What are YOUR 50 favourite Doctor Who stories ever?


Again, in this Anniversary year, it seems fitting to chat about personal favourite stories.

Understandably, everyone will have a completely different list of favourite stories and the reasons for them being favourites will be personal and subjective. And, perhaps, enlightening.

So here is my list:

1.            Power of the Daleks

2.            Evil of the Daleks

3.            Web of Fear

4.            Caves of Androzani

5.            Talons of Weng-Chiang

6.            Human Nature/Family of Blood

7.           Abominable Snowmen

8.            Tenth Planet

9.            Ice Warriors

10.          Dalek Masterplan

11.          Pyramids of Mars

12.          Invasion

13.          Robots of Death

14.          War Games

15.          Midnight

16.          Fury from the Deep

17.          Utopia

18.          Terror of the Autons

19.          Stolen Earth/End of Time

20.          Kinda

21.          Unicorn and the Wasp

22.          Crimson Horror

23.          Army of Ghosts/Doomsday

24.          Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead

25.          Nightmare in Silver

26.          Dalek

27.          School Reunion

28.          Earthshock

29.          Tomb of the Cybermen

30.          Enlightenment

31.          Rose

32.          Aztecs

33.          Seeds of Doom

34.          Bad Wolf/Parting of the Ways

35.          Keeper of Traken

36.          Time Meddler

37.          Silurians

38.          Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

39.          Pirate Planet

40.          Seeds of Death

41.          Impossible Planet/Satan Pit

42.          Mind Robber

43.          Wheel in Space

44.          Enemy of the World

45.          Tooth and Claw

46.          Three Doctors

47.          Snowmen

48.          Galaxy Four

49.          Curse of Peladon

50.          Curse of Fenric

Yes, it even surprises me!


  1. 50! I can’t name 50. I might be able to scrape together 15, all from Nu Who cos I can’t remember much from the original series. Not necessarily in this order, although Blink is probably at the top.

    1) Blink
    2) God Complex
    3) Satan Pit/Impossible Planet
    4) Human Nature/Family of Blood
    5) Amy’s Choice
    6) The Girl Who Waited
    7) Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon
    8) Eleventh Hour
    9) Pandorica Opens/Big Bang
    10) Empty Child [Doctor Dances not so much]
    11) Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead
    12) Midnight
    13) The Lodger [for Matt’s comic timing alone]
    14) Hide
    15) Time of Angels/Flesh & Stone

    Not many from this series, apart from ‘Hide’ which was very well done, as I’ve thought they tried to make the episodes too big. I always enjoy the simpler stories (with no singing kiddies).

  2. I’m with @Chickenelly, I couldn’t possibly list 50. I agree with most of Chick’s list, perhaps not in the same order though.

    The two episodes that creeped me out the most upon original viewing were ‘Blink’ and ‘Midnight’, and the monsters (outside those two episodes) which creeped me out the most were the scarecrows in the ‘Human Nature’ two-parter.

    ‘Are you my Mummy?’ Egads, not a monster in the end but easily one of the creepiest things to watch. Made all the more creepy by the children dealing with it better than I as an adult could have done.

    The whole concept of ‘God Complex’ was fascinating (and scary) to me, because the Doctor completely mis-read what everyone needed to do to survive, and in doing so inadvertantly stumbled on – and insisted they do – the one thing that would surely cause their death. And who wouldn’t be scared and compelled in equal measure to learn what is in their own room?

    The Lodger I didn’t like really at all, except that finally, after watching since Ecclestone, I understood how oddly alien and completey non-human the Doctor is; and of course knowing the back-story of Matt Smith’s football dream made that sequence delightful and wistful in equal measure.

    The 11th Hour was an amazing joy for every minute to me. Not least because I was prepared to hate Matt Smith after David Tennant; and after that episode, I never looked back (except to wonder at how I could have loved Tennant’s rendition so much). I’m still amazed that this was one 45-minute episode; so much happens that it feels like a multi-parter.

    I massively appreciate Silence / Forest for their start of the RIver arc, but simply in the most basic terms of 1) story 2) monsters 3) fear factor 4) fun/joy factor, they don’t do it for me any more. (However, they rate highly on the sentimental scale and I’m a sucker for sentiment – along with The Girl Who Waited, Amy’s Choice, and when the Doctor says goodbye to Rose on the beach [and then later when he drops off 10.x and he can’t tell her he loves her, but 10.x can]).

    At the risk of requesting probably the longest blogpost ever, I’m interested to know how @HTPBDET came to his list, and why episodes were ranked in that order.

    Of course @chickenelly and all else who post here with their own list, a mini-commentary on why you chose what you did, and ranked how you did, would be wonderful to read.

    I realise upon reflection that my highest-rated episodes would be the ones that scared me the most; next up would be those that made me contemplate life, the universe and everything in a thoughtful manner; followed by those with a rousingly funny sequence; followed by sticky-wicky sentimental gooeyness.

  3. … and of course, DW episodes that combine all four elements of BOO!, contemplation, sustained laughter, and sweet sentiment would for me be the highest-ranking. Which is why Blink would probably be my 1st.

    Actually, though, I cannot create ranked/ordered lists of my favourite entertainment – how to rate To Kill A Mockingbird [book or movie] vs Broadcast News vs Oryx and Crake vs Spinal Tap vs The Dish vs Big vs The Usual Suspects vs Calvin and Hobbes vs The Phantom Tollbooth vs {continued p94}?
    So I don’t think I’ll do one. 😉

    But it would still be nice to hear why other people rate particular DW episodes over other episodes, and by what criteria.

  4. Couldn’t do fifty but

    Joint first: Girl In The Fireplace and Vincent and the Doctor

    Then in no particular order:

    War Games, Ark in Space, Blink, Empty Child/ DD, Sil/FotD/ Ice Warriors, Abominable Snowmen, Genesis of the Daleks, Dalek, Rose, Fires of Pompeii, God Complex, Amy’s Choice, School Reunion (although strictly a sentimental vote, that)

    33/1 bar these.

  5. @pedant – but, why? For example, a lot of people express love for the Vincent episode, but I thought it was jarring. Did Vincent Van Gogh really have an opportunity to see how future people would love his work? That last Tardis trip bothered me a lot. But, you and many others rate it highly and I’m very interested to learn why.

    You have very different choices on your list; what made you choose them? Is there a theme (scary / overall Doctor arc story / made you think about life / made you cry or laugh / etc.) or a writer, or a place you were in when you watched them?

  6. @Shazzbot. So you want to see our workings out? Hmmm, okay, a quick run through of the where’s and why’s:

    1) Blink
    Cleverest episode of the lot which uses the concept of time wonderfully. Also first appearance by the Weeping Angels which, before they kept popping up, were a brilliant concept. Although the Doctor is mostly only seen in the DVD Easter Egg, the sequence where Carey Mulligan is speaking to the recording and it all clicks together is brilliant.

    2) God Complex
    Atmospheric and actually quite, quite disturbing. The concepts are a bit more grown up than some of the other episodes. As @Shazzbot says, the Doctor completely misreads the situation.

    3) Satan Pit/Impossible Planet
    A really good creepy story, with religion chucked in for good measure – a Whovian take on the Exorcist/Alien.

    4) Human Nature/Family of Blood
    Demonstrates the sheer ruthlessness of the Doctor, his punishment for the Family of Blood was terrible to behold.

    5) Amy’s Choice
    Toby Jones was a great guest star in another clever episode. Simon Nye should try and write another episode methinks.

    6) The Girl Who Waited
    The episode which showed Karen Gillan could act, and again the Doctor’s ruthlessness when he lied to older Amy then locked her out.

    7) Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon
    Canton! and of course the Silents. Great start to a series which gave us tonnes to speculate upon.

    8) Eleventh Hour
    Matt’s introduction which, again like @Shazz says, dispelled any worry that he wouldn’t be able to fill Tennant’s shoes. And of course little Amelia.

    9) Pandorica Opens/Big Bang
    Finally an end of series story which lived up to the billing. The Doctor ending up in the Pandorica took me by surprise.

    10) Empty Child
    The first Moff story and the scariest of the first Nu Who series.

