Open main menu

The twenty-sixth season of British science fiction television series Doctor Who began on 9 September 1989 with the serial Battlefield, after a regular series of four serials was broadcast finishing with Survival which was the final episode of Doctor Who to air before a 16-year absence from episodic television following its cancellation.

Doctor Who (season 26)
Doctor Who Season 26 DVD.jpg
Cover art of the Region 2 DVD release for the first serial of the season
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of episodes14
Original networkBBC One
Original release6 September (1989-09-06) –
6 December 1989 (1989-12-06)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 25
Next →
Doctor Who (film)
Series 1 (series)
List of Doctor Who episodes (1963–1989)



Main castEdit

Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred both continue their roles as the Seventh Doctor and Ace for their final season.

Recurring starsEdit

Nicholas Courtney returned to play Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart in Battlefield. He first appeared with the Second Doctor in 1968 in The Web of Fear before becoming a recurring character throughout the Second Doctor to the Fifth Doctor and last appearing in The Five Doctors (1983).

Anthony Ainley returned to play The Master in Survival, having last appeared in The Ultimate Foe (1986). This was Ainley's final television appearance in the role, though he portrayed the Master one last time in the 1997 computer game Destiny of the Doctors.

Guest starsEdit

Jean Marsh, who had portrayed Sara Kingdom in The Daleks' Master Plan (1965–66), also appeared in Battlefield playing the part of the main antagonist.


Continuing on from Season 25, Season 26 continued script editor Andrew Cartmel's move to push the series towards a darker approach, focusing this time more on Ace's personal life as well as The Doctor's past and manipulations. This season was broadcast on Wednesdays.

StorySerialSerial titleEpisode titlesDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
UK viewers
(millions) [1]
1521Battlefield"Part One"Michael KerriganBen Aaronovitch6 September 1989 (1989-09-06)7N3.169
"Part Two"Michael KerriganBen Aaronovitch13 September 1989 (1989-09-13)7N3.968
"Part Three"Michael KerriganBen Aaronovitch20 September 1989 (1989-09-20)7N3.667
"Part Four"Michael KerriganBen Aaronovitch27 September 1989 (1989-09-27)7N4.065
The Doctor and Ace discover that a UNIT platoon has come under assault whilst transporting a nuclear warhead. The attackers are knights from another dimension led by the legendary sorceress Morgaine, half-sister of King Arthur, whose magical powers appear to be real. The Doctor learns that one of his future incarnations will become Merlin, and bury Arthur beneath the waters of a nearby lake. With Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart at his side one last time, the Doctor must confront Morgaine, who has summoned a demonic entity known as the Destroyer of Worlds.
1532Ghost Light"Part One"Alan WareingMarc Platt4 October 1989 (1989-10-04)7Q4.268
"Part Two"Alan WareingMarc Platt11 October 1989 (1989-10-11)7Q4.068
"Part Three"Alan WareingMarc Platt18 October 1989 (1989-10-18)7Q4.064
The Doctor takes Ace back to 1883 to a Perivale house called Gabriel Chase which Ace recognises. Josiah Smith, an alien who has spent millennia adapting to humanity, intends to assassinate Queen Victoria and seize the British throne. Meanwhile, buried in the basement is Smith's former master – a powerful entity who intends to halt all evolution on Earth.
1543The Curse of Fenric"Part One"Nicholas MallettIan Briggs25 October 1989 (1989-10-25)7M4.367
"Part Two"Nicholas MallettIan Briggs1 November 1989 (1989-11-01)7M4.068
"Part Three"Nicholas MallettIan Briggs8 November 1989 (1989-11-08)7M4.068
"Part Four"Nicholas MallettIan Briggs15 November 1989 (1989-11-15)7M4.268
The Doctor and Ace land in England during World War II, at a secret seaside base which houses the Ultima Machine, a powerful codebreaking device. But disturbances plague the installation: Russians are trying to steal the Ultima, mysterious Viking runes are found in a church crypt, and vampiric Haemovores are rising from the ocean. The Doctor discovers his ancient foe, Fenric, has manipulated events in order to gain his freedom. And central to Fenric's schemes is none other than Ace.
1554Survival"Part One"Alan WareingRona Munro22 November 1989 (1989-11-22)7P5.069
"Part Two"Alan WareingRona Munro29 November 1989 (1989-11-29)7P4.869
"Part Three"Alan WareingRona Munro6 December 1989 (1989-12-06)7P5.071
Ace returns to Perivale to visit her friends, only to find many of them have gone missing. The Doctor discovers that they have been abducted to an alien planet by a race called the Cheetah People. Pursuing them, the time travellers find the Cheetah People are being controlled by the Master, who is trapped on the planet, and is slowly turning into a Cheetah Person himself. The Doctor must find a way off the planet, before they all succumb to the dying world's savage influence.


