From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Doctor Who serial
The face of the Borad
Directed byPennant Roberts
Written byGlen McCoy
Script editorEric Saward
Produced byJohn Nathan-Turner
Incidental music composerElizabeth Parker
Production code6Y
SeriesSeason 22
Length2 episodes, 45 minutes each
First broadcast9 March 1985 (1985-03-09)
Last broadcast16 March 1985 (1985-03-16)
← Preceded by
The Two Doctors
Followed by →
Revelation of the Daleks
Doctor Who episodes (1963–1989)

Timelash is the fifth serial of the 22nd season in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in two weekly parts on BBC1 on 9 and 16 March 1985.

In the serial, the Borad (Robert Ashby), the mutated leader of the planet Karfel, plots to start a war with the Bandril race which would wipe out both the Bandrils and Karfel's Karfelon population so that the Borad could repopulate it with his own kind to rule the planet.


The TARDIS is suddenly ensnared by a Kontron corridor (similar to a time corridor). After the Doctor tries unsuccessfully to free the ship, he and Peri strap themselves in, bracing themselves for the potentially disastrous occurrences. The TARDIS approaches the corridor, and is nearly torn apart by the impact but stabilises once it has entered the corridor, and is navigated to the source of the disturbance, the planet Karfel, a world which the Doctor has visited before.

On Karfel the small population is ruled in a rigid hierarchy, at the apex of which is the Borad, a sadistic and despotic ruler. The Borad has never shown himself in person, only via security monitors which reveal him to be a dignified old man, but something in his manner does not ring true. Fear is enforced rigidly through the policing of androids; and all rebels are dealt with either by summary execution or despatch and death via the Timelash - a permanent, and ultimately fatal, exile down a corridor of Time and Space. Acting as a proxy for the Borad, the Maylin is the most senior of the five Counsellors of Karfel. One of them, Mykros, has grown unhappy with the rule of the Borad. Since the Borad came to power their people have become disillusioned, rebellious and miserable, and their former allies, the Bandrils, are posed to invade. The Bandrils threaten war after the Borad rescinds the grain supply treaty which underpinned the relationship between the two civilisations.

Mykros determines to discover the truth and follows the Maylin, Renis, into the Borad's power chamber. The unhappy Maylin is transferring the power supplies of the Karfelons into the Borad's personal system, despite the danger to his own wife, who is recovering from hospital surgery. Renis finds Mykros and gives him his blessing in rebellion. However, the Borad finds out and metes out the usual punishment: the Maylin is aged to death in a deadly beam while Mykros is sentenced to the Timelash. Before he can be sent in, however, Vena, Renis' daughter and Mykros' lover intervenes to plead for his life. When this fails, she steals an amulet conferring the power to pervert the energy supply from the new Maylin, the sycophantic Tekker, and accidentally falls into the web of the Timelash herself.

The arrival of the TARDIS presents Tekker with an opportunity to try and retrieve the amulet. The clever Maylin greets the Doctor and Peri as favoured guests, but the Doctor is suspicious of a Karfelon society that has made huge scientific leaps in a short space of time and that does not permit mirrors. When the Doctor refuses to venture into the Timelash, Tekker explains that Peri has been taken hostage to ensure his co-operation in retrieving the amulet. She has been taken to the caves of the Morlox, large lizards indigenous to Karfel, where her captors hope she will die. She is rescued by some Karfelon rebels, Katz and Sezon, who kill one of the creatures threatening her and take her into their company. However, they are soon attacked and captured by a patrol of guards.

To protect Peri the Doctor returns the TARDIS into the Timelash and travels to Scotland in 1885. When the Doctor arrives he finds Vena, the amulet and a young man named Herbert. All three depart on their return journey to return the amulet – which is all Tekker cares about when the TARDIS arrives back in the Council Chamber. The Doctor, Vena and Herbert are rounded up with the rebels. Sezon and Katz are condemned to the Timelash.

