No episode stills are currently available for this story.
Each episode is identified with date of transmission, duration, ratings in millions, and (for 1963-1974 only) archive status.
08 March 1984 | 24'33" | 6.9
09 March 1984 | 25'00" | 6.6
15 March 1984 | 24'36" | 7.8
16 March 1984 | 25'37" | 7.8
The TARDIS arrives on the planet Androzani Minor. Examining the ground, the Doctor finds traces of fused silica – evidence of a visiting spacecraft. He also points out to Peri a set of tracks leading to and from some nearby caves, which they then visit to investigate further.
Peri slips and falls into a strange sticky substance which makes her legs sting, and the Doctor helps her brush it off with his hands. Moving deeper into the caves, they find piles of weaponry belonging to gun runner Stotz (Maurice Roeves) and his hired hand Krelper (Roy Holder). They are captured by Captain Rones (unknown) who assumes they are gun runners and has them sent to General Chellak (Martin Cochrane).
The General uses a holographic communicator to report to Morgus (John Normington) back on Androzani Major. Morgus is the head of several conglomerate companies and is involved in funding the war against the gun runners. He seems concerned on learning that some gun runners have been caught, but when he sees the Doctor and Peri he orders that they be shot immediately, despite Chellak’s feeling that they could be a source of useful information. Chellak has his aide Salateen (Robert Glenister) place the Doctor and Peri in detention.
Chellak’s conversation with Morgus has been monitored by a black-garbed and masked figure who takes a fancy to Peri. He starts to assemble components in his laboratory and orders androids four and nine to join him.
Peri’s legs and the Doctor’s hands are coming out in blisters. The Doctor is suspicious of Morgus, and of Salateen. Someone enters their cell via a secret door.
Morgus receives the President (David Neal) in his office and gives him some spectrox – a drug that at least doubles the life span of humans. The war is holding up spectrox supplies and the President is considering offering an armistice to Sharaz Jek, the person responsible for it. Morgus is horrified.
On Androzani Minor, the Doctor and Peri are apparently executed by firing squad. However, they are revealed to be androids.
The real Doctor and Peri have been ‘rescued’ by the figure in black, Sharaz Jek (Christopher Gable). Although attentive to Peri, he is unstable and apparently insane with loathing for Morgus, whom he blames for all his problems. He declares he will stop the war only when he has Morgus’s head delivered to him, and states he has no intention of letting the Doctor and Peri go. Via his communication network, he knows everything that Chellak is planning and is confident that he can hold out for long enough against the army. The Doctor and Peri meet Salateen, who has been held captive for some time while one of Jek’s androids takes his place at Chellak’s side.
Salateen laughs when he realises that the Doctor and Peri have contracted spectrox toxæmia from touching raw spectrox – deposits from colonies of bats which live deep in the caves under Androzani Minor. The time travellers are experiencing cramp, which is the second stage of the illness. Salateen initially tells them that there is no cure but then admits that there is an anti-toxin, discovered by Professor Jackij, which is found in the milk from a queen bat. Unfortunately all the bats have gone to the deep caves, which are devoid of oxygen and prowled by a vicious magma creature (Colin Taylor). Jek explains that he wears a mask because he was hideously burned when Morgus trapped him in a mud-burst; he was able to get to a baking chamber to escape the mud, but in the process was scalded nearly to death.
Jek goes to meet Stotz to argue over the amount of payment for the recent shipment of lost weapons. In his absence, the Doctor is able to disarm the guarding android as it is programmed to recognise humans and his anatomy is different. The Time Lord has decided to get the queen bat milk himself.
The Doctor is wounded when he, Salateen and Peri are attacked by an android while moving through the caves. Salateen hurries Peri off to General Chellak, and the Doctor then has a close encounter with the magma beast as it attacks Stotz’s party, who have been trying to find Jek’s private store of spectrox.
The Doctor is recaptured by Jek who uses his androids to torture him until he discloses where Peri is. Stotz wants to take the Doctor back with him to Androzani Major and Jek agrees. Meanwhile Chellak and Salateen are planing to feed Jek disinformation through the android Salateen and through broadcasts to Morgus regarding an attack on a fake location for Jek’s base. In this way they hope to catch Jek unawares when they mount an attack on him in his true location.
Returning to his spacecraft, Stotz reports to his boss back on Androzani Major. It is Morgus. Morgus sees the Doctor on the ship and regards this as proof that the President must suspect him. He therefore kills the President by pushing him down a lift shaft and makes plans to travel to Androzani Minor to negotiate with Jek in person.
Stotz’s ship takes off, but the Doctor manages to free himself and pilot it back to Androzani Minor.
Jek recaptures Peri who is by now very weak indeed. He raves about everything being Morgus’s fault.
