Doctor Who - Top 50 Moments




I wanted to do something to mark the anniversary of the shows 50th but I didn’t want to write an overview of the series (what a nightmare that would be, and because I have kind of done my own spin on that with my ‘why I love Doctor Who’ article). Instead I thought I would assemble my top 50 moments from the classic series and add to the piece, once a day, leading right up to the anniversary. I would have included the new series – but I have already completed a ‘favourite NuWho moments’ article here, and I will include that at the tail end of this piece. The scenes/moments I have chosen aren’t always the show stopping ones (although sometimes they are) or the transitions between Doctors and companions (although sometimes they are) but moments in the series that make it unique and magical for me. Originally I was going to take the list and try and put it in some kind of order but that was proving impossible, I couldn’t determine which of these choices should be more important than the others so instead I have shoved the lot in a cup and I am going to be pulling them out randomly. This will (hopefully) give an interesting overview of the series. Feel free to agree or disagree but I hope through this list you can see why I adore this crazy old cult TV show so much and why I am so happy that it reached such a landmark birthday…

50 - The Five Doctors ‘I’m definitely not the man I was…thank goodness’

One of those stories that it is impossible not to overlook it’s scant faults and simply bask in the nostalgic glory of the piece, The Five Doctors is a riotous anniversary party where every man and his dog from the shows past turns up to celebrate.

I could have chosen so many scenes from this story, because there are lots of lovely moments that make you beam with fanboy delight – the first Doctor, Susan and the TARDIS in the same shot, the second Doctor and the Brig with Cybermen recalling The Invasion, the third Doctor meeting the Cybermen and tidying up that little gap plus his and Sarah’s magical meeting with Ainley’s Master (lovely to see Pertwee and Ainley meet and Sarah only missed a meeting with the Doctor’s arch enemy by three stories at one side of her tenure and one story at the other), Susan seeing the Master is another great moment as is the second Doctor, the Brigadier and the Yeti (the conditions under which they first met), the first Doctor seeing the Cybermen is like a portent of his own death, even though they are phantoms its wonderful to see Mike Yates and Liz Shaw together only missing each other by one story in the Pertwee era, the meeting between Tegan and Sarah is unfortunate however as the dazzling past meets the unfortunate present (although neither of them is especially good at pretend silent chatting), the Brigadier meeting Sarah and Tegan shows how long his association with the Doctor has been and it wouldn’t have been quiet right had Pertwee and Courtney not had a moment together…oh and the Brig gets to punch the Master.

It’s a delightful story, but what I was waiting for was the scene where the five Doctors all come together and wisely Terrance Dicks saves that for the climax. After the battle of wills between Doctors 1,2,3 and 5 with Borusa we are left with a plethora of characters all standing around waiting to be dispatched to their proper time and place. Terrance Dicks thrives on this kind of nightmare assignment and scripts a scene where pretty much all of the characters interact in some way, dishing out witty lines and basking in the sentiment of having so many collective Doctor Who treasures together for a unique occasion. It would certainly never happen quite like this again (except perhaps the upcoming Big Finish adventure, The Light at the End). Troughton and Pertwee indulge in their comedy feud, Sarah Jane is confused, the Brigadier has a sentimental moment being surrounding by so many versions of his closest friend, Susan gets to see how her Grandfather turns out and the current team of the Doctor, Tegan and Turlough get to play act the same sequence of events that lead to the Doctor on Earth in An Unearthly Child. ‘You mean you’re deliberately going on the run from your own people in a rackety old TARDIS?’ ‘Why not? After all, that’s how it all started…’

49 – The Daemons ‘Fancy a dance, Brigadier?’

Often derided in recent years, The Daemons is a terrific story that has something for everyone if you are a fan of the Pertwee era, There’s action aplenty, terrific interaction between the regulars, great lines, a powerful premise that stretches back to the creation of humanity, creepy monsters, a stunning guest cast brought to life by stalwart British character actors. How anybody can complain about a story that keeps giving baffles me (given that most peoples complaints seem to rest solely on the naff conclusion, a fault of so many Doctor Who stories). My chosen moment comes at the end of the tale where the evil has been vanquished, the Master has been booed off screen ignominiously and the celebrations can begin. Where most Doctor Who stories would see the Doctor rushing off with his companions to avoid any awkward explanations, he is exiled on Earth at this point in his life and has no such option. Instead he basks in the joy of having won the day and enjoys a dance around the maypole with his best friend. Many folk talk about the UNIT family and the incredible chemistry this group of characters (and actors) shared and nowhere is it more apparent than at the climax of this tale. Whilst the Doctor and his pretty assistant dance a jig, Benton is swept off his feet by the local white witch and the Brigadier and Mike Yates head of for a pint. It is twee but for a show that doesn’t indulge in that sort of thing very often it strikes all the right notes and leaves me feeling all snugly inside. At this point in his life the Doctor is truly happy and has found a family (of sorts) to share his life with.

48) The TV Movie ‘I thought you were a Doctor?’ ‘I thought you were a Doctor!’

Critically slammed for it’s indefinable conclusion and Americanisation of the show, The TV Movie exists as something of a curates egg for most Doctor Who fans. One thing that most can agree on is that Paul McGann, a man with an unscaleable mountain to climb, managed to make a remarkable impression on the audience with only two thirds of the movies running time to do it. He was so successful in the role he re-energised the brand, sending both the books and audios on a fresh new path and countless riveting adventures in the wilderness years. McGann is compelling to watch in his scant running time (I still think it was a terrible mistake to waste a third of this adventure on a has been Doctor rather than kick starting with McGann blazing from the TARDIS in style…but I digress); romantic, adventurous and wonderful. A Doctor for the nineties. Together with Daphne Ashbrook (on fine form as Grace Holloway, his one off companion for this adventure), they make an engaging duo and Matthew Jacobs fills them to bursting with witty interplay. It is their relationship that makes the Movie such an experience, developing from incensed Doctor and loony patient to firm friends with a soft spot for each other. There’s a delightful moment at the heart of the blockbuster where the Doctor goes jogging off in his new shoes and Grace stares straight out at the camera like she is a cartoon character asking the audience whether she should follow him or not. Of course I was screaming ‘Yes!’ Their final moments to together are my favourites, a surprising choice by Grace to not travel with him and embracing the life that she has on Earth and the Doctor justifiably proud of that decision. Their kiss, a subject of much consternation at the time but practically softcore compared to the lustful eleventh Doctor of late, is delicate and rather beautiful. Had it been a one off it would have been a rather wonderful one-off for the most romantic Doctor of all.

47) The War Games ‘Will we ever see you again, Doctor?’ ‘Now Zoe, you and I both know that time is relative, hmm?’

The word epic gets bandied around too often (and far too often on this site if I’m honest) to suggest a ‘slightly larger scale than usual’ tale but in the case of The War Games it is an entirely appropriate watchword. This story is the very nature of epic, an adventure that gets bigger in scale with each passing episode until the Doctor is literally running from the Gods at the climax. It’s an astonishing piece of work with Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke (two very good writers individually so imagine the magic they can produce together?) furiously scribbling out ten episodes worth of material and somehow in their panic turning out some of the most frightening, educational, amusing, shocking and entertaining viewing in the shows long history. Packed full of terrific set pieces brought to life with an expert eye by David Maloney, brilliant performances by Troughton, Hines and Padbury in their swansong and with stunning revelations that change the Doctor’s life forever, The War Games is a lynchpin in the series develop and truly impressive piece of work. The story may have haemorrhaged viewers at the time for its bloated length and lack of monsters but has been re-appraised by a critical audience and put high on the mantelpiece and justly lauded.

My moment of triumph (or rather defeat) comes at the end of the story and features the unfairness of Jamie and Zoe having their memories taken away from them. They are an infectious trio; like three kids bounding around the universe and even in the seasons less successful moments (The Dominators, mostly) they still make the show a joy to watch with their hilarious rivalry (The Doctor/Zoe especially, where he becomes a gloriously petulant teenager) and bantering. They have so much fun in stories like The Mind Robber, The Invasion and The Seeds of Death that you never want their adventures to end. You certainly don’t want it to it end in the unmerited wiping of their memories so they go about their lives in their proper time and place with no record of their experiences with the Doctor. He has taught both Jamie and Zoe to cut loose and enjoy their lives and they have offered him a family away from home and not only is that cruelly taken apart by his people but they ensure that as far as the kids are concerned that it never happened in the first place. It’s Dicks and Hulke being remarkable cruel to the characters and the audience by making the point that the Times Lords have incredible powers and really are to be feared. The whole goodbye sequence is so understated that you may just have a lump in your throat before its over and his quiet acceptance that his best friends wont remember anything beyond their first adventure is a real kick in the gut. There are more revelations just around the corner in this story about the Doctor’s exile and regeneration but I have chosen the injustice of this moment to show just how much the Doctor’s companions mean to him and us. Like Frazer Hines admits, had the Time Lords (let’s call them Troughton’s wife and Hines’ agent) got involved, they would still be knocking around the universe together like a bunch of teenagers on a sugar high.

46) The Caves of Androzani ‘Fire!’

Cliffhangers in Doctor Who are a double edged sword, sometimes astonishing (The War Games nine, The Deadly Assassin one), sometimes cringe-worthy (The Stones of Blood one, Snakedance three). They are so prolific in Doctor Who that the chances of stumbling across both is very likely, sometimes in the same story. Occasionally they are simply a pause in the action, other times they are edge of the seat moments of jeopardy, or a shocking piece of information that diverts the story in another direction or sometimes, or an amazing reveal of this story’s biggest selling point (usually the monster). They can be all things and they are one of the joys of the show, one of the many things that separate Doctor Who from the rest.

Caves of Androzani features two incredible cliffhangers, and one not so incredible one (we’ll bypass that for now…but the Magma creatures it does make my point above rather well). Whilst most of you might think that I am here to praise the heart stopping, death defying takeover of the shuttle on the Doctor’s part at the end of episode three, I’m not. Don’t get me wrong it is amazingly well acted (Davison is never better than his furious eyed rant here) and directed (it’s a real butt clencher because we know he is on his last legs and has nothing to lose) but when I was younger it was the end of episode one that haunted me the most. Placed in front of a firing squad through various misunderstandings, the Doctor and his new friend Peri are hooded and shot down in a violent hail of bullets. I was gobsmacked since there was no denying that it was the Doctor and Peri that were dragged out in front of the militia. Graeme Harper doesn’t shy away from the fact that this is an execution and I love Peri’s unheroic ‘just get on with it.’ The atmosphere is as bleak as we have ever seen in Doctor Who and death can literally be heard humming in anticipation in the background (or that could be Roger Limb’s surprisingly dark score). It is the ultimate ‘get out of that’ moment in Doctor Who and the fact that the simple solution was set up in a blink and you’ll miss it moment of direction in the first episode is inspired. Cliffhangers can be a real treat when crafted with the appropriate skill, and this one certainly is.



