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The War Games is the seventh and final serial of the sixth season of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which originally aired in ten weekly parts from 19 April to 21 June 1969. It was the last regular appearance of Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor and it is the last serial to be recorded in black and white. It also marks the last regular appearances of Wendy Padbury and Frazer Hines as companions Zoe Heriot and Jamie McCrimmon, and sees both the first naming and first appearance of the Doctor's race, the Time Lords.

050 – The War Games
Doctor Who serial
War Games.jpg
The Doctor, Jamie and Lieutenant Carstairs are caught by British soldiers during World War I
Directed by David Maloney
Written by Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke
Script editor Terrance Dicks (uncredited)
Produced by Derrick Sherwin
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Dudley Simpson
Production code ZZ
Series Season 6
Length 10 episodes, 25 minutes each
Date started 19 April 1969
Date ended 21 June 1969
← Preceded by Followed by →
The Space Pirates Spearhead from Space
List of Doctor Who serials



On an alien planet the Doctor uncovers a diabolical plot to conquer the galaxy, with brainwashed soldiers abducted from Earth forced to fight in simulated environments, reflecting the periods in history whence they were taken. The aliens' aim is to produce a super army from the survivors; to this end, they have been aided by a renegade from the Doctor's own race of the Time Lords, calling himself the War Chief.

Joining forces with rebel soldiers, who have broken their conditioning, the Doctor and his companions foil the plan and stop the fighting. The War Chief is apparently killed when the War Lord realises he has been plotting against him. But the Doctor admits he needs the help of the Time Lords to return the soldiers to their own times, but in asking, risks capture for his own past crimes, including the theft of the TARDIS. After sending the message he and his companions attempt to evade capture, but are caught.

Having returned the soldiers to Earth, the Time Lords place the War Lord on trial and dematerialise him. They erase Zoe and Jamie's memories of travelling with the Doctor, and return them to the point in time just as they entered the TARDIS. They then place the Doctor on trial for stealing the TARDIS and breaking the rule of non-interference. The Doctor presents a spirited defence, citing his many battles against the evils of the universe. Accepting this defence, the Time Lords announce that his punishment is exile to Earth. The operation of the TARDIS is wiped from his memory and his next regeneration is imposed as the Second Doctor complains defiantly.


In the final episode, the Time Lords wipe Zoe's mind and return her to the Wheel, where she encounters Tanya Lernov, a character from The Wheel in Space.[1]

Jamie's mind is also wiped, and he awakens on Culloden Moor, while being shot at by a Redcoat (referring back to his first story, The Highlanders). He charges at the soldier with his sword while shouting "Creag an tuire".


As the TARDIS crew try to escape the Time Lords in episode 10, brief clips from The Web of Fear and Fury from the Deep are used[2] to show the TARDIS in locations supposedly out of the Time Lords' reach. A model shot from episode 1 of The Wheel in Space is used after Zoe is sent back to her own time and place by the Time Lords. Since this episode is missing, the shot sampled in The War Games is the only known surviving footage from this episode. Similarly, the shot sampled from Fury from the Deep is from episode 1 of that serial (which is also missing) and the shot sampled is also the only surviving footage from that episode.[citation needed]

Cast notesEdit

Patrick Troughton's eldest son David made his second appearance in Doctor Who in episode six of this story as Private Moor, having first appeared in The Enemy of the World.[3] He subsequently appeared as King Peladon in The Curse of Peladon in 1972, and then as Professor Hobbes in "Midnight" in 2008.

Jane Sherwin who played Lady Jennifer Buckingham was producer Derrick Sherwin's wife.[4]

Terence Bayler had previously played Yendom in The Ark. Hubert Rees had previously appeared in Fury from the Deep and would return for The Seeds of Doom. Edward Brayshaw had previously played Leon Colbert in The Reign of Terror. James Bree later played Nefred in Full Circle and the Keeper of the Matrix in The Ultimate Foe. Leslie Schofield later played Calib in The Face of Evil. Peter Craze had previously played Dako in The Space Museum and would appear again as Costa in Nightmare of Eden. David Savile would later appear as Winser in The Claws of Axos and as Colonel Crichton in The Five Doctors.

Philip Madoc had previously appeared in The Krotons as Eelek, and the film Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. as Dalek collaborator, Brockley. He would go on to play Doctor Solon in The Brain of Morbius and Fenner in The Power of Kroll. Bernard Horsfall (First Time Lord) had previously appeared as Lemuel Gulliver in The Mind Robber, and would subsequently play Taron in Planet of the Daleks and Chancellor Goth in The Deadly Assassin. In 2003 he appeared in Davros, a Doctor Who audio drama produced by Big Finish Productions. Vernon Dobtcheff later played Shamur in the Fifth Doctor audio drama The Children of Seth.[5]

Broadcast and receptionEdit

Episode Title Run time Original air date UK viewers
(millions) [6]
Archive [7]
1 "Episode One" 25:00 19 April 1969 (1969-04-19) 5.5 16mm t/r
2 "Episode Two" 25:00 26 April 1969 (1969-04-26) 6.3 16mm t/r
3 "Episode Three" 24:30 3 May 1969 (1969-05-03) 5.1 16mm t/r
4 "Episode Four" 23:30 10 May 1969 (1969-05-10) 5.7 16mm t/r
5 "Episode Five" 24:30 17 May 1969 (1969-05-17) 5.1 16mm t/r
6 "Episode Six" 22:53 24 May 1969 (1969-05-24) 4.2 16mm t/r
7 "Episode Seven" 22:28 31 May 1969 (1969-05-31) 4.9 16mm t/r
8 "Episode Eight" 24:37 7 June 1969 (1969-06-07) 3.5 16mm t/r
9 "Episode Nine" 24:34 14 June 1969 (1969-06-14) 4.1 16mm t/r
10 "Episode Ten" 24:23 21 June 1969 (1969-06-21) 5.0 16mm t/r

