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Four to Doomsday (TV story)

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Four to Doomsday
Fourtodoomsday title
Novelised as: Four to Doomsday
Doctor: Fifth Doctor
Companion(s): Adric, Nyssa, Tegan
Main enemy: Monarch, Minister of Persuasion, Minister of Enlightenment
Main setting: Monarch's ship, 1981
Key crew
Writer: Terence Dudley
Director: John Black
Producer: John Nathan-Turner
Release details
Story number: 117
Number of episodes: 4
Season/series: Season 19
Premiere broadcast: 18 - 26 January 1982
Premiere network: BBC1
Format: 4x25-minute episodes
Production code: 5W
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Doctor Who television stories
Castrovalva Kinda
Production order
Logopolis The Visitation

Four to Doomsday was the second story in the nineteenth season of Doctor Who. It was the first story filmed with Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor.

Synopsis Edit

The Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric arrive on a spaceship which is headed for Earth. On board they meet natives of Earth from various different eras, and also three Urbankans: Monarch, Persuasion and Enlightenment. What are the aliens' intentions when they reach Earth?

Plot Edit

Part one Edit

The Doctor tries to return Tegan to Heathrow Airport, but the TARDIS lands on a technologically advanced ship. The Doctor goes out to investigate and sees a monopticon surveying them. He returns to the TARDIS and emerges with Adric, Nyssa and Tegan. All four must wear helmets to breathe. The Doctor addresses the monopticon, hoping whoever is using it for surveillance will see they are friendly. He queries it on their location. A door opens. Seeing this as a friendly gesture, the Doctor goes through it, followed by Tegan.

The crews all here

The Urbankans observe their new guests.

Nyssa and Adric stay in the room to operate some machinery there. Tegan and the Doctor eventually find themselves on the ship's bridge and meet the Monarch and his two associates, Enlightenment and Persuasion. The Monarch is interested in the Doctor and Tegan's knowledge of current and past Earth culture. He reveals the ship is bound for Earth. Tegan draws a picture of male and female uniforms at Heathrow for Enlightenment. Tegan and the Doctor leave the bridge and meet up with Nyssa and Adric.

Nyssa claims she saw a humanoid man. The Doctor doubts this until one emerges, dressed in a Greek toga, to ask them to follow him. They are led to a dining chamber and seated at a table, to be joined by an Aborigine (Kurkutji), a Mayan (Villagra) and a Chinese mandarin (Lin Futu). They are representatives of their respective cultures; the Greek (Bigon) represents ancient Greece. The last guests to join them are Enlightenment and Persuasion, who have transformed into the humans Tegan sketched.

Part two Edit


The Doctor doesn't anticipate much trouble.

The TARDIS crew are reunited as guests aboard the ship. It soon becomes apparent there are four distinct human cultures represented by a small group of humans: Ancient Greeks, the leader of whom is the philosopher Bigon; Chinese Mandarins and their leader Lin Futu; Princess Villagra and representatives of the Mayan people; and Kurkutji and his tribesmen, of the Australian Aboriginal culture. The Urbankans have visited Earth, each time getting speedier in their journeys.

This time they have left their homeworld after erratic solar activity, storing three billion of their species on slides aboard their craft. It seems the current journey is their last and they wish to settle on Earth, which they are due to reach in four days. Bigon demonstrates to an astonished Doctor that within his chest and beneath his face there is just a mass of electronics. Holding up a printed circuit connected to his chest, he states: "This is me..."

Part three Edit


Nyssa is processed.

The Doctor becomes suspicious of the Monarch. He learns the Urbankans don't plan on a peaceful co-existence with humans. Instead, they will use a toxin that the Urbankans produced from their own bodies during the "flesh time" before they were converted to androids, which causes organic matter to shrink away to nothing. It will be unleashed before the Urbankans disembark.

The Doctor discovers the humans aboard are not descendants of the original abductees. The original people were taken from Earth and converted into androids, just like the three Urbankans. This revelation causes a panicked Tegan to use a spare key to get into the TARDIS, and she tries to pilot it back to Earth, but only succeeds in materializing it in space next to Monarch's ship.

The four leaders have been given additional circuits to help them reason, but this faculty can be taken away, as Bigon learns when he crosses Monarch once too often.

He explained to the Doctor that Monarch strip-mined and destroyed Urbanka in a quest for minerals to improve the ship, and now plans to do the same to Earth. Monarch believes that if he can move the ship faster than the speed of light, he can pilot it back to the beginning of time and discover himself as God. Adric is restrained as, on Persuasion's orders, the Doctor is forced to his knees and one of the Greek androids raises a sword to decapitate him...

