The Full Wiki

More info on Arc of Infinity (TV story)

Arc of Infinity (TV story): Misc


Dr Who

Up to date as of January 31, 2010

From TARDIS Index File, the free Doctor Who reference.

For the Arc of Infinity itself, see separate entry.
Arc of Infinity
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Season Number: Season 20
Story Number: 124
Doctor: Fifth Doctor
Writer: Johnny Byrne
Director: Ron Jones
Producer: John Nathan-Turner
Broadcast: 3rd January - 12th January 1983
Format: 4 25-minute episodes
Prod. Code: 6E
Previous Story: Time-Flight
Following Story: Snakedance
"You're wrong, Doctor. I have life again!"

Arc of Infinity was the first story of the anniversary Season 20. Janet Fielding returned as Tegan Jovanka in this serial, rejoining the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa on their travels. Future Doctor Colin Baker made his Who debut in this story, playing Commander Maxil. Of the several Doctor Who stories filmed outside the UK in the late 1970s-early 1980s, this was the only one to open a season.



Omega, an ancient Time Lord made of pure anti-matter, once defeated by the Doctor, is plotting to cross over into this dimension by bonding with the Doctor. Fearing total destruction from collision of matter and anti-matter, the Time Lords recall the Doctor to Gallifrey - to execute him!



Part 1

Maxil investigates

On Gallifrey, a Time Lord is at work stealing the bio-data extract of another Time Lord and killing a technician who stumbles across the crime. The traitor provides the bio-data to a creature composed of anti-matter and uses the bio-data to invade the TARDIS and then the Doctor's metabolism. The Doctor's companion, Nyssa, helps him recover. The creature is shielded in this attempt by the Arc of Infinity, a curious curve between the dimensions containing quad radiation which can shield anti-matter. The Doctor decides to head to Gallifrey to track down the supplier of his bio-data, conscious that unless the creature trying to cross universes is stopped that its incursion could cause a fatal chain reaction to our universe.

Meanwhile, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, backpackers Robin Stuart and Colin Frazer decide to crash at the crypt of the Frankendael mansion. During the night, Colin hears something and investigates; he finds a curious birdlike creature, an Ergon, which hypnotises him. A terrified Robin runs away.

The High Council of the Time Lords is also taking the matter seriously and has decreed that the Doctor’s TARDIS should be recalled. The Chancellery Guard under the over-zealous Commander Maxil seizes the Doctor and Nyssa. When the Doctor resists arrest, Maxil shoots him.

Part 2

The Doctor argues that his death is unnecessary

The Doctor has been stunned to ensure his delivery to the High Council. When he is brought before the High Council the new Lord President, Borusa, is inscrutable while Chancellor Thalia and Cardinal Zorac are openly hostile; only his old friend Councillor Hedin seems pleased to see him. The President stresses the gravity of the situation since the creature poses such a threat to the Universe, and the High Council has had no alternative but to issue a Warrant of Termination on the Doctor to ensure the creature can no longer bond with him. Fortunately an old friend, Damon, who is another technician in the records section, provides him with the proof he needs that a member of the High Council stole his bio-data extract.

Meanwhile, the Doctor's former companion, Tegan Jovanka, arrives in Amsterdam looking for her cousin Colin. Instead, she is greeted by Robin, who tells her that Colin has disappeared. When neither of them can persuade the police to take an interest they decide to investigate the crypt themselves.

The Doctor is soon taken for execution, despite Nyssa’s attempts to save him, and placed in a dispersal chamber. Sentence is carried out.

Part 3

The supposed death of the Doctor, however, has not solved the situation. Unbeknownst to the High Council, his mind has been taken into the Time Lord living repository of knowledge, the Matrix, while his body is hidden behind a force shield in the termination cubicle. The creature is a renegade Time Lord, who demands an opportunity to return to the Universe it once inhabited. The truth of the aborted execution is discovered by the wily Castellan, who tells first Nyssa and Damon that the Doctor is alive; and then the High Council.

Tegan and Robin are attacked by the Ergon's weapon, a matter-converter/transporter, and transported into a TARDIS hidden at the Frankendael and belonging to the renegade. Their minds are scanned, revealing to the creature that Tegan knows the Doctor. The Renegade uses Tegan as bait to force the Doctor to obey him, also releasing Colin from his slavery as a reward. The Doctor is returned to normal space on Gallifrey where he makes for the High Council Chamber. Lord President Borusa has fallen under suspicion of being a traitor because the Castellan reveals it was his codes that were used to transmit the bio-data. The truth, however, is that Councillor Hedin is the traitor. He is in awe of his master - the mighty Omega, first of the Time Lords and pioneer of time travel (see The Three Doctors). Hedin wishes to release Omega from his exile in a universe of anti-matter, not realising the great Time Lord has been driven mad by his years of solitary confinement. The Castellan kills Hedin, but this does not prevent Omega using the Arc of Infinity to seize total control of the Matrix and, therefore, the organisation of Gallifrey.