45) Dr Who & the Silurians ‘But that’s murder…’

What a task season eight had after the universally praised season seven. Or should I say universally praised in hindsight. I am still a firm believer (and I have discussed this elsewhere in the blog) that the more colourful, entertaining season eight was what secured Doctor Who’s future and not the four serious to the point of straight drama tales that populated the previous year (seven haemorrhaged at least a third of its audience by its conclusion whereas eight gained at least that much as it went along). However, that is not take away from how stunning those four stories were and how taken as a quartet, they are probably the single strongest run of adventures in the shows long history. It may not surprise you to hear that three of my top 50 moments are chosen from this season. The tone is cold, crisp and realistic, the characters have rare depth and distinction, the production values take a massive shot in the arm with some impressive action sequences and location work, the Doctor is a pompous ass and his assistant a living, breathing scientist with her own life away from him and UNIT are a newly formed and realistic military taskforce with more resources than they could possibly require. It was an exciting time for the show; bursting with colour, marrying the domestic and the extraterrestrial and with some memorably frightening moments.

My next unforgettable moment comes at the end of the Silurians where the Doctor merrily drives away from the situation knowing that the prehistoric race that has recently awoken are back in their slumber and he can revive them at his leisure and learn about their culture. Humanity can learn about their culture and the two races can work together in peace and help create a better planet. Or at least that is the idea in theory… The Brigadier, acting under instructions from his superiors (although I don’t believe he would think any differently given how many men he has lost to the Silurians), sets explosives in their habitation dome and buries the creatures alive. Doctor Who is not accustomed to twist endings like this (well they’re all the rage in Moffatt Who but once a story was concluded in classic Who that usually meant you could breathe a sigh of relief) and it comes as a total surprise. That’s very season seven. The Doctor is furious with the Brigadier and makes sure that he points out that what he has done is murder an intelligent species and not simply exterminated some pests. That’s very season seven too. Liz doesn’t condemn nor praise her superiors actions, she simply listens to the Doctor and acknowledges his distress. Her ambiguity is what season seven is all about. It is a mature, unforgettable ending to a mature, unforgettable story and a worthy contender for a list that celebrates the moments when Doctor Who pushed the boat out and tried something different. Inferno aside, it would be a long time before the show made us this uncomfortable again.


44) Power of the Daleks ‘I am your ser-vant!’

What a risky venture this was. Replacing the leads in television can be successful but it doesn’t usually go down with the hardcore fan base (see The X-Files final two seasons for an example of both). Doctor Who had been on a roll call of different assistants throughout its first seasons, until it reached a point where the girls wouldn’t even last a single story before they were written out and traded in for a new model. Come The War Machines nobody was batting an eyelid, especially since it was an exchange of a cardboard cut out character for a pair of gorgeous young things. However to remove the lynchpin, William Hartnell, from the series and replace him with Patrick Troughton was a massive shock to the system and a risk that the show might not be able to recover from. Doctor Who always likes to be different and so it doesn’t merely swap one character for another, it replaces an actor in the same role and makes a big fuss about it. Inspired or insane, it was certainly an eye opener. Troughton’s debut is a fascinating experience, especially since he and Whitaker seems to want to make the transition from one Doctor to another as uncomfortable as possible, refusing to give the audience an easy ride. Polly and Ben are unsure whether this cosmic hobo is really the Doctor and so is the series itself.

The deciding factor? The Daleks of course! Instead of trundling out the creatures for another intergalactic showdown, Whitaker wants to do something much more interesting with them. If the Doctor is going to act so out of character then why not go the whole hog and have the Daleks do so as well. Then by the end of the story and their masks are ripped away the status quo can be resumed; the Doctor is the hero of the series and the Daleks are the murdering bastards that massacre an entire colony. By having Troughton’s new Doctor defeat the Daleks he manages to claim the series and own its title in the same way Hartnell did. Before then we get the opportunity to witness the Daleks are at their most nefarious in this adventure. Weakened and depleted of power and resources, they decide to exploit this colony of fools by appealing to their basest desires. They act the docile servants, ready to obey their every whim and offering knowledge far in advance of their own. When they are unveiled at the end of episode one, cobweb strewn and apparently dead, it is one of the most potent images as yet seen in the series. However it is the end of episode two that scores my magical moment; where the Doctor and a live Dalek are finally face to face. You expect nothing more than a quick exterminating blast so they can finish off their nemesis for good but instead the creature turns to the camera and declares in a childish stutter ‘I…am…your…ser-vant…’ Absolutely chilling, the most evil race in the universe playing dumb and casting the Doctor in the role of the villain. The show has been surprising and clever before, but it has never quite played games with the audience like this before. Who knows how this battle of wits will play out…


43) The Ultimate Foe ‘Did you just call him…the Doctor?’

Doctor Who has it’s dry periods. Or seasons where the show suffers from a decline in ratings and a wobble in public perception. I’m not talking about their creative merits but just the general feeling from the audience about the show. Season three, season six, seasons twenty-three to twenty-six and the latter half of series seven of the new series would probably all qualify. Remember I’m not talking about whether these seasons are very good (as I admire them all) but how the series might be said to have become a little tired. That’s fine though; with all shows there are moments when they rocket in popularity and others where they wane and with a show with as long a history of Doctor Who that is bound to zigzag with all the randomness of a polygraph. Trial of a Time Lord is a season that suffers two crippling blows; not only did the show lose over a third of it’s audience from the previous season (and it was never to recover it) but it is also critically slammed by fandom in general as one of the weakest years of the show. Piffle. I certainly don’t think it is any better or worse than any of the other more average years of the show and I do think it has become easy to jump on the bandwagon and point the finger at the Trial as the reason that the show was eventually cancelled. I don’t buy it and I never will. You have four above average stories in this season; a light and fluffy Holmes adventure with great dialogue and characters, a dark and twisted black comedy with a shocking ending, a traditional and twist-fuelled monster romp and a surreal and hallucinogenic finale. All have problems but all have much to praise about them too. The season as a whole has a stonking great guest cast, some terrific production values (ranging from autumnal location work in Mysterious Planet, stunning sets and musical score in Mindwarp, tense direction and cliffhanger sin Vervoids and memorable imagery in The Ultimate Foe) and is topped off with some very memorable twists and turns in the final two installments. So memorable that two of them make it into this list.

My first is one that shatters the idea of Doctor Who continuity years before Steven Moffatt jumped on the bandwagon. Until now we have only been introduced to each Doctor a regeneration at a time but with the advent of The Ultimate Foe we are treated to a glimpse into the Doctor’s future and it is a haunting and shocking example of a future life. Bear in mind that we have sat through the twelve previous installments of Trial of a Time Lord with the Valeyard trying to end the Doctor’s life by arguing his way through his adventures and suggesting that he has become too dangerous to be allowed to roam the universe. He’s proven a worthy foe, battling verbally with the sixth Doctor. For the Master to turn up in the penultimate episode and blow the whistle on this whole affair and reveal that (look away if you don’t want to read any spoilers…all though don’t blame me because you are nearly thirty years late to the party)…the Valeyard is the Doctor. It’s mind boggling, totally unexpected and a glimpse into the future that the Doctor would never ask for. In a moment of stunning direction, the Master explains that the Valeyard is the darker side of the Doctor’s nature and Chris Clough chooses to light Colin Baker’s face with one half lost to shadows. One of the few jaw-dropping moments in the shows history, Doctor Who didn’t often go in for this kind of twist in the classic series (it deploys them ad nauseum these days) and this is definitely one of the finest examples. Not bad for the worst season of all time.

42) Earthshock ‘Adric!’

Everything in this list is subjective, of course, but there are some characters that the show gave rise to that just did not work. Either through a fault in writing or casting, they failed to light up the screen. Matthew Waterhouse has been the target of a great amount of bile over the years for his unconvincing portrayal of Adric and I have to be honest this is one time where I bow to fan wisdom and join in with the crowd. He’s an actor that has difficulty making his lines work in a persuasive manner, who fails to perform a simple function like walking across a set truthfully and someone who even finds hitting his marks on the studio floor a mystery. As a character Adric was doomed to failiure from the start unless he fell into the hands of a confident, charismatic actor. He’s a boy genius for goodness sake, an SF cliché that has to be very well thought through if it is going to appeal to the audiences sensibilities (in many ways the suggestion is this is how we are or at least how we are perceived by the outside world). Adric turned up during a time of great optimism for the show and is fortunate enough to have a run of stories that are considered some of their eras more compelling (Full Circle, Warriors’ Gate, Logopolis, Castrovalva, Kinda, Earthshock). Unfortunately he is the only blemish in some of these stories.

What is this fool doing spreading such damning propaganda during a listing that is supposed to promote the virtues of Doctor Who, I hear you ask? Well, my point is that Doctor Who can surprise sometimes even when the odds are entirely stacked against a character. Adric might have failed as a companion (half the time he’s the Doctor’s nemesis, siding with the villains) but he sure managed to wave goodbye to the series in the most riveting fashion. So good is his leaving story and so memorable his curtain call that it leaves you scratching your head and wondering how it could have been different had this much passion been injected into the scripting and performance all along. The Cybermen return in dazzling style in Earthshock; with strength in numbers, a snazzy redesign and a dramatic (and almost entirely nonsensical) plan to destroy the Earth with a freighter (or a bomb, whichever sticks). They’ve already scored a great psychological victory over the Doctor by proving that he will concede to their will be threatening his companions and now they are going to prove how damaging it can be if he loses one (although he really doesn’t mourn for long, soon suggesting a trip to the Great Exhibition to his remaining companions mind off their loss!). Adric is left on the freighter that is heading for the Earth trying to decode the alien computer that is putting them on a destructive trajectory towards the planet. He’s almost done when he is dragged away from the vessel but manages to slip away from the escape pod at the last minute, certain that his genius is of a standard that can save the day. Unbeknownst to Adric the freighter has travelled back in time to a point when the dinosaurs were wiped out by a large body impacting with the Earth. Their extinction. With crushing anxiety the audience realises that this was always meant to be, that the lad has no way off the ship (the Doctor is busy dicing with Cybermen in the TARDIS) and that Adric’s time is up. He stands before a smoking console destroyed by a rogue Cyberman and admits defeat, grasping the belt of his dead brother as the freighter plunges head first into the planet. A jaw-dropping sequence that is worthy of a melodramatic silent credit sequence.

Doctor Who is the only show that I know that would take a companion that really didn’t work and give him possibly the finest exit of any character in the entire show. And certainly the most memorable one. How did Polly & Ben leave again? And Harry? And Ace? There’s a good chance that you might not know but I would be very surprised if Adric’s dramatic exit from the show hasn’t been seared into your memory.

41) The Daleks’ Masterplan ‘What a senseless waste…’

To be honest I was going to choose the moment in episode four where Katerina sacrifices herself by flushing herself out of an airlock and thus saving the Doctor, Steven and Bret from an early at the hands of the Daleks on Kembel. The odds of drawing out two uber-dramatic companion deaths one after the other are quite remote, especially considering their relative scarceness in the show. The good thing about a story like The Daleks’ Masterplan is that there are so many fantastic moments in it that you are almost overwhelmed by choices. Should it be the terrifying moment when Sara Kingdom shoots her brother in cold blood? Or the Doctor’s declaration that the Daleks have finally won? Or the joyous sequence where he is reunited with the Meddling Monk? It’s a virtual treasure trove of memorable scenes; as long as  McCoy season but assembled with ten times the skill.