    11) Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead
    First intro to River, and a relentless ‘baddie’ who you can’t defeat.

    12) Midnight
    Best episode written by RTD. No-one listens to the Doctor and he is helpless to do anything as all the passengers turn on him.

    13) The Lodger
    For Matt’s comic timing alone. He really is very alien in this one.

    14) Hide
    An atmospheric, creepy episode which would have freaked me out as a child.

    15) Time of Angels/Flesh & Stone
    For the double tracking of the Doctor and a great guest turn by Iain Glen.

  7. @Shazzbot– re: Vincent, my favourite none-Rory (except for the hole he left) episode.
    On paper, I’d hate that episode. I’m not usually a fan of the ‘go back in time and meet a popular, famous person’ episodes. And if I had just read a plot synopsis I would have thought: shamelessly sentimental and manipulative. And: Richard Curtis? Writing Doctor Who?
    But I love this one. Some reasons.
    It had Bill Nighy in it (in a bow tie)
    Visually it captures the feel of Van Goughs paintings beautifully.
    Vincent’s guilt at killing the monster.
    The pathos of the blind monster, even though it was dangerous and from a vicious breed.
    The thought of one of the most beloved artists dying without any success in his life time.
    Vincent’s overwhelmed reaction to discovering he was so beloved.
    The thought that even knowing this couldn’t save him- that his death wasn’t a solvable problem, even with a time machine. (i.e. the doctor can’t always save the day. Sometimes, like most people, all he can do is make things a little better, bring a little bit of comfort.)
    Amy crying for Rory without knowing it.

  8. @IAmNotAFishIAmAFreeMan- true, but in this episode she realises that there are limits to the mad man in a box. (She had realised this in Amy’s Choice and in the preceding episode, i.e., whenever Rory died, but of course she had forgotten that.)

  9. @pedant – thanks for those links. OK, again I expose myself as being too literal and not seeing the allusions. The ‘blind and invisible monster’ was, of course in hindsight and with help from those articles, representative of Vincent’s depression (and depression in general).

    I’m finding the Vincent episode more beautifully heart-rending than before, so again, thanks.

  10. @Shazzbot – Your wish is my command.

    I will try to be brief…

    1. Power of the Daleks: First regenerated Doctor story, fabulous story brilliantly told, Daleks very scary and believable. A masterpiece in the “base under siege” genre. And, if you read my Regeneration post, you will understand other reasons, personal to me.

    2. Evil of the Daleks: I think this is the best Dalek story ever. It has twists and turns that are breath-taking and involves a stolen TARDIS, two time-zones on Earth and then travel to Skaro. It is frightening in parts. It’s the first of two times that we have a Dr and Jamie story. The concept of the Human Factor and the Dalek Factor and the way the Doctor tricks the Daleks is all ingenious. The Dizzy Dalek scene is burnt on my memory forever – what a risk the programme took in making the Daleks an object of ridicule and fun in the middle of a deadly serious story. Troughton is compelling throughout. And the final scenes, with a distraught Victoria being taken under the Doctor’s protection and he, Jamie and she scurrying to the TARDIS, with the Doctor looking back and saying “The final end”…so exciting. Then the TARDIS dematerialises and the camera pans and one Dalek eye-stalk moves…if ever there was a “squee” moment this was it!

    3. Web of Fear: I loved the Yeti and the Great Intelligence. I found them just as scary, in that ‘I love to be frightened way’ as the Cybermen. And this story is beautifully told and superbly acted. It introduces Alastair Gordon Lethbridge Stewart and for some time you think he might be the baddie. It is a real mystery as well as an alien invasion – and using the Underground as a setting was utterly inspired. People go on and on about Pertwee’s time and the mantra about making familiar things scary – Troughton did that here in spades. I didn’t want to go on the Tube for months! Jamie, Victoria and Travers are all excellent – it just works in every way. And the final scenes where the Doctor is let down by Jamie who is trying to save him are compelling: the Doctor is angry, really angry, with Jamie and that had never happened before. And it happened because the Doctor did as he always did – kept his own counsel. Troughton plays it beautifully and never allows a similar situation to occur again and you watch him repairing the hurt with Jamie over the next episodes.

    4. Caves of Androzani: Davison’s best story, the only story where Peri showed any flicker of interest (she was good here) and a wonderful piece of creepy funny and masterful writing by Robert Holmes. My favourite Holmes story ever. And superbly played and directed by the whole cast. It never flags and it allows Davison to end his tenure in full heroic mode. Aside from the post-regeneration moment it is the greatest Doctor Who story since the last great Robert Holmes story.

    5. Talons of Weng-Chiang: It is almost impossible to explain the sheer joy in this Robert Holmes tale of blood, music hall and genetic experimentation. The Doctor and Leela were an exemplary team and this story is a shining example of why. Mr Sin is an evil little bugger and the end of the episode where he howls to the Moon is still bone-tingling, after how many dozen viewings. The sublime characters of Jago and Litefoot just made it all the more splendid. Doctor Who meets Sherlock Holmes meets Dracula. Wonderful stuff.

    6. Human Nature/Family of Blood; In this, for me, Tennant is shatteringly good. I never thought any actor would come close to Troughton in my heart, but this story made it clear that Tennant was in the race and a serious contender. Martha is actually good in this story and the monsters are the worst kind. The fob-watch concept was wonderful and the final moments when the Doctor wreaked terrible vengeance on the ghastly aliens was sensational. It changed everything. And it highlighted, in a clever and un-timey-wimey way, the utter desolation of the travelling Time Lord – the scenes with Jessica Raine were fun, joyous and then heart-breaking. I cannot see it without weeping like a child.

    7. Abominable Snowmen: The first Yeti and Great Intelligence story and set in an exotic location: the Himalayas. Everything was scary and suspenseful – like a Mahler concerto – disconcerting but utterly beautifully done. Troughton was perfect and Jamie and Victoria had a real bond by now. I was in love with the three of them. The beeping moving spheres, the roar of the Yeti, the weirdness of the monks and the disturbing whispering voice of the Intelligence. The stuff of nightmares – and all tied in to the urban legend of the Yeti. Again, what Troughton did best – funny moments of calm amidst a sea of seemingly overwhelming odds.

    8. Tenth Planet: Hartnell’s swan-song, the first appearance of the disturbing and terrifying Cybermen and their peculiar voices, a twin planet for Earth, the topical excitement of space flights, death and plenty of it and then the ultimate wonder: the regeneration. It was, still is, mind-blowing. Groundbreaking television. Also, and this is often overlooked by fans, but, truly, this was the proto-type base-under-siege story. And Hartnell, for all his frailty, is quite magnificent in it – standing up to Cutler and the Cybermen and then, as if they were Ian and Barbara, just ignoring Ben and Polly as he rushes to the TARDIS. A perfect summation of Hartnell’s time. A fitting finale to the man who made it all work in the first place.

    9. Ice Warriors: What can I say? The Ice Warriors were fantastic. An inspired creation by Brian Hayles. And the notion of a third Ice Age, which seemed so futuristic then, provided a cool setting. Victoria came into her own here and that was good. The supporting cast are fabulous, lead by the wonderful Peter Barkworth. And there is something truly resonant about the way Bernard Bresslaw imbues Varga with a sense of true character and purpose – a fully realised alien in an impossible position. The scenes between Troughton and Varga were magnificent.

    10. Dalek Masterplan: The story that made the Daleks terrifying for me. A long sweeping epic that was terribly involving, funny, hideous and nail-biting at times. It went everywhere and did everything. And the first companion to die – the moment when travelling with the Doctor stopped being utterly safe. Mavic Chen – a superb Doctor Who villain and played effortlessly by the wonderful Kevin Stoney.

