25 November 1983
Peter Davison (
Anthony Ainley (The Master),
|Written by||Terrance Dicks|
|Directed by||Peter M offatt|
|Produced by||John Nathan Turner|
Someone is plucking all the incarnations of the Doctorout of time and placing them in the Death Zone on Gallifrey, where they will meet old friends and enemies and play out the deadly Game of Rassilon, for the ultimate prize. But to lose is to win, and he who wins shall lose..
The Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough are taking a break at the Eye of Orion, one of the most tranquil spots in the universe. In the TARDIS control room, The Doctor has just finished renovating the control console, which now has a more hi-tech look. Turlough is sketching. Tegan is enjoying the peaceful atmosphere. It’s a change from their non-stop adventures that leave them no time to relax. The Doctor goes outside to join his companions and enjoy the peace and quiet. When Tegan wonders why it is so restful there, The Doctor explains that it is because of the bombardment of positive editions.
Elsewhere, in a hidden chamber, a dark figure – who shall be referred to as the Player – manipulates the controls of a forbidden device called the Time Scoop and kidnaps the First Doctor as he walks through a rose garden. The Player takes a figurine of the First Doctor from a window-shaped wall alcove and places it on one of five spots on a diorama, which lights up in response.
Back on the Eye of Orion, the Fifth Doctor feels a pain in his chest, but dismisses the thought that anything is wrong with him as Turlough and Tegan look worriedly at him.
Elsewhen, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is at a UNIT reunedition. He talks to his replacement, Colonel Crichton, about his former scientific adviser, The Doctor, it seems that UNIT had been unable to track him down for the reunedition. The Brigadier says, “Wonderful chap – all of them”, which confuses the Colonel. Suddenly, the Second Doctor bursts through the door, having barged past the sergeant on duty, happy to see his old friend. They take a walk. As they walk and talk in the yard about their times together, the Second Doctor tells the Brigadier that he must go as he is bending the Laws of Time. However, they are snatched up by the Time Scoop. Models of them appear in the wall alcove and the Player puts them in the spot next to the First Doctor.
The Fifth Doctor feels another pain and collapses after reassuring Tegan and Turlough that everything’s all right.
The Fifth Doctor tells his companions he must get back to the TARDIS. There is something definitely wrong with his past and he is in immediate danger. As he puts it, “A man is the sum of his memories, a Time Lord even more so”. He is nearly to the TARDIS when he collapses in pain as his third incarnation is snatched. He tells his companions he has to find”my other selves…”
Sarah Jane Smith is about to leave home. K9 warns her not to. He senses there is danger, and it somehow involves The Doctor. He suggests she take him with her. Unfortunately, her car is out of action and she has to take the bus. Believing K9 is overreacting, she dismisses his worry and heads off.
Somewhen else, the Fourth Doctor and Romana II are enjoying a punt along the River Cam in Cambridge. They are Time Scooped by the Player as well. However, to the growing angerof whoever is taking The Doctor’sincarnations out of time, he cannot take the Fourth Doctor and Romana from the wall alcove as figures. They have been trapped in a time eddy in the time vortex and do not rematerialise. The Player angrily slams a black-gloved fist onto the control panel. Waiting at the bus stop, Sarah is snatched by the Time Scoop, and her figurine placed in the diorama alongside the
The Fifth Doctor and his companions have entered the TARDIS. After setting a destination on the console and starting the TARDISoff he collapses. He begins fading into the Time Stream, but Tegan and Turlough keep him in existence by encouraging him. The TARDIS lands, and the scanner shows a desolate, rocky landscape – the Death Zone on Gallifrey.
All The Doctors and their companions, save the Fourth Doctor and Romana, have actually been deposited on a desolate, rocky landscape – the Death Zone on Gallifrey. Figures of the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough have been placed on the diorama section next to the First Doctor – the spot where the Fourth Doctor and Romana should have gone is flashing.
