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The Fifth Doctor Era Survey Results

Part Four

By Paul Scoones

Yes, this is finally it - the fourth and final part of this survey epic. Part Three was meant to be the end (see TSV Special 1), but the typist never finished the job. I actually submitted both parts back in about July last year! If you think that's a long time ago, consider that the survey forms were posted out in August 1989! Enough musing, on with the results...

Supporting Characters

1 Richard Mace 10.5 1 Lon 11.5 1 Richard Mace 6.31
2 Stien 6.2 2 Chela 6.3 2 Stien 4.29
3 Marriner 5.3 3 Plantagenet 4.6 3 Marriner 3.72
4 Dr Todd 5.0
Mergrave 4.6 4 Will Chandler 3.48

Lt Scott 5.0 5 Olvir 4.0 5 Salateen 3.32
6 Salateen 4.6
Capt Stapley 4.0 6 Dr Todd 3.16
7 Will Chandler 4.5
Capt Briggs 4.0 7 Lt Scott 3.07
8 Borusa 3.9
Dr Todd 4.0 8 Flavia 3.00
9 Capt Briggs 3.8
Bigon 4.0 9 Norna 2.91
10 Flavia 3.6 10 Valgard 3.4 10 Borusa 2.83
11 Norna 3.3
Bilton 3.4 11 Capt Briggs 2.59
12 Capt Stapley 2.9
Robin Stuart 3.4
Shardovan 2.59

Capt Striker 2.9 13 Sanders 2.9 13 Chellak 2.51
14 Shardovan 2.6
Dojjen 2.9 14 Vorshak 2.43
15 Chellak 2.4
Styles 2.9 15 Capt Striker 2.35
16 Vorshak 2.2
Panna 2.9 16 Capt Stapley 2.18

Brazen 2.2
Borusa 2.9
Brazen 2.18
18 Plantagenet 2.1
Striker 2.9 18 Colonel Archer 2.10

Bigon 2.1
Hedin 2.9 19 Lady Cranleigh 1.94

Hedin 2.1 20 Damon 2.3
Hedin 1.94
21 Dojjen 1.8
Kari 2.3 21 Howard Foster 1.94
22 Sanders 1.5
Preston 2.3 22 Dojjen 1.86

Colonel Archer 1.5 23 Salateen 1.7 23 Bigon 1.78
24 Kari 1.4
Ranulf Fitzwilliam 1.7
Malkon 1.78

Howard Foster 1.4
Lord Cranleigh 1.7 25 Hindle 1.70
26 Timanov 1.3
Timanov 1.7
Sanders 1.70
27 Mergrave 1.2
Brazen 1.7
Sir Robert Muir 1.70

Panna 1.2
Lt Scott 1.7
Castellan 1.70

Lady Cranleigh 1.2 29 Ben Wolsey 1.2
Kari 1.70
30 Robin Stuart 1.0
Andrew Verney 1.2
Plantagenet 1.70

Preston 1.0
Marriner 1.2
Ranulf Fitzwilliam 1.70
32 Malkon 0.9 32 Bulic 0.6 32 Timanov 1.62
33 Styles 0.9
Flavia 0.6 33 Panna 1.54
34 Bilton 0.9
Howard Foster 0.6
Preston 1.54

Sir Robert Muir 0.7

35 Timmin 1.46

Damon 0.7

36 Lord Cranleigh 1.38

Lon 0.7

Robin Stuart 1.38

Olvir 0.7

Damon 1.38

Range 0.7

Styles 1.38

Castellan 0.7

40 Mergrave 1.29

Hindle 0.7

Bilton 1.29
42 Lord Cranleigh 0.5

Bulic 1.29
43 Timmin 0.2

43 Andrew Verney 1.21

Ben Wolsey 1.21

45 Olvir 1.13

Range 1.13

47 Valgard 1.05

48 Chela 0.49

49 Lon 0.08

It was evidently a mistake to include a category that allows readers to vote for any supporting character, as there is little that can be concluded from the results. Richard Mace (played by Michael Robbins), from The Visitation is however clearly the most popular, followed some way behind by Resurrection of the Daleks' Stien (Rodney Bewes). By far the most unpopular is Lon (Martin Clunes) from Snakedance. Almost no one had any comments to make on this category. David Bishop said that "Will Chandler was the only supporting character to make any effect on me," and Joshua Preston put forward Borusa as his favourite, but adds that "my judgement is perhaps clouded because of recently seeing John Arnatt's brilliant Borusa, the only good thing in The Invasion of Time"

