Production Code: RRR
1 - 30/12/1972 17:50
2 - 06/01/1973 17:50
3 - 13/01/1973 17:50
4 - 20/01/1973 17:50
A gel-like plasma creature arrives on Earth and hunts down the Doctor, who calls on the Time Lords for help. The Time Lords themselves are in crisis as their energy is being drawn off into a black hole. They send the Doctor's earlier selves to join him.
The first Doctor, caught in a time eddy and able only to advise, deduces that the creature is a time bridge. The third Doctor and Jo then give themselves up to it and are transported to a world of antimatter beyond the black hole.
On Earth, the second Doctor is forced to take refuge in the TARDIS along with the Brigadier and Sergeant Benton. On the advice of the first Doctor he switches off the ship's force field, and the whole UNIT building is transported through the black hole.
Behind these events is Omega, a figure from Time Lord history whose solar engineering provided the power for time travel. He has been trapped in the black hole ever since and now wants the Doctor to swap places with him, but it transpires that the corrosive properties of his domain have already destroyed his physical form, leaving only his will.
He threatens to destroy the universe but is tricked into touching the second Doctor's recorder - the only thing not converted to antimatter when the TARDIS passed through the black hole - and is consumed in the resulting supernova. Everyone else is returned home.
The third Doctor switches off the TARDIS force field and goes outside. Jo follows him and both are engulfed in a blinding flash from the plasma creature.
The second Doctor switches off the TARDIS force field and the whole of UNIT HQ is transported through the black hole.
The second and third Doctors find the point of singularity within the black hole: the source of Omega's power. Omega catches them there and exacts retribution: the third Doctor is consigned to a black void where he is forced to fight a troll-like creature - the dark side of Omega's mind - that eventually gets him in a stranglehold.
Having bid farewell to his predecessors, who fade away to their rightful times and places, the third Doctor discovers that the Time Lords have rewarded him by sending him a new dematerialisation circuit for the TARDIS and returning to him his knowledge of time travel lore and dematerialisation codes. Explanations are hard for Mr Ollis, however, and he skirts the issue by asking his wife if supper is ready.
The Wizard of Oz.
Paradise Lost (Omega=Satan).
Robinson Crusoe ('Man Friday, I presume?').
Omega's guards are rejects from The Blob.
Jo misquotes the Beatles' 'I Am the Walrus'.
Omega subverts Descartes ('I can destroy, therefore I am!').
H.G. Wells is mentioned again ('Like being punched on the nose by the Invisible Man').
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart : "As long as he does the job, he can wear what face he likes."
Third Doctor : "Well Sergeant, aren't you going to say that it's bigger on the inside than it is on the outside - everybody else does."
Sergeant Benton : "That's pretty obvious isn't it?"
First Doctor : "So you're my replacements - a dandy and a clown!"
Third Doctor : " [To Omega] All my life I've known of you and honoured you as our greatest hero."
Omega : "A hero? I should have been a god! "
The Doctor : "Let's toss, shall we?"
Jo : " [On the Second Doctor] He's not one of them, is he?"
There is yet another UNIT lab [and HQ]. Benton and Lethbridge-Stewart get their first look inside the TARDIS. The Doctor calls on the Time Lords for help via the TARDIS console (see The War Games, Frontier in Space). The Time Lords have a President, Chancellor (who seems to be in charge in this story [because the President is too weak]) and High Council.
The First Law of Time expressly forbids any Time Lord to cross his own time stream and meet his former (or, for that matter, future) selves. The President breaks the law [it's a legal, rather than physical, law]. (The Chancellor is played by Clyde Pollitt, who also played a Time Lord at the Doctor's trial, and thus may be the same character.)
[The second Doctor must have been taken from after The Invasion since he refers to it.] We see several of the second Doctor's props again, including the recorder, which is used to destroy Omega. [The second Doctor had more than one (the design is different in this story), hence appearances in The Masque of Mandragora, Castrovalva and Time and the Rani.] The first Doctor is alone in a Earth-like garden when the Time Lords try to take him to the future, but his transportation unit [the Time Lords can't afford the energy to transport the first Doctor physically like the second so they send a craft to get him] becomes trapped in a 'time eddy' and he can only communicate with his successors via the TARDIS scanner. [They must have persuaded him that they did not represent those Time Lords he was fleeing, although doubtless they used a beam similar to that seen in The Trial of a Time Lor to 'capture' him. His memory of events remains the same in The Five Doctors.] The sonic screwdriver operates as a Geiger counter.
The Time Lords release the Doctor from his exile. They give him a new dematerialisation circuit and remove the blocks in his memory that prevented him time travelling [properly. From this point onwards the Doctor seems able to get to where he wants to go. The inescapable conclusion seems to be that some of these blocks in his memory existed right from the moment that he left Gallifrey. However, the dialogue of The Three Doctors must be contrasted with what seems to be a fully operational TARDIS both in this story and in The Time Monster.]
UNIT HQ, a nature reserve, [c. November 1971;] Gallifrey; Omega's planet in the Universe of anti matter.
This story features another new TARDIS interior set, this time designed by Roger Liminton and based closely on the original. The previous one, which had appeared only in The Time Monster, had been disliked by the production team and had in any case been damaged in storage so that it was no longer useable.
This is the final performance by William Hartnell in Doctor Who. He was suffering badly from arteriosclerosis and had to read all his lines from cue cards while seated in a chair. The scripts were hastily rewritten to circumvent this problem, and he was seen only in pre-filmed inserts displayed on screens. This was to be his last work as an actor and he died some three years later, on 24 April 1975.
The production team decided to make a story involving all three Doctors after William Hartnell visited the Doctor Who office looking for work. (The idea for such a story had often been suggested to the production team, including in many viewers' letters, and they decided to go ahead with it as they thought it would be a fitting way to launch the tenth anniversary season. Hartnell had effectively retired by this point and was not looking for work.)
The initial sequence of the second Doctor seen on the Time Lords' scanner was a clip from The Macra Terror. (It was specially shot for this story at Harefield Lime Works.)
The scenes of the First Doctor stuck in the time eddy were filmed in William Hartnell's garage. (They were shot at the BBC's Television Film Studios in Ealing.)
The Brigadier says UNIT HQ is 'a Top Secret establishment'. It's therefore a surprise to see a large sign outside informing the world not only of its function, but also the name of the commanding officer.
Reflections from the studio are often visible on the TARDIS monitor (and the second Doctor is reflected in the time rotor before he appears).
The footsteps of those returning to Earth via the singularity can be heard as they walk down the steps after they've disappeared.
Why do the second and third Doctors defer to the less experienced first Doctor? [His personality facet has the most good judgement, cf The Five Doctors.]
Jo's knickers can be seen in episode one.
Jo in a blue fur coat, mini skirt and platform boots. Just the sort of sensible footwear needed for a rocky alien planet.
Cast & Crew
The Doctor - Jon Pertwee
The Doctor - Patrick Troughton
The Doctor - William Hartnell
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart - Nicholas Courtney
Jo Grant - Katy Manning
Sergeant Benton - John Levene
Chancellor - Clyde Pollitt
Corporal Palmer - Denys Palmer
Dr. Tyler - Rex Robinson
Mr. Ollis - Laurie Webb
Mrs Ollis - Patricia Pryor
Omega - Stephen Thorne
President of the Council - Roy Purcell
Time Lord - Graham Leaman
Director - Lennie Mayne