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150[2]Silver Nemesis
Doctor Who serial
Directed byChris Clough
Written byKevin Clarke
Script editorAndrew Cartmel
Produced byJohn Nathan-Turner
Executive producer(s)None
Incidental music composerKeff McCulloch
Production code7K
SeriesSeason 25
Running time3 episodes, 25 minutes each
First broadcast23 November 1988 (1988-11-23) (UK) 25 November 1988 (1988-11-25) (New Zealand)[1]
Last broadcast7 December 1988 (1988-12-07) (UK) 25 November 1988 (1988-11-25) (New Zealand)
← Preceded by
The Happiness Patrol
Followed by →
The Greatest Show in the Galaxy
List of Doctor Who episodes (1963–1989)

Silver Nemesis is the third serial of the 25th season of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was first broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC1 in three weekly parts from 23 November (the 25th anniversary) to 7 December 1988. In New Zealand, all three parts were broadcast on TVNZ on 25 November.

In the serial, the neo-Nazi De Flores (Anton Diffring), the 17th-century sorceress Lady Peinforte (Fiona Walker), and the Cyberman race vie for control of the Nemesis, a statue containing a living metal which crash-landed near Windsor Castle in 1988.

The serial marks the final appearance of the Cybermen in the original run.


The Seventh Doctor and Ace visit England in 1988, where three rival factions—the Cybermen, a group of neo-Nazis, and a 17th-century sorceress named Lady Peinforte—are attempting to gain control of a statue made of a living metal, validium, that was created by Omega and Rassilon as the ultimate defence for Gallifrey.

The statue has three components - a bow, an arrow and the figure itself - that must be brought together in order for it to be activated. They have been separated since 1638 when, in order to foil the first attempt by Peinforte to seize it, the Doctor launched the figure into orbit in a powered asteroid.

This asteroid has been approaching the Earth at twenty-five yearly intervals ever since, leaving a succession of disasters in its wake, and has now crash-landed near Windsor Castle.

The Doctor plays the three factions against one another and eventually appears to concede defeat to the Cyber Leader. This is just part of a carefully laid trap, and the Cybermen's fleet is totally wiped out by the statue.


The working titles for this story included The Harbinger and Nemesis.[3] Writer Kevin Clarke, who appears twice in the serial itself playing a tourist at Windsor, discusses the development of the plot on the DVD. He points out that he had seen very little of Doctor Who and that he met the production team without any idea of what his proposed story would be about. He made up a story on the spot in front of producer John Nathan-Turner that the Doctor is literally God, though this was not realised on-screen. The Cybermen were added later at the request of Nathan-Turner, to tie in with the programme's silver anniversary.


Permission was refused for filming at Windsor Castle so scenes set there were instead shot at Arundel Castle.[4] According to the DVD commentary several scenes were shot in woodland areas around Arundel Castle, notably the climax of Part Two, when the Doctor and Ace discuss the Cyber-threat while sitting near a fallen tree. The damaged and fallen trees, which can often be seen in these shots, were a result of the recent storm of 1987 that had caused widespread damage throughout southern England. Scenes at the gas works where The Doctor and Ace meet and combat the Cybermen were filmed on the site that later became the O2 (formerly the Millennium Dome).

Cast notes

Fiona Walker had appeared in The Keys of Marinus in 1964 as Kala. Leslie French, who plays the Mathematician, had turned down the role of The Doctor in 1963; thus, his casting was another nod to the series' beginnings in this Silver Anniversary story.[5] Anton Diffring took the role so that he could travel from his home in France to watch the Wimbledon tennis tournament; Silver Nemesis was his last work as an actor before his death in 1989. The production team tried to get Prince Edward involved in the show, but his office politely declined in March 1988;[citation needed] the programme instead used an Elizabeth II look-alike.[6] Nicholas Courtney makes a cameo appearance, conversing with other visitors in the queue to tour Windsor Castle.

