Warriors' Gate was the fifth story of the 18th season of Doctor Who. It was written by Steve Gallagher, directed by Paul Joyce and featured Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor, Lalla Ward as Romana II, John Leeson as K9 and Matthew Waterhouse as Adric.
It was the final regular appearance of Lalla Ward as Romana II and John Leeson as K9 and concluded the "E-Space trilogy". The decision was made not to replace K9 with another new model which was the direction taken when Mark I left in The Invasion of Time.
From a production standpoint, it marked Graeme Harper's directorial debut on the programme, although he wasn't credited in that capacity for his work. His promotion to the director's chair followed one of the rare instances that a director was fired during production of a Doctor Who story — although credited director Paul Joyce was quickly re-hired.
It was the first episode in which the Doctor started to view Adric as a companion, after the Alzarian had stowed away on the TARDIS. After Romana's departure, the Doctor decided not to take Adric home and instead allowed him to carry on travelling, even back to the Doctor's own universe.
A strange creature forces its way into the TARDIS, steering it to a white void occupied only by the ruins of an old building and a spaceship. This empty space is a gateway to the past and future. The creature responsible for taking them there is Biroc, a member of the enslaved race known as the Tharil. The gateway offers the only exit from E-Space, but the void is contracting. Are the Fourth Doctor and his friends fated to spend eternity in E-Space? What final shocking revelation awaits the Doctor?
A countdown takes place, leading up to the crew of a spacecraft using a Tharil to attempt to escape from “nowhere”. They fail. Onboard the TARDIS, the Fourth Doctor is at the controls. They have entered a disruption and the Doctor struggles to make sense of it. The Tharil, Biroc, is taken away but escapes from his escort. He is seen by Lane, who warns the bridge. Meanwhile, the Doctor is trying to land the TARDIS. He moves to press a button but Romana prevents him from doing so because it is dangerous. He considers if he subconsciously wanted to press the button.
Romana is still trying to avoid returning to Gallifrey. She asks the Doctor if they have the right to take Adric out of his own time. The Doctor tells her Adric will love it on Gallifrey. Adric decides to press a button and does so, determined by flipping a 100 Imperials coin, a method suggested by the Doctor. Biroc has escaped the craft and runs through a white void.
The TARDIS lands and the console sparks. Smoke pours out of K9. The Doctor avoids the time winds coming through the open doors of the TARDIS as Biroc enters and walks to the controls. On the spacecraft, they pick up the TARDIS on their scanners, noting it as a craft. Biroc begins operating the TARDIS controls. The Doctor and Romana note that he is on a different time line, prompting Romana to wonder why he hasn't been torn apart. On the craft, Captain Rorvik decides to wake another Tharil up to navigate them out of the “gap between timelines”. He announces that they are to go out to the TARDIS. Biroc speaks with the TARDIS crew; he tells them not to trust Rorvik and his men. He says he (Biroc) is a “shadow of his past, and your future” to the TARDIS crew, and then he leaves to cross the white void.
The Doctor shows Romana the co-ordinates, all zero. He leaves to follow Biroc, after telling K9 to follow him but then realising he has been damaged by the time winds; he finds a sign of life in K9 and then sets off. Romana tells Adric that they are in the gap between the negative co-ordinates of E-Space and the positive N-Space, which Adric likens to an intersection. The pair set about repairing K9, who warns them of three approaching humanoids. Using a mass detector, Rorvik and two of his crew search for the craft they picked up. The TARDIS crew see them approaching on their scanner.
Biroc arrives at a stone arch with a door in it; he enters and is closely followed by the Doctor. Inside, Biroc inspects a cobwebbed dining hall. He passes through what appears to be a mirror and disappears. Rorvik's group are inspecting the TARDIS. They cannot determine what it is. The Doctor arrives in the dining hall and makes his way around it. He inspects two skeletons in armour, brushing off cobwebs he moves on; one skeleton moves. The Doctor crouches by the mirror as the skeleton advances on him; it raises its axe and swings.
The Doctor notices the skeleton attacking him just in time to dodge its axe. A cat and mouse game ensues with the Doctor impersonating a skeleton by keeping still and holding an axe in his hand. However when the Doctor attempts to move away, the skeleton spots him trying to escape and cleaves the axe shaft in two.
