Doctor Who
Season 26
Cover art of the Blu-ray release for the complete season
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of stories4
No. of episodes14
Original networkBBC1
Original release6 September (1989-09-06) –
6 December 1989 (1989-12-06)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 25
Next →
Doctor Who (film)
Series 1 (series)
List of episodes

The 26th season of Doctor Who premiered on 6 September 1989 with the serial "Battlefield," and consisted of four serials, ending with "Survival," which was the final episode of Doctor Who for 15 years, until the show was revived in 2005. John Nathan-Turner produced the series, with Andrew Cartmel script editing.


See also: List of Doctor Who cast members

Main cast

Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred both continue their roles as the Seventh Doctor and Ace for their final season.

Recurring stars

Nicholas Courtney returned to play Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart in Battlefield. He first appeared with the Second Doctor in 1968 in The Web of Fear before becoming a recurring character throughout the Second Doctor to the Fifth Doctor and last appearing in The Five Doctors (1983).

Anthony Ainley returned to play The Master in Survival, having last appeared in The Trial of a Time Lord (1986). This was Ainley's final television appearance in the role, though he portrayed the Master one last time in the 1997 computer game Destiny of the Doctors.

Guest stars

Jean Marsh, who had portrayed Joanna in The Crusade (1965) and Sara Kingdom in The Daleks' Master Plan (1965–66), appeared in Battlefield playing the part of the main antagonist.


See also: List of Doctor Who episodes (1963–1989)

Season 26 continued Andrew Cartmel's trend of bringing a darker and more mysterious tone to the show, with a particular focus on Ace's past and the Doctor's manipulative nature. The season aired on Wednesdays, which was a change from the previous season's schedule.

No. in
Serial titleEpisode titlesDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
UK viewers
(millions) [1]
1521Battlefield"Part One"Michael KerriganBen Aaronovitch6 September 1989 (1989-09-06)7N3.169
"Part Two"13 September 1989 (1989-09-13)3.968
"Part Three"20 September 1989 (1989-09-20)3.667
"Part Four"27 September 1989 (1989-09-27)4.065
The Doctor and Ace discover that a UNIT platoon has come under assault whilst transporting a nuclear warhead. The attackers are knights from another dimension led by the legendary sorceress Morgaine, half-sister of King Arthur, whose magical powers appear to be real. The Doctor learns that one of his future incarnations will become Merlin, and bury Arthur beneath the waters of a nearby lake. With Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart at his side one last time, the Doctor must confront Morgaine, who has summoned a demonic entity known as the Destroyer of Worlds.
1532Ghost Light"Part One"Alan WareingMarc Platt4 October 1989 (1989-10-04)7Q4.268
"Part Two"11 October 1989 (1989-10-11)4.068
"Part Three"18 October 1989 (1989-10-18)4.064
The Doctor takes Ace back to 1883 to a Perivale house called Gabriel Chase which Ace recognises. Josiah Smith, an alien who has spent millennia adapting to humanity, intends to assassinate Queen Victoria and seize the British throne. Meanwhile, buried in the basement is Smith's former master – a powerful entity who intends to halt all evolution on Earth.
1543The Curse of Fenric"Part One"Nicholas MallettIan Briggs25 October 1989 (1989-10-25)7M4.367
"Part Two"1 November 1989 (1989-11-01)4.068
"Part Three"8 November 1989 (1989-11-08)4.068
"Part Four"15 November 1989 (1989-11-15)4.268
The Doctor and Ace land in England during World War II, at a secret seaside base which houses the Ultima Machine, a powerful codebreaking device. But disturbances plague the installation: Russians are trying to steal the Ultima, mysterious Viking runes are found in a church crypt, and vampiric Haemovores are rising from the ocean. The Doctor discovers his ancient foe, Fenric, has manipulated events in order to gain his freedom. And central to Fenric's schemes is none other than Ace.
1554Survival"Part One"Alan WareingRona Munro22 November 1989 (1989-11-22)7P5.069
"Part Two"29 November 1989 (1989-11-29)4.869
"Part Three"6 December 1989 (1989-12-06)5.071
Ace returns to Perivale to visit her friends, only to find many of them have gone missing. The Doctor discovers that they have been abducted to an alien planet by a race called the Cheetah People. Pursuing them, the time travellers find the Cheetah People are being controlled by the Master, who is trapped on the planet, and is slowly turning into a Cheetah Person himself. The Doctor must find a way off the planet, before they all succumb to the dying world's savage influence.


The entire season was broadcast from 6 September to 6 December 1989. The Curse of Fenric was originally intended to be aired before Ghost Light, but was subsequently rescheduled.

