Season 20

From Tardis Wiki, the free Doctor Who reference

Season 20 of Doctor Who ran from 3 January 1983 to 16 March 1983. It starred Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor, Sarah Sutton as Nyssa, Janet Fielding as Tegan Jovanka and Mark Strickson as Turlough. The season opened with Arc of Infinity and concluded with The King's Demons.


It consisted of six serials comprised of twenty-two episodes. This was notable for the degree to which it varied from its original plans. It had been commissioned as a 28-part series, and the intent was that it would have actually been broadcast towards the end of 1982. Producer John Nathan-Turner had hoped to use season 20 as a way to reverse the January-March broadcast of season 19. Thus, he had initially obtained permission to record and broadcast season 20 in 1982, thus making season 21 broadcast over the milestone 23 November 1983. Had JN-T got his way, the twentieth anniversary special would have in fact been a part of the regular twenty-first season.

Although this idea was in fact greenlit, permission had to be rescinded when it was discovered that Davison's second job — the then-popular BBC One comedy, Sink or Swim — wouldn't allow for this more aggressive Doctor Who production schedule. BBC One controller, Alan Hart, had to personally step in to settle the dispute between the two production teams, and he "awarded" Davison to Sink or Swim. This meant that season 20 would, like its predecessor, be broadcast in the first quarter of 1983.

Hart, however, did want some sort of anniversary special in November, so he suggested that JN-T put the money for two of the 28 episodes aside to allow for the special. This, of course, meant that there would now be 26 episodes in season 20. In the end, however, the final four episodes — meant to go towards a Dalek adventure that eventually became season 21's Resurrection of the Daleks — were left on the table because of a union dispute. Thus, as transmitted, season 20 consisted of just 22 episodes.

Meanwhile, the anniversary special, which was originally envisaged as a part of season 21, was something quite separate from any season. Although it used a portion of the original money involved in the season 20 commission, it received a separate commission from Head of Series David Reid on 15 July 1982. Indeed, it only received this commission because JN-T had been able to secure co-production money from the main Australian network. Moreover, The Five Doctors, as the production was eventually called, didn't begin principal photography until early March 1983 — just when season 20 was wrapping transmission on television.[1]

The Five Doctors, though often said to be a part of season 20, was therefore not a part of season 20 in any production or broadcast sense. Indeed, it's doubtful that any contemporary viewer thought of it as a part of the season, since it came almost eight months after the closing scene of The King's Demons. Instead, it had much greater production and broadcast proximity to season 21, and is often considered a standalone special. The episode was also considerably longer than typical episodes of the time, and was introduced during the Children in Need telethon by the host, Terry Wogan.

Structurally, the season retread season 18's formula of including a trilogy of stories bound together by an overarching theme. In this instance, the tripartite tale involved Turlough's attempts to kill the Doctor at the behest of the Black Guardian.

Television stories[[edit]]

# Title Writer Episodes Notes
1 Arc of Infinity Johnny Byrne 4 Final televised appearance of Omega. Return of Tegan Jovanka as a companion.
2 Snakedance Christopher Bailey 4 Final televised appearance of the Mara.
3 Mawdryn Undead Peter Grimwade 4 First story in the "Black Guardian Trilogy". First appearance of Vislor Turlough. First appearance of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart since 1975.
4 Terminus Steve Gallagher 4 Second story in the "Black Guardian Trilogy". Departure of Nyssa from the TARDIS.
5 Enlightenment Barbara Clegg 4 Third and final story in the "Black Guardian Trilogy". Final televised appearances of the Black Guardian and the White Guardian.
6 The King's Demons Terence Dudley 2 First appearance of Kamelion. Final story to be written by Terence Dudley.




Stories set before this season[[edit]]

The following stories are the known ones to be set between the Season 19 finale Time-Flight and Season 20 opener Arc of Infinity:



to be completed

Stories set during this season[[edit]]



to be completed

Adaptations and merchandising[[edit]]

Home media[[edit]]

VHS releases[[edit]]

DVD & Blu-ray releases[[edit]]

All serials of season 20 were released individually on DVD between 1999 and 2011, with The Five Doctors being the first ever serial released on DVD.

Serial name Number and duration
of episodes
R2 release date R4 release date R1 release date
Arc of Infinity
Only available as part of the Time-Flight/Arc of Infinity box set in Regions 2 and 4.
Only available individually in Region 1.
4 × 25 min. 6 August 2007 5 September 2007 6 November 2007
Only available as part of the Mara Tales box set in Regions 2 and 4.
Only available individually in Region 1.
4 × 25 min. 7 March 2011 7 April 2011 12 April 2011
The Black Guardian Trilogy:
Mawdryn Undead (4 episodes)
Terminus (4 episodes)
Enlightenment (4 episodes)
12 × 25 min.
1 × 75 min.
(Enlightenment Special Edition)
10 August 2009 5 November 2009 3 November 2009
The King's Demons
Only available as part of the Kamelion Tales box set in Regions 2 and 4.
Only available individually in Region 1.
2 × 25 min. 14 June 2010 5 August 2010 7 September 2010
The Five Doctors – Special Edition 1 × 100 min.
(Special Edition)
1 November 1999 9 October 2000 11 September 2001
The Five Doctors – 25th Anniversary Edition 1 × 90 min.
(Broadcast Version)
1 × 100 min.
(Special Edition)
3 March 2008 8 May 2008 5 August 2008

Download/streaming availability[[edit]]

Serial name Amazon Video iTunes
Arc of Infinity (4 episodes)
Snakedance (4 episodes)
Mawdryn Undead (4 episodes)
Terminus (4 episodes)
Enlightenment (4 episodes)
The King's Demons (2 episodes
The Five Doctors


External links[[edit]]