    11. Pyramids of Mars: The one where I was worried that Sarah was going to die! That ending of episode two…heavens! So much macabre, gruesome death. The Doctor setting out his ground as “an alien”. His glorious confrontation with Sutekh, a wonderful villain played beautifully by Gabriel Woolf. Altered timelines in action, the violent implacable murdering Mummies, and Sarah and Tom Baker in absolute top form. I am not sure they were ever better together than here. “I bring Sutekh’s gift of Death”…shudder…

    12. Invasion: It is here where UNIT starts properly and I love UNIT. Troughton, Jamie and Zoe were a well oiled team by now and I have always thought that Padbury brought out the very best in Troughton as she gave him an intellectual equal to deal with, someone he could not easily fudge. (I have always thought there was a lot of Zoe in Romana 2 and I see her shadow now in Clara.) Kevin Stoney again – here, really, setting the template for the Master in Delgado mode. So many iconic moments: Jamie trapped in the casket with the writhing, awakening Cybermen cocooned beneath him; the Cyberman being brought to life while the Doctor and Jamie watch in horror, the insane Cybermen in the sewer tunnels, the implacable march down the steps of St Pauls, Troughton running and jumping as the bazooka if fired at the Cybermen, Zoe blowing up Vaughn’s computer by asking it questions. So much joy over so many wonderful episodes. Plus an invisible TARDIS and the Brigadier. Bliss.

    13. Robots of Death: What a guest cast, what a mystery, what a wonderful script, what an original idea. This is Chris Boucher’s best script for Doctor Who and it sparkles. Leela is extraordinary dealing with all these foreign concepts and people and Baker is relishing his role as a surly alien Professor Higgins. His “there are three types of robot” speech is one of his best moments ever. And the ending of part two features one of his most exciting and unexpected episode endings. The dialogue crackles and the make-up and costumes are impossibly, perfectly garish. And the contrast between it and Talons, which immediately follows it, exemplifies the wonder that is the Doctor Who format.

    14. War Games: Troughton’s last story with an ending that sees him executed and Jamie and Zoe sent back to their timezones with their memories of their happiest times wiped. Horrific stuff when you are 12. And there are Time Lords? Who knew? Wow! And Philip Madoc in a shining performance as the personification of evil. Plus a moment when you really can’t be sure the Doctor has not betrayed Jamie. For a story written at the last minute and on the run, it is marvellous. And although the filmed inserts of Roman legions and the like seemed even then a tad silly, the concept of the War Games themselves was absolutely spine-chilling. I remember being frightened that the War Lord’s people would take our street to the Games because our neighbours were always fighting and seemed so good at it. The Doctor facing the firing squad, the monocle of doom, the infighting between the War Lord and the War Chief, the political manoeuvring and then the Time cube and the slow motion run to the TARDIS as the Time lords slowed time down as they arrived. A game changer – for Troughton and Jamie and Zoe and also for the programme.

    15. Midnight: This left me breathless, both with the precision and clarity of Davies’ writing and the sensational performances from everyone, but especially Tennant and Sharpe. The moment when she started speaking his words before him…scary does not do it justice. It is a very small story but chilling, quirky and utterly unlike anything else Doctor Who has done. Donna at a resort was just the icing on the cake. Loved,loved,loved it.

    16. Fury from the Deep: The base-under-siege-story where, atypically, hardly anyone dies. Apart from the monster anyway. A seaweed monster sounds daft and perhaps looked a little daft – but Troughton made you believe in the horror. As did Victoria, who was so affected by the whole thing that she gave up travelling in the TARDIS. A very sad day. Yet, perfect too. Victoria was no adventurer and she had done her time, bravely. Jamie is crest-fallen when he realises she is going and it is so touching to watch. Mrs Harris walking into the sea, those strange maintenance men breathing seaweed fumes to spread the plague, the fungus, the heartbeat in the pipe, the helicopter the Doctor can’t fly. And the first appearance of a sonic screwdriver (albeit one which just operated as a screwdriver!) I cried when the TARDIS dematerialised and left Victoria on the Beach. I pestered my parents to find that beach and drive me there as I wanted to meet Victoria or leave a letter for the Harrises to give to her when she arrived. And I looked for the TARDIS in the skies more keenly, because I knew they would pick another companion and I wanted it to be me.

    17. Utopia: Any Doctor Who story with Derek Jacobi would be something to celebrate, but this one…where he turns out to be the Master. Dear God! What a superb reveal, and what a terrific if only passing performance he gave – what a malicious malevolent Master he would have been. Tennant was in excellent form and Jack made Martha seem more bearable than when he was not there. Loved Chanto in particular (her little rebellious moment with Martha is perfection) but the whole idea of Futurekind was utterly horrific. Laughed out loud at Hermits United. Loved the fabulous cliff-hanger and particularly loved Tennant’s handling of the sequence where he talks about why Jack was left behind in Parting of the Ways. And the sly “reverse the polarity” moment – brilliant, as Tennant says. And the set up for the Master’s death in two episodes time – Tennant’s desperation to make things right with the Master, to apologise, to have him see sense. This is an episode brimming with brilliant ideas, brilliant brilliant writing and brilliant acting. In short – brilliant!

    18. Terror of the Autons: Oh, how I loved Roger Delgado’s pitch-perfect Moriarty to Pertwee’s rather haughty Doctor and this is where it all started. With the Autons, who, really, were never more terrifying than here: the daffodils, the chair, the oversized heads, the faceless policeman, the telephone cord…shudder time. And Jo started here too, and while she was never my favourite she was perky and fun and undercut the offensive aspects of Pertwee’s Doctor. Plus there is the curious incident of the Time Lord in the pin-striped suit. Robert Holmes at the helm – wonderful dialogue and a cracking story that set a new benchmark for the Third Doctor.

    19. Stolen Earth/End of Time: I don’t mind admitting to loving a bit of shameless sentimentality and the end here, with all the companions was, to me, glorious. I cried with pure pleasure to see them all together, to see Rose unexpectedly get her wish, to get Sarah to survive another journey (a Davros encounter no less) and, of course that just set up, perfectly, the appalling fate that befell the wonderful Donna who, for my money, made Tennant do his very best work on a consistent basis. The shock possible regeneration at the end of Stolen Earth was magic. It might be a bit silly in places, but, for me, it represents the kind of rollicking fun that you can only have with Doctor Who. And its full of heart-stopping moments and death, dearth and more death. The price of travelling with the Doctor juxtaposed against the price of there being no Doctor. I wished Tennant had regenerated here because he was never in better form than here – although he often matched the intensity and the devotion to the role, this I think was his greatest moment towards the end of his tenure.

    20. Kinda: Tegan possessed, a Snake (both symbolic and ineptly corporeal), religious wheels meet scientific sceptics, an insane man and an astral plane full of demonic entities seeking physical form– what was there not to adore about Kinda? The support cast were wonderful (I always loved Nerys Hughes) and Janet Fielding showed that Tegan could be more than a “gobby Australian”. Panna was fantastic and the image of Tegan asleep under the WindChimes haunting. Also, it was the first true Davison story – I could not imagine Tom Baker in this story. I think, too, that this time was the first and only time where Adric was not so aggravating that I wanted his spine ripped from his back with a meat-hook dipped in chili. And let’s not forget Johnny Lee Miller’s professional debut! The solution, the circle of mirrors, was pure improvised cleverness from the Doctor and showed that this cricket garb gent was the real deal.

    21. Unicorn and the Wasp: Tennant and Tate at their rip-roaring best in an episode which plays with the format in a unique way and delivers laughs and thrills and simple joy (as well as true sadness )in equal measure. Felicity Kendall, Fenella Woolgar, Christopher Benjamin – all excellent. And a glorious Giant Wasp. The scene where Tennant is saved by death by cyanide is perfection – both to the roots of Christie’s writings and the zany alien nature of the Pixie Professor, as I had come to think of Tennant by this point. Donna’s excitement at meeting Agatha Christie was ebullient and infectious and I loved the running gag about them not being lovers. Enjoyed the parallels to Christie’s writings and the references to names of her novels. This is a unique and interesting romp – of a kind never done before or since.

    22. Crimson Horror: The first story of Smith’s tenure that completely absorbed me – he finally becomes the Doctor for me here. Clara helps with this –I love her and finally he has a companion I can care for and about (apart from Rory, of course) with her, he seems more settled, more sure of what he is and who his Doctor is – finally, for me, he is exciting and comfortable and I care what he does and how he does it. The guest cast is magnificent in every respect; Diana Rigg is the best female villain the series has ever seen: “These are the wrong hands” and Rachael Stirling is a touching and fierce Ada. I love the weird trio of Strax, Jenny and Vastra and their presence here is extra joy. The writing is not tricksy or trying to be too clever – it’s a good old fashioned Doctor Who romp full of screams, murder, silly monsters and horrific humans. Plus Smith as literal misunderstood monster. Hands down, Smith’s best story to date.