Part four Edit

Tied to you

The Doctor makes his way through the vacuum of space.

Nyssa uses the Doctor's sonic screwdriver and a pencil to short out the androids and save his life. Adric stops Persuasion from shooting the Doctor by standing in the way and the Monarch announces the Doctor is not to be harmed. Despite these events, Adric is taken with Monarch, and relations between the Doctor and him become very strained. It takes the truth to break the alien's hold over the boy.

The Doctor sets about overthrowing Monarch and, with the help of the human androids led by a restored Bigon, a revolution begins. The Doctor is forced to go out into space in order to retrieve the TARDIS, but Persuasion attempts to stop them. The Doctor and Adric tear out Persuasion's circuit and throw it into space. Enlightenment then tries to stop them and stuns Adric before the Doctor is able to get back into the TARDIS. Adric recovers after Enlightenment strands Doctor in space and tears out Enlightenment's circuit. The Doctor uses his cricket ball to propel himself the rest of the way to the TARDIS. The Doctor then lands the TARDIS back on the ship. Monarch tries to kill the TARDIS travelers by shutting down life support, but they are able to survive with the help of the helmets they brought from the TARDIS.

The Doctor retrieves a sample of the Urbankan toxin, intending to analyse it and turn it against its creator, but when an armed Monarch confronts the Doctor, he's forced to use the entire sample against Monarch, who is reduced to just inches tall. It seems he is a product of the weak “flesh time” after all, having never, as the Doctor suspected, been fully converted into an android. Adding insult to injury, the Doctor reveals that Monarch's plan to travel back in time was ridiculous, and would never have worked.

With their former ruler now captive and helpless, the humanoid androids decide to pilot the vessel to a new home on a new world, while the TARDIS crew departs. Back in the console room, Nyssa collapses to the floor in a dead faint...

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

References Edit

Architecture Edit

Astronomical objects Edit

Books Edit

The Doctor Edit

  • The Doctor gives Tegan a TARDIS key.
  • The Doctor was a friend of Francis Drake.
  • The Doctor demonstrates that he can survive for a short time in the vacuum of space.
  • The Doctor states that only his Professor at the Academy really understood artron energy, which powers the TARDIS.
  • The Doctor first demonstrates his skill with a cricket ball.
  • Adric says that trouble amuses the Doctor.

Technology Edit

Musical instruments Edit

Story notes Edit

  • This was the first Fifth Doctor story to be filmed. Though Peter Davison has often said that his first stories were recorded out of sequence so that Castrovalva might include a more confident performance on his part, (DCOM: Four to Doomsday, Castrovalva and others) there was a more practical reason. A little over a month before it was due to go in front of the cameras, Project Zeta-Sigma, which was to be the first story of the Davison era, was shelved by John Nathan-Turner. Since there wasn't time to get a whole new first story for Davison's Doctor, the production order had to be significantly revised. The out-of-order recording had nothing to do with any lack of confidence in Davison; Castrovalva simply wasn't written by the time the Fifth Doctor needed to make his debut in front of the cameras. (REF: The Fifth Doctor Handbook)
  • The working title for this story was Day of Wrath.
  • Nyssa's sudden fainting spell at the end of the story was a throwback to the style of serial transition often employed during the First Doctor era (for example, when the Doctor suddenly cries out in pain at the end of The Celestial Toymaker leading into The Gunfighters, in which a toothache is revealed as the culprit). In this case, the reason for Nyssa's sudden collapse is revealed at the start of Kinda.
  • Philip Locke (Bigon) also provided the voice of Control in parts one and two, but was uncredited on-screen.
  • Part one establishes the date of Logopolis and the opening scenes of Castrovalva by revealing that the flight Tegan was trying to catch in Logopolis was flight A778 at 1730 on 28 February 1981. This retroactively set Logopolis on the same date as it was broadcast.

Ratings Edit

  • Part one - 8.4 million viewers
  • Part two - 8.8 million viewers
  • Part three - 8.9 million viewers
  • Part four - 9.4 million viewers

Filming locations Edit

Production errors Edit

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 Doctor says "thank you" to a monopticon early in part one, his voice is dubbed by someone who is very clearly not Peter Davison.
  • In part two, one of the Greeks watching the Mayan dance from the balcony is wearing white lace-up trainers on his feet.

Continuity Edit

Home video and audio releases Edit

DVD releases Edit


Special features:

Video releases Edit

This story was released in the United Kingdom and Australian markets in 2001 and the US market in 2002.

External links Edit

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