Doctor Who (season 15)

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Doctor Who season 15
Doctor Who Logo 1973-1980.svg
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 26, 6 serials
Original network BBC One
Original release 3 September 1977 (1977-09-03) – 11 March 1978 (1978-03-11)
Season chronology
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Season 14
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The Key to Time
(Season 16)
List of Doctor Who serials

The fifteenth season of British science fiction television series Doctor Who began on 3 September 1977 with the episode Horror of Fang Rock, and ended with The Invasion of Time.


Season fifteen proved to be a difficult transition period. Philip Hinchcliffe's departure coincided with the loss of a number of long-time contributors to the show as Graham Williams took over as Producer. Williams remarked, "I had to try and find some new ones, and that wasn't the least of the problems. Bob Holmes was stuck on Weng-Chiang for ages... all the scripts were coming in late...".[1]

Robert Holmes remained to work on the three stories he had commissioned, while his successor, Anthony Read, trailed him in preparation of taking over the position. Read, an experienced director and producer had only agreed to the position of Script Editor because he was intrigued by the chance to work on Doctor Who. Holmes completed The Horror of Fang Rock and The Invisible Enemy, before leaving due to creative exhaustion. Image of the Fendahl fell to Read, who had to hastily write K-9 into the story when Holmes made him a regular character.

While Tom Baker enjoyed working with John Leeson (the voice of K-9) in rehearsals, he disliked the prop. Holmes recalled, "it used to drive Tom spare, and more often than not, he'd kick it out of frustration."[1] Holmes agreed to write The Sun Makers, and while the story was meant to follow K-9's introduction and establish him as a regular character, scheduling problems- resulting the shelving the scripts that Fang Rock had to replace- required the story order to change, with Fendahl preceding it.[1]

Baker had found it difficult to accept the violent Leela character since her introduction, contributing to growing tensions between himself and Louise Jameson. According to Jameson, the tension came to a head during the recording of Fang Rock, when she finally confronted Baker over multiple takes of a scene caused by him entering early and cutting her off.[2] Tensions between the two eased over the course of the season.

Read commissioned Bob Baker and Dave Martin to write Underworld, the penultimate story of the season. Right away, the production was hit hard by record inflation, resulting in the design staff working day and night and inventing new techniques and processes to complete the story on time.[3] The final story, The Invasion of Time, proved even more chaotic: with a reduced budget, a complete last-minute re-write by Read and Williams, and a BBC industrial-dispute between the props department and the electricians.


Main Characters[edit]

Tom Baker and Louise Jameson continue their roles as the Fourth Doctor and Leela. K-9, played by John Leeson, makes his first appearance during the second serial The Invisible Enemy. Louise Jameson makes her final appearance as Leela in The Invasion of Time.


Graham Williams took over as producer from Philip Hinchcliffe. Robert Holmes was replaced as script editor by Anthony Read, during The Sun Makers. The season took a short transmission break of two weeks over the Christmas 1977 period, between the broadcasts of The Sun Makers and Underworld.

Story  Serial  Title  Directed by  Written by  Original air date  Production
UK viewers
(millions) [4]
AI [4]
092 1 Horror of Fang Rock Paddy Russell Terrance Dicks 3 September 1977
10 September 1977
17 September 1977
24 September 1977
4V 6.8

Three lighthouse men face their fears when something comes in from the sea, which brings death to all it touches.
093 2 The Invisible Enemy Derrick Goodwin Bob Baker and Dave Martin 1 October 1977
8 October 1977
15 October 1977
22 October 1977
4T 8.6

A shuttle crew encounters a cloud in space that infects them with an intelligent virus. When the Doctor answers the distress call, he is infected as well.
094 3 Image of the Fendahl George Spenton-Foster Chris Boucher 29 October 1977
5 November 1977
12 November 1977
19 November 1977
4X 6.7

Scientists investigating an ancient skull unwittingly start to revive the Fendahl, an ancient life-form feared even by the Time Lords.
095 4 The Sun Makers Pennant Roberts Robert Holmes 26 November 1977
3 December 1977
10 December 1977
17 December 1977
4W 8.5

In the far future, the planet Pluto is habitable, heated by several miniature suns. However, the heat is available only to the ruling classes.
096 5 Underworld Norman Stewart Bob Baker and Dave Martin 7 January 1978
14 January 1978
21 January 1978
28 January 1978
4Y 8.9

The remnants of the Minyans have an old link to the Time Lords. The Doctor must help them to find the hidden race banks that will save their dying race.
097 6 The Invasion of Time Gerald Blake David Agnew
(Graham Williams and Anthony Read)
4 February 1978
11 February 1978
18 February 1978
25 February 1978
4 March 1978
11 March 1978
4Z 11.2

The Doctor returns to Gallifrey, having claimed the Presidency. He orders Leela expelled from the Capitol Citadel. However, the Doctor is doing this to prevent a Sontaran-instigated disaster.


The entire season was broadcast from 3 September 1977 to 11 March 1978.

DVD Releases[edit]

All serials of season 15 were released individually in between 2005 and 2011.

Serial name Number and duration
of episodes
R2 release date R4 release date R1 release date
Horror of Fang Rock 4 × 25 min. 17 January 2005 7 April 2005 6 September 2005
The Invisible Enemy
Only available as part of the K9 Tales box set with the Doctor Who spin-off K-9 and Company in all regions.
4 × 25 min. 16 June 2008 4 September 2008 2 September 2008
Image of the Fendahl 4 × 25 min. 20 April 2009 4 June 2009 1 September 2009
The Sun Makers 4 × 25 min. 1 August 2011 1 September 2011 9 August 2011
Only available as part of the Myths and Legends box set in Regions 2 and 4.
Only available individually in Region 1.
4 × 25 min. 29 March 2010 3 June 2010 6 July 2010
The Invasion of Time
Available individually or in the Bred for War box set in Regions 2 and 4.
Only available individually in Region 1.
6 × 25 min. 5 May 2008 3 July 2008 2 September 2008

In print[edit]

Serial name Novelisation title Author First published
Horror of Fang Rock Doctor Who and the Horror of Fang Rock Terrance Dicks 1978
The Invisible Enemy Doctor Who and the Invisible Enemy Terrance Dicks 1979
Image of the Fendahl Doctor Who and the Image of the Fendahl Terrance Dicks 1979
The Sun Makers Doctor Who and the Sunmakers Terrance Dicks 1982
Underworld Doctor Who and the Underworld Terrance Dicks 1980
The Invasion of Time Doctor Who and the Invasion of Time Terrance Dicks 1980


  1. ^ a b c The Doctors: 30 Years of Time Travel. Boxtree Ltd|Adrian Rigelsford, 1994.
  2. ^ "The Horror of Fang Rock" DVD, Commentary Track.|BBC, 2005.
  3. ^ "Underworld" DVD, Into the Unknown, Making-of Documentary.|BBC, 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 27 December 2014.