    23. Army of Ghosts/Doomsday: Apocalyptic is the word which springs to mind here – Torchwood, Daleks versus alternative Universe Cybermen (which is why they were so easy to see off) and then, unexpectedly, that wrenching heart-breaking end for poor Rose, gorgeous Rose – Rose who had been so instrumental in the programme’s revival success. After endless viewings I am still a mess as she is ripped away from Tennant (because of him, not her) and then the Bad Wolf Bay scene again, more tears (because of her, not him). This is desolate, dark stuff – very confronting. I never bought that Doctor 10 loved her (and I think Tennant is very clear about that the way he plays it, whatever RTD says was the intent, post broadcast) but I knew that she loved him. And I loved her – she was a fabulous, reliable and unique companion.

    24. Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead: I was scared more than I have been for a very long time by the Vashta Nerada (always sounded like a particularly malignant form of tea leaf…) and enemy we never see but which causes such fear in Tennant (who is in top flight form here). Making shadows scary – inspired. And, of course, the introduction of River Song – I am not sure Alex Kingston is ever better in the role than she is here. The setting was great, the idea of CAL, the wonderful but unexpected “Donna Noble has left the Library”, a recycling of the repeated mantra idea of which Moffat is so fond. There is just nothing not to like here and I think this is Moffat’s best writing for Doctor Who.

    25. Nightmare in Silver: The Cybermen are back – and bloody good at being implacable destroyers of worlds. Loved it for its sheer ambition – Willy Wonka meets Earthshock meets tomb of the Cybermen meets Moonbase. I liked everything about it (apart from the more emotional aspects of the Cyber representation, but it was mostly ever thus post Troughton and Smith’s overly done possession – but they are just quibbles really). The story works. Clara is magnificent, Porridge is sublime, the kids are good, loved the Cybermites, loved Webley, especially in Cyber-mode. If you can’t watch this and enjoy it, Doctor Who is just not really for you I think. (I know how preposterously judgmental that sounds – sorry!)

    26. Dalek: This story has several things going for it: It made me feel sorry for a Dalek; it showed in a startling way the change that the Time War had wrought on the Doctor; it establishes the role of the companion in the AG stories as moderator of a madman who travels in time; it introduces a bimbo male companion (Adam) which works quite well and shows more clearly than anything else can what a force of nature Rose can be; it does not have Davros; and it provides the first fresh approach to the concept of a Dalek since Evil of the Daleks. Ecclestone is superb here and this is where I was finally sold that he was The Doctor. Endlessly on edge, surprising and quite remarkable.

    27. School Reunion: I think this story has the distinction, if you can call it that, of being the single episode of Doctor Who to make me cry the most (sadness, joy and despair) as well as the one, even more than Three or Five Doctors that was most celebratory of the programme and, yet, condemnatory at the same time. It was a sheer delight to see Sarah Jane Smith again, and to experience her pathos, anger, resentment, joy and, finally, acceptance. Tennant is blisteringly good in his scenes with her – we see the Doctor pay, up front and close, for all the lives he has trodden on in his time, with or without their permission. The scenes between Rose and Sarah are just perfect and Tennant has few moments finer than his swimming pool confrontation with Anthony Head’s superb Krilitane Finch. And, for once, K9 was not a pain in the butt!

    28. Earthshock: Episode one of this story is terrific stuff – it moves at a frantic, bewildering place as Davison is dropped firmly into a base-under-siege story. Then it turns out there are Cybermen as well as fabulous zippy androids. Add Beryl Reid as an ageing Space Commander and you have a heady mix of the sublime and the ridiculous. But, the real importance here, is the death of Adric. Especially in light of this exchange:
    LEADER: I see that Time Lords have emotional feelings.
    DOCTOR: Of sorts.
    LEADER: Surely a great weakness in one so powerful?
    DOCTOR: Emotions have their uses.
    LEADER: They restrict and curtail the intellect and logic of the mind.
    DOCTOR: They also enhance life! When did you last have the pleasure of smelling a flower, watching a sunset, eating a well-prepared meal?
    LEADER: These things are irrelevant.
    DOCTOR: For some people, small, beautiful events is what life is all about!
    LEADER: You have affection for this woman?
    DOCTOR: She’s a friend.
    LEADER: And you do not consider friendship a weakness?
    DOCTOR: I do not.
    LEADER: Kill her.
    The Doctor intervenes to save Tegan but he leaves Adric behind – the Cyberman forces him to choose Tegan or Adric and he chooses Tegan. He leaves Adric to die. But, then, he knows that is what Adric wants – to be left to break the lock and be a hero or to die trying. So, the Doctor makes his choice. And it’s a choice that I doubt many of the earlier Doctors would have made – it’s a truly defining moment for Davison. And the silent end credits were really something.

    29. Tomb of the Cybermen: Victoria’s first adventure as a companion, the Doctor’s wonderful speech about keeping his family alive in his mind, the Cybermen emerging from the Tombs, the first notion of partially converted Cyberpersons, the introduction of the Cybermats and a claustrophobic, atmospheric set that begged you to be scared witless. This is a magical start to a magical season – and Toberman’s vicious disembowelling of the Cyber-Controller at the end of the episode is one of the scariest singular moments in PG Doctor Who. I loved Toberman – I distinctly remember thinking how much I wish I could grow up to be a hero like him. I don’t understand the racist accusations made against PG material – the world was different then, crueller and more indifferent perhaps, but Doctor Who was an instrument of tolerance and progress or so it always seemed to me. Troughton is electrifying in this story, he just gets better and better from here on in, not that he wasn’t before, but by now he is in his stride and he has the balance of the different aspects of his characterisation quite clear. His ability to shift mood with a slight movement of eye or head or hand is marvellous. This is a story that rewards on many levels, no matter how many times you see it.

    30. Enlightenment: This is classic Davison : Enlightenment was the choice. A weird struggle in Space between differing sorts of vessels, Eternals and Ephemerals; the machinations of the White and Black Guardians; the time that Turlough finally makes a choice and decides who he is; Tegan, whose mind appears fascinating to the entire Universe, in ambiguous but fascinating mode; a lot of political manoeuvring, red crystals of power (clearly not from Metebelis Three!), a gloriously cod performance from the one and only Lynda Baron as Captain Wrack and a particularly good incidental score. It was evocative, imaginative and played with serious intellectual concepts in a pirates-in-space setting. But its singular worth was to remind of the power of the mind, the capacity for individual choices to make a real difference and to know that the prize is not the issue, it’s how you play the game. Again, a story that could only have been a Davison story.

    31. Rose: Where would we be with Rose Tyler? Still wondering how to cope without Doctor Who in our lives. Because she was the key to the revival. Davies was very wise with his choice of reboot starter. Redoing Spearhead from Space, introducing a modern girl with mass appeal, a fabulous redesigned TARDIS, wonderful opening credits, witty snappy dialogue and an enigmatic new take on the Doctor – this was just pure joy. And it made me feel like I was 10 again. No other programme I have ever seen has that effect. It was the start of a whole new rollercoaster – and for that alone it deserves its place.