They fight back, killing Councillor Brunner, and seal the doors of the Chamber, determined to hold out in a siege. This buys the Doctor enough time to hoist into the Timelash on a rope and take two Kontron Crystals from the wall of the Time Corridor. He uses this to create a time ruse allowing him to slip out of the Chamber, and Herbert follows.

Tekker has meanwhile fled to the Borad, and blames the setback on the last remaining loyal Counsellor, Kendron, whom the Borad executes. Tekker remains with the Borad, now revealed to be a hideous amalgam of human and Morlox. They watch on a screen as Peri is brought into a cave and strapped down while Morlox gather to feed. A canister of the chemical Mustakozene-80 is placed nearby, which has the ability to fuse together different tissue as one creature. It seems the Borad has taken a liking to Peri and wishes to mutate her like himself. The Doctor arrives to confront Tekker and the Borad, recognising the latter as Megelen, a crazed scientist he encountered on his previous visit to Karfel and exposed to the Counsel for unethical experiments on Morloxes. It seems one of those experiments has now gone wrong, and Megelen wishes to replicate its effect to create a partner. His plan has been to provoke a war with the Bandrils that will result in their use of warheads which will wipe out all the Karfelons – but leave the Morlox and himself alive – allowing him to repopulate the world in his own image. This revelation prompts Tekker too to rebel, but he is swiftly aged to death. The Doctor then uses a Kontron Crystal to deflect Megelen's beam back at him, killing the mutant in his wheelchair.

Herbert now helps the Doctor rescue Peri. They return to the Council Chamber where Mykros and Vena have identified a Bandril invasion fleet which is close to Karfel. The Bandrils are suspicious of the Doctor's attempts to intervene and prevent a missile strike, causing him to take drastic action. The Doctor materialises the TARDIS in the path of the incoming warhead, risking his own life to save Karfel. He does so successfully and returns to Karfel to find Megelen returned from the dead and threatening the Council Chamber – or rather the other one was a clone of this original. Megelen is made unbalanced by the image of himself in a boarded up mirror, revealing the reason he hid himself away, and in this state is thrown into the Timelash by the Doctor, where he may have ended up as the Loch Ness monster (The Doctor says "he may be seen from time to time").

As the Doctor and Peri are about to depart and take Herbert back to his right time, Herbert, says he wishes to stay on Karfel. The Doctor, however confides in Peri that he has a feeling that Herbert will return to 1885. He shows her Herbert's calling card which gives his name as Herbert George Wells.


A mural of the Third Doctor's face is revealed behind a section of wall panelling in the Timelash control room, while Peri recognizes a photograph of Jo Grant.[2].

In the 2010 Sarah Jane Adventures story Death of the Doctor, his erstwhile companion Jo recounted her visit to the planet, explaining, "The Doctor took me to this planet once called Karfel. And they had a leisure garden. And the plants could sing."

Outside references[edit]

This serial makes several references to Wells' novels: The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, and The Island of Doctor Moreau.[2]


The music for this story was provided by Elizabeth Parker who had formerly contributed special sound for Blake's 7.[3]

Cast notes[edit]

Paul Darrow had previously appeared in Doctor Who and the Silurians as Captain Hawkins. Denis Carey previously played Professor Chronotis in the incomplete serial Shada and the Keeper in The Keeper of Traken.[2]

Darrow has acknowledged that producer John Nathan-Turner was initially unhappy with his performance, which he based on Richard III, and he was accused of "sending it up". However, he claims Nathan-Turner later praised him, saying: "You were absolutely right to do it that way - the script wasn't that good and you made something of it."[4]

Broadcast and reception[edit]

EpisodeTitleRun timeOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions) [5]
1"Part One"45:009 March 1985 (1985-03-09)6.7
2"Part Two"44:3616 March 1985 (1985-03-16)7.4

