Enlightenment (Doctor Who): Wikis


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Doctor Who serial
Docking at the harbour of the Enlighteners
Guest stars
Writer Barbara Clegg
Director Fiona Cumming
Script editor Eric Saward
Producer John Nathan-Turner
Executive producer(s) None
Production code 6H
Series Season 20
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Originally broadcast March 1, 1983 – March 9, 1983
← Preceded by Followed by →
Terminus The King's Demons

Enlightenment is a serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was originally broadcast in four twice-weekly parts from March 1 to March 9, 1983. The serial was the third of three loosely connected serials known as the Black Guardian Trilogy.



When the White Guardian warns the Doctor of great danger, the TARDIS crew find themselves on an Edwardian sailing ship in deep space participating in a race around the planets. Turlough must finally choose sides, and at the end of the race lies the prize of Enlightenment.



Part One

The White Guardian appears in the TARDIS, warning the Fifth Doctor of great danger and giving him a set of co-ordinates. Before the White Guardian can explain further, the Black Guardian appears and interrupts the communication. The Doctor sets the co-ordinates and the TARDIS materializes in what appears to be a ship's hold. Leaving Tegan in the TARDIS in case the White Guardian tries to contact them again, the Doctor and Turlough leave to explore, barely avoiding one of the officers, dressed in an Edwardian naval uniform and having a mechanical, blank expression.

Speaking with the crew, the Doctor discovers they remember nothing of coming aboard, have been below decks the whole time, and that the ship they are on has been entered in some sort of race. Meanwhile, Tegan leaves the TARDIS and encounters the ship's first mate, Marriner, who offers to take her to her friends, whom he knows about even though he's not met them yet. An officer with the same distant look escorts the Doctor to see Captain Striker, who offers them dinner. However, the dinner is interrupted when the wind picks up and the officers announce that the race has begun. Going to the wheelhouse, the Doctor sees a map of the racecourse, complete with "marker buoys" which he recognizes as the planets of Earth's solar system. Marriner then operates anachronistic electronic controls and a viewscreen activates to show the other contestants - a Greek trireme, a 17th Century pirate ship, and other vessels from other times, all floating in deep space and using solar winds for propulsion.

Part Two

The Doctor speaks to Striker and discovers that he and his officers are Eternals, beings who live in the "trackless wastes of eternity," as opposed to the Doctor and his companions, who are "Ephemerals." As the ships round Venus, the trireme captained by Critas the Greek explodes when it tries to overtake the pirate ship. Striker believes that it was the gravitational pull that did it, but the Doctor suspects otherwise. Tegan feels ill, so Marriner escorts her to a room, which she soon realizes is a mixture of her room in the TARDIS and her rooms in Brisbane - they have been reading her mind. Marriner seems quite taken by Tegan, finding her mind fascinating and full of life.

In conversation with Striker, the Doctor finds out that Eternals use Ephemerals for their thoughts and ideas. The Eternals have lived for so long that they are unable to think for themselves and need human minds to give them existence, and entertainment — that is why the ships use human crews. The purpose of the race, however, is more than entertainment. The prize is Enlightenment, the wisdom to know everything. The TARDIS is discovered by the Eternals, who make it vanish. Trapped on board the Edwardian ship for the moment, the Doctor and his companions go on board deck in space suits. Turlough hears the voice of the Black Guardian taunting him and unable to take the strain, he leaps overboard into space.

Part Three

Turlough is rescued by the Buccaneer, the pirate ship commanded by Captain Wrack. She toys with Turlough sadistically with a knife, but he manages to convince her that he jumped overboard to throw in his lot with her, to find out the secret of how she will win the race. Wrack sends her first mate to present Captain Davey (one of the other competitors) with a jewelled sword, and to deliver party invitations to the other captains. On board the Edwardian ship, Striker refuses the invitation, but the Doctor accepts, wanting to retrieve Turlough. Marriner offers to escort Tegan and the Doctor to the Buccaneer as an asteroid storm hits the ships. As Davey's ship draws level with the Buccaneer, Wrack takes Turlough down in the hold and shows him the entrance to a locked chamber with a vacuum shield, but leaves him outside when she enters. Through the door, however, Turlough hears the voice of the Black Guardian as Davey's ship explodes, apparently hit by an asteroid. The Doctor, though, again suspects otherwise, especially since like Critas's ship, Davey was also challenging the Buccaneer.

Arriving on board the Buccaneer for the party, the Doctor and Tegan mingle while Turlough sneaks off to examine the locked chamber. He finds an eye-shaped grid open to space, but a pirate locks the door and turns off the vacuum shield. Fortunately, the Doctor finds Turlough before he suffocates. The Doctor then notices the eye-shaped projector above the grid, and theorizes that this must be how Wrack transmits the power to destroy the other ships, using some sort of focus. He remembers Critas was wearing an out-of-period clasp with a red crystal, and Turlough tells him of Wrack's gift to Davey and the Doctor realizes the red crystal is the focus. Before they can act on it, however, they are captured by Wrack's first mate. Meanwhile, Wrack has managed to lure Tegan away from the party to her wheelhouse and freezes her in time while she plants a red crystal in her tiara.

