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117[1]Four to Doomsday
Doctor Who serial
Four to Doomsday.jpg
The Doctor is ejected into space
Guest stars
Writer Terence Dudley
Director John Black
Script editor Antony Root
Producer John Nathan-Turner
Executive producer(s) None
Production code 5W
Series Season 19
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Originally broadcast January 18–January 26, 1982
← Preceded by Followed by →
Castrovalva Kinda

Four to Doomsday is a serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four twice-weekly parts from January 18 to January 26, 1982.



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?


The TARDIS materialises on board a vast and advanced alien spacecraft, observed by a hovering surveillance device which conveys the arrival of the Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa and Adric to an observing being that is in control of the vessel. The TARDIS crew become separated and the Doctor and Tegan reach the bridge of the vessel where the green-skinned commander introduces himself as Monarch, ruler of Urbanka, and his associates and fellow Urbankans are the Ministers of Enlightenment and Persuasion. The leader is intrigued by talk of current Earth civilisation and reveals their ship is bound for Earth. Shortly afterward Enlightenment and Persuasion seemingly regenerate into human form, dressed in garments Tegan designed to demonstrate contemporary Earth fashions.

The TARDIS crew are reunited as guests aboard the ship and it soon becomes apparent that there are four distinct human cultures represented on the vessel 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 very ancient Australian Aboriginal culture. The Urbankans have made periodic visits to 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, and it seems the current journey is their last and they now wish to settle on Earth, which they are due to reach in four days time.

The Doctor becomes suspicious of Monarch and soon learns that the Urbankan does not plan on peaceful co-existence: instead, he has developed a toxin to wipe out humanity, and this will be unleashed before the Urbankans disembark. He also finds out that the humans aboard are not descendents of the original abductees, but are the original people taken from Earth and converted into androids like the three Urbankans walking around on board. The four leaders of the peoples have been given additional circuits to help them reason, but this facility can be taken away, as Bigon learns when he crosses Monarch once too often. He explained to the Doctor 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, nevertheless, is rather taken with Monarch, and tensions between him and the Doctor become very strained. It takes the truth to break the alien’s hold over the boy. The Doctor now sets about over-throwing Monarch and, with the help of the human androids led by a restored Bigon, a revolution is put into effect. Enlightenment and Persuasion are de-circuited, while Monarch himself is exposed to the deadly toxin and killed. It seems he was a product of the weak “flesh time” after all, having never, as the Doctor suspected, been fully converted into an android. 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.

Cast notes

Guest stars in this serial include Stratford Johns as Monarch and Burt Kwouk as Lin Futu. See Celebrity appearances in Doctor Who.


  • The Big Finish Productions audio drama Primeval provides an alternative explanation, beyond mere exhaustion, for Nyssa's collapse at the end of this story.
  • When the Doctor tells Tegan "Who'll believe us? We'll be laughed at!" when she wants to get to Earth to warn them about Monarch's plan, he has clearly forgotten the purpose/existence of UNIT, the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, for which he was unpaid Scientific Advisor (through most of his third incarnation). He does however make use of his UNIT connections later in the season, in Time-Flight.
  • This is the third occasion of a recurring theme where Adric 'betrays' the Doctor, or else Romana, Nyssa or Tegan, gaining the villains' trust and then later saving them. See State of Decay, Castrovalva, Kinda and, to a lesser degree, The Visitation and Black Orchid


Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewership
(in millions)
"Part One" 18 January 1982 (1982-01-18) 23:36 8.4
"Part Two" 19 January 1982 (1982-01-19) 24:11 8.8
"Part Three" 25 January 1982 (1982-01-25) 24:09 8.8
"Part Four" 26 January 1982 (1982-01-26) 24:53 9.4
  • The working title for this story was Days Of Wrath.
  • Although Castrovalva was the first story aired which featured Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor, this story was the first in the season to be produced.
  • It was originally decided that after Castrovalva, the Doctor would only have two companions, Adric and Tegan. As a result, the character of Nyssa was to be written out of the series at the end of this story. However, Peter Davison strongly opposed this move because he felt that Nyssa was the companion who was "most suited to his vision of the Doctor." Given this, producer John Nathan-Turner and the rest of the production team relented and Nyssa was retained. The story for the following story Kinda was already developed with two companions and Nyssa was not featured in that narrative as written. Rather than a complete rewrite of Kinda to include Nyssa in the narrative, she remains absent much of that serial, said to be resting in the TARDIS. This was set-up with Nyssa's collapse at the end of this story.

In print

Doctor Who book
Book cover
Four to Doomsday
Series Target novelisations
Release number 77
Writer Terrance Dicks
Publisher Target Books
ISBN 0-426-19334-2
Release date 21 July 1983
Preceded by Castrovalva
Followed by Earthshock

A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in April 1983.

Broadcast, VHS and DVD release

UK DVD front cover
  • This story was released on VHS in September 2001.
  • A DVD of the story was released on 15 September 2008, which features a commentary by Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton, Matthew Waterhouse & director John Black.


  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 118. Region 1 DVD releases follow The Discontinuity Guide numbering system.
  2. ^ Shaun Lyon et al. (2007-03-31). "Four to Doomsday". Outpost Gallifrey. Retrieved 2008-08-30.  
  3. ^ "Four to Doomsday". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30.  
  4. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2007-08-07). "Four to Doomsday". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30.  

External links


Target novelisation

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