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The Caves of Androzani is a serial in the Britishmarker science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four twice-weekly parts from March 8 to March 16, 1984. It was Peter Davison's last story as the Doctor, and marks the first appearance of Colin Baker in the role. In 2009 The Caves of Androzani was voted by fans as the best Doctor Who story of all time.


On the planet of Androzani Minor, the Fifth Doctor and Peri get caught in the politics and dangers of mining spectrox, the most valuable substance in the universe. Things get complicated and deadly when Peri (and the Doctor) contract spectrox toxaemia, and in the caves of Androzani Minor, the shadowy Sharaz Jek plots a terrible revenge.


The dangerous, desert planet Androzani Minor is the only source for a powerful drug called spectrox created by bats that inhabits the planet's caves. Spectrox is highly-valued by the population of nearby Androzani Major due to its capacity to extend one's life. The spectrox mining interests are controlled by Trau Morgus, a business conglomerate leader on Androzani Major, but the operation has been threatened by the masked Sharaz Jek and his army of androids, causing public tension on Androzani Major due to limited supplies. Morgus has publicly funded a military operation by the Androzani Major's government against Jek's androids, but at the same time has secretly backed a gunrunning group to deliver weapons to Jek to profit from the war.

The TARDIS lands on Androzani Minor, and the Doctor and Peri decide to explore a set of tracks that lead into a nearby cave. As they explore, they are briefly caught in a ball of an unknown sticky substance, but they easily break free. Further into the caves, they discover a horde of weapons, but are then captured by General Chellak's forces, believing the two to be working for gunrunners Stotz and Krepler. Morgus orders their assassination after seeing that Chellak's "gunrunners" are not his own men over holographic communication. When the two are brought to the execution squad, they are found to be androids, as the Doctor and Peri have since been rescued by Jek who had been watching the two enter the caves and was able to prepare duplicate androids with help of his personal android Salateen.

At Jek's base, the two complain about rashes and cramps in their bodies where they touched the sticky substances, Jek realises they have been subjected to the first stages of spectrox toxemia from exposure to unrefined spectrox, and that while there is an anti-toxin, it requires the milk of the queen bat. Unfortunately, due to the mining activity, all the bats have migrated to deeper levels of the caves where there is no oxygen. Before leaving to meet with the gunrunners while leaving the two under his androids' guard, Jek explains that he is seeking revenge against Morgus as it was his actions that left his face disfigured. After Jek leaves, the Doctor is able to reprogram the androids and allows for he and Peri to escape, but they quickly encounter Chellak's forces; Peri is recaptured while the Doctor is caught by Stotz. Stotz decides to take the Doctor back to Androzani Major to see Morgus directly. As Stotz discusses the situation with Morgus via holographic communication en route, Morgus sees the Doctor still alive, and fearing deception, kills the President of Androzani Major and makes his own plans to travel to Androzani Minor to put the situation right himself. The Doctor is able to gain control of the ship from Stotz and crashes it back on the surface of Androzani Minor; weary from the spectrox poisoning, he makes his way into the caves to try to save Peri.

Meanwhile, Chellak plans an assault on Jek's base, luring him to believe an attack lies elsewhere. The battle kills nearly all of the military forces including Chellak, the gunruners, and Jek's androids; Jek is able to rescue the unconscious Peri from the military base and return her to his base amid the chaos. The Doctor arrives, struggling to hold off his body's attempt to regenerate to rid itself of the spectrox. Jek provides him with a limited air supply and equipment and directions to find and milk the queen bat. As the Doctor departs to get the milk, Morgus arrives on the planet, finding that his shrewd secretary has disposed him from power. Morgus quickly deals with Stotz to kill all the remaining gunrunners, including Krepler, and then plot to secure Jek's private stash of spectrox so they may disappear quietly to another planet. The two make their way to Jek's base, lured by fans that Jek is using to try to keep the base temperature cool for Peri. A brief fight breaks out, and Jek, Morgue, and Stotz are killed. The Doctor arrives just after the battle, and after feeding her all of the bat's milk, takes the recovering Peri back to the surface and to the TARDIS as the planet erupts around them.

Inside the TARDIS, Peri recovers to find the Doctor lying in pain on the floor. The Doctor quickly explains he only got enough bat's milk to cure Peri, but his body will shortly regenerate, though it feels different from his previous regenerations. The Doctor begins to hallucinate images of his past Companions urging him to continue to fight for his life, followed by The Master laughing as his state. The regeneration completes, with the Doctor suddenly alert and active though with a new face. When Peri asks what is happening, the Doctor replies, "Change, my dear, and it seems not a moment too soon..."

Cast notes

  • Christopher Gable, who played Sharaz Jek, was a well-known dancer. Gable was not the first choice to play Jek; John Nathan-Turner had offered the role to Tim Curry, Mick Jagger and then to David Bowie, but when none of them were available, he cast Gable.
  • Robert Glenister and Peter Davison had previously played brothers Brian and Steve Webber in the BBC sitcom Sink or Swim (1980-82).
  • John Normington guest stars as Morgus; he returned to the series as Trevor Sigma in the Seventh Doctor story The Happiness Patrol (1988). He also appeared in "Ghost Machine" (2006), an episode of the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood.
  • Peter Davison has stated that this is his favourite serial from his three years on the series. He has stated that he particularly enjoyed working with the director Graeme Harper.