    32. Aztecs: This period of history is my favourite and so a story set here was always going to appeal. It is so exotic, so difficult to comprehend, so mystical, so bloodthirsty, so perfect, then, for Hartnell’s Doctor. And it presented real problems for Barbara, grappling with the realities of time travel and the notion of what it took to be divine. The whole cast do great work and the script is surprising and inventive and, really, fascinating. It is easily my favourite historical programme. And it contains this passage, which was electric then but would be considered heresy now:
    DOCTOR: Susan, please go outside and don’t let anybody in.
    SUSAN: Right.
    BARBARA: What is it? What’s happened?
    DOCTOR: There’s to be a human sacrifice today at the Rain Ceremony.
    BARBARA: Oh, no.
    DOCTOR: And you must not interfere, do you understand?
    BARBARA: I can’t just sit by and watch.
    DOCTOR: No, Barbara! Ian agrees with me. He’s got to escort the victim to the altar.
    BARBARA: He has to what?
    DOCTOR: Yes, they’ve made him a warrior, and he’s promised me not to interfere with the sacrifice.
    BARBARA: Well, they’ve made me a goddess, and I forbid it.
    DOCTOR: Barbara, no!
    BARBARA: There will be no sacrifice this afternoon, Doctor. Or ever again. The reincarnation of Yetaxa will prove to the people that you don’t need to sacrifice a human being in order to make it rain.
    DOCTOR: Barbara, no.
    BARBARA: It’s no good, Doctor, my mind’s made up. This is the beginning of the end of the Sun God.
    DOCTOR: What are you talking about?
    BARBARA: Don’t you see? If I could start the destruction of everything that’s evil here, then everything that is good would survive when Cortes lands.
    DOCTOR: But you can’t rewrite history! Not one line!
    SUSAN: Barbara, the high priests are coming.
    DOCTOR: Barbara, one last appeal. What you are trying to do is utterly impossible. I know, believe me, I know.
    BARBARA: Not Barbara, Yetaxa.
    I still find it electric. This was Barbara in her finest hour.

    33. Seeds of Doom: In many ways, the best, most convincing, most horrific villains in the Doctor Who landscape are the human ones – and Harrison Chase is a serious villain. This wild and pre-Jurassic Park tale of a millionaire obsessed by his collections who will do anything at any cost (including human lives) to have the plant collection is as bizarre as it is frighteningly realistic. The Krynoid was a great idea and well executed – I love the shot of it towering over Chase’s mansion. But the scene which is the most agonising is the one where Sarah is strapped to a chair and Chase watches in almost sexual delight as the Krynoid pod cracks open to infect the nearest host – Sarah. Utterly terrifying. Sladen in her prime. Tom Baker is alarmingly eccentric and delightful and rude in this story – his scenes with chase and Scorby are wonderful. And Chase’s perfect demise – to be chopped into compost – is as fitting as it is horrific. It is a perfect Doctor Four and Sarah story.

    34. Bad Wolf/Parting of the Ways: The first PG regeneration; a whole new side to the TARDIS; the death and resurrection of a companion; Daleks by the gazillion; a satire on Big Brother; Captain Jack’s bare bottom; Ecclestone in “destroyer of worlds” mode; and Rose, sacrificing herself to save the day thereby permitting the Doctor to sacrifice himself to save her. It’s bold, funny, brilliant, scary, edgy and then plain nuts – but it works – and largely that is down to the sheer power of the acting of both Ecclestone and Piper. I think this is their best work as a team – and the end of this story made me feel, as if I was 12 again, the resentment, the wonder and the tears of the end of the Troughton era. And then Tennant arrived bringing smiles and hope. Glorious!

    35. Keeper of Traken: There is a part of me that would have preferred Tom Baker to regenerate on Traken, perhaps after the Master had stolen Tremas’ body. Somehow this story, for me, anyway, is a wonderful summing up of all that was weird, wonderful and special about the Fourth doctor’s tenure. An alien culture, power shifting hands, mind control, the machinations of the Master, death in the forests, locals who work with the doctor while others challenge him and harmonious companions. Adric is quite good just with Nyssa; well, less infuriatingly appalling than usual anyway. Sarah Sutton was grand as Nyssa and Ainley does his best work in the series here as Tremas. Geoffrey Beevers is very good as the decaying Master and it was always a great pity that he did not continue in the role. And Baker is in excellent form – sarcastic, baiting, brave, tempestuous and beguiling. It’s a lovely evocation of his time. A jewel in that final season.

    36. Time Meddler: Someone else has a TARDIS? It is impossible now to explain the effect created by Steven and Vicki crawling into the Monk’s TARDIS – we had seen the interior of Dalek spaceships, they nothing like the TARDIS. But his Monk has a TARDIS which might be the twin of the Doctor’s. Which makes the Monk one of the Doctor’s people. Wow! This was a big moment for the series and Peter Butterworth’s Monk was simply fabulous, a perfect accompaniment to Hartnell. It’s a trifle slow, but the revelations about what the Monk is up to and what he represents, as well as Vicki in excellent form, make this serial stand out. And the Doctor is so mean to the Monk…

    37. Silurians: This is more than a transition story for Pertwee; it’s here he starts to make his mark, a process which takes some time. This is where he tries the dandy doctor as true scientist mode – he does not stick to it for long, but it is quite interesting here. He is helped enormously by Malcolm Hulke’s wonderful script and excellent turns from Liz Shaw and the Brigadier. I loved the idea of the Silurians and their execution here, loved the plague and loved all the political intrigue and the race to find cures and solutions. The Third Doctor, still firmly the usurper in my mind, was doing things differently but interestingly – I mean, everyone knew that the Second Doctor could easily have been in Spearhead From Space why did he have to go? But here there was a more serious emphasis on science and politics, the latter being something which rarely interested either of the first two Doctors. And then the Brigadier betrayed him – another watershed moment for the series. The Doctor exiled to Earth, forced to change his appearance and working with a genocide expert with a moustache. This story showed that the format did not require invasions from out of space to create interest. And if there was one lot of odd alien-like life under the Earth’s surface, what else could there be…A new door was opened.

    38. Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS: I don’t think it comes more sensibly timey-wimey than this odd foray into the heart of the wonderful TARDIS. It is a roller-coaster ride from start to finish, complete with charred bodies, alternative timelines for days, a library with a curious History of the Time War, bric a brac from earlier stories, memories of earlier adventures leaking from the damaged console. And Clara, wonderful, enigmatic, beautiful, spirited and glorious Clara. Frightened, unsure – bringing out all of the best aspects of Doctor Eleven. Smith’s care and concern for both the TARDIS and Clara is profound here – this is the same Doctor who simply dematerialises when Melody dissolves into goo at the end of A Good Man Goes To War leaving a distressed Amy and Rory to be placated by River, the grown-up version of their daughter, the one who has just dissolved into goo while the real one has been taken by Madame Kovarian. Smith is in top form in this episode. And the Big Button is delicious (and not a D.E.M.!)

    39. Pirate Planet: A marauding pirate planet that materialises around other planets and sucks them dry, killing millions in an instant so that an old hag can hold on to immortality. Delicious! Baker and Tamm work seamlessly together in this, the second Key to Time story, and, in my view, it provides the best contribution to the series from Douglas Williams. The dialogue crackles with energy and humour and the classic Tom Baker tropes are there – the obvious enemy who has a secret agenda, the hidden real enemy, the cult or religious order causing dissidence and slaughter. It’s funny and highly dramatic in turns. It’s the best story of the Sixteenth Season and I have always adored the Captain’s mechanical parrot and the snivelling Mr Smee-like Mr Fibuli. Great fun – and then there is Tom Baker’s magnificent “What’s it for!” admonition of the Captain. Tremendous.

    40. Seeds of Death: Yeah, the Ice Warriors came back and this time there is a fearsome higher being, an Ice Lord, and he is one vicious maniac. Many people hate this story, but for me, it is a glorious example of Troughton’s time. Anything could happen and did. There’s a lot of fun, a lot of “Run, Jamie, Run”, some great suspense and , as ever, Troughton makes it all seem more scary and possible and real than it could ever be. I liked the T-Mat idea and found the notion of the Seeds themselves quite terrifying. (I would not go near balloons for years!) The end of episode four where Troughton is caught outside the door with the foam rising and a Seed about to explode – magic! And he uses makeshift solutions and bravery and his wits to save the day. It also contains one of my all-time favourite quips:
    DOCTOR: Stop!
    WARRIOR: You must be destroyed.
    DOCTOR: You’ve got no orders to kill me. Your leader will want to speak to me!
    WARRIOR: Humans are our enemies!
    DOCTOR: But I can be useful to you, like Fewsham. Your leader will be angry if you kill me. I’m a genius.
    WARRIOR: Genius? You will come with me.
    Oh, how I miss Patrick Troughton.

