw the return of Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, along with K9 Mark III, a character introduced in the K9 and Company pilot A Girl's Best Friend. Though he originated from a show which was never picked up for a full season, he was transferred over to Doctor Who as the newest iteration of K9.

It was also the first story co-produced with overseas broadcasters. Though such arrangements have been commonplace since the 1996 telemovie, John Nathan-Turner's procurement of money from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation was a financial innovation. Even more impressively, the Australians paid $A60,000 towards the production while agreeing to forgo on-screen credit. It was similarly unique in that it was broadcast to American audiences on the actual anniversary date of the series, 23 November — two days before being aired to British audiences. (REF: The Fifth Doctor Handbook)

Its location work was completed in North Wales, with the Ffestiniog area doubling for Gallifrey. Though Wales inevitably provides the backdrops for most BBC Wales Doctor Who location work, it was at the time an unusual choice for the Doctor Who production team based in London.

It was one of the first Doctor Who serials to make extensive use of matte paintings. With the new Quantel Paintbox — whose use in Doctor Who had only hesitantly begun in season 18designer Malcolm Thornton replaced several model shots and glass shots with matte paintings via Paintbox. This became especially important, given the less-than-optimal weather in windy Wales. (REF: The Fifth Doctor Handbook)

This story premiered the new Mike Kelt-designed TARDIS console, which would be used through the rest of the 1980s. It further introduced a re-design of the entire console room, which would become the final control room design to be used during the run of the classic series. Thornton argued that, since a new console had been ordered by JN-T, the entire set should be regularised. He made each facet of the console correspond to a particular wall of the set and each TARDIS wall more angular. This made the set assemble in only one way, reducing assembly time.

Finally, this story was the last televised Doctor Who story to be written by Terrance Dicks.


I am being diminished, whittled away piece by piece. A man is the sum of his memories you know, a Time Lord even more so...


The Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough are taking a break at the Eye of Orion, one of the most tranquil spots in the universe. In the TARDIS control room, the Doctor has just finished renovating the control console, which now has a more hi-tech look. Turlough is sketching. Tegan is enjoying the peaceful atmosphere. It's a change from their non-stop adventures that leave them no time to relax. The Doctor goes outside to join his companions and enjoy the peace and quiet. When Tegan wonders why it is so restful there, the Doctor explains that it is because of the bombardment of positive ions.

Elsewhere, in a hidden chamber, a dark figure — who shall be referred to as the Player — manipulates the controls of a forbidden device called the Time Scoop and kidnaps the First Doctor as he walks through a rose garden. The Player takes a figurine of the First Doctor from a window-shaped wall alcove and places it on one of five spots on a diorama, which lights up in response.

Back on the Eye of Orion, the Fifth Doctor feels a pain in his chest but dismisses the thought that anything is wrong with him as Turlough and Tegan look worriedly at him.

Elsewhen, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is at a UNIT reunion. He talks to his replacement, Colonel Charles Crichton, about his former scientific adviser, the Doctor; it seems that UNIT had been unable to track him down for the reunion. The Brigadier says, "Wonderful chap — all of them", which confuses the Colonel. Suddenly, the Second Doctor bursts through the door, having barged past the sergeant on duty, happy to see his old friend. They take a walk. As they walk and talk in the yard about their times together, the Second Doctor tells the Brigadier that he must go as he is bending the Laws of Time. However, they are snatched up by the Time Scoop. Models of them appear in the wall alcove and the Player puts them in the spot next to the First Doctor.


K9 tries to warn Sarah about the Time Scoop.

The Fifth Doctor feels another pain and collapses after reassuring Tegan and Turlough that everything's all right.

Elsewhen, the Third Doctor is driving his vintage car, Bessie. He notices the Time Scoop coming towards him. He tries to evade it, but is taken anyway; a figure of him appears in the wall alcove and placed into the next spot on the diorama.

The Fifth Doctor tells his companions he must get back to the TARDIS. There is something definitely wrong with his past and he is in immediate danger. As he puts it, "A man is the sum of his memories, a Time Lord even more so". He is near the TARDIS when he collapses in pain as his third incarnation is snatched. He tells his companions he has to find "my other selves..."

Sarah Jane Smith is about to leave home. K9 warns her not to. He senses there is danger and it somehow involves the Doctor. He suggests she take him with her. Unfortunately, her car is out of action and she has to take the bus. Believing K9 is overreacting, she dismisses his worry and heads off.

Somewhen else, the Fourth Doctor and Romana II are enjoying a punt along the River Cam in Cambridge. They are Time Scooped by the Player as well. However, to the growing anger of whoever is taking the Doctor's incarnations out of time, he cannot take figures of the Fourth Doctor and Romana from the wall alcove: they have been trapped in a time eddy in the time vortex and do not rematerialise. The Player angrily slams a black-gloved fist onto the control panel.

Waiting at the bus stop, Sarah is snatched by the Time Scoop, and her figurine placed in the diorama alongside the Third Doctor.

The Fifth Doctor and his companions have entered the TARDIS. After setting a destination on the console and starting the TARDIS off he collapses. He begins fading into the Time Stream, but Tegan and Turlough keep him in existence by encouraging him. The TARDIS lands, and the scanner shows a desolate, rocky landscape — the Death Zone on Gallifrey.

Death Zone model

Model figurines of the Doctors and their companions in the Time Scoop's diorama.

All the Doctors and their companions, save the Fourth Doctor and Romana, have actually been deposited on a desolate, rocky landscape — the Death Zone on Gallifrey. Figures of the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough have been placed on the diorama section next to the First Doctor — the spot where the Fourth Doctor and Romana should have been placed is flashing.

Meanwhile, in the Capitol on Gallifrey, the Inner Council of Time Lords, headed by Lord President Borusa and consisting of Chancellor Flavia and the Castellan, are in session. Despite the recently regenerated and still arrogant Borusa's misgivings, the High Council has voted unanimously to call in the Tremas Master to go into the Death Zone to help the Doctor, who has been taken out of time and no longer exists in any of his regenerations. They explain that the Eye of Harmony is being drained by whoever is taking the Doctors out of time, endangering all of Gallifrey. Offered a pardon and a new cycle of regenerations if he rescues the Doctors, the Master accepts. He is given a copy of the Seal of the High Council by the Castellan to prove his credentials and a transmat recall device. He is transmatted to the Death Zone.