  • This story was the last to feature Peter Davison as the current Doctor. Davison would reprise the role of the Fifth Doctor for two charity specials: Dimensions in Time (1993), and Time Crash (2007). The Caves of Androzani remains Davison's favourite story from his era; and he has said in interviews that if there had been more scripts like Caves during his era, he might have been persuaded to stay for a fourth season.

  • The Fifth Doctor's last word, as he hallucinates at the point of death, is "Adric?" (see also below).

  • An explanation was finally given to the question as to why the Fifth Doctor wore a stick of celery on his lapel since Castrovalva (1982). His incarnation of the Doctor was allergic to certain gases in the "Praxis" range, which would turn the celery purple if it came into contact with them. The Doctor would then eat the celery. This allergy did not appear to be one shared by any incarnation prior to or since Davison. In reality, Davison requested that an explanation be given in his final story and Eric Saward worked an explanation into the final script.

  • It is implied that the Doctor is for the first time in danger of actually dying rather than regenerating. He hallucinates his companions urging him to live, before the Master appears urging him to die and laughing at the prospect.

  • All of the named male characters in this story die, including the Fifth Doctor. The only survivors are Peri and Timmin (both female).

  • A much more intimate version of the events at the end of this story is revealed at the end of the Big Finish audio story Circular Time.


  • The working title of this story was Chain Reaction. Producer John Nathan-Turner changed the title to The Doctor's Wife on his planning board, as he suspected that information was leaking from his office to the fans. The fan press began to report the fake title, confirming his suspicions.

  • This story was the first time former script editor Robert Holmes had written for the series since The Power of Kroll (1978), as Nathan-Turner had been keen to use writers new to the show instead.

  • Recording was interrupted by industrial action, which caused a serious delay in the filming of the serial. As a result, two sequences had to be cut. The first scene would have featured the Doctor and Peri at the opening of the story in the TARDIS. The Doctor was to explain to Peri the reason for their visit to Androzani Minor. Apparently, as a boy, the Doctor had started a "blown glass bottle collection," which was made from the sand of different planets. He had lost his Androzani bottle and decided to return there to retrieve some more sand. It was in this scene Peri was to say "You're such a pain, Doctor." However, when the final cut of the serial was made, it had been discovered that certain lines of dialogue (like the Doctor professing that "I am not a pain." and Peri's comments about needing sand to "make some glass") alluded to the cut sequence. To rectify this, Davison and Bryant voiced over part of their conversation while the TARDIS materialises from outer space to the planet. The second scene to be cut would have featured the Doctor battling with the magma beast in episode four. Other Doctor Who stories adversely affected by the industrial actions of the late 1970s and the 1980s were Resurrection of the Daleks (1984), which was delayed by a year, and Shada (1980), which was not completed.

  • While he is in his office, the character of Morgus frequently breaks the fourth wall by talking directly to camera. This arose through actor John Normington misunderstanding a stage direction.

  • The Fifth Doctor's regeneration, like the Fourth Doctor's, features a flashback of that incarnation's companions. However, for this regeneration, it was decided that special recordings of the Davison-era companions would be used instead of stock footage. This required Matthew Waterhouse, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding, Mark Strickson, Gerald Flood and Anthony Ainley to return in cameos for the regeneration sequence. Fielding, Strickson, Flood and Ainley were already under contract to appear in the stories of Season 21. However, special contracts had to be made for Waterhouse, who left the series in Season 19, and Sutton, who left in Season 20. Johnny Byrne, who created the character of Nyssa (in his 1981 story The Keeper of Traken) had to be paid royalties for the use of the character in the regeneration scene.

  • Davison has joked on several occasions of how he was "upstaged" by Nicola Bryant (Peri) in his last major scene as the Doctor. Before the regeneration hallucination occurs, Davison is lying on the floor and his head is resting by Bryant, who is kneeling beside him. As he is delivering his last few lines, Bryant's loose fitting outfit prominently displays her cleavage.

  • The closing title sequence for episode four featured the face of Sixth Doctor Colin Baker instead of Peter Davison, and credits Baker as the Doctor before Davison's own credit. This was the first and, to date, only time that the new lead received top billing in the final story of an outgoing Doctor.

Outside references

  • Morgus' asides to the camera are in the style of Restoration theatre.
  • Gable explains on the DVD for this story that the patterns on Jek's mask are derived from African tribal markings.

In print

A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in November 1984.

Broadcast, VHS and DVD releases

  • The serial was repeated on BBC 2 in February/March 1993 on consecutive Fridays (19/02/1993 to 12/03/1993) at 7.15pm. This story was released on VHS in January 1992.
  • This story was released on DVD in the United Kingdom on June 18 2001.
  • The DVD contains commentary by director Graeme Harper and actors Peter Davison and Nicola Bryant.


  • In 2003's 40th Anniversary Doctor Who Magazine poll, The Caves of Androzani was voted the best serial of all time.

  • In Outpost Gallifrey's 40th Anniversary Poll, The Caves of Androzani was voted the second best serial of all time.


  1. Doctor Who Magazine #279, 30th June 1999, Archive: The Caves Of Androzani by Andrew Pixley, Marvel Comics UK Ltd.

External links


Target novelisation

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