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29 October 2014

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Production Code: 7P

First Transmitted

1 - 22/11/1989 19:35

2 - 29/11/1989 19:35

3 - 06/12/1989 19:35


The Doctor takes Ace to present day Perivale so that she can revisit old friends. Most of them however have been transported by cat-like Kitlings to the planet of the Cheetah People, a race with the power to teleport through space. Ace is transported and joins up with two of her friends, Midge and Shreela, and a boy named Derek.

The Doctor follows and encounters the Master, who has drawn him into a trap to try to gain his help. This planet gradually transforms its inhabitants into Cheetah People - an influence to which the Master himself has fallen victim - while they in turn, through the savagery of their actions, cause the planet to move ever closer to total destruction.

Midge is overcome by the planet's influence, and the Master uses him to teleport to Perivale. Ace, who has developed an affinity with a Cheetah woman called Karra, gains the same ability and takes the Doctor and the others back as well. The Master causes Midge's death and kills Karra, who has followed them all to Earth. Then, succumbing to the influence of the now-disintegrating Cheetah planet, he drags the Doctor back there.

The Doctor refuses to fight him, however, and is transported back to Earth. He rejoins Ace, and they head off for new adventures.

Episode Endings

The Doctor and Sergeant Paterson find themselves in the middle of a Cheetah camp. The Doctor pulls back the flap of a tent to find, seated inside, the Master. The Master's eyes glow yellow and he comments that the Doctor's arrival is an unexpected pleasure.

Ace falls under the planet's influence, her eyes glowing yellow. The Doctor looks perturbed.

The Doctor and Ace head back toward the TARDIS.


Val Lewton's Cat People.

Cats (a poster).

Lord of the Flies.

The Wizard of Oz (Ace gets to do her Dorothy bit again, clicking her heels to go home).

Dialogue Triumphs

The Doctor : "If we fight like animals, we'll die like animals!"

Ace : "I felt like I could run forever, like I could smell the wind and feel the grass under my feet, and just run forever."

The Doctor : "The planet's gone, but it lives on inside you, and it always will."

The Doctor : "There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."

"I thought you'd died. Or gone to Birmingham."


The Doctor can stun with one finger, juggle, ride both horse and motorcycle, has a calculator/scanner fob watch [and regards Earth or the TARDIS as his home]. He knows of the Cheetah People, but nothing about them.

Ace's friends (Ange, Jay, Stevie, Flo, Shreela and Midge) used to meet at the Youth Club, pub or Horsenden Hill on Sundays. She can ride horses, and the police once let her off with a warning. Her Mum has reported her as missing. She supports hunt saboteurs, and drinks Diet Coke.

[The Master seems to have been brought to the planet as prey, and hypnotically controls the Cheetah People and, through his connection to the planet, has linked mentally with the Kitlings.] His recognises the Doctor despite never having seen this regeneration. [Time Lords tend to be able to do this.]


Sunday in Perivale, the 1980s

The unnamed planet of the Cheetah People, a [telepathic?] organism that transforms its inhabitants.


Comedy duo Hale and Pace make a cameo appearance, playing shopkeepers Harvey and Len.

Stunt legend Eddie Kidd doubles for William Barton in a motor cycle crash scene in Part Three. This led to the series' regular stunt arranger Tip Tipping walking off the production, as Kidd was apparently not a member of the actors' union Equity.

A poignant final monologue by Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor, was over-dubbed after the story's completion when it became apparent that the series would probably not be returning to production in the near future.

Hale and Pace swapped roles shortly before recording - Hale was originally to have played Harvey and Pace was originally to have played Len.


That awful shot of the colliding bikes.

Why doesn't the Master, as much a Cheetah Person as Ace is, just teleport off the planet? [The Master doesn't realise that to use the teleportation powers does not necessarily mean becoming a full Cheetah Person.]

Cast & Crew


The Doctor - Sylvester McCoy

Ace - Sophie Aldred

Ange - Kate Eaton

Derek - David John

Harvey - Norman Pace

Karra - Lisa Bowerman

Len - Gareth Hale

Midge - William Barton

Neighbour - Michelle Martin

Paterson - Julian Holloway

Shreela - Sakuntala Ramanee

Squeak - Adele Silva

Stuart - Sean Oliver

The Master - Anthony Ainley

Woman - Kathleen Bidmead


Director - Alan Wareing

Assistant Floor Manager - Stephen Garwood

Assistant Floor Manager - Leigh Poole

Costumes - Ken Trew

Designer - Nick Somerville

Incidental Music - Dominic Glynn

Make-Up - Joan Stribling

OB Cameraman - Paul Harding

OB Cameraman - Alan Jessop

Producer - John Nathan-Turner

Production Assistant - Valerie Whiston

Production Associate - June Collins

Script Editor - Andrew Cartmel

Special Sounds - Dick Mills

Stunt Arranger - Paul Heasman

Stunt Arranger - Tip Tipping

Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Keff McCulloch

Visual Effects - Malcolm James

Writer - Rona Munro

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

Anthony Ainley gives his best performance. A great end to the series, with themes that wrap up Ace's past life, give the Doctor a home, see him refuse to fight an old enemy, and restate his creed almost as a parable.