Meanwhile back on the TARDIS, Romana and Adric are arguing about the trustworthiness of the men from Rorvik's crew outside, with Romana deciding to exit the TARDIS and introduce herself to the men, ordering Adric to stay put. They both have a conversation with Romana commenting on the mass detector and Rorvik questioning her on the whereabouts of Biroc, with Romana commenting on the subjectivity of memory. After explaining the problems concerning their ship, Romana then gives a signal on cue signalling danger before being escorted by Rorvik's men. After they leave Adric peeks outside the TARDIS doors.
In the abandoned building, the Doctor is confronting two skeleton warriors when he points out that he "usually gets along with machines so well". The Doctor tricks the skeletons into killing each other by staying still and letting them hit each other with their weapons, thus getting himself out of a predicament.
Adric and K9 exit the TARDIS against Romana's orders to follow her, with K9 experiencing calculation errors due to the damage sustained earlier. Adric tells K9 to stay put and while he is away, K9 manages to restore calculation errors. In the spaceship, Romana is hooked up to navigation equipment exactly like Biroc was earlier, but is initially found ineffective in controlling the navigation equipment. As a result of this failure, Rorvik announces to his crew that they need to bring more Tharils out of hibernation to be navigator, despite his own acknowledgement of the risks involved in their survival.
However when an image on the navigation screen is found, the crew decide that Romana is useful as a navigator and leave her in the seat despite the risks. Rorvik decides to exit the spaceship with his crew when one of them can't come out due to a leg injury. This however turns out to be a ruse as the same man along with his companion walk normally with the door closing behind them.
Back at the building, the Doctor attempts to extract information out the skeletons by tweaking their machinery with a sharp dagger. After a few taps a mechanical voice from the fallen skeleton identifies itself as the "Gundan" whose directive is to "kill the brutes". It emerges that the Gundans are machines designed by human slaves of the Tharils to fight back against their masters, who fled to safety through the "gateway". When the Doctor attempts to find out the exact nature of the gateway, the Gundan shuts down from power failure, frustrating the Doctor when the conversation was "just getting interesting". The Doctor wishes that an alternative power source was nearby when he is surprised by K9's arrival. The Doctor uses K9 to obtain more information from the machine, who reveals that there are three gateways and they are one, implying that although they are different entrances, they have the same exit and that the "masters" came from the gateway.
While this is happening Rorvik and his men find the Doctor talking to the machine and just when they were getting very close to finding out the gateway's secret, one of the Gundans decapitates the other Gundan and then retreats through a gateway. During the chaos the Doctor escapes with K9, who is even lower on power supply, and when the crew catch up to the Doctor, he escapes through a gateway by walking backwards into it.
Back on the spaceship, two of the crew members staying behind wheel out one of the hibernating Tharil and manage to revive the creature with a large electric shock presumably at the cost of their lives. The creature emerges from underneath its covering and finds the navigation deck with Romana still trapped in the chair. She screams as the Tharil touches her with its hand.
The Tharil, whose name is Lazlo, frees Romana. When Aldo and Royce search for him, he hides, and Romana pretends she is still connected to the machine.
The Doctor can see Rorvik and his men on the other side of the mirror. Biroc explains to the Doctor that the mirror is a gateway to E-Space. The Doctor's damaged hand is healed by the time winds, and K9 can pass through the mirror and be healed, but for him it wouldn't be permanent. Biroc and the Doctor go to a mansion.
K9 is getting worse, and when he hears Packard and Lane discussing odd readings, K9 decides to investigate. Packard and Lane have noticed that distances seem to be getting shorter. They go back to the ship, seen by Adric, who follows them and meets up with Romana. Romana and Adric follow Lane to the damaged area of the ship and discover that the ship's hull is made of dwarf star alloy. K9 finds Romana and Adric, repeating warnings. Adric tries to shut him up, and Romana is captured by Lane and Packard.
In the ship Lazlo rescues Romana and takes her to another timeline. Adric and K9 hide on the MZ laser which the slavers are taking back to the Gateway. In the Gateway, the men see Lazlo and Romana pass through the mirror.
Lazlo is healed, and he and Romana go to the mansion. They see the Doctor and Biroc eating at a table with Tharils. Biroc tells the Doctor the Tharils crossed the timelines to build an empire, enslaving humans. When the Tharils turn on the Doctor, Romana runs to him. Gundan robots enter, signalling the start of the human rebellion. The Doctor and Romana suddenly appear in the same hall but at a different time, surrounded by Rorvik and his men.
