Warriors' Gate

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For the upcoming film, see Warrior's Gate.
113[1]Warriors' Gate
Doctor Who serial
Warriors' Gate.jpg
Rorvik and his crew find the Doctor in their midst, put back into his own time by the Tharils' visions.
Writer Stephen Gallagher
Director Paul Joyce
Graeme Harper (uncredited)
Script editor Christopher H. Bidmead
Producer John Nathan-Turner
Executive producer(s) Barry Letts
Incidental music composer Peter Howell
Production code 5S
Series Season 18
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Originally broadcast 3 January – 24 January 1981
← Preceded by Followed by →
State of Decay The Keeper of Traken

Warriors' Gate is the fifth serial of the 18th season in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was written by the English author Stephen Gallagher and first broadcast in four weekly parts from 3 January to 24 January 1981. The serial is the last of three loosely connected serials known as the E-Space trilogy and the last regular to feature Lalla Ward as Romana. John Leeson would return as the voice of K-9, but not as a permanent companion.


The TARDIS and its crew of the Doctor, Romana, Adric, and K-9, while traveling between E-space and the normal universe (n-space), becomes trapped in a white null space between the universes. Elsewhere in the void, another spacecraft, run by Commander Rorvik, has also become trapped. The ship is a slave vessel, using members of the leonine Tharil race as their navigators. On becoming stuck, the current navigator, Biroc, escapes the ship and makes his way to the TARDIS on the winds of time. Biroc warns the TARDIS crew of Rorvik's treachery before disappearing. K-9's memory wafers are shredded by the winds of time, leaving him functional but lacking long-term memories.

The Doctor leaves on his own to explore the null space, finding a large stone gateway. Beyond it is a large banquet hall, a large mirror on one of its walls, and the corpses of several beings and the husks of primitive robots strewn about. He discovers one of the robots is still functioning, and asks it questions as he works at repairing it; the robots, called Gundans, were built by slaves and used to overthrow their masters in a violent battle.

Meanwhile, Rorvik and his crew have discovered the TARDIS. Romana leaves to talk to them. Rorvik, believing Romana to be time-sensitive like the Tharils, dupes her into returning to their ship to examine their engines. When Romana does not return, Adric and K-9 leave to recover her, but they get separated; Adric eventually makes it to the ship and hides aboard, while K-9 reunites with the Doctor and aids in repairing the Gundan. The Doctor's work is disrupted when Rorvik and several of his men arrive and hold the Doctor at gunpoint. While they stand-off, another Gundan activates and walks through the seemingly-solid mirror. Rorvik demands an explanation from the Doctor, revealing he has Romana captive, but the Doctor's only response is to walk through the mirror himself.

Aboard the slaver ship, Romana is freed by another Tharil named Lazlo, and she hides in the hull of the ship. There, she encounters Adric; the two work out that the ship is made from an incredibly dense dwarf star alloy that can contain the Tharils. K-9 arrives, and informs the two of dimensional instability in the null space, which they attribute to the alloy, causing the space to collapse in on itself. Romana rejoins Lazlo, and takes her to the gateway and through the mirror, while Adric remains aboard the slaver ship.

On the other side of the mirror, the Doctor and Romana are reunited with Biroc in a stable, time-locked universe. A repentant Biroc explains they were the slave masters, travelling on the winds of time in order to ravage other planets and subjugate their populations as slaves until the Gundan revolt. The Doctor and Romana are returned to the null space, and are immediately captured by Rorvik. Rorvik has come to realize that the null space is shrinking as the distances between the gateway, the TARDIS, and slaver ship continue to decrease. Rorvik has ordered the crew to try to blast through the mirrors in gateway, believing it to be the way out, but the mirrors resist all attack by their most powerful weapons. With the gateway and ship in visible distance of each other, Rorvik resorts to one last attempt to break the mirrors by using the exhaust of the ship's engines against them. While the Doctor warns that this action will be as doomed as the previous ones, Romana is able to regroup with Lazlo and Adric, and together they free the remaining Tharils on the slaver ship. The TARDIS crew flee to the TARDIS as Rorvik initiates his plan—the blast from the engines is reflected by the mirrors back onto the ship, destroying it and its crew.