Meanwhile, in the Capitol on Gallifrey, the Inner Council of Time Lords, headed by Lord President Borusa and consisting of Chancellor Flavia and the Castellan, are in session. Despite the regenerated and still arrogant Borusa’s misgivings, the High Council has voted unanimously to call in The Master to go into the Death Zone to help The Doctor, who has been taken out of time and no longer exists in any of his regenerations. They explain that the Eye of Harmony is being drained by whomever is taking The Doctors out of time, endangering all of Gallifrey. Offered a pardon and a new cycle of regenerations if he rescues The Doctors, The Master accepts. He is given a copy of the Seal of the High Council by the Castellan to prove his credentials and a transmat recall device. He is transmatted to the Death Zone.
In the Zone, The Doctors face many dangers. The First Doctor finds himself in a hall of mirrors and is reunited with his granddaughter, Susan. Their reunedition is cut short when a Dalek arrives and tries to kill them. They trick the Dalek into destroying itself by pushing it into a dead end, where its energy weapon ricochets and destroys it, as The Doctor points out, “It’s very dangerous to fire energy weapons in an enclosed space!” the Second Doctor and the Brigadier escape from a squad of Cybermen, and the
The Second and
The Doctors’ goal now is to reach the Dark Tower, where the Time Lord founder Rassilon is entombed, although there is some doubt as to whether Rassilon is actually dead.
The Master meets and fails to convince the
The First Doctor and Susan find the TARDIS, the presence of the First Doctor seems to stabilise the Fifth for the moment. Together, they scan the tower and find three entrances – one at the apex of the tower, the main gate at the base and one underground, but a force field prevents the TARDIS’s entry, or even it moving within the Death Zone. The Fifth Doctor takes Tegan and Susan towards the main gate, but encounters The Master, who has no better luck convincingthe Fifth Doctor of his bona fides than he had the Thirdat that moment, the two are confronted by Cybermen. When they try to run away, The Master is knocked out by an explosion caused by a Cyber-gun blast. The Fifth Doctor finds The Master’s recall device on his unconscious body and transmats himself to the Capitol. Tegan and Susan start back to the TARDIS to warn the others, but Susan trips and sprains her ankle and needs Tegan’s help.
In the Capitol, the Fifth Doctor is informed of the situation by the High Council. The Doctor realises he has done The Master an injustice and that they were found too easily by the Cybermen. Like The Daleks, the Cybermen were never brought to the Death Zone in the Dark Times because they fought too well. He opens the recall device and finds a homing beacon inside.
The Castellan – who had given the device to The Master – is arrested, and Borusa orders the Commander to search the Castellan’s office and living quarters.
Tegan and Susan have told the First Doctor what happened to the Fifth Doctor. The First Doctor decides to head for the main gate himself. Tegan insists on accompanying him, much to his dismay. Susan and Turlough remain in the TARDIS to wait for the Tower forcefield to be deactivated so they can move the ship there.
The Master, confronted by the Cybermen, offers himself as a guide to the Tower in order to save his own life.
While waiting for the First Doctor and Tegan to get to the Tower, thumping is heard outside the TARDIS, the scanner reveals a squad of Cybermen carrying a coffin-like box and lots of cables.
A box containing Black Scrolls of Rassilon, forbidden knowledge from the Dark Times, has been found, supposedly in the Castellan’s quarters. The scrolls spontaneously combust before anyone can examine them, and Borusa orders the Castellan to be taken for interrogation, authorising the use of the mind probe – much to the Castellan’s horror. However, as the Castellan is escorted outside, there is the sound of a staser shot and a cry. The Doctor rushes out to find the Castellan dead, a gun by his hand, the Commander reports he was shot while trying to escape. President Borusa refuses to allow The Doctor to return to the Death Zone and orders Flavia to look after him.
The Second Doctor and the Brigadier are exploring a series of caves in the hope of reaching the lower entrance to the Tower when they encounter a Yeti, apparently left over from the previous games. Taking refuge in an alcove, The Doctor tries to chase the Yeti off with a firework, but only maddens it, causing it to collapse the entrance to the alcove. However, The Doctor detects a breeze blowing further back, and discovers the underground entrance to the Tower.
The Fifth Doctor voices his concerns to Chancellor Flavia. He says that while the Castellan was stubborn, he was devoted to his oath of office and could never have been a traitor and that his reaction to the Scrolls was not that of a guilty man, but sheer disbelief. He suspects that the traitor is still at large.