Part 4

Closing in on Omega in Amsterdam

Fortunately the Doctor and Nyssa manage to slip away and return to the TARDIS. They use scant knowledge provided by Tegan to determine that Omega has established its base in Amsterdam on Earth, and head there immediately, desperately trying to find the Frankendael crypt she described. After a lengthy hunt they find the lair defended by the Ergon, and Nyssa disposes of it with its own matter-converter gun. They reach Omega’s TARDIS at the point at which both the ship is destroyed and Omega makes full transference to Earth using the Arc of Infinity. When he peels his decayed mask away he reveals the features of the Doctor. Omega heads off into Amsterdam with the Doctor and Nyssa in hot pursuit. Within a short time the Doctor’s prediction of an unstable transfer begins to come true: Omega’s flesh decays and it is clear his new body is not permanent. When the Doctor and Nyssa catch up with him it is a painful task for the Doctor to use the Ergon’s anti-matter converter on Omega, expelling him back to his own universe of anti-matter. The Time Lord High Council on Gallifrey detects the end of the threat.

Once Tegan has checked on her cousin’s progress in hospital, she decides to rejoin the TARDIS crew. This time it is as a willing traveller. The Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa depart Amsterdam.




  • Omega has acquired a TARDIS.
  • In order to remain in our Universe Omega needs to bond with a Time Lord, thus reversing his polarity, and to that end Hedin steals and transmits the Doctor's bio-data extract.
  • The Doctor dismisses the Ergon as one of Omega's less successful attempts at psycho-synthesis.
  • The Doctor is recalled to Gallifrey, once on Gallifrey the Doctor's TARDIS is incapacitated by the removal of the main space-time element from under the console, although this is later replaced by Damon.
  • Reference is made to the Doctor's failure to return Romana.
  • The Doctor asks Damon about Leela.
  • Hedin is also an old friend of the Doctor's.
  • After finding himself "vaporised" the Doctor appears in The Matrix.
  • Borusa has regenerated again and is now Lord President.

Story Notes

  • The working titles for this story were The Time Of Neman and The Time Of Omega.
  • For Parts One and Two, the character of Omega was credited as "The Renegade" on the end credits.
  • John Horsley was a contender for the role of President Borusa.
  • John Nathan Turner appears on screen in part four trying to persuade a passer by not to get into shot.
  • Distinguished actor Michael Gough, who had previously played the Celestial Toymaker in the story of the same name (The Celestial Toymaker) and been married to Anneke Wills, appears here as the misguided traitor, Hedin.
  • Colin Baker (who would later succeed Peter Davison as the Sixth Doctor) appeared in the serial as Commander Maxil. It was his performance in this role (which, according to Baker, producer John Nathan-Turner repeatedly told him to "tone down") that first brought him to the attention of the production office. Baker reprised the role of Maxil as an uncredited cameo in the 2006 Big Finish Productions audio play Appropriation.
  • Ian Collier takes on the role of Omega, originally played by Stephen Thorne in The Three Doctors. Collier had appeared once before in the series, as Stuart Hyde in The Time Monster.
  • Leonard Sachs, previously seen as Admiral de Coligny in The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve, plays the latest incarnation of Borusa, now elevated to the position of Lord President.


  • Part One - 7.2 million viewers
  • Part Two - 7.3 million viewers
  • Part 3 - 6.9 million viewers
  • Part 4 - 7.2 million viewers


  • New regular costumes for Nyssa and Tegan are seen for the first time in this story. (Although Tegan's new costume makes its debut here, Nyssa's is not seen until the following story, Snakedance. This myth derives from the fact that numerous publicity photographs of the two actresses wearing their new costumes were taken during Arc of Infinity's location shoot in Amsterdam. These photo shoots were made possible by the fact that Snakedance was completed before Arc.)

Filming Locations

  • Location shooting was done in Amsterdam in May of 1982:
  • Muntplein, Amsterdam
  • Herengracht, Amsterdam
  • Leidseplein, Amsterdam
  • Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, Amsterdam
  • Zandpad, Amsterdam
  • Middenweg, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Prinsengracht, Amsterdam
  • Amstel Sluize, Amsterdam
  • Stationsplein, Amsterdam
  • Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam
  • Singel, Amsterdam
  • Lijnbaansgracht, Amsterdam
  • Sint Nicolaasstraat, Amsterdam
  • Amstelveld, Amsterdam
  • Frankendael House, Middenweg 172, Amsterdam
  • Amstel, Amsterdam
  • Dam Square, Amsterdam
  • BBC Television Centre (Studio 1), Shepherd's Bush, London

