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24 September 2014

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Production Code: 6H

First Transmitted

1 - 01/03/1983 18:55

2 - 02/03/1983 18:45

3 - 08/03/1983 18:55

4 - 09/03/1983 18:45


The White Guardian warns of impending danger and directs the TARDIS to what appears to be an Edwardian sailing yacht, the SS Shadow, but is actually one of a number of spaceships taking part in a race through the solar system, the prize being Enlightenment. The yacht's Captain Striker and his fellow officers are Eternals who feed off the thoughts and emotions of their kidnapped human crew - Ephemerals - in order to fill their own empty existences.

Turlough attempts to escape the Black Guardian's influence by jumping into space but is rescued and taken on board the ship of Captain Wrack - another of the Eternals. Two of the other ships in the race are destroyed and Turlough discovers that this has been brought about by Wrack, using a concentrated beam of mental energy with the aid of the Black Guardian.

The Doctor boards Wrack's ship, finds her source of power and, with Turlough's help, ejects her and her number two, Mansell, into space. The Doctor and Turlough then pilot the ship into port - a glowing crystalline structure hanging in space - and, in doing so, win the race. The White Guardian offers a portion of Enlightenment to Turlough, while the Black Guardian demands that the boy give the Doctor over to him in exchange for a huge diamond within a glowing artifact - apparently the prize.

Turlough makes his choice: he sweeps the crystal from the table straight toward the Black Guardian, who vanishes in flames. The boy is now free, as Enlightenment was not in fact the crystal but the choice.

Episode Endings

The time travellers make their way to the bridge of the SS Shadow where they discover that they are not on a yacht at all. They are on - literally - a space ship.

The Doctor and his friends are given spacesuits and taken out onto the deck of Striker's ship. Turlough hears the Black Guardian threatening him in his mind. Desperate to escape, he climbs over the deck railing and prepares to jump overboard. The Doctor shouts: 'No!'

The Doctor, Tegan and Striker's first mate Marriner accept an invitation to attend a party aboard Captain Wrack's ship. During the party, Wrack freezes Tegan in time and places in her tiara a red crystal that will act as a focus for her power and ensure the destruction of Striker's ship. Wrack laughs as she relishes the prospect of the Doctor's destruction.

The White Guardian fades from sight. Turlough wants to return to his home planet and the Doctor agrees to take him there.


The Flying Dutchman.

Arthur C Clarke's 'The Wind from the Sun'.

The Japanese film Message from Space (sailing ships in space).

Dialogue Triumphs

Striker : "You are not an Ephemeral. You are a... a time dweller. You travel in time."

The Doctor : "You're reading my thoughts."

Striker : "You are a Time Lord. A lord of time. Are there lords in such a small domain?"

The Doctor : "And where do you function?"

Striker : "Eternity... the endless wastes of eternity."

Striker : "Superior beings do not punish inferiors... We use them... kindly."

White Guardian : [Speaking of the Black Guardian.] "Be vigilant, Doctor. Once you denied him the Key to Time, now you have thwarted him again. He will be waiting for the third encounter, and his power does not diminish.... While I exist, he exists also... until we are no longer needed."

Dialogue Disasters

Resistance is futile!


Time Lords aren't quite Ephemerals or Eternals, or at least the Eternals can't make up their minds about them. The Eternals have a [presumably other dimensional] home. Tegan had a cuddly koala in her bedroom at home in Brisbane, and the image of the Doctor in her mind is 'quite intriguing'. The Doctor replaces his celery in this story. He holds a glass of Champagne, but doesn't drink it.

The Eternals look and behave like whatever their human subjects want them to [so they select their victims carefully]. Enlightenment, which the Guardians have promised them, is the knowledge of everything in the universe, and thus ultimate power.


The Ribos Operation


The Guardians and the Key to Time

The TARDIS Scanner


Eternal ships in the solar system, orbiting Venus.


Cyril Luckham and Valentine Dyall reprise their roles as the White and Black Guardians from the sixteenth season stories The Ribos Operation and The Armageddon Factor respectively.

The Doctor swaps his stick of Castrovalvan celery for a stick of Eternal (and presumably, therefore, similarly illusory!) celery.


In episode one when the ship experiences turbulence, the liquid in the glasses doesn't.

When the air is released from the airlock, why do the stars outside spin? [We're seeing it from Turlough's point of view, and he's going dizzy with asphyxia.]

To help him, there's a vast, Pythonesque flashing sign that says: 'Vacuum Shield Off'.

Tegan, frozen in time, is a bit wobbly (and had her eyes open when frozen: when we see her again, they're closed).

Why does the Doctor, carrying the remains of the jewel, fall over on deck and crawl to the side, as if against a mighty force? (Why not just pick up the rug onto which all the fragments have fallen?)

In some scenes in episode three Turlough is wearing a wedding ring, which is absent for most of the story.

As the First Mate, Marriner should have three stripes, not two.

Fashion Victim

The Doctor's hair is as long as it gets, positively flowing.

Surely Tegan's hair has to be a wig?

