What do I like about the Fifth Doctor era?

fifth doctor

Hello everyone! 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog and I’m Tim Bradley!

Here’s a re-posting of my blog article, ‘What do I like about the Fifth Doctor era?’. I originally posted this article in October 2015 when I was setting up my blog. In celebration of seeing Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton at the ‘York Unleashed’ event this coming weekend, here’s the article for you to enjoy!

The era of ‘Doctor Who’ that I grew up with was the Russell T. Davies era with Christopher Eccelston as the Ninth Doctor and David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor. But I’m also very fond of Peter Davison’s era of ‘Doctor Who’ from 1981 to 1984. I like to think the Fifth Doctor era predated the Tenth Doctor era.

In 1981, producer John Nathan-Turner went for a younger actor to play ‘Doctor Who’ after Tom Baker had been playing the character for seven years from 1974 to 1981. It was a brave move as Peter Davison (aged 29 at the time) took on the part and started a trend of younger Doctors afterwards.

My idea of the Doctor is of an old man in a young man’s body. I like it when actors like Peter Davison and David Tennant play the Doctor, as they bring a sense of youthful energy as well as a sense of wisdom to the Doctor that I like.

Here’s what I like about Peter Davison’s Doctor and his era in general.

How I first encountered Peter Davison

Peter Davison as Tristan Farnon in 'All Creatures Great and Small'.

The first time I saw Peter in ‘anything’ was ‘All Creatures Great and Small’. This was what he was famous for before he became ‘Doctor Who’. ‘All Creatures’ was a BBC TV drama series about vets made in the late 1970s. So Peter was a vet before he became the Doctor!

I watched ‘All Creatures’ with my parents when they bought the DVDs in 2003. I really enjoyed watching it back then, as I found the series about vets in the 1930s interesting and entertaining.

I’m fond of this TV drama series starring Christopher Timothy, Robert Hardy and of course Peter Davison. Those of you who’ve seen this series will know what I’m talking about. I enjoyed the light-hearted, slightly romantic and period drama aspects to the series. Peter is brilliant as Tristan Farnon.

I didn’t think I would be watching Peter beyond ‘All Creatures’ and regard him as one of my favourite Doctors from ‘Doctor Who’. As someone once said: Peter’s playing Tristan but with more bravery. 😀

My first story with the Fifth Doctor

The first time I saw Peter as the Doctor was in 2006. I’d watched the two-part David Tennant story, ‘Army of Ghosts’/’Doomsday’. Feeling an absence of ‘Doctor Who’ and having to wait for ‘The Runaway Bride’ in Christmas 2006, I decided to watch a story from the classic series.

The first classic story I watched was ‘Earthshock’. I chose this story as it had Cybermen in it (one of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ monsters) and it starred Peter Davison as the Doctor (who I’d seen before in ‘All Creatures Great and Small’). Some say I picked a good story to start from the classic series.

I really enjoyed this one with the Cybermen and Peter Davison as the Doctor. Peter convinced me instantly he was the Doctor and it was the first time I saw Nyssa, Tegan and Adric as his companions.

I was disappointed with seeing the ‘excellent’ Cybermen featured in the story. This was due to me being spoilt and impressed by the Cybermen that featured in the stories ‘Rise of the Cybermen’/’The Age of Steel’ and ‘Army of Ghosts’/’Doomsday’. But the ‘Earthshock’ Cybermen grew on me.

I wasn’t expecting Adric to die at the end of that story, as I’d only seen Rose’s departure in ‘Doomsday’. Seeing those end credits with the silence on them was quite disturbing.

Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor

fifth doctor

So why is it I like Peter Davison’s Doctor so much? I really like how Peter plays him, as he’s a complete contrast to Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor who came before him.

Peter’s Doctor has this innocence and vulnerability that’s appealing to watch and makes him more human compared to the other classic Doctors. He makes mistakes and isn’t so all-knowing as previous Doctors. He’s also very compassionate; selfless and always puts others before himself.

Peter’s Doctor is also very sporty as he loves playing cricket. He wears a cricketing outfit that includes a V-neck cricket jumper; a cream-coloured coat; a panama hat; red-striped trousers and white trainers. He’s very energetic; a fast runner and is very good with throwing a red cricket ball.

These aspects of the Fifth Doctor predate (as I said before) with what would come later in the personas of the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors. This is something I really like and helps me to appreciate both the classic and the new series of ‘Doctor Who’ in all of its forms.

My favourite Fifth Doctor TV story

Having watched all the TV stories of the Fifth Doctor, I can reveal which one is my absolute favourite from that era.

