TARDIS Index File

Arc of Infinity (TV story)

Arc of Infinity
Arc infinity ep3
Novelised as: Arc of Infinity
Doctor: Fifth Doctor
Companion(s): Nyssa
Featuring: Tegan
Main enemy: Omega, Councillor Hedin, The Ergon
Main setting:
Key crew
Writer: Johnny Byrne
Director: Ron Jones
Producer: John Nathan-Turner
Release details
Story number: 123
Number of episodes: 4
Season/series: Season 20
Premiere broadcast: 3 January - 12 January 1983
Premiere network: BBC1
Format: 4x25-minute episodes
Production code: 6E
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Arc of Infinity was the first story of the Doctor Who anniversary season 20. Janet Fielding returned as Tegan Jovanka in this serial, rejoining the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa on their travels. Future Doctor Colin Baker made his Who debut in this story, playing Commander Maxil. Just over a year later, he would take over as the Sixth Doctor at the end of season 21. Of the several Doctor Who stories filmed outside the UK in the late 1970s-early 1980s, this was the only one to open a season.

Synopsis edit

Omega, an ancient Time Lord made of pure anti-matter, once defeated by the Doctor, is plotting to cross over into this dimension by bonding with the Doctor. Fearing total destruction from collision of matter and anti-matter, the Time Lords recall the Doctor to Gallifrey - to execute him!

Plot edit

Part one edit

On Gallifrey, a Time Lord is at work stealing the biodata extract of another Time Lord and killing a technician who stumbles across the crime. The traitor provides the bio-data to a creature composed of anti-matter and uses the bio-data to invade the TARDIS and then the Fifth Doctor's metabolism. The Doctor's companion, Nyssa, helps him recover. The creature is shielded in this attempt by the Arc of Infinity, a curious curve between the dimensions containing quad radiation which can shield anti-matter. The Doctor decides to head to Gallifrey to track down the supplier of his bio-data, conscious that, unless the creature trying to cross universes is stopped, its incursion could cause a fatal chain reaction to our universe.

Omega attempting bonding with the Doctor

Omega attempting to bond with the Doctor.

Meanwhile, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, backpackers Robin Stuart and Colin Frazer decide to crash at the crypt of the Frankendael mansion.

During the night, Colin hears something and investigates; he finds a curious birdlike creature, the Ergon, which hypnotises him. A terrified Robin runs away.

The High Council of the Time Lords is also taking the matter seriously and has decreed that the Doctor's TARDIS should be recalled. The Chancellery Guard under the over-zealous Commander Maxil seizes the Doctor and Nyssa. When the Doctor resists arrest, Maxil shoots him...

Part two edit

The Doctor has been stunned to ensure his delivery to the High Council. When he is brought before the High Council the new Lord President, Borusa, is inscrutable while Chancellor Thalia and Cardinal Zorac are openly hostile; only his old friend Councillor Hedin seems pleased to see him.

The President stresses the gravity of the situation since the creature poses such a threat to the Universe, and the High Council has had no alternative but to issue a Warrant of Termination on the Doctor to ensure the creature can no longer bond with him. Fortunately an old friend, Damon, who is another technician in the records section, provides him with the proof he needs that a member of the High Council stole his bio-data extract.

Arc infinity ep2

The Doctor argues that his death is unnecessary.

Meanwhile, the Doctor's former companion, Tegan Jovanka, arrives in Amsterdam looking for her cousin Colin. Instead, she is greeted by Robin, who tells her that Colin has disappeared. When neither of them can persuade the police to take an interest they decide to investigate the crypt themselves.

The Doctor is soon taken for execution, despite Nyssa's attempts to save him, and placed in a dispersal chamber. Sentence is carried out...

Part three edit

The supposed death of the Doctor, however, has not solved the situation. Unbeknownst to the High Council, his mind has been taken into the Time Lord living repository of knowledge, the Matrix, while his body is hidden behind a force shield in the termination cubicle. The creature is a renegade Time Lord, who demands an opportunity to return to the Universe it once inhabited. The truth of the aborted execution is discovered by the wily Castellan, who tells first Nyssa and Damon that the Doctor is alive, and then the High Council.

Tegan and Robin are attacked by the Ergon's weapon, a matter conversion gun, and transported into a TARDIS hidden at the Frankendael and belonging to the renegade. Their minds are scanned, revealing to the creature that Tegan knows the Doctor. The renegade uses Tegan as bait to force the Doctor to obey him, also releasing Colin from his slavery as a reward. The Doctor is returned to normal space on Gallifrey where he makes for the High Council Chamber. Lord President Borusa has fallen under suspicion of being a traitor because the Castellan reveals it was his codes that were used to transmit the bio-data. The truth, however, is that Councillor Hedin is the traitor. He is in awe of his master - the mighty Omega, first of the Time Lords and pioneer of time travel (see The Three Doctors).

