The Caves of Androzani

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135[1]The Caves of Androzani
Doctor Who serial
Caves of Androzani.jpg
The Doctor undergoes a traumatic fifth regeneration
Writer Robert Holmes
Director Graeme Harper
Script editor Eric Saward
Producer John Nathan-Turner
Incidental music composer Roger Limb
Production code 6R
Series Season 21
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Date started 8 March 1984
Date ended 16 March 1984
← Preceded by Followed by →
Planet of Fire The Twin Dilemma

The Caves of Androzani is the sixth serial of the 21st season in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four twice-weekly parts from 8–16 March 1984. It was Peter Davison's last regular appearance as the Fifth Doctor, and marks the first appearance of Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor. In 2009 The Caves of Androzani was voted by fans as the best Doctor Who story in history.[2]


The dangerous desert planet Androzani Minor is the only source for a powerful drug called spectrox created by bats that inhabit the planet's caves. Spectrox is highly valued by the population of nearby Androzani Major due to its capacity to extend one's life. The spectrox mining interests are controlled by Trau Morgus, a business conglomerate leader on Androzani Major, but the operation has been threatened by the masked Sharaz Jek and his army of androids, causing public tension on Androzani Major due to limited supplies. Morgus has publicly funded a military operation by the Androzani Major's government against Jek's androids, but at the same time has secretly backed a gunrunning group to deliver weapons to Jek to profit from the war.

The TARDIS lands on Androzani Minor, and the Doctor and Peri decide to explore a set of tracks that lead into a nearby cave. As they explore, they are briefly caught in a ball of an unknown sticky substance, but they easily break free. Further into the caves, they discover a hoard of weapons, but are then captured by General Chellak's forces, believing the two to be working for gunrunners Stotz and Krepler. Morgus orders their execution after seeing that Chellak's "gunrunners" are not his own men over holographic communication. When the two are brought to the execution squad, they are found to be androids, as the Doctor and Peri have since been rescued by Jek who had been watching the two enter the caves and was able to prepare duplicate androids.

At Jek's base, the two complain about rashes and cramps in their bodies where they touched the sticky substances, Salateen (also a prisoner) realises they have been subjected to the first stages of spectrox toxemia from exposure to unrefined spectrox, and that while there is an anti-toxin, it requires the milk of the queen bat. Unfortunately, due to the mining activity, all the bats have migrated to deeper levels of the caves where there is no oxygen. Before leaving to meet with the gunrunners while leaving the two under his androids' guard, Jek explains that he is seeking revenge against Morgus as it was his actions that left his face disfigured. After Jek leaves, the Doctor is able to reprogram the androids and allows for him and Peri to escape, but they quickly encounter Chellak's forces; Peri is recaptured while the Doctor is caught by Stotz. Stotz decides to take the Doctor back to Androzani Major to see Morgus directly. As Stotz discusses the situation with Morgus via holographic communication en route, Morgus sees the Doctor still alive, and fearing deception, kills the President of Androzani Major and makes his own plans to travel to Androzani Minor to put the situation right himself. The Doctor is able to gain control of the ship from Stotz and crashes it back on the surface of Androzani Minor; weary from the spectrox poisoning, he makes his way into the caves to try to save Peri.

Meanwhile, Chellak plans an assault on Jek's base, luring him to believe an attack lies elsewhere. The battle kills nearly all of the military forces including Chellak, the gunrunners, and Jek's androids; Jek is able to rescue the unconscious Peri from the military base and return her to his base amid the chaos. The Doctor arrives, struggling to hold off his body's attempt to regenerate to rid itself of the spectrox. Jek provides him with a limited air supply and equipment and directions to find and milk the queen bat. As the Doctor departs to get the milk, Morgus arrives on the planet, finding that his shrewd secretary has deposed him from power. Morgus quickly deals with Stotz to kill all the remaining gunrunners, including Krepler, and then plot to secure Jek's private stash of spectrox so they may disappear quietly to another planet. The two make their way to Jek's base, lured by fans that Jek is using to try to keep the base temperature cool for Peri. A brief fight breaks out, and Jek, Morgus, and Stotz are killed. The Doctor arrives just after the battle and takes Peri back to the TARDIS on the surface as the planet erupts around them. While unlocking the TARDIS, the Doctor accidentally spills some of the bat's milk.

Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor gives Peri the remaining bat's milk and collapses. Peri quickly recovers and finds him lying in pain on the floor. The Doctor explains that there was only enough bat's milk left to cure her, but his body will shortly regenerate, though it feels different from his previous regenerations. The Doctor begins to hallucinate images of his past companions urging him to continue to fight for his life, followed by The Master laughing at his state and yelling that he must die. The Doctor says 'Adric?' before the regeneration completes, with the Doctor suddenly alert and active though with a new face. When Peri asks what is happening, the Doctor replies, "Change, my dear, and it seems not a moment too soon..."


This story was the last to feature Peter Davison as the current Doctor. Davison would reprise the role of the Fifth Doctor for two charity specials: Dimensions in Time (1993), and "Time Crash" (2007). The Caves of Androzani remains Davison's favourite story from his era; and he has said in interviews that if there had been more scripts like Caves during his era, he might have been persuaded to stay for a fourth season.

An explanation was finally given to the question as to why the Fifth Doctor wore a stick of celery on his lapel since Castrovalva (1982). His incarnation of the Doctor was allergic to certain gases in the "Praxis" range, which would turn the celery purple if it came into contact with them. The Doctor would then eat the celery.[3] This allergy did not appear to be one shared by any incarnation prior to or since Davison. In reality, Davison requested that an explanation be given in his final story and Eric Saward worked an explanation into the final script.

A much more intimate version of the events at the end of this story is revealed at the end of the Big Finish audio story Circular Time (2007).

Androzani Major would be mentioned again in the 2011 Christmas special "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe" as the homeworld of the expedition members who had come to the winter world to harvest the Androzani trees.[4]


Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewers
(in millions)
"Part One" 8 March 1984 (1984-03-08) 24:33 6.9
"Part Two" 9 March 1984 (1984-03-09) 25:00 6.6
"Part Three" 15 March 1984 (1984-03-15) 24:36 7.8
"Part Four" 16 March 1984 (1984-03-16) 25:37 7.8

The working title of this story was Chain Reaction. This story was the first time former script editor Robert Holmes had written for the series since The Power of Kroll (1978), as Nathan-Turner had been keen to use writers new to the show instead.

Recording was interrupted by a strike, which caused a serious delay in the filming of the serial. As a result, two sequences had to be cut. The first scene would have featured the Doctor and Peri at the opening of the story in the TARDIS. The Doctor was to explain to Peri the reason for their visit to Androzani Minor. Apparently, as a boy, the Doctor had started a "blown glass bottle collection," which was made from the sand of different planets. He had lost his Androzani bottle and decided to return there to retrieve some more sand. It was in this scene Peri was to say "You're such a pain, Doctor." However, when the final cut of the serial was made, it had been discovered that certain lines of dialogue (like the Doctor professing that "I am not a pain." and Peri's comments about needing sand to "make some glass") alluded to the cut sequence. To rectify this, Davison and Bryant voiced over part of their conversation while the TARDIS materialises from outer space to the planet. The second scene to be cut would have featured the Doctor battling with the magma beast in episode four. Other Doctor Who stories adversely affected by the industrial actions of the late 1970s and the 1980s were Resurrection of the Daleks (1984), which was delayed by a year, and Shada (1980), which was not completed.

While he is in his office, the character of Morgus frequently breaks the fourth wall by talking directly to camera. This arose through actor John Normington misunderstanding a stage direction.[8] But Harper felt the asides effectively ramped up the dramatic tension, and decided to keep them.[9] The Fifth Doctor's regeneration, like the Fourth Doctor's, features a flashback of that incarnation's companions. However, for this regeneration, it was decided that special recordings of the Davison-era companions would be used instead of stock footage. This required Matthew Waterhouse, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding, Mark Strickson, Gerald Flood and Anthony Ainley to return in cameos for the regeneration sequence. Fielding, Strickson, Flood and Ainley were already under contract to appear in the stories of Season 21. However, special contracts had to be made for Waterhouse, who left the series in Season 19, and Sutton, who left in Season 20. Johnny Byrne, who created the character of Nyssa (in his 1981 story The Keeper of Traken) had to be paid royalties for the use of the character in the regeneration scene.

