Doctor Who: The Five Worst Moments

Welcome to A Bunch Of Fives, a new semi-regular feature which will see our writers list five ... anythings that they like, love or even loathe. It might be five favourite TV shows starring Lee Majors, or the five worst sequels of all time, or even the five best Mario video games of all time. Our resident Doctor Who expert Guy Clapperton kicks things of with what he considers to be the show's five worst moments...

Screenjabber loves Doctor Who in almost all its forms but a show running for as long as that is bound to have dropped the ball a few times. Here are five stories and moments we wish had never happened.

Warning: there will be spoilers.

Into the Forest of the Night

From Peter Capaldi's first season. The Doctor lands the Tardis in London – to find that it's completely overgrown. Clara and Danny lead their schoolchildren to the Tardis and things look hopeless, the world is suddenly overgrown with vegetation. Then equally suddenly the Doctor realises everything is going to be fine.

Sorry, what? You were hoping something would actually happen, the new Doctor would actually do something? Not this time, kids, this is one can't-be-bothered episode and although beautifully made and acted, the story's outcome would have been identical without any of the regular characters' involvement.

The Tenth Planet

OK, we get it, we're going to get lynched for this. William Hartnell regenerates into Patrick Troughton and there are Cybermen for the first time – how dare we suggest this is anything other than brilliant? The answer is simple – those two events are spread across four episodes and not an awful lot else happens. Check this clip, in which there is an awful lot of sitting at desks. Hartnell – by now showing signs of the illness that would eventually claim his life – is magnificent, there's a sense of tension, but a whole load of sedentary exposition. Some elements of a long-running show are bound to wear less well than others. This, unfortunately, is one of them.

The Space Pirates

You have to be careful with partially-missing Patrick Troughton stories. A few years ago I might have written this article with a clip from The Enemy of the World on the grounds that the only surviving episode suggested that the whole thing was set in a corridor and a kitchen. One good comic turn didn't turn it into a classic. Then they found the missing episodes and we all saw the opening part, with the location footage, the helicopter and the underground base at the end plus a really solid story.

The Space Pirates, however, carries all the hallmarks of a show that's running out of money and inspiration. Too much of the surviving episode, like the long scene above, is padded out with the Doctor and his companions locked in a small room, unable to get to the Tardis. They finish the episode in the same way they start – watching it is a feat of endurance helped only by the presence of some comic relief from space cowboy Milo Clancey. If they ever find the remaining episodes of this one but Fury From the Deep remains missing, you're going to see a grown man cry.


Eurgh. Everything about this is the worst of what got the show temporarily canned in 1985. Colin Baker wasn't settling into the role he'd later reclaim as his own on audio, hampered by terrible scripts and ideas, of which this was the worst. The guy at the Ouija board is none other than Herbert Graham Wells, a supremely irritating character whose presence only underlined the fact that they basically nicked the story from The Time Machine.

The acting is wooden, the effects terrible (watch out for the Bandrill, a forgettable, lousy monster), Paul Darrow doesn't so much chew the furniture as swallow it whole and there's a gratuitous and baffling Jon Pertwee reference that doesn't have any place in this. This is the story the fans constantly nominate as the worst ever. If you're ever forced to watch it, look out for a very young Stephen Mackintosh being thrown into the Timelash in a very early scene. He's still working but it's OK, he's learned to act since then.

Warriors of the Deep

Peter Davison was coming into his own during his third and final year. We had the scattiness of Frontios, his command of the screen in Caves of Androzani (one of the best stories ever).

But it started off with Warriors of the Deep. It should have worked. The return of the Silurians and the Sea Devils, a tense setting in an underground base – and then in episode three, the Myrka turns up. The Myrka is a monster owned by the Sea Devils. It gets quite a build-up. Then it is operated like a pantomime horse, and just when you think that's as bad as it can get, Ingrid Pitt not only deliberately walks towards the sound of its roaring, but then starts making weird karate gestures at it. Unconvincing, horrible, ruins an entire story.

We love Doctor Who at Screenjabber, really we do – but it's dropped its clangers. So, do you agree with our choices?

Guy Clapperton is a Screenjabber contributor

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