The Writers

1 Eric Saward 18.7 1 Eric Pringle 18.0 1 Terrance Dicks 20.6
2 Terrance Dicks 18.2 2 Johnny Byrne 15.8 2 Robert Holmes 19.8
3 Robert Holmes 17.4 3 Christopher Bailey 11.2 3 Eric Saward 17.2
4 Christopher Bidmead 11.2
Barbara Clegg 11.2 4 Christopher Bidmead 11.0
5 Peter Grimwade 10.0
Eric Saward 11.2 5 Peter Grimwade 9.5
6 Terence Dudley 7.0 6 Peter Grimwade 10.1 6 Terence Dudley 6.9
7 Barbara Clegg 5.0
Terence Dudley 10.1 7 Steve Gallagher 5.0
8 Christopher Bailey 4.6 8 Christopher Bidmead 9.0 8 Barbara Clegg 4.6
9 Eric Pringle 3.3 9 Steve Gallagher 3.4 9 Christopher Bailey 4.2
10 Steve Gallagher 2.5

10 Eric Pringle 0.8
11 Johnny Byrne 2.1

11 Johnny Byrne 0.4

Eric Saward undoubtedly comes tops (albeit narrowly), because of his one truly excellent story, Earthshock. As can perhaps be expected, Terrance Dicks comes a close second, having written the story which came top of the story poll, The Five Doctors, and the ever-popular Robert Holmes occupies third place, although does much better on the Combined Average only 0.8% behind the favourite, Terrance Dicks.

"Although Robert Holmes only wrote one story this time round, his stories are always faultless, and this really showed up in The Caves of Androzani," wrote Chris Girdler, and Joshua Preston had no doubts as to his favourite - "Holmes, of course, the best writer in the show's history."

David Bishop also places Holmes first: "Saward would be best writer but for Resurrection of the Daleks - too messy, too many loose ends. Bidmead just edges out Dudley for third, for writing some of Davison's best moments - although the production of Frontios dragged down a worthy idea." David also comments on his selection of worst writers: "Byrne I know is not responsible for the Warriors of the Deep debacle, but his Arc of Infinity is almost as bad without similar excuses, so is placed second. Chris Bailey comes first coz' I hate Kinda!"

The Directors

1 Peter Moffatt 21.2 1 Pennant Roberts 22.8 1 Peter Moffatt 19.6
2 Fiona Cumming 19.9 2 Ron Jones 15.2 2 Fiona Cumming 18.0
3 Peter Grimwade 16.5 3 John Black 15.2 3 Peter Grimwade 16.4
4 Graeme Harper 13.6 4 Tony Virgo 11.4 4 Graeme Harper 13.8
5 Ron Jones 13.1 5 Michael Morris 8.9 5 Ron Jones 10.6
6 Matthew Robinson 6.8 6 Mary Ridge 6.3 6 Matthew Robinson 8.7
7 John Black 3.0 7 Fiona Cumming 6.3 7 Mary Ridge 3.9
8 Pennant Roberts 2.1 8 Peter Moffatt 3.8 8 Michael Morris 3.5
9 Michael Morris 1.7 9 Graeme Harper 3.8 9 John Black 2.9
10 Mary Ridge 1.3 10 Matthew Robinson 3.8 10 Tony Virgo 2.3
11 Tony Virgo 0.8 11 Peter Grimwade 2.5 11 Pennant Roberts 0.3

Although to my mind, Moffatt's direction work is by no means particularly innovative or inspiring; his first placing is understandable considering that he was responsible for The Five Doctors. A possible reason for Fiona Cumming's second placing is put forward by Joshua Preston - "for only the virtually best episode ever - Planet of Fire Part One - that was almost of cinematic quality."

