Doctor Who (season 20)

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Doctor Who (season 20)
Doctor Who Season 20 DVD.jpg
Cover art of the Region 2 DVD release for first serial of the season
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of stories6, 1 special
No. of episodes23
Original networkBBC One
Original release3 January (1983-01-03) –
16 March 1983 (1983-03-16) (Season)
25 November 1983 (Special)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 19
Next →
Season 21
List of Doctor Who episodes (1963–1989)

The twentieth season of British science fiction television series Doctor Who began on 3 January 1983 with the story Arc of Infinity, and ended 16 March 1983 with The King's Demons. A 20th Anniversary special, The Five Doctors, followed in November 1983.


Main cast[edit]

Peter Davison continues his role as the Doctor, accompanied by Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka). While Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) leaves halfway through the season in Terminus, Mark Strickson arrives as new companion Vislor Turlough in Mawdryn Undead. In the penultimate serial of the season, the shape-shifting android Kamelion (voiced by Gerald Flood) is invited aboard the TARDIS after the Doctor frees him from the Master. Kamelion accepts, though the character itself would only be seen again in Season 21's antepenultimate serial, Planet of Fire.

Past Doctors return for the 20th Anniversary special, with Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee appearing as the Second Doctor and Third Doctor. The First Doctor returns, played by Richard Hurndall as original actor William Hartnell died in 1975. Tom Baker was asked to return to play the Fourth Doctor but declined.

Past companions Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart), Carole Ann Ford (Susan Foreman) return for the 20th Anniversary special, whilst Nicholas Courtney also makes an appearance in Mawdryn Undead.

Recurring stars[edit]

Anthony Ainley returns as the Master yet again in The King's Demons and The Five Doctors.

The Black Guardian played by Valentine Dyall also makes a return in Mawdryn Undead, Terminus and Enlightenment.

The Castellan played by Paul Jerricho appears in Arc of Infinity and reprises the role in The Five Doctors

Guest stars[edit]

Additional companions Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon), Wendy Padbury (Zoe Heriot), Caroline John (Liz Shaw) and Richard Franklin (Mike Yates) make cameos throughout the special.

Returning villains for the season are Omega (Arc of Infinity), Cybermen (The Five Doctors) and The Mara (Snakedance). A lone Dalek and a lone Yeti appear briefly in The Five Doctors.

David Banks makes his second of four appearances in the show in The Five Doctors as a Cyber-leader.

Colin Baker, who was subsequently cast as the Sixth Doctor, made his first appearance in Doctor Who as Commander Maxil in the season's first serial, Arc of Infinity, becoming the first actor to appear in the programme prior to taking on the role of the Doctor.


To commemorate the twentieth season, the stories in this season involve the return of characters or villains seen in previous seasons. This season was broadcast twice weekly on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings on BBC1. It includes The Black Guardian Trilogy, consisting of the serials Mawdryn Undead, Terminus and Enlightenment and involving the arrival of Turlough, the departure of Nyssa and a single guest appearance from Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Overall, these serials form a rough twelve-part epic.

Although The Five Doctors was broadcast more than eight months after Part 2 of The King's Demons, which was the last regular story of the season, it is usually included as part of Season 20.