    41. Impossible Planet/Satan Pit: Tennant and Piper are in excellent for in this moody space opera which, of course, introduces the Ood, those odd, bizarre but strangely appealing PG aliens. The tension and mood is built beautifully – and the sense of real terror is never more clear than when Toby is revealed to be possessed. Rose is magnificent and her surprise shooting of the window and unclipping of the possessed Toby’s seatbelt a moment of thrilling excitement rarely matched in PG episodes. As well, there is the Doctor’s almost existential discussions with Ida and his confrontation with the Beast (am still sad that the Beast did not turn out to be Sutekh) and the fact that the Doctor chooses to sacrifice everyone including Rose to stop the Beast’s plans. Tennant proves himself quite capable of making tough decisions – but, equally, I never felt it was satisfactory that he could not rescue the Ood. But then this was a Doctor unafraid of making hard choices and unwilling to apologise for them. The sense of “righteous entitlement” which will ultimately ensure his downfall really, I think, starts here.

    42. Mind Robber: Sorry? The TARDIS exploded? What? The end of episode one is one of the most amazing cliffhangers ever in PG Doctor Who. And the whole story shows what a curious and unique format the programme has. Episode one is pure science fiction nightmare stuff, complete with hideous blank robots and lots of mists. Then THE explosion and Zoe, in her sparkly jumpsuit, clinging to the console and twirling her petite bottom in space for the entire Universe to see (My father: We will see that bit again next week right?) followed by four episodes in the Land of Fiction where all sorts of literary characters exist. I read Gulliver’s Travels because of this story, and all of the Grimm fairy tales and , looking for Karkus which I felt sure must be a real comic book, found and fell in love with the Legion of Super Heroes (but that’s another story, never mind). And Jamie! The Doctor made a mistake and changed his face! I was horrified – it was not til that moment that I realised that Jamie was so important to me. He was always there so I sort of ignored him and concentrated on the Doctor and the girls – but this, this made me ache for him. I was so agitated until he was restored – and, for the only time during his tenure, I was disappointed by Troughton because he had so let Jamie down. Whatever way you look at the final confrontation, Troughton is extraordinary: “Man will become just like a string of sausages, all the same”. And there is a very timey-wimey feel to the resolution. This is one of those stories that defines Doctor Who as a place where anything can happen.

    43. Wheel in Space: The introduction of Zoe, Cybermen, a wheel in space, odd servo robots, Jamie and Zoe space-walking and fending off asteroids, wholesale slaughter – a good old base-under-siege story with some frightening segments courtesy of the Cybermen. No one was safe – the Cybermen could kill anyone as was proved when lovely Gemma was casually killed by them. Troughton, again, magnificent in action against the silver giants. There is a lovely scene where he realises that the Cybermen are behind him and he has to cut communications with his friends saying “I’ve got company” and he slowly turns to face his enemy. Cowardly was never a factor for Troughton, especially here. His rigged up attach “gun” works almost to his surprise. It’s a story memorable for some many things – but especially for Zoe ( I loved her form the very start)stowing away at the end and the Doctor telling her a story about what she might face to be certain she knows what she is doing. And so the repeat of Evil of the Daleks came to fruition.

    44. Enemy of the World: The Doctor meets action hero world – a bizarre, completely one-off but absorbing tale of espionage and secrets, with a murderous human villain who looks just like the Doctor (except with some Mexican accent). Troughton is superb as both characters – and there is no trace of his Doctor in his Salamander. Their final tremendous tussle as the TARDIS dematerialises is an amazing moment. I loved this story – it was not like any Doctor Who before or after – and it always seemed to me to cover the “action” genre better than anything in the Pertwee era. The surprise reveal of the underground world was jaw-dropping.

    45. Tooth and Claw: Vicious monks with incredible skills, Pauline Collins as Queen Victoria, a frightening slavering werewolf creature on the prowl – absolute top-notch fodder for Doctor Who. The scene where Tennant listens against the door while the Werewolf slavers outside the same door, also listening is magic. And Pauline Collins is a sheer delight. In fact, there is nothing not to like here and everything to admire. The Tennant/Piper duo really hits its swing here. Rose has coped with the regeneration and very clearly has started to fall for this incarnation. You know, even here, that it will end in tears, you just don’t know how.

    46. Three Doctors: Hartnell, Troughton and Pertwee together: the definition of pleasure. But the Troughton and Pertwee interplay is magical – Troughton wins (of course!). The Brigadier dealing with both of them, as well as Jo and Benton – just unmitigated joy. A malignant time lord force other than the Master living in an anti-matter world – the wonderful Omega. This story had a lot going for it. But, for me, it was the moment I was converted, finally, to accepting Pertwee. He had Troughton’s approval so that was enough for me! Sad that Hartnell could not be better involved, and one could have hoped for a less glib storyline, but the magic of the First Law of Time being deliberately crossed…well, that was worth everything. Not to mention the wonderful Radio times cover that celebrated the programme.

    47. Snowmen: A Christmas Special that really delivers. Clara – again! How? Why does she not remember? The true start of the Impossible Girl story starts here. Loved Strax, Vastra and Jenny and they fitted seamlessly into this Genesis of the Great Intelligence story. Loved that the Doctor created his foe and gave them ideas for future (for them) but past (for him) adventures. Liked the TARDIS redesign and Clara’s reaction to it; even liked the cloud. And the opening with Richard E Grant was chilling. The story might have a few issues, but it had style and charisma and by the end of it I was engaged with Doctor Eleven as I had never been before. Thanks to Clara, Vastra, Jenny and Strax.

    48. Galaxy Four: essentially this is a tale about beauty being in the eye of the beholder and it is very well told. The Drahvins are vile and the Rills are good – but it doesn’t look that way. The Chumblies are silly and they do look that way. But it all works and Hartnell is at the top of his game in the role, very happy with Vicki on his arm and Steven playing second fiddle. Female villains are few and far between in Doctor Who which is curious given how good Maaga was.

    49. Curse of Peladon: I love the Peladon stories, this one especially. It’s an interesting take on an alien medieval world being plundered by bigger forces. I liked the whole concept of the Galactic Federation and always thought there was scope there for grand adventures. And, of course, it has the twist of the Ice Warriors being converted pacifists which quite throws Pertwee. It also has the simply wondrous Alpha Centauri – surely the most bizarre but beloved alien in the world Doctor Who world – that voice! And Princess Josephine of TARDIS – cute. A time lord mission, a mystery, a surprising villain and a silly but loveable hybrid creature native to Peladon – Aggedor. I was no convert to Pertwee but this story made me stop and think a lot. It was only years later that I realised whose son King Peladon actually was…

    50. Curse of Fenric: A real timey-wimey story and the kind of convoluted story that typified the MCoy era. But somehow this one really works – the vampire creatures, the Haemovores, are great and the whole concept of Fenric and the chess game is both surreal, normal and completely bizarre at once. McCoy is in his element and Sophie Aldred delivers a great performance here, especially as she grapples with the issues with her mother. It has that rare combination of recent history and futuristic power that occasionally works. And here it does!

    So, there you go. I did try to be brief. Ask as many questions as you like @Shazzbot. but i will be out of action now for a while, so may take time.

    You can ask why stories aren’t there too – if anyone cares.

    Thanks all – and apologies for length.

  11. @HTPBDET – I wanted to say ‘thank you’ before I’ve read your post. Your comments / blogs about Doctor Who have made me see more in the programme that I ever could have seen myself. But most importantly, your inclusion of personal memories wrapped into your DW memories is simply gold for a book-reader and story-devourer like me – because there is no story (in my mind) so engrossing as the story of someone else’s life. You have the gift of storytelling, and you have found an acolyte who appreciates that gift whole-heartedly.

    Whatever difficulties you are facing this weekend, I heartily hope that you recover well, and quickly. Best wishes –

  12. htpbdet

    I’ve just created an account to thank you for this post. I enjoyed reading your top 50 (!) and your explanation. I’m a couple of years too young to have seen Pat Troughton and remember it (although I know he was the first Doctor who I actually saw on TV in 1968 or 1969) although I remember the three doctors from the watching it in 1973. You’re description of your favourite episodes of his was heart warming to read.

