Love them or loathe them, multi-Doctor stories have long been a part of Doctor Who’s anniversary celebrations and two such tales are coming our way this November.
BBC One’s ‘The Day of the Doctor’ will unite Matt Smith and David Tennant with a previously unknown incarnation, played by John Hurt. Meanwhile, on audio, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann will come together for Big Finish’s ‘The Light at the End’.
As we anticipate the festivities, CultBox recently ran a poll asking you to tell us which previous multi-Doctor story is your favourite. Here’s how you voted…
1. ‘The Five Doctors’ (1983)
Doctor count: Four + Two (5th, 3rd, 2nd in person with a replacement 1st, plus the 4th and original 1st in archive footage).
Companions: Tegan, Turlough, Sarah Jane, The Brig and Susan, with cameos from many more.
Setting: Principally the Death Zone on Gallifrey.
Enemies: Lord President Borusa plus The Master, a Dalek, Cybermen, a Yeti.
What’s it about? The Doctor is ‘time scooped’ in his various incarnations to play the Game of Rassilon, the prize for which is immortality.
Celebrating? The 20th Anniversary (as part of Children in Need).
Is it any good? Terrance Dicks fashioned a 90-minute romp which manages to involve a dazzling number of faces and give most of them something to do. Sadly Tom Baker decided not to play, but was included thanks to archive footage from the lost Season 17 story ‘Shada’. Lots of fun!
2. ‘Time Crash’ (2007)
Doctor count: Two (10th & 5th).
Setting: The TARDIS.
What’s it about? An accidental merging of TARDISes, set to trigger an explosion the size of Belgium
Celebrating? For the hell of it, and Children in Need.
Is it any good? Despite being principally a comedy scene, Steven Moffat managed to create quire a touching tribute from one era to another, acknowledging the similarities between the two Doctors. He also cleverly managed to devise an in-story reason for why Davison had aged.
3. ‘The Three Doctors’ (1973)
Doctor count: Three (3rd, 2nd & 1st).
Companions: Jo and the UNIT regulars.
Setting: Earth and the Anti-Matter Universe.
What’s it about? Suffering a power drain, the Time Lords break their own laws to return the Second Doctor to aid his successor in the fight against one of the founders of the Time Lord civilisation.
Celebrating? The 10th Anniversary.
Is it any good? Patrick Troughton slips back into the role easily and the adversarial banter between him and Pertwee is a joy to watch. Sadly, William Hartnell was not well enough to play a major part, but he does appear in a few scene-stealing cameos on the TARDIS view screen.
4. ‘The Two Doctors’ (1985)
Doctor count Two (6th & 2nd).
Companions: Peri and Jamie.
Setting: Space Station Chimera in the Third Zone and Seville, Spain.
Enemy: Sontarans and Androgums.
What’s it about? The Second Doctor, working for the Time Lords, is kidnapped and Jamie is left behind on a space station. The Sixth finds him and goes on the trail of his former self, uncovering a plot by the Sontatans to gain the power of time travel.
Celebrating? Nothing in particular. Patrick Troughton had enjoyed ‘The Five Doctors’ and JNT was keen to have him back.
Is it any good? Overlong and a bit heavy on the cannibalism, Robert Holmes’ tale is a bit of an acquired taste. It is fun to have the Troughton and Jamie (Fraser Hines) back though, despite the hole it blows in series continuity (look up the Season 6b theory).
5. ‘Dimensions in Time’ (1993)
Doctor count? Four + One (7th, 6th, 5th & 3rd with an opening cameo from the 4th).
Companions? Thirteen of them!
Setting: Albert Square and Greenwich.
Enemy: The Rani and her menagerie of monsters.
What’s it about? Something incomprehensible to do with multiple Time Zones and EastEnders.
Celebrating? The 30th Anniversary and Children in Need.
Is it any good? Er, not really. A bewildering plot sees rotating Doctors and companions flipping though three different eras of Albert Square. Split over two nights, viewers voted for a choice of EastEnder to save the day. One minor plus point is a scene with the Sixth and the Brigadier, who never shared an onscreen story together. Also, look out for poor Elisabeth Sladen, who was suffering from food poisoning and threw up straight after her scene.
Technically, we could have included the whole of ‘The Trial of a Timelord’ as The Valeyard is revealed to be a form of the Doctor from between his 12th and final regeneration.
Meanwhile, in audio, Big Finish have brought the various combinations of the Time Lord together on a few occasions, including their launch story ‘The Sirens of Time’ which brought the 5th, 6th and 7th together.
For the show’s 40th anniversary celebration they took a slightly different approach, recasting the former Doctor actors into other parts, along with a host of companions as part of the Paul McGann story ‘Zagreus’. It also featured a cameo appearance from the late Jon Pertwee, courtesy of a clip from an uncompleted 1990’s fan production.
AudioGo also brought the 2nd and 4th together for the culmination of their ‘Serpent Crest’ series, with the Patrick Troughton’s Doctor being played by his son David.
What’s your favourite multi-Doctor story? Let us know below…