Doctor Who (season 20)

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Doctor Who (season 20)
Doctor Who Season 20 DVD.jpg
Cover art of the Region 2 DVD release for first serial of the season
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of stories 6, 1 special
No. of episodes 23
Original network BBC One
Original release 3 January (1983-01-03) – 16 March 1983 (1983-03-16) (Season)
25 November 1983 (Special)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 19
Next →
Season 21
List of Doctor Who serials

The twentieth season of British science fiction television series Doctor Who began on 3 January 1983 with the story Arc of Infinity, and ended 16 March 1983 with The King's Demons. A 20th Anniversary special, The Five Doctors, followed in November 1983.


Main cast[edit]

Peter Davison continues his role as the Doctor, as well as Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka). While Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) leaves halfway through the season in Terminus, Mark Strickson arrives as new companion Vislor Turlough in Mawdryn Undead. In the penultimate serial of the season, the shape-shifting android Kamelion (voiced by Gerald Flood) is invited aboard the TARDIS after the Doctor frees him from the Master. Kamelion accepts, though the character itself would only be seen again in Season 21's antepenultimate serial, Planet of Fire.

Past Doctors return for the 20th Anniversary special, with Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee appearing as the Second Doctor and Third Doctor. The First Doctor returns, played by Richard Hurndall as original actor William Hartnell died in 1975. Tom Baker was asked to return to play the Fourth Doctor but declined.

Past companions Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart), Carole Ann Ford (Susan Foreman) return for the 20th Anniversary special, whilst Nicholas Courtney also makes an appearance in Mawdryn Undead.

Recurring stars[edit]

Anthony Ainley returns as the Master yet again in The King's Demons and The Five Doctors.

The Black Guardian played by Valentine Dyall also makes a return in Mawdryn Undead, Terminus and Enlightenment.

Guest stars[edit]

Additional companions Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon), Wendy Padbury (Zoe Heriot), Caroline John (Liz Shaw) and Richard Franklin (Mike Yates) make cameos throughout the special.

Returning villains for the season are Omega (Arc of Infinity), Cybermen (The Five Doctors) and The Mara (Snakedance). A lone Dalek and a lone Yeti appear briefly in The Five Doctors.

David Banks makes his second of four appearances in the show in The Five Doctors as a Cyber-leader.

Colin Baker, who was subsequently cast as the Sixth Doctor, made his first appearance in Doctor Who as Commander Maxil in the season's first serial, Arc of Infinity, becoming the first actor to appear in the programme prior to taking on the role of the Doctor.


To commemorate the twentieth season, the stories in this season involve the return of characters or villains seen in previous seasons. This season was broadcast twice weekly on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings on BBC1. It includes The Black Guardian Trilogy, consisting of the serials Mawdryn Undead, Terminus and Enlightenment and involving the arrival of Turlough, the departure of Nyssa and a single guest appearance from Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Overall, these serials form a rough twelve-part epic.

Although The Five Doctors was broadcast more than eight months after Part 2 of The King's Demons, which was the last regular story of the season, it is usually included as part of Season 20.