  13. I’ve put 20 AG shows on the other thread, so here are 20 BG episodes. Many crossovers. So for

    Tenth Planet – Time Meddler – Mind Robber – War Games – Curse of Peladon – Three Doctors Seeds of Doom – Earthshock – Enlightenment – Caves of Androzani

    Nothing to add!

    • Robots of Death

    Just some additional thoughts really. Taren Capel, the “happy little maniac” wants to free his robot “brothers” from bondage through reprogramming and is clearly mad. The three types of robots are portrayed as truly robotic.

    But – spoken only by the Doctor, there is the fourth type. Whatever advanced form D84 represents. I remember being quite upset by his fate, and have seen a lot of younger viewers of the DVD have a similar reaction. Why should that be if he was just a “thing”? A clever element to this story is to show you a robot who firmly believes he is worthless, and yet displays sorrow, concern, operates independently, makes a joke and so demonstrates so many elements we’d see as human.

    So while Capels plans for his Robots were insane, perhaps the society on Kaldor was on the verge of creating robots that could be defined as individuals, and his point of “slavery” may have been prescient?

    • Talons of Weng Chiang

    It’s everything that @HTPBDET suggests (although I’d replace Dracula with Phantom of the Opera with all the backstage shenanigans). I really can’t compliment it enough. I always suggest it as an entry point for people who haven’t seen the older series as it contains a few mentions that were used in the Empty Child/Doctor Dances for Jack. Greel comes from his time period and believes “Time Agents” are seeking him out for justice. The Ninth more of less tells Jack he destroyed the manufacturer of his gun and replaced it with Banana Groves. Here he tells Greel he was in the army that liberated Reykjavik. It really is fun and thrilling.

    • City of Death

    Douglas Adams final fully filmed script is a little gem. Romana had an arc, being introduced in frosty form as a Time Lady tasked to work with the Doctor and generally despairing at his way of life, methods, unreliability and habit of sticking his nose in. Gradually she started to change (not just in appearance) until she started to embrace his life and the freedom it allowed. She eventually rebels herself, refusing an order to return to the Time Lords. She becomes a female Doctor, if you will.

    Here she and the Doctor are having a ball running around Paris investigating experiments with time commissioned by Scaroth (the brilliant Julian Glover) an alien fragmented through time (sound familiar). It has wit and charm aplenty, and a fun cameo from old muckers John Cleese and Eleanor Bron as visitors to an art Gallery admiring the structure and artistic merit of a battered old Police Box.

    Readers of the first Dirk Gently book will recognise elements of this story and the unfinished Shada to be ideas reused by Adams in constructing that story.

    • The Invasion

    It can really be seen as a long pilot to be utilised for a format commonly used in the Third Doctors period, with the reappearance of Lethbridge Stewart, newly promoted to Brigadier to command this new “UNIT” organisation.

    The story has two episodes missing which were lovingly recreated by Cosgrove hall with the existing soundtrack. Lots to enjoy including some hilarious interplay between The Doctor and Jamie.

    • The Daemons

    I really enjoyed this. Mainly because the Doctor and Jo are trapped for quite a while with just Captain Yates and Sergeant Benton within a village surrounded by a heat barrier. Roger Delgado is on good form as the Master, in disguise as a vicar and having a ball playing with different characters. I loved the ideas of Daemon science being developed through words to channel psionic forces. The Brigadiers “Jenkins, chap with the wings there, five round rapid”

    And yes, even in the classic series, love saves the day from time to time.

    • Time Warrior

    The first appearance by the Sontarans and we learn the name of the Doctors homeworld! It’s like pulling teeth, getting information about the Doctor in this show.

    It introduces Sarah-Jane and it’s a fun enough jaunt as they attempt to rescue kidnapped scientists taken back to the middle ages. There are plenty of points to criticise, but it is a fun romp.

    • Genesis of the Daleks

    Terry Nation presses a big ol’ reset button on his creation. Nothing you’ve seen before can be guaranteed to exist as the Doctor is sent by the Time Lords to intervene at their creation. It’s a good story, but Nation creates a trap for himself and others in developing Davros. I’ve put more thoughts on Dan Martins blog.

    • Horror of Fang Rock

    “Leela! I’ve made a terrible mistake” says the Doctor. In an isolated lighthouse surrounded by unnatural fog, the Doctor and Leela confront (for the first and only time in the show) the oft mentioned enemies of the Sontarans, the Rutans). It’s a brilliant little story set in the Edwardian period. I’m surprised the new series has gone so long without bringing one of the shape shifting aliens back. You can really generate a sense of paranoia with them.

    • Brain of Morbius

    “Who” does Frankenstein to good effect. In this case the marvellous Philip Madoc as Solon, attempting to provide another body for the brain of his Master Morbius, a renegade Time Lord thought executed by his people. It’s lovely macabre stuff. I can’t tell you how I felt, as a kid, as a temporarily blinded Sarah-Jane explores the laboratory. Made me want to read the book that inspired it.

    • The Five Doctors

    It’s just fun this one. A taster for lots of characters from the run of the first Five Doctors. I’ve let a lot of new era fans see it, and most give favourable reports. It seems to do something right.

  14. I’ve been slowly working on my own top 50. As I do tend to go on, I’m going to have to break it down into more than one post. And at the rate I’m going I might never post it if I wait until I have 50.

    So here are my top 8 Doctor Who stories, old and new.

    – Blink
    I used to rewatch episodes as often as possible (this seemed quite often in the early 80s, when Australia’s ABC showed the early Tom Baker stories over and over, to the exclusion of all other seasons). But in recent decades, the only story I’ve watched over and over like that is Blink. It’s not just the best Doctor Who episode, it’s one of the best TV shows, and it has only suffered a very little from over-watching. (Suffered? On the nth viewng, I started to think Sally needed a better motivation for visiting a derelict old house late at night, or else it needed to be better established that she was the sort of person who might. Also, her freshman notions of ‘deep people’ start to seem a little off, unless you read it as self-aware irony.)

    We’re very used to seeing monsters and other bad people killing people in Doctor Who, so much so that some of Steven Mofat’s episodes are notable for ‘everybody lives!’ What’s special about Blink (and The Girl in the Fireplace as well) is that, although we’re seldom moved by people being killed by Daleks or Autons, we’re very moved by the death from natural causes of Reinette, and Kathy Nightingale, and Billy Shipton. The latter two die of old age after long and seemingly happy lives, and the writing and performances still move us more than so many young Thals cut off in their prime by a Dalek gunstick.

    At the same time as we’re being emotionally moved by the story, the intellect is being engaged with the whole ‘timey-wimey’ thing. The conversation via film camera and transcript being about as ingenious as anything in any time travel story I’ve encountered. The real beauty is not just the way the conversation works when it finally happens, but the way it also seems strangely appropriate on the other occasions we hear parts of it; there’s always the illusion that the man on the TV is talking to Sally… and then finally he really is.

    I always get a shiver at the moment Sally finally looks at the list of DVDs with ‘Doctor’ Easter eggs on, and realises what they all have in common. ‘These are the 17 DVDs I own!’ And a laugh from the next line. ‘You only own 17 DVDs!’ (Yeah… 3000 and counting, me.) It’s hard to express exactly why it works: it perfectly captures a sense of the eerie, that a mystery that seems to have no connection to you turns out to be inexplicably personal.

    I’ve only experienced a shadow of it in my real life… Maybe I’ll tell the story, such as it is? OK.

    When I first got on the internet, I was still living in my parents’ house, and I pretty quickly realised I needed my own landline for my internet connection. Nobody was supposed to know the number, because it was only for using the internet — if someone wanted to phone me, they’d call my parents’ number. So it was a serious nuisance that this phone kept ringing. And because the line wasn’t very good, if someone rang the number while I was on the internet, my connection would always drop out. And a moment later the phone would ring (as the caller made a second attempt.) From time to time I’d answer the phone, and it would always be someone trying to buy a fridge or washing machine. I’d tell them I didn’t have any fridges or washing machines for sale, and they’d always say ‘Are you sure?’ Months went by, and my phone bill was getting pretty high because I had to keep redialling my ISP every time the connection dropped out. And then the calls began to fall off, and finally they stopped.

