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From TARDIS Index File, the free Doctor Who reference.

"We're on a ship... a spaceship!"
―The Doctor
Series: Doctor Who - TV stories
Season Number: Season 20
Story Number: 128
Doctor: Fifth Doctor
Setting: Sol system
Writer: Barbara Clegg
Director: Fiona Cumming
Broadcast: 1st March - 9th March 1983
Format: 4 25-minute Episodes
Previous Story: Terminus
Following Story: The King's Demons



An Edwardian yacht in a deep space race around the planets. There is a double agent in the TARDIS crew. The White Guardian warns the Doctor of great danger, Turlough must finally choose sides, and at the end of the race lies the prize of Enlightenment.



Part One

The White Guardian appears in the TARDIS, warning the Doctor of great danger and giving him a set of co-ordinates. Before the White Guardian can explain further, the Black Guardian appears and interrupts the communication. The Doctor sets the co-ordinates and the TARDIS materializes in what appears to be a ship's hold. Leaving Tegan in the TARDIS in case the White Guardian tries to contact them again, the Doctor and Turlough leave to explore, barely avoiding one of the officers, dressed in an Edwardian naval uniform and having a mechanical, blank expression.

Speaking with the crew, the Doctor discovers they remember nothing of coming aboard, have been below decks the whole time, and that the ship they are on has been entered in some sort of race. Meanwhile, Tegan leaves the TARDIS and encounters the ship's first mate, Marriner, who offers to take her to her friends, whom he knows about even though he's not met them yet. An officer with the same distant look escorts the Doctor to see Captain Striker, who offers them dinner. However, the dinner is interrupted when the wind picks up and the officers announce that the race has begun. Going to the wheelhouse, the Doctor sees a map of the race course, complete with "marker buoys" which he recognizes as the planets of Earth's solar system. Marriner then operates anachronistic electronic controls and a viewscreen activates to show the other contestants - a Greek trireme, a 17th century pirate ship, and other vessels from other times, all floating in deep space and using solar winds for propulsion.

Part Two

The Doctor speaks to Striker and discovers that he and his officers are Eternals, beings who live in the "trackless wastes of eternity," as opposed to the Doctor and his companions, who are "Ephemerals." As the ships round Venus, the trireme captained by Critas the Greek explodes when it tries to overtake the pirate ship. Striker believes that it was the gravitational pull that did it, but the Doctor suspects otherwise. Tegan feels ill, so Marriner escorts her to a room which she soon realizes is a mixture of her room in the TARDIS and her rooms in Brisbane - they have been reading her mind. Marriner seems quite taken by Tegan, finding her mind fascinating and full of life.

In conversation with Striker, the Doctor finds out that Eternals use Ephemerals for their thoughts and ideas. The Eternals have lived for so long that they are unable to think for themselves and need human minds to give them existence, and entertainment — that is why the ships use human crews. The purpose of the race, however, is more than entertainment. The prize is Enlightenment, the wisdom to know everything. The TARDIS is discovered by the Eternals, who make it vanish. Trapped on board the Edwardian ship for the moment, the Doctor and his companions go on board deck in space suits. Turlough hears the voice of the Black Guardian taunting him and unable to take the strain, he leaps overboard into space.

Part Three

Turlough is rescued by the Buccaneer, the pirate ship commanded by Captain Wrack. She toys with Turlough sadistically with a knife, but he manages to convince her that he jumped overboard to throw in his lot with her, to find out the secret of how she will win the race. Wrack sends her first mate to present Captain Davey, one of the other competitors with a jewelled sword, and party invitations to the other captains. On board the Edwardian ship, Striker refuses the invitation, but the Doctor accepts, wanting to retrieve Turlough. Marriner offers to escort Tegan and the Doctor to the Buccaneer as an asteroid storm hits the ships. As Davey's ship draws level with the Buccaneer, Wrack takes Turlough down in the hold and shows him the entrance to a locked chamber with a vacuum shield, but leaves him outside when she enters. Through the door, however, Turlough hears the voice of the Black Guardian as Davey's ship explodes, apparently hit by an asteroid. The Doctor, though, again suspects otherwise, especially since like Critas's ship, Davey was also challenging the Buccaneer.