Timelash was panned by Doctor Who critics. Graham Sleight has noted that Timelash is "widely regarded as one of the worst series ever broadcast as part of Doctor Who", claiming the story has "a weak script, cheap-looking design, unimaginative direction, laughable special effects and some appalling performances".[6] However, Sleight also praises Robert Ashby's performance as the Borad, claiming Ashby's performance "elevates his menace to an entirely different level to the rest of the story".[6] Tat Wood described it as "a grindingly dull story only memorable for being made as a school panto with belated New Romantic 80s fashion errors".[7] Wood singled out the story's script, production and costumes for particular criticism.[7] Wood also pointed out the H.G. Wells is different from the real-life Wells (he is not blond, lacks a Cockney/Kentish accent).[7]

In The Discontinuity Guide, Timelash was criticised for "tacky sets and some dodgy acting" but was also said to be "nowhere near as bad as its reputation".[2] Doctor Who: The Television Companion noted that the serial was not popular with fans of the show, but was at least "a reassuringly traditional Doctor Who adventure" in a season which contained "derivative, incomprehensible and inappropriately violent stories".[2]

In 2013, The Daily Telegraph's Tim Stanley claimed: "The sets are bad, the acting is bad, the script stinks, the effects are laughable and – most importantly – Colin's Doctor is simply unlovable."[8] Den of Geek's Andrew Blair selected Timelash as one of the ten Doctor Who stories that would make great musicals.[9] Patrick Mulkern of Radio Times said the serial was "codswallop served cold: boring Tardis scenes are intercut with stultifying political machinations on Karfel, a drab planet ruled by a lethargic lizard-man and about to be obliterated by glove-puppet Bandrils".[10]

Paul Darrow has described Timelash as "the most disliked and also one of the most liked, which is fascinating".[4]

Commercial releases[edit]

In print[edit]

Doctor Who Timelash.jpg
AuthorGlen McCoy
Cover artistDavid McAllister
SeriesDoctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
PublisherTarget Books
Publication date
December 1985 (Hardback) 15 May 1986 (Paperback)

A novelisation of this serial, written by Glen McCoy, was published by Target Books in December 1985.

Home media[edit]

Timelash was released on VHS on 5 January 1998,[11] It was released on DVD on 9 July 2007 [12] with a commentary provided by actors Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Paul Darrow, and Robert Ashby along with a selection of other features.[13]


  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 142. Region 1 DVD releases follow The Discontinuity Guide numbering system.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Timelash". BBC. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  3. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/articles/e71ca197-4808-4132-b1cc-0078d8066fee
  4. ^ a b Anderson, Martin (5 July 2011). "PAUL DARROW ON BLAKE'S 7, MINISTER OF CHANCE AND THE STAR WARS MMORPG". Shadowlocked. Archived from the original on 5 May 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  5. ^ "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  6. ^ a b Sleight, Graham (2012). The Doctor's Monsters: Meanings of the Monstrous in Doctor Who. I.B.Tauris. p. 39. ISBN 1848851782.
  7. ^ a b c Wood, Tat (2007). About Time 6: Seasons 22 to 26 and TV Movie. Illinois: Mad Norwegian Press. pp. 73–90. ISBN 0975944657.
  8. ^ Stanley, Tim (18 November 2013). "Doctor Who 50th anniversary: Colin Baker – a poetic, dark Doctor with a hideous, bright coat". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  9. ^ Blair, Andrew (28 August 2013). "Doctor Who: 10 stories that would make great musicals". Den of Geek. Dennis Publishing. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  10. ^ Mulkern, Patrick (6 June 2012). "Timelash *". Radio Times. Immediate Media Company. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  11. ^ "Doctor Who - Timelash [1985]". amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 28 February 2007.
  12. ^ "DVD update". BBC. Archived from the original on 8 September 2007. Retrieved 28 February 2007.
  13. ^ "Doctor Who Restoration Team - Timelash DVD details". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015.

External links[edit]


Target novelisation[edit]