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Peter Davison
Terminus
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Synopsis


The Vanir Escourt Nyssa
The Vanir Escourt Nyssa
 Sabotage! The TARDIS is breaking up! Thanks to the combined efforts of the treacherous Turlough and his evil master,The Black Guardian, The Doctor and his companions are in terrible danger. The outside world has begun to break through and Nyssa has disappeared. Can the TARDIS' fail safe mechanism save them all by docking with another ship? Unlikely, when the nearest vessel is a carrier of plague victims destined for the infamous Terminus, the time-bomb planet ticking at the centre of the universe…

Source: BBC VHS Video


General Information

Season: Twenty
Production Code: 6G
Story Number: 126
Episode Numbers:592 - 595
Number of Episodes: 4
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Production Dates: October - December 1982
Broadcast Started: 15 February 1983
Broadcast Finished: 23 February 1983
Colour Status: Colour
Studio: BBC Television Centre (TC6)
Location: None
Writer:Steve Gallagher
Director:Mary Ridge
Producer:John Nathan-Turner
Script Editor:Eric Saward
Editor:Frances Parker
Production Assistant:Rena Butterwick
Production Associate:June Collins
Assistant Floor Manager:Polly Davidson
Designer:Dick Coles
Costume Designer:Dee Robson
Make-Up Designer:Joan Stribling
Cameraman:Alec Wheal
Incidental Music:Roger Limb
Special Sounds (SFX Editor):Dick Mills
Studio Sounds:Scott Talbott
Lighting:Sam Barclay
Visual Effects:Peter Pegrum
Fights Arranged By:John Waller
Title Sequence:Sid Sutton
Title Music:Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Arranged by Peter Howell
Number of Doctors: 1
The Doctor: Peter Davison (The Fifth Doctor)
Number of Companions: 3The Companions: Sarah Sutton (Nyssa) (Departs), Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka) and Mark Strickson (Turlough) Guest Cast: Valentine Dyall (The Black Guardian), Liza Goddard (Kari) Additional Cast: 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)Setting: A spaceship travelling to Terminus and Terminus itself Villains:Eirak and The Black Guardian

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
(UK)
Duration Viewers
(Millions)
In Archive
592Part 115 February 198324'58"6.8PAL 2" colour videotape
593Part 216 February 198324'40"7.5PAL 2" colour videotape
594Part 322 February 198324'39"6.5PAL 2" colour videotape
595Part 423 February 198324'49"7.4PAL 2" colour videotape

Total Duration 1 Hour 39 Minutes


Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 7.0
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (1998)57.68%  (Position = 131 out of 159)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2009)56.67% Lower (Position = 169 out of 200)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2014)58.08% Higher (Position = 209 out of 241)


Archives


 All four episodes exist as PAL 2" colour videotapes.



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Notes


This story is the second of three loosely connected stories known as "The Black Guardian Trilogy", and was the last to feature Sarah Sutton as companion Nyssa.

"The Black Guardian Trilogy" is the third "trilogy" during John Nathan-Turner’s time as producer - the first two being the E-Space adventures in Season Eighteen and the Season Eighteen to Season Nineteen bridge of The Master stories.

As with every story, during Season Twenty, "Terminus" also featured an enemy from The Doctor’s past. For this trilogy (begun in the previous story, "Mawdryn Undead", and concluded in the next story, "Enlightenment"), the enemy was The Black Guardian, who last faced the Fourth Doctor at the conclusion of The Key to Time saga in the 1979 story "The Armageddon Factor".

In "Mawdryn Undead" The Black Guardian enlisted the help of stranded alien Vislor Turlough to wage vengeance on The Doctor for his earlier crime of sabotaging his plans to obtain The Key to Time. This story continues with Turlough joining The Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan Jovanka aboard the TARDIS but still under the influence of The Black Guardian.

Written by Steve Gallagher this story was actually pitched two years prior on the success of his first Doctor Who scripts that became the 1981 Fourth Doctor story "Warriors' Gate". As production was beginning on "Warriors' Gate", in the summer of 1980, Steve Gallagher entered into discussions with then-Script Editor Christopher Bidmead about penning a second story. Commissioning of his script was delayed by the changes of Script Editor. Steve Gallagher’s script eventually came to John Nathan-Turner attention and he was interested in Steve Gallagher’s concept. The original storyline though had to be revised so as to include new companion Turlough, who was acting as an agent of the evil Black Guardian, as well as the inclusion of the Lazar Disease subplot.

