Doctor Who: Season 20, Episode 23

The Five Doctors (23 Nov. 1983)

TV Episode  -   -  Adventure | Drama | Horror
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The Doctor and his previous regenerative versions are abducted to an isolated area of his home planet as part of a renegade timelord's scheme.


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Hurndall ...
The Doctor (archive footage)
The Doctor (archive footage)
Anthony Ainley ...
Philip Latham ...
Romana (archive footage)


In this feature-length twentieth anniversary special in the classic science fiction-fantasy series, someone uses a time scoop to lift all five incarnations of the heroic Time Lord known as the Doctor out of their respective time streams. The elderly, first Doctor is taken out of Wimbledon Garden. The Beatle-haired, Chaplainesque, second Doctor is removed from the grounds of UNIT H.Q.. The dashing, dandy, white-haired, James Bond-like third Doctor is scooped off of Earth in his Edwardian speedster car, Bessie. The curly-haired, tall, long-scarfed fourth Doctor is lifted out of a punt on the river Cambridge and trapped in a time vortex. And the youthful, striped-panted fifth Doctor must find all of his former selves and return them to their proper time streams, or face disintegration into the time vortex in which his fourth incarnation is trapped. Having abducted each of the Doctors, the mysterious agent responsible for this transgression of the First Law of Time, positions four of the ... Written by Kevin McCorry <>

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Release Date:

23 November 1983 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs


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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Robert Holmes' original concept The Six Doctors would have featured the Cybermen and their kidnapping of the five incarnations of the Doctor; in their attempt to extract Time Lord DNA to turn themselves into "Cyberlords", the twist being that the First Doctor and Susan would actually be android impostors (the former being the "Sixth Doctor" of the title) and the Second Doctor would have saved the day. Some elements of this plotline would be reused in Holmes' own The Two Doctors. See more »


When Sarah Jane is grabbed by the time scoop she drops her bag but her "figure" has a handbag over its shoulder. See more »


Borusa: We are prepared to offer you a full and free pardon.
The Master: What makes you think I want your forgiveness?
See more »


Featured in Doctor Who Confidential: Lords and Masters (2009) See more »


Destiny Waltz
Composed by Sydney Barnes
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User Reviews

mildly diverting Doctor Who frolic with multiple selves
9 July 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This TV special promises a lot, bringing past Doctors together with the current one (at that time Peter Davison).

However, in practice, there are really only two other genuine Doctors in evidence - the funny little one, Patrick Troughton, and the tall, sardonic one, Jon Pertwee. Brief inserts of unused footage allow Tom Baker to be seen - but blink and you might miss him. And as William Hartnell had passed on by the 1980s, the original Doctor is played by Richard Hurdnall (very well, it has to be said, but he isn't Hartnell, who appears at the very beginning in footage from an old adventure saying he'll be back!)

So much for the doctors - what about the plot?

Each Doctor is removed from their separate time streams and placed in Gallifrey, where they have to battle old foes (The Master and the Cybermen), and the hallucinations of old friends. All is of course not what it seems, and the villain of the piece takes time to reveal himself. In the meantime there is friendly banter between the Doctors, who are not best pleased at meeting their other selves in the same time and space - one always feels that the Doctor is an arrogant being who likes to revel in his own glory, not sharing it with others.

Nevertheless the camaraderie is pleasing and it is good to see familiar faces back again, including Sarah-Jane, the Brigadier, and other companions.

'The Five Doctors' may be breaching the Trade Descriptions Act a bit, but it is watchable, short, and of some interest.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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