To celebrate both The Daleks’ Masterplan’s ambition and scope and the diverse nature of season three (where screwball comedies, shock historical tragedies, surrealistic diversions and space epics all lie) I thought it was only fair to plump for the finale scene. The Doctor and Steven stand in the ashes of the planet Kembel, once a lush and verdant jungle but now ravaged by the destructive powers of the time destructor, and look back on the horror and tragedy they have witnessed in the past twelve weeks. It is rare for a story to lingering on the emotional consequences but this has been such a massive undertaking with everything but kitchen sink thrown in (the deaths of two companions, more Daleks than you can shake a stick at, alien delegates, a Hollywood movie production, a trip to Eygpt, witty swordplay with an old enemy…) that it practically demanded some kind of acknowledgement. Until The Tenth Planet you’ll never see the Doctor more physically and emotionally exhausted than he is at this point (and you could say that his exposure to the time destructor brought his regeneration forward significantly) and Steven is aghast at the cost of their latest adventure (which would be paid off in the next adventure). An astonishingly honest and poignant moment for a programme that is usually happy to whisk us off to the next adventure as soon as possible, the climax of The Daleks’ Masterplan is proof that Doctor Who was not waning in the slightest during its third year.

40) Warriors’ Gate ‘We are in the theoretical medium between the striations of the continuum!’


Who are your favourite companions? There have been a wealthy of allies come the 50 year mark for the series that this is a whole section for debate amongst the shows ardent fans. Is it Ian and Barbara’s humanistic influence on the Doctor that floats your boat? Or the thought of seeing what is under Jamie’s kilt? Are you prone to intellectuals like Liz Shaw and Nyssa? Or do you prefer cocksure types like Tegan, Ace and Donna? I’ve never made any secret that Sarah Jane is the second love of my life and people can point out all the moments where she trips over, overreacts and generally behaving like a big kid and it doesn’t matter to me one jot. That just makes her more human. Donna would an easy second, a tempestuous temp that shared exquisite chemistry with David Tennant’s mockney dude Doctor. But the third position is more contested but after much inner debate (of the sort only a Doctor Who fan can experience with such a wealth of material to spool through) I whittled it down to one very special character that had the difficult task of following two equally successful companions. Whether she was played by the gorgeous Mary Tamm or the witty and erudite Lalla Ward, the ‘bit too smart’ (TM JNT) Romana was a companion for all seasons. When she was an occupant of the TARDIS it was a jolly time for the show and the adventurous spirit of the series was at an all tie high. Both actresses shared a delightful chemistry with Tom Baker, but especially Ward given the turbulent behind the scenes romance that was playing out.

Romana was not your typical companion. She was smart, witty, resourceful, fashionable and at times took care of saving the universe whilst the Doctor was too busy larking about. Take a look at her in The Horns of Nimon, not the highest regarded of stories, but one which allows Romana to take charge completely and become the go to girl whilst the Doctor is playing cricket ball TARDIS. Come her last story she has outgrown her mentor and there is talk of her going her own way to continue his work but in her own inimitable style. My fortieth choice is Romana’s dazzling scene confronting Rorvik and his crew outside the TARDIS simply because this is the best example of how she has practically superseded the Doctor at this stage and become the star of the show. The Doctor’s off discovering the secret of the gateway in great Gundan expository gulps and so it is left to Romana to take care of Rorvik’s bilious crewmembers. She steps from the ship in commanding form, bamboozling them with technobabble and witty observations about their lack of intelligence and generally behaves in a very Doctorish manner. If you ever wanted to see what the series would be like if it was led by a female actress in the title role then look no further.

39) Kinda ‘It’s the end of everything!’

Oddball. The dictionary definition is a person whose behaviour is unusual and strange. However it is a word which has slipped into fandom consciousness to describe stories which stray outside the template of a standard Doctor Who story (whether that be historical/contemporary/futuristic). They vary from the surrealistic (The Celestial Toymaker), jet black comedies (Paradise Towers), fairytale adventures (Warriors’ Gate), literary exercises (The Mind Robber) or fantasy dramas (Enlightenment). They are often greeted with congratulations to stray outside the usual pattern and dare to do something completely different and they often work extremely well as standalone adventures. Another such adventure that I am much more on the fence about than the masses is Kinda, an oddball tale from the optimistic year of the show that is season nineteen. Don’t get me wrong I can see a great deal to admire in Kinda; it’s elegant dialogue, the formidable guest cast, the stunning imagery, a haunting score…but it has a number of flaws that hold it back from being a standout in my book. Aesthetically it has some problems, especially in the set design (you’d be hard pressed to find a less convincing forest set), I have a problem with a script that hides it’s themes and ideas beneath such a layer of metaphor and the climax is completely spoilt by a ruddy great pink snake that might just be the single worst physical effect the show ever attempted. However I do accept that this is a favourite of a great many and I think in a collection of the shows best moments it does deserve some recognition, if only for it’s attempts to probe a little deeper than the show usually dares.

My standout moment belongs to the lead up to the climax of episode three. It encapsulates everything that is weird and wonderful about Kinda (plus features three of it’s greatest assets – Peter Davison, Neyrs Hughes and Mary Morris) and highlights the star contributor to this tale, director Peter Grimwade. Not a popular man amongst the actors (but then if you take the time to watch all the documentaries on the DVDs all of the better directors never were, obviously too busy trying to make the show as good as possible to stroke the actors egos at the same time) but producing four unforgettable tales, Grimwade might be mostly remembered for his action epic Earthshock but I would argue that his most creative work can be found in Kinda. Watch as the Doctor and his one-off assistant Todd step into a hallucinogenic prophecy of the future featuring some imagery so trippy that you might think you have swallowed down an overdose of mind altering drugs. The Kinda flap and panic as mist descends over the forest, clocks from all periods stand atop plinths and count down to destruction, Panna oversees Armageddon with her arms stretched wide and the Jester is gripped by a powerful unseen force which laughs as it drags him down into the mist. It is a wildly unusual sequence for Doctor Who but tells the story with little explanation through visual description with some aplomb. The music is lingering, the pace furious and Davison and Hughes express appropriate horror at the fate that awaits them.  Anybody who says that Doctor Who cannot be visually startling on a budget go and watch this mindfuck of a dreamscape and crawl back to your hole.

38) Ressurection of the Daleks ‘I’m not here as your prisoner, Davros, but your executioner…’

Given what was to come, Peter Davison’s tenure on Doctor Who has to be said to be the most stable period of the show whilst John Nathan-Turner was driving the ship. He had no problems with his lead actor, the show was performing reasonably well in the ratings, the shows 20th anniversary garnered plenty of publicity smack back in the middle of the era and there was a general feeling that the show was ambling along with a realistic amount of achievement. That didn’t always reflect in the value of the stories (from the era that brought you Four to Doomsday, Time-Flight, Arc of Infinity and Warriors of the Deep) however and it is probably the first time since the shows conception that there was such an alarming fluctuation of quality from adventure to adventure. You could have something as sublime as Enlightenment rubbing shoulders with an abomination like The Kings’ Demons. It is also the first time that the companions truly felt manufactured by their producer rather than a natural extension of the chosen actors personality, right down to them all having personality quirks that they stick with (Tegan is bossy and rude, Adric is a whiny traitor, Nyssa is an effete scientist and Turlough is a shifty refugee) and a ‘uniform.’ However the one thing that pretty much everyone can agree on that worked during the Davison’s era is Peter Davison himself. He brought with him double the ratings from the previous season in his debut year and took on the mantle of a role that he felt entirely unsuited for and did his very best. He’s a consummate professional and a very good actor and the net result was a Doctor who was consistent throughout his entire era (not something you can level at practically any of the others, except perhaps Troughton), like a calming anchor to the sea of publicity and cheap tricks to get ratings that was going on around him.

I could have chosen moments from a handful of stories to display Davison’s finest moment in the role (Earthshock, Enlightenment, Frontios and Androzani were all contenders) but I wanted to celebrate a lesser recognised moment rather than ones that are dragged out every time these lists are assembled. It would appear that since the massacre on Sea Base 4 the Doctor has grown a pair of balls and decided that he has had enough of senseless killing and during the carnage of Ressurection decides to go right to the source of the problem (Davros) and dispose of him once and for all. It’s a shocking admission from the usually placid fifth Doctor and Tegan has to stop him in his tracks and remind him that he is talking about committing murder. When the scene comes and Davros is staring down the barrel of a gun held by his nemesis, director Matthew Robinson refuses to let either the Doctor nor Davison get away with this assassination attempt Scot free and closes in tightly on the confliction that is going on inside the Time Lord’s head. What should have been the elimination of one of the most evil men the universe has ever produced turns out to be an assassination of the Doctor’s character with Davros pitying the Doctor for being too soft to finish him off for good. Davison emotes silently throughout this criticism, showing a man on the edge who is ready to kill but cannot find it in himself to actually pull the trigger. In a story full of noise and bluster, it is a quiet moment to reflect on the horror of taking a persons life and exposes the ultimate difference between the Doctor and Davros. Davison is sublime, given the chance to indulge in some real acting for a change.


37) Day of the Daleks ‘Styles didn’t cause that explosion start the wars! You did it yourselves!’ 

Sometimes a Doctor Who story can hinge on a terrific plot twist at the last minute that quite takes your breath away. The Pirate Planet is a great example, but that is one of my later choices (‘…you commit murder and mass destruction on a scale that is inconceivable and you ask me to appreciate it?’). One of my favourite scenes in all of Doctor Who comes in the final episode of Day of the Daleks, a story that enjoys a reasonable reputation but I think is one of the most perfectly formed four parters. It has a little something for everybody; Daleks, aliens, quislings, an invasion, the Doctor acting like a one man cheese and wine show, a flash of Jo Grant’s knickers, action, excitement, UNIT…it really is the story that keeps on giving.

My golden moment comes when the paradox that the plot is resting on is revealed and the Doctor states with absolute conviction that ‘Styles didn’t cause that explosion start the wars! You did it yourselves!’  It isn’t often that the script is one step ahead of the audience like this and is waiting to drop an intelligent bombshell at the eleventh hour but once it is revealed it seems an obvious answer given all the evidence that we have already seen. They way everything dovetails together is seamlessly handled, all brought down to a very understandable level by a pitch perfect Jon Pertwee. By golly he could ace these serious exclamations. The climax is proof that the future isn’t set in stone, that free will isn’t an illusion and that we can make the world a better place if we make the right choices. Although I would love to have seen how Styles managed to explain to the other delegates about the terrorist attack on the peace conference.

36) The Aztecs ‘You can’t rewrite history! Not one line!’

Probably my most obvious choice on the list but some moments are seminal for a very good reason…because they are as good as fan myth claims. The Aztecs was something very special nestled away in the almost perfectly formed season one, a four part delight that whisked the audience off to an arid, exotic climate, plunged them straight into one of the most beautiful and vicious of cultures and gave them the opportunity watch the resulting moral dilemmas faced by the Doctor (whether to break the heart of the woman who he has fallen in love with in order to escape to the TARDIS), Barbara (she wants to change the path of The Aztecs so Cortez will only witness the finer elements of their culture when he lands), Ian (facing the impossible situation of having to escort a man to his death) and Susan (who is being told that she is going to marry a man who is soon to die). As a four part adventure it has everything you could possibly want from Doctor Who; it is informative without lecturing, funny, frightening, packed with beautiful dialogue, strong characterisation for all of the leads, a fantastic villain and a great location. It is also one of the few sixties adventures that refuses to flag, spacing out action scenes at all the appropriate junctions to ensure this is a fast moving historical. 
Barbara shows a strength of character that not many would go on to express, threatening to change an entire culture because she finds some of their rituals discomforting. They turn her into a Goddess and she forbids the human sacrifice, she wants to start the destruction of everything that is evil so everything that is good will survive and flourish when Cortez lands. It's a naive outlook but one that is easy to understand. Simon always tells me not to look back into history with contemporary morals in mind because you simply cannot judge people by the standards of today (and who's to say that we are right anyway?). Barbara openly defies the Doctor’s instructions and shows both great strength of character and naiveté. When the Doctor begs Barbara not to try and change history he sounds as though he has had to learn this lesson before (‘I know! Believe me, I know!’) which seems as ripe for Big Finish to explore as anything else (although I do like the idea of some gaps in Doctor Who's history never being plugged). His anger towards her after she ignores his warning and jeopardises their position is vicious and by all accounts Hartnell could explode with equal vigour behind the scenes if things weren't going his way. I love how he realises that he has gone too far and almost withers after all the energy he has spent shouting and apologises gently. Hartnell and Hill are magnificent here, proving just how well they cast the stars of Doctor Who right from the off.

