Arc of Infinity

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123[1]Arc of Infinity
Doctor Who serial
Omega as Doctor.jpg
Omega removes his mask to reveal that he has taken on the appearance of the Doctor
Directed byRon Jones
Written byJohnny Byrne
Script editorEric Saward
Produced byJohn Nathan-Turner
Executive producer(s)None
Incidental music composerRoger Limb
Production code6E
SeriesSeason 20
Length4 episodes, 25 minutes each
First broadcast3 January–12 January 1983
← Preceded by
Followed by →
Doctor Who episodes (1963–1989)

Arc of Infinity is the first serial of the 20th season of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four twice-weekly parts on BBC1 from 3 to 12 January 1983.

The serial is set in Amsterdam and on the planet Gallifrey. In the serial, the Time Lord traitor Hedin (Michael Gough) seeks to bring the founder of the Time Lords Omega (Ian Collier) out of the universe of antimatter by making him bond with the body of the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) in the universe of matter.


On Gallifrey, the Fifth Doctor's home planet, a Time Lord traitor is at work, stealing the bio-data code of another Time Lord and killing a technician who stumbles across the crime. The traitor provides the bio-data to a creature known as the Renegade, which is composed of antimatter and uses the bio-data to invade the TARDIS and the Doctor's metabolism. His companion, Nyssa, helps him recover. The Renegade is shielded in this attempt by the Arc of Infinity, a curve between the dimensions containing "quad radiation", which has the ability to shield antimatter. The Doctor decides to head to Gallifrey to track down the supplier of his bio-data knowing that, unless the creature is stopped, its incursion could cause a chain reaction proving ultimately fatal to our universe.

The High Council of the Time Lords is also taking the matter seriously and has decreed that the Doctor's TARDIS should be recalled for the same reason. The Chancellery Guard, under the over-zealous Commander Maxil, seizes the Doctor and Nyssa. He stuns the Doctor to ensure his delivery to the High Council.

When the Doctor is brought before the High Council, the new Lord President, Borusa, is inscrutable, while Chancellor Thalia and Cardinal Zorac are openly hostile; only his old friend Councillor Hedin seems pleased to see him. The President stresses the gravity of the situation and the High Council has had no alternative but to issue a Warrant of Termination on the Doctor to ensure the Renegade can no longer bond with him. The Doctor is taken away protesting, sure his bio-data has been compromised and stolen from within the High Council. An old friend, Damon, another technician in the records section, provides him with the proof he needs that a member of the High Council did indeed steal his bio-data extract. The Doctor is taken for execution, despite Nyssa's attempts to save him, and placed in a dispersal chamber. Sentence is carried out.

The supposed death of the Doctor, however, has not solved the situation. Unbeknownst to the High Council, his mind has been taken into the Time Lord living repository of knowledge, the Matrix, while his body is hidden behind a force shield in the termination cubicle. The Renegade, who demands an opportunity to return to the Universe it once inhabited, contacts him. The truth of the aborted execution is discovered by the wily Castellan, who tells Nyssa and Damon that the Doctor is alive; then the High Council.

Omega's costume for this episode, on display at the Doctor Who Experience.

In Amsterdam, the Doctor's former companion Tegan is looking for her cousin Colin Frazer. She is greeted by his friend Robin Stuart, who explains that Colin disappeared while they were crashing in the crypt of the Frankendael mansion. When they fail to persuade the police to take an interest, they decide to investigate the crypt themselves. They find a hypnotised Colin working for a birdlike creature, which is armed with a deadly weapon. They are rendered unconscious and their minds scanned, revealing to the Renegade, who has established its base in a TARDIS hidden at the Frankendael, that Tegan knows the Doctor. The Renegade uses Tegan as bait to force the Doctor to obey him, also releasing Colin from slavery as a reward. The Doctor is returned to normal space on Gallifrey where he makes for the High Council Chamber. Lord President Borusa has fallen under suspicion of being a traitor because the Castellan reveals it was his codes that were used to transmit the bio-data. The truth, however, is that Councillor Hedin is the Time Lord in league with the Renegade. He is in awe of his master, the mighty Omega, first of the Time Lords and pioneer of time travel. Hedin wishes to release Omega from his exile in a universe of antimatter, not realising the great Time Lord has been driven mad by his years of solitary confinement. The Castellan kills Hedin, but this does not prevent Omega using the Arc of Infinity to seize total control of the Matrix and, therefore, the organisation of Gallifrey.