Hedin wishes to release Omega from his exile in a universe of anti-matter, not realising the great Time Lord has been driven mad by his years of solitary confinement. The Castellan kills Hedin, but this does not prevent Omega using the Arc of Infinity to seize total control of the Matrix and, therefore, the organisation of Gallifrey...

Part four edit

Arc infinity ep4

Closing in on Omega in Amsterdam.

Fortunately the Doctor and Nyssa manage to slip away and return to the TARDIS. They use scant knowledge provided by Tegan to determine that Omega has established his base in Amsterdam on Earth, and head there immediately, desperately trying to find the Frankendael crypt she described. After a lengthy hunt they find the lair defended by the Ergon, and Nyssa disposes of it with its own matter-converter gun. They reach Omega's TARDIS at the point at which both the ship is destroyed and Omega makes full transference to Earth using the Arc of Infinity. When he peels his decayed mask away he reveals the features of the Doctor.

Omega heads off into Amsterdam with the Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa in hot pursuit. Within a short time the Doctor's prediction of an unstable transfer begins to come true: Omega's flesh decays and it is clear his new body is not permanent. When the Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa catch up with him it is a painful task for the Doctor to use the Ergon's anti-matter converter on Omega, expelling him back to his own universe of anti-matter. The Time Lord High Council on Gallifrey detects the end of the threat.

Once Tegan has checked on her cousin's progress in hospital, she decides to rejoin the TARDIS crew. This time it is as a willing traveller.

Cast edit

Crew edit

References edit

Biology edit

  • To remain in our universe Omega needs to bond with a Time Lord, reversing his polarity. To that end Hedin steals and transmits the Doctor's biodata extract.

The Doctor edit

  • The Doctor asks Damon about Leela.
  • Reference is made to the Doctor's failure to return Romana II.
  • Hedin is also an old friend of the Doctor's.
  • After finding himself "vaporised", the Doctor appears in the Matrix.
  • The Doctor's palm print has been cancelled so he cannot open doors on Gallifrey, but he can still remember the President's code: 4553916592.

Individuals edit

  • Tegan has lost her job as an air stewardess and was hoping that meeting Colin Frazer, her favourite cousin, would cheer her up.
  • Damon tells the Doctor that his former companion Leela is well. The Doctor is sorry to have missed her wedding.
  • A member of the High Council refers to Romana as "Romana", a nickname established by the Doctor, rather than by her Gallifreyan name Romanadvoratrelundar.

Species edit

Friends forever!!

The Ergon next to his creator.

TARDIS edit

  • The Doctor is recalled to Gallifrey. Once there, his TARDIS is incapacitated by the removal of the main space-time element from under the console, although Damon later replaces it with one without a recall circuit.
  • Maxil removes the heart of the TARDIS (or part of it).
  • The Doctor repairs the audio system of his TARDIS. Nyssa says it needs some other repair work after it was damaged by the Cybermen: in her opinion, in particular the navigation system and the state of temporal grace (failed during the Cybermen attack).
  • Omega has acquired a TARDIS.

Time Lords edit

  • Borusa has regenerated again and is now Lord President.
  • The Castellan mentions that the destruction of a Time Lord has only been ordered once before. Morbius was ordered destroyed.
  • The Time Lords use impulse lasers.
  • A sound similar to a Cloister Bell is heard when the execution of the Doctor is to be performed.
  • Borusa recalls that capital punishment had been abolished long ago on Gallifrey.

Story notes edit

  • The working titles for this story were The Time of Neman and The Time of Omega.
  • For parts one and two, the character of Omega was credited as 'The Renegade' in the end credits.
  • Peter Davison also played Omega in part four when Omega's body becomes a replica of the Doctor's, but was credited on-screen only as 'The Doctor'.
  • Maya Woolfe (Hostel Receptionist) is credited as 'First Receptionist' in the combined Radio Times cast for parts three/four.
  • John Nathan-Turner, wearing a sheepskin jacket, appears on-screen from behind the telephone box in part four, trying to persuade passers-by not to get into shot.
  • The Dutch street organ that transfixes Omega for a moment during part four is playing the song "Tulips from Amsterdam". The same music is heard during the establishing shot of Amsterdam at the start of part one.
  • Ian Collier takes on the role of Omega, originally played by Stephen Thorne in TV: The Three Doctors.
  • The Radio Times programme listing for part one was accompanied by a black and white head-and-shoulders photograph of Lord President Borusa and the Doctor, with the accompanying caption "Summoned to Gallifrey, planet of all time lords — the Lord President tells the Doctor of his future: 6.45".