Part Four

Brought before Wrack, Turlough accuses the Doctor of being a spy and claims he was trying to capture the Doctor. Wrack sends the Doctor, Tegan and Marriner back to the Edwardian ship. The Doctor believes that Turlough is trying to prove himself trustworthy by stopping Wrack. Unfortunately, Wrack sees into Turlough's mind and is about to sentence him to walk the plank. She pauses, however, when Turlough tells her that he, too, serves the Black Guardian. As the ships near the crystalline space station of the Enlighteners, the Buccaneer pulls level with the Edwardian Ship, and Wrack brings Turlough once again to the chamber, this time letting him witness her summoning the power of the Black Guardian. The Doctor, seeing the Buccaneer pull close, realizes that the focus must have been smuggled aboard somehow, and as he describes it, Tegan tells him about the crystal in the tiara. The Doctor smashes the crystal, but only manages to multiply the power by the number of fragments.

The Doctor gathers up the pieces, rushing up to the deck and just in time hurls them overboard as they explode. Suddenly, the wind dies, and Wrack pulls ahead of the Edwardian ship. The Doctor demands that the TARDIS be released to him to stop Wrack from winning, and Marriner reveals that it was concealed within the Doctor's own mind. Travelling in it to the Buccaneer, the Doctor tries to reason with Wrack, but her first mate shows up with Turlough, and she orders that the Doctor be thrown into space. As Tegan watches from the Edwardian ship, two bodies are ejected into space, and the Buccaneer reaches the finish. The human crew of the Buccaneer vanish as Tegan, Striker and Marriner board to give their respects to the victor.

The Enlighteners turn out to be the Black and White Guardians, and the winner is the Doctor, who brought the ship in with Turlough's help when Wrack and her first mate met with an "accident." The Doctor, however, refuses the diamond crystal containing Enlightenment, saying that he's not ready for it, and the White Guardian dismisses Striker and Marriner, who vanish back into eternity. As Turlough helped the Doctor bring the ship in, he is entitled to a portion of the prize. The Black Guardian reminds Turlough of their bargain, and says that he can give up the diamond, or sacrifice the Doctor to gain both Enlightenment and the TARDIS. Turlough struggles with a decision, and hurls the diamond at the Black Guardian, who vanishes in screams and flames. The Doctor points out that Enlightenment was not the diamond, but the choice itself. The White Guardian warns once again that the Black Guardian will return, even angrier now that he has been thwarted twice, and vanishes himself. Turlough asks the Doctor to take him back to his home planet, and the Doctor agrees.

Cast notes

  • Valentine Dyall would return to the world of Doctor Who as the character Slarn in the BBC Radio 4 serial Slipback before his death in 1985; Luckham died on February 8, 1989.
  • Guest star Lynda Baron (Captain Wrack) first appeared (albeit not onscreen) in Doctor Who in the 1966 serial The Gunfighters, as the voice that sings the "Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon" heard throughout that story. See also Celebrity appearances in Doctor Who.
  • Peter Sallis was originally hired to play Striker, but had to drop out when an industrial dispute delayed recording, and was replaced by Keith Barron.



Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewership
(in millions)
"Part One" 1 March 1983 (1983-03-01) 24:12 6.6
"Part Two" 2 March 1983 (1983-03-02) 24:23 7.2
"Part Three" 8 March 1983 (1983-03-08) 24:40 6.2
"Part Four" 9 March 1983 (1983-03-09) 24:34 7.3
  • The original title for this story was The Enlighteners. Portions of Barbara Clegg's story were reworked by Eric Saward to fit into the Trilogy, including substituting the two Guardians for her "Enlighteners". Since there were no longer any Enlighteners as such, the story was renamed Enlightenment.
  • This is the only Doctor Who production to date to have been solely written and directed by women, Barbara Clegg and Fiona Cumming respectively, although The Mark of the Rani later had a female director and co-writer. The Torchwood episode "Out of Time" would also have a female writer and director.

In print

Doctor Who book
Book cover
Series Target novelisations
Release number 85
Writer Barbara Clegg
Publisher Target Books
Cover artist Andrew Skilleter
ISBN 0-426-19537-X
Release date 24 May 1984
Preceded by Snakedance
Followed by The Dominators

A novelisation of this serial, written by Barbara Clegg, was published by Target Books in May 1984.

VHS and DVD releases

  • This story was released on VHS in February 1993.
  • The story was released as part of the Black Guardian Trilogy on August 10, 2009,[5] the story includes a commentary by Peter Davison, Mark Strickson, Barbara Clegg and Fiona Cumming as well as a 75-min Special Edition edit.


  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 128. Region 1 DVD releases follow The Discontinuity Guide numbering system.
  2. ^ Shaun Lyon et al. (2007-03-31). "Enlightenment". Outpost Gallifrey. http://gallifreyone.com/episode.php?id=6h. Retrieved 2008-08-30.  
  3. ^ "Enlightenment". Doctor Who Reference Guide. http://www.drwhoguide.com/who_6h.htm. Retrieved 2008-08-30.  
  4. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2007-08-07). "Enlightenment". A Brief History of Time Travel. http://www.shannonsullivan.com/drwho/serials/6h.html. Retrieved 2008-08-30.  
  5. ^ http://www.timelash.com/tardis/display.asp?2048

External links


Target novelisation


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