Flavia decides to have a word with the Captain, while The Doctor will speak with Borusa.
On the surface, the
The First Doctor and Tegan reach the main door and open it using an entry coder hidden under a large bell.
After climbing a cliff, much to Sarah’s dismay, The Doctor and Sarah find that there is no clear way across the empty space to the top of the tower. The Doctor uses the rope and bolts for a grappling hook. He and Sarah abseil across the gap to the top of the Tower, to the amusement of the Master far below.
On the main floorof the Tower, the First Doctor and Tegan find a chessboard floor blocking their way. The Doctor quickly determines the chessboard is a trap – electrical bolts will destroy anyone attempting to cross unless they find the safe path. The Master appears at this point, warning them the Cybermen are close behind. While The Doctor and Tegan hide, The Master lures the Cybermen onto the chessboard, where all but the Cyber-Leader (who waited behind) are killed by the trap. He also tricks the Cyber-Leader into trying to cross with him before fatally blasting him with a Cyber-weapon. Enjoying this little piece of butchery, The Master blithely steps across the board, moving into the Tower after telling The Doctor that “it’s as easy as pie.” The Doctor realises that The Master means the Greek letter pi and the safe path is calculated by means of the mathematical constant. Armed with this knowledge, The Doctor and Tegan make their way across the trap.
In the Death Zone, the TARDIS is now surrounded by Cybermen, who start to assemble a bomb to blow it up. Inside, Turlough and Susan watch helplessly, not knowing what to do.
The Second and
The Doctors soon realise they are just phantoms to impede their progress through the Tower and the spectres vanish with a scream.
the First Doctor blithely ignores the fear as an illusion, considering that “at my age, there’s little left to fear!”
Finally, the first three Doctors reach the tomb: Rassilon’s sepulchre. While the Brigadier, Sarah and Tegan get reacquainted, the three Doctors try to translate an inscription in Old High Gallifreyan on a pedestal near a control panel – squabbling amongst themselves as usual.
The Fifth Doctor finds Borusa has vanished from the Council Chamber, but the guards insist the President could not have gotten by them at the only entrance. The transmat is out of power, so The Doctor deduces there must be a secret door and orders the guards to notify Flavia that the President has disappeared. After an intensive search, he realises that the Harp of Rassilon, standing in the Council Chamber, is the key and that a tune will open the door. He starts experimenting.
In the tomb, The Doctors have deciphered the inscription. Rassilon had discovered the secret of immortality. He was willing to share it with whoeverovercame the obstacles to the tomb and took the ring from his body and put it on. However, a line troubles the First Doctor, who wonders just what it means:”To lose is to win and he who wins shall lose.” The Master steps out of the shadows, brandishing his tissue compression eliminator, to claim immortality himself and to kill The Doctor”three times over”, but the Brigadier moves up behind The Master and surprises him.
The Fifth Doctor realises that the tune is shown in a painting of Rassilon playing the Harp, where the sheet music is clearly depicted. He plays the tune, which opens the door. The Doctor enters the secret chamber and finds the dark figure of the Player who has taken his other selves out of time: Borusa. The Lord President is not satisfied with ruling Gallifrey for all his remaining regenerations – he wants to be President Eternal and rule forever. Like the first three Doctors, Borusa has determined that Rassilon discovered the secret of immortality and he means to claim it, sending The Doctors into the Zone to clear the way of obstacles for him. Using the Coronet of Rassilon, Borusa overwhelms the Fifth Doctor’s will, forcing him to obey his commands.
The Second Doctor contacts the Capitol. The Fifth Doctor answers, still under Borusa’s control, and tells his other selves to await his and Borusa’s arrival. The First and
The ring vanishes from Borusa’s finger and returns to Rassilon, while Borusa himself disappears and reappears as a stone face in an empty space on the bier. The faces, including Borusa’s, then become stone once more. Borusa has found his immortality, but not the way he wanted it.