In the Zone, the Doctors face many dangers. The First Doctor finds himself in a corridor with mirrored walls and is reunited with his granddaughter, Susan. Their reunion is cut short when a Dalek arrives and tries to kill them. They trick the Dalek into destroying itself by pushing it into a dead end, where a beam from its energy weapon bounces back off the shiny walls and destroys it; as the Doctor points out, "It's very dangerous to fire energy weapons in an enclosed space!" The explosion has blasted a hole in the wall, out which is what the Doctor and Susan recognise as the Death Zone on Gallifrey.

The Second Doctor and the Brigadier escape from a squad of Cybermen, and the Third Doctor rescues Sarah from her fall down an embankment. Sarah is confused; she had watched the Third Doctor regenerate into the Fourth, but is glad to see the Doctor she once knew.

The Second and Third Doctors explain to their companions that in Gallifrey's past, known as the Dark Time, the Time Lords greatly misused their powers. A device called the Time Scoop plucked beings out of their times and placed them in the Death Zone, where they fought each other in a sort of gladiatorial game for the Time Lords' amusement and entertainment. The Doctors' goal now is to reach the Dark Tower, where the Time Lord founder Rassilon is entombed, although there is some doubt as to whether Rassilon is actually dead.

The Master meets and fails to convince the Third Doctor he is there to help. The Doctor thinks the Master's Seal of Rassilon is a forgery, and when the Master hands it over to try and prove it is genuine, the Doctor confiscates it, thinking the Master has stolen it and says "I'll return it at the first opportunity!" The Master flees when thunderbolts flash down from the sky. The Third Doctor only sees this as confirmation that this is all a plot of the Master's, especially when another thunderbolt disables Bessie. The Doctor and Sarah are forced to continue their journey on foot.

The First Doctor and Susan find and enter the TARDIS; the presence of the First Doctor seems to stabilise the Fifth for the moment. Together, they scan the tower and find three entrances — one at the apex of the tower, the main gate at the base and one underground, but a force field prevents the TARDIS's entry, or even it moving within the Death Zone. The Fifth Doctor takes Tegan and Susan towards the main gate but encounters the Master, who has no better luck convincing the Fifth Doctor of his bona fides than he had the Third. At that moment, the two are confronted by Cybermen. When they try to run away, the Master is knocked out by an explosion caused by a Cyber-gun blast. The Fifth Doctor finds the Master's recall device on his unconscious body and transmats himself to the Capitol. Tegan and Susan start back to the TARDIS to warn the others, but Susan trips and sprains her ankle; and needs Tegan's help.

In the Capitol, the Fifth Doctor is informed of the situation by the High Council. The Doctor realises he has done the Master an injustice and that they were found too easily by the Cybermen. Like the Daleks, the Cybermen were never brought to the Death Zone in the Dark Times because they fought too well. He opens the recall device and finds a homing beacon inside. The Castellan — who had given the device to the Master — is arrested, and Borusa orders the Commander to search the Castellan's office and living quarters.

Tegan and Susan have told the First Doctor what happened to the Fifth Doctor. The First Doctor decides to head for the main gate himself. Tegan insists on accompanying him, much to his dismay. Susan and Turlough remain in the TARDIS to wait for the Tower's force-field to be deactivated so they can move the ship there.

The Master, confronted by the Cybermen, offers himself as a guide to the Tower in order to save his own life.

While waiting for the First Doctor and Tegan to get to the Tower, thumping is heard outside the TARDIS; the scanner reveals a squad of Cybermen carrying a coffin-like box and lots of cables.

A box containing Black Scrolls of Rassilon, forbidden knowledge from the Dark Times has been found, supposedly in the Castellan's quarters. The scrolls spontaneously combust before anyone can examine them, and Borusa orders the Castellan to be taken for interrogation, authorising the use of the mind probe — much to the Castellan's horror. However, as the Castellan is escorted outside, there is the sound of a staser shot and a cry. The Doctor rushes out to find the Castellan dead, a gun by his hand; the Commander reports he was shot while trying to escape. President Borusa refuses to allow the Doctor to return to the Death Zone and orders Flavia to look after him.

The Second Doctor and the Brigadier are exploring a series of caves in the hope of reaching the lower entrance to the Tower when they encounter a Yeti, apparently left over from the previous games. Taking refuge in an alcove, the Doctor tries to chase the Yeti off with a firework, but only maddens it, causing it to collapse the entrance to the alcove. However, the Doctor detects a breeze blowing further back, and discovers the underground entrance to the Tower.

The Fifth Doctor voices his concerns to Chancellor Flavia. He says that while the Castellan was stubborn, he was devoted to his oath of office and could never have been a traitor and that his reaction to the Scrolls was not that of a guilty man, but sheer disbelief. He suspects that the traitor is still at large. Flavia decides to have a word with the Captain, while the Doctor will speak with Borusa.

Cybermen defeated

The Raston Warrior Robot eliminates the Cybermen.

On the surface, the Third Doctor and Sarah come across a Raston Warrior Robot. According to the Doctor, it is "the most perfect killing machine ever devised". Able to move with blinding speed and fire bolts of metal at its targets, it detects its victims by motion. The Doctor and Sarah cannot move without attracting the robot's attention, but luck is on their side when a squad of Cybermen come over the ridge. The robot quickly eliminates the entire Cyber squad. Taking advantage of the distraction, the Doctor and Sarah run past the robot, taking some wire and spare bolts from its cave.

The First Doctor and Tegan reach the main door and open it using an entry coder hidden under a large bell.

After climbing a cliff, much to Sarah's dismay, the Doctor and Sarah find that there is no clear way across the empty space to the top of the tower. The Doctor uses the wire and bolts for a grappling hook. He and Sarah abseil across the gap to the top of the Tower, to the amusement of the Master far below.

On the main floor of the Tower, the First Doctor and Tegan find a red-and-white chessboard floor blocking their way. The Doctor quickly determines the chessboard is a trap — electrical bolts will destroy anyone attempting to cross unless they find the safe path. The Master appears at this point, warning them the Cybermen are close behind. While the Doctor and Tegan hide, the Master lures the Cybermen onto the chessboard, where all but the Cyber-Leader (who waited behind) are killed by the trap. He also tricks the Cyber-Leader into trying to cross with him before fatally blasting him with a Cyber-weapon. Enjoying this little piece of butchery, the Master blithely steps across the board, moving into the Tower after telling the Doctor that "it's as easy as pie." The Doctor realises that the Master means the Greek letter pi and the safe path is calculated by means of the mathematical constant. Armed with this knowledge, the Doctor and Tegan make their way across the trap.

In the Death Zone, the TARDIS is now surrounded by Cybermen, who start to assemble a bomb to blow it up. Inside, Turlough and Susan watch helplessly, not knowing what to do.

Jamie & Zoe Five Doctors

Jamie and Zoe appear.