Steve Gallagher drew heavily from Norse mythology. The Garm was a dog-headed beast who guarded the gates of Hell, while the Vanir were named after minor fertility gods. Several of the individual character names were inspired by other Scandinavian figure, including Eirak (the Norwegian king Erik Bloodaxe), Bor (the father of Odin, head of the Norse pantheon) and Sigurd (for Siegfried, a descendant of Odin).

John Nathan-Turner had always intended that Nyssa was to be a temporary companion, and his original intent had been to write her, not Adric, out of the show the previous year. It was only through the efforts of Peter Davison, who was quite fond of the character, that Nyssa had survived to this point, but by the middle of this season John Nathan-Turner finally decided that her potential had run its course and so she made her departure from the show in this story - electing to stay behind on the Terminus station to tend to the survivors of the Lazar’s Disease.

Liza Goddard, who plays Kari, is the former wife of Colin Baker - who would become the Sixth Doctor. Steve Gallager originally wanted to call Kari ‘Yoni’ until Eric Saward pointed out that it was the Sanskrit word for the female reproductive organ.

The director assigned to this story was Mary Ridge - a BBC veteran whose lengthy career included assignments on programmes including Z Cars, Dixon of Dock Green and Blake’s 7.

This story was affected by an electricians’ strike resulting in a major reorganisation of shooting schedules. This meant this story had one less day, for its studio recording, than the six studio days that was standard for stories with no location material.

Mary Ridge therefore had little time to spare in the studio. To make maters worse the production of "Terminus" was fraught with technical difficulties, including major costuming issues, delays due to electrical problems and a mis-built set – namely the missing rotator unit of the TARDIS console, having been shipped to the exhibition at Longleat. The result was that some scenes had to be recorded on improperly-lit sets, production therefore ran seriously late, and several scenes had to be recorded hastily, much to Peter Davison’s frustration.

Mary Ridge tried desperately to make up for the time lost but eventually it was realised that another studio day would be required. It was originally hoped that the remount would occur in November, but because of the BBC’s prioritising of its Christmas holiday programming this finally got pushed back to December during the middle of the filming of "The King's Demons". The consequence of this was that Sarah Sutton had to return for a final studio after her scheduled departure in late October.

This marked the end of Sarah Sutton’s regular involvement in Doctor Who, although she would return for a brief appearance, as an image of Nyssa, during the regeneration sequence in next season’s "The Caves of Androzani". Sarah Sutton reprised her role as Nyssa for the Thirtieth-Anniversary Children In Need special "Dimensions in Time", in 1993 and has since contributed to Big Finish Productions’ range of Doctor Who audio stories.

"Terminus" became Mary Ridge’s sole Doctor Who assignment, and it was also Steve Gallagher’s final Doctor Who story. Steve Gallagher did submit one further script idea but this was rejected on budgetary grounds. He has since concentrated on his successful genre novels and associated adaptations, as well as other television work.

It is revealed that Terminus is at the centre of the known universe. The spacecraft was once capable of time travel (though The Doctor doesn’t explain who built it). When one of its jettisoned fuel pods exploded in a void, it caused a chain reaction which led to Event One and the ripples followed the craft through time throwing it billions of years into the future.

The Doctor uses the same term, ‘Event One’, to describe the Big Bang as was used in 1982 story "Castrovalva". But in "Castrovalva" Event One is taken to refer to the creation of our Galaxy, not the universe. As the exact fuel used by Terminus is never mentioned, but apparently produces radiation as a side-effect of energy generation, it is not implausible to believe that Terminus is fusion-powered by hydrogen, and its release of fuel and the in-rush of hydrogen mentioned in "Castrovalva" are the same event. However, the description here of how Event One took place is later seemingly contradicted by the 1985 audio adventure "Slipback" featuring the Sixth Doctor and Peri.

