Doctor in Distress

From Tardis Wiki, the free Doctor Who reference

Doctor in Distress was a charity record released within two weeks of the announcement of Doctor Who's "cancellation" on 25 February 1985.

The song was later sung on QI on Red Nose Day 2022, as Sandi Toksvig had chosen it due to its status as "one of the least successful charity singles of all time", with Toksvig getting the QI audience to sing the chorus much to the surprise of some of the panellists who had initially believed the song was made to raise money for the NHS.[1] Later in 2022, the song was included in the blu-ray The Collection boxset for Season 22.


Eighteen months is too long to wait,
Bring back the Doctor don't hesitate.
It was a cold wet night in November
Twenty-two years ago,
There was a police box in a junkyard
We didn't know where it would go,
An old man took two teachers
Into time and space,
It started off a legend
That no other could replace.
Doctor in distress,
Let's all answer his S.O.S.,
Doctor in distress,
Bring him back now, we won't take less.
There were evil metal creatures,
Who tried to exterminate,
Inside each of their casings
Was a bubbling lump of hate,
We met cybernetic humans
With no feelings at all,
Warriors of the ice
Who stood over seven feet tall.
Doctor in distress,
Let's all answer his S.O.S.,
Doctor in distress,
Bring him back now, we won't take less.
Bring him back now, we won't take less,
If we stop his travels he'll be in a mess,
The galaxy will fall to evil once more,
With nightmarish monsters fighting a war.
Doctor in distress,
Bring him back now, we won't take less.
We've learned to accept six doctors
With companions at their side,
When they were faced with dangers
They didn't run, they didn't hide,
There was a Brigadier and a Master
And a canine computer,
Each screaming girl just hoped
That a Yeti wouldn't shoot her.
Doctor in distress,
Let's all answer his S.O.S.,
Doctor in distress,
Bring him back now, we won't take less.


  • The lyrics were written by Ian Levine and his songwriting partner Fiachra Trench (who were also responsible for the theme to K9 and Company).
  • The recording session took place on Thursday 7 March and featured a host of well known names of the time, including:
  • Support but non-participation also came from:
  • Ritchie Pitts (star of Starlight Express), who attended the session but had to leave with Earlene Bentley
  • Sally Thomsett
  • Steve Grant and Julie Harris (from Tight Fit)
  • John Rocca (from Freeez)
  • Miquel Brown (of the hit "So Many Men So Little Time")
  • Hazell Dean (singer)
  • Basia and Danny (from band Matt Bianco)
  • Black Lace, whose train was cancelled from Bradford
  • Gary Glitter, who had dislocated his shoulder
  • Helen Terry, who was unable to make the session because she had to fly overseas
  • Holly Johnson (from Frankie Goes to Hollywood), who was caught up in rehearsals in Brixton
  • Ian Levine's record label Record Shack Records released the record in 7" and 12" versions with an instrumental version of the final hi-energy dance number on the B-side.
  • The National Society for Cancer Research was intended to benefit from all profits of the record sales. However, Colin Baker later revealed that the single did not come remotely close to making a profit and therefore no donations resulted from it, though added that he and several of the other performers instead donated to Cancer Research out of their own pockets.
  • Doctor Who Magazine published the single's lyrics and reported from behind the scenes on its production in DWM 101, a piece which Jonathan Morris later described as "what may be the funniest article in [DWM's] history" with lines like "Things seemed to be going quite well, until Black Lace rang to say that their train had been cancelled from Bradford."[3]


The single was largely panned, and failed to chart in the UK. The BBC refused to play the single on its own radio stations, reportedly for its low quality.[4]

Ian Levine later described the single as "an absolute balls-up fiasco. It was pathetic and bad and stupid. It tried to tell the Doctor Who history in an awful high-energy song. It almost ruined me."[5]