Davison has joked on several occasions of how he was "upstaged" by Nicola Bryant (Peri) in his last major scene as the Doctor.[10] Before the regeneration hallucination occurs, Davison is lying on the floor and his head is resting by Bryant, who is kneeling beside him. As he is delivering his last few lines, Bryant's loose fitting outfit prominently displays her cleavage. The closing title sequence for episode four featured the face of Sixth Doctor Colin Baker instead of Peter Davison, and credits Baker as the Doctor before Davison's own credit. This was the first and, to date, only time that the new lead received top billing in the final story of an outgoing Doctor. The trousers Colin Baker wore in the regeneration scene were modified to fit his larger frame. Davison would later wear the same trousers when he reprised the role of the Fifth Doctor in the mini-episode "Time Crash".[11]

Cast notes[edit]

Peter Davison has stated that this is his favourite serial from his three years on the series. He has said that he particularly enjoyed the script by veteran Doctor Who writer Robert Holmes and working with the director Graeme Harper, who he claimed brought "pace" and "energy" to the programme, as well as directing it "far more filmically than it had ever been done before."[12][13]

Christopher Gable, who played Sharaz Jek, was a well-known actor and formerly a leading ballet dancer. Gable was not the only contender to play Jek; John Nathan-Turner, who always favoured attracting big stars to the series in guest roles, had offered the role to the actor Tim Curry, as well as the rock stars Mick Jagger and David Bowie. Bowie's management declined on his behalf as the dates clashed with his Serious Moonlight Tour according to Bowie biographer Nicholas Pegg.[14] Ultimately, Christopher Gable was cast, the preferred choice of director Graeme Harper (Harper claimed on the DVD commentary that Bowie was the only other contender he thought of but he believed Gable ended up being right for it). Robert Glenister and Peter Davison had previously played brothers Brian and Steve Webber in the BBC sitcom Sink or Swim (1980–82). Glenister later played Aboresh in the audio play Absolution. John Normington guest stars as Morgus; he returned to the series as Trevor Sigma in the Seventh Doctor story The Happiness Patrol (1988). He also appeared in "Ghost Machine" (2006), an episode of the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood.

Broadcast and reception[edit]

The Caves of Androzani has received highly positive reviews. The serial was repeated on BBC 2 in February/March 1993 on consecutive Fridays (19/2/1993 to 12/3/1993) at 7.15pm, achieving viewing figures of 2.12, 1.9, 1.86 and 1.4 million respectively.[15] This story was released on VHS in January 1992. The cliffhanger to episode 1 is considered one of the greatest cliffhangers in the history of Doctor Who, being called "the greatest Doctor Who cliffhanger of them all".[16] In 2003's 40th Anniversary Doctor Who Magazine poll, The Caves of Androzani was voted the best serial of all time. In Outpost Gallifrey's 40th Anniversary Poll, The Caves of Androzani was voted the second best serial of all time. In a 2009 Doctor Who Magazine poll, The Caves of Androzani was voted the greatest Doctor Who story by readers, ahead of "Blink" and Genesis of the Daleks. It was the only Peter Davison story to feature in the top ten (Tom Baker had 5 entries while Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant had 2 each).[17] In a recent 2014 poll, Doctor Who Magazine's readers ranked the episode as the fourth best of all time.[18]

Commercial releases[edit]

In print[edit]

The Caves of Androzani
Doctor Who The Caves of Androzani.jpg
Author Terrance Dicks
Cover artist Andrew Skilleter
Series Doctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
Publisher Target Books
Publication date
14 February 1985
ISBN 0-426-19959-6

A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in November 1984.

