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Fifth Doctor

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Fifth Doctor

The Doctor
The Fifth Doctor
Portrayed by Peter Davison
Tenure 21 March 1981–16 March 1984
First appearance Logopolis
Last appearance The Caves of Androzani (regular)
"Time Crash" (charity special)
Number of series 3
Appearances 20 stories (69 episodes)
Companions Adric
Tegan Jovanka
Vislor Turlough
Peri Brown
Preceded by Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor)
Succeeded by Colin Baker (Sixth Doctor)
Series Season 19 (1982)
Season 20 (1983)
Season 21 (1984)

The Fifth Doctor is an incarnation of the Doctor, the protagonist of the BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who. He is portrayed by Peter Davison.

Within the series' narrative, the Doctor is a centuries-old Time Lord alien from the planet Gallifrey who travels in time and space in his TARDIS, frequently with companions. When the Doctor is critically injured, he can regenerate his body; in doing so, his physical appearance and personality change. Davison portrays the fifth such incarnation, who has a vulnerable side and a tendency towards indecisiveness, dressed as a boyish Edwardian cricketer. He travelled with a host of companions, including boy genius Adric (Matthew Waterhouse), alien aristocrat Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) and Australian flight attendant Tegan Jovanka (Janet Fielding), whom he had travelled alongside in his previous incarnation. He also shared later adventures alongside devious schoolboy Vislor Turlough (Mark Strickson) and American college student Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant).


  • Overview 1
  • Biography 2
  • Personality 3
  • Costume 4
  • Appearances 5
    • Non-television appearances 5.1
      • Short stories 5.1.1
      • Novels 5.1.2
        • Virgin Missing Adventures
        • Past Doctor Adventures
        • Eighth Doctor Adventures
        • Telos Doctor Who novellas
        • Penguin Fiftieth Anniversary eBook novellas
      • Comics 5.1.3
        • Doctor Who Magazine
        • Doctor Who Yearbook
        • IDW series
      • Video games 5.1.4
      • Audio 5.1.5
    • Short Trips audios 5.2
  • References 6
  • External links 7


After Tom Baker, the Fourth Doctor, and the BBC had announced that he was leaving the role, the show's producers decided that the next Doctor was to be played by someone who presented something of a physical contrast to Baker and by an actor who was already firmly established in the British public's mind. Peter Davison was chosen due to his critically acclaimed role as Tristan Farnon in the BBC series All Creatures Great and Small which had Doctor Who producer John Nathan-Turner as line producer.[4]

The Fifth Doctor's era was notable for a "back to the basics" attitude, in which "silly" humour (and, to an extent, horror) was kept to a minimum, and more scientific accuracy was encouraged by the producer, John Nathan-Turner. It was, at times, a darker and grittier series, in part for seeing the death of one of his companions, Adric. It was also notable for the reintroduction of many of the Time Lord's enemies, such as the Master, Cybermen, Omega (a founding-father of Gallifrey), the Black and White Guardians, and the Silurians.


The Fourth Doctor sustained serious injuries after falling off the Pharos Project Radio Telescope so he merged with a future incarnation of himself called the Watcher and regenerated into his new youthful Fifth incarnation. The regeneration was difficult, and nearly failed, with the Doctor briefly taking on personality aspects from his four previous incarnations. After recovering in the fictional city Castrovalva (actually an elaborate trap created by his arch-enemy The Master), he continued his travels with Adric, Tegan Jovanka and Nyssa. Initially his travels centred on getting Tegan back to Heathrow Airport in time for her first day as an airhostess, but the TARDIS repeatedly missed this destination and Tegan eventually decided to stay in the TARDIS. After trips to the future and the past encountering villains such as Monarch and the Mara, the Fifth Doctor was confronted with tragedy when Adric died trying to stop a space freighter from crashing into prehistoric Earth (Earthshock).

Following Adric's death, the TARDIS accidentally arrived at Heathrow airport (Time-Flight). Here the Doctor and Nyssa left Tegan assuming she would want to stay (when in fact she did not any more). The Doctor and Nyssa then travelled together for an unspecified amount of time before the renegade Time Lord Omega, attempting to return to our universe, temporally bonded himself to the Doctor (Arc of Infinity). Faced with this threat, the Time Lords were forced to attempt executing the Doctor, but he eventually tracked Omega to Amsterdam where he defeated him and re-encountered Tegan (who having now lost her job, had no second thoughts about rejoining the TARDIS crew).