It's interesting to note that the series ends in the same place it began (contemporary London), with the Doctor bringing a missing Londoner home. It also harshly criticises the morality the series embraced in The Daleks (the scene between Paterson and Midge at the start being exactly that of Ian taunting the Thals).

The implicit criticism of free market values becomes explicit when the adventure continues in London, and there's an epic quality in this final battle being for big political values in a little ordinary place. Doctor Who has come full circle, grown up with its audience, and is just as relevant now as it ever was then.

'There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, and the sea's asleep, and the rivers dream. People made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice, somewhere else the tea's getting cold. Come on Ace, we've got work to do.'

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

Rona Munro's Survival is another very good story, which strikes just the right balance between genuinely funny off-beat humour and compelling drama. It is refreshing to see the Doctor back in a contemporary Earth setting in the Perivale scenes, while the parts of the story set on the Cheetah planet are equally impressive, having something of an epic, science-fantasy quality about them - particularly the final, near apocalyptic struggle between the Doctor and the Master (which could perhaps have gone on a little longer).

'The McCoy years are... hugely charming once they get under way...,' wrote Matthew Jones on an internet newsgroup in 1997. 'For me the finest moment is Survival. It slips from a gentle urban comedy thriller to something deeper, more sensual and more involving when our heroes reach the Cheetah planet. The moment where Ace feeds the Cheetah by the lake is so haunting, and her transformation had me on the edge of my seat. It's poetic, adult, feminine, and is everything the show ought to be about... It also has that moment where the TARDIS materialises (in a single bound) in a suburban driveway. A hundred nights of prayer answered in a single television moment!'

The story revolves around the idea of evolution, which had also been a key theme of Ghost Light and, with its implication that the human race could eventually become Haemovores, The Curse of Fenric. 'Rona Munro's script is influenced heavily by Darwinian and Nietzschian concepts,' reckoned Nicholas Withers in TSV Issue 50, dated February 1997. 'It is a battle for survival (the oft-repeated line "survival of the fittest") where those who survive are those who are prepared to undergo change (to evolve). The Nietzschian element comes in with the idea of becoming what you are fighting against.'

The Cheetah People and their planet are certainly highly imaginative and original concepts; and although the former are less than brilliantly realised, looking rather too cuddly and unconvincing, the latter is well brought to the screen by all concerned, as Brian J Robb observed: 'Rona Munro has created ... a unique alien landscape ... The ideas in Survival hark back to some of the classic Doctor Who planets of the past - the link betwen the creatures and the doomed plant, and the "contamination" of the new arrivals ... are both cleverly used science-fiction ideas. The planet is as much a character in the drama as the leads.'

The effectiveness of these scenes is greatly enhanced by the use of some superb electronic video effects - an aspect of the series' production that improved by leaps and bounds during the McCoy era. 'Despite the budgetary restrictions,' observed Withers, 'the quarries in Survival finally feel like they are another planet, with the bizarre skyline occupied by an alien moon and streams of smoke from the volcanic breakdown of the planet. The Cheetah People's costumes are effective, as are the eyes and teeth of people "possessed" by the planet. Perhaps the only slight let-down is the... animatronic cat, which from a distance looks suitably frightening and alien [but] close up... looks [just like what it is].'

One of the most remarkable aspects of the story is the superb performance of Anthony Ainley, who at last gets to play the Master in the way that one suspects he really wanted to all along - deadly serious and implacably evil, but with occasional flashes of dark humour. He really is first rate here - and certainly looks much more imposing in his new costume - making the viewer regret all the more that so many of the earlier Master stories of the eighties were such wasted opportunities. 'For the first time...,' argued Withers, '[Ainley] gets to play a version of the Master that he, and not [Roger] Delgado, is more successful at. The animal and desperate nature of the Master shines through brilliantly in Ainley, something that may not have been possible with Delgado's gentleman villain.'

That Doctor Who had to come to an end at this point, at least as an ongoing series, is deeply regrettable; that it went out on such a high note is, however, something to be thankful for.

< The Curse of FenricSeventh DoctorDimensions in Time >

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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