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Episode Guide
Terminus
Production Code: 6G
Season 20, Story Number 127
Written by Steve Gallagher
Directed by Mary Ridge
No episode stills are currently available for this story.
Archives

Each episode is identified with date of transmission, duration, ratings in millions, and (for 1963-1974 only) archive status.

Part One
15 February 1983 | 24'58" | 6.8
Part Two
16 February 1983 | 24'40" | 7.5
Part Three
22 February 1983 | 24'39" | 6.5
Part Four
23 February 1983 | 24'49" | 7.4
Archive Status: All four episodes exist as PAL 2” colour videotape, always held by the BBC’s Film and Videotape Library.
Cast
Peter Davison (The Doctor), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka), Mark Strickson (Turlough), Valentine Dyall (The Black Guardian), Liza Goddard (Kari), Dominic Guard (Olvir), Rachel Weaver (Inga), Martin Potter (Eirak), Andrew Burt (Valgard), Tim Munro (Sigurd), Peter Benson (Bor), Martin Muncaster (Tannoy Voice), R.J. Bell (The Garm)
Synopsis
Under instruction from the Black Guardian (Valentine Dyall), Turlough operates some blue switches hidden behind a roundel in a corridor of the TARDIS. He then goes to the console room and the Guardian tells him to rip out the ‘heart’ of the TARDIS. He tries to remove the piece of equipment indicated, but it gets stuck. A wall of shimmering light starts to encroach upon the interior of the ship, trapping Nyssa. Hurrying to the console room, the Doctor notes that the time rotor is jamming and activates the cut-out. By refocusing the scanner monitor on the interior of the ship he is able to see and speak to Nyssa. A door emblazoned with a skull pattern appears in the wall of Nyssa’s room. The Time Lord tells her to go through it, and she does so. The Doctor, Tegan and Turlough then rush to her room. The strange door starts to close, but the Doctor jams a chair in the gap. He goes after Nyssa. Turlough and Tegan also pass through the door, which closes behind them and then vanishes.

The Doctor finds Nyssa and together they locate a control room. They are on a ship that appears deserted aside from two space pirates, Kari (Liza Goddard) and Olvir (Dominic Guard), who take them captive. The ship’s motors suddenly start up as it begins a docking procedure. The computer announces via a tannoy voice (Martin Muncaster) that they are arriving at Terminus Inc. Skull-patterned doors open all over the ship and diseased humanoids emerge to shuffle to the exits. Olvir realises that they are on a plague ship. To avoid the crush of people, Tegan and Turlough open a hatch in the floor and hide in the air vent beneath. When the coast seems clear they try to emerge but find that they cannot reopen the hatch. They decide to go along the venting instead. The Doctor meanwhile discovers that Terminus is at the exact centre of the known universe.

On Terminus, the Vanir are in charge of operations. They unload the diseased humanoids into holding cells and prepare to sterilise the ship in which they arrived. Nyssa is found by one of the service robots and, as she has contracted lazar’s disease, is placed in a cell along with the others.

There is unrest among the Vanir. Eirak (Martin Potter), the leader, controls the supplies of the drug hydromel which they need to survive the effects of radiation. Valgard (Andrew Burt) and Sigurd (Tim Munro) are unhappy with the situation. The company seems intent on cutting back to the extent of making their working conditions intolerable. Another Vanir, Bor (Peter Benson), wanders off into the forbidden zone to try to locate the source of the rising radiation levels. The Garm (R. J. Bell), a huge dog-headed alien, is summoned from the zone by the others and told to locate Bor and bring him back. The Doctor and Kari also enter the zone, and Eirak offers Valgard a deal: if Valgard brings back the two strangers, who are assumed to be from the company, Eirak will stand down in his favour. Valgard agrees.

The Doctor and Kari find Bor. He is trying to block the radiation, which is coming from a damaged engine. He is delirious and says that he followed the control cables. The Doctor and Kari do likewise and find the long-dead pilot of Terminus. The place was once capable of time travel, and the Doctor postulates that an ejection of fuel from one damaged engine could have created the universe. The second engine is also unstable and will soon explode, bringing the universe to an end.

Tegan and Turlough are still trapped in the conduits. The Black Guardian directs Turlough to what he says is an emergency bypass switch. As Turlough pulls out the wires on the switch, Terminus begins the procedure to jettison the fuel. The Doctor cannot prevent the jettison lever from moving and so recruits the Garm to help. The creature manages to push the lever back and prevent a catastrophe. By way of thanks, the Doctor releases the Garm from the Vanir’s service by smashing the device with which they summon and control him.

Nyssa, meanwhile, has been exposed to the radiation and left in a room to recover. She realises that the cure Terminus promises for lazar’s disease can actually be made to work. The Doctor and Kari return with Valgard, and Eirak is deposed peacefully. Nyssa explains that she can synthesise hydromel and free the Vanir from the company’s control.

Tegan finally emerges from the ship – Turlough has made his way back to the TARDIS without her – and meets up with the Doctor and Nyssa. Nyssa decides to stay on Terminus to help the Vanir perfect the cure for lazar disease, and they say their farewells.

In the TARDIS, the Black Guardian gives Turlough a final ultimatum. He must kill the Doctor.

Synopsis from Doctor Who: The Fifth Doctor Handbook by David J. Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker, reprinted with permission; further reproduction is not permitted.

Production Team
Polly Davidson (Assistant Floor Manager), Adrian Heywood (Assistant Floor Manager), Dee Robson (Costumes), Dick Coles (Designer), John Waller (Fight Arranger), Remi Adefarasin (Film Cameraman), Frances Parker (Film Editor), Roger Limb (Incidental Music), Joan Stribling (Make-Up), John Nathan-Turner (Producer), Rena Butterwick (Production Assistant), June Collins (Production Associate), Eric Saward (Script Editor), Dick Mills (Special Sounds), Sam Barclay (Studio Lighting), Scott Talbott (Studio Sound), Peter Howell (Theme Arrangement), Ron Grainer (Title Music), Peter Pegrum (Visual Effects)
Story Notes
The second chapter of the "Black Guardian trilogy," Gallagher's story was actually pitched two years prior on the success of his first Doctor Who script, "Warriors' Gate". Nyssa was written out in this story; always intended to be a temporary companion, but remaining on the suggestion of Peter Davison, she nevertheless met her departure staying behind on the Terminus station to tend to the Lazar's Disease survivors. Affected by an electricians' strike, Terminus had one fewer day assigned than other stories in the season for studio recording, the consequences being that Sarah Sutton would have to return for the final studio day in December after her scheduled departure in late October. Other problems arose including major costuming issues and the missing rotator unit of the TARDIS console, having been shipped to the Longleat exhibition! Nyssa's subsequent history after her departure from the TARDIS is dealt with in the BBC Books novel "Asylum".
For more in-depth information about the contents of this story, a complete episode-by-episode detailed breakdown can be found at the Doctor Who Reference Guide.
Additional, more detailed information about the production of this story can be found at Shannon Patrick Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel).
Video release
Released as "Terminus" in the UK [January 1993] and Australia/New Zealand [June 1993] (BBC catalog #4890), US/Canada [May 1994] (WHV catalog #E1258); episodic format, cover illustration by Andrew Skilleter.
In Print
Novelised as "Doctor Who - Terminus" by John Lydecker [pseudonym for Stephen Gallagher] (Target #79), first released in 1983 with photomontage cover.
For more details on the various novelizations of this story, with additional background material, artwork and details of both UK and foreign releases, visit On Target.