35) Genesis of the Daleks ‘Perfect, the weaponry is perfect. Now we can begin…’

Some Doctor Who stories are so good that they seem to exist to populate lists like this with countless great moments. Genesis of the Daleks is one such example, one of those stories that is never far from anybody’s top ten listing and would, I daresay, top many as their favourite adventure. You might have countless reasons for doing so; Maloney’s moody, brutal direction, the script which has been fundamentally been written by ideas man Terry Nation and given an extreme polish by Robert Holmes, the mouth watering combination of Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen and Ian Marter, the Daleks at their homicidal best and given a delicious revisionist twist…but I am certain the primary reason for most would be the star if the show and the series’ primary nasty, Davros.

Michael Wisher gives the single most impressive performance as Davros in the characters run. The Terry Molloy version has taken flight on audio and his prolific nature means that I still consider him to be the definitive version but I would never suggest that Wisher’s performance here is anything less than bravura. In a sequence that redefines the word iconic, Davros is first seen in the half-light whispering to his subordinate that the weaponry of his new creation is perfect and we pan back to reveal a Dalek. We’ve never seen anything quite like Davros before. Sure there have been some pretty gruesome monsters but this monstrous grotesque, somewhere between an ordinary man and a twisted gargoyle truly sours the stomach. For a moment you could be forgiven for thinking this is a nasty looking statue because he is perfectly still and his icy, purring voice seems at odds with its lifeless natures. His limp, scarred hands shake their way towards the buttons on his wheelchair – what’s astonishing is how powerful this character seems despite his obviously crippled nature. The metal grips that is embedded in his head is nasty – it is literally knitting his skull together! What could have possibly happened to make a man so disfigured? Only Davros could possibly think that ‘the best is yet to come’ when talking about giving a Dalek the ability to cold bloodedly kill. His wheelchair having a Dalek design is a great touch because it makes total sense of where that part of their design came from. There is something stiflingly claustrophobic about the way Davros commands the bunker with practically all of his workers terrified of him and opposing the Dalek project. Davros is also a skilled politician who can manipulate the government with gentle words whilst performing the most outrageous acts of treason by giving the opposition the ability to destroy his own people. That was the point where he went from being a superb villain to the best we have ever had. It's such a diabolical act of cowardice to ensure that he can continue with his work you almost have to admire his sledgehammer techniques. That is the point of no return where Davros has surrendered everything to his work on the Daleks and nothing will stop their completion. Even if he has to tear the entire planet apart with his bear hands the Daleks will see the light of day. If you betray his trust he will finds a way to kill you as Ronson discovers. Davros lays the blame for his own treachery on the scientists doorstep and orders him exterminated. It's fascinating to see how Michael Wisher builds to a tyrannical, Hitleresque shriek as he orders the mans death almost as if he surrenders to his own Dalek side when his bloodlust boils over. Even Nyder looks appalled at the notion that Davros would murder his own people to suit his needs (although its not enough for the man to show a flicker of emotion, naturally). Davros talks of peace and prosperity on Skaro, a new dawn for the Thal race but as soon as they fire their rocket to wipe out the Kaleds he sends the Daleks in to massacre them all! It's typical Davros to talk about erasing ‘stupid emotions’ from his workforce so they can still make use of their inventive skills. The Doctor tries to convince Davros to make the Daleks a force for good in the universe and his nemesis toys with the idea playfully but that was never going to be an option. In Davros’ warped view of the world power comes through strength and the ability to threaten and kill and the only way the Daleks will survive is if they are dominant life form destroying everything else. It turns out Davros’ one weakness is a hunger for knowledge and he tries to turn on the charm to extract the Doctor’s scientific secrets. Davros actually considers the Daleks a force for good because once they have destroyed all other lifeforms there will be no need for fighting – that’s some warped philosophy. Wonderfully we get to see just how vulnerable Davros is, the Doctor practically killing him by a mere flick of a switch. He’s little more than a robot after all. There’s a stunning moment where gunfire sounds and Davros is alone in the dark in his laboratory waiting for the Elite to find him, plotting silently. Your average villain wouldn’t get a moment of chilling reflection like that. Just when you think that Davros cannot sink any lower he exploits democracy to buy himself time to get his Daleks back from their last massacre to wipe out the few scientists that are left on the planet. Skaro is literally a sea of corpses with the Daleks the only thing to show for the slaughter. After his psychotic attacks I cannot believe there are people who would still stand at Davros’ side. Ignominy is something that all power hungry dictators have to face and Davros’ punishment for his actions comes at the hands of his own creatures. Their lack of pity, the very emotion everybody has been telling him to imbue the Daleks with, is what brings Davros down and it has a delicious taste of irony to it. His dying scream is the one moment where you feel for this character in over two and a half hours, cut down as he tries to bring his creations to an end.

However, my golden nugget comes at the end of episode one. One of the best directed cliffhangers of all time, which introduces us to this insidious nasty and his link to the Daleks in a shivers up the spine fashion. ‘Now we can begin…’

34) The Enemy of the World ‘We’re going to put you outside, Salamander…’

What an astonishing gift to be handed so close to the 50th anniversary. The return of one complete Troughton adventure and another almost complete one. Stories long thought destroyed forever and existing in fans hearts as soundtracks and reconstructions. To have them announced and available to watch on the same night was a shock of the best kind, I woke up at 2.00 in the morning and thought I would check my phone to see what had been announced and as soon as my sleepy eyes drifted to ‘they can be purchased and watched here…’ I leapt out of bed like a bullet from a gun and was at the computer within seconds. I danced about with a strong coffee whilst it downloaded (I’ve heard stories of it taking ages but both tales were ready for me to watch within ten minutes) and then had myself an Enemy of the World marathon in the dead of night. Simon woke up at about 4.00 to find out what I was doing up and when he heard the news and saw how excited I was he gave me a massive hug and stayed up a watched for a while. It was fantastic evening and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. The fact that the story was number two on my ‘most want discovered’ list just added to the thrill of it all. I have always loved Enemy of the World, it was one of the few missing stories that worked extremely well on audio because despite the odd dynamic action sequence it was a work of strong dialogue, plot turns and sophisticated characterisation. To have more Troughton is a delight (now over half of his episodes exist and the though of something he starred in 45 years ago topping the iTunes chart gives me goosebumps) but to get Enemy back, a story where he appears so much in his incredible dual role and is so good, well it’s this fans dream come true.

There are plenty of gems to choose from in this epic tale of unnatural disasters and fake nuclear bunkers but my personal favourite came at the climax when the two characters played by Troughton finally come face to face. What’s impressive is that whilst Salamander is practically a feral creature at this stage, desperate to get away, it is the Doctor who frightens me more. He’s uncompromising in dishing out justice to the would-be dictator, informing him in no uncertain terms that he will be put off the ship and left to run…but they will catch up with him and he will pay. We’ve never seen the Doctor like this before, practically handing out a capital punishment. Salamander brings his fate upon himself by lunging for the TARDIS controls and his eventually end, being dragged out into the vortex as the ship takes off and left screaming hysterically in the void, is a spectacularly nasty way to go. It is a climactic ending to a wonderful piece of televisual theatre, a nourishingly dramatic climax.

33) The Green Death ‘Honestly Doctor, you never listen to a word I say!’

Some partnerships in Doctor Who strike the right chord from the world go (the Doctor and Vicki), start out brilliantly and but start to fizzle out over time (the Doctor and Leela) and others, like the third Doctor and Jo, take a little while to find their way but develop into something very special indeed. It helps that Katy Manning is precisely the sort of Who girl that Jon Pertwee was after, a pretty, diminutive but outgoing sort that he could put his arm around to protect and explain the more complicated parts of the plot to. I really liked how their amazing off screen chemistry so often spilled into the stories and there was a sense that they were having a blast in each others company. It really counts for something. Compare and contrast Davison and Fielding, one of which considered Tegan too bossy and unapproachable and the other who thought she was playing a caricature rather than a character. There was rarely what I what call a sense of fond feeling between their characters and it all springs from the actors approach to the series. Stories such as The Curse of Peladon, The Time Monster and Carnival of Monsters were sold on the gorgeous chemistry between Pertwee and Manning, regardless of the quality of the stories themselves. If they were good then it was win/win and if they were lacking then at least you could enjoy the byplay between the Doctor and his lovesick assistant.

As good as individual moments were during their run together, you never get a sense that the Doctor and Jo were head over heels for each other more than during her swansong where she finally decides to fly the coop and move on with her life. Jo wants to go with Cliff more than anything in the world and readily accepts his marriage proposal. She’s using her Uncle again, this time to get unlimited funding for the Nut Hutch. I cannot think of a more appropriate ending for Jo because it is one that springs naturally from the direction her character has been taken in, it exploits her unspoken affection for the Doctor and it is given enough consideration to not feel forced or last minute (ala Leela). One of the few instances of a companion falling in love that really works. The Doctor’s reaction to Cliff proposal to Jo is really awkward, finally somebody has succeeded in turning her away from him and capturing her heart. It looked as though King Peladon might have been in with a shot, but I don't think wilting willow Latep was ever in the picture. Their goodbye scene is desperately sweet, both actors clearly holding back the tears. He’s never felt this heartbroken about somebody leaving before so he downs his champers and leaves quietly to avoid any fuss (and the look Jo gives the closing door is devastating, she knows how upset he is). There is a real sense of a lonely old man losing the love of his life, driving off into the sunset. You couldn't end every story like this but after three seasons watching their relationship grow into something special, this is really very touching.

32) The Mind Robber ‘We’re nowhere…it’s as simple as that.’

You’ll find fewer atypical adventures in Doctor Who’s long history than The Mind Robber. It is one of those oddball Doctor Who adventures mentioned above that most people adore and even those to whom it isn’t quite to their tastes appreciate that it is pulled off with some confidence. A story where an alien presence can enter the TARDIS and shatter it to pieces. Where the Doctor can be said to have been sitting in the same chair dreaming for four episodes. Where Zoe’s bum gets more exposure than an hourly news bulletin and Jamie decides for one week only he will be played by a completely different actor. A story that features Gulliver, Rupunzel, The Railway Children, comic strip characters, Greek myths, Unicorns, White Robots, a Giant Brain and even has time for a swashbuckling duels between D’artgnan, Sir Lancelot and Blackbeard the Pirate. Surreal, stylish, creepy, literate and thoroughly boners…we are so lucky that this blissful celebration of the shows imagination was spared the flames.

