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The Five Doctors was a novelisation based on the 1983 television serial The Five Doctors.

This was the first Peter Davison-era novelisation cover to use artwork rather than a photograph, and was the only release of its kind during the Davison era to depict the Fifth Doctor in an illustration rather than a photo.

Publisher's summary[]

1983 Target Books edition[]

A twentieth anniversary special featuring the Doctor in all five of his regenerations.

Why are all five Doctors being removed from their separate time-streams? Who is the enemy they will have to unite against? What will become of the Doctors when the battle is over?

We have travelled a long way with Doctor Who. The Five Doctors gives us a chance to turn the clock back and meet some old friends — and some old enemies.

1991 Target Books edition[]


But this is not a game. One by one, the five Doctors are removed from their respective time-streams and dumped in the Death Zone on Gallifrey.

But who is manipulating them in this way? And why has the Master been sent to help them?

And what exactly is inside Rassilon's tomb?

The Five Doctors was originally broadcast on 25th November 1983 to mark the twentieth anniversary of the series. It was written by Terrance Dicks who was script editor of the series for five years and who has written more than sixty novelizations of Doctor Who television stories.

Chapter titles[]

  1. The Game Begins
  2. Pawns in the Game
  3. Death Zone
  4. Unexpected Meeting
  5. Two Doctors
  6. Above, Between, Below!
  7. The Doctor Disappears
  8. Condemned
  9. The Dark Tower
  10. Deadly Companions
  11. Rassilon's Secret
  12. The Game of Rassilon

Deviations from televised story[]

  • Dicks adds a segment accounting for Susan Foreman's abduction by the timescoop, set in the era after The Dalek Invasion of Earth.
  • The First Doctor is stated to be nearing his first regeneration, having come to the rose garden in semi-retirement to prepare himself for the process ahead.
  • Susan's line of "Grandfather" is returned to its script version, "Doctor". During shooting of the original episode, Carole Ann Ford had refused to say the line, as in her era she would never have called him "Doctor". An explanation is given that Susan was thinking of how others called him "Doctor" except for she.
  • The Brigadier's punch only stuns The Master who is poised to use his Tissue Compression Eliminator on his assailant, whereas in the original special he is subdued with a single blow simultaneously as the Third Doctor kicks the weapon from his grasp. In this novelization the Doctor is still able to do so, and the Master is ultimately subdued when the Doctors pile atop him.
  • The Third Doctor's comeback to the Second Doctor's insult (where he calls him a "scarecrow") is removed.
  • Sarah Jane is upset over the Fourth Doctor's absence.

Writing and publishing notes[]

  • Written by Terrance Dicks to tie in with the Anniversary TV broadcast, this was the quickest novelisation Terrance wrote.
  • After several unsuccessful attempts to release titles simultaneous with broadcast, there was general disapproval that the book was available in some areas as much as two weeks before transmission. According to a featurette on the 25th anniversary DVD, it is believed that the release before broadcast was an error.
  • The usual cover price of £1.35 (UK) was raised significantly for this title's release, to a special price of £1.50 (UK), before being lowered again for subsequent releases.
  • This was the first title to be seen through by Nigel Robinson, the new range editor, who took over from Christine Donohoe who had already commissioned a number of titles that Nigel inherited.
  • The 1983 release features a Foil cover with a lower corner flash reading "A TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL FIRST EDITION". A reprint changes this, for obvious reasons, to "A TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL SECOND EDITION".
  • The inside front of the book included a single page advert for Fantastic Doctor Who Poster Offer! (Featuring Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor and a host of target novelisations)

Additional cover images[]

British publication history[]

First publication:

  • Hardback
W.H. Allen & Co. Ltd. UK
  • Paperback


This Target Book was released as an audiobook on 2 November 2017 complete and unabridged by BBC Audio and read by Jon Culshaw with Dalek and Cyberman voices by Nicholas Briggs.

The cover blurb and thumbnail illustrations were retained in the accompanying booklet with sleevenotes by David J. Howe. Music and sound effects by Simon Power.