The Second and Third Doctors encounter more obstacles while moving separately through the Tower, with the mind of Rassilon emitting intensifying fear. They also encounter what appear to be their previous companions, the Third meeting Captain Mike Yates and Liz Shaw and the Second Jamie McCrimmon and Zoe Heriot. The Doctors soon realise they are just phantoms to impede their progress through the Tower and the spectres vanish with a scream. The First Doctor blithely ignores the fear as an illusion, considering that "at my age, there's little left to fear!"

Finally, the first three Doctors reach the tomb: Rassilon's sepulchre. While the Brigadier, Sarah and Tegan get reacquainted, the three Doctors try to translate an inscription in Old High Gallifreyan on a pedestal near a control panel — arguing among themselves as usual.

The Fifth Doctor finds Borusa has vanished from the Council Chamber, but the guards insist the President could not have gotten by them at the only entrance. The transmat is out of power, so the Doctor deduces there must be a secret door and orders the guards to notify Flavia that the President has disappeared. After an intensive search, he realises that the Harp of Rassilon, standing in the Council Chamber, is the key and that a tune will open the door. He starts experimenting.

In the tomb, the Doctors have deciphered the inscription. Rassilon had discovered the secret of immortality. He was willing to share it with whoever overcame the obstacles to the tomb and took the ring from his body and put it on. However, a line troubles the First Doctor, who wonders just what it means: "To lose is to win and he who wins shall lose." The Master steps out of the shadows, brandishing his tissue compression eliminator, to claim immortality himself and to kill the Doctor "three times over", but the Brigadier moves up behind the Master and surprises him by saying "Nice to see you again!" The Third Doctor kicks the weapon out of the Master's hand, while the Brigadier delivers a powerful right-hook to the Master's jaw. The Master falls to the floor and stays there, knocked out cold, and is tied up by Sarah and Tegan.

The Fifth Doctor realises that the tune is shown in a painting of Rassilon playing the Harp, where the sheet music is clearly depicted. He plays the tune, which opens the door. The Doctor enters the secret chamber and finds the dark figure of the Player who has taken his other selves out of time: Borusa. The Lord President is not satisfied with ruling Gallifrey for all his remaining regenerations — he wants to be President Eternal and rule forever. Like the first three Doctors, Borusa has determined that Rassilon discovered the secret of immortality and he means to claim it, sending the Doctors into the Zone to clear the way of obstacles for him. Using the Coronet of Rassilon, Borusa overwhelms the Fifth Doctor's will, forcing him to obey his commands.

The Third Doctor fixes the control panel by reversing the polarity of the neutron flow, allowing the TARDIS to transport itself to the tomb just seconds before the Cybermen's bomb detonates.


Rassilon questions as to whether the Doctors also seek immortality.

The Second Doctor contacts the Capitol. The Fifth Doctor answers, still under Borusa's control, and tells his other selves to await his and Borusa's arrival. The First and Third Doctors are suspicious, but the Second doesn't believe them. Transmatting to the tomb with the Fifth Doctor, Borusa paralyses the Doctors' companions with the command "Be silent! Be silent, all of you! Do not move or speak until I give you leave!" Then, Borusa tries to control the minds of the First, Second and Third Doctors. However, they combine their wills against him to free the Fifth Doctor. As Borusa declares that Gallifrey will believe its President's word over that of the notorious renegades, a booming voice echoes through the chamber.

It is Rassilon, who appears as a large face in the air, demanding to know who disturbs him.

Borusa steps forward to claim his prize of immortality and, while the other Doctors protest, the First Doctor holds them back, telling Rassilon that Borusa deserves the prize. Rassilon instructs Borusa to take the ring from the body and put it on. Borusa does so, but finds himself paralysed as three stone faces carved into the side of Rassilon's bier briefly come to life; they are the others who sought immortality and received it: they are now frozen in stone forever. The ring vanishes from Borusa's finger and returns to Rassilon, while Borusa himself disappears and reappears as a stone face in an empty space on the bier. The faces, including Borusa's, then become stone once more. Borusa has found his immortality, but not the way he wanted it.

Rassilon asks the Doctors if they want immortality too — all four frantically say "No!" The Fifth Doctor asks that they all be returned to their proper time and the Fourth Doctor be freed from the time vortex. Rassilon does so, and the Fourth Doctor and Romana are freed from the time eddy and they both depart in the TARDIS. [note 1]. Then, Rassilon sends the Master — who is just coming to, and is grinning — back to his own time, saying "His sins will find their punishment in due time." After telling the Doctors to say their goodbyes, and that they have chosen wisely, Rassilon bids them farewell and vanishes, returning to his eternal rest as the companions find themselves released from Borusa's psychic hold. The First Doctor smugly tells the Fifth that he finally understood the proverb: "To lose is to win and he who wins shall lose." The prize was yet another trap — a means for Rassilon to discover who wanted immortality and were thus a danger to Gallifrey and get them out of the way.

The Doctors and their companions say their goodbyes to each other — with a few snipes between the Doctors — and re-enter the TARDIS, save for the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough. As the three watch, the Doctors and their companions are transported back to their proper times in offshoots of the TARDIS splitting off from the original; Rassilon has used temporal fission to send them home.[note 2] Flavia arrives with guards and tells the Doctor that with Borusa's disappearance, the Council has appointed the Doctor as President. The Doctor orders Flavia back to the Capitol, saying she has full deputy powers until his return and that he will follow in his TARDIS. When Flavia begins to protest, the Doctor firmly tells her that she should obey his commands as he is now is president. He then ushers Tegan and Turlough into the TARDIS and orders the guards to escort Flavia back to her duties. The Doctor runs back to the TARDIS, leaving Flavia calling after him.

In the TARDIS, Tegan and Turlough are concerned the Time Lords will send them home now the Doctor has become President, but the Doctor tells them that he has no intention of returning to Gallifrey. Tegan asks if the Doctor really intends to go on the run from his own people in a "rackety old TARDIS". The Doctor replies, smiling, "Why not? After all, that's how it all started..."



Uncredited Crew[]





Dalek Mutant 2

The Dalek mutant.

  • The Dalek's dome is blown off when it explodes, revealing the actual Dalek mutant inside — which quickly perishes.
  • The Cybermen are quickly destroyed by the Raston Warrior Robot.
  • A Yeti is in the Game.

People from the real world[]

  • Whilst punting down the river Cam, the Doctor rambles to Romana about Cambridge graduates, mentioning Isaac Newton.
  • The Brigadier surmises the circumstances of his getting to the Dark Tower as "like a cross between Guy Fawkes and Hallowe'en."



