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The seventeenth season of British science fiction television series Doctor Who began on 1 September 1979 with the story Destiny of the Daleks, and ended with The Horns of Nimon.

Doctor Who (season 17)
Doctor Who Season 17 DVD.jpg
Cover art of the Region 2 DVD release for first serial of the season
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of stories5 (+1 unaired)
No. of episodes20 (+6 unaired)
Original networkBBC One
Original release1 September 1979 (1979-09-01) –
12 January 1980 (1980-01-12)
Season chronology
← Previous
The Key to Time
(Season 16)
Next →
Season 18
List of Doctor Who episodes (1963–1989)


Main castEdit

Tom Baker continued as the Fourth Doctor. Lalla Ward, who played Princess Astra in the season 16 finale The Armageddon Factor, returned to the series as the newly regenerated Romana, replacing Mary Tamm in the role. After John Leeson declined to return as K9, David Brierley replaced him in the part for the season's final four serials, including Shada.

Guest starsEdit

Davros returns in Destiny of the Daleks, this time played by David Gooderson.


Season 17 was intended to follow the same format as had every season since Season 13, with five 4-part serials and a 6-parter closing the season out. However, the planned final serial of the season, Shada, was affected by an industrial dispute involving the BBC's technicians; while the location filming and the first studio recording session were completed, strike action by staff meant that the planned second studio session had to be cancelled. Although the dispute was resolved and plans were put in place to continue work on the story, it was eventually shelved, as the BBC was concerned that its Christmas productions might be affected. A BBC historian has suggested that by cancelling completely instead of finishing what little was required the management could demonstrate that the strikes had consequences[1]

StorySerialSerial titleEpisode titlesDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
UK viewers
(millions) [2]
1041Destiny of the Daleks"Episode One"Ken GrieveTerry Nation1 September 1979 (1979-09-01)5J13.067
"Episode Two"Ken GrieveTerry Nation8 September 1979 (1979-09-08)5J12.7
"Episode Three"Ken GrieveTerry Nation15 September 1979 (1979-09-15)5J13.863
"Episode Four"Ken GrieveTerry Nation22 September 1979 (1979-09-22)5J14.464
The TARDIS lands the Fourth Doctor and Romana on a strangely familiar planet. There, they meet the android Movellans, who are locked in a war with the Daleks. The planet is Skaro, and in a bunker sits an enemy long thought dead — Davros, creator of the Daleks.
1052City of Death"Part One"Michael HayesDavid Agnew (Douglas Adams, Graham Williams and David Fisher)29 September 1979 (1979-09-29)5H12.4
"Part Two"Michael HayesDavid Agnew (Douglas Adams, Graham Williams and David Fisher)6 October 1979 (1979-10-06)5H14.164
"Part Three"Michael HayesDavid Agnew (Douglas Adams, Graham Williams and David Fisher)13 October 1979 (1979-10-13)5H15.4
"Part Four"Michael HayesDavid Agnew (Douglas Adams, Graham Williams and David Fisher)20 October 1979 (1979-10-20)5H16.164
In 1979 Paris, the alien Scaroth intends to erase human history by saving his fellow Jagaroth 400 million years in the past.
1063The Creature from the Pit"Part One"Christopher BarryDavid Fisher27 October 1979 (1979-10-27)5G9.3
"Part Two"Christopher BarryDavid Fisher3 November 1979 (1979-11-03)5G10.867
"Part Three"Christopher BarryDavid Fisher10 November 1979 (1979-11-10)5G10.2
"Part Four"Christopher BarryDavid Fisher17 November 1979 (1979-11-17)5G9.6
On the planet Chloris, the Doctor and Romana soon find themselves caught up in a long and secret enmity between the Lady Adrasta, who rules the planet in fear, and the mysterious Creature that she keeps in a Pit.
1074Nightmare of Eden"Part One"Alan BromlyBob Baker24 November 1979 (1979-11-24)5K8.7
"Part Two"Alan BromlyBob Baker1 December 1979 (1979-12-01)5K9.6
"Part Three"Alan BromlyBob Baker8 December 1979 (1979-12-08)5K9.6
"Part Four"Alan BromlyBob Baker15 December 1979 (1979-12-15)5K9.465
The TARDIS lands at the site of a hyperspatial collision between two spacecraft – as a result of which, neither ship is dimensionally stable, risking the lives of all those aboard.
1085The Horns of Nimon"Part One"Kenny McBainAnthony Read22 December 1979 (1979-12-22)5L6.0
"Part Two"Kenny McBainAnthony Read29 December 1979 (1979-12-29)5L8.8
"Part Three"Kenny McBainAnthony Read5 January 1980 (1980-01-05)5L9.8
"Part Four"Kenny McBainAnthony Read12 January 1980 (1980-01-12)5L10.467
After colliding with a spaceship, the Doctor, Romana and K9 learn that young natives from a peaceful planet called Aneth are being transported into a great labyrinth called the "Power Complex".
6ShadaN/APennant RobertsDouglas AdamsUnaired[note 1] (Unaired[note 1])5M
The story revolves around the lost planet Shada, on which the Time Lords built a prison for defeated would-be conquerors of the universe. Skagra, an up-and-coming would-be conqueror of the universe, needs the assistance of one of the prison's inmates, but finds that nobody knows where Shada is anymore except one aged Time Lord who has retired to Earth.


