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Mawdryn Undead (TV story)

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RealWorld
Mawdryn Undead
The Brig and the fifth Doctor
Novelised as: Mawdryn Undead
Doctor: Fifth Doctor
Companion(s): Nyssa, Tegan, Turlough
Featuring: The Brig
Main enemy: Black Guardian, Mawdryn, Turlough
Main setting: Mawdryn's ship, 1983
Brendon Public School, 1977 and 1983
Key crew
Writer: Peter Grimwade
Director: Peter Moffatt
Producer: John Nathan-Turner
Release details
Story number: 125
Number of episodes: 4
Season/series: Season 20
Premiere broadcast: 1 February - 9 February 1983
Premiere network: BBC1
Format: 4x25-minute episodes
Production code: 6F
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An offer from the Black Guardian - Doctor Who - Mawdryn Undead - BBC03:23

An offer from the Black Guardian - Doctor Who - Mawdryn Undead - BBC

Mawdryn Undead was the third story of Doctor Who's twentieth season. It saw the return of the Brigadier, and was the first story in the "Black Guardian trilogy". It also marked the first appearance of Vislor Turlough as both a companion and a villain.

Due to its use of very specific date, such as placing the Brigadier's retirement during 1976, this story attempted to address the so-called UNIT dating controversy. However, in so doing, it became a major part of that very controversy.

Synopsis Edit

A warp ellipse draws the TARDIS off course. The Fifth Doctor's companions are separated from him not in space, but in time, and he has to deal with a treacherous schoolboy named Turlough. But why does the Doctor's old friend, the Brigadier, not remember him at all?

Plot Edit

Part one Edit

In 1983, the former UNIT brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart teaches mathematics at Brendon Public School. A mischievous student, Turlough, convinces his classmate Ibbotson to join him in a joyride in the Brigadier's priceless antique car, which they accidentally veer off the road and crash. While unconscious, Turlough is contacted by the sinister Black Guardian. The Black Guardian knows Turlough is actually from another planet. He offers Turlough transportation off Earth if he will kill the Guardian's greatest enemy: the Doctor.

At the same time, the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa have problems of their own. The Doctor's TARDIS is caught in a warp ellipse and materialises on board an apparently empty starliner locked in a perpetual orbit in time and space. Turlough, on the Black Guardian's instructions, transports himself onto the liner by means of a transmat capsule and encounters the TARDIS crew. The Doctor travels to Earth via transmat, taking Turlough with him, to get rid of the transmat interference trapping the TARDIS on the liner. The source of the interference is not far from the school grounds. As the Doctor is sorting out the device, Turlough, responding to the Black Guardian's exhortations, picks up a large rock and prepares to smash it on the back of the Doctor's head...

Part two Edit

The interference device explodes, knocking the Doctor backwards and forcing the rock out of Turlough's hands. The TARDIS materialises nearby, but vanishes shortly after, seemingly leaving the Doctor stranded. The Doctor meets the Brigadier at the Brendon school, but is puzzled when his old comrade-in-arms does not remember him. He eventually works around the apparent gap in the Brigadier's memory by mentioning Jo Grant, the Yeti and other past adventures. To the Doctor's surprise, the Brigadier claims to remember Tegan, having met her shortly before his nervous breakdown in 1977. The Doctor realises that the TARDIS hasn't disappeared; the destruction of the device knocked the TARDIS off a time track and sent it back six years.

In 1977, Tegan and Nyssa encounter the transmat capsule. Inside is an alien-looking humanoid whom they initially believe is the Doctor, horribly injured. Meeting the younger Brigadier, they bring the alien and him back to the starliner. Tegan, Nyssa and the Brigadier enter the TARDIS control room. The alien, who is a scientist called Mawdryn, now wearing the Doctor's old coat, turns to face them. The top of his skull is missing, revealing his pulsing brain. Nyssa screams in horror.

