Doctor Who (season 26)

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Doctor Who
Season 26
Doctor Who Season 26 Blu-ray.jpg
Cover art of the Blu-ray release for the complete season
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of stories4
No. of episodes14
Original networkBBC1
Original release6 September (1989-09-06) –
6 December 1989 (1989-12-06)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 25
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Doctor Who (film)
Series 1 (series)
List of episodes

The twenty-sixth season of British science fiction television series Doctor Who began on 9 September 1989 with the serial Battlefield, after a regular series of four serials was broadcast finishing with Survival which was the final episode of Doctor Who to air before a 16-year absence from episodic television following its cancellation.


Main cast[edit]

Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred both continue their roles as the Seventh Doctor and Ace for their final season.

Recurring stars[edit]

Nicholas Courtney returned to play Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart in Battlefield. He first appeared with the Second Doctor in 1968 in The Web of Fear before becoming a recurring character throughout the Second Doctor to the Fifth Doctor and last appearing in The Five Doctors (1983).

Anthony Ainley returned to play The Master in Survival, having last appeared in The Trial of a Time Lord (1986). This was Ainley's final television appearance in the role, though he portrayed the Master one last time in the 1997 computer game Destiny of the Doctors.

Guest stars[edit]

Jean Marsh, who had portrayed Sara Kingdom in The Daleks' Master Plan (1965–66), also appeared in Battlefield playing the part of the main antagonist.


Continuing on from Season 25, Season 26 continued script editor Andrew Cartmel's move to push the series towards a darker approach, focusing this time more on Ace's personal life as well as The Doctor's past and manipulations. This season was broadcast on Wednesdays.

StorySerialSerial titleEpisode titlesDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
UK viewers
(millions) [1]
1521Battlefield"Part One"Michael KerriganBen Aaronovitch6 September 1989 (1989-09-06)7N3.169
"Part Two"Michael KerriganBen Aaronovitch13 September 1989 (1989-09-13)7N3.968
"Part Three"Michael KerriganBen Aaronovitch20 September 1989 (1989-09-20)7N3.667
"Part Four"Michael KerriganBen Aaronovitch27 September 1989 (1989-09-27)7N4.065
The Doctor and Ace discover that a UNIT platoon has come under assault whilst transporting a nuclear warhead. The attackers are knights from another dimension led by the legendary sorceress Morgaine, half-sister of King Arthur, whose magical powers appear to be real. The Doctor learns that one of his future incarnations will become Merlin, and bury Arthur beneath the waters of a nearby lake. With Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart at his side one last time, the Doctor must confront Morgaine, who has summoned a demonic entity known as the Destroyer of Worlds.
1532Ghost Light"Part One"Alan WareingMarc Platt4 October 1989 (1989-10-04)7Q4.268
"Part Two"Alan WareingMarc Platt11 October 1989 (1989-10-11)7Q4.068
"Part Three"Alan WareingMarc Platt18 October 1989 (1989-10-18)7Q4.064
The Doctor takes Ace back to 1883 to a Perivale house called Gabriel Chase which Ace recognises. Josiah Smith, an alien who has spent millennia adapting to humanity, intends to assassinate Queen Victoria and seize the British throne. Meanwhile, buried in the basement is Smith's former master – a powerful entity who intends to halt all evolution on Earth.
1543The Curse of Fenric"Part One"Nicholas MallettIan Briggs25 October 1989 (1989-10-25)7M4.367
"Part Two"Nicholas MallettIan Briggs1 November 1989 (1989-11-01)7M4.068
"Part Three"Nicholas MallettIan Briggs8 November 1989 (1989-11-08)7M4.068
"Part Four"Nicholas MallettIan Briggs15 November 1989 (1989-11-15)7M4.268
The Doctor and Ace land in England during World War II, at a secret seaside base which houses the Ultima Machine, a powerful codebreaking device. But disturbances plague the installation: Russians are trying to steal the Ultima, mysterious Viking runes are found in a church crypt, and vampiric Haemovores are rising from the ocean. The Doctor discovers his ancient foe, Fenric, has manipulated events in order to gain his freedom. And central to Fenric's schemes is none other than Ace.
1554Survival"Part One"Alan WareingRona Munro22 November 1989 (1989-11-22)7P5.069
"Part Two"Alan WareingRona Munro29 November 1989 (1989-11-29)7P4.869
"Part Three"Alan WareingRona Munro6 December 1989 (1989-12-06)7P5.071
Ace returns to Perivale to visit her friends, only to find many of them have gone missing. The Doctor discovers that they have been abducted to an alien planet by a race called the Cheetah People. Pursuing them, the time travellers find the Cheetah People are being controlled by the Master, who is trapped on the planet, and is slowly turning into a Cheetah Person himself. The Doctor must find a way off the planet, before they all succumb to the dying world's savage influence.


The entire season was broadcast from 6 September to 6 December 1989. The Curse of Fenric was originally intended to be aired before Ghost Light, but was subsequently rescheduled.