As the Doctor races across the surface of Androzani Minor, chased by Krelper and his men, Chellak and Salateen make their way towards Jek’s base. Jek has not been fooled at all, however, and the troops are ambushed by his androids. Salateen is killed along with some of the troopers, but Chellak pushes on. Eruptions on the surface herald the start of a mud-burst and Krelper returns to the spaceship to find Stotz and Morgus in conversation. Krelper is sent away and Morgus offers Stotz a share of the spectrox. He intends to take Jek’s private store of the drug and live on another planet in the Sirius system.
Jek’s androids are being overrun by Chellak’s men. Jek goes to see if any of them can be repaired, but he too runs into the troops. Chellak chases Jek back to his lab where the two men struggle. Jek’s mask is pulled off and Chellak recoils in terror. The distraction allows Jek to push him outside into the path of a mud-burst, where he is killed.
Morgus calls his office and discovers to his horror that his secretary Timmin (Barbara Kinghorn) has taken control of his business – she is now Chairman and Chief Director of Sirius Conglomerates and has given evidence against him. His empire is finished and all his funds have been sequestered. With Morgus no longer in a position of power, Krelper rebels. He wants to return to Androzani Major with the spectrox they already have. Stotz guns him down, along with the remaining gunrunner (Gerry O’Brien). He and Morgus then go to the cave system to try to find Jek’s spectrox store.
Jek is mourning Peri, who is almost unconscious when the Doctor arrives. The Time Lord borrows an oxygen cylinder from Jek and tells him to keep Peri cool while he gets the bat’s milk. While the Doctor is gone, Stotz and Morgus find Jek’s lab. Jek throws himself at Morgus and forces his head into the path of a laser beam, killing him. Stotz shoots Jek but the android Salateen arrives and kills Stotz. As fire breaks out in the lab, Jek dies in the arms of the android Salateen. The Doctor returns with the milk in time to carry Peri out.
As the planet erupts around him, the Doctor gets back to the TARDIS and gives Peri the milk. She recovers quickly but there is none of the antidote left for the Doctor, who regenerates in order to save his own life.
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.
Davison's final story, considered by many the tour-de-force of 1980's Doctor Who, "The Caves of Androzani" marked a long-heralded return by screenwriter Robert Holmes to the programme. Davison had decided to leave earlier in the year, so this story was specially written as a regeneration story to air as the penultimate adventure, giving the new Doctor actor Colin Baker a story to end the season; however, by now Davison regretted his choice to leave, but by then contracts had already been signed for Baker. The working title for the story was "Chain Reaction"; a story supposedly intended for this slow, "The Doctor's Wife" was in actuality a ruse by producer Nathan-Turner to find out where information leaks were coming from in his office. Saward was responsible for the sequence involving an explanation of the Fifth Doctor's celery stalk (to alert the Doctor when he came in contact with gases he was allergic to); he also wrote the final scene. Christopher Gable was not the first choice to play Sharaz Jek; among the actors offered the role were Tim Curry and David Bowie! When the Doctor is in the control room of Stotz's ship, he apparently has a premonition of his coming regeneration when he sees the same patterns as at the story's conclusion. Recording was interrupted by industrial action and delays occurred; final taping occurred up to the wire, with two sequences being cut (an opening TARDIS sequence with the Doctor and Peri and the Doctor's battle with the magma beast in episode four). Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton, Matthew Waterhouse, Mark Strickson, Gerald Flood and Anthony Ainley returned for brief cameo appearances during the regeneration sequence. A John Peyre is credited for ‘design effects' on part four; this is a misspelling of the name of Jean Peyre, a Frenchman who created the matte paintings for the shots where the Doctor travels down to obtain the bat's milk. The closing title sequence for episode four features the face of the sixth Doctor, Colin Baker, and list him prior to Peter Davison.
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
Released in the UK [June 2001] and Australia/New Zealand [January 2002] (BBC DVD catalog #1042), US/Canada [April 2002] (WHV catalog #E1606); episodic format, photomontage cover (UK version by Clayton Hickman). Includes commentary by Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant and director Graeme Harper, original BBC1 trailer, BBC News interview with Davison and story about his departure from the series, a South East At Six News feature with Davison and John Nathan-Turner, an eight-minute feature with commentary, a five-minute interview with the late Christopher Gable, isolated music soundtrack and photo gallery. US/Canada release also includes the "Who's Who" option.
Released as "The Caves of Androzani" in the UK [January 1992] and Australia/New Zealand [May 1992] (BBC catalog #4713), US/Canada [October 1992] (WHV catalog #E1183); episodic format, cover illustration by Andrew Skilleter.
Some music from this story was released on cassette and CD, "Doctor Who - The Five Doctors: Classic Music from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop Volume 2" in 1992 (Silva Screen FILMCD 709) and "The Best of Doctor Who Vol. 1 - The Five Doctors" in North America in 1994 (Silva America SD 1012). The releases also featured music from other stories.
Novelised as "Doctor Who – The Caves of Androzani" by Terrance Dicks (Target #92), first released in 1984 with cover by Andrew Skilleter. Rereleased in 1992 with cover art also by Skilleter.
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