Seventh Doctor (1987-1989)

PARADISE TOWERS
Despite being put together in a hurry, Paradise Towers (1987) moves towards the social comment and scepticism of Conservative orthodoxy that characterises the later seasons overseen by Andrew Cartmel, finds John Toon.
Winner of the 2022 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Professional Publication.
BATTLEFIELD
Battlefield (1989) is a clash of mythologies: the authoritarian, chivalric British nationalism of King Arthur with late-1980s Doctor Who’s radical politics, diversity and occasional pacifism. Philip Purser-Hallard ponders questions of war, Britishness, predestination and the secrets in names.
THE HAPPINESS PATROL
The Happiness Patrol (1988) is a key text in late-80s Doctor Who’s crusade against Thatcherism, cited by everyone from the Daily Telegraph to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Mike Stack places it carefully in historical context, and looks at the ways in which it might, or might not, be read as a queer allegory.
THE GREATEST SHOW IN THE GALAXY
Fresh from his controversial but acclaimed Black Archive on The Talons of Weng-Chiang, Dale Smith examines The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (1988-89) – a metafictional story in which entertainers strive to please an exacting audience or face cancellation – with particular reference to scary clowns, science vs magic, and the history of British hip-hop.
GHOST LIGHT
Still one Doctor Who’s most densely complex stories, Ghost Light (1989) is a true antecedent of the 21st-century series. Jonathan Dennis explores its bricolage of literary and scientific influences, and argues that its true theme is not biological evolution, but Social Darwinism.
THE CURSE OF FENRIC
Part of the most complex and unsettling 20th-century season of Doctor Who, The Curse of Fenric (1989) deals with issues of faith and family, nature and nurture, and the morality or otherwise of war. Una McCormack has written elsewhere on the treatment of World War II in Doctor Who.