Four to Doomsday (TV story)

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Four to Doomsday was the second serial of season 19 of Doctor Who. It was the first story Peter Davison filmed as the Fifth Doctor.

Much like with Castrovalva, Adric is seen apparently siding with the main enemy of the story; in this case by telling Monarch invaluable information about the Doctor, the Time Lords and the TARDIS. At first, it seemed like a straightforward betrayal, but Adric had in fact been tricked into thinking Monarch was harmless to them; he later saw the error of his ways.


The Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric arrive on a spaceship which is headed for Earth. On board they meet natives of Earth from various different eras, and also three Urbankans: Monarch, Persuasion and Enlightenment. What are the aliens' intentions when they reach Earth?


Part one[[edit]]

The Doctor tries to return Tegan to Heathrow Airport, but the TARDIS lands on a technologically advanced ship. The Doctor goes out to investigate and sees a monopticon surveying them. He returns to the TARDIS and emerges with Adric, Nyssa and Tegan. All four must wear helmets to breathe. The Doctor addresses the monopticon, hoping whoever is using it for surveillance will see they are friendly. He queries it on their location. A door opens. Seeing this as a friendly gesture, the Doctor goes through it, followed by Tegan.

The Urbankans observe their new guests.

Nyssa and Adric stay in the room to operate some machinery there. Tegan and the Doctor eventually find themselves on the ship's bridge and meet Monarch and his two associates, Enlightenment and Persuasion. Monarch is interested in the Doctor and Tegan's knowledge of current and past Earth culture. He reveals the ship is bound for Earth. Tegan draws a picture of a man and woman wearing the latest fashions for Enlightenment. Tegan and the Doctor leave the bridge and meet up with Nyssa and Adric.

Nyssa claims she saw a humanoid man. The Doctor doubts this until one emerges, dressed in a Greek toga, to ask them to follow him. They are led to a dining chamber and seated at a table, to be joined by an Aborigine, Kurkutji; a Mayan, Villagra; and a Chinese mandarin, Lin Futu. They are representatives of their respective cultures; the Greek, who is named Bigon, represents ancient Greece. The last guests to join them are Enlightenment and Persuasion, whose appearances have transformed into the humans Tegan sketched.

Part two[[edit]]

The Doctor doesn't anticipate much trouble.

The TARDIS crew are reunited as guests aboard the ship. It soon becomes apparent there are four distinct human cultures represented by a small group of humans: Ancient Greeks, the leader of whom is the philosopher Bigon; Chinese Mandarins and their leader Lin Futu; Princess Villagra and representatives of the Mayan people; and Kurkutji and his tribesmen, of the Australian Aboriginal culture. The Urbankans have visited Earth, each time getting speedier in their journeys.

This time, they have left their homeworld after erratic solar activity, storing three billion of their species on slides aboard their craft. It seems the current journey is their last and they wish to settle on Earth, which they are due to reach in four days. Bigon demonstrates to an astonished Doctor and Tegan that within his chest and beneath his face there is just a mass of electronics. Holding up a printed circuit connected to his chest, he states: "This is me..."

Part three[[edit]]

Nyssa is processed.

The Doctor becomes suspicious of Monarch. He learns the Urbankans don't plan on a peaceful co-existence with humans. Instead, they will use a toxin that the Urbankans produced from their own bodies during the "flesh time" before they were converted to androids, which causes organic matter to shrink away to nothing. It will be unleashed before the Urbankans disembark.

Adric and Monarch have a conversation about the Doctor and his TARDIS. Adric tells Monarch about the TARDIS and Adric goes off to ask the Doctor if Monarch could be allowed entry to the TARDIS. Nyssa is held back by some androids.

The Doctor discovers the humans aboard are not descendants of the original abductees. The original people were taken from Earth and converted into androids, just like the three Urbankans. This revelation causes a panicked Tegan to use a spare key to get into the TARDIS, and she tries to pilot it back to Earth, but only succeeds in materialising it in space next to Monarch's ship.

Enlightenment hypnotises Nyssa and tells her to recall all past life. She is then taken by the androids to be processed. They take Nyssa to the Mobiliary and she is put into a machine to turn her into an android.

The four leaders have been given additional circuits to help them reason, but this faculty can be taken away, as Bigon learns when he crosses Monarch once too often.