Discontinuity, Plot holes, Errors

  • DW: The Invasion of Time indicated that the Fourth Doctor's memory of his tenure as President was wiped after he used the Demat Gun to defeat the Sontarans. Yet in this and later stories, the Doctor has full memory of these events. (The extent to which the Doctor's memory is wiped, and whether or not it is permanent, is not made clear in that story.)
  • The Doctor knows and uses the President's special security clearance code, obviously entrusted to him during his brief term in office. Wouldn't this code be changed each time a new president is inaugurated? (Evidently not. There is no reason to assume that it would be changed.)
  • What exactly is the point of Maxil shooting the Doctor with his gun at the part one cliffhanger. (Maxil has a violent streak, and would likely seize the opportunity to fire on him for any excuse.)


  • Every story during Season 20 featured an adversary from the past. For this serial, it was Omega, who last faced the first three incarnations of the Doctor in the 10th anniversary story DW: The Three Doctors.
  • Tegan is the first companion to have rejoined the Doctor on his travels, after having departed. Though she only departed in DW: Time-Flight, the previous story, the Doctor and Nyssa travelled without her in stories in other media.
  • This Castellan, played by Paul Jerrico, would return in DW: The Five Doctors.
  • The Matrix was first introduced in DW: The Deadly Assassin.
  • In DW: Time Crash, when the Tenth Doctor asked the Fifth Doctor about which era he came from, he mentioned "Time Lords in silly hats", most likely a reference to this story.
  • Hedin and Omega appear in PDA: The Infinity Doctors
  • Omega also appears in BFA: Omega.
  • A traitor at work on Gallifrey was also used as a plot device in PDA: World Game.


DVD and Video Releases

DVD Releases

This story was originally released in a double-pack with Time-Flight in Region 2 and 4, but released singly in Region 1.

The R2 cover art of this story and Time-Flight shows the "Peter Davison Years" as 1981-1984. All other Davison-era releases have claimed the years as 1982-1984, in deference to the January, 1982 broadcast of Castrovalva. However, there is justification for calling the era 1981-1984, as that's the period of time Davison actually worked on the programme. Like Jon Pertwee, Davison fell victim to the BBC's decision to push back the premiere of his first series to the start of the new calendar year. Neither actor is generally credited for their first year on the job, making their eras appear a little shorter than they actually were. While Pertwee only filmed about half of Season 7 in 1969, almost everything of Season 19 was filmed in 1981. Indeed, Davison's first work on the series — his regeneration scene — had been filmed on 9th January 1981, almost a full year prior to the release of Castrovalva. Ironically, the only part of Davison's initial year not filmed in 1981 was Time-Flight, the only other DVD release to bear the claim of an era lasting from 1981-1984. All told, Davison's time in front of the cameras as the Doctor lasted from 9th January 1981 to 12th January 1984 — almost precisely the three-year tenure he had been advised by Patrick Troughton to undertake.



  • Commentary by Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton and Colin Baker
  • Anti-Matter from Amsterdam - Presented by Sophie Aldred, this new documentary examines the making of Arc of Infinity. Featuring actors Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sarah Sutton.
  • The Omega Factor - Writers and actors look at the character and motivation of the renegade Time Lord, Omega. Featuring co-creator Bob Baker, actors Stephen Thorne and Ian Collier.
  • Deleted Scenes - Deleted scenes taken from time-coded viewing copies of the studio recordings and early edits.
  • Under Arc Lights - Behind-the-scenes action from the studio recording sessions.
  • CGI Effects - Viewers have the option to watch the story with eighteen of the original video effects replaced by brand new CGI versions.
  • Continuities - Original BBC ONE continuity announcements for the story.
  • Photo Gallery - A selection of rare and previously unpublished photographs from the recording of this story.
  • Isolated Music - The option to watch the story with the original synchronous music only.
  • Radio Times Billings (PDF DVD-ROM)
  • 1983 Doctor Who Annual (PDF DVD-ROM)
  • Production Subtitles
  • Coming Soon Trailer
  • Easter Egg


See also

VHS Releases

This story was first released in VHS episodic format in March 1994, with a cover design by Pete Wallbank.


Main article: Arc of Infinity (novelisation)

A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in October 1983, ISBN 0426193423. It was number 80 in the series of Doctor Who novelisations from Target.

External Links

Season 20
Arc of Infinity  • Snakedance  • Mawdryn Undead  • Terminus  • Enlightenment  • The King's Demons  
20th Anniversary Special: The Five Doctors
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Arc_of_Infinity. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the TARDIS Index File, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported) (CC-BY-SA).

This article uses material from the "Arc of Infinity (TV story)" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address