  • The Fifth Doctor misquotes a line from the novel Through the Looking-Glass, saying "Like Alice, I try to believe three impossible things before breakfast." The actual line is "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast" and it is said by the White Queen, not Alice.


Story notes[]

  • This was the sole performance for Richard Hurndall as the First Doctor. His first line in the role was, "Susan? Surely, it's Susan?", and his last line was, "Come along, Susan."
  • The story united the then-current Fifth Doctor with his predecessors in an adventure which also featured several of his past and current companions and enemies.
  • This is the first televised story to credit William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker as "The Doctor" rather than "Dr. Who" or "Doctor Who," as had been the norm for the show's first 18 years.
  • In addition to its inclusion of a number of characters not normally seen together, this was the first episode of Doctor Who ever to premiere abroad. It was also the first Doctor Who narrative broadcast as a part of the UK's Children in Need charity telethon; the Modern Era would see the show contribute a number of mini-episodes and prequels to CiN, but this remains the franchise's most extravagant contribution.
  • For the first time in the history of the series, a previous incarnation of the Doctor is brought into an episode by having a different actor play him on screen; Richard Hurndall took over the role of the First Doctor, as William Hartnell had passed away in 1975. The Five Doctors would be the last time on screen that an actor would portray the First Doctor in a substantive way until 2013, as the use of archive footage of Hartnell and body/voice doubles would be used to show the First Doctor in TV: The Name of the Doctor and The Day of the Doctor. Indeed, nearly 30 years later in 2014, the First Doctor, as a child, made a brief appearance near the end of the episode Listen. The Five Doctors, however, marked the first time in which an adult incarnation of the Doctor was portrayed by a replacement actor; this was followed by Sylvester McCoy's brief appearance as the Sixth Doctor, originally portrayed by Colin Baker, in Time and the Rani and Paul McGann doubling for the War Doctor in The Night of the Doctor). In audio dramas, various actors portrayed the First Doctor from the late 2000s onward. In 2017, the adult First Doctor appeared properly in Doctor Who again in the Series 10 finale The Doctor Falls and the following Christmas special Twice Upon a Time, this time being played by David Bradley, who had played William Hartnell himself in the 50th anniversary special An Adventure in Space and Time. In this case, the First Doctor's change in appearance was explained by the Twelfth Doctor as the First Doctor's face being "all over the place" due to the First Doctor's impending regeneration.
  • This story introduced the idea that the Time Lords could grant a new regeneration cycle to a Time Lord at the end of their original cycle of twelve regenerations. In this case, it was offered to the Master, though he did not receive it. When the Master returned in the revived series, he had been granted a new regeneration cycle after being resurrected by the Time Lords to fight in the Last Great Time War. (TV: Utopia, The Sound of Drums, The Doctor Falls) On-screen, this ability to grant a new regeneration cycle was seen in The Time of the Doctor. In this case, the Time Lords, at the pleading of Clara Oswald, granted the Doctor a new regeneration cycle at the end of the life of his final incarnation. Subsequently, questions have been raised by several characters, including the Doctor himself and Rassilon, about how many regenerations the Time Lords gave him in this second cycle. To date, no definitive answer has been given, with the Doctor theorising that he can regenerate forever now. (TV: Kill the Moon, Hell Bent, The Doctor Falls)
  • This story officially commemorated the twentieth anniversary of Doctor Who.
  • The Radio Times programme listing was accompanied by black-and-white full-length photographic cut-out images of a Dalek from The Power of the Daleks (printed back to front for artistic reasons), with a comic strip-style speech bubble reading "EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!", and K9 from The Invisible Enemy, with a speech bubble reading "NEGATIVE NEGATIVE". The accompanying caption read "The dreaded Daleks return, they are determined to ruin Doctor Who's 20th-anniversary celebrations and to wipe out the world. Can K9 help? 7.20 p.m." (original published text) A caption headed Children in Need, topped with the telethon's then current logo, also appeared alongside the programme listing in Radio Times for the London, Wales and North West regions, which read “The BBC's annual appeal for Children in Need all over the country begins in earnest at 6.55. And Doctor Who will be dropping in to join Terry later in the evening. But which one?” (original published text)
  • Elisabeth Sladen said she wished she hadn't filmed the shot of her rolling down the embankment because it didn't look very good afterwards.
  • Robert Holmes was initially commissioned to write the special. The special initially had the working title The Six Doctors because it originally included a robot impostor of one of the Doctors. The story would've detailed the Cybermen attempting to become "Cyberlords" by extracting a certain gene from the Doctor(s) genetic code and assimilating it within their own. Holmes, however, was unable to come up with a workable script, so Terrance Dicks was commissioned to write the piece. Ironically, the story immediately preceding The Five Doctors, TV: The King's Demons, did, in fact, introduce a robot character, Kamelion, with the ability to impersonate others. However, despite being introduced in that story as a new companion, not only is Kamelion not referenced or seen once in The Five Doctors, the character disappeared from the series for a full year because of technical difficulties, and there is no evidence he was ever intended to make so much as a cameo in this story, despite this apparently picking directly up from the previous story, in which he joined the TARDIS crew.[1]
    • The idea of a villain altering the genetic code of a Doctor was later implemented into Holmes's story The Two Doctors.
    • The concept of Cybermen extracting the Doctor's genetic code would appear in The Timeless Children in the form of the CyberMasters. Other similarities to The Five Doctors in The Timeless Children include it also being set on Gallifrey and featuring the Master using an army of Cybermen to his own ends.
  • The Five Doctors was co-produced with the Australian Broadcasting Commission who put in $A60,000, although under the terms of the agreement no credit to the co-producer appeared on-screen. (When the story was released by BBC Video in edited form in 1985 and in unedited form in 1990, the credit "A Co-production with ABC, Australia" appeared on the rear sleeve in both instances.) This was the first and only occurrence of this during the classic series. Later, the 1996 TV movie and the first four seasons of the new series would also incorporate non-UK support.
  • The companion illusion cameos were last-minute additions to the script.
  • Tom Baker didn't appear in the story. He declined to return to his role as the Fourth Doctor, as he felt it was too soon after his departure from the show (a decision he later said he regretted). An early idea to incorporate footage of Hartnell and Baker into the story's action in a way similar to the contemporary film Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid was abandoned in favour of hiring Richard Hurndall to give his own impression of the First Doctor, while clips of Baker and Lalla Ward from the (at the time) unfinished and never-before-seen story Shada were used to show only the Fourth Doctor's abduction and return, without any interaction between himself and the other Doctors.
  • For a publicity photo session, a waxwork figure of Tom Baker as the Doctor from Madame Tussauds was used, although there exist multiple conflicting reasons as to why. According to discussion on the Special Edition DVD, Baker himself was at one point supposed to take part in the photo shoot, but pulled out. However, John Nathan-Turner stated in interviews that the waxwork figure was kept on standby on the off-chance Baker was a no-show on the day — as Baker did not attend, the figure was used.
  • Terrance Dicks had already completed his first draft of the script when Tom Baker pulled out of the project. In discussion on the Special Edition DVD, Dicks said that this version of the story originally had the Fourth Doctor betray his other selves as he felt that this version was the most likely to do so. After Baker pulled out, he came up with the idea of the Fourth Doctor being trapped in the time vortex, thus endangering the existence of his other selves. This, he felt, brought more dramatic tension because of the possibility that the Doctors could cease to exist if they didn't defeat the villain. In the Fifth Doctor Handbook, Dicks is quoted as saying:
    • "My feeling is that it all worked better the way it ended up. Five Doctors were just too many to handle but four worked very nicely, and you do at least see Tom. The other thing that I found quite amazing was how well the scenes from Shada fitted in. I'll swear that if you didn't know, you would think it was written for the special."