The Doctor and Nyssa slip away and return to the TARDIS. They use scant knowledge provided by Tegan to determine that Omega has established his base in Amsterdam, and head there immediately, desperately trying to find the Frankendael crypt she described. After a lengthy hunt they find the lair defended by the birdlike creature, the Ergon, and Nyssa disposes of it with its own matter-converter gun. They reach Omega's TARDIS at the point at which both the ship is destroyed and Omega makes full transference to Earth using the Arc of Infinity. When he peels his decayed mask away, he reveals the features of the Doctor, whom he now perfectly resembles.

Omega heads off into Amsterdam with the Doctor and Nyssa in hot pursuit. Within a short time, the Doctor's prediction of an unstable transfer begins to come true: Omega's flesh decays and it is clear his new body is not permanent. When the Doctor and Nyssa catch up with him, it is a painful task for the Doctor to use the Ergon's antimatter converter on Omega, expelling him back to his own universe of antimatter. The Time Lord High Council on Gallifrey detects the end of the threat. Once Tegan has checked on her cousin's progress in hospital, she decides to rejoin the TARDIS crew, this time as a willing traveller.


EpisodeTitleRun timeOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions) [2]
1"Part One"24:373 January 1983 (1983-01-03)7.2
2"Part Two"24:425 January 1983 (1983-01-05)7.3
3"Part Three"24:3711 January 1983 (1983-01-11)6.9
4"Part Four"24:2812 January 1983 (1983-01-12)7.2

The working titles for this story were The Time of Neman and The Time of Omega.[citation needed] For Parts One and Two, the character of Omega was credited as "The Renegade" on the end credits. Colin Baker stated on Doctor Who: The Colin Baker Years video that John Nathan-Turner believed his performance was a little arch, and therefore gave him the nickname of Archie.

Substantial portions of the story were filmed on location in Amsterdam. This was only the second time the show had filmed outside of Britain. John Nathan-Turner hoped to repeat the success of the first story filmed overseas, City of Death (1979). Amsterdam was chosen both because the BBC had recently developed contacts there and because it was cheap to arrange travel and hotel accommodations. Story writer Johnny Bryne had some trouble at first because the producers wanted a plot that made the Amsterdam setting a key factor in the course of events, rather than him just happening to be there.

Part One was broadcast on a Monday in contrast to the rest of this season's episodes, which were all transmitted on consecutive Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.

Cast notes[edit]

The story features a guest appearance by Michael Gough (who had previously played the Celestial Toymaker in the story of the same name).[3] Leonard Sachs previously played Admiral Gaspard de Coligny in The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve (1966). Ian Collier previously played Stuart Hyde in The Time Monster (1972).[4]

Colin Baker (who would later portray the Sixth Doctor) appeared in the serial as Commander Maxil.[3] It was his performance in this role (which, according to Baker, producer John Nathan-Turner repeatedly told him to "tone down") that first brought him to the attention of the production office. Shortly after the production, the Assistant Floor Manager on the serial, Lynn Richards, invited Colin Baker to her wedding reception. Amongst the other guests were Ron Jones, Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, Eric Saward, John Nathan-Turner and Gary Downie. Baker has said in a number of interviews that his entertaining form at the party directly led to his being cast as the Sixth Doctor the following year. Baker reprised the role of Maxil as an uncredited cameo in the 2006 Big Finish Productions audio play Gallifrey: Appropriation.

Elspet Gray, who played Thalia, later played Hera in the audio play Immortal Beloved. Her character's name is shared with the Greek Muse of comedy.[original research?] At the Fifth Element convention in London in February 2010, Alastair Cumming (who played Colin Frazer) explained that he is not related to Fiona Cumming (director of the Fifth Doctor serials Castrovalva (1982), Snakedance, Enlightenment (both 1983) and Planet of Fire (1984)), despite frequent reports that she is his mother.

Leela had been written into the script, but Louise Jameson was not available. A few of Leela's actions critical to the plot were therefore given to Nyssa, resulting in a slightly unusually aggressive role for the character.[citation needed]

Commercial releases[edit]

In print[edit]

Arc of Infinity
Doctor Who Arc of Infinity.jpg
AuthorTerrance Dicks
SeriesDoctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
PublisherTarget Books
Publication date
20 October 1983

A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in July 1983.

Home media[edit]

Arc of Infinity was released on VHS in March 1994. A double-pack DVD featuring both Time-Flight and Arc of Infinity was released on 6 August 2007. This serial was also released as part of the Doctor Who DVD Files in Issue 108 on 20 February 2013.


  1. ^ From the Doctor Who Magazine series overview, in issue 407 (pp26-29). The Discontinuity Guide, which counts the unbroadcast serial Shada, lists this as story number 124. Region 1 DVD releases follow The Discontinuity Guide numbering system.
  2. ^ "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Arc of Infinity - Details". BBC. 24 September 2014. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  4. ^ "BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Arc of Infinity - Details".

External links[edit]

Target novelisation[edit]