Part three Edit

Under the pretence of being the Doctor, suffering a failed regeneration, Mawdryn convinces the others to bring the TARDIS to the ship, claiming it has restorative capabilities. Meanwhile, the Doctor, Turlough and the present-day brigadier use a TARDIS homing device on the damaged transmat to bring themselves to the ship, splitting up soon after to search for Tegan and Nyssa. Under the Black Guardian's instruction, Turlough opens a secret room, revealing several humanoids suffering from the same malady as Mawdryn. Mawdryn fools the present-day Brigadier into using a stolen Time Lord device to stabilise his condition. Finding the TARDIS, the Doctor reunites with Tegan and Nyssa. When he learns there are two Brigadiers aboard, he has to try to keep them apart lest the resulting energy discharge prove catastrophic.

The Doctor and Nyssa meet with the present-day Brigadier and Mawdryn. Mawdryn reveals his fellow scientists and he tried to steal the secret of regeneration from the Time Lords, but caused perpetual mutations, leaving them practically immortal but in horrible agony. Tegan is chased into the room by Mawdryn's mutated crewmates. The mutants take their places in the regeneration room and Mawdryn pleads with the Doctor to help them die by giving them his energy. The Doctor refuses, explaining to Tegan that if he did so it would mean the end of him as a Time Lord...

Part four Edit

The Doctor explains that for each of the eight mutants to die would require him to sacrifice a regeneration. Having eight regenerations remaining, he'd have none left for himself. Although Mawdryn proclaims that the only thing they desire is their deaths rather than the Doctor's 'murder', the Doctor refuses, unwilling to sacrifice his remaining lives to save them from their own mistake.

Under the Black Guardian's orders, Turlough locates the Brigadier of 1977 and locks him in a side room to keep the two Brigadiers from touching.

Nyssa and tegan undead

Nyssa and Tegan are afflicted by Mawdryn's malady.

Trying to leave in the TARDIS, the Doctor discovers that Tegan and Nyssa have been infected by the same malady as Mawdryn and his compatriots. Attempted time travel accelerates their conditions and reversing out of the warp ellipse only regresses Tegan and Nyssa into children. The only cure, it seems, is to do what Mawdryn demands; the Doctor must give up his remaining regenerations. Meanwhile, the past Brigadier escapes the room and encounters Mawdryn and his crew. Fearing the time imbalance, they send him into the transmat. Unbeknownst to them, the transmat cannot make the trip while the TARDIS is on the vessel and the capsule returns to its station seconds later.

Hooking himself up to Mawdryn's apparatus, the Doctor is about to sacrifice himself when the two Brigadiers meet and touch hands, causing a discharge of temporal energy at precisely the right instant to act as a substitute power source. Tegan and Nyssa are cured, the alien scientists end their undead existence and the Doctor remains a Time Lord. The younger Brigadier, however, will not remember his time with the Doctor until they meet again in 1983. The Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan deliver the 1977 and 1983 versions of the Brigadier back to their respective times. Turlough is in the TARDIS control room when they return. He asks if he can join them and the Doctor comments that he already has. In space, Mawdryn's ship self-destructs.

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

References Edit

Anatomy and physiology Edit

  • Tegan, Nyssa, and the Brigadier refer to having seen the Doctor regenerate.
  • While pretending to be the Doctor, Mawdryn states that Time Lords do not necessarily always regenerate into a form which looks "human".

Cultural references from the real world Edit

  • The melody playing when the Doctor visits the Brigadier is a traditional English dance melody called "Lilliburleo". It's sometimes attributed to Henry Purcell.
  • In 1977, the Queen's Silver Jubilee is to be celebrated.

The Doctor Edit

  • The Doctor says he has spent four regenerations so far.
  • The characters imply that, if the Doctor runs out of his available regenerations, he will no longer be a Time Lord.

Individuals Edit

Species Edit

TARDIS Edit

Technology Edit

Theories and concepts Edit

Transport technology Edit

  • Tegan knows a great deal about transmats.
  • Tegan compares the spacecraft to the ships Queen Mary, about its luxury, and Mary Celeste, about its desolation.

UNIT Edit

  • The Brigadier, oblivious of the Doctor, asks him if he had signed an Official Secrets Act to keep secret his involvement with UNIT.