The entire season was broadcast from 6 September to 6 December 1989. The Curse of Fenric was originally intended to be aired before Ghost Light, but was subsequently rescheduled.

DVD ReleasesEdit

All serials of season 26 were released individually in between 2003 and 2008.

Serial name Number and duration
of episodes
R2 release date R4 release date R1 release date
Battlefield 4 × 25 min.
(Broadcast Version)
1 × 96 min.
(Special Edition)
26 December 2008 5 February 2009 5 May 2009
Ghost Light 3 × 25 min. 20 September 2004 3 February 2005 7 June 2005
The Curse of Fenric 4 × 25 min.
(Broadcast Version)
1 × 104 min.
(Special Edition)
6 October 2003 11 February 2004 1 June 2004
Survival 3 × 25 min. 16 April 2007 6 June 2007 14 August 2007

In printEdit

Serial name Novelisation title Author First published
Battlefield Battlefield Marc Platt 18 July 1991
Ghost Light Ghost Light Marc Platt 20 September 1990
The Curse of Fenric The Curse of Fenric Ian Briggs 15 November 1990
Survival Survival Rona Munro 18 October 1990

Season 27Edit

Initial planning work had begun on Season 27, intended for the end of 1990, in mid-1989 with Andrew Cartmel and a group of regular writers, including Ben Aaronovitch, Ian Briggs and Marc Platt, discussing potential story ideas. One of the major intentions was to have been the departure of Ace halfway through, which would have seen the character taken to Gallifrey to become a Time Lord. This would also have seen the subsequent introduction of a new companion, planned as an "aristocratic cat burglar". The cancellation of the series meant that no detailed work was undertaken beyond these initial ideas:[2]

  • Earth Aid by Ben Aaronovitch: Intended to feature a new monster called the "Metatraxi", a race of samurai like insect warriors, this was planned as a story concerning the politics of humanitarian aid. The only significant detail was the idea of the opening, which would have featured Ace as the captain of a starship.
  • Thin Ice by Marc Platt: Planned as the serial that would see the departure of Ace, this was to see the return of the Ice Warriors and be set in London in 1968.
  • The third serial was planned as the introduction of the new companion, who would have come across the Doctor in the midst of robbing a country house.
  • The fourth and final serial was tentatively to be Alixion, by then-newcomer Robin Mukherjee.[3] It would have featured the Doctor playing a series of deadly games on an asteroid, and would have likely led to the Seventh Doctor's regeneration and Sylvester McCoy's departure.

The proposed Season 27 serials (save for Alixion) have subsequently been commissioned by Big Finish as part of its Doctor Who: The Lost Stories range of audio adventures.

Although the first series of Doctor Who's return in 2005 is the 27th full series of the show, the production team officially restarted the series numbering from scratch. This was mainly due to the 16-year gap between Season 26 and the new series (not counting the 1996 television movie).


  1. ^ a b "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  2. ^ Molesworth, Richard (Producer) (2007). "Endgame (documentary)". Survival. Doctor Who. London: BBC Worldwide.
  3. ^