Getting to know Who: The Caves of Androzani

By Christopher Allen

After three years in the role, Peter Davison had decided to move on. Set on a planet bathed in boiling mud, and with some of the series’ best villains, his swansong was to go down in Doctor Who history as one of the greatest adventures of all time – as well as one of the bloodiest.


Fifth, in his final adventure.


Peri, on an ill-fated, first trip in the TARDIS.


A drug war is raging over the powerful anti-ageing remedy Spectrox. Controlled by the insane Sharaz Jek and his androids deep in the caves of Androzani Minor, troops have been sent in to re-establish supply. Mistaken for spies and fatally infected by raw Spectrox, the Doctor and Peri are fighting for their lives…

The story so far…

  • Peri joined the Doctor in the previous televised adventure Planet of Fire, but clearly knows him well enough now to call him “a pain”. She’s a botany student from the States.
  • Harvest Rangers from Androzani Major were encountered by the Eleventh Doctor in The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe (2011).
  • Although he doesn’t know it, this is the Fifth Doctor’s final adventure. During the regeneration at the end, there’s a sequence of specially recorded cameos from the Fifth Doctor’s companions – Tegan, Turlough, Kamelion, Nyssa and Adric.

Best bit:

The dying Doctor hijacks his captor’s vessel to rescue Peri in one of the series’ best cliffhangers (and watch out for a premonition of the Doctor’s impending regeneration right at the start)…



Key quote:

Jek: Don't mock me, Doctor. Beauty I must have, but you are dispensable.
The Doctor: Thank you.
Jek: You have the mouth of a prattling jackanapes but your eyes… they tell a different story. It's of no matter. I shall break you to my will. And if I can't break you, I shall kill you. While you, my child, shall live forever.
Peri: Nobody lives forever.
The Doctor: He means it will seem like forever.

Why it’s worth a watch

In 2008-9, Doctor Who Magazine asked its readers to give their verdict on all 200 Doctor Who stories that had been televised up to that point. The winner? Beating Blink into second place, the 25-year-old The Caves of Androzani took the top spot. Androzani is certainly one of the most “grown-up” Doctor Who adventures for some time. The baddies are real. The guns are real. The fear and tension as the Doctor tries to free Peri and himself from danger is real. Davison, on his own admission, turns in his best performance as the Doctor, and Graeme Harper’s direction is so fresh, it’s no surprise he was invited back to the show in 2006. Most of all it’s seeing the Doctor – the hero we’re so used to being in control, who seemingly knows everything – fall so far out of his depth. Surrounded by the forces of greed and violence, for once (almost) everybody dies.


Read more about The Caves of Androzani at the BBC Doctor Who website, or get to know more key Doctor Who adventures.

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