Fourth Doctor (1974-1981)

One of the most iconic of the ‘ancient aliens as gods’ school of Doctor Who, Pyramids of Mars (1975) retells the deicidal struggles of Egyptian mythology as science fiction. Kate Orman traces the story’s roots in Orientalist fiction through the Universal and Hammer ‘Mummy’ films.
Thomas Rodebaugh finds that The Face of Evil (1977) – the story of a profoundly fissured society and an insane artificial intelligence – presents rich ground for psychological study. In what ways is Xoanon ‘mad’, and what does this tell us about the mind that programmed him?
THE ROBOTS OF DEATH (To be published in May 2020)
Fiona Moore, a scriptwriter for the Kaldor City spinoff plays, looks at their ur-text The Robots of Death (1977), examining the development of Chris Boucher’s concepts through various draft scripts, the story’s design, its themes of artificial intelligence and social class, and its legacy.
Lighthouses are liminal, haunted spaces, beacons of hope where isolation gives rise to strange and terrible crimes. Matthew Guerrieri compares Doctor Who’s own lighthouse story, Horror of Fang Rock (1977), with treatments of similar settings in fiction, poetry and opera, as well as historical reality.
Image of the Fendahl (1977) is a fusion of the Gothic tradition of mid-1970s Doctor Who with the colder ‘post-Gothic’ tradition of Nigel Kneale and HP Lovecraft. Simon Bucher-Jones explains the literary sources and scientific ideas underlying the story, from palaeoarchaeology to horror cinema.
THE STONES OF BLOOD (To be published in September 2020)
Full of archaeology, folklore, would-be-Druids and a haunted stone circle, The Stones of Blood (1978) is a story about how the present responds to and reinterprets the past. Katrin Thier investigates these ideas and themes, and also why the story disappears into hyperspace for its final episodes.
John Toon examines Full Circle (1980) – a story of purpose-driven evolution, cyclical history and a planet which may function as a single organism – and wonders whether Doctor Who script editor Christopher Bidmead’s vision was really rooted in scientific principles, or in parascientific mysticism.

Winner of the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Professional Publication, 2019.

Warriors’ Gate (1981) is a text of great sophistication, both in its complex televisual style and its elusive narrative. Frank Collins looks at its many influences, its multiple authors, its visual imagery and its unorthodox themes of randomness, inaction and decay.