When the Doctor met a new companion, an alien boy stranded on Earth by the name of Vislor Turlough, he did not know that Turlough had been commissioned by the Black Guardian to kill him. Soon after, Nyssa left to help cure Lazar's Disease on the space station Terminus. After meeting the entities known as Eternals racing in yacht-like spacecraft for the prize of "Enlightenment", Turlough broke free from the Black Guardian's influence, and continued to travel with the Doctor and Tegan. Landing in the reign of King John, the crew again encountered The Master, who was using a shape-shifting robot Kamelion to impersonate the King. However, the Doctor helped Kamelion to regain his free will and the robot joined him in his travels (although he rarely left the TARDIS). The Doctor met three of his previous incarnations when they were summoned to the Death Zone on Gallifrey by president Borusa, who was attempting to gain Rassilon's secret of immortality.

After further adventures in which the Doctor re-encountered old foes, including the Silurians and the Sea Devils, both Tegan and Turlough left the TARDIS. Tegan would find the death and violence they encountered on their travels too much to bear (Resurrection of the Daleks), and Turlough returned to his home planet of Trion in the company of his younger brother, as well as other exiles of Trion, from the planet Sarn. The Doctor was eventually forced to destroy Kamelion, when the Master used his mental connection to the robot to regain control of him, a process the robot realised was irreversible (Planet of Fire).

Ultimately, the Fifth Doctor and his last companion Peri Brown were exposed to the drug spectrox in its deadly toxic raw form on Androzani Minor. With only one dose of the antidote available, he nobly sacrificed his own existence to save Peri, expressing doubt for the first time that regeneration might be possible this time, then regenerating into the Sixth Doctor.

The Fifth Doctor meets the Tenth Doctor.

A sketch of the Fifth Doctor is seen in John Smith's book in the new series episode "Human Nature" (2007). Visions of the Fifth Doctor (alongside other past Doctors) appear in "The Next Doctor" (2008) and "The Eleventh Hour" (2010).

Somewhere in his life he crashed his TARDIS into the TARDIS of the Tenth Doctor and consequently nearly opened a "Belgium sized" black hole because of the paradox caused, which the Tenth Doctor also uses to explain the notably aged appearance of his former self. However the Tenth Doctor, remembering the event, knew how to stop it because he recalled watching himself correct the mistake when he was the Fifth Doctor. ("Time Crash")


The Fifth Doctor was far more vulnerable, sensitive, and reserved than his previous incarnations and often reacted to situations rather than initiating them. Frequently, he made decisions by flipping a coin. Unlike his more authoritative predecessors, he treated his young companions as parts of a team, and often willingly participated in situations under the leadership of someone else who had the strong command presence that he apparently lacked. However, the Fifth Doctor's boyish appearance, nervous energy, and charm all hid the fact that he was a Time Lord of great age, compassion, and experience. He could decipher the ingredients of a drink by smell alone and rosemary made him sneeze.

This Doctor greatly abhorred violence and often hesitated about taking matters into his own hands. For the first time, indecision weighed seriously on the character, and it had its consequences – yet this Doctor was also one of the most courageous of his incarnations. He was willing to take chances with companions like Turlough and Kamelion, who were originally threats, even as he pretended to be unaware of it at first in order to grant his companion the opportunity to do the right thing. He was also willing to make enormous personal sacrifices (Mawdryn Undead) simply to keep his word and liberate others from suffering. In an episode of Doctor Who Confidential, Steven Moffat said that "this Doctor takes the emphasis off the eccentricities and turns it into a pained heroism of a man who is so much better than the universe he is trying to save but cannot bear to let it stand."

The Fifth Doctor was the last to use the sonic screwdriver in the original series, with the device having been destroyed during The Visitation. The Seventh Doctor and subsequent Doctors were later seen using versions of the tool in the television movie and the revived series. In "Time Crash", the Fifth Doctor declined to borrow the Tenth Doctor's sonic screwdriver.


The Fifth Doctor's chosen mode of dress was a variation of an Edwardian cricketer's kit, and he was even seen to carry a cricket ball in one of his pockets (which saved his life in one adventure). He wore a cream-coloured frock coat, striped trousers, plimsoll shoes, and occasionally a pair of spectacles. He frequently wore an optimo-style Panama hat that had a red band with a black and white pattern, which he would roll up and place in an inside coat pocket. The Tenth Doctor, who inherited various traits from this incarnation such as spectacle use, revealed in "Time Crash" that the spectacles were not actually needed to aid the Doctor's eyesight but were just for show to make him look clever (perhaps to counter his youthful appearance), although in Four to Doomsday, he makes a remark about being a bit short-sighted in one eye when questioned about the contents of his pockets, which included the aforementioned cricket ball, a book (The TARDIS Manual) and a magnifying glass. The Fifth Doctor's costume also retained red question marks embroidered onto the collar, which producer John Nathan-Turner added to the Fourth Doctor's costume in 1980. The Fifth Doctor displayed an unusually acute sense of taste in Planet of Fire, also inherited by the Tenth Doctor and the Eleventh Doctor.