It is revealed that Monarch strip-mined and destroyed Urbanka in a quest for minerals to improve the ship, and now plans to do the same to Earth. Monarch believes that if he can move the ship faster than the speed of light, he can pilot it back to the beginning of time and discover himself as God. Adric is restrained as, on Persuasion's orders, the Doctor is forced to his knees and one of the Greek androids raises a sword to decapitate him...

Part four[[edit]]

The Doctor makes his way through the vacuum of space.

Nyssa uses the Doctor's sonic screwdriver and a pencil to short out the androids and save his life. Adric stops Persuasion from shooting the Doctor by standing in the way and Monarch announces that the Doctor is not to be harmed. Despite these events, Adric is taken with Monarch, and relations between the Doctor and him become very strained. It takes the truth to break the alien's hold over the boy.

The Doctor sets about overthrowing Monarch and, with the help of the human androids led by a restored Bigon, a revolution begins. The Doctor is forced to go out into space in order to retrieve the TARDIS, but Persuasion attempts to stop him. The Doctor and Adric tear out Persuasion's circuit and throw it into space. Enlightenment then tries to stop them and stuns Adric before the Doctor is able to get back into the TARDIS. Adric recovers after Enlightenment strands Doctor in space and tears out Enlightenment's circuit. The Doctor uses his cricket ball to propel himself the rest of the way to the TARDIS. He then lands the TARDIS back on the ship. Monarch tries to kill the TARDIS travellers by shutting down the life support, but they are able to survive with the help of the helmets they brought from the TARDIS.

The Doctor retrieves a sample of the Urbankan toxin, intending to analyse it and turn it against its creator, but when an armed Monarch confronts the Doctor, he's forced to use the entire sample against Monarch, who is reduced to just inches tall. It seems he is a product of the weak “flesh time” after all, having never, as the Doctor suspected, been fully converted into an android. Adding insult to injury, the Doctor reveals that Monarch's plan to travel back in time was ridiculous and would never have worked.

With their former ruler now captive and helpless, the humanoid androids decide to pilot the vessel to a new home on a new world, while the TARDIS crew departs. Back in the console room, Nyssa suddenly collapses to the floor in a dead faint...


Uncredited cast[[edit]]




Astronomical objects[[edit]]



The Doctor[[edit]]

  • The Doctor gives Tegan a TARDIS key.
  • The Doctor was a friend of Francis Drake
  • The Doctor is carrying a paper notebook and a pencil which he gives to Tegan after she is asked by Enlightenment to provide a sketch of currently fashionable human clothing.
  • The Doctor demonstrates that he can survive for a short time in the vacuum of space.
  • The Doctor demonstrates his skill with a cricket ball.
  • Adric says that trouble amuses the Doctor.


Musical instruments[[edit]]


Time Lords[[edit]]


  • The opening shot of Monarch's spacecraft in flight was suggested by John Nathan-Turner, who intended it as an homage to opening shot of Star Wars.

Story notes[[edit]]