Ratings edit

  • Part one - 7.2 million viewers
  • Part two - 7.3 million viewers
  • Part three - 6.9 million viewers
  • Part four - 7.2 million viewers

Myths edit

  • New regular costumes for Nyssa and Tegan are seen for the first time in this story. (Although Tegan's new costume makes its debut here, Nyssa's is not seen until the following story, Snakedance. This myth derives from the fact that numerous publicity photographs of the two actresses wearing their new costumes were taken during Arc of Infinity's location shoot in Amsterdam. These photo shoots were made possible by the fact that Snakedance was completed before Arc of Infinity.)

Filming locations edit

  • Location shooting was done in Amsterdam in May of 1982:
  • Muntplein, Amsterdam
  • Herengracht, Amsterdam
  • Leidseplein, Amsterdam
  • Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, Amsterdam
  • Zandpad, Amsterdam
  • Middenweg, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Prinsengracht, Amsterdam
  • Amstel Sluize, Amsterdam
  • Stationsplein, Amsterdam
  • Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam
  • Singel, Amsterdam
  • Lijnbaansgracht, Amsterdam
  • Sint Nicolaasstraat, Amsterdam
  • Amstelveld, Amsterdam
  • Frankendael House, Middenweg 172, Amsterdam
  • Amstel, Amsterdam
  • Dam Square, Amsterdam
  • BBC Television Centre (Studio 1), Shepherd's Bush, London

Production errors edit

to be added

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.

Continuity edit

Home video and audio releases edit

DVD releases edit

This story was originally released in a double-pack with Time-Flight in Region 2 and 4, but released singly in Region 1.

The R2 and R4 cover art of this story and Time-Flight shows the "Peter Davison Years" as 1981-1984. All other Davison-era releases have claimed the years as 1982-1984 in deference to the January, 1982 broadcast of Castrovalva. However, there is justification for calling the era 1981-1984, as that's the period of time Davison actually worked on the programme. Like Jon Pertwee, Davison fell victim to the BBC's decision to push back the premiere of his first series to the start of the new calendar year. Neither actor is generally credited for their first year on the job, making their eras appear a little shorter than they actually were. While Pertwee only filmed about half of Season 7 in 1969, almost everything of Season 19 was filmed in 1981. Indeed, Davison's first work on the series — his regeneration scene — had been filmed on 9 January 1981, almost a full year prior to the release of Castrovalva. Ironically, the only part of Davison's initial year not filmed in 1981 was Time-Flight, the only other DVD release to bear the claim of an era lasting from 1981-1984. All told, Davison's time in front of the cameras as the Doctor lasted from 9 January 1981 to 12 January 1984 — almost precisely the three-year tenure he had been advised by Patrick Troughton to undertake.

PAL - BBCDVD2327
PAL -

Contents:

  • Commentary by Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton and Colin Baker
  • Anti-Matter from Amsterdam - Presented by Sophie Aldred, this new documentary examines the making of Arc of Infinity. Featuring actors Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sarah Sutton.
  • The Omega Factor - Writers and actors look at the character and motivation of the renegade Time Lord, Omega. Featuring co-creator Bob Baker, actors Stephen Thorne and Ian Collier.
  • Deleted Scenes - Deleted scenes taken from time-coded viewing copies of the studio recordings and early edits.
  • Under Arc Lights - Behind-the-scenes action from the studio recording sessions.
  • CGI Effects - Viewers have the option to watch the story with eighteen of the original video effects replaced by brand new CGI versions.
  • Continuities - Original BBC ONE continuity announcements for the story.
  • Photo Gallery - A selection of rare and previously unpublished photographs from the recording of this story.
  • Isolated Music - The option to watch the story with the original synchronous music only.
  • Radio Times Billings (PDF DVD-ROM)
  • 1983 Doctor Who annual (PDF DVD-ROM)
  • Production Subtitles
  • Coming Soon Trailer
  • Easter Egg - Type the number 1975 on one of the Special Features menus to view a Davros Box Set Trailer.

Notes:

Box set edit

VHS releases edit

This story was first released in VHS episodic format in the UK March 1994, April 1994 in Australian and September 1995 in the US, with a cover design by Pete Wallbank.

External links edit