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Dr Who

Up to date as of January 31, 2010

From TARDIS Index File, the free Doctor Who reference.

Fifth Doctor
Also known as: The Supremo
Race: Gallifreyan (Time Lord)
Home Planet: Gallifrey
Home Era: Rassilon Era
Appearances: Full List of Appearances
Actor: Peter Davison
"If anyone happens to ask whether I made any material difference to the welfare of this planet, you can tell them I came and went like a summer cloud"
―The Doctor

The Fifth Doctor is the name given to the fifth incarnation of the Doctor.



The Doctor enthusiastically chatting to the Portreeve



The Doctor's fourth regeneration (DW: Logopolis) was a problematic one, and nearly failed. Mentally, he alternated between assuming the personalities of his previous selves and reverting into states of fear and vagueness. He recovered in the TARDIS' Zero Room and after Nyssa and Tegan piloted the TARDIS to Castrovalva, where he could recover, he found himself captured by the Portreeve's men. Amnesiac, confused and vague, he regained his memory and sense of purpose and ended up once more winning against the Master. (DW: Castrovalva)


Tegan demanded that he return her to 1981 Earth, which he attempted many times without success. (DW: Four to Doomsday, The Visitation) Along the way, Nyssa collapsed (DW: Four to Doomsday) and spent the next few days recovering, the Mara possessed Tegan (DW: Kinda) and they took time out to attend Lord Cranleigh's ball, where danger lurked once more. (DW: Black Orchid)

Somewhere around this time The Doctor met his Tenth Incarnation due to their respective TARDIS' crashing into one another. (DW: Time Crash)

On 26th century Earth he discovered a plan by Cybermen to use Captain Briggs' space freighter as a giant bomb. The freighter shifted through time to the distant past, killing the dinosaurs and Earth's history proceeded as normal. However, Adric, still on the freighter, died. (DW: Earthshock)

The Doctor trying to redeem himself with the Silurians.

When Vislor Turlough, an exiled alien posing as a British schoolboy, asked to come along, the Doctor did not know that Turlough had been commissioned by the Black Guardian to kill him. Soon after, Nyssa left to help cure Lazar's Disease on the space station Terminus. After meeting the entities known as Eternals racing in yacht-like spacecraft for the prize of Enlightenment, Turlough broke free from the Black Guardian's influence, and continued to travel with the Doctor and Tegan. The Doctor met three of his previous incarnations when they were summoned to the Death Zone on Gallifrey by President Borusa, who was attempting to gain Rassilon's secret of immortality. (DW: The Five Doctors)

After further adventures in which the Doctor re-encountered old foes including the Silurians and the Sea Devils, both Tegan and Turlough left the TARDIS. Tegan would find the death and violence they encountered on their travels too much to bear (DW: Resurrection of the Daleks), and Turlough returned to his home planet of Trion.


Ultimately, the Doctor and his last companion, Peri Brown, were exposed to Spectrox toxaemia on Androzani Minor. With only one dose of the antidote available, he sacrificed his own life to save Peri, regenerating into his sixth incarnation. (DW: The Caves of Androzani) During his regeneration the Master tried to interfere via Kamelion's connection to the TARDIS, but the Doctor was saved by an older Nyssa who connected with him in his mindscape. (BFA: Circular Time)

For a list of Fifth Doctor stories in the order in which he experienced them, see Fifth Doctor - Timeline.


This was probably the most human and vulnerable of all the Doctors, less pretentious and selfish, often reacting to situations rather than initiating them and openly expressing his hopes and fears to his companions. His young appearance was reflected in the youthfulness of his companions as well, whom he treated more like parts of a team than their usual subordinate role under previous incarnations. The death of Adric affected him and the rest of his companions deeply. (DW: Earthshock)

The Doctor when he meets his future self

Despite his youthful body and love of cricket, he was one of the least physical Doctors, preferring to use communication and diplomacy to solve a problem. In contrast to some of his more aggressive predecessors, he preferred to gain people's trust by honestly proving himself, instead of using his vast experience as an excuse to take charge. Indeed, he often willingly participated in situations under the leadership of someone else who had the strong command presence that he lacked. However this does not mean to say that he did not take charge in moments of frustration, as demonstrated during his encounter with "that skinny idiot". In an occasional reminder of his actual age, this Doctor would sport a pair of glasses when examining something (though these would later be revealed by the his future self to be vanity "brainy specs", which he wore just to make him look "a bit clever". (DW: Time Crash)

The Doctor wearing his "brainy specs"

At the same time, this humanity made him prone to panic under pressure and become occasionally indecisive. He was unable to execute Davros in cold blood (DW: Resurrection of the Daleks), and reluctantly killed Kamelion only at the android's request. (DW: Planet of Fire)