Story notes Edit

  • Every story during Season 20 included a story element from the Doctor's past. For this four-part story, one such element was the Black Guardian, who last faced the fourth incarnation of the Doctor at the conclusion of the Key to Time saga in 1979. Another, of course, was the Brigadier.
  • David Collings, who played Mawdryn, also appeared in the Fourth Doctor stories TV: Revenge of the Cybermen as Vorus and TV: The Robots of Death as Poul. He would play the Doctor in Big Finish Productions' Doctor Who Unbound audio drama, Full Fathom Five.
  • The original intent of the production team was for the character of Ian Chesterton, one of the original regulars from the series' first two seasons from 1963-65, to return for a guest appearance in this story, hence the school setting; Chesterton was a science teacher. However, actor William Russell proved to be unavailable. Some consideration was given to using Harry Sullivan, who was a regular in the programme for a season in the mid-1970s, before the return of Lethbridge-Stewart was eventually decided upon.
  • The Radio Times programme listing for part one was accompanied by a black and white photograph of the Doctor seated in the Brigadier's school quarters with the accompanying caption "More time travel problems for the Doctor (Peter Davison) result in a reunion with old 'friends': 6.50".
  • Radio Times credits Nicholas Courtney as 'Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart' in the combined cast for parts one/two, and as 'Brigadier' in the combined cast for parts three/four. All on-screen credits read 'The Brigadier'.
  • During the scene in part four where the Doctor's companions are regressed to children, the young Nyssa and Tegan seen were played by Lucy Baker and Sian Pattenden respectively, both of whom were uncredited on-screen and in Radio Times despite having dialogue, albeit one word: “Doctor!”
  • Former producer Graham Williams, the creator of the Guardians, did not know about their return in this season and learned about it only years later during an on-stage interview at a Doctor Who convention.
  • Originally the slot that this story occupies was to have been given to the long-delayed "The Song of the Space Whale" (or Space Whale), in which Turlough would have been one of a group of colonists. However this was again cancelled and this story took its place.
  • Peter Grimwade's previous story, TV: Time-Flight, also takes place in two different times.

Ratings Edit

  • Part one - 6.5 million viewers
  • Part two - 7.5 million viewers
  • Part three - 7.4 million viewers
  • Part four - 7.7 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.

to be added

Continuity Edit

  • The "Black Guardian Trilogy" continues in the story TV: Terminus.
  • The Fourth Doctor last encountered the Black Guardian in TV: The Armageddon Factor, in which the Black Guardian swore revenge on the Doctor.
  • At the story's opening, Tegan is still unsure if she is finally free of the Mara. (TV: Snakedance)
  • It is explicitly stated that the current Doctor is the fifth incarnation.
  • Another example of Time Lord technology being used to create perpetual regeneration was seen in TV: Underworld.
  • Turlough's origins are finally explained in TV: Planet of Fire.
  • Mawdryn finds the red coat worn by the Fourth Doctor in the TARDIS and wears it.
  • The Doctor says, "If I reverse the polarity of the neutron flow...", as sometimes said by the Third Doctor.
  • There are a series of flashbacks as the Brigadier remembers:

Home video and audio releases Edit

DVD releases Edit

This story was released as Doctor Who: Mawdryn Undead.

Released:

Special Features:

  • Audio Commentary by actors Peter Davison (the Doctor), Mark Strickson (Turlough), and Nicholas Courtney (the Brigadier), and script editor Eric Saward.
  • Who Wants To Live Forever? - Making Of documentary
  • Liberty Hall - interview with Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart at Brendon School
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • Film Trims - from location filming
  • Outtakes
  • CGI effects
  • Continuity Announcements
  • Isolated Music Score
  • Photo Gallery & Production Subtitles
  • PDF DVD-ROM material: Radio Times listings, studio floorprints and CGI storyboard sequences.
  • Easter Eggs
    • Go to the first Special Features page, navigate to Deleted and Extended Scenes and press left to highlight a hidden logo. Press Enter/OK to see a short presentation of interesting facts about the story.
    • ​Go to the second page of Special Features, navigate down to Set Photo Gallery and press left to reveal a hidden logo. Press Enter/OK to see the studio floorplans for the story (these are also on the disc as a PDF).

Notes:

  • Editing for the DVD release was completed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team.
  • It is available only in The Black Guardian Trilogy boxset.

Box set Edit

Video releases Edit

This story was released on VHS in November 1992 in the UK markets, 1993 in Australian markets and 1994 in US markets.

External links Edit

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