    Not long after the calls stopped, I went for a walk, in a different direction than usual, and I walked past a recently closed whitegoods shop a few kilometres from home. The sign on the fence caught my eye: my phone number was on it! Across their car park I could see a smaller sign attached to the shop itself, with a phone number that was different from mine by one digit.

    These people had never realised that the signwriter had made a mistake on the big sign facing the road. If half the people who’d phoned me looking for a fridge or washing machine had called the right number, their business would surely have survived. For years I was haunted by the knowledge that I’d been unwittingly involved in someone else’s major life events. (I’ve always tried to avoid disturbing the universe). Who knows what accompanied the failure of that business? A psychological breakdown? the breakdown of a relationship? Kids being traumatised by their parents’ money worries. On the other hand, maybe the failure of the business propelled all those involved into different and better lives, opening up new opportunities they’d never have taken if they had a successful business?

    But it horrified me that if I had only chosen to walk that way a few weeks earlier, I could have walked in there and pointed out that their sign was wrong, and changed their lives (for good or ill). We’re all used to the idea that our own lives can turn one way or another on a random event, but it was awful to discover that my random wanderings had had such an effect on other people’s lives. Every day that I had gone for a walk and walked another way, that chance act killed their business..

    All this has very little to do with Blink, but when Sally saw that list of DVDs the first thing that flashed before my eyes was that sign with my phone number on it.

    Anyway, It’s great to see Carey Mulligan becoming a big star now. We knew it before everyone else. It was when I saw Blink that I began to really hope Steven Moffat would become the show-runner. I don’t think he’s ever lived up to the promise of this episode, but then who could?

    City of Death
    I think it was Paul Cornell (or was it Steven Moffat?) who said this is what Doctor Who would look like if it were written by a genius. I don’t actually watch the original series very much these days, due to being busy and having so many good new shows to watch when I’m not busy. But I still watch this one every year or two. It was the second Doctor Who story I saw (after Destiny of the Daleks), and it hooked me on the show. (I really liked Destiny, too, at the time.)

    What’s so good about it? A very large part of it is the music, and another very large part of it is Paris. I just love watching the Doctor and Romana running through the streets of Paris, among all those real people. Over the years I’ve kind of gotten to know those people in the crowds, making their inappropriate eye contact with the camera. I always love that moment when the Doctor stops running for a moment to look at a poster for a museum exhibition: ‘2 million years: the human adventure’.

    It’s always a bit disappointing when the Doctor and Romana stop running and we return to the studio and the plot. Seriously, I think it would be slightly better if somehow the whole 100 minutes was Tom Baker and Lalla Ward jogging. In 1979 Paris. Even so, the stuff that isn’t running was still pretty good, and probably good enough to get into my top 10.

    One aspect of the script that seems a little weak is the Doctor’s insistence that the Jagaroth were nasty people and good riddance to them. I think it would be a better story if they were morally neutral; making them ‘bad’ makes the solution a little too easy.

    Human Nature (Part 1) /The Family of Blood (Part 2)
    It’s kind of weird that the three best episodes of new Who are all in a row. When I first saw this I was buying the DVDs from the UK, to see the episodes before they aired on TV here in Australia. In those days, before a boxed set was released, there would be single DVDs with three or four episodes, released soon after their UK broadcast. When I finished Family of Blood I thought, wow, that’s as good as this show is ever going to get. And then the next episode on the disc was Blink. A bit of a shame really, that such a good story only got to be the best story for a week… (or about five minutes, if you were seeing it first on DVD).

    Asylum of the Daleks
    I really liked Oswin. It’s such a good twist, and at the same time emotionally gruelling to watch our brave heroine discover that she’s far beyond all hope of rescue, and deal with it. It’s rare for emotion and intellect to be stimulated so much at the same time. And its the mark of a really great story that it can hang on a twist, and still be enjoyable again and again. (Three times so far.)

    The Talons of Weng-Chiang
    It’s almost perfect. Leela is one of my favourite characters in the original series, and this is one of her best outings. Holmes really got her: the enthusiasm with which she pursues and engages with the villains is very special. Would it be revealing too much to say Leela is the only original series companion I still dream about sometimes? Yes, I suppose it would. And no, not that kind of dream.

    A lot of the appeal comes from the pastiche of late Victorian pop culture, but I already loved it before I knew anything about its sources.

    Genesis of the Daleks
    Original series Doctor Who at its most ‘serious’. Six weeks of perfect bleakness and horror, but so good it’s always a pleasure to watch. Michael Wisher’s Davros is perhaps the most perfect larger-than-life-villain performaance in all popular culture. He’s mad, he’s evil, he’s not pretty, but he’s always utterly real.

    The Doctor’s ‘have I the right?’ moment, where he hesitates over killing the baby Daleks, while Sarah eggs him on, is one of the show’s great scenes. Commentators on the new series often say the Doctor needs human companions to rein him in, that their ‘human’ values rub off on him and stop him from being the ‘dark Doctor’. But Sarah’s attitude in this story (and Leela’s attitude always) is much closer to the way the majority of human beings who’ve ever lived would respond in these situations. The new series Doctors tend to go for improbably saintly companions, with some notable exceptions.

    Pyramids of Mars
    Another near-perfect show. One of the prototypes of the steampunk genre. If Genesis’s Davros is the most believably real maniac in the show, Sutekh is the most perfect over-the-top scenery-chewing maniac. Abase yourself, y’ grovelling insect! But I dare say I’d be even madder than him if I’d been sitting in that chair for 5000 years.

    I love it even though it breaks one of my rules of storytelling (by defeating the villain with a swirly thing and some technobabble unrelated to anything mentioned previously.) A deus in machina, you might say.

    Something I’m sure I never ‘got’ until recent viewings was the Doctor’s bittersweet reaction to Laurence Scarman’s invention. He’s delighted and sad at the same time; delighted because it’s so awesome, and because he wants to show this brilliant man his appreciation; sad because he knows this means Scarman’s going to die very soon (before he can tell anyone he’s invented the radio telescope)… because the radiotelescope wasn’t invented until decades later. And this no doubt is why he’s happy to take him for a ride in the TARDIS: it’s a treat for a dead man, and it’s not like he’s going to tell anyone.

    It was these little details that the original series occasionally did very well. The plot could get along just fine without Scarman having invented the radio telescope, but it adds a tiny shade of melancholy colour to the episode.

    The Caves of Androzani
    It works because the stakes are so high and so low. We don’t care about what’s going on on Androzani Major or Androzani Minor — this is all about the Doctor and Peri, and it’s sufficiently well-written and directed that their jeopardy feels real. The Doctor and his companions are always in trouble, obviously, but for these four weeks it felt like they were really in trouble, and it carries the whole story.

    I haven’t seen this one very often, perhaps only twice (and not in the last twenty years), but I still remember the thrill on seeing the episode three cliffhanger in 1984.

    If it was any less brilliant it wouldn’t work at all, as the Doctor and Peri don’t so much participate in the story as try to get away from it, because they don’t care about it any more than we do. In some ways it resembles The Space Pirates, a much-reviled Troughton story (also written by Robert Holmes). But he sure nailed it this time.

    The cliffhanger to episode 1, where the Doctor and Peri are executed by firing squad, is one of the show’s great cliffhangers. Oh, we’ve seen it a hundred times before, we think… and then the episode ends just a little later than we expected: after they’ve been shot! (An early episode of The War Games pulls off the same trick).

    Another thing that’s always stood out is that some of the villains look and sound a bit like real life villains, and not so much like the declamatory stage baddies of much of the rest of the series.

  15. @PhileasF – kudos to you in following Our @HTPBDET ‘s template in including personal details in your analyses.  That is what makes engrossing reading for me personally, and your post was a joy to read.

    I could have walked in there and pointed out that their sign was wrong, and changed their lives (for good or ill).

    That’s  a shout-out to ‘Turn Left’ in my books, but it’s interesting that your memory ties that into ‘Blink’.  Good on ya.  That is what makes interesting reading, for me.

    I am going to have to search out Caves of Androzani, aren’t I?!  Everyone is raving about it.

    Thank you so much for your thoughts on this topic!

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