Cast & Crew


The Doctor - Peter Davison

Tegan - Janet Fielding

Turlough - Mark Strickson

Black Guardian - Valentine Dyall

Collier - Clive Kneller

First Officer - James McClure

Jackson - Tony Caunter

Mansell - Leee John

Marriner - Christopher Brown

Striker - Keith Barron

White Guardian - Cyril Luckham

Wrack - Lynda Baron


Director - Fiona Cumming

Assistant Floor Manager - Val McCrimmon

Assistant Floor Manager - Ian Tootle

Costumes - Dinah Collin

Designer - Colin Green

Film Cameraman - John Walker

Film Cameraman - Paul Hellings-Wheeler

Film Editor - Mitchell Boyd

Film Editor - Ian McKendrick

Incidental Music - Malcolm Clarke

Make-Up - Jean Steward

Make-Up - Carolyn Perry

Producer - John Nathan-Turner

Production Assistant - Patricia O'Leary

Production Associate - June Collins

Script Editor - Eric Saward

Special Sounds - Dick Mills

Studio Lighting - Fred Wright

Studio Sound - Martin Ridout

Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Peter Howell

Visual Effects - Mike Kelt

Writer - Barbara Clegg

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

A lyrical fantasy, with some original directoral approaches to space scenes, and a snappy, hugely entertaining writing style. Janet Fielding is rather muted, but Mark Strickson starts the story at intensity 10 and works his way up to at least 15, 'I'm not a spyyyyy!' being his most wonderfully OTT line. The overall impression is a lot of panting people, tearing up and down in a most entertaining way. Great music, too. All in all a glittering jewel, rather neglected.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

'Enlightenment was... the one story in the twentieth season that I could watch time and time again,' wrote Carole Noble in TARDIS Volume 8 Number 2, dated June 1983. 'There have not been many stories from Doctor Who I could make that comment about'. Martin Day, on the other hand, left readers of the same magazine in no doubt that he was distinctly unimpressed: 'I thought Terminus was one of the worst [John Nathan-Turner] productions, but... Enlightenment [was] ten times worse! This story was absolute rubbish, and I find it difficult [to find] words strong enough to describe it. The story ended up on a par with such tripe as Destiny of the Daleks and is the worst story I have ever had the displeasure to see, my viewing spanning from the Pertwee era... In fact, Enlightenment was so bad it made The Horns of Nimon seem worthy of an Oscar and was, to put it bluntly, the worst Doctor Who story ever!'

Viewed today, Enlightenment hardly seems the sort of story to attract such extremes of contrasting opinion. It is a well-made, entertaining diversion centring around the charming, almost whimsical notion of a race around the solar system by loftily powerful beings using spacecraft that look like sailing ships. It is this fantastic image that is the most memorable aspect of the story, as Justin Richards noted in Aggedor Issue 4 in 1983: 'We can share with Tegan the spectacle of the ships spread out across space at the end of Part [One], as she looks out from the deck of the Shadow; a scene repeated in all its impressive magnificence at the start of the [second] episode.' If the Eternals' ships had been merely sleek rockets, or even a motley collection of different craft (rather like an outer space version of Wacky Races), then the impact would have been nowhere near as great. As it is, a sense of grandeur is achieved and the concept is both bold and strangely beautiful.

The Eternals are fascinating characters, being creepy and frightening but at the same time rather sad and pathetic with their reliance on 'Ephemerals' to give substance to their otherwise barren lives. The biggest impression is made by Marriner, excellently portrayed by Christopher Brown. 'His performance did not falter at any point,' wrote Matthew Prince in Cloister Bell 6/7 in 1983. 'He was perhaps the most convincing of them all... I could [almost] feel him searching the reluctant... Tegan's mind, and his voice was perfect. His best scenes were with Tegan.' Keith Barron's reserved and thoughtful Striker also comes over well, and certainly far better than does Lynda Baron's hideously overacted Wrack, who is a total pantomime villain complete with leather boots and thigh-slapping enthusiasm. Even Wrack has had her admirers, however, including Gareth Roberts in DWB No. 111, dated March 1993: 'Lynda Baron's appearance as the curvaceous Captain Wrack... is unquestionably the best thing about the story. Her delicious address to camera at the cliffhanger [at the end of Part Three] is her finest moment, although her delivery of the line "You are remarkable in other ways, Doctor, for an Ephemeral," deserves a mention. She's also a dirty cheat whose vacuum shield has a big ON and OFF switch obviously taken from the mind of a Space: 1999 set designer. The Wrack scenes are also hugely entertaining, unlike some of the series' later forays into the dangerous domain of low camp.' Even the most generous of reviewers, though, would be hard pressed to find anything good to say about the performance of Leee John, lead singer of the eighties pop group Imagination, as Mansell; the only consolation is that he is mercifully left in the background for much of the story and given little to do.

The only really disappointing aspect of Enlightenment is that it provides a somewhat lame conclusion to the 'Guardian trilogy'. In the end, the whole thing apparently hangs on whether or not Turlough chooses to sell out the Doctor by taking a glowing crystal. The two Guardians are seen together for the first time - ruling out one possible interpretation of the end of The Armageddon Factor, that they are two aspects of the same entity - and the Black Guardian is ultimately banished in flames as Turlough rejects the crystal. But so what? What's to stop him simply trying again? And, perhaps most puzzling of all, why does each of the Guardians wear a dead bird on his head?

< TerminusFifth DoctorThe King's Demons >

This episode guide is made up of the text of The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping, and Doctor Who: The Television Companion by David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker.

The Discontinuity Guide © Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping 1995.
Doctor Who: The Television Companion © David J Howe and Stephen James Walker 1998, 2003.

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