As the saved Tharils pass through the mirror, Romana announces that she will be staying with them, having become empathetic to their plight. The Doctor gives her K-9, as passing through the mirror will restore his memory but he will be unable to return. The Tharils, in exchange, provide the Doctor with information on how to leave the void back to n-space.


This serial comprises the third and final leg of an extended adventure generally known as the "The E-Space Trilogy"; the trilogy began in Full Circle, and continued in State of Decay. It also continues the running theme of entropy that becomes the major theme of Tom Baker's final serial Logopolis.

The Doctor's multi-coloured scarf can be seen on the hatstand. Dwarf star alloy, introduced in this serial, would later reappear in the Eleventh Doctor episode "Day of the Moon", where it was used by the FBI to construct an inescapable prison for the Doctor.

This story was the last story to feature Lalla Ward as Romana.

This story was also the last television story of the classic series to feature the character of K-9 Mk. II, played by John Leeson. Leeson, who left the series at the end of Season 16, returned for Season 18 on the understanding that K-9 would be written out toward the end of the season.[2]


Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewers
(in millions)
"Part One" 3 January 1981 (1981-01-03) 22:54 7.1
"Part Two" 10 January 1981 (1981-01-10) 23:47 6.7
"Part Three" 17 January 1981 (1981-01-17) 22:15 8.3
"Part Four" 24 January 1981 (1981-01-24) 24:53 7.8

Working titles for this story included Dream Time. Warriors' Gate is the only story directed by Paul Joyce. In his attempts to push the boundaries of the show under a limited budget, Joyce frequently clashed with producer John Nathan-Turner.[6] When Joyce was not available, the role of director was taken by production assistant Graeme Harper, who would later go on to direct The Caves of Androzani, Revelation of the Daleks, and a dozen episodes starring David Tennant.[7]

Background photographs utilised in many sequences were taken at Powis Castle, Welshpool.[8]

Commercial releases[edit]

In print[edit]

Doctor Who and Warriors' Gate
Doctor Who and Warriors' Gate.jpg
Author Stephen Gallagher
Cover artist Andrew Skilleter
Series Doctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
Publisher Target Books
Publication date
15 April 1982
ISBN 0-426-20146-9

A novelisation of this serial, written by Stephen Gallagher under the pseudonym "John Lydecker",[9] was published by Target Books in April 1982. The novelisation contains many elements abandoned during the story's production, including the slaver's opening pursuit and damage at the hands of an Antonine Killer craft.

Home media[edit]

Warriors' Gate was released on VHS as part of "The E-Space Trilogy" boxset containing this story along with Full Circle and State of Decay in November 1997. It was released on DVD on 26 January 2009, again in a boxset with the same two stories. This serial was also released as part of the Doctor Who DVD Files in Issue 87 on 2 May 2012.


  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 114. Region 1 DVD releases follow The Discontinuity Guide numbering system.
  2. ^ "The Dreaming" documentary produced by Andrew Beech, The E-space Trilogy DVD box set (2009) 2 Entertain.
  3. ^ Shaun Lyon; et al. (31 March 2007). "Warriors Gate". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 31 July 2008. Retrieved 30 August 2008. 
  4. ^ "Warriors Gate". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 30 August 2008. 
  5. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (7 August 2007). "Warriors Gate". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 30 August 2008. 
  6. ^ Warriors' Gate BBC DVD liner notes, 2009
  7. ^ Howe, David J.; Stammers, Mark; Walker, Stephen James (1992). Doctor Who The Handbook - The Fourth Doctor. London: Doctor Who Books. p. 136. ISBN 0-426-20369-0. 
  8. ^ "Walesarts, Powis Castle, Welshpool". BBC. Retrieved 30 May 2010. 
  9. ^ http://www.zone-sf.com/sgallagher.html

External links[edit]