Of all the Doctors, the Fifth was the one who showed the greatest abhorrence for violence and needless bloodshed as well as the pain and suffering of others. Despite this, violence and bloodshed continued to dog his footsteps, as in the massacre in Sea Base 4 (DW: Warriors of the Deep) and the number of deaths of anonymous soldiers which led to Tegan's departure. The Doctor acknowledged that he perhaps had to mend his ways. (DW: Resurrection of the Daleks)

It was perhaps a combination of realizing that his lifestyle begot violence and the weighing of Adric's death on his mind that led him ultimately to sacrifice his own existence to save Peri. It is telling that this Doctor's last word before his regeneration into his sixth incarnation was "Adric." (DW: The Caves of Androzani)


The Doctor in his Season 21 attire

This Doctor had two different (but similar) outfits, wearing his second one only during Season 21. His usual attire was a traditional cricket outfit. He donned a long beige coat with red lining along the collars adorned with a stick of celery and a white long sleeve cricket jumper with a red, black, and green V-Neck pattern. Under that would be a white dress shirt with a red interior and embroidered question marks on the collars. His pants were a unique pattern consisting of green and gray stripes. Often he would top the look off with a Colonial Panama hat with a red band.

His second outfit made a few changes. The color of the coat was slightly faded and the collar was made shorter, the jumper had a pattern of thick red and black lines on the bottom of the sweater and the V-neck, the dress shirt had a green interior instead of a red one, and the pattern of the pants changed to thick orange lines. He's been seen wearing suspenders adorned with question marks with this outfit. (DW:Planet of Fire)

Impact on later incarnations

"Oh no, you mostly went hands free didn't you? Like, "Hey! I'm the Doctor. I can save the universe using a kettle and some string! And look at me, I'm wearing a vegetable.""
―The Tenth Doctor mocking the Fifth

Whilst it is implied that his immediate successor hated being this incarnation, his tenth incarnation absolutely loved living this incarnation. He looked upon his fifth incarnation as a turning point in his lives. Prior to this he had a penchant for being "old and grumpy and important, like you do when you're young," but it was his fifth incarnation where he truly began to enjoy himself (an ironic statement considering the darkness surrounding the death of Adric and the departures of Tegan and Nyssa). He admitted to his earlier self that certain aspects of his wardrobe and personality were influenced by his fifth incarnation, "because you were my Doctor". (DW: Time Crash). This statement is also an in-reference to Tenth Doctor actor David Tennant having watched Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor performance when he was younger and the former's frequent statement that Davison was "[his] doctor". While inside the Doctor's dreamscape, Ace discovered that this incarnation in the Doctor's subconscious had come to personify the conscience of his future selves, reflecting his strong sense of compassion. (NA: Timewyrm: Revelation)

Key Life Events

Behind the Scenes

Richard Griffiths was considered for the role of the Fifth Doctor before Peter Davison was cast.

After the famous and popular Fourth Doctor, it was decided that the next Doctor should be played by an actor who was already firmly established in the British public's mind. Peter Davison was chosen, due in no small part to his popular and critically acclaimed role as Tristan Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small, a BBC series based on the books of James Herriot.

Until the announcement in 2009 of 26-year-old Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor, Davison, age 29 when he began the role, held the record as the youngest actor to ever officially play the Doctor, beating his predecessor Tom Baker. Davison was reluctant to accept the role because of his age.

The Fifth Doctor's era was notable for a "back to basics" attitude, in which humour (and, to an extent, horror) was kept to a minimum, but more scientific accuracy was encouraged by the producer, John Nathan-Turner. It was also notable for the reintroduction of many of the Time Lord's enemies, such as the Cybermen, Omega (a founding-father of Gallifrey), the Black and White Guardians, the Sea Devils, and the Silurians, while the Master, who had been reintroduced at the end of the Baker era, became a regular adversary, appearing at least once (and often more than once) per season.

The Fifth Doctor also began the "tradition" of wearing clothes decorated with question marks, which continued with his sixth and seventh incarnations.

In 2007, the Fifth Doctor became the first past incarnation to appear in the 2005- series revival when he appeared in the mini-episode Time Crash.

In several DVD commentaries, Peter Davison claims the reason that he abandoned the use of his half-moon glasses was because Janet Fielding mercilessly teased him when he used them. Fielding seemed to agree with this assessment on at least the commentary for Earthshock.

External links

The incarnations of the Doctor
Companions of the Fifth Doctor
Adric  • Tegan Jovanka  • Nyssa  • Turlough  • Kamelion  • Peri Brown
Other media
Thomas Brewster  • Sir Justin  • Shayde  • Maxwell Edison  • Gus Goodman  • Erimem  • Antranak  • Amy

This article uses material from the "Fifth Doctor" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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