Arriving on board the Buccaneer for the party, the Doctor and Tegan mingle while Turlough sneaks off to examine the locked chamber. He finds an eye-shaped grid open to space, but a pirate locks the door and turns off the vacuum shield. Fortunately, the Doctor finds Turlough before he suffocates. The Doctor then notices the eye-shaped projector above the grid, and theorizes that this must be how Wrack transmits the power to destroy the other ships, using some sort of focus. He remembers Critas was wearing an out-of-period clasp with a red crystal, and Turlough tells him of Wrack's gift to Davey and the Doctor realizes the red crystal is the focus. Before they can act on it, however, they are captured by Wrack's first mate. Meanwhile, Wrack has managed to lure Tegan away from the party to her wheelhouse and freezes her in time while she plants a red crystal in her tiara.

Part Four

Brought before Wrack, Turlough accuses the Doctor of being a spy and claims he was trying to capture the Doctor. Wrack sends the Doctor, Tegan and Marriner back to the Edwardian ship. The Doctor believes that Turlough is trying to prove himself trustworthy by stopping Wrack. Unfortunately, Wrack sees into Turlough's mind and is about to sentence him to walk to plank. She pauses, however, when Turlough tells her that he, too, serves the Black Guardian. As the ships near the crystalline space station of the Enlighteners, the Buccaneer pulls level with the Edwardian Ship, and Wrack brings Turlough once again to the chamber, this time letting him witness her summoning the power of the Black Guardian. The Doctor, seeing the Buccaneer pull close, realizes that the focus must have been smuggled aboard somehow, and as he describes it, Tegan tells him about the crystal in the tiara. The Doctor smashes the crystal, but only manages to multiply the power by the number of fragments.

The Doctor gathers up the pieces, rushing up to the deck and just in time hurls them overboard as they explode. Suddenly, the wind dies, and Wrack pulls ahead of the Edwardian ship. The Doctor demands that the TARDIS be released to him to stop Wrack from winning, and Marriner reveals that it was concealed within the Doctor's own mind. Travelling in it to the Buccaneer, the Doctor tries to reason with Wrack, but her first mate shows up with Turlough, and she orders that the Doctor be thrown into space. As Tegan watches from the Edwardian ship, two bodies are ejected into space, and the Buccaneer reaches the finish. The human crew of the Buccaneer vanish as Tegan, Striker and Marriner board to give their respects to the victor.

The Enlighteners turn out to be the Black and White Guardians, and the winner is the Doctor, who brought the ship in with Turlough's help when Wrack and her first mate met with an "accident." The Doctor, however, refuses the diamond crystal containing Enlightenment, saying that he's not ready for it, and the White Guardian dismisses Striker and Marriner, who vanish back into eternity. As Turlough helped the Doctor bring the ship in, he is entitled to a portion of the prize. The Black Guardian reminds Turlough of their bargain, and says that he can give up the diamond, or sacrifice the Doctor to gain both Enlightenment and the TARDIS. Turlough struggles with a decision, and hurls the diamond at the Black Guardian, who vanishes in screams and flames. The Doctor points out that Enlightenment was not the diamond, but the choice itself. The White Guardian warns once again that the Black Guardian will return, even angrier now that he has been thwarted twice, and vanishes himself. Turlough asks the Doctor to take him back to his home planet, and the Doctor agrees.