  • This story was first broadcast via satellite on 23 November 1983 to North American viewers, before its transmission in the UK. However, this version had a number of small edits. UK viewers saw the unedited version during Children in Need broadcast on 25 November 1983, as well as a short pre-recorded interview with Peter Davison and Terry Wogan shown directly after.
  • Terrance Dicks has said he was displeased with Eric Saward's changes to his original story. He especially felt the Cybermen, for whom Saward had a particular fondness, were overused in the finished story. He also said that he was happy to create the Raston Warrior Robots and have them destroy the Cybermen because he wasn't as fond of the Cybermen. On the Special Edition DVD, he says that he really had to fight for the inclusion of a Dalek in the special despite the fact they were so iconic in the series.
  • The story was repeated as a four-part overseas version from 14 August to 17 August 1984. The Radio Times programme listing for part one was accompanied by one of the publicity photos taken of the Doctors, in black and white (Peter Davison sitting astride K9 with his hat on its head, surrounded by the other actors and the waxwork figure of Tom Baker), with the accompanying caption "Five reincarnations of the inter-world commuter — Patrick Troughton, Richard Hurndall, Peter Davison, Tom Baker, Jon PertweeDoctor Who: 6.15".
  • A 102-minute Special Edition of the story was released on VHS in 1995 with extended scenes and dialogue added or deleted, and some of the visual effects and the voice of Rassilon redone.
  • This was only the second time in the series' history that there was a pre-credits sequence. Castrovalva was the first such story. Subsequently, Time and the Rani and Remembrance of the Daleks also featured pre-credits teasers. This idea was re-used in the 1996 TV movie. The pre-credits sequence became a regular occurrence starting with the 2005 series episode The End of the World, and the animated reconstruction of The Power of the Daleks, a story preceding Castrovalva by more than 15 years, also featured one.
  • This serial explicitly indicated in dialogue that the Davison incarnation of the Doctor was in fact the fifth, apparently discounting fan speculation dating back to The Brain of Morbius that the First Doctor was not actually the first. Terrance Dicks wrote both stories although The Brain of Morbius was extensively rewritten by Robert Holmes to the point that Dicks wanted his name removed from the final story and it was credited to the pseudonym Robin Bland. However, 2020's The Timeless Children took the view that there were indeed many previous incarnations prior to the William Hartnell incarnation that the Doctor was unaware of.
  • The Quarks were set to return in this story, but were removed from the script at an early stage and replaced by the Raston Warrior Robot, which is the only new "monster" featured in the special, and was itself a last-minute addition, after Eric Saward told Terrance Dicks that the Third Doctor and Sarah needed to encounter one more obstacle before reaching the tower.
  • Commander Maxil and Chancellor Thalia, last seen in Arc of Infinity, was at one point to have appeared. The character was dropped from the final script when Colin Baker and Elspet Gray proved unavailable. Their roles were given to the Commander and Chancellor Flavia.
  • Two versions of the end sequences were made. For the original broadcast version the Doctors and companions were returned using the TARDIS, with an image of the TARDIS "splitting off" from the remaining one and the accompanying dematerialization sound effect. For the Special Edition version, the Doctors and companions were returned via a Timescoop effect after they entered the TARDIS. The two versions also used different footage from Shada to show the Fourth Doctor's return to Earth; in the Special Edition, it appears only the Doctor is kidnapped by the Timescoop, and he is returned to his and Romana's punt at the same moment he left.
  • Discounting the Brigadier, this story has the distinction of marking the first time companions from different eras had met and interacted. This would occur only once more in the original series, in The Two Doctors when Peri and Jamie meet. It has occurred several times in the 2005-present revival.
  • Terrance Dicks' original script had Sarah Jane arrive in the Death Zone amidst a ruined replica of a high street, where a collection of fallen mannequins was revealed to be a battalion of Autons, leading to her rescue by the Third Doctor in Bessie. It was scrapped for being too long and costly and was replaced with Sarah falling down a hill. Eric Saward said afterwards simply, "It was a lot simpler," despite Elisabeth Sladen stating her embarrassment of it.
  • This story was the first in which the Daleks and the Cybermen both featured (though they did not meet). This would not occur again until the Series 2 finale Army of Ghosts/Doomsday in 2006 (excluding the Cyberman head seen in Dalek). They would feature in the same stories again in TV: The Pandorica Opens, GAME: Return to Earth, and GAME: The Mazes of Time, although The Five Doctors sees the only time the Mondasian Cybermen have featured in one such story. All the others appear to be the Cybus variant.
  • This marks the only time the Third Doctor ever comes close to meeting with the Cybermen on-screen. He only observes them, however, and avoids any encounter and even avoids mentioning them by name. He would meet them again in AUDIO: The Blue Tooth.
  • The Brigadier's line, "Wonderful chap, all of them," is a slightly altered version of a line he said in The Three Doctors, "Wonderful chap, both of him".
  • Footage of Sarah Jane and K9 from early in this story was later used in the 2009 episode TV: The Mad Woman in the Attic.
  • In the blooper reel added in the twenty-fifth anniversary edition, a clip has the director shouting for a reshoot. Peter Davison says in response, "Shit." The Dalek also said, "Bugger, I lost them!" in another blooper. Jon Pertwee also said, "Shit," when Bessie failed to go. He added that his car was a sod to drive at the moment.
    • In another blooper, Pertwee remarks "Well, that's the end of the Master" after Nicholas Courtney (in character as the Brigadier) knocks Anthony Ainley (in character as the Master) to the ground. Richard Hurndall then jokingly suggests that Courtney "kick him in the cobblers next time." Coincidentally, The Mark of the Rani would see the titular villain knee the Master in the groin near the end of its second part.
  • The Raston Warrior Robot costume is a silver repaint of one of the Cyberman androids' costumes from TV: Earthshock.
  • Peter Davison would later parody the Fifth Doctor's "I am being diminished" speech in the second episode of the second series of his black comedy, Rigor Mortis. Davison's character, a workaholic pathologist, doesn't respond well to a sudden drought of deaths. Undergoing a form of withdrawal, he says: "I am being diminished, whittled away, piece by piece. A doctor is the sum of his contributions to humanity, you know; a pathologist even more so."
  • In early drafts of the script, some of the Doctor and companion combinations were different. Originally, the Fourth Doctor would have been paired with Sarah Jane, the Third Doctor with the Brigadier and the Second Doctor with Jamie. When Frazer Hines proved unavailable for more than a cameo appearance the script had to be altered, pairing the Second Doctor with Victoria Waterfield. This was revised again when Deborah Watling became unavailable and Tom Baker decided not to appear, resulting in the pairings as they were screened.
  • Wendy Padbury was pregnant during the recording and the costume she wore was in part designed to, in her words, "hide the bump". Sadly, she miscarried soon after wrapping. (DOC: MM VHS 7)
  • The scenes in which the Second and Third Doctors are captured were reused and put on new backgrounds to show Clara Oswald going throughout the Doctor's timeline. (TV: The Name of the Doctor)
  • This was the first TV story to air as a single (albeit extended) episode since Season 3's Mission to the Unknown in 1965.
  • In its 11 November 1983 article on the special episode, the Associated Press erroneously gave it the title Doctor Who: The Ultimate Celebration instead of The Five Doctors.[2]
  • The 90-minute original version remains, as of 2019, the longest single Doctor Who "episode" ever broadcast. Although the 1996 TV movie aired in a 120-minute time slot in the US and Canada, the actual film itself was only (depending on the edit viewed) 85 or 86 minutes, just shy of the run time of The Five Doctors. This does not take into account omnibus edits of serials originally broadcast as 25- or 45-minute episodes.
  • Steven Moffat is the only writer to use the numbering of the Doctors in the script of a televised episode, as he wrote "Tenth Doctor" and "Eleventh Doctor" in his script for The Day of the Doctor. The script for this episode used the actors' names, calling them "The Hartnell Doctor", "The Troughton Doctor", "The Pertwee Doctor", "The Baker Doctor" and "The Davison Doctor".
  • The First Doctor was supposed to take a zig-zag approach across the chessboard trap, but Richard Hurndall walked in a straight line. There was not enough time to reshoot the scene (they were already 17 minutes into overtime), so this version was ultimately used regardless.
  • A large number of other characters were planned to appear, but the actors were unavailable:
    • William Russell was invited to make a cameo as Ian, but declined.
    • Ben and Polly were considered to appear, but Anneke Wills was living overseas at the time and couldn't be located.