Home media[edit]

VHS releases[edit]

Season Story no. Serial name Number and duration
of episodes
R2 release date R4 release date R1 release date
26 152 Battlefield 4 x 25 mins March 1998 October 1998 March 1998
153 Ghost Light 3 x 25 mins May 1994 July 1994 June 1996
154 The Curse of Fenric 4 x 25 mins February 1991 July 1991 January 1992
155 Survival 3 x 25 mins October 1995 November 1996 September 1996

DVD and Blu-ray releases[edit]

Season Story no. Serial name Number and duration
of episodes
R2 release date R4 release date R1 release date
26 152 Battlefield 1 × 96 min. 26 December 2008[2] 19 March 2009[3] 5 May 2009[4]
153 Ghost Light 3 × 25 min. 20 September 2004[5] 3 February 2005[6] 7 June 2005[7]
154 The Curse of Fenric 1 × 104 min. 6 October 2003[8] 11 February 2004[9] 1 June 2004[10]
155 Survival 3 × 25 min. 16 April 2007[11] 6 June 2007[12] 14 August 2007[13]
152–155 Complete Season 26[a] 14 × 25 min. 27 January 2020 (B)[14] 11 March 2020 (B)[15] 24 March 2020 (B)[16]
  1. ^ Released as Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 26 in Region B. Released as Doctor Who – Sylvester McCoy: Complete Season Three in Region A.

In print[edit]

Serial titleNovelisation titleAuthorDateISBN
BattlefieldMarc Platt18 July 1991ISBN 042620350X
Ghost LightMarc Platt20 September 1990ISBN 0426203518
The Curse of FenricIan Briggs15 November 1990ISBN 0426203488
SurvivalRona Munro18 October 1990ISBN 0426203526

Season 27[edit]

Initial planning work had begun on Season 27, intended for the end of 1990, in mid-1989 with Andrew Cartmel and a group of regular writers, including Ben Aaronovitch, Ian Briggs and Marc Platt, discussing potential story ideas. One of the major intentions was to have been the departure of Ace halfway through, which would have seen the character taken to Gallifrey to become a Time Lord. This would also have seen the subsequent introduction of a new companion, planned as an "aristocratic cat burglar". The cancellation of the series meant that no detailed work was undertaken beyond these initial ideas:[17]

  • Bad Destination by Ben Aaronovitch: Intended to feature a new monster called the "Metatraxi", a race of samurai-like insect warriors, this was planned as a story concerning the politics of humanitarian aid. The only significant detail was the idea of the opening, which would have featured Ace as the captain of a starship. This was later adapted by Aaronovitch and Big Finish as Earth Aid, as part of the Lost Stories range in 2011. The story has usually been referred to as Earth Aid since the audio's release.
  • Thin Ice by Marc Platt: Planned as the serial that would see the departure of Ace, this was to see the return of the Ice Warriors and be set in London in 1968. This was later adapted by Platt and Big Finish, as part of the Lost Stories range in 2011.
  • Action At A Distance by Andrew Cartmel: Planned as the introduction of the new companion, who would have come across the Doctor in the midst of robbing a country house. It was later adapted by Cartmel and Big Finish as Crime Of The Century, as part of the Lost Stories range in 2011. The story has usually been referred to as Crime Of The Century since the audio's release.
  • The fourth and final serial was tentatively to be Alixion, by then-newcomer Robin Mukherjee.[18] It would have featured the Doctor playing a series of deadly games on an asteroid, and would have likely led to the Seventh Doctor's regeneration and Sylvester McCoy's departure.
  • However, Blood And Iron, by Andrew Cartmel, was also being considered for the final serial as well. This was later adapted by Cartmel and Big Finish as Animal, as part of the Lost Stories range in 2011. The story has usually been referred to as Animal since the audio's release.

Although the first series of Doctor Who's return in 2005 is the 27th full series of the show, the production team officially restarted the series numbering from scratch. This was mainly due to the 16-year gap between Season 26 and the new series (not counting the 1996 television movie).


  1. ^ a b "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  2. ^ "Doctor Who - Battlefield". 26 December 2008. Retrieved 24 July 2017 – via Amazon.
  3. ^ "Doctor Who Battlefield by Roadshow Entertainment - Shop Online for Movies, DVDs in Australia". Fishpond. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  4. ^ "Doctor Who: Battlefield". 5 May 2009. Retrieved 24 July 2017 – via Amazon.
  5. ^ "Doctor Who : Ghost Light". 20 September 2004. Retrieved 24 July 2017 – via Amazon.
  6. ^ "Doctor Who Ghost Light by Roadshow Entertainment - Shop Online for Movies, DVDs in Australia". Fishpond. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  7. ^ "Doctor Who: Ghost Light". 7 June 2005. Retrieved 24 July 2017 – via Amazon.
  8. ^ "Doctor Who - The Curse of Fenric". 6 October 2003. Retrieved 24 July 2017 – via Amazon.
  9. ^ "Dr. Who - Curse of Fenric [2 Discs] by Roadshow Home Ent - Shop Online for Movies, DVDs in Australia". Fishpond. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  10. ^ "Doctor Who: The Curse of Fenric". 1 June 2004. Retrieved 24 July 2017 – via Amazon.
  11. ^ "Doctor Who - Survival". 16 April 2007. Retrieved 24 July 2017 – via Amazon.
  12. ^ "Doctor Who Survival by Roadshow Entertainment - Shop Online for Movies, DVDs in Australia". Fishpond. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  13. ^ "Doctor Who: Survival". 14 August 2007. Retrieved 24 July 2017 – via Amazon.
  14. ^ "Doctor Who - The Collection - Season 26 [2019]". Retrieved 27 November 2019 – via Amazon.
  15. ^ "Doctor Who - The Collection - Season 26 [2020]". Retrieved 28 January 2020 – via Sanity.
  16. ^ "Doctor Who - Sylvester McCoy - Complete Season Three [2020]". Retrieved 28 January 2020 – via
  17. ^ Molesworth, Richard (Producer) (2007). "Endgame (documentary)". Survival. Doctor Who. London: BBC Worldwide.
  18. ^ James T. (19 June 2011). "Doctor Who episodes and spin-offs that never happened". Den of Geek. Retrieved 12 September 2019.