Doctor Who is a show with a tight purse, I think we all know that. The fact that it has managed to remain so popular for so long with so little money being thrown at it is a miracle but that is all thanks to tireless work of the production teams (including writers, directors, designers, etc) and the actors that manage to turn the dialogue into money on screen. Tom Baker was particularly adept at this and so was Patrick Troughton. The first episode of The Mind Robber was an emergency script written to fill a gap left by the previous tale, The Dominators, which thankfully had its length cut because it was going nowhere fast. An episode was devised by producer Derrick Sherwin to serve as a stopgap between the high-jinks (in reality anything but) on Dulkis and the surreal jiggery pokery in the Land of Fiction. With zero money to spend Sherwin had to try and devise something that the actors could sell and didn’t cost any money. He created No-Where. The TARDIS emergency system is used to shift the craft away from a volcanic situation and they find themselves slap bang in the middle of Nothing. Outside the TARDIS is a white void that leads to nowhere. Haunting, tempting images on the scanner try and lure the travellers outside and an unearthly voice troubles the Doctor’s mind. As an example of Patrick Troughton’s Doctor selling the severity of the moment there is no finer sequence than the one where he looks severely troubled at their location and tells Zoe to stay in the TARDIS no matter what. An actor we are used to watching winding up authority figures and arsing about with monsters is suddenly deathly serious and the situation feels more threatening than ever. Thanks to Troughton, the TARDIS suddenly becomes somewhere unfamiliar and terrifying as the alien presence invades the ship and his mind. No budget, and yet somehow absolutely chilling.

31) The Massacre ‘Perhaps I should go home…’

There’s a reasons why several of the moments on this list are situated in season three. Between The Myth Makers, The Daleks’ Masterplan and The Massacre you have some of the most dramatic moments in the entire series. It was a time of experimentation for a show that was just starting to get the inkling of a formula and one story was long enough to play about with different genres on a week-by-week basis for three months. Like the recently discovered Enemy of the World, I think that if The Massacre was discovered it would go through something of a renaissance. It is considered the pinnacle of what Doctor Who can achieve in some quarters and a historical snooze-fest in others. I’m in the former category and if I had to pinpoint my favourite historical adventure I think The Massacre might just pip the top spot (although Marco Polo and The Crusade would be vying it out for second place). A remarkably sophisticated script which places the companion as the lead and pushes the Doctor to the sidelines, introduces a sadistic villain that just happens to look like the Doctor and delves into all manner of heavy themes from religious persecution to the morality of being a time traveller. I would love to see this play out because Paddy Russell’s other contributions to the show (Invasion of the Dinosaurs, Pyramids of Mars & Horror of Fang Rock) have all been peerless performance pieces and on audio you can hear the richness of the cast that brought this story to life. Some scenes leave you breathless and that is all down to the performances.

The Doctor and Steven have an antagonistic relationship at the best of times and that was probably always going to be the case with two stubborn men travelling in the TARDIS but their relationship is sold on the terrific chemistry between William Hartnell and Peter Purves who clearly adored each other. As you follow their course through season three you can see how they both soften towards each other and how they learn from each other; the Doctor learning to ignite that fire in his belly to get his point across and Steven learning the art of patience and observation. There is some genuine development, which works so well because they hit some pretty bumpy rocks on the road and learn more about one another because of them. One such bump occurs at the climax of The Massacre where Steven is dragged away from Paris by an insistent Doctor and is forced to leave Anne Chaplet to die in the furore of violence that is about to erupt in the city. The Doctor is firm that he cannot interfere with history and Steven doesn’t understand when that means letting good people die. It’s something that will become an age old argument and it is still doing the rounds (just as effectively, mind) come The Fires of Pompeii. What this highlights so well is both the sharp interaction between the Doctor and Steven and just how well they were written for throughout this incredible year. Steven finds the Doctor’s researches so callous that he refuses to travel with him any longer and walks out on their adventures at the next opportunity. This leads to William Hartnell’s shining moment in the series, a soliloquy so beautiful that it would have been a crying shame if he had fluffed it. He is word perfect and injects so much emotion into the speech. The Doctor is agonized by Steven’s departure and thinks back on all the others who have left him and even ponders the idea of going home (a place we still know nothing about at this point so there is some excitement in just a mention). ‘But I can’t…I can’t…’

30) Planet of the Spiders ‘Please…don’t die.’

Some inconsistent Doctor Who stories earn extra brownie points thanks to the sincerity of the performances of a committed cast. Planet of the Spiders is Jon Pertwee’s swansong and features one of his most honest turns as the Doctor, just outclassing his poignant interpretation of a heartbroken Time Lord in The Green Death. Elisabeth Sladen states in the commentary that Jon distanced himself from the rest of the cast for his final story refusing to get involved in the ribald atmosphere amongst the actors as usual to distance himself from a series that had made him a regular household name. It informs his performance, which suggests a weary Doctor who is settled during his sequences on the Earth despite having all of time and space at his fingertips and comes to ahead with quiet acceptance when he has to face his demons in the crystal caves and pay the price for his greed for knowledge. What a humble way for the Doctor to die, entirely appropriate for Jon Pertwee.

Sarah has already had a moment to pause and consider the danger of travelling with the Doctor when she thought he was dead in The Monster of Peladon and we get a glimpse of her future grief when he lies unconscious outside the TARDIS on Metebelies Three. I’m so glad that the third Doctor got such a brave exit – he was always one to walk into danger and here he faces his fear even at the cost of his own life. He is missing for three weeks after confronting the Great One as the cells in his body degenerate and the TARDIS brings him home, which tellingly is Earth, UNIT Headquarters. Sarah smells his coat to remind herself of him three weeks after he has gone to his death, suggesting an intimacy and warmth between them and a longing for his return. Her tears at his death make this easily the most affecting regeneration, it genuinely feels as though the Doctor has died and his companion cannot cope with the loss. Pertwee is astonishingly gentle and devastating in his last scene, proof of what a superb actor he is right up to the last moment and the silent close up on his ghostly face when he dies always reduces me to tears. He had me in rapt attention right up to his last breath.

29) Vengeance on Varos ‘And cut it…now!’

One of the most accomplished cliffhangers from one of the most lambasted eras. I am a huge fan of Vengeance on Varos and I don’t care who knows it. Butt hen I’m something of a sixth Doctor apologist in general because I think this is a rather fairly maligned period of the show, capable of being as strong (Revelation of the Daleks) and as weak (Timelash) as many others. Highly original, atmospheric and intelligent, Vengeance on Varos scores highly for its Russian doll storytelling which sees a scary Doctor Who run-around taking on much deeper context as we experience the politics of the planet that is supporting sick entertainment and get to understand the people who enjoy it. Colin Baker gives one of his strongest performances and has never felt more commanding in the lead role, I was riveted by his character throughout. Vengeance on Varos is a remarkably prescient Doctor Who story in that it explores a television medium that enjoys watching people suffer – the sort of reality television that has taken a grip over the schedules in recent years.

My special moment comes midway through this, the most self referential of stories. The Doctor has been pursued through the corridors (what else?) of the Punishment Dome; a twisted maze of torturous alleys designed to put your through your paces, force you to break when you face your fears and finally kill you off in as entertaining a way as possible, the cameras watching every exquisite detail. The Doctor is trapped inside an area where the lights snap blindingly and the hallucinatory horror of being lost in a desert surrounds him. Sweat beads on his brow, he starts to pant and finally collapses in a heap, overwhelmed by the temperature. Peri is a mirage in the distance, teasingly offering him water. In the control room the technicians are capturing every detail of his suffering, forcing the real Peri to watch. Smashing through the fourth wall with a wrecking ball, we are witnessing the perverted system on this planet at work; editing the Doctor’s death so the audience of Varos can balance precariously on the edge of their seats…just as the BBC technicians are doing to ensure that their audience are experiencing the same apprehension. It’s dash clever stuff. The Governor orders a close up on the Doctor’s ghostly pallor after he has expired (as I imagine JNT would to nab some viewers from an aggrieved Mary Whitehouse) and ends the episode with the glorious parting riposte ‘and cut it…now!’ Blissfully self aware and yet still managing to be very frightening.

28) Enlightenment ‘We’re on a ship…a spaceship.’

One of the things you have to love about classic Who is the ambition of it’s creators. Here is a show that is often monstrously under funded and yet that never seems to stop those who are making the programme from thinking big. If they were sensible they would never have attempted to pull of a story where the regulars are the only humans present and the rest of the characters are an array of moths, ants and grubs. If they were smart trying to pull of dinosaurs in Central London was probably a daft notion. If there was an ounce of sense in the room then a planet sized globevore that goes about swallowing up other planets and crunching them down for their minerals is a concept that a feature film would have trouble realising convincingly. And yet it never seems to stop them trying to push the show to the extremes of imagination. It never stops them having a go. My husband told me something once that has always stuck with me – Doctor Who might not always get it right, but it is a brave show that is always trying and that counts for far more than a gutless show that avoids risks. It’s one of the reasons that I prefer the Williams era to the Hinchcliffe one. I recognise that the stories are of a better quality during the Hinchcliffe era (although it is all a matter of taste) but the producer openly admits to starting each story with the caveat ‘can we achieve this realistically?’ It’s an entirely sensible way to go about things but then you miss out on spectacular folly such as voyages through the Doctor’s mind, a warren of tunnels created entirely from technological wizardry, fairytale worlds obsessed by androids, a war trapped in a time loop, men splintered across the centuries, giant penis shaped monsters and chases around Cambridge on bicycles being hunted by whispering spheres. The Hinchcliffe approach is the sensible one, the sort of one the show thrives on today but the Williams one is the more fun, the more ambitious, the more out there. It’s braver.

Bravery was never really an issue in JNT’s era. He would charge on with ridiculously aspiring concepts regardless of whether the budget was up to it or not. He was quite the expert at juggling finances but sometimes even he couldn’t channel enough money to make Concorde landing in prehistoric Earth look convincing or a giant sea monster barging his way onto a Sea Base and slaughtering half the crew. However when he managed to match the right script with the right director and hand them the appropriate means to execute the adventure…well Doctor Who has rarely been finer. Warriors’ Gate is a great example. Caves of Androzani and Revelation of the Daleks too. Enlightenment comes near the end of quite an inconsistent season of Doctor Who (any season that contains Arc of Infinity, Terminus and The Kings’ Demons can hardly said to have been a roaring success) but is a shining beacon of hope that the show hasn’t gone to the dogs under the (still reasonably new) administration. My golden moment comes at the end of episode one, which has been set entirely on an Edwardian sailing ship below decks, and in a breathtaking twist turns out to be a spaceship. Not only a spaceship but one is the guise of an Edwardian sailing ship. I don’t care if you prefer the original effects which were perfectly serviceable or the updated CGI ones on the DVD which are stunning, this is a beautifully executed scene that shows that Doctor is a show that will always take risks and win big every now and again. An idea so beautiful it gives me goosebumps every time I see it.

