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Doctor Who serial
Little knowing they have travelled 140 million years into the past, Captain Stapley welcomes the Doctor to Heathrow.
Directed by Ron Jones
Written by Peter Grimwade
Script editor Eric Saward
Produced by John Nathan-Turner
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Roger Limb
Production code 6C
Series Season 19
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Originally broadcast 22 March–30 March 1982
← Preceded by Followed by →
Earthshock Arc of Infinity
List of Doctor Who serials

Time-Flight is the seventh and final serial of the 19th season in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four twice-weekly parts from 22 March to 30 March 1982.


The Doctor, Nyssa, and Tegan, still mourning the loss of their former companion Adric, arrive at Heathrow and learn from Department C19 that one of their Concords mysteriously vanished just before landing. Using another Concord with the TARDIS aboard, the Doctor and his companions join Captain Stapley and his crew to fly the same landing path. They appear to land at Heathrow, but the Doctor determines they have flow through a time corridor to 140 million years in the past, the illusion of Heathrow projected by a powerful psychokinetic field.

The crew and passengers of the missing Concord believe they are at Heathrow but are enslaved to work under guard of Plasmatons, humanoid blobs of protein held together by the psychokinetic field. One passenger, Professor Hayter, has seen through the illusion, and lets the Doctor know that they have been forced to work by the mystic Kalid to break into a central chamber at a nearby Citadel. As the Doctor sets off to see Kalid, Shapley and Hayter attempt to break the other humans free of the illusion, while Nyssa with her emphatic abilities, is able to enter the central chamber freely along with Tegan to discover the power source controlling the psychokinetic field. Nyssa briefly interrupts the power source, which causes Kalid's disguise to falter, revealing himself to the Doctor as The Master. The Master explains that he had been trapped in Earth's past after their last encounter, his own TARDIS damaged, and believed that he could repair it by acquiring the power source in the Citadel; he created the time corridor to obtain human slaves to help break the chamber open. However, now with the Doctor's TARDIS in his possession, the Master sets off in it to try to materialise in the central chamber.

The Doctor finds that the humans have finally broken through the chamber, and he soon joins Nyssa and Tegan inside. They find that the power source is a geslalt intelligence of numerous Xeraphin. Their ship had crashed some time ago, and to survive against high radiation levels, they took the form of energy in the gestalt. However, when the Master arrived, his presence caused the geslalt to develop a split personality, some willing to help the Master while others fighting against that. The Master is unable to materialise the Doctor's TARDIS into the chamber but instead uses it to create an induction loop to transfer the gestalt to his TARDIS. On returning to his TARDIS, he finds that Stapley and Hayter have take some of the key circuitry in their attempt to free the others, and he attempts to scavenge those parts from the Doctor's TARDIS. The Doctor proposes a truce, providing the spare parts including a temporal limiter, to repair the Master's TARDIS in exchange for dropping the psychokinetic field. The Master agrees, and quickly dematerialises when his TARDIS is ready. The Doctor ushers his companions and the freed humans to one of the Concords, and uses his TARDIS to bring them back to the present at Heathrow. He reveals he programmed the temporal limiter to have the Master arrive later than they did, and thus is able to prevent the Master's TARDIS from rematerailising. Instead, as the Doctor had programmed, it will now rematerialise on the Xeraphin's home planet, where they will likely find the Master a criminal for abusing the gestalt.

After saying goodbye to Shapley, Hayter, and the rescued passengers, the Doctor and Nyssa leave, believing that since they got Tegan to Heathrow, she does not intend to travel with them anymore. Tegan races out of the airport as the TARDIS vanishes, upset at being left behind.


In this episode, the Doctor activates a feature in the TARDIS to shift the interior of the ship so it is the right way up. Nyssa says that she wished that they knew about this feature back on Castrovalva. The Doctor name-drops UNIT early in the story, and is recruited to help deal with the missing aircraft situation as a result. UNIT does not otherwise feature in the story.

The Doctor wishes he'd brought his scarf, a piece of clothing he wore predominantly in his previous incarnation. When Nyssa and Tegan see the image of Adric, they realise he's an illusion since he's wearing the badge the Doctor had destroyed in the previous story. Nyssa and Tegan also see the images of Melkur from The Keeper of Traken and a Terileptil from The Visitation.[2]


Episode Title Run time Original air date UK viewers
(millions) [3]
1 "Part One" 24:56 22 March 1982 (1982-03-22) 10.0
2 "Part Two" 23:58 23 March 1982 (1982-03-23) 8.5
3 "Part Three" 24:29 29 March 1982 (1982-03-29) 8.9
4 "Part Four" 24:30 30 March 1982 (1982-03-30) 8.1

The working titles for this story were Zanadin, Xeraphin and Time into Flight.[citation needed]

Doctor Who was the first television show allowed to film at Heathrow Airport[citation needed]. The 1967 serial The Faceless Ones was filmed, and took place, at Gatwick, another major airport in Great Britain. The Concorde used for the production was G-BOAC, the flagship of the BA fleet at the time. The registry can be read from the radar screen in the ATC scenes. The other registry, G-BAVF, was not a Concorde, but a Beechcraft 58 twin-engined light executive aircraft

Although his character had been killed in the previous episode, Matthew Waterhouse's contract extended into the filming of Time-Flight, which is the reason for Adric's illusory appearance in Part Two. Tegan's apparent departure from the series was never intended to be permanent, but was planned as a sort of cliffhanger-ending to the 19th season. She would later return in the second episode of the next story, Arc of Infinity.

Cast notes[edit]

Peter Davison has claimed that Time-Flight was the biggest disappointment from his time on the series, stating it was a "very good story, but we had run out of money. We filmed the prehistoric landscape of Heathrow airport in Studio 8 [at TV Centre] with a model Concorde in the back of the studio. The monsters were bits of foam. We didn't do the story justice."[4]

In order to hide the Master's involvement in this story, the first episode did not credit Anthony Ainley as the Master. Instead, the credits and Radio Times listed "Leon Ny Taiy" (an anagram of "Tony Ainley") as playing Kalid.[5] Keith Drinkel would later play Henry Hallam in the audio play Catch-1782.

Commercial releases[edit]

In print[edit]

Doctor Who Time-Flight.jpg
Author Peter Grimwade
Series Doctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
Publisher Target Books
Publication date
15 April 1983
ISBN 0-426-19297-4

A novelisation of this serial, written by Peter Grimwade, was published by Target Books in January 1983.

Home media[edit]

Time-Flight was released on VHS in July 2000. A double-pack DVD featuring both Time-Flight and Arc of Infinity was released on 6 August 2007. This serial was released as part of the Doctor Who DVD Files in Issue 135 on 5 March 2014.


  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 123. Region 1 DVD releases follow The Discontinuity Guide numbering system.
  2. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/episodeguide/timeflight/detail.shtml
  3. ^ "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 28 May 2017. 
  4. ^ "Peter Davison: 'I was quicker than most Doctors'". BBC News. 21 November 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  5. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/episodeguide/timeflight/detail.shtml

External links[edit]


Target novelisation[edit]