StorySerialSerial titleEpisode titlesDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
UK viewers
(millions) [1]
1231Arc of Infinity"Part One"Ron JonesJohnny Byrne3 January 1983 (1983-01-03)6E7.269
"Part Two"Ron JonesJohnny Byrne5 January 1983 (1983-01-05)6E7.370
"Part Three"Ron JonesJohnny Byrne11 January 1983 (1983-01-11)6E6.967
"Part Four"Ron JonesJohnny Byrne12 January 1983 (1983-01-12)6E7.266
The Doctor's bio-data extract is stolen from the Matrix on Gallifrey. Soon after, a being from an anti-matter universe begins to genetically bond with the Doctor. He and Nyssa return to Gallifrey, only for the High Council to order his execution – while on Earth, unbeknownst to her friends, Tegan's search for her missing cousin in Amsterdam is somehow tied into the events as well. It is left to Nyssa to uncover the identity of a traitor on the High Council, and to unveil the enemy manipulating the Doctor – an entity who has long thirsted for revenge against both the Doctor and the Time Lords themselves.
1242Snakedance"Part One"Fiona CummingChristopher Bailey18 January 1983 (1983-01-18)6D6.765
"Part Two"Fiona CummingChristopher Bailey19 January 1983 (1983-01-19)6D7.766
"Part Three"Fiona CummingChristopher Bailey25 January 1983 (1983-01-25)6D6.667
"Part Four"Fiona CummingChristopher Bailey26 January 1983 (1983-01-26)6D7.467
The Mara once again takes control of Tegan's mind and compels her to direct the TARDIS to Manussa, seat of its once-mighty empire. Generations earlier, the Mara was driven off Manussa with the use of the Great Crystal, a device which enhances its users' mental abilities. Now, the Mara intends to use the Crystal to return to power. It is up to the Doctor to unearth the terrible origins of the Mara, and seek out the one man who can show him how to defeat the Mara in psychic combat.
1253Mawdryn Undead"Part One"Peter MoffattPeter Grimwade1 February 1983 (1983-02-01)6F6.567
"Part Two"Peter MoffattPeter Grimwade2 February 1983 (1983-02-02)6F7.570
"Part Three"Peter MoffattPeter Grimwade8 February 1983 (1983-02-08)6F7.467
"Part Four"Peter MoffattPeter Grimwade9 February 1983 (1983-02-09)6F7.768
An alien named Turlough lives in secret amongst boys at an English boarding school where the Brigadier is now teaching maths. He is contacted by the Black Guardian, who wants him to kill the Doctor. The TARDIS, meanwhile, has brought the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan to a space station trapped in a warp ellipse. It serves as a prison for a team of scientists led by Mawdryn, who tried to steal the secrets of the Time Lords and instead placed him and scientists in a state of perpetual regeneration. It is up to the Doctor to find some way to help Mawdryn, but doing so may cost him his remaining regenerations.
1264Terminus"Part One"Mary RidgeStephen Gallagher15 February 1983 (1983-02-15)6G6.865
"Part Two"Mary RidgeStephen Gallagher16 February 1983 (1983-02-16)6G7.567
"Part Three"Mary RidgeStephen Gallagher22 February 1983 (1983-02-22)6G6.564
"Part Four"Mary RidgeStephen Gallagher23 February 1983 (1983-02-23)6G7.467
Turlough's sabotage causes the TARDIS to make an emergency landing on a space station called Terminus, where victims of the horrible, virulent Lazar disease go to die. The Doctor discovers that Terminus is powered by two enormous engines, one of which exploded long ago, an event which instigated the Big Bang and the creation of the universe. Now the other engine is on the brink of detonating as well – an event which will have cataclysmic consequences for the cosmos.
1275Enlightenment"Part One"Fiona CummingBarbara Clegg1 March 1983 (1983-03-01)6H6.667
"Part Two"Fiona CummingBarbara Clegg2 March 1983 (1983-03-02)6H7.265
"Part Three"Fiona CummingBarbara Clegg8 March 1983 (1983-03-08)6H6.268
"Part Four"Fiona CummingBarbara Clegg9 March 1983 (1983-03-09)6H7.370
Under the failing influence of the White Guardian, the TARDIS materialises on what appears to be an Edwardian racing yacht. It is soon revealed to be a cleverly disguised spacecraft, competing in an interplanetary race. The competitors are Eternals, immortal beings incapable of imagination or creative thought, while the crew are mortals, upon whose minds the Eternals draw for inspiration. The prize in the race is Enlightenment, offered up by the Black and White Guardians. One of the Eternals, the vicious Captain Wrack, is in league with the Black Guardian, however, and will stop at nothing to win.
1286The King's Demons"Part One"Tony VirgoTerence Dudley15 March 1983 (1983-03-15)6J5.865
"Part Two"Tony VirgoTerence Dudley16 March 1983 (1983-03-16)6J7.263
The Doctor, Tegan and Turlough find themselves in 1215 England. They arrive at the castle of Ranulf Fitzwilliam, and are astounded to find King John there too, especially since he is supposed to be in London at the same time, involved in the events which will lead to the signing of Magna Carta. The time travellers discover that the King is not who he claims – in fact, he is a shapechanging robot named Kamelion under the influence of the Master, who is trying to irreversibly pervert the course of Earth's history.
129The Five DoctorsN/APeter MoffattTerrance Dicks25 November 1983 (1983-11-25)[a]6K7.775
While the Fourth Doctor and Romana are trapped in a time eddy, the First, Second, Third and Fifth Doctors – together with many of their companions – are lured by a mysterious figure to the forbidden Death Zone on Gallifrey. There they make their way towards the Dark Tower in which Rassilon is entombed, encountering a number of their deadliest foes en route. When the Fifth Doctor finds a way to teleport himself to the Capitol, however, he uncovers evidence of a traitor on the High Council. All are embroiled in the Game of Rassilon, whose prize is immortality itself.