It is revealed that the TARDIS’ space time element is beneath the console and is, according to The Black Guardian, ‘the heart of the TARDIS’ (see also "Arc of Infinity") and if removed while in flight can cause the jamming of the column and dimensional instability. The ‘heart’ of the TARDIS would be later important to the plots of the 2005 Ninth Doctor stories "Boom Town" and "Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways", where it would be shown as an intense light.

When the TARDIS is threatened with break-up, it will attempt to lock onto the nearest safe place in space-time (in this case, a starliner), to allow its passengers to escape. The Doctor claims it has always had this protocol, but it has never worked before.

Turlough is given Adric’s room in the TARDIS. There are visual references to the 1981 Fourth Doctor story "Logopolis" (the star chart) and the 1982 Fifth Doctor stories "Kinda" (the double helix) and "The Visitation" (the android’s mask), amongst others.

This is the first instance of The Doctor being able to ‘spy’ on his companions using the TARDIS scanner.

This story is well-remembered for its scenes in which the conservative Nyssa gradually removes some of her clothes. At first Nyssa drops her skirt in the second episode, for no apparent reason, and she ends up wearing little more than a slip for the remainder of the story. According to the script she was feeling ill and trying to loosen the pressure on her stomach, but this is not made clear on screen.

Lazar’s disease is cured by a massive dose of radiation, but this is a crude method, sometimes exchanging one killer disease for another. Nyssa thinks she can put into practice her Traken education, so elects to stay with the Vanir, promising to synthesize a form of Hydromel, the drug supplied by Terminus Incorporated. This results in Nyssa leaving the TARDIS crew in a moving scene at the story’s end.

Nyssa’s subsequent history after her departure from the TARDIS is dealt with in the BBC Books’ The Past Doctors Stories novel "Asylum" written by Peter Darvill-Evans. Nyssa’s life after her adventures with The Doctor are also covered in the Big Finish Productions’ audio stories "Circular Time" and "The Darkening Eye".

Strangely enough, despite the grim tone of the story and its themes of disease and death, it is the only story from Season Twenty in which no-one dies.

A novelisation of this story, written by Steve Gallagher under the pseudonym "John Lydecker", was published by Target Books in June 1983. As with the novelisation of "Warriors' Gate" this book has no chapters.



First and Last

The Firsts:

 The first Doctor Who story to be directed by Mary Ridge.

 The first instance of The Doctor being able to ‘spy’ on his companions using the TARDIS scanner.


The Lasts (Subject to Future Stories):

 Sarah Sutton's last story as Nyssa.

 The last Doctor Who story written by Steve Gallagher.

 The last Doctor Who story to be directed by Mary Ridge.


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The Plot

WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
Tegan Distrusts Turlough
Tegan Distrusts Turlough

Under instruction from The Black Guardian, Vislor Turlough, who has just joined The Doctor and Tegan Jovanka in the TARDIS, operates some 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 TARDIS 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 spaceship that appears deserted aside from two space pirates, Kari and Olvir, who are intent on plundering the ship's cargo. As the space pirates take them captive the spaceship’s motors suddenly start up as it begins a docking procedure. The computer announces via a tannoy voice that they are arriving at Terminus Inc

The Black Guardian
The Black Guardian

Skull-patterned doors then open all over the spaceship and diseased humanoids emerge shuffling 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.

Terminus claims to offer a cure for Lazar Disease and is crewed by a group of armoured slave workers, the Vanir, while the cure - which involves the sufferer being exposed to a high dosage of radiation - is administered by a huge dog-like creature known as the Garm. On Terminus, the Vanir unload the diseased humanoids into holding cells and prepare to sterilise the spaceship in which they arrived. Nyssa is found by one of the service robots and, as she has contracted the disease from sufferers transported aboard the liner, is placed in a cell along with the others.

Exploring Terminus
Exploring Terminus

There is unrest among the Vanir. Eirak, the leader, controls the supplies of the drug Hydromel which they need to survive the effects of radiation. Valgard and Sigurd are unhappy with the situation. The company seems intent on cutting back to the extent of making their working conditions intolerable. Another Vanir, Bor, wanders off into the forbidden zone to try to locate the source of the rising radiation levels. The Garm 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 destroys the electronic control box, which the Vanir summon and control the Garm, so setting him free.