Chris Girdler describes Graeme Harper as "one of my two favourite directors (the other is Alan Wareing), and provided the murderous flavour of The Caves of Androzani with innovative and interesting shots." David Bishop also places Harper first: "Harper is the obvious choice for his handling of the classic The Caves of Androzani, while Moffatt scores big on nostalgia points for Mawdryn Undead and making the cluttered The Five Doctors very watchable. Grimwade takes third place because although Earthshock is his masterpiece, I loathed Kinda." David also comments on the worst: "Pennant Roberts first for fucking up Warriors of the Deep royally and Robinson for the incomprehensible Resurrection of the Daleks mess."

Memorable Moments

This wasn't a category as such, but simply a question on the end of the survey form asking for readers to say what they considered to be the best scenes of the Davison era. A selection, in story order, of the wealth of responses, follows:

The Doctor's post-regenerative trauma & impersonation of his previous selves.
Castrovalva collapsing.
The cricket ball in space scene.
The chilling dream-time sequences with Tegan.
The cliffhanger when the Doctor opens the box of Jhana.
The Doctor's farewell to Dr Todd.
The cricket match.
The rooftop confrontation with George Cranleigh.
The Doctor using Adric's star to kill the Cyberleader.
Adric's death.
Tegan's shock at being left behind by the Doctor.
Omega's surprise at finding out Tegan knew the Doctor.
Omega enjoying listening to the pipe organ.
The Doctor's initiation' by Dojjen.
Tegan's impersonation of the Mara.
The Doctor meeting up with the Brigadier.
The Brigadier's flashback and meeting himself.
Nyssa's farewell to the Doctor.
The sailing ship race.
The awesome Raston Warrior Robot.
The third Doctor and Sarah on the 'flying fox'.
The interaction between the four Doctors in Rassilon's tomb.
The Doctor's cliffhanger plunge into the water.
The Doctor attempting to save Tegan from the Myrka.
The end with its statement about war and xenophobia.
Will Chandler pushing Sir George into the mouth of the Malus.
The Doctor's attempted execution of Davros.
Tegan's emotional departure.
Turlough rescuing Pen from drowning.
The Doctor's demonstration of how caring he is towards Peri
All of the scenes with Sharaz Jek.
The Doctor and Peri being shot at the cliffhanger.
The Doctor attempting to revive the dying Peri with his celery.
The Doctor being hunted by the gunrunners on Androzani Minor.
The Doctor's old companions urging him to live.
The regeneration sequence.


  • Richard Scheib: "The era was one of the best, a definite change of pace - mellower, character-orientated stories, which weren't always successful, but when they were, they brought the series to an intellectual high."
  • Nigel Flockhart: "The fifth Doctor's three seasons were a turning point in the series, something of a renaissance after the previous gothic gloom."
  • Paul Rigby: "All the stories had good plots, but some were let down by bad special effects, but you could visibly see the effects getting better and more realistic, story by story."
  • Murray Jackson: "The general maturity of the Doctor and handling of the series has not been equalled or surpassed since Pat Troughton's era and Jon Pertwee's first two seasons. Davison's years were possibly the most memorable for me."
  • Jeff Stone: "Davison I think came on the scene only just in time to save the show. Baker's last two seasons, apart from the odd story, were indicative of the slide the show was in. The era was generally excellent, only let down by a few boring stories.
  • Warwick Gray: "There were a few weak stories in there, but no absolute disasters. The majority were entertaining. His first season was consistently good, perhaps one of the best runs of stories the show has ever had."
  • Joshua Preston: "If Davison had a whole season of The Caves of Androzani-calibre stories then he would have been better. I thought the era was good in being a total change of Doctor, and some really innovative ideas were used, even if they were inadequately carried out."
  • Alistair Hughes: "I consider the Peter Davison era to have been a successful one. During the Doctor's fifth incarnation we saw a boom in 'Who-related' merchandise, the beginning of the American mega-conventions and the huge success of Doctor Who in that and other countries, and the well-marked 20th anniversary of the programme.

Survey's End

This has proved to be a much larger undertaking than I had imagined when I volunteered to survey the Davison era. It was originally to have been conducted jointly with Jon Preddle, but this proved impractical. My thanks go to Jon who helped with the initial stages and to Felicity Fletcher for some of the calculations. Next issue, the results of the Sixth Doctor Survey!

Go to Part 3

This item appeared in TSV 21 (February 1991).