27) Robots of Death ‘Yes sir, I heard what you said…’

In some ways I think I came to Doctor Who too late. My first memory of watching the show is Battlefield part two aged nine and crying my eyes out because I thought ‘the girl’ was dead, drowned in a spaceship. It took my mum all night to console me, much to my sisters hilarity. In some ways I feel like I missed out because if I were too sensitive to watch this, imagine how terrified I would have been at some of the other, far more frightening moments in the series history. Yetis in the Underground. Mutant seaweed in the impeller shaft. Autons smashing their way out of shop windows. I would have been scarred for life! As an adult I can appreciate how effective the horror in Doctor Who can be sometimes but I can’t really connect with it in that same ‘what’s scuttle about under the bed?’ way a child would. To be really gripped by terror. Only a few moments have managed to get me like that. The Samurai that cuts the Doctor off the cliff in The Deadly Assassin (it’s that close up of the eyes that makes me shudder). The psychological transformation of Keeler from a placid scientist to a hungry, meat craving plant in The Seeds of Doom. Toby smiling in the vacuum of space as he seduces Scooti towards him in The Impossible Planet. The Weeping Angels attacking in Blink. However the moment in Doctor Who that scared me the most on my first watch was a scene on The Robots of Death. My mum got the video for me when I was nine and I stayed up late watching it on my birthday. So much of that viewing has stayed with me to this day.

This story frightened the life out of me when I first saw it and even subsequent rewatchings give me the same chill of despair as I watch the robots slaughter their way through the crew. It touches on both physical and psychological horror in unusually adult ways for Doctor Who. The torchlight picking out Chub’s corpse on the dirty floor of the scoop is pretty nasty. Almost as chilling as Zilda’s dying confession belted out over the Bridge intercom before she is suddenly cut short by a hand around her throat. I remember the crippling fear I had of the scene where Leela was locked in the room at the mercy of whichever robot would turn up to kill her – at the age of nine that made me freeze up with fear, the powerlessness of her situation gave me the shivers. Without airing my dirty laundry in public, Toos being trapped in her bedroom with a menace outside brought home some real life fears I experienced as a child. The psychological instability at the sight of the blood on the robots hand gets me as an adult where it didn’t register when I was a kid. Poul’s fear is locked in his head manageably because such a thing as a psychotic robot is not possible but then his mind snaps at the sight of the blood - it is as destabilising to watch as it is for him to experience. David Collings aces these moments because it could have been so easy to go over the top but his portrayal of a man that has succumbed to insanity is uncommonly sensitive and mature for the show. Then there is the sight of the emotionless robot on the operating table with its hands twitching anxiously as a giant needle is slipped into the workings of its brain – this is some seriously distressing imagery. What about the fear of somebody watching you when you are at your most helpless, asleep as SV7 does to Toos here? The Hinchcliffe era gets near to the knuckle again with graphic POV shots of the robot strangling Toos to death, with her clawing desperately at him. Given that a probe is the equivalent of a large needle it is very disturbing to see them being stabbed into the robots heads.

However the scene that got to me the most was Chub’s sudden realisation that he is trapped at the mercy of a robot is chilling enough but what really gives me the shivers is the way the robot so dispassionately says ‘yes sir, I heard what you said’ – it's mocking him and is said without a shred of emotion. Brrr… Something clicked in my head, something that had never occurred to me before but has stayed with me ever since. The fact that some people must know they are going to die and barely have any time to get their heads around that fact before they are screaming. It haunted me then and it still haunts me now.


26) The Ultimate Foe ‘They’re still in the nursery compared to us!’

Colin Baker is an interesting one to discuss. He’s had something of a rough ride when it comes to his Doctor Who career. Landing the title role at a time when the producer and script editor are both starting to get a little tired of their roles in the series, when the fans are exhausted of the style over substance nature of the show in the eighties and being given what is arguably the weakest of opening stories for any Doctor – the chips were stacked against him from the start. Bound up in a coat that does most of the acting for him, written as a voluminous thesaurus and saddled with a whiny companion…did he ever have a chance? Well yes, it would appear so because Colin has plenty of admirers out there. Including me. In fact he is my favourite Doctor. Not because of all the problems listed here but because I think he is a genuinely good actor who managed to (for the most part) overcome these obstacles and make the most of his time in the show. What is even more impressive is how he embraced a miserly reputation and remained loyal to the show, even after he was sacked and chose to take part in Big Finish when they first burst onto the scene and as result became the most popular of Doctors within that medium. The sixth Doctor on audio is an entirely different prospect to the sixth Doctor on television but I will save discussion of that for my ‘top 50 Big Finish moments’ which is coming after this list has been complete.

At his best on television, Colin brought a great deal of gravity and sensitivity to the part. Plenty of pantomime too, but let’s skip that for now. Note his wistful musings on the end of the universe in The Two Doctors. Or his quiet acceptance that Peri has been murdered by Daleks in Revelation. His soliloquy in The Mysterious Planet when trying to comfort her over the near destruction of her home planet is a marvellous piece of acting, as is his defence of life to Drathro in the same story’s conclusion. However, my favourite ‘acting’ moment for Colin comes in his swansong, The Ultimate Foe. His fury at the Time Lords for sacrificing the Earth to protect their secrets is truly explosive – not even Troughton was this furious when he faced the judgement of his people in The War Games. Of all the Doctor’s incarnations I am so glad it was the least appreciated and most theatrical that got the chance to really stick it to the Time Lords. Even if this wasn’t supposed to be the sixth Doctor’s finale it is wonderful to see him going out with such great material that exposes Baker’s passion for the character. He is undoubtedly one of the main strengths of the Trial season and my number one reason for watching. ‘In all my travellings throughout the universe I have battled against evil. Against power mad conspirators! I should have stayed here! The oldest civilisation; decadent, degenerate and rotten to the core! Power mad conspirators? Daleks, Sontarans, Cybermen…they’re still in the nursery compared to us! Ten million years of absolute power! That’s what it takes to be really corrupt!’

 25) The Crusade ‘Force me to it and I’ll turn the world we know into your enemy!’

‘How would you have me go to Saphadin? Bathed in oriental perfumes I suppose? Suppliant, tender and affectionate? Soft eyed and trembling? Eager with a thousand words of compliment and love?’ ‘Well if it’s a meeting you want!’ ‘I do not want! I will not have it!’ ‘I beg you Joanna!’ ‘No’ ‘I entreat you!’ ‘NO!’ ‘Very well! We are the King, We command you!’ ‘You cannot command this of me’ ‘Cannot!’ ‘No.’ ‘I am the King, name any one man with greater authority than I?’ In Rome…His Holiness the Pope will not allow this marriage of mine to that INFIDEL!’ ‘You defy me with the Pope!’ ‘No you defy the world with you politics! The reasons you are here to fight these dogs, defeat them, marry me to them and you make a pact with the devil…force me to it and I’ll turn the world we know into your enemy!’

This sequence had to be quoted in full because it is so beautifully scripted and remains one of the most impressive acting set pieces in Doctor Who’s entire run despite taking placing in year 2 of 50. Episode three of The Crusade has some very powerful theatrical scenes including the Doctor confronting Leicester and Richard and Joanna in a furious battle of words. Within this episode (and how lucky were we that this was the only episode that survived at one point since  usually the weakest installments of stories are saved from the chop - The Enemy of the World, The Space Pirates) there features some of the most extraordinary writing and performances we will ever see in the series with Jean Marsh in particular switching from courtly Princess to blazing eyed political opponent with absolute conviction. For once Hartnell has to stand in the background and wait whilst two even better actors slug it out. He can only slope on as the argument comes to a close and rather bashfully make his apologies.

 24) Ghost Light ‘We all have a universe of our own terrors to face…’

Another one of my favourites aspects of Doctor Who is strength through adversity. When the show is undergoing one of it’s less enjoyed periods by the public it often manages to pull something so spectacular out of the bag that it seems to be defying popular opinion by sticking a massive middle finger in the face of it’s critics. Ratings bombed in season six and it climaxed with one of the greatest Doctor Who adventures of all time, The War Games. People were undecided on Colin Baker’s Doctor and yet his second season produced Vengeance on Varos and Revelation of the Daleks, two of the strongest eighties stories. Series 7b was going down the shitter in the UK and out popped The Name of the Doctor and suddenly everybody was declaring the show the greatest thing once again. I make so secret of the fact that I find the McCoy era one of the weakest and most inconsistent of the shows entire run. There is some good stuff in there, but you have to wade through some real dreck to get there. Paradise Towers, Dragonfire, The Happiness Patrol, Silver Nemesis and Battlefield are not the sort of material that emerge from a show at the top of its game. Not only that but I also find Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred’s performances alarmingly inconsistent and the characterisation of the Doctor and Ace during this period. McCoy has more issues than Aldred acting wise (he simply cannot get the hang of extreme emotion, which is something of a problem when his Doctor has a penchant for shouting) but Ace has more issues as a character than the seventh Doctor (she can go from loud and proud immature teen to sophisticated, nuanced adult at an distressing rate, sometimes within the same story).

Which is why I love this golden moment because it is the perfect example of success through adversity and a real middle finger in the face to me personally because my selected scene features McCoy and Aldred giving precise and nuanced performances and it is written by Marc Platt with pitch perfect characterisation. The scenes between McCoy and Aldred after she realises that the Doctor has brought her to Perivale to face her fears are the best acted moments either of them ever gave to Doctor Who. Ace can barely contained her rage but manages to speak with a restrained fury and the Doctor is purring with sympathy as he shows new dimensions to his character. Together they discuss something that is worth discussing, facing your fears and the horrors of racism. Ace even words something with cod-eighties embarrassment to keep it real (‘white kids fire bombed it…’). It’s totally unlike anything that has come before and refreshingly takes both characters to new depths. The way he purrs ‘the nature of the horror that you sense here…’ is so menacing you might think that the Doctor is the villain for a second. Had they been written and acted with this much restraint more regularly I genuinely think that the powers that be might have taken another look at this show and considered whether it was worth saving instead of simply swinging the axe thoughtlessly. ‘I can’t stand burnt toast. I loathe bus stations. Terrible places. Full of lost luggage and lost souls. And then there’s unrequited love. And tyranny. And cruelty. We all have a universe of our own terrors to face’ – this is the 1989 version of the ‘evils must be fought’ Troughton speech in The Moonbase with much more poetry.

23) The Pirate Planet ‘Calufrax buried inside Zanak, the Pirate Planet, and having the goodness sucked out of it.’

You might be forgiven for thinking that a show in it’s sixteenth year might be coasting, imagination wise. That the well might have run dry, they might stick to a formula that works and drift through middle age without any ambition. Other shows maybe, but Doctor Who was firing on all imaginative cylinders in the heart of the Graeme Williams era and producing stories with some of the brightest, most ambitious and budget stretching concepts the show had ever dared to explore.

The Pirate Planet is Douglas Adams’ debut Doctor Who script and it is spilling with imagination, almost too much to be contained within four episodes of a science fiction adventure serial. I love the idea of the Pirate Captain with half of his body made up of spare parts after his ship crashed (including a giant crushing metal arm) and whoever decided to stick the mechanical parrot on his shoulder deserves congratulations and not just because it probably pissed Tom Baker right off (who was still waiting for his shoulder hugging cabbage to feature). The script is patient enough to show us the effect of the TARDIS and the Zanak attempt to materialise on Calufrax at the same time two episode before we even learn the planet can consume other worlds. Adams treats his audience with intelligence and trusts that they can remember details. The notion that makes it onto this impressive roll call of Doctor Who moments is the one at the heart of this adventure and one which must have made Graeme Williams have nightmares at the thought of executing it. The lights in the sky, the engines, the gemstones – there has been a wealth of hints but upon first viewing I don’t think anybody could have imagined the scale of the operation with Zanak claiming entire worlds. Zanak wraps itself around other, smaller worlds, smothers it, crushes it and mines all the mineral wealth out of it. A literal pirate planet. It’s an astonishing notion, and one that is brought home brilliantly during a gob-smacking sequence that sees the Doctor, Romana and Kimus standing on the surface of a dead world that is about to have the life sucked out of it. This is why I love the Williams era so much, it was never afraid to take risks and occasionally it would win so spectacularly you are reminded why it is the greatest show of all time. All down to the imagination.