    • The continuity error of the Second Doctor remembering an incident that happened moments before his regeneration was a last-minute replacement for the original reason he recognised his old companions as illusions. This would have featured Victoria saying "The Brigadier's right", but the Doctor remembering that he was a Colonel when she met him. But Deborah Watling turned down The Five Doctors in favour of The Dave Allen Show and the replacement line was hastily added.
    • Benton was supposed to make a cameo at UNIT HQ, now promoted to sergeant major. John Levene turned it down, as he objected to the script requiring Benton to not recognise the Second Doctor. Levene felt this was unfaithful to his character, who he felt would not forget the Second Doctor. When the production refused to amend the script, Levene declined to participate. He also felt that the pay wasn't enough.
    • Jo was supposed to appear, but Katy Manning was living in Australia at the time.
    • Harry was supposed to appear, but Ian Marter was working in New Zealand at the time.
    • Louise Jameson wanted to reprise her role as Leela again, but they couldn't fit her into the story.
    • Romana was supposed to appear, but Lalla Ward turned it down, unwilling to work with Tom Baker again. Archive footage from Shada was ultimately used to represent her. Mary Tamm wasn't asked to reprise her role.
  • John Nathan-Turner's first choice of director for the story was Waris Hussein, but he was in America at the time and was unable to accept the offer. Nathan-Turner then asked another veteran director, Douglas Camfield, to direct but he also declined. Camfield was also very ill with heart disease, and this may have affected his decision not to direct the production. He died of a heart attack early in 1984. Ultimately, Nathan-Turner ended up having Peter Moffatt directing the story.
  • Charles Gray was offered the role of Rassilon, but turned it down.
  • Denis Quilley and Leonard Sachs were both asked to play Borusa before Philip Latham was cast.
  • Peter Moffatt disapproved of the Special Edition of the story which was later released on video, featuring updated special effects and reinstated scenes he had originally cut because he thought they were boring. John Nathan-Turner also spoke disparagingly of it, declaring that the changes it brought were unnecessary and ruined the overall quality of the story.
  • Peter Davison and Patrick Troughton had previously co-starred in the All Creatures Great and Small episode "Hair of the Dog".
  • John Nathan-Turner named this as one of his favourite episodes during his tenure. He was particularly pleased about the Raston Warrior Robot scene, which he directed himself.
  • K9's cameo role is as such because Terrance Dicks did not enjoy writing him into stories and so asked to make his contribution as minimal as possible. (It also proved impractical to use K9 in the location filming in Wales, the same reason he was often written out of stories when he was actively part of the TARDIS.)
  • Originally, it was the Fourth Doctor who uncovered the conspiracy on Gallifrey. When Tom Baker declined to participate, it was given to the Fifth Doctor.
  • Carole Ann Ford wasn't pleased that she had to trip over her own ankles after the Doctor teleported to Gallifrey.
  • In April 2013, Carole Ann Ford revealed that John Nathan-Turner had initially insisted that Susan not refer to the Doctor as her grandfather: "You will not believe why. They said, 'We don't really want people to perceive him as having had sex with someone, to father a child.' I just screamed with hysterical laughter and said, 'In that case, I'm not doing it.'" The script was changed to include mentions of the characters' relationship.
  • Originally, Tegan was to make tea for the First Doctor, but Janet Fielding refused, so it was changed to Turlough doing it.
  • Keith Hodiak once urinated in the Raston Warrior Robot costume. This left a stain that had to be dried with a hair dryer.
  • Richard Hurndall didn't watch any of William Hartnell's episodes for fear of mimicry.
  • Ian Levine suggested Richard Hurndall after seeing him in the Blake's 7 episode Assassin.
  • When Eric Saward contacted Terrance Dicks about writing the special, he was at a convention in New Orleans and awoke at seven o'clock in the morning after a party the previous night. Dicks agreed and then announced to the convention that he was writing the special. When he returned to England, Dicks claimed that Saward told him to write something to compete with Robert Holmes' script. Dicks angrily stormed out. Saward came back more politely and Dicks agreed, knowing his reputation was as a fixer.
  • The Yeti costume used in the serial was last used in The Web of Fear. It had decayed badly in 15 years of storage, requiring dim lighting and selective camera angles during filming.
  • Originally, the Master was the main villain, but Terrance Dicks thought that was too obvious. He felt that the least obvious choice was Borusa.
  • The end credits featured a specially-mixed version of the theme music, which began with Delia Derbyshire's original 1960s arrangement and then segued into the Peter Howell arrangement being used by the series at the time (the former being played at a slightly higher speed to match the tempo and pitch of the latter). This arrangement was only used on this one occasion and was the last time that the Derbyshire version was heard during the show's original run. A unique arrangement of the opening credits music was also used, which ended in a brief coda phrase that was never used in any other serial.
  • This was the final story to be shot using 2-Inch videotape before it was swapped out for the more light-weight 1-inch format. The last time the format was used was in Resurrection of the Daleks.
  • John Nathan-Turner had stated that he intended to resign from his position as producer after production of this story and regretted in later years that he hadn't taken that opportunity. (DCOM: Showtime: The Life of John Nathan-Turner)
  • Anthony Ainley and Wendy Padbury had previously co-starred in the horror film Blood on Satan's Claw.
  • In the hidden audio commentary for the DVD's re-release in 2008, Phil Collinson mistakenly identifies Zoe Heriot as Victoria Waterfield.
  • Geoffrey Bayldon was considered to play the First Doctor, but John Nathan-Turner felt that he was too recognisable from his roles in Catweazle and Worzel Gummidge.
  • The Yeti replaced an anonymous one-eyed subterranean monster.
  • The Eye of Orion scenes had to be remonted, as the original footage had been irreparably damaged. Mark Strickson had not expected to be needed for the rest of the location shoot, and had gone on a driving holiday with no means of contacting him. The production team had to resort to radio appeals, before they finally reached Strickson via a family member and summoned him back to Wales.
  • In the original script, the Third Doctor constructed a makeshift hang-glider using the Raston Robot's spare equipment and his own cloak, and flew across the chasm. Unfortunately, the Visual Effects Department had been unable to construct a convincing prop, and Jon Pertwee refused to go ahead with the scene, which he felt to be preposterous. Peter Moffatt and John Nathan-Turner came up with him throwing a line across to the Dark Tower.
  • There was concern that the salary necessary to secure Jon Pertwee for both studio and location work would be beyond the project's budget. Pertwee ultimately agreed to take a pay cut because he was so eager to play the Doctor again.
  • John Nathan-Turner directed some second unit shots for the Raston Warrior Robot scene due to the large amount of material to be captured.
  • The Third Doctor's rescue of Sarah Jane from the precipice posed difficulties. Peter Moffatt had been unable to locate a suitably steep incline, and was forced to try to achieve the effect using camera trickery, albeit with limited success.
  • The Dalek was assembled from surviving components constructed during the 1960s. For its destruction, the skirt section from a “goon” Dalek, built for Planet of the Daleks, was substituted.
  • Terrance Dicks had indicated that the apparition of Rassilon should be dressed in the manner of the Time Lords seen in The War Games, but this approach was not pursued by costume designer Colin Lavers.
  • The clip from The Dalek Invasion of Earth was added so that William Hartnell would have a presence in the special. The footage was sepia-tinted by video effects designer Dave Chapman to make the transition from monochrome to colour less jarring. This was eliminated in the four part version.
  • For the Fourth Doctor and Romana's release from the time vortex, an extract from Shada part one, in which the pair approached the gates of Cambridge University, had initially been selected. However, John Nathan-Turner was keen to depict all of the Doctors departing in the TARDIS, and so a clip from part three was used instead. Unfortunately, it did not match up as well with the abduction sequence, which was also taken from the opening instalment and saw the two Time Lords punting on the River Cam.[3]
  • The Five Doctors marks the end of what is, as of 2023, the longest consecutive run of classic Doctor Who serials on Blu-ray. The run comprises all of Season 17, 18, 19 and 20, ending with this story.
  • During overseas broadcasts (and occasionally in UK re-airings), this story was split up into four twenty-five-minute episodes. The cliffhangers consisted of Sarah Jane falling down the embankment, Turlough and Susan discovering the Cybermen outside the TARDIS, and the Master following the First Doctor and Tegan into the main floor of the Dark Tower.