My favourite TV story with the Fifth Doctor is ‘Black Orchid’. I love that story as it features my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companion Sarah Sutton as Nyssa. She also gets to play Ann Talbot and is wonderful in both parts. It’s a story set in the 1920s; has dancing and has the Doctor playing cricket.

Surprisingly, this isn’t Peter Davison’s favourite ‘Doctor Who’ story as his favourite is ‘The Caves of Androzani’. Peter hates this story, according to Sarah and on the DVD commentary of ‘Black Orchid’. This rather disappointed me, as this was the only time Peter gets to play cricket in ‘Doctor Who’.

‘Black Orchid’ is a two-part adventure and is a very charming historical tale with no sci-fi elements in it, apart from the TARDIS. I’ve watched this and read/listened to the ‘Doctor Who’ Target novelization/audiobook which I love.

Other TV stories I like from the Fifth Doctor era also include ‘The Visitation’; ‘Earthshock’; ‘Arc of Infinity’; ‘The Five Doctors’; ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’ and ‘The Caves of Androzani’.

My favourite Fifth Doctor Big Finish audio


As well as the TV stories, I’ve also enjoyed the Big Finish audios with Peter Davison’s Doctor, including the ones where the Doctor’s travelling alone with Sarah Sutton as Nyssa in the TARDIS.

My favourite Big Finish audio with the Fifth Doctor is ‘Circular Time’. This was my first Big Finish CD and I loved every minute of it. It’s a four-episode CD, which is four separate individual stories on 2 discs featuring the themes of seasons in them from ‘Spring’ to ‘Summer’ to ‘Autumn’ to ‘Winter’.

I love the performances of both Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton as the Doctor and Nyssa in this CD. My favourite episode is the third story called ‘Autumn’. It’s a lovely little tale about the Doctor playing cricket in Stockbridge village and has Nyssa falling in love for the first time which I liked.

‘Circular Time’ is what got me mad into listening to the Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’. I went on to listening to more Big Finish audios with Peter Davison’s Doctor and Sarah Sutton’s Nyssa and loved every minute of them.

Other Big Finish stories that I like from the Fifth Doctor era include ‘The Mutant Phase’; ‘Spare Parts’; ‘The Stockbridge Trilogy’ (‘Castle of Fear’; ‘The Eternal Summer’ and ‘Plague of the Daleks’); ‘The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories’ and ‘1963: Fanfare For The Common Men’.

‘Time Crash’

Something special happened on Children-in-Need night on the 16th of November 2007. David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor met Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor for the first time in ‘Time Crash’.

This was something I love from the new series of ‘Doctor Who’. This was a brilliant 8-minute sketch set inside the TARDIS where the Fifth Doctor’s TARDIS crashes into the Tenth Doctor’s TARDIS and the two meet each other. It’s well-written by Steven Moffat and is well-directed by Graeme Harper.

I remember watching this over and over again on YouTube. I love the comparisons made between the Fifth and Tenth Doctors and that’s not just the glasses; the trainers and the voice going squeaky. It made me appreciate both Doctors more and why they’re both my favourites from ‘Doctor Who’.

Most recently, David Tennant is now part of Peter Davison’s family as he married his daughter Georgia Moffat from the series. Who knows when the Fifth and Tenth Doctor will meet again…?!

My favourite Fifth Doctor companion

As I said before, Nyssa is my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companion. She is also Peter Davison’s favourite companion, so that’s something Peter and I have in common.

Nyssa is played by the lovely Sarah Sutton. She’s an alien princess from the peaceful planet of Traken. She first appeared in ‘Doctor Who’ in the story ‘The Keeper of Traken’ with Tom Baker. But she quickly became Peter Davison’s companion after Tom Baker regenerated in ‘Logopolis’.

The reasons why I like Nyssa so much as a companion are that she has this caring, compassionate nature and gentleness. Nyssa brings out the best in the Fifth Doctor and enjoys travelling with him, compared to other companions like Tegan and Adric who want to go home and argue with him.

I’ve met Sarah Sutton in person at ‘Doctor Who’ conventions and she’s a genuinely friendly and kind person. Sarah has enjoyed reprising her role as Nyssa in more ‘Doctor Who’ stories through the Big Finish audios. Nyssa has become a well-developed character in the audios compared to the TV series.

I also like Janet Fielding as Tegan, Matthew Waterhouse as Adric and Mark Strickson as Turlough as the Fifth Doctor’s companions. They too have received good treatment in the Big Finish audios.