Rorvik won't listen when the Doctor says only time-sensitives can go through the mirrors. K9 arrives and tells the Doctor that the dwarf star alloy in the slavers' ship is causing the Gateway to contract. Rorvik threatens the Doctor, who is standing near the mirror. Biroc, on the other side, tells him to do nothing.
Adric arrives and threatens the slavers with their own MZ laser. The Doctor and his friends escape. The slavers see their ship just outside and realise the Gateway is contracting further. They fire at the mirrors but are unable to break through.
Rorvik decides to use a backblast to break the mirrors, but the Doctor realises it would destroy everything. He and Romana head for the ship to short out its power. Meanwhile, Rorvik has his men revive the Tharils, aware that most may not survive, because they will need a navigator. Sagan tries to revive the Tharils, but trying to speed up the process doesn't work, electrocuting the Tharils instead.
Rorvik finds the Doctor and Romana, but they are rescued by Biroc, who brings them to safety of the TARDIS. The Doctor now understands why Biroc told him to not do anything. Lazlo kills Sagan and revives the rest of the Tharils.
Romana informs the Doctor that she is staying in E-Space to help Biroc free his people. K9, unable to function on this side of the mirror, stays with her.
Rorvik starts up his engines, and Biroc takes Romana and K9 through the mirrors while the TARDIS dematerialises. The energy from the backblast destroys the slaver ship, but the Tharils are able to phase to a different timeline and escape the destruction.
The TARDIS returns to N-Space. Romana and K9 are ready to start their new lives.
- Doctor Who - Tom Baker
- Romana - Lalla Ward
- Adric - Matthew Waterhouse
- Voice of K9 - John Leeson
- Rorvik - Clifford Rose
- Packard - Kenneth Cope
- Lane - David Kincaid
- Aldo - Freddie Earlle
- Royce - Harry Waters
- Biroc - David Weston
- Sagan - Vincent Pickering
- Gundan - Robert Vowles
- Lazlo - Jeremy Gittins
- Assistant Floor Manager - Val McCrimmon
- Costumes - June Hudson
- Director's Assistant - Joyce Stansfield
- Designer - Graeme Story
- Executive Producer - Barry Letts
- Incidental Music - Peter Howell
- Make-Up - Pauline Cox
- Producer - John Nathan-Turner
- Production Assistant - Graeme Harper
- Production Unit Manager - Angela Smith
- Script Editor - Christopher H. Bidmead
- Senior Cameraman - Alec Wheal
- Special Sounds - Dick Mills
- Studio Lighting - John Dixon
- Studio Sound - Alan Fogg
- Technical Manager - John Dean
- Theme Arrangement - Peter Howell
- Title Music - Ron Grainer
- Video-Tape Editor - Rod Waldron
- Video Effects - Robin Lobb
- Vision Mixers - Jim Stephens, Paul del Bravo
- Visual Effects - Mat Irvine
Cultural references from the real world
- When Biroc vanishes during a conversation with the Doctor, the Doctor states that he is gone again, which is "like talking to a Cheshire Cat" - an allusion to the well-known character from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.
- K9 quotes the 3rd law of Newton.
- K9 quotes the I Ching and explains its working principles.
Foods and beverages
- The Doctor eats a pickle with Rorvik and drinks wine with Biroc.
- The Gateway is the intersection point between E-Space and N-Space.
- Aldo and Royce recall a Tharil hunt on Shapeer.
- Rorvik's ship is made of dwarf star alloy, the only material that can hold time sensitives such as the Tharils.
- Tharils are not affected by the time winds and can walk the timelines.
- Romana defines the Tharil "a sort of leonine mesomorph".
- The Gundans were built by the humans to walk the time lines and travel through the mirrors at the Gateway.
- Romana leaves the Doctor, but does not wish to return to the Time Lords or Gallifrey. She takes with her K9, whose memory wafers have been replaced and reworked to function past the mirrors.
- Romana stops the Doctor from pushing the button to activate the reverse bias, hinting it is dangerous in full flight.
- Mass detectors can be used to find objects within a space with zero coordinates.
- The TARDIS is called a "ship for midgets".
- There are at least three types of warp drive: "continuum warp", "implicate theory" and "supralight speed with dumpers". Toroidal time dilators are components of a warp drive.
- Both Packard and Romana refer to heading to a time rift when the timelines collide.
- This is the final story in the E-Space Trilogy.