  • This was the first Fifth Doctor story to be filmed. Though Peter Davison has often said that his first stories were recorded out of sequence so that Castrovalva might include a more confident performance on his part, (DCOM: Four to Doomsday, Castrovalva and others) there was a more practical reason. A little over a month before it was due to go in front of the cameras, Project Zeta-Sigma, which was to be the first story of the Davison era, was shelved by John Nathan-Turner. Since there wasn't time to get a whole new first story for Davison's Doctor, the production order had to be significantly revised. The out-of-order recording had nothing to do with any lack of confidence in Davison; Castrovalva simply wasn't written by the time the Fifth Doctor needed to make his debut in front of the cameras. (REF: The Fifth Doctor Handbook)
  • Coincidentally, as well as being the first Fifth Doctor story filmed, this was also the last Fifth Doctor story released on VHS.
  • The working title for this story was Day of Wrath.
  • This is the first Doctor Who television story since The Monster of Peladon not to feature the Fourth Doctor in any capacity.
  • This is the first Doctor Who television story since Meglos to not be part of a wider story arc.
  • Nyssa's sudden fainting spell at the end of the story was a throwback to the style of serial transition often employed during the First Doctor era (for example, when the Doctor suddenly cries out in pain at the end of The Celestial Toymaker leading into The Gunfighters, in which a toothache is revealed as the culprit). In this case, the reason for Nyssa's sudden collapse is revealed at the start of Kinda.
  • Philip Locke (Bigon) also provided the voice of Control in parts one and two but was uncredited on-screen.
  • Part one establishes the date of Logopolis and the opening scenes of Castrovalva by revealing that the flight Tegan was trying to catch in Logopolis was flight A778 at 1730 on 28 February 1981. This retroactively set Logopolis on the same date as it was broadcast.
  • Peter Davison didn't enjoy this serial because he was new and didn't feel he knew what he was doing.
  • Matthew Waterhouse felt Adric's reasoning for siding with the villain made no sense, and resented his character being made to have bad motives and beliefs for no other reason than for other characters to tell him they were bad.
  • Stratford Johns was disappointed how unrecognisable he was as Monarch in the finished programme. And this was after his requested latex rather than the traditional mask he was supposed to wear.
  • The Aboriginal character's dialogue (and Tegan's when she demonstrates she can speak his language) was originally scripted as plausible-sounding gibberish. Janet Fielding, an Australian, felt this was insulting, and requested that the writer consult the BBC's language department to rewrite the dialogue in an actual Aboriginal language. The one they settled on was Tiwi as filmed.
  • Stratford Johns was supposed to wear a more encumbering mask much like those worn briefly by his co-stars playing Persuasion and Enlightenment. Johns refused, fearing that the mask would hamper his performance. As a compromise, the makeup department created a thin latex mask each day for him to wear. It was laborious to apply and could only be used once as it would be destroyed when removed, but it allayed his concerns about the mask. Johns couldn't drink while on set because he couldn't get out of the costume to go to the lavatory.
  • Robert Hardy, Ronald Lacey, Leonard Sachs and Nigel Stock were considered for Monarch. Hardy co-starred with Peter Davison on All Creatures Great and Small. Annie Lambert would later appear opposite Hardy and Davision in the 1983 Christmas Special of All Creatures Great and Small.
  • Colin Baker, Michael Cashman, Michael Cochrane, Tom Chadbon, Paul Darrow, Jack Galloway, Martin Jarvis, Paul Jerricho, Clive Merrison, Martin Potter, Malcolm Tierney and James Warwick were considered for Persuasion.
  • Matthew Waterhouse's working relationship with Peter Davison got off to a rocky start when he pointed out the mistakes the new star was making and told him that he would never be as good as Tom Baker.
  • John Nathan-Turner and John Black cast Stratford Johns as Monarch. He was looking to avoid being typecast as DCI Charlie Barlow in Z-Cars and its spin-offs Softly, Softly, Softly, Softly: Taskforce and Barlow at Large.


  • Part one - 8.4 million viewers
  • Part two - 8.8 million viewers
  • Part three - 8.9 million viewers
  • Part four - 9.4 million viewers


  • When the Doctor uses the shrinking toxin on Monarch at the story's climax, it causes him to shrink out of existence. Though several reference books, including The Television Companion describe Monarch's fate as such, in the televised story Monarch has visibly stopped shrinking by the time the Doctor covers him up with a helmet. The Doctor also playfully taps on top of the helmet before leaving, in a manner that suggests he believes Monarch to still be alive, if helpless.

Filming locations[[edit]]

Production errors[[edit]]

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • When the Doctor says "thank you" to a monopticon early in part one, his voice is dubbed by someone who is very clearly not Peter Davison.
  • In part two, one of the Greeks watching the Mayan dance from the balcony is wearing white lace-up trainers on his feet.
  • In part four, when the Doctor and Tegan flee from Monarch, they leave the TARDIS door wide open, but when they return to it later, it's closed.
  • When Bigon lifts up his face to reveal his mechanical inner workings at the end of part two (and in the cliffhanger reprise at the beginning of part three), the movement of the digital overlay of Philip Locke's face is not consistent with the movement of the model faceplate behind it.


Home video and audio releases[[edit]]

DVD releases[[edit]]


Special features:

Video releases[[edit]]

This story was released in the United Kingdom and Australian markets in 2001 and the US market in 2002.

External links[[edit]]