The BBC's Audience Research Report showed that The War Games was received positively, though not enthusiastically, by viewers.[8]

Paul Cornell, Martin Day, and Keith Topping wrote of the serial in The Discontinuity Guide (1995), "It might be six episodes too long, but The War Games is pivotal in the history of Doctor Who. The introduction of the Time Lords ... sees the series lose some of its mystery, but gain a new focus."[9] In The Television Companion (1998), David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker stated that the serial "gets off to a cracking start", though they noted that "A commonly expressed view is that, after this strong beginning, the story becomes dull and repetitive, picking up again only in the closing stages when the Time Lords are introduced."[8] They praised the design work of the different war zones, the dialogue, and the conclusion.[8] In 2009, Radio Times reviewer Patrick Mulkern was positive towards the detailed scripts and the various villains, especially the War Chief.[10] The A.V. Club reviewer praised the way the serial subverted viewers' expectations of a typical historical story. He noted that there was padding to fill the running time, but felt that it was done well and that it worked better than in The Dalek Invasion of Earth.[11] He also wrote positively of Madoc's War Lord and Jamie and Zoe's departure, and said that the story purposefully "doesn't resolve neatly or satisfyingly".[12] Alasdair Wilkins of io9 praised Troughton's performance and the way that it was structured to "constantly [expand] the story's scope", though he admitted there was still padding.[13] In a 2010 article, Charlie Jane Anders of the same site listed the cliffhanger to the ninth episode — in which the Doctor is forced to summon the Time Lords — as one of the greatest Doctor Who cliffhangers ever.[14]

A viewing of The War Games, and in particular the character of Jamie McCrimmon, inspired author Diana Gabaldon to set her Outlander series in Jacobite Scotland, and to name its protagonist "Jamie".[15]

Commercial releasesEdit

In printEdit

Doctor Who and the War Games
Author Malcolm Hulke
Cover artist John Geary
Series Doctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
Publisher Target Books
Publication date
25 September 1979
ISBN 0-426-20082-9

A novelisation of this serial, written by Malcolm Hulke, was published by Target Books in September 1979, entitled Doctor Who and The War Games.

In January 2011, an audiobook of the novelisation was released, read by David Troughton.[16]

Home mediaEdit

The front cover of the UK version of the DVD.

This serial was released in the UK in February 1990 in a two-tape set in episodic form. It was re-released in remastered format in September 2002. Since this VHS re-release, better quality film prints of the story were located at the BFI, and were used for the DVD release which occurred on 6 July 2009.[17]

The "Regenerations" box set, released on 24 June 2013,[18] contains The War Games; the serial was released with no special features.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Wood, Tat; Lawrence Miles (2006). About Time 2: The Unauthorized Guide to Doctor Who: 1966–1969, Seasons 4 to 6. Des Moines, Iowa: Mad Norwegian Press. ISBN 0-9759446-1-4. 
  2. ^ Howe, David J.; Walker, Stephen James (1998). "The War Games: Things to watch out for...". Doctor Who: The Television Companion. London: BBC Worldwide. p. 173. ISBN 0-563-40588-0. Retrieved 21 October 2010. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Doctor Who: The Lost Stories - The Children of Seth". Big Finish. Retrieved 2011-03-08. 
  6. ^ "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 28 May 2017. 
  7. ^ Shaun Lyon; et al. (2007-03-31). "The War Games". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 2008-05-03. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  8. ^ a b c Howe, David J & Walker, Stephen James (1998). Doctor Who: The Television Companion (1st ed.). London: BBC Books. ISBN 978-0-563-40588-7. 
  9. ^ Cornell, Paul; Day, Martin; Topping, Keith (1995). "The War Games". The Discontinuity Guide. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 0-426-20442-5. 
  10. ^ Mulkern, Patrick (7 September 2009). "Doctor Who: The War Games". Radio Times. Retrieved 26 March 2013. 
  11. ^ Bahn, Christopher (20 November 2011). "The War Games (Episodes 1-5)". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 26 March 2013. 
  12. ^ Bahn, Christopher (4 December 2011). "The War Games (Episodes 6-10)". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 26 March 2013. 
  13. ^ Wilkins, Alasdair (1 January 2010). "Ranking the Regenerations of Doctor Who". io9. Retrieved 26 March 2013. 
  14. ^ Anders, Charlie Jane (31 August 2010). "Greatest Doctor Who Cliffhangers Of All Time!". io9. Retrieved 26 March 2013. 
  15. ^ Gabaldon, Diana. "FAQ: About the Books". Retrieved 20 August 2014. 
  16. ^ "Doctor Who and the War Games (classic novel)". Big Finish Productions. Retrieved 23 November 2012. 
  17. ^ "The War Games". 2009-05-20. Retrieved 2013-10-09. 
  18. ^ "Doctor Who: Regeneration [DVD]: William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Ecclestone, David Tennant, Matt Smith: Film & TV". Retrieved 2013-10-09. 

External linksEdit