Part 4 of The Horns of Nimon saw the last appearance of the diamond-shaped logo that had been used since The Time Warrior in 1973.

The entire season was broadcast from 1 September 1979 to 12 January 1980.

Home video releasesEdit

All serials of season 17 were released individually on both DVD and Blu-ray between 2005 and 2017.

Serial name Number and duration
of episodes
R2 release date R4 release date R1 release date
Destiny of the Daleks
Available individually or in The Complete Davros Collection box set in Regions 2 and 4.
Only available individually in Region 1.
4 × 25 min. 26 November 2007 6 February 2008 4 March 2008
City of Death 4 × 25 min. 7 November 2005 1 December 2005 8 November 2005
The Creature from the Pit 4 × 25 min. 3 May 2010 1 July 2010 7 September 2010
Nightmare of Eden 4 × 25 min. 2 April 2012[3] 3 May 2012 8 May 2012
The Horns of Nimon
Only available as part of the Myths and Legends box set in Regions 2 and 4.
Only available individually in Region 1.
4 × 25 min. 29 March 2010 3 June 2010 6 July 2010
Only available as part of The Legacy Box set
1 × 25 min.
4 × 18 min.
1 × 14 min.
7 January 2013 9 January 2013 8 January 2013
Shada – Animated Edition 1 x 138 min. 4 December 2017
10 January 2018
4 September 2018[5]

In printEdit

Serial name Novelisation title Author First published
Destiny of the Daleks Doctor Who and the Destiny of the Daleks Terrance Dicks 20 November 1979
City of Death City of Death James Goss 21 May 2015[6]
The Creature from the Pit Doctor Who and the Creature from the Pit David Fisher 15 January 1981
Nightmare of Eden Doctor Who and the Nightmare of Eden Terrance Dicks 21 August 1980
The Horns of Nimon Doctor Who and the Horns of Nimon Terrance Dicks 16 October 1980
Shada Shada Gareth Roberts 15 March 2012


  1. ^ Shada was left unfinished due to a strike. Its recorded footage was later released on home video using linking narration by Tom Baker to complete the story. It is not included in the episode or story counts as it was not broadcast.


  1. ^ Ley, Shaun (12 December 2009). "Shelved". BBC Radio 4. BBC. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  3. ^ "The Doctor Who News Page: DVD Schedule Update". 3 May 2011. Retrieved 18 May 2011.
  4. ^ McEwan, Cameron (10 October 2017). "UNFINISHED FOURTH DOCTOR CLASSIC 'SHADA' TO BE FINALLY COMPLETED!". Doctor Who. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  5. ^ "Doctor Who : Shada –". Retrieved 4 December 2017 – via Amazon.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Doctor Who: City of Death: Douglas Adams, James Goss: Books". Retrieved 2 November 2014.