My favourite Fifth Doctor villain

the master

The recurring enemy of the Fifth Doctor in ‘Doctor Who’ on TV was Anthony Ainley as the Master. Anthony’s version of the Master is my favourite and was the first one I saw in ‘Doctor Who’.

The first time I saw Anthony as the Master was in ‘The Five Doctors’. I was intrigued by this renegade Time Lord and how he became an enemy of the Doctor. I enjoy Anthony’s elegant evil throughout his performances as the Master and this was before I saw Roger Delgado and John Simm as the Master.

It was a while before I discovered that the Master murdered Nyssa’s father, Tremas, and took over his body to travel the cosmos and cause havoc and destruction. I felt for Nyssa who had to face the reality of her father’s death and be tormented by the murderer who wears her father’s body.

The stories I like with Anthony Ainley as the Master include ‘The Keeper of Traken’; ‘Logopolis’ and ‘Castrovalva’. I also liked the Master appearing in ‘Time-Flight’ and ‘Planet of Fire’ and enjoyed him facing the Seventh Doctor in ‘Survival’. Anthony clearly enjoyed and relished playing the Master on TV.

‘The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot’

One of the things I love about the 50th anniversary of ‘Doctor Who’ was Peter Davison’s celebratory half-hour special called ‘The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot’. This really made the 50th anniversary for me.

After missing the classic Doctors appearing in ‘The Day of the Doctor’ (apart from Tom Baker of course), I was pleased to hear announced during the BBC Three After Live Party that Peter Davison’s ‘Five(ish) Doctors’ special would be shown on the BBC Red Button channel. I couldn’t wait to see it.

This is a lovely half-hour special about three grumpy men (that’s Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy) who want to appear in the 50th anniversary of ‘Doctor Who’. It was very funny to watch and very touching, as it mixed in with celebrating both classic and new series ‘Doctor Who’.

The things I love about ‘The Five(ish) Doctors’ include the ‘Androzani’-styled dream sequence with Steven Moffat featuring the classic companions (including Sarah Sutton, my favourite). I also loved the in-jokes made by Peter, Colin and Sylvester as well as David Tennant and Matt Smith appearing in it.

Meeting the stars of the Fifth Doctor era

I’m extremely lucky to have met all of the regular stars of the Fifth Doctor era of ‘Doctor Who’ at conventions. I’ve met Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding, Matthew Waterhouse, Mark Strickson, Nicola Bryant and of course Peter Davison. I’d never have believed that I would be meeting these people.

Sarah Sutton is truly my favourite person to meet at ‘Doctor Who’ conventions. I’ve enjoyed chatting to her during signings; seeing her on panels and at photo shoots and have become very good friends with her. She likes seeing me and truly appreciates my support of her as Nyssa in ‘Doctor Who’.

I’m lucky to have met Peter, Janet, Sarah and Matthew at the same convention at Slough in August 2013. I didn’t chat to Peter much since he was busy making ‘Five(ish) Doctors’ at the hotel venue. But I had a group photo (see above) with Janet, Sarah and Matthew at the convention which I’m very pleased about.

I soon met Peter again with Sarah at ‘H-Con’ at Eastleigh, Hampshire in July 2015. I was able to chat to Peter more and tell him how much I enjoyed watching/hearing as the Fifth Doctor on TV and in the Big Finish audios. I had a photo with both Peter and Sarah (see above) at ‘H-Con’ which I’m very happy about.

I’ve now seen Peter at more conventions since I first wrote this article back in October 2015. I met him at the ‘Science of the Time Lords’ event in January 2016; at the ‘Worcester Comic Con’ in August 2016; at the ‘Stars of Time Film and Comic Con @ The Tropicana’ event in August 2016; at the ‘Regenerations 2016’ convention in September 2016 and at the ‘GEEKS Salisbury Comic Con’ in July 2017. I’m lucky to have met and seen both Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton at these conventions.

I’ve also written my own ‘Fifth Doctor’ fan-fiction series of ‘Doctor Who’ with the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Billy. I’ve added my series of stories to my ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog. These stories by me are my appreciation of Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton for their performances in ‘Doctor Who’ on TV and audio.

I’ve a lot to be thankful for, as I became very fond of the Fifth Doctor era of ‘Doctor Who’ through watching the TV stories; hearing the Big Finish audios and meeting the stars like Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton. I’m very lucky to have met the stars who are lovely and embraced my love for ‘Doctor Who’.

I’m now very excited and looking forward to seeing Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton again at the ‘York Unleashed’ event this coming weekend!

I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on the Fifth Doctor era.

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂

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