Story Serial Title Directed by Written by Original air date Prod.
UK viewers
(millions) [1]
AI [1]
123 1 Arc of Infinity Ron Jones Johnny Byrne 3 January 1983 (1983-01-03)
5 January 1983
11 January 1983
12 January 1983
6E 7.2
The Doctor is attacked by an anti-matter creature, which attempts to join with him genetically. Its intention is to bond with a Time Lord and cross over into this dimension through the Arc of Infinity — the gateway to all dimensions. The chosen Time Lord is the Doctor.
124 2 Snakedance Fiona Cumming Christopher Bailey 18 January 1983 (1983-01-18)
19 January 1983
25 January 1983
26 January 1983
6D 6.7
The arrival of the TARDIS on Manussa triggers nightmares in Tegan, who dreams of a snake-shaped cave mouth. It is evident to the Fifth Doctor that the Mara is reasserting itself on her mind.
125 3 Mawdryn Undead Peter Moffatt Peter Grimwade 1 February 1983 (1983-02-01)
2 February 1983
8 February 1983
9 February 1983
6F 6.5
The Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa, aboard the TARDIS, find themselves caught in the warp ellipse of a starliner that is trapped in time. They find a transmat capsule as the source of interference that is trapping the TARDIS, and are soon joined by Turlough. Turlough is contacted by the Black Guardian, who seeks to kill the Doctor, the Black Guardian offers Turlough passage off Earth if he eradicates the Doctor, to which Turlough agrees.
126 4 Terminus Mary Ridge Stephen Gallagher 15 February 1983 (1983-02-15)
16 February 1983
22 February 1983
23 February 1983
6G 6.8
The TARDIS, to save itself, has materialized aboard a spaceship heading for an unknown destination. It becomes apparent that the spaceship is actually a transport carrying sufferers of a leprosy-like disease, to a space station named Terminus.
127 5 Enlightenment Fiona Cumming Barbara Clegg 1 March 1983 (1983-03-01)
2 March 1983
8 March 1983
9 March 1983
6H 6.6
The Eternals sail through the universe, racing for the ultimate prize.
128 6 The King's Demons Tony Virgo Terence Dudley 15 March 1983 (1983-03-15)
16 March 1983
6J 5.8
The Doctor discovers a shapeshifting robot posing as King John.
129 The Five Doctors Peter Moffatt Terrance Dicks 25 November 1983 (1983-11-25)[2] 6K 7.7 75
With the Fourth Doctor trapped in a vortex, the First, Second, Third and Fifth Doctors, plus various companions, must play the game of Rassilon to defeat an unlikely foe.


The entire season (including the show's 20th anniversary special The Five Doctors) was broadcast from 3 January to 25 November.

DVD Release[edit]

All serials of season 20 were released individually in between 1999 and 2011, with The Five Doctors being the first ever serial released on DVD.

Serial name Number and duration
of episodes
R2 release date R4 release date R1 release date
Arc of Infinity
Only available as part of the Time-Flight/Arc of Infinity box set in Regions 2 and 4.
Only available individually in Region 1.
4 × 25 min. 6 August 2007 5 September 2007 6 November 2007
Only available as part of the Mara Tales box set in Regions 2 and 4.
Only available individually in Region 1.
4 × 25 min. 7 March 2011 7 April 2011 12 April 2011
Black Guardian Trilogy:
Mawdryn Undead (4 episodes)
Terminus (4 episodes)
Enlightenment (4 episodes)
12 × 25 min.
1 × 75 min.
(Enlightenment special edition)
10 August 2009 5 November 2009 3 November 2009
The King's Demons
Only available as part of the Kamelion Tales box set in Regions 2 and 4.
Only available individually in Region 1.
2 × 25 min. 14 June 2010 5 August 2010 7 September 2010
The Five Doctors – Special Edition 1 × 100 min.
(special edition)[notes 1]
1 November 1999 9 October 2000 11 September 2001
The Five Doctors – 25th Anniversary Edition 1 × 90 min.
(broadcast version)
1 × 100 min.
(special edition)[notes 2]
3 March 2008 8 May 2008 5 August 2008
  1. ^ The DVD release of The Five Doctors – Special Edition is a 100-minute "special edition" with restored footage and new special effects.
  2. ^ The Five Doctors – 25th Anniversary Edition DVD release contains the 100-minute "special edition" with restored footage and new special effects and the story as originally broadcast as a 90 minute television movie.

In print[edit]

Serial name Novelisation title Author First published
Arc of Infinity Arc of Infinity Terrance Dicks 1983
Snakedance Snakedance Terrance Dicks 1984
Mawdryn Undead Mawdryn Undead Peter Grimwade 1984
Terminus Terminus John Lydecker 1983
Enlightenment Enlightenment Barbara Clegg 1984
The King's Demons The King's Demons Terence Dudley 1986
The Five Doctors The Five Doctors Terrance Dicks 1983


  1. ^ a b "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 27 December 2014. 
  2. ^ The Five Doctors was first broadcast in the United States on 23 November 1983, the actual date of the programme's 20th anniversary.