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"I'm the Doctor, whether you like it or not!"
―The Doctor
The Twin Dilemma
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Season Number: Season 21
Story Number: 137
Doctor: Sixth Doctor
Companions: Peri
Enemy: Mestor
Writer: Anthony Steven
Director: Peter Moffatt
Broadcast: 22nd March - 30th March 1984
Format: 4 25-minute episodes
Previous Story: The Caves of Androzani
Following Story: Attack of the Cybermen

The Twin Dilemma was the seventh and final story of Season 21. It was the first full story to feature Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor. It was also the last story to feature half-hour episodes until Season 23.



A race of giant Gastropods has taken over the planet Jaconda. Their leader, Mestor, now intends to cause an enormous explosion in order to spread his people's eggs throughout the galaxy, and he kidnaps juvenile twin geniuses from Earth to work out the necessary mathematical equations. Space fighters led by Lieutenant Hugo Lang are dispatched to get the twins back, but they come under attack and Lang is the sole survivor when his ship crashes on the asteroid Titan III.

A newly regenerated Doctor and Peri become involved and help Jaconda's elderly former ruler Professor Edgeworth, who is really a Time Lord named Azmael, to defeat Mestor and free the planet's bird-like indigenous people from the gastropods' reign of terror. Azmael, however, sacrifices his life in the process.

The danger over, the Doctor tells Peri, "I'm the Doctor - whether you like it or not!"



Part One

After regenerating, the Doctor starts behaving erratically. He goes to the wardrobe and starts looking for a new outfit, finding a glaring, mismatched, brightly coloured coat, to which he immediately takes a shine. Peri tells him that he could not possibly go outside wearing such an awful garb, to which the Doctor takes offence.

Two twins,Romulus and Remus Sylvest, receive a visitation from a mysterious old man called Professor Edgeworth. They question how he managed to get inside their house; he tells them he will return when their father is there, then proceeds to take control of their minds, and the trio disappear. They arrive on a spacecraft in deep space. Edgeworth then communicates with his superior, a slug-like creature called Mestor, who instructs Edgeworth to take the twins to Titan III.

In the console room, the Doctor has a funny turn, quoting a poem about a Peri— a good and beautiful Fairy in Persian mythology, but one which used to be evil. The Doctor then accuses Peri of being evil, and of being an alien spy, before rushing toward her and throttling her. He catches a sight of his own manic face in a mirror and collapses in a heap, releasing Peri. When she tells him that he tried to kill her, he initially denies he could be capable of such an act, but seeing how terrified of him she is, decides he must become a hermit on the desolate asteroid Titan III.

The twins' father contacts the authorities; he found Zanium in their room — a sure sign of intergalactic kidnap. Lieutenant Lang begins the pursuit and soon finds a suspicious ship previously reported missing. He tries to contact it, but it enters Warp drive something that class of ship is not designed to do.

On Titan II, as the Doctor contemplates a thousand years of solitude and Peri expresses her disapproval, they hear the crash landing of a craft. Examining its wreckage, they find the concussed body of Commander Lang. They take him back to the TARDIS where he reveals his whole squadron has been destroyed. Believing the Doctor to be responsible, he points his gun at the Doctor and threatens to kill him.

Part Two

Peri pleads with Lang, telling him that the Doctor had in fact saved him, but he faints away. The Doctor is not keen to treat Lang, more concerned for his own life, but eventually agrees to Peri's persuasion.

Edgeworth argues with Romulus and Remus, making them do Mestor's work. He scolds them for setting up a distress signal, so they are not allowed to use electronic equipment to solve the equations they have been set. An image of Mestor appears and gives the twins a more blunt threat — work for him or have their minds destroyed.

On the TARDIS scanner, the Doctor and Peri see a building — something which has no place on an uninhabited asteroid. Leaving Lang behind, they find a tunnel which may lead to the building, but on exploring find two aliens wielding guns. The Doctor cowers in fear and pleads with them not to shoot him. They are led off and are brought before Edgeworth. The Doctor claims to be a pilgrim to Titan III, but Noma, one of the aliens, says they are spies and should be shot. The Doctor suddenly recognises Edgeworth as an old friend - Azmael, master of Jaconda, whom he last saw during his fourth incarnation. When the Doctor sees Romulus and Remus and discovers it is Azmael who has abducted them, he is disgusted. Azmael teleports away with the twins and the aliens, leaving the Doctor and Peri locked in the building. The Doctor starts to break the lock's combination, but Peri discovers Noma has set the base to self-destruct. The Doctor improvises a solution to teleport them back to the TARDIS. Peri makes a successful return, but the Doctor has not appeared when she sees the base explode on the scanner.