Home media

See also: List of Doctor Who home video releases and List of other Doctor Who home video releases

VHS releases

Season Story no. Serial name Number and duration
of episodes
UK release date Australia release date USA/Canada release date
26 152 Battlefield 4 x 25 mins March 1998 October 1998 March 1998
153 Ghost Light 3 x 25 mins May 1994 July 1994 June 1996
154 The Curse of Fenric 4 x 25 mins February 1991 July 1991 January 1992
155 Survival 3 x 25 mins October 1995 November 1996 September 1996

DVD and Blu-ray releases

All releases are for DVD unless otherwise indicated:

Season Story no. Serial name Number and duration
of episodes
R2 release date R4 release date R1 release date
26 152 Battlefield 1 × 96 min. 26 December 2008[2] 19 March 2009[3] 5 May 2009[4]
153 Ghost Light 3 × 25 min. 20 September 2004[5] 3 February 2005[6] 7 June 2005[7]
154 The Curse of Fenric 1 × 104 min. 6 October 2003[8] 11 February 2004[9] 1 June 2004[10]
155 Survival 3 × 25 min. 16 April 2007[11] 6 June 2007[12] 14 August 2007[13]
152–155 Complete Season 26[a] 14 × 25 min.
8 × 30 min.
1 × 96 min.
1 × 104 min.
27 January 2020 (B)[14] 11 March 2020 (B)[15] 24 March 2020 (B)[16]
  1. ^ Released as Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 26 in Region B. Released as Doctor Who – Sylvester McCoy: Complete Season Three in Region A.

In print

See also: List of Doctor Who novelisations

Season Story no. Library no.[a] Novelisation title Author Hardcover
release date[b]
release date[c]
release date[d]
26 152 152 Battlefield Marc Platt 18 July 1991 5 May 2022[17]
153 149 Ghost Light Marc Platt 20 September 1990 2 June 2011
154 151 The Curse of Fenric Ian Briggs 15 November 1990 3 September 2015
155 150 Survival Rona Munro 18 October 1990 7 September 2017
  1. ^ Number in Target's Doctor Who Library, if applicable
  2. ^ Published by Target's parent companies (Allen Wingate, W. H. Allen, BBC Books) unless otherwise indicated
  3. ^ Published by Target Books (or by BBC Books under the Target Collection umbrella) unless otherwise indicated
  4. ^ Unabridged from BBC Audio/AudioGo unless otherwise indicated

Season 27

Midway through 1989, Doctor Who's production team began initial planning for Season 27, which would have aired at the end of 1990. Andrew Cartmel and the writers he had worked with regularly, including Ben Aaronovitch, Ian Briggs, and Marc Platt, brainstormed possible story ideas. One of the major proposed plot points for Season 27 was the departure of Ace, who would have been taken to Gallifrey to become a Time Lord herself. This would also have seen the subsequent introduction of a new companion, planned as an "aristocratic cat burglar". The cancellation of the series meant that no detailed work was undertaken beyond these initial ideas:[18]

Four of the five proposed serials were subsequently adapted by the authors alongside Big Finish Productions into audio adventures that were released as part of their Doctor Who: The Lost Stories range in 2011:

The only one of the proposed stories that did not receive a release from Big Finish was Alixion.

Although the first series of Doctor Who's return in 2005 is the 27th full series of the show, the production team officially restarted the series numbering from scratch. This was mainly due to the 16-year gap between Season 26 and the new series (not counting the 1996 television movie).


  1. ^ a b "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  2. ^ Smith 2014, Battlefield.
  3. ^ "Doctor Who Battlefield by Roadshow Entertainment - Shop Online for Movies, DVDs in Australia". Fishpond. Archived from the original on 23 October 2017. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  4. ^ "Doctor Who: Battlefield". 5 May 2009. Retrieved 24 July 2017 – via Amazon.
  5. ^ Smith 2014, Ghost Light.
  6. ^ "Doctor Who Ghost Light by Roadshow Entertainment - Shop Online for Movies, DVDs in Australia". Fishpond. Archived from the original on 23 October 2017. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  7. ^ "Doctor Who: Ghost Light". 7 June 2005. Retrieved 24 July 2017 – via Amazon.
  8. ^ Smith 2014, The Curse of Fenric.
  9. ^ "Dr. Who - Curse of Fenric [2 Discs] by Roadshow Home Ent - Shop Online for Movies, DVDs in Australia". Fishpond. Archived from the original on 23 October 2017. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  10. ^ "Doctor Who: The Curse of Fenric". 1 June 2004. Retrieved 24 July 2017 – via Amazon.
  11. ^ Smith 2014, Survival.
  12. ^ "Doctor Who Survival by Roadshow Entertainment - Shop Online for Movies, DVDs in Australia". Fishpond. Archived from the original on 23 October 2017. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  13. ^ "Doctor Who: Survival". 14 August 2007. Retrieved 24 July 2017 – via Amazon.
  14. ^ "Doctor Who - The Collection - Season 26 [2019]". Archived from the original on 24 December 2020. Retrieved 27 November 2019 – via Amazon.
  15. ^ "Doctor Who - The Collection - Season 26 [2020]". Archived from the original on 28 January 2020. Retrieved 28 January 2020 – via Sanity.
  16. ^ "Doctor Who - Sylvester McCoy - Complete Season Three [2020]". Archived from the original on 28 January 2020. Retrieved 28 January 2020 – via
  17. ^ "Doctor Who: Battlefield: 7th Doctor Novelisation (Audio Download): Marc Platt, Toby Longworth, BBC Audio: Books". Amazon UK.
  18. ^ Molesworth, Richard (Producer) (2007). "Endgame (documentary)". Survival. Doctor Who. London: BBC Worldwide.
  19. ^ James T. (19 June 2011). "Doctor Who episodes and spin-offs that never happened". Den of Geek. Retrieved 12 September 2019.


  • Smith, Paul (2014). The Classic Doctor Who DVD Compendium. United Kingdom: Wonderful Books. ISBN 978-0-9576062-2-7.