Story Notes

  • The Black Guardian Trilogy began in the serial Mawdryn Undead, and continued in the previous serial, Terminus. It concludes here.
  • The original title for this story was The Enlighteners. Portions of Barbara Clegg's story were reworked by Eric Saward to fit into the Trilogy, including substituting the two Guardians for her "Enlighteners". Since there were no longer any Enlighteners as such, the story was renamed Enlightenment.
  • Every story during Season 20 had the Doctor face an enemy from each of his past incarnations. During this trilogy, the enemy was the Black Guardian, who last faced the fourth incarnation at the conclusion of the Key to Time saga in The Armageddon Factor (1979).
  • This story marked Valentine Dyall's final appearance as the Black Guardian. Dyall would return to the world of Doctor Who to play Slarn in the BBC Radio 4 serial Slipback before his death in 1985.
  • This story also marks the final appearance of Cyril Luckham as the White Guardian, who was last seen in The Ribos Operation (1978). Luckham passed away on 8th February 1989.
  • Guest star Lynda Baron (Captain Wrack) first became involved in Doctor Who in the 1966 serial The Gunfighters, for which she recorded the song "The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon".
  • This is the only Doctor Who production to date to have been both written and directed by women, Barbara Clegg and Fiona Cumming respectively.
  • The Doctor replaces his stalk of celery with one from Captain Wrack's ship. Rather curiously, both stalks come from buffets which are essentially figments of other people's imagination (Castrovalva and the Shadow both being 'unreal') - although this may explain why the celery never goes off and why it doesn't revive Peri in The Caves of Androzani.
  • The TARDIS camera is located in the beacon atop the police box; Lieutenant Marriner climbs to the top of the ship to peer inside, but apparently cannot hear Tegan.
  • Although the dialogue in which he gives the information is inaudible, the script (or lip-reading his initial message) makes it clear that the White Guardian's mission is for the Doctor to stop Wrack winning the race, which would have devastating consequences for the whole universe.


  • Part One - 6.6 million viewers
  • Part Two - 7.2 million viewers
  • Part Three - 6.2 million viewers
  • Part Four - 7.3 million viewers


to be added

Filming Locations

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • There are still a few fragments of the red jewel left after the Doctor picks them up. Why not pick-up the rug the jewel fragments are on rather than try to transfer them into the handkerchief anyway?
  • When Wrack freezes Tegan at the end of episode three, her eyes are wide open, yet when she is unfrozen again at the beginning of episode four, her eyes are shut.
  • In episode one when the ship experiences turbulence, the liquid in the glasses doesn't.
  • Why don't Wrack and her first mate vanish the instant they are pushed overboard the Buccaneer, towards the end of episode four, like the Eternals who are forced to walk the plank earlier in the story do?
  • Solar winds do not travel fast enough to propel the ships at the speeds they are obviously capable of, given the relatively short amount of time it takes them to travel between the planets of the solar system. The solar winds do not actually propel the ship. They are merely the source of energy which is converted within the drive sections of each ship, into another form of faster motive power.
  • Why would the Black & White Guardians be holding a race for the Eternals in the first place? They are the Guardians of universal order and chaos, not cosmic entertainment providers. The Eternals potential for creating problems for both of them, in their quest for entertaining distrations is formidable. Organizing the occasional mass event like this just makes the Guardians existences easier in the long-run.
  • Episode two ends with Turlough climbing onto the railing and jumping off, with the Doctor shouting "NO!". The next episode, however, begins with Turlough climbing onto the railing with the Doctor shouting "Don't be an idiot!" Before Turlough jumps off.



DVD and Video Releases

  • Commentaries have been recorded for this story.
  • In April of 2009, the BBFC cleared a series of extras for Enlightenment under the banner of The Guardian Trilogy [1]. This would indicate Enlightenment, along with Mawdryn Undead and Terminus would make up The Black Guardian Trilogy.
  • Released as a two disc set. The second DVD was a Special Edition movie-length feature with new CGI, a 5.1 remix and 16:9 widescreen.


Main article: Enlightenment (novelisation)

External Links

  • BBC - Doctor Who - The Classic Series - Episode Guide: Enlightenment
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide - Detailed Synopsis - Enlightenement
  • Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel) - A Brief History of Time (Travel): Enlightenment
  • Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film and Television entry on Enlightenment
Season 20
Arc of Infinity  • Snakedance  • Mawdryn Undead  • Terminus  • Enlightenment  • The King's Demons  
20th Anniversary Special: The Five Doctors

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


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