  • 7.7 million viewers


  • The Five Doctors was to feature Omega. Though various past villains were considered for inclusion in this story, Omega was never one of them, other than the Second Doctor's dialogue reference. In addition, the character had appeared at the start of the previous season in Arc of Infinity.
  • Richard Hurndall died before he was ever paid for his work on The Five Doctors. Hurndall was infact paid in full before his death in April 1984 - via five different payments made out to him with regards to The Five Doctors (four contractual, one expenses) in 1982 and 1983.[2]
  • The Master's real name is Jehoshaphat. This originated from fan writers misunderstanding the Third Doctor uttering the word upon recognising the Master. In truth, it was a somewhat antiquated exclamation of surprise — a shortened version of "Jumping Jehoshaphat!"
  • In early drafts, the First Doctor was to appear with Dodo and Steven, and K9 was to accompany the Fourth Doctor and Romana II (or Sarah) throughout the episode. Susan was the only companion ever considered to appear alongside the First Doctor. While K9 was present throughout most of the draft scripts, none of them had him appearing in more than a small cameo, which indeed happened in the finished episode
  • Kamelion was supposed to appear for this story. He was never intended to take an active part in the story, due to the difficulty in operating the Kamelion prop. An explanation for his absence may have been in one of the draft scripts, though no firm evidence exists for this.
  • Maxil was supposed to appear for this story, but the plan was dropped because his actor, Colin Baker, had been cast as the Sixth Doctor and his appearance as Maxil would have been considered a spoiler. Maxil was to have appeared in The Five Doctors, but the character was dropped because Baker was unavailable, not because of his being cast as the Doctor; in fact, Baker wasn't offered the role of the Doctor until June 1983, well after production of The Five Doctors concluded.