And to top it all of the second segment to the Key to Time is an entire planet. That man Adams is a genius.


22) Carnival of Monsters ‘You mean we’re in a sort of a peep show?’

There are many contributors to Doctor Who that have made it the show that it is and who have been responsible for it’s enduring legacy. If you had to choose one contributor that would change the landscape of the series entirely if they were removed, who would it be? My personal choose is Robert Holmes. Without him there would be no a very different show; one with a very different emphasis on the Master, Sarah Jane Smith, Gallifrey, Romana, comedy, the fifth and sixth Doctor’s era…he pretty much redefined where Doctor Who can go in terms of comedy, horror and character drama. Without him there would be no Spearhead from Space, Carnival of Monsters, The Ark in Space, Genesis of the Daleks, Pyramids of Mars, The Deadly Assassin, The Talons of Weng-Chiang, The Sun Makers, The Ribos Operation, Caves of Androzani, The Two Doctors…and the entirety of the Hinchcliffe era would be a different beast altogether. His contribution to Doctor Who is unmistakable and I’m willing to bet at least one of his stories turns up on your top ten list, probably more.

Carnival of Monsters might not be Robert Holmes best story (although it comes pretty close) but it does get across everything that he was trying to do with the series in a microcosm. I couldn’t point at another story that has all the ingredients that he brought to the party in one package. It is hilarious, clever, satirical, imaginative, frightening, exciting and bursting with character and colour. Episode one throws a number of mysteries at the viewer, giving them a puzzle to unravel (involving an extinct monster, alien metal in the 1920s, a lost ship and a time loop - I know some Doctor Who's that fail to generate half that many intriguing ideas and with Carnival of Monsters this is just the tip of the iceberg) and the fun comes in the fact that the answers are so convivial and much bigger and brasher than I was prepared to guess. I would never imagine Doctor Who attempting to pull off something as bold and as expensive as the Miniscope with its multitude of environments in one battered machine. The sequence where Jo Grant has the mind-blowing idea explained to her by the Doctor is one of my favourite reveals in the entirety of the show because for once it isn’t packaged as a surprise. Because we have already seen the evidence of what the Doctor is talking about we have already overcome the shock of the enormity of the concept and can just go along with the fun and imagination behind the concept. It’s insanely confident, awe inspiring in it’s vision and very, very Doctor Who. Very, very Robert Holmes Doctor Who. ‘Human beings are slightly more intelligent than whelks!’ indeed.

21) Inferno ‘Listen to that! That’s the sound of this planet screaming out it’s rage!’

Inferno is a story that I don’t put myself through too often for the simple fact that I find the events that take place in it far too distressing and dramatic to handle on a regular basis. It is one the crowning achievements in the shows canon, a slice of scientific horror that genuinely offers thrills and spills and takes the series to some dark places as a result. It is exceptional and deserves as much credit as it can get. My magic moment comes towards the end of episode six, one of the most intense experience you can have with Doctor Who. The story has been piling on the tension throughout its first five episodes with very little relief (a rather sweet love story and some moments of barracks humour is all) and it finally explodes in the sixth episode as the Doctor and chums realise that the alternative Earth is well and truly doomed with no hope of any of them surviving. How everybody copes with that realisation is where the drama lies and my moment shows the Doctor trying to point out that the planet has a few things to say about the state of affairs too. Probably the greatest distinction between the way Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee played the roles because Troughton could never have delivered this line with the severity and gravitas that it needed to drive the point home that they are all going to die horribly in about five minutes. It is a stunning moment of dramatic reflection in a story that redefines how far Doctor Who can go in terms of conceptual horror and character drama.
 
20) The Dalek Invasion of Earth ‘Goodbye Susan. Goodbye, My dear…’

I have never been a fan of Carole Ann Ford’s Susan and genuinely think she did the show the world of good when she left and they introduced the bubblier and perkier and generally more amiable Vicki courtesy of Maureen O’Brien. My biggest complaints echo Ford’s ironically, that Susan was barely developed beyond her initial story, that she lacked dignity by continually being treated as a screaming wailing child and that the relationship between Susan and the Doctor failed to engage (especially compared to his far more complex friendships with Ian and Barbara). Generally I think the producers got the show just about pitch perfect in season one and had more trouble with the second year but with regards to the companion swap they were bang on the nail. Oddly enough though she really bucks her ideas up in her last story and gets some fine moments (it feels as though the writers can start taking some risks with her and giving her some real autonomy now she is leaving) and I especially like the exchange ‘What do you do?’ ‘I eat’ and when she tells Jenny to shut up when she is off on one of her negative rants. Of course the focus of this golden moment is all about her romance with David and how the Doctor accepts that she has outgrown his guardianship. Susan admits she is always moving on and that she wants David to join them and escape this horror and usually when a companion starts talking about their situation like that they aren't long for the chop (Tegan and Peri did the same thing). David makes her realise that nothing is made better by continually running away. Susan has never had a real identity (nope) or anywhere that feels like home. It's not exactly subtle foreshadowing, is it?  One day she will stop travelling. Watch the scene where the Doctor chastises her for buying into David’s opinion above his and then when he comes along he concocts a plan along similar lines to please Susan - it is at moments like this when you can really buy into their affection for each other. The little cuddle she gives him as a reward is very sweet. The idea of rebuilding a planet from scratch really appeals to her and to be fair it would one heck of a challenge. Susan and David make for a convincing couple because they are both as wet as each other but even I couldn't fail to admit that their scenes together work a charm for the most part. They play about, hold hands and share a kiss in some very tender scenes. The way Doctor Who was made in the sixties means we were able to follow this romance over a month and half so you could hardly accuse them of rushing things.

What is so poignant is how much she wants to leave and be with David she cannot make the choice to abandon the Doctor. She cannot choose between the two of them. David is offering her a place, a time and an identity. The closing scenes of Dalek Invasion are disconsolate in a way the show wouldn’t try to be too often and Hartnell gives these scenes a real feeling of aching sadness. It breaks my heart to see him awkwardly handling Susan knowing that he is about to force her out of his life. Making her leave and become her own woman crushes his heart and thus is one of the most wonderful (and painful) gestures the Doctor has ever made. He admits to her that he knows she has been taking care of him and that one day he will come back for her. It is devastatingly good drama. Even when Susan accepts her fate she is still overwhelmed that she will never see him again. It is wonderful to see this relationship end on such an emotional high.

‘One day I will come back, yes, I will come back. Until then there must be regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine.’


19) The Ribos Operation ‘You believe it too?’

Two school teachers worried about their student and discuss it after school. A man tells the story of the abduction of his wife and daughter and is concerned her daughter will fall into the hands of El Akir. A young lady left at the mercy of The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve, gets close to a rugged space pilot. A man stationed at the South Pole gets excited at the thought of a pretty woman visiting. A chat between a 450 year old Time Lord and a Victorian orphan in the Cyber Tombs on Telos. Casual flirting between a photographer and a UNIT soldier. A quiet moment of disappointment between scientists Lennox and Liz Shaw. ‘Fancy a pint, Brigadier?’ ‘The Daisiest daisy…’ A 1920s flapper and a sailor discuss Bombay. A soldier ponders wistfully on a quieter, conflict free world with a journalist. Said same journalist gives her heart to a giant robot. ‘God Lord! He never paid me!’ ‘Perhaps it isn’t the heavens that move as we think, perhaps it’s we who move…’ ‘’Ere! That baint the way to make a fruitcake!’ ‘Doctor, may I ask you a person question? Are you from Outer Space?’ Two Time Lords discuss the beauty of the scenery as they punt down the Cam. An alien orphan ponders the destruction of her home as the universe is eaten away on a screen. An Australian Air Hostess stares wistfully in a mirror and ponders the invasion of her mind that has recently taken place. A retired Brigadier angrily mocks the suggestion that he might have had a breakdown. ‘Sounds an evil brew, don’t it?’ A Time Lord muses over the end of everything poetically. ‘Planets come and go, stars perish…’ A young lady cries in a laundry room at the loss of her loves heart to another. Two old men ponder consequences over a sugar bowl. A young cockney girl considers loses herself to her wild side.

Doctor Who isn’t just about grandiose villains and military organizations, it has space for the little people too and is whilst it verges on the side of operatic more often than not there is still time for intimate, beautiful moments like this. And this is just one moment per season I have chosen, if you dig there are several examples in every story. My favourite comes quite unexpectedly in a Robert Holmes script that seems to be a rather frivolous (if ridiculously entertaining) exercise in heist storytelling. On the primitive planet of Ribos is a man called Binro who has been jeered at an derided his entire life for believing that the twinkling little lights in the sky are not ice crystal but other suns, with the possibility of other worlds. He has been forced into exile for his beliefs and labelled a heretic, forced to live his life in squalor. Along comes an intergalactic conman called Unstoffe who listens to his tale and gives him the greatest gift of all. There are other worlds out there. He comes from one of them himself. Delicately played and expertly scripted, there are no words to describe how touching it is when Binro sobs quietly and contentedly to learn that he was right to stick to his beliefs. It adds a great deal of emotional substance to a frolicsome story, as do all the moments above.


18) Tomb of the Cybermen ‘Look at the honeycomb!’

Doctor Who is the past master at the monster reveal set piece. Everything from the Daleks emerging from water, sand, fibreglass and even invisibility to a Zygon creeping up on Sarah whilst she is on the phone to the Doctor, these are the moments where this show often scores its most exciting moments. Tomb of the Cybermen goes one better than that by being not content with one reveal of the metal meanies but two. The end of episode one is one of my favourites; the hideous smoking corpse falling to the ground and the cut to the pulsating Cyberman face fading away into the credits like a grinning skull – what a cracking cliffhanger. I love the slow fade into the credits that some of the sixties cliffhangers deployed, if they can fix on a chilling image like this it is a very effective way to hold the audience on the edge of their seats for as long as possible. However it manages to go one better than that with the build up to the second cliffhanger. We have established that there is a Cyberman threat on Telos and that something nasty is lurking beneath the ground. I don’t think the audience was quite prepared for the sight that awaited them, though.

The Tomb model is terrific but what impressed me was the full size set that manages to match its scale and opulence. It's something they couldn't achieve in the eighties but they mange to suggest a sense of majesty with the tomb design, a real sense that this is a stronghold of many thousands of Cybermen. There is something very disturbing about the embryonic Cybermen coming to life, its one of Doctor Who’s best ever set pieces because it is visually exciting and scary at the same time and it promises more shocks to come. The Cybermen stalk towards the camera when they wake as if to stare at the kids who are watching directly and really give them nightmares. Once we're finished with this lot we're coming after you kiddos. It doesn’t get much better than this.