Rassilon asks The Doctors if they want immortality too – all four frantically say “No!” the Fifth Doctor asks that they all be returned to their proper time and the Fourth Doctor be freed from the time vortex. Rassilon does so, and the Fourth Doctor departs in the TARDIS with Romana. Then, Rassilon sends The Master – who is just coming to, and is grinning – back to his own time, saying”His sins will find their punishment in due time.” After telling The Doctors to say their goodbyes, and that they have chosen wisely, Rassilon vanishes, returning to his eternal rest as the companions find themselves released from Borusa’s psychic hold. The First Doctor smugly tells the Fifth that he finally understood the proverb”To lose is to win and he who wins shall lose”. The prize was yet another trap – a means for Rassilon to discover who wanted immortality (and were thus a danger to Gallifrey) and get them out of the way.
The Doctors and their companions say their goodbyes to each other – with a few snipes between The Doctors – and re-enter the TARDIS, save for the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough. As the three watch, The Doctors and their companions are transported back to their proper times in offshoots of the TARDIS splitting off from the original, Rassilon has used temporal fission to send them home. Chancellor Flavia arrives with guards and tells The Doctor that with Borusa’s disappearance, the Council has appointed The Doctor as President. The Doctororders Flavia back to the Capitol, saying that he will follow in his TARDIS and she has full deputy powers until his return.
Once in the ship, however, he tells Tegan and Turlough he has no intention of returning. Tegan asks if The Doctor really intends to go on the run from his own people in a “rackety old TARDIS.” The Doctor replies, smiling, “Why not? After all, that’s how it all started…”
My feeling is that it all worked better the way it ended up. Five Doctors were just too many to handle but four worked very nicely, and you do at least see Tom. The other thing that I found quite amazing was how well the scenes from Shada fitted in. I&rsquo, ll swear that if you didn’t know, you would think it was written for the special.
The Five Doctors was to feature Omega. Though various past villains were considered for inclusion in this story, Omega was neverone of them, other than the Second Doctor’s dialogue reference. In addition, the character had appeared at the start of the season in Arc of Infinity
Richard Hurndall died months after the episode aired, in April 1984. There is an associated rumour questioning whether he lived long enough to be paid for his work, which was discussed in the 25th Anniversary Edition DVD commentary.
The Master’s real name is Jehoshaphat. This originated from fan writers misunderstanding the
Inearly drafts, the First Doctor was to appear with Dodo and Steven, and K9 was to accompanythe Fourth Doctor and Romana II (or Sarah) throughout the episode. Susan was the only companion ever considered to appear alongside the First Doctor. While K9 was present throughout most of the draft scripts, none of them had him appearing in more than a small cameo.
Kamelion was supposed to appear for this story. He was never intended to take an active part in the story, due to the difficulty in operating the Kamelion prop. An explanation for his absence may have been in one of the draft scripts, though no firm evidence exists for this.
Colin Baker was to have played Maxil, but the plan was dropped because Baker had been cast as the Sixth Doctor. Maxil was to have appeared in The Five Doctors, but the character was dropped because Baker was unavailable, not because of his being cast as The Doctor, in fact, Baker wasn’t offered the role of the Doctor until June 1983, well after production of the Five Doctors concluded.
Plas Brondanw, Llanfrothen, Penrhyndeudraeth, Gwynedd (Eye of Orion)
Tilehouse Lane, Denham Green, Buckinghamshire
West Common Road, Uxbridge, Middlesex
Carreg Y Foel Gron, Ffestiniog, Gwynedd
Cwm Bychan, Llanbedr, Gwynedd
Denham Manor, Halings Lane, Denham Green (UNIT HQ)
North Common Road, Uxbridge, Middlesex
Ealing Television Film Studios, Ealing Green, Ealing
BBC Television Centre
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 Cyberman attacks the Brigadier, the jeans of the actor playing the Cyberman are visible.
The long shot of the
At one point in the caves, a boom microphone is visible above the Second Doctor’s and the Brigadier’s head (and it stays there for around three seconds).
When The Master arrives in the Death Zone, he is wearing a black cloak which he was not wearing when he stepped into the transmat. Peter Davison and Terrance Dicks joked that the transmat functions included a”cloak dispenser” in their commentary on the 25th Anniversary DVD. (Alternately, since The Master’s arrival in the Death Zone is not seen, he may have acquired it off-screen in between scenes.)