Filming locations[]

  • Plas Brondanw, Llanfrothen, Penrhyndeudraeth, Gwynedd (Eye of Orion)
  • Manod Quarry
  • Tilehouse Lane, Denham Green, Buckinghamshire
  • West Common Road, Uxbridge, Middlesex
  • Carreg Y Foel Gron, Ffestiniog, Gwynedd
  • Cwm Bychan, Llanbedr, Gwynedd
  • Denham Manor, Halings Lane, Denham Green (UNIT HQ)
  • North Common Road, Uxbridge, Middlesex
  • Ealing Television Film Studios, Ealing Green, Ealing
  • BBC Television Centre

Production errors[]

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.
  • When the Brigadier is attacked by a Cyberman, the jeans of the actor playing the Cyberman are visible.
  • When the Dalek is chasing the First Doctor and Susan through the hall of mirrors, the top of the Dalek pops up a bit, pushed up by the actor inside.
  • The long shot of the Third Doctor and Sarah sliding to the top of the tower reveals their slide rope doesn't go from a high location to a lower one, or from two positions along a straight line. Rather, the tower is actually above the position from which they start.
  • At one point in the caves, a boom microphone is visible above the Second Doctor's and the Brigadier's head (and it stays there for around three seconds).
  • When the Master arrives in the Death Zone, he is wearing a black cloak which he was not wearing when he stepped into the transmat. Peter Davison and Terrance Dicks joked that the transmat functions included a "cloak dispenser" in their commentary on the 25th Anniversary DVD. (Alternately, since the Master's arrival in the Death Zone is not seen, he may have acquired it off-screen in between scenes.)
  • After the Raston Warrior Robot defeats the Cybermen, there are several small fires burning on the ground; when the scene is cut for when the Robot jumps and vanishes, the fires disappear.
  • The cables on the head of the Cyberman who watches the First Doctor and Susan approach the TARDIS are disconnected (the shot was removed from the Special Edition for this reason.)
  • In the shot immediately between the ring reappearing on Rassilon's hand and Borusa turning to look at the empty space on the bier, an aerial shot shows the stone carving of Borusa is already in place, but the space it occupies is blank again in the next shot.


Home video and audio releases[]

With three VHS releases, two DVD releases and a Laserdisc release, The Five Doctors is among one of the most reissued Doctor Who TV stories in the classic show's run.

VHS Releases[]

The Five Doctors had three separate VHS releases:

It was released on video by BBC Enterprises in 1985. This was the edited version screened in the USA and had two minutes of footage edited out.

It was released again by BBC Worldwide in 1990 in an unedited format. The Video Gift Set, exclusive to Boots shops, also contained a unique Dapol Dalek with the colour shown in promotions such as the back of Radio Times' Doctor Who 20th Anniversary Special (the pictured Dalek being from the Madame Tussauds' Doctor Who exhibition).

Box set[]

It was released on video by BBC Worldwide in 1995 as part of a boxed set in the UK, Australia and the US. This was the Extended/Special Edition version of the story. In all regions, this edition was notable for being twinned with The King's Demons, which was never released on VHS on its own.

Laserdisc releases[]

  • The original (broadcast) version of the story was released on laserdisc in 1994.

DVD release[]

The Five Doctors was the first Doctor Who DVD to be released by BBC Worldwide. It introduced several features that remain with the range today. The intro-theme music used into the DVDs was the Davison-era theme music, and remains for all DVDs. While the original release of the DVD had no special features, it did feature a CGI created TARDIS console room (based on the one featured in this story).

First release[]

In 1999 The Five Doctors was released on DVD by BBC Worldwide. This was the same Extended / Special Edition as the 1995 VHS release, with no additional features. It was released in Australia 2000. Only the North America release had commentary and the Who's Who features. In the UK, because the DVD cover did not match the usual Region 2 template, a matching version (by Lee Binding and Clayton Hickman) was released on the BBC Doctor Who website on 23 December 2004;[3] As of July 2023 this image can be downloaded using the Internet Archive Wayback Machine: [4].

Second release[]

In 2008 The Five Doctors was re-released celebrating the story's 25th anniversary. In this case it was a dual DVD release showcasing the original version of the story and the Extended / Special Edition.

Special Features[]
  • Commentary on 1983 TV version by Carole Ann Ford (Susan), Nicholas Courtney (The Brigadier), Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane) and Mark Strickson (Turlough)
  • Commentary on 1995 Special Edition by Peter Davison (The Doctor) and Terrance Dicks (Writer)
  • Celebration — A 52-minute look back at Doctor Who's 20th anniversary celebrations in 1983 hosted by Colin Baker
  • The Ties that Bind Us - A 16-minute documentary examining the links to the show's past and future in The Five Doctors (right up to Last of the Time Lords) narrated by Paul McGann
  • Five Doctors, One Studio — Raw video footage of the only studio recording session in which Davison, Pertwee, Troughton and Hurndall were all together on set
  • Out-takes - Bloopers and gaffes from the making of the story
  • (Not So) Special Effects — A look at a typical day's work for the visual FX crew on Doctor Who, featuring raw footage of the filming of several special effects sequences
  • Publicity Clips - The actors publicise The Five Doctors on Saturday Superstore, Blue Peter, Nationwide and Breakfast Time
  • Trails and Continuities - BBC1 trailers and continuity announcements from the story's original transmission, including the cliffhangers created for the four-episode version
  • Isolated Music - The score for both versions is available on a separate music track
  • Radio Times Billings (DVD-ROM PC/Mac)
  • Photo Gallery
  • Production Subtitles for both versions
  • Coming Soon Trailer - The Invasion of Time
  • Easter Eggs:
    • Bonus commentary on the 1983 TV version by David Tennant, Helen Raynor and Phil Collinson. To access this hidden feature, press right at Companions Commentary in the Audio Options section of Disc One's Special Features menu to reveal a hidden Doctor Who logo.
    • 1995 BBC Video ident featuring the BBC Logo being eaten by the Black Triangle. To access this hidden feature, press left at Nationwide on Disc Two's Special Features menu to reveal a hidden Doctor Who logo.

Editing for the Special Edition VHS and DVD releases and 25th Anniversary DVD release was completed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team.

Audio release[]

Silva Screen Records released a CD, The Five Doctors: Classic Music from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop Volume 2 (FILMCD 710), which contains a suite of music from this story. (The rest of the album contains music from other Fifth Doctor stories.)

External links[]


  1. Only in the Original version. In the Special Edition version, they are both returned to the River Cam."
  2. Only in the Original version. In the Special Edition version, the Doctors and their companions are transported back to their proper times by the Time Scoop.