On his left lapel, this Doctor wore a celery stalk. He claimed in The Caves of Androzani that the celery would turn purple in the presence of certain gases in the "Praxis" range to which he was allergic, although this allergy was not mentioned by any incarnations before or since. He said that if that happened, he would then eat the celery, adding "if nothing else, I'm sure it's good for my teeth." In the same story, while attempting to revive a feverish Peri from spectrox toxaemia, he had noted that celery was an "excellent restorative from where I come from," but that the human olfactory system was "comparatively feeble." Supporting this assertion, in the 2010 episode "Cold Blood", the Eleventh Doctor asks if there is any celery handy after being subjected to a decontamination process intended for humans (which proved potentially lethal to a Time Lord biology). The Tenth Doctor poked fun at the celery in "Time Crash", describing it as a "decorative vegetable".

Peter Davison stated in an interview on the DVD of Castrovalva that he thought the clothes he wore were far too "designed" and that he would have still kept them, but wanted to add some individual flair to them, as other actors portraying the Doctor have done in the past. In an interview with BBC Breakfast in July 2011, Davison stated that the cricket jumper was his idea, as the producers wanted something that conveyed both action and eccentricity.

During production of the mini-episode "Time Crash", it was necessary to reassemble the Fifth Doctor's costume; this was accomplished through borrowing various items from the Doctor Who exhibition in Blackpool; knitting a new cricket sweater; procuring a new hat with the original band added; and Davison wearing the trousers that were originally altered for Colin Baker in the final scene of The Caves of Androzani.[5]


The Fifth Doctor was first seen on television in the last episode of Logopolis, broadcast on 21 March 1981. Davison played the role through the 19th and 20th seasons of Doctor Who, including the 20th anniversary special The Five Doctors. Patrick Troughton (who had played the Second Doctor) reportedly advised Davison to move on from the role after three years to avoid becoming typecast, and acting on this advice Davison informed producer John Nathan-Turner that he would leave after the 21st season. In a break from recent tradition, Nathan-Turner decided to regenerate the Doctor in the season's penultimate story, in order to introduce the Sixth Doctor to audiences before the seasonal break. Davison's last regular appearance as the Fifth Doctor was in the last episode of The Caves of Androzani, broadcast on 16 March 1984.

Davison returned to the role briefly in the 1993 charity special Dimensions in Time. Beginning in 1999, he recorded a series of Doctor Who radio dramas for Big Finish Productions. In 2007, Davison, at the age of 56, appeared alongside Tenth Doctor David Tennant in a Doctor Who special for Children in Need, written by Steven Moffat and titled "Time Crash". This was the first official time that a Doctor from the New Series met a Doctor from the original 26-year run.[6]

Images of the Fifth Doctor are shown, alongside other incarnations, in the episodes "The Next Doctor" and "The Eleventh Hour". He also appears in "The Day of the Doctor", via archival clips.

The Fifth Doctor has also appeared in officially licensed novels, short stories and comics.

Non-television appearances

Short stories


Virgin Missing Adventures
Past Doctor Adventures
Eighth Doctor Adventures
Telos Doctor Who novellas
Penguin Fiftieth Anniversary eBook novellas


Doctor Who Magazine
  • The Tides of Time
  • Stars Fell on Stockbridge
  • The Stockbridge Horror
  • Lunar Lagoon
  • 4-Dimensional Vistas
  • The Moderator
  • The Lunar Strangers
  • The Curse of the Scarab
Doctor Who Yearbook
  • Blood Invocation
IDW series
  • The Forgotten
  • Prisoners of Time

Video games


Short Trips audios

  • The Deep
  • Sock-Pig
  • Seven to One
  • Wet Walls
  • The Lions of Trafalgar by Jason Arnopp


  1. ^  
  2. ^  
  3. ^ "Doctor Who – Classic Series – Companions – Kamelion". BBC. Retrieved 2012-11-12. 
  4. ^ Interview with Peter Davison (April 2009)
  5. ^ Pixley, Andrew (2008-08-14). "Time Crash".  
  6. ^  

External links

  • Fifth Doctor on TARDIS Data Core, an external wiki
  • websiteDoctor WhoThe Fifth Doctor on the BBC's
  • Fifth Doctor Gallery
  • Fifth Doctor's theme music QuickTime file
  • Fifth Doctor title sequence
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