After the Raston Warrior Robot defeats the Cybermen, there are several small fires burning on the ground, when the scene is cut for when the Robot jumps and vanishes, the fires disappear.
The cables on the head of the Cyberman who watches the First Doctor and Susan approach the TARDIS are disconnected (the shot was removed from the Special Edition for this reason.)
In the shot immediately between the ring reappearing on Rassilon’s hand and Borusa turning to look at the empty space on the bier, an aerial shot shows the stone carving of Borusa is already in place, but the space it occupies is blank again in the next shot.
Three different incarnations of Borusa had previously met The Doctoron various return trips to Gallifrey. (The Deadly Assassin, The Invasion of Time, Arc of Infinity)
The Brigadier refers to Yeti (The Web of Fear) and Cybermen. (The Invasion)
The Second Doctor mentions Omega. (The Three Doctors)
The Second Doctor criticises the redecorating of UNIT HQ in much the same way he did the redesigned TARDIS console room. (The Three Doctors)
Sarah is seen with K9. (A Girl’s Best Friend)
The Fourth Doctor gets stuck in a time eddy. The First Doctor previously got stuck in a time eddy. (The Three Doctors) However, unlike the Fourth, the First was able to communicate and assist.
The Second Doctor is wearing his fur coat. (The Abominable Snowmen, The Ice Warriors) He later wears it several times. (Beyond the Ultimate Adventure, Time and the Rani, and A Cold Day in Hell!)
The Doctor and the Fifth Doctor would later encounter a Raston Warrior Robot at the Eye of Orion, shortly after the Fifth Doctor’s role in events here. (The Eight Doctors)
The Brigadier recognises Tegan and later the Fifth Doctor. (Mawdryn Undead)
The Time Lords offer The Master a complete new life cycle, which they grant him later forother reasons. (The Sound of Drums)
they were later grant The Doctor a new regeneration cycle as his otherwise final body is about to die. (The Time of the Doctor)
The Brigadier recognises The Master – and then promptly punches him. (Terror of the Autons)
The First Doctor fails to recognise The Master, who then tells him that they went to the Academy together. (Terror of the Autons, The Deadly Assassin, The Sound of Drums)
The Doctor is called upon to once again become Lord President of Gallifrey. He ran for the position initially in order to save himself from trial, (The Deadly Assassin) then ultimately assumed the role (followed shortly thereafter by his resignation from it) to prevent an invasion of Gallifrey. (The Invasion of Time) He was ultimately removed from office for abandoning his duties, but would later be offered the presidency again in his sixth incarnation, which he declined. (The Ultimate Foe) When confronting The Daleks, the Seventh Doctor described himself as “President-Elect of the High Council of Time Lords”. (Remembrance of the Daleks)
The Brigadier’s says “Wonderful chap, all of them, ” referring to all five incarnations of the Doctor. He previously said “Wonderful chap, both of him”, referring to his second and third incarnations. (The Three Doctors)
The First Doctor appear annoyed when Tegan Jovanka calls him “Doc”. He had previously disliked that, (The Time Meddler) and would continue to dislike it in his later incarnations. (The Twin Dilemma, The Ultmate Foe, Dreamland) His exact words, “Kindly refrain from addressing me as ‘Doc”, would later be used in his sixth incarnation. (The Twin Dilemma)
According to one source, before the Fifth Doctor arrived in the Capitol, The Master’s transmat recall device sent him to an alternative Death Zone where he met his former companions Ian Chesterton, Steven Taylor, Sara Kingdom, Polly Wright and Nyssa and battled The Daleks and the Sontarans. (The Five Companions)
The Second Doctor calls the
Romana would later recall that she was shocked that The Doctor ran away from his responsibilities when he was appointed Lord President. (Extermination).
The Seal of the High Council taken here from The Master by the
Sarah expresses her fear of heights. (Genesis of the Daleks)
The Castellan claims that “The Doctor wants revenge” possibly referring to the Time Lords’ recent attempt to execute The Doctor. (Arc of Infinity)
The Fourth Doctor’s temporary abduction is revealed to have essentially ‘erased’ the original version of Shada, prompting The Doctor to contact Romana and K9 for help in tying up a loose end at Cambridge (Shada).