- The script development for this serial went through two distinct phases. Initially, the project was tackled by Christopher Priest. In Priest's version of the final chapter of the E-Space trilogy, the Doctor and Romana would have exited E-Space via a political thriller involving Gallifrey. This script was called Sealed Orders, and presumably would have dealt more directly with Romana's failure to return to her home planet following her temporary assignment to find the Key to Time. After considerable time massaging this treatment, it was abandoned, to be replaced by a Steve Gallagher-penned effort called The Dream Time (also sometimes referred to as simply Dream Time). Though the basic elements of this story would remain in Warrior's Gate, the final script was heavily re-written by script editor Christopher H. Bidmead and director Paul Joyce. Joyce would later claim that in fact the scripts were so much a product of his efforts that he, in fact, deserved the writing credit.
- In addition to the difficulties surrounding the writing of this story, virtually every phase of the production of this serial was problematic. Tom Baker was particularly tetchy due both to his ongoing illness during the seasons and the departure of his then-lover, Lalla Ward, from the series. Both he and Ward were deeply displeased with their characterisations in the initial script — which was one of the reasons Paul Joyce became so heavily involved in the re-write. He couldn't get his stars to perform unless their script concerns were directly addressed. Meanwhile, Paul Joyce had little experience directing for television, and had considerable disagreements with John Nathan-Turner and lighting director John Dixon. Ultimately, only about half of the production was directed by Joyce, with most of the final half being tackled by credited production assistant, Graeme Harper. Also, the production was hit by a strike of the BBC carpenters, which further delayed matters.
- Part one - 7.1 million viewers
- Part two - 6.7 million viewers
- Part three - 8.3 million viewers
- Part four - 7.8 million viewers
- Powis Castle, Welshpool, Powys (black and white still photographs used in the story)
- BBC Television Centre (TC6 & TC1), Shepherd's Bush, London
- In part two, a Gundan's axe falls onto the Doctor's back, without harm.
- When Lane informs Packard of Romana's escape in part three, a boom microphone comes into shot right next to the MZ laser.
- Adric takes K9's ear, but when K9 subsequently meets the Doctor, he's got both.
- When Packard swings K9 overhead, his hollow interior is visible. It is also visible momentarily before the time winds damage him.
- When Sagan tries and fails to revive the Tharils, some of the supposedly dead Tharils on the table can be seen breathing.
- In part one, when the time winds damage K9, smoke pours out of him. Behind the prop (visible just below its head) is a pipe leading to it, which can be seen filling up with smoke at the beginning of this shot.
- TV: The Keeper of Traken follows directly from this story.
- K9 and his Mistress also fought slavery in a pocket universe in AUDIO: The Choice and The Search.
- Romana was later retrieved from E-Space by the Seventh Doctor. (PROSE: Blood Harvest)
- The Doctor would later echo his sentiment that someone he was leaving behind would be more than "alright." (TV: Let's Kill Hitler)
Home video and audio releases
Warriors' Gate has been released in a box set alongside Full Circle and State of Decay, titled The E-Space Trilogy.
Editing for the DVD release was completed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team.
- Audio Commentary by actors Lalla Ward (Romana) and John Leeson (K9), director Paul Joyce, script editor Christopher H. Bidmead and visual effects designer Mat Irvine
- The Dreaming - "Making of" featuring Clifford Rose (Rorvik), David Weston (Biroc) and writer Steve Gallagher
- The Boy with the Golden Star - Actor Matthew Waterhouse (Adric) looks back on his time in the series
- Lalla's Wardrobe - Retrospective featuring costume designers June Hudson and Louise Page
- Extended and Deleted Scenes - Missing scenes from an early edit of Part Two
- Isolated Music Score
- Trails and Continuity
- Photo Gallery
- DVD-ROM PC/Mac feature - Radio Times billings
- Easter Egg - On the second special features menu, go down to Continuity, click right and a green Doctor Who logo will be highlighted on the left, click it to see a short clip of Mat Irvine talking about props in Warriors' Gate
- Warriors' Gate was released on video in 1997 by BBC Worldwide as part of a boxed set containing: Full Circle, State of Decay and Warriors' Gate.
Box set covers
- Warriors' Gate at the BBC's official site
- Warriors' Gate at BroaDWcast
- Warriors' Gate at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- Warriors' Gate at The Locations Guide
- TSV:37 Riders on the Time Winds - Understanding Warriors' Gate