Part Three

A glimpse of the Doctor is seen appearing in the TARDIS; he was delayed returning because he was using Peri's watch to synchronise their arrival, but the watch had stopped. The Doctor is surprised at Peri's compassion when she thought he had died.

On Jaconda, Mestor is seen putting one of the bird-like Jacondans to death for the petty offence of stealing a few vegetables. Soon, the TARDIS arrives, but instead of the expected beautiful planet the Doctor is expecting, he, Peri and Lang find a desolate wasteland covered with giant Gastropod trails. The Doctor is reluctant to go to the palace, scared for his own life, but is persuaded to take Lang there in the TARDIS. In the palace corridors they see murals depicting Jaconda's history, depicting the slugs of myth - but it appears that they are now all too real. After avoiding some Gastropods, Lang gets stuck in their slime trail.

Azmael takes the twins to his laboratory and shows them a store room full of Gastropod eggs. Mestor arrives and tries to persuade them that his aims are benevolent. Azmael begs him to stop reading his thoughts and stop Noma watching his every move. He agrees and leaves. Azmael explains to the Twins that Mestor usurped him as leader of Jaconda and outlines a plan to draw two outlying planets into the same orbit as Jaconda. The Twins' genius is required to stabilise those planets in their new orbit. The Doctor, leaving Peri and Lang behind, finds Azmael's lab. In a manic fit of pique, he attacks Azmael, but is restrained by a Jacondan and the Twins. The Doctor apologises to Azmael but demands to know what is going on.

Meanwhile, Peri is captured by Jacondan guards and brought before Mestor. When Lang escapes to Azmael's lab and informs them what has happened, the Doctor finally shows compassion for her when he thinks she might die.

Part Four

Mestor refrains from killing Peri immediately, finding her appearance pleasing. Jacondan guards arrive in Azmael's lab and seize the Doctor. The Doctor tells Mestor that he ought to allow him to assist with the dangerous operation of moving the planets, as a single mistake could blow a hole in that corner of the universe. Back in the laboratory, Azmael informs the Doctor the details of the plan to bring the planets into the same orbit — they will be placed in different time zones using time travel technology that Mestor stole from Azmael. The Doctor realises that, as the other planets are smaller than Jaconda, bringing them closer to Jaconda's sun will lead to catastrophe. The Doctor enters the egg storeroom, and is disturbed that they have no nutritional mucus. He tries to cut one open with a laser cutter; the shell is impenetrable, but the egg reacts slightly to the heat. The Doctor realises they have been designed to withstand the heat of an exploding sun — the explosion of the Jacondan sun will scatter the eggs throughout the universe. When they hatch, the Gastropods will conquer the universe.

The one remaining Jacondan in the lab collapses dead, his mind burnt out. Mestor had been using him as a monitor, and knows the full details of what has been discussed. Peri, Lang and the Twins return to the TARDIS, whilst the Doctor and Azmael go to confront Mestor. When Mestor refuses to abandon his plans, the Doctor hurls a vial of acid taken from the lab at him, but a force field protects Mestor from any harm. Mestor threatens to possess the Doctor's mind and body, and demonstrates by taking control of Azmael's body. Azmael tells him to destroy Mestor's body before he can return to it, which he does with a further vial. Then Azmael, in his last regeneration, forces himself to regenerate — killing himself — and in doing so destroys Mestor. Dying, Azmael says he has no regrets and that one of his fondest memories was a time spent with the Doctor by a fountain.

The Doctor and Peri return to the TARDIS; Lang decides to stay behind on Jaconda to assist with their rebuilding. When Peri tells the Doctor off for being rude, he reminds her that he is an alien, with alien sensibilities: "I am the Doctor whether you like it or not!"




  • Fiesta 95 is a holiday planet.
  • Azmael last met the Doctor in the Doctor's fourth incarnation, and was the best teacher the Doctor ever had. On that occasion, Azmael got drunk.

Story Notes

  • This story had working titles of; A Stitch In Time, A Switch In Time.
  • New opening and closing title sequences make their debut a more colourful version than the previous one, incorporating Colin Baker's face rather than Peter Davison's designed by Sid Sutton and Terry Handley.
  • The cat badge worn by the Doctor in his lapel for this story was hand-made and painted by Suzie Trevor, and purchased for the programme from a specialist badge shop in central London.
  • Fabian was originally envisaged as a male character, and the Jocondan Chamberlain as a female one.
  • The Doctor attempting to strangle Peri marks the first (and to date only) time on television that the Doctor has intentionally attempted to kill a companion (his destruction of Kamelion doesn't count as that was a robot).
  • When in 2009 readers of Doctor Who Magazine readers voted on their favourite story The Twin Dilemma came in at 200 making it reader's least favourite Doctor Who story. Ironically, this dubious honour was achieved at about the same time the story was released to DVD in the UK, completing the DVD releases of the Sixth Doctor era.