Eirak
Eirak

Nyssa, meanwhile, has been exposed to the radiation and left in a room to recover. Nyssa eventually awakes to find out that she is no longer infected. She realises that the cure Terminus promises for Lazar’s Disease can actually be made to work but it is haphazard, with as many people dying from it as recovering. The Garm knows this, but is unable to refine it as he has been controlled by the Vanir.

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. It is then that Tegan finally emerges from the spaceship - Turlough has made his way back to the TARDIS without her - and meets up with The Doctor and Nyssa.

Nyssa then announces that she has realised that her scientific skills are needed on Terminus and so has decided to remain with the Vanir to perfect a cure for Lazar Disease and to help run Terminus as a proper hospital instead of a leper colony.

After bidding her friends a tearful farewell The Doctor and Tegan return to the TARDIS unaware that The Black Guardian is giving Turlough a final ultimatum. This is his last chance to kill The Doctor.

 
Kari
Kari
A Vanir Strangling The Doctor
A Vanir Strangling The Doctor
Nyssa Finds it Getting Hot
Nyssa Finds it Getting Hot
Valgard and Nyssa
Valgard and Nyssa
 
Nyssa is Unwell
Nyssa is Unwell
Nyssa in Chains
Nyssa in Chains
Nyssa Saying Goodbye
Nyssa Saying Goodbye
Nyssa
Nyssa




Quote of the Story


 'If we don't do something quickly, the whole universe is going to be destroyed!'

The Doctor



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Release Information

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)Code NumberCover ArtRemarks
Video
VHS
TerminusJanuary 1993BBCV 4890Andrew Skilleter
Audio
CD
30 Years at the Radiophonic Workshop1993BBC CD 871Photo-montageSound effects
Video
DVD
TerminusAugust 2009BBCDVD 2596Photo-montagePart of "The Black Guardian Trilogy" Box Set Released along with "Mawdryn Undead" and "Enlightenment"


In Print

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)PublisherAuthorCover ArtRemarks
Novel
Novel
TerminusSeptember 1983Target No. 79Steve Gallagher (under the pseudonym "John Lydecker")PhotoISBN: 0-426-19385-7
Novel
Novel
Terminus1983Target No. 79Steve Gallagher (under the pseudonym "John Lydecker")Book: Photograph
Box: Photo
Re-released as part of The Third Doctor Who Gift Set
ISBN: 0-426-19422-5
CD
CD
TerminusAugust 2019Target No. 79Steve Gallagher (under the pseudonym "John Lydecker")Audio version of the Target Novel read by Steven Pacey.
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision)Issue 66 (Released: July 1996)
Doctor Who Monthly - Article/FeatureIssue 74 (Released: March 1983)
Doctor Who Monthly - ReviewIssue 77 (Released: June 1983)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArchiveIssue 137 (Released: June 1988)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArchiveIssue 291 (Released: May 2000)
Doctor Who Magazine - Time TeamIssue 381 (Released: May 2007)
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of FictionIssue 511 (Released: May 2017)
Doctor Who DVD FilesVolume 140 (Released: May 2014)

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Photo Gallery


The Doctor and Companions

 
Peter Davison
The Fifth Doctor

   

Sarah Sutton
Nyssa
Janet Fielding
Tegan Jovanka
Mark Strickson
Turlough
   




On Release

VHS Video Cover
VHS Video Cover

BBC
VIDEO
Sound Effects CD Cover
Sound Effects CD Cover

BBC
AUDIO
DVD Cover
DVD Cover

BBC
VIDEO
   


In Print

Target Book Cover
Target Book Cover

Target
NOVEL
The Third Doctor Who Gift Set
The Third Doctor Who Gift Set

Target
NOVEL
Target Audio CD Cover
Target Audio CD Cover

BBC
CD
   


Magazines

Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision): Issue 66
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (In Vision): Issue 66

CMS
Doctor Who Monthly - Article/Feature: Issue 74
Doctor Who Monthly - Article/Feature: Issue 74

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Monthly - Review: Issue 77
Doctor Who Monthly - Review: Issue 77

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 137
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 137

Marvel Comics
   
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 291
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 291

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 381
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 381

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 511
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 511

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 140
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 140

GE Fabbri
   


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