17) Survival ‘There are worlds out there where the sky is burning…’

Some moments are memorable simply because of where they are placed. Would The Twin Dilemma get as much stick if it wasn’t the first story for the sixth Doctor and was nestled instead somewhere in his first full season? Would people think as much of The War Games if it didn’t have the final two episodes that fundamentally changed the series so dramatically? What makes Sarah’s grief at the end of Planet of the Spiders so much more attention grabbing and effective as the similar outpouring of emotion in episode six of Monster of Peladon when she also thought he was dead? The seventh Doctor’s era was always going to be a turbulent one. He had a little known and inconsistent lead actor in the part, it was unloved by the channel that spawned it and was placed in an unenviable slot against one of the most popular television shows of the time and its creative team was willing to take major risks and so potential reputation destroying stories such as Delta and the Bannermen and The Happiness Patrol were produced. And yet somehow, from all of this controversy some spellbinding television was created. Stories such as Remembrance of the Daleks, The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, Ghost Light and Curse of Fenric can hold their heads high amongst the classic from various other eras. Survival is an odd story for sure, one that confirms the beliefs of those who feel that Doctor Who might have had its day and need a rest (the dreadful Cheetah costumes, McCoy’s hysterics, some dodgy guest performances) and those who thought it was forging on with some fresh new storytelling (the rough council estate edge, the stunning musical score, the most vicious appearance of the Master). The end of this story is one of those moments that has achieved notoriety because it happened to be the moment when the show was paused for many, many years and so should technically be seen as the point where Doctor Who jumped the shark. Instead it is a celebrated sequence because it offers hope for a future return, because it is extremely well scripted by Andrew Cartmel and because it comes at the end of a scene that shows the McCoy/Aldred pairing at its height. It is such a tantalizing moment that it suggests that some amazing is coming for this pair just around the corner. It is a crying shame that we never got to see it.
It is Doctor Who’s ultimate walking off into the sunset moment.


16) The Talons of Weng-Chiang  ‘England’s peerless premier Professor of pathology!’

Doc Holliday & Katie. The Second Doctor & Jamie. Vorg & Shirna. Garron & Unstoffe. Morgus & Krau Timmin. Kara & Vogel. Glitz & Dibber. Sil & Kiv. Mel & Ace. Doctor Who has exploited the double act for all it is worth, whether it be comically, dramatically or simply for the entertainment of seeing two culturally different characters come together and clash. The greatest example of this during the shows classic run is to be found slap bang in the middle during possibly the greatest Doctor Who story of all time. Jago & Litefoot made such an impact on the show that people have been clamouring for a spin off series for the two characters ever since and it has taken the efforts of Big Finish to make this finally happen and such is the quality of their relationship people are still crying out for more. Thanks to the scripting efforts of Robert Holmes and the exquisite performances of Trevor Baxter and Christopher Benjamin, Jago & Litefoot are a duo that once seen are never forgotten. What is strange is that they exist independently of each other for much of Talons and only come together in the final two episodes. The delirious entertainment that is wrung from such a union was worth the wait though and finishes the three hour story on a real high (not a compliment you could make about all six part stories). Jago is a boisterous, verbose, arrogant and yet cowardly theatre owner with a massive heart and virtuous morals. Litefoot is an upper class, precise, mannered, kindly old mortician who only sees the best in people. Bring them together and you have pure magic on screen. I would suggest checking out their audio series if you haven’t done so already, it is as wonderful as you would imagine it to be.

 15) Remembrance of the Daleks ‘No hope, no rescue…’

‘This is the Doctor. President Elect of the High Council of Time Lords. Keeping of the Legacy of Rassilon. Defender of the Laws of Time. Protector of Gallifrey…’ What a difference a year makes! I’ve always been on the fence about Andrew Carmel’s approach to the Doctor because whilst I like the way that he tries to shroud him in mystery (recalling the First Doctor) I’m not sure that the hints and whispers about terrible doings in his past and seeing him smugly committing genocide is perhaps the best way to go about it. Not only that but I still to this day think that McCoy was never better than during his goofy first season, deliriously silly and funny and playing with the part as the light entertainer that McCoy naturally is. In Delta and the Bannermen he is simply a delight to be around. Although during Remembrance he is generally fine (more than that actually, he seems to positively revel in this change of direction) there were times over the next two years where McCoy would look extremely uncomfortable trying to bring gravity to the role and failing because that isn’t where his talents lie. Battlefield, The Curse of Fenric and Survival all suffer in this regard and see him trying act full of rage and failing to convince. On the other hand it is clear that things couldn’t stay the way they were going without DWAS all abandoning their anoraks at the lingering murder of their favourite show and at this stage it looks as if both McCoy and Cartmel are totally committed to bringing the show up to date and reinvigorating the character. This is even more of a jarring leap than Revelation of the Daleks was to The Mysterious Planet when the sixth Doctor had suddenly turned charming and cuddly. Between seasons the Doctor has stopped acting like he is in a pantomime every week (I mean it as a genuine compliment when I say that I bet McCoy is awesome in pantomime) and suddenly behaves as though the universe is much darker place. What happened to bring about this change is a mystery to me to this day (and it surprises me that BBC books haven’t tried to explain why with their continuity plugging PDA range). I don’t want to sound as though I am being too harsh at the changes that have been made because I genuinely think that Remembrance of the Daleks gets it just about right. I’m just not entirely sold on the changes as a whole over the next two years. What’s definitely true is that Ace fits his new character like a glove (it’s a far more effectively pairing than McCoy and Langford) and their chemistry is magnificent.

There are so many moments that you could choose in Remembrance and for a while I was committed to selecting the night time café scene simply because it is so simple and beautifully executed. However I wanted to run with the idea of the dark Doctor, so next I thought I would choose the moment when McCoy’s Doctor sold out and destroyed an entire planet in his crusade against the Daleks (another massive step on the road to the Time War). However what impressed me even more than these two scenes (and others, Remembrance is packed full of goodies) was the astonishing moment at the end of the Doctor where the Doctor callously talks the last remaining Dalek on the Earth into committing suicide because he is all on his own now with no chance of rescue. It is coldly scripted and delivered perfectly by McCoy who I always thought was more effective at dark menace than hysteria. The Doctor has wiped out the Daleks’ home planet and now he enjoys torturing it’s sole survivor. What has happened to him?



23 comments:

Peakius Baragonius said...

Looking forward to seeing "Battlefield" appear on this list ;) ;)

Joe Ford said...

I think you know you'll be a long time waiting ;-) But I hope there are a few surprising choices... :-)

McKay90 said...

…oh and the Brig gets to punch the Master. Brilliant.

The Daemons is a wonderful serial and the ‘Fancy a dance, Brigadier?’ is a lovely end to a bonkers, endlessly quotable story.

McGann was/is excellent and those final moments of the film are great.

Looking forward to the rest.

Alex Wilcock said...

Hurrah! I’m so looking forward to reading these!
I compiled my own Fifty last November and have been writing up one a week on my blog… Except that I’m several months behind. So good, luck, and I’m sure that with your fabulous rate you’ll soon overtake me. I’m fascinated to see what you come up with (no overlap in your four so far, but no doubt there will be).

I suspect some people will say it’s a shame you don’t integrate the new series with it, and include the Big Finishes, and the books, because you’re the leading reviewer of the wider Whoniverse… But having spent a couple of weeks last year working out my own list, I can understand exactly why you narrowed down your criteria. I’d wanted to include novels, comics, audio and all, but realised that it would take months merely to compile a super-long shortlist which would be frustratingly incomplete anyway. So I just stuck to the TV series, because it was the only way not to go mad and give up.

And your little parenthesis of who the Time Lords are made me splutter.

Joe Ford said...

Alex, you are fine too kind about my scribbles, thank you. I never even thought about the novels and Big Finish's and now I am not sure why! You may have started something here...

Alex Wilcock said...

Write your TV ones first. I'd love to read your extra fifties, but it might tax even your diligence to start them now. November 24th should do ;)

Just realised I've not done any of my own Fifties in September. Whoops. Maybe next month - only 34 more to go, at one a week, counts on fingers, that'll be OK for the end of November...?

How long did it take you to work out your list? My shortlist was about 300 scenes long to start with - I couldn't bear to leave them all out. I've cheated and snuck lots of them in as extras and quotes anyway. These were just my runners-up!

Joe Ford said...

I'm already on it! :-0

If I'm honest my shortlist was really easy and took me about half an hour to compile! I simply pulled up the Wikipedia list of Doctor Who stories and went through each one from memory trying to think of a moment that either stood out on its own merits or encapsulated everything that I love about that period of the show. It was quite easy to choose. The hard part was trying to put them in any kind of order. I mulled over them for about ten minutes and couldn't choose one over the other so I thought sod this, I wont bother. I cut out all the stories into stripes, put them in a box and get my hubby to pull one out at random. Not the most scientific of systems but it works for me :-)

Alex Wilcock said...

Fantastic! I love the random-boxing.

I'm clearly massively much more uptight, and spent a couple of weeks agonizing over which to go, which order, one from each year, etc... Next time I'll put them in a hat and let my Richard draw.

Anyway, looking forward to reading them all. It's so much easier than writing my own!

HellBlazerRaiser said...

This is the best DOCTOR WHO blog I've come across and I'm loving the TOP 50!

Keep 'em comin'!!! :)

Joe Ford said...

Thank you, Raiser! What a lovely thing to say :-)

David said...

Lovin' your Top 50 Joe - looking forward to the BF version as well. This is a great Blog and one I return to time and time again - long may it reign supreme!

Anonymous said...

Lovely list, but... what about the top 15 moments?

Joe Ford said...

Unfortunately as number 15 drew close the 50th anniversary hit and then I started a new job which took up a great of my time...I really do want to finish this list as I had great fun putting it together! Thanks for the prompt! :-)

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to see your top 15, man. Gonna be great!

Ian Tracy said...

I might have had 'something in my eye' when I read your gorgeous appraisal of Colin Baker there.

He's my favourite too.

Anonymous said...

Come on, where's the next bunch?

Anonymous said...

GET ON WITH IT!

Anonymous said...

OK, its been over a year. Why can't we see the last batch? Why keep us waiting?

Anonymous said...

Seriously, you've not done the 14 favorite DW moments. What the heck?

Please do them.

Joe Ford said...

Let's not forget that this is a free blog where I don't ask for a penny despite writing reviews for years and years. I'll complete this list when I am ready and not before. Something called real life gets in the way of these things sometimes. You'll have to be patient.

Ross said...

Great list, I've really enjoyed reading it!


And don't listen to those fools, people can be so rude when posting anonymously..

Anonymous said...

This list is gorgeous

Joe Shelby said...

3 1/2 years on and still unfinished? NOOOOOO!!!!!!

Seriously, though, several of my fav moments in this, including the Ghost Light moment and "Binro was Right" Ribos Operation.

And Day of the Daleks - "Styles didn’t cause that explosion to start the wars! You did it yourselves!" - one of Bob Holmes and Terrance Dicks' advice to scriptwriters (and themselves) was to not worry about writing for a particular Doctor. Just write for The Doctor, let the actor and the director do the rest. The convention circuit has often put this to the test as they've had various Doctor actors read lines from recent series that were written for their counterparts, such as the Stonehenge speech or the Zygon/DarkArchive WAR speech.

This is one of THOSE lines. No matter which Doctor I try to "think" in, in terms of voice and mannerism and inflection, this line works. Every time. Every Doctor. The line is THE DOCTOR, and it is enough.