Home media[edit]

The Caves of Androzani was released on DVD in the United Kingdom on 18 June 2001. The DVD contains commentary by director Graeme Harper and actors Peter Davison and Nicola Bryant. This story was released as the accompanying DVD with issue 36 of The Doctor Who DVD Files on 19 May 2010.[19] The story was re-released on DVD on 4 October 2010 in a boxset titled Revisitations 1 along with re-releases of The Movie and The Talons of Weng-Chiang.

Soundtrack release[edit]

Doctor Who: The Caves of Androzani
Doctor Who The Caves of Androzani Soundtrack cover.jpg
Soundtrack album by Roger Limb and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Released 25 March 2013
Genre Soundtrack
Label Silva Screen
BBC Radiophonic Workshop chronology
BBC Radiophonic Workshop – A Retrospective
Doctor Who: The Caves of Androzani
Doctor Who: The Krotons
Doctor Who soundtrack chronology
Doctor Who: Series 6
Doctor Who: The Caves of Androzani
Doctor Who: The Krotons

The original music soundtrack to this serial by Roger Limb and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop was released by Silva Screen Records on 25 March 2013. Reissued in a 2-LP set on translucent purple vinyl on 25 November 2013.[20]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Doctor Who (Opening Theme)"
  2. "Androzani Minor"
  3. "Gun-Runners"
  4. "Morgus And Chellak"
  5. "Death Sentence"
  6. "Sharaz Jek"
  7. "Death Under The Red Cloth"
  8. "Androids"
  9. "Next Time It'll Be For Real"
  10. "Nobody Lives For Ever"
  11. "Spectrox"
  12. "Salateen"
  13. "Exile"
  14. "Clever Little Android"
  15. "Two Kilos, What A Deal"
  16. "The Magma Beast"
  17. "Blind Fools"
  18. "Tear His Arms Out"
  19. "Stage Three"
  20. "Geostationary Orbit"
  21. "The Girl Will Be Alone"
  22. "Peri Abducted"
  23. "Vertical Descent Pattern"
  24. "It Could Have Been Worse"
  25. "Do You Think I'm Mad?"
  26. "The Doctor Pursued"
  27. "Mud Burst"
  28. "Morgus And Stotz"
  29. "Face Off"
  30. "Morgus Kaput"
  31. "Not Beaten Yet"
  32. "Milk Of The Queen Bat"
  33. "Return To The TARDIS"
  34. "Is This Death?"
  35. "Doctor Who (Closing Theme)"


  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 136. Region 1 DVD releases follow The Discontinuity Guide numbering system.
  2. ^ Kirsty Cameron (2009-09-16). "Doctor Who Top 10". Telegraph. Retrieved 22 September 2009. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Shaun Lyon; et al. (2007-03-31). "The Caves of Androzani". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 2008-07-31. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  6. ^ "The Caves of Androzani". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  7. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2007-08-07). "The Caves of Androzani". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  8. ^ Doctor Who Magazine #279, 30 June 1999, Archive: The Caves Of Androzani by Andrew Pixley, Marvel Comics UK Ltd.
  9. ^ The Caves Of Androzani, DVD commentary
  10. ^ Kistler, Alan (2013). Doctor Who: A History. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-7627-9188-0. LCCN 2013027420. 
  11. ^ Doctor Who Confidential
  12. ^ "Doctor Who Top 10: fans vote for all-time best episode". Telegraph. 16 Sep 2009. Retrieved 26 February 2013. 
  13. ^ "Peter Davison: 'I was quicker than most Doctors'". BBC News. 21 November 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Anders, Charlie Jane (31 August 2010). "Greatest Doctor Who cliffhangers of all time!". io9. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  17. ^ Cameron, Kirsty (16 September 2009). "Doctor Who Top 10: fans vote for all-time best episode". Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  18. ^ "The Top 10 Doctor Who stories of all time". Doctor Who Magazine. 21 June 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  19. ^ "Doctor Who DVD Files". Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  20. ^ "Doctor Who Soundtrack - The Caves of Androzani Vinyl DLP - TM Stores". Retrieved 2013-10-26. 

External links[edit]

Target novelisation