Doctor Who (season 26)

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Doctor Who (season 26)
Doctor Who logo 1987-1989.svg
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 14
4 stories
Original network BBC One
Original release 6 September (1989-09-06) – 6 December 1989 (1989-12-06)
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Season 25
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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.

Anthony Ainley returned to play The Master in Survival, having last appeared in The Ultimate Foe (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]

Former First Doctor companion actor Jean Marsh, who had portrayed Sara Kingdom in The Daleks' Master Plan, 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.

Story Serial Title Directed by Written by Original air date Prod.
UK viewers
(millions) [1]
AI [1]
152 1 Battlefield Michael Kerrigan Ben Aaronovitch 6 September 1989
13 September 1989
20 September 1989
27 September 1989
7N 3.1
The Doctor and Ace join forces with UNIT and his old friend the Brigadier against Morgaine (Jean Marsh) and Mordred, Arthurian villains who recognize the Doctor as Merlin.
153 2 Ghost Light Alan Wareing Marc Platt 4 October 1989
11 October 1989
18 October 1989
7Q 4.2
The Doctor brings Ace to Gabriel Chase, an old house that she once burnt down in her home town of Perivale. However, trying to get Ace to accept her guilt is not the real reason the Doctor came here; a mysterious and highly mentally unstable being slays below them.
154 3 The Curse of Fenric Nicholas Mallett Ian Briggs 25 October 1989
1 November 1989
8 November 1989
15 November 1989
7M 4.3
It's 1943, and Fenric plans a last game of chess with a Time Lord. The Doctor also has a very important secret he's been keeping from Ace since they met.
155 4 Survival Alan Wareing Rona Munro 22 November 1989
29 November 1989
6 December 1989
7P 5.0
A visit to the suburbs of Ace's home town lands the Doctor and Ace on a planet of killer cats. Also, the Master's up to his old tricks once again, but what could he be after this time?


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.

DVD Release[edit]

All serials of season 26 were released individually in between 2003 and 2008.

Serial name Number and duration
of episodes
R2 release date R4 release date R1 release date
Battlefield 4 × 25 min.
(Broadcast Version)
1 × 96 min.
(Special Edition)
26 December 2008 5 February 2009 5 May 2009
Ghost Light 3 × 25 min. 20 September 2004 3 February 2005 7 June 2005
The Curse of Fenric 4 × 25 min.
(Broadcast Version)
1 × 104 min.
(Special Edition)
6 October 2003 11 February 2004 1 June 2004
Survival 3 × 25 min. 16 April 2007 6 June 2007 14 August 2007

In print[edit]

Serial name Novelisation title Author First published
Battlefield Battlefield Marc Platt 1991
Ghost Light Ghost Light Marc Platt 1990
The Curse of Fenric The Curse of Fenric Ian Briggs 1990
Survival Survival Rona Munro 1990

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:[2]

  • Earth Aid 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.
  • 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.
  • The third serial was planned as the introduction of the new companion, who would have come across the Doctor in the midst of robbing a country house.

The proposed Season 27 serials have subsequently been commissioned by Big Finish as part of its Doctor Who: The Lost Stories range of audio adventures.

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. ^ Molesworth, Richard (Producer) (2007). "Endgame (documentary)". Survival. Doctor Who. London: BBC Worldwide.