Broadcast and reception

EpisodeTitleRun timeOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions) [7]
1"Part One"24:3123 November 1988 (1988-11-23)6.1
2"Part Two"24:1230 November 1988 (1988-11-30)5.2
3"Part Three"24:367 December 1988 (1988-12-07)5.2

Part One was transmitted on the 25th anniversary of the first episode of Doctor Who. Parts Two and Three were the second and third respectively of the series ever to be premiered outside of the United Kingdom (the first being The Five Doctors), being shown on 25 November as part of a compilation broadcast of the story on New Zealand's TVNZ, after part one had shown in the UK but prior to the other two being transmitted there.[8]

Paul Cornell, Martin Day, and Keith Topping wrote of the serial in The Discontinuity Guide (1995), "A bit of a mess, really. Some passable scenes, but the story lacks pace and character involvement. Its plot is virtually identical to Remembrance of the Daleks only two stories previously."[9] In 2012, Mark Braxton of Radio Times said that the story had "a certain comic-strip effervescence" despite many of the plot points not going well together or missing the mark.[10] DVD Talk's Ian Jane gave Silver Nemesis three out of five stars, describing it as "phoned in" and a remake of Remembrance of the Daleks. However, he felt that the story was still enjoyable due to the chemistry between McCoy and Aldred, as well as the faster pace.[11] SFX reviewer Ian Berriman said that the story was too ambitious, and criticised the Cybermen. Despite this, he noted that the serial still had "a great concept, ... some cool moments, a couple of enjoyably awful puns and one superb character: nutjob Jacobean villainess Lady Peinforte".[12] Alasdair Wilkins of io9 wrote that it is "not an unmitigated disaster, but it's definitely the worst of classic Doctor Who's creative resurgence in its final two seasons". He also felt that the story packed in too many elements and did not do much with the Cybermen.[13] Den of Geek listed the Cybermen's reaction to jazz as one of the "great things in not-so-great [Doctor Who] episodes".[14]

Commercial releases

In print

Silver Nemesis
AuthorKevin Clarke
Cover artistAlister Pearson
SeriesDoctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
PublisherTarget Books
Publication date
16 November 1989

A novelisation of this serial, written by Kevin Clarke, was published by Target Books in November 1989.

Home media

On 3 May 1993 an extended version of this three-part serial was released on VHS. Apart from featuring footage not shown in the original broadcast, the video included an hour-long documentary made by New Jersey Network during the production of the adventure and featuring interviews with cast and crew. This documentary was not included on the 2010 DVD release due to rights issues. The broadcast version of this serial only was released on DVD as part of a box set with Revenge of the Cybermen on 9 August 2010.[15]

Extended VHS release (1993)

Episode No. Release date Length
1 5 April 1993 29:07
2 5 April 1993 25:49
3 5 April 1993 29:13


  1. ^ Parts Two and Three of Silver Nemesis were first broadcast in New Zealand on 25 November 1988 as part of a compilation broadcast before their UK transmission.[citation needed]
  2. ^ From the Doctor Who Magazine series overview, in issue 407 (pp26-29). The Discontinuity Guide, which counts the four segments of The Trial of a Time Lord as four separate stories and also counts the unbroadcast serial Shada, lists this story as number 154. Region 1 DVD releases follow The Discontinuity Guide numbering system.
  3. ^ "Dr Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel)".
  4. ^ "Dr Who Locations".
  5. ^ Chris Clough on DVD commentary
  6. ^ "BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Silver Nemesis - Details".
  7. ^ "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  8. ^ Howe, David J; Walker, Stephen James (1998). "Part Two – Fiction: The Stories". Doctor Who – The Handbook: The Seventh Doctor. London: Doctor Who Books. p. 69. ISBN 0-426-20527-8.
  9. ^ Cornell, Paul; Day, Martin; Topping, Keith (1995). "Silver Nemesis". The Discontinuity Guide. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 0-426-20442-5.
  10. ^ Braxton, Mark (18 September 2012). "Doctor Who: Silver Nemesis". Radio Times. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  11. ^ Jane, Ian (9 December 2010). "Doctor Who: Silver Nemesis". DVD Talk. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  12. ^ Berriman, Ian (6 August 2010). "DVD Review Doctor Who: Revenge of the Cybermen/Silver Nemesis". SFX. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  13. ^ Wilkins, Alasdair (23 November 2012). "A Complete Guide to Every Single Doctor Who Anniversary Special Ever". io9. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  14. ^ Blair, Andrew (10 August 2012). "Doctor Who: great things in not-so-great episodes". Den of Geek. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  15. ^ "Doctor Who: Revenge of the Cybermen / Silver Nemesis DVD 1975: Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Ian Marter, Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Jeremy Wilkin, Ronald Leigh-Hunt, William Marlowe, Alec Wallis, David Collings: Film & TV". Retrieved 9 October 2013.

Target novelisation