  • Part 1 - 7.6 million viewers
  • Part 2 - 7.4 million viewers
  • Part 3 - 7.0 million viewers
  • Part 4 - 6.3 million viewers


  • The Edgeworth character was originally intended to be the first Doctor. (He wasn't.)

Filming Locations

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • The altered revitaliser machine sends Peri 10 seconds back in time, and thus... back to the TARDIS? The revitaliser itself does not achieve this. However, the Doctor is fully aware that the TARDIS would detect any unusual time/space disturbance in its viscinity and redirect it to the control room for the Doctor to study (See Pyramids of Mars, The Awakening, Timelash, and The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, to name a few).
  • Why does Azmael bother with the 'Edgworth' alias? Anything to help cover his tracks. He has just kidnapped two children.
  • Even if the purpose of Azmael using a false name is to to help mask the connection to Joconda, why does he also call himself "Edgeworth" in conversations with Mestor and Noma?
  • The Jocondan's awful death by embolism.
  • Azmael keeps a slug-killing potion hanging around, but has never thought of using it. It wouldn't have done anything if he did, since Mestor could shield himself from the attack. Azmael probably knew this, but since the Doctor didn't let him in on his attack plan, he never got the chance to warn the Doctor.
  • The tin foil sofa.
  • The twins believe Edgeworth's story that his teleportation into their living room is a conjuring trick.
  • Why do the kidnappers stop off on Titan 3? Their ship apparently took some damage in the pursuit.
  • Peri makes no mention of the Doctor's heroic sacrifice on her behalf, nor thanks him for it (no wonder he's touchy). Possibly a bit rude, but remember that she'd seen the man she knew completely transform into another one. That's bound to have thrown her off a bit.
  • She has a touching faith in the notion that, as a policeman, Hugo cannot be a homicidal maniac. That might be a bit naive on her part, but police forces are generally careful about admitting people that might have murderous tendencies.
  • The twins' father is indeed being 'melodramatic' when he tells them that their mathematical skills could change events on a massive scale. This isn't actually without precedent - it's appeared before in the form of Block Transfer Computation.
  • Why does Mestor need the twins to produce calculations to stabilise the orbit of the smaller planets, when in fact it would run counter to Mestor's objectives (and, according to the Doctor, is actually impossible anyway)?
  • when Elena operates her monitor to check out the freighter, it's filled with a mass of text. But towards the bottom, it says, "Run", allowing the actress to press one key and activate the graphics.
  • Sylvest tells Hugo that he found zanium on the floor of his house. When Hugo relays this to the commander, he elaborates it into "a dust-like deposit on the floor."
  • When the twins are playing equations, they suddenly move about a metre apart so that they have room to turn around and face each other.
  • After the Doctor regenerates, a smudge of mud has disappeared from his sweater.
  • The silver computer terminal in the safe house on Titan 3 is prone to wobbling - most obviously when Peri spots the bomb and the Doctor walks away to have a look.
  • Mestor's hair-brained scheme defies the most basic laws of physics and any kind of logic. The smaller mass of Jaconda's neighbouring planets will not cause their orbit to decay (in fact, Jupiter shares an orbit with the small trojan asteroids). Even if they did, the tiny mass of a planet would not cause a massive sun to explode. Weirdly enough, throwing a big enough planet into a star actually could cause its reactions to halt and begin a nova, at least in theory. The process would likely take centuries however, far longer than what the episode implies. Even if the gastropod eggs could survive a nova, it would be tens of thousands of years, at minimum, before a very tiny fraction of them would reach a planet.
  • Why doesn't Mestor just possess the Doctor instead of demonstrating it with Azmael?


  • The transmat beam leaves behind a dusty residue, an effect also produced by the transmat used in DW: Bad Wolf.

DVD and Video Releases

  • The Twin Dilemma was released on DVD on September 7th, 2009 in the UK and 3rd December 2009 in Australia. This was the last Colin Baker story to be released on DVD.
  • The Twin Dilemma was released on video in May 1992.


Main article: The Twin Dilemma (novelisation)

External Links

  • BBC - Doctor Who - The Classic Series - Episode Guide: The Twin Dilemma
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide - Detailed Synopsis - The Twin Dilemma
  • Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel) - A Brief History of Time (Travel): The Twin Dilemma
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures: Story Locations - The Twin Dilemma
Season 21
Warriors of the Deep  • The Awakening  • Frontios  • Resurrection of the Daleks  • Planet of Fire  • The Caves of Androzani  • The Twin Dilemma

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


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