The entire season (including the show's 20th anniversary special The Five Doctors) was broadcast from 3 January to 25 November.

DVD Releases[edit]

All serials of season 20 were released individually in between 1999 and 2011, with The Five Doctors being the first ever serial released on DVD.

Serial name Number and duration
of episodes
R2 release date R4 release date R1 release date
Arc of Infinity
Only available as part of the Time-Flight/Arc of Infinity box set in Regions 2 and 4.
Only available individually in Region 1.
4 × 25 min. 6 August 2007 5 September 2007 6 November 2007
Only available as part of the Mara Tales box set in Regions 2 and 4.
Only available individually in Region 1.
4 × 25 min. 7 March 2011 7 April 2011 12 April 2011
Black Guardian Trilogy:
Mawdryn Undead (4 episodes)
Terminus (4 episodes)
Enlightenment (4 episodes)
12 × 25 min.
1 × 75 min.
(Enlightenment special edition)
10 August 2009 5 November 2009 3 November 2009
The King's Demons
Only available as part of the Kamelion Tales box set in Regions 2 and 4.
Only available individually in Region 1.
2 × 25 min. 14 June 2010 5 August 2010 7 September 2010
The Five Doctors – Special Edition 1 × 100 min.
(special edition)[b]
1 November 1999 9 October 2000 11 September 2001
The Five Doctors – 25th Anniversary Edition 1 × 90 min.
(broadcast version)
1 × 100 min.
(special edition)[c]
3 March 2008 8 May 2008 5 August 2008

In print[edit]

Serial name Novelisation title Author First published
Arc of Infinity Arc of Infinity Terrance Dicks 21 July 1983
Snakedance Snakedance Terrance Dicks 21 January 1984
Mawdryn Undead Mawdryn Undead Peter Grimwade 18 August 1984
Terminus Terminus John Lydecker 16 June 1983
Enlightenment Enlightenment Barbara Clegg 24 May 1984
The King's Demons The King's Demons Terence Dudley 16 February 1986
The Five Doctors The Five Doctors Terrance Dicks 24 November 1983


  1. ^ The Five Doctors was first broadcast in the United States on 23 November 1983, the actual date of the programme's 20th anniversary.
  2. ^ The DVD release of The Five Doctors – Special Edition is a 100-minute "special edition" with restored footage and new special effects.
  3. ^ The Five Doctors – 25th Anniversary Edition DVD release contains the 100-minute "special edition" with restored footage and new special effects and the story as originally broadcast as a 90 minute television movie.


  1. ^ a b "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 27 December 2014.