Doctor Who Blog

50 Glorious Years: Episode 20 - 1982

It was a new beginning for Doctor Who in 1982. Peter Davison burst on to the scene in fine form with one of Doctor Who‘s finest seasons, a new time-slot in the UK, and ratings that on average, nearly doubled that of the previous season. Season 19 if often lauded for being the season which arguably shows Doctor Who‘s diversity better than any other season, even to this day. Stories set either totally or partially in Earth’s future, earth’s past, present day, alien planets, spaceships and even in the mind of one of the companions. The season incuded (amongst others) the cerebral, surrealistic Kinda, the “hard” sci-fi of Four to Doomsday, the fantasy of Castrovalva, a pseudo-historical with The Visitation, the first “pure” historical with Black Orchid and the all-out action-packed space epic Earthshock, which proved to be the biggest hit of the season and arguably, in its day, the most popular Doctor Who story of all time. From new monsters, returning monsters, new villains and the most brave and bold departure for a companion the series had ever done, the 1982 season was truly a special and memorable one.

It was quite the season for writer Eric Saward. He took over from Christopher Bidmead (with Antony Root sandwiched for a few months in between) as the show’s script editor while scripting two stories, the aforementioned The Visitation and Earthshock. It is difficult to think of another writer in the classic series days who had such a quick and impactful debut on the show - he went from being commissioned as a freelance writer for a debut script to becoming the show’s script editor and top writer by the end of the same year.

Outside of the UK, the series continued to gain in popularity around the world. In the US, the BBC achieved one of its biggest sales ever in this year - the entirety of the Doctor Who back catalogue (at least in terms of complete stories) to the US PBS stations. It was one of the most lucrative BBC sales to date, and the money that it generated was put back into other programmes rather than Doctor Who, showing the value of the property to the BBC just a year before its biggest anniversary celebration yet…..but that is for our next entry.


Interesting to note that, in your list of the stories of the season, you omitted Time-Flight. It would be interesting to see if that story could be improved with more successful special effects, or if this one was always doomed to be the wooden spoon winner.

Posted by David H. Olivier  on  05/27  at  09:53 AM

I always liked Timeflight. True, its not perfect, you can really tell they are in a studio and NOT outside at times. The reveal of The Master at the end of episode 2 actually was a surprise to me at that time. And while most feel that it didn’t make sense that the Master disguised himself for this story other than the shocking reveal cliff hanger, I would say that based on the trap he had set to catch the concords, he probably figured that The Doctor would be along at some point and would have preferred that his involvement not be known….yes I know its a stretch but I still like it, so there. I remember back then wondering if there would be another story featuring Captain Stapley and his gang as I thought back then they could have been worth a re-occurring characters. Or perhaps a spin off series based on the flying adventures of Captain Stapley and his gang as they encounter the crazy passengers of Concord. Okay I admit I might have went a little too far with that last suggestion.

Posted by Doug Grandy  on  05/27  at  12:49 PM

Re: “Black Orchid”: the first pure historical since the Troughton era, I believe you meant?

Posted by Matt G  on  05/28  at  05:56 PM

Yes, I omitted “since The Highlanders”.

Posted by Luca  on  05/28  at  09:04 PM

I thought Peter Davison was a great Doctor, a total breath of fresh air.  And the idea of a handsome youthful DOCTOR was born.

Posted by Stephen  on  06/01  at  08:10 PM

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