Overview: The Sylvester McCoy Era (1987-1989)

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Colin Baker had had enough.  He’d been fired from Doctor Who, and didn’t even bother to come back for his regeneration.  John Nathan-Turner was still producer, but it seemed the only reason he still held the job was that no one else wanted it.  Eric Saward, his long-running script editor, had left his position, citing tensions as a result of the epic “Trial of a Time Lord”. Nathan-Turner was given one last chance to save Doctor Who. He hired Sylvester McCoy as the new Seventh Doctor. The final era had begun.

About Sylvester McCoy

McCoy’s real name is Percy James Kent-Smith and was born on August 20, 1943. He earned his pseudonym when he created a character named Sylveste McCoy while part of the Ken Campbell Roadshow comedy troupe. An r was added to his first name due to a superstition about a name that had 13 letters. He had numerous roles in British television and even starred alongside Laurence Olivier in the 1979 Dracula. He has also sung in the Welsh National Opera.

Crush the lesser races! Conquer the galaxy! UNIMAGINABLE POWER! UNLIMITED RICE PUDDING! ET CETERA, ET CETERA!”–“Remembrance of the Daleks”

In a Nutshell

  • Andrew Cartmel became the new and final script editor for the Classic Era. He had an anarchist attitude that was reflected in many episodes during this era.
  • The Rani, Daleks, Cybermen, and Anthony Ainley’s version of the Master all made their final appearances in the Classic period during McCoy’s era. Of the four villains mentioned, only the Rani has not appeared in the revival, although she has appeared in Big Finish albeit with a different actress.

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Seventh: Survival


Writers: Rona Munro and Andrew Cartmel

Director: Alan Wareing

Producer: John Nathan Turner

Companion: Ace (Sophia Aldred)

No. of Episodes: 3

Summary: The Doctor and Ace return to Perivale, and Ace discovers no one remembers her and all of her friends are gone.  A mysterious race of aliens that are half-cheetah, half human are attacking people. The Doctor and Ace discover that they are in league with the Master. But the Master has changed. He has become like these creatures, so savage that he is no longer himself. And the same thing happens to everyone they come in contact with.

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Seventh Doctor Audio: Dust Breeding

dust breeding

Writer: Mike Tucker

Director: Gary Russell

Companions: Ace (Sophie Aldred), Bev Tarrant (Louise Falkner)

Running Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

No of episodes: 4, 2 CD’s (download only)

Summary: On 19th century Earth, Edvard Munsch created the macabre painting The Scream, which was supposedly inspired by a scream that ripped through time and space. In the 26th century, Ace and the Doctor have arrived on the colony of Duchamp 331 to “rescue” (actually more like steal) the painting. They discover an alien race called the Krill have contaminated the dust itself,. And an old enemy awaits them.

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Seventh Doctor Audio: Shadow of the Scourge


Writer: Paul Cornell

Director: Gary Russell

Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery & Gary Russell

Companions: Ace (Sophia Aldred), Bernice Summerfield (Lisa Bowerman)

Note: This is one of Big Finish’s “Side Steps” stories. Although Bernice Summerfield is featured, it is separate from their established stories for her, and more in keeping with what was in Virgin Books’ version of the character.

Running Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes (4 parts, 2 CD’s)

Summary: The Doctor, Ace, and archaeologist Bernice Summerfield travel to the Pinehill Crest Hotel, where they find a dead body that has been resurrected as a vessel for an alien race called the Scourge. The Scourge feed on despair and seek to create it, using the hotel as a starting point for an invasion.

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Seventh Doctor Audio: The Fires of Vulcan

fires-of-vulcanWriter: Steve Lyons

Director: Gary Russell

Producers: Gary Russell and Jason Haigh-Ellery

Executive Producer: Jacqueline Rayner

Running Time: 1 hour, 44 minutes

Companion: Melanie Bush (Bonnie Langford)

Summary: The Doctor and Mel arrive in Pompeii just before Mt. Vesuvius is about to blow.

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Destiny of the Doctor: Shockwave (7th and Ace)


Writer: John Swallow

Director: John Ainsworth

Running Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Companion: Ace (Sophia Aldred, narrator)

Summary: In the future, the inhabitants of Tarsus Six are desperately attempting to escape their planet before their sun , Tarsus Ultra, collapses.

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Seventh Doctor Audio: The Genocide Machine


Writer: Mike Tucker

Director and Producer: Nicholas Briggs

Executive Producer: Jacqueline Rayner

Running Time: 1 hour, 56 minutes (2 CD’s)

Companion: Ace (Sophia Aldred)

(Note: This is the first part of the “Dalek Empire” arc, which preludes Big Finish’s Dalek Empire range. The arc is a crossover through Doctors 5-8)

Summary: Ace is looking around the TARDIS library when she discovers some overdue library books. (Yes, really) The Doctor is perplexed because he found the books on the planet of Kar-Charrat, the largest library in the universe.  The Doctor and Ace arrive on the planet and discover a Dalek invasion waiting for them.

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Multi-Doctor: Sirens of Time (Doctors 5-7)


Writer and Director: Nicholas Briggs

Producer: Gary Russell

Companion: None

Running Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes

Summary: Gallifrey is threatened by the Knights of Velyshaa. Meanwhile, the 5th, 6th, and 7th Doctors each encounter an individual crisis, linking them to each other. The crises are the work of the Sirens of Time.

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Seventh Doctor Audio Drama: Fearmonger


Writer: Jonathan Blum

Director: Gary Russell

Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Gary Russell

Running Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes (2 CD’s, 4 Pts)

Companion: Ace (Sophia Aldred)

Summary: The Seventh Doctor and Ace find themselves in an alternate version of Britain occupied by the far right New Brittainnia Party. The Party is using a monster called the Fearmonger, who instills fear and feeds on the fearful.

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Silver Nemesis


Writer: Kevin Clarke

Director: Chris Clough

Producer: John Nathan-Turner

No. of Episodes: 3

Season: 25, ep. 3 (8-10)

Companion: Ace (Sophie Aldred)

Summary: Several centuries ago, the Doctor launched a statue into space, encased in a meteorite. This became known as the Nemesis comet.  Every 25 years, it comes closer to Earth, and every time it does, catastrophe follows. Three examples the Doctor gives are:

1913: WWI starts

1938: Hitler annexes Austria

1963: President Kennedy is assassinated

However, the statue is incomplete. The bow and arrow are still on Earth and are in the property of Lady Peinforte and her servant, back in 1688.  Several centuries later, a group of neo-nazis have found the bow and arrow. To make matters worse, the Cybermen have arrived on Earth, hoping to procure the statue when it crashes on Earth. Can the Doctor and Ace stop it from falling into the wrong hands?

Review: This is the final Cybermen story for Classic Who. What was supposed to be a good story is swamped by too many villains. What we got was a story that was somewhat average.

The Cybermen look terrible with their chrome armor.  They look like they’re made out of tinfoil to me.  To make matters worse, they’re more fragile than they used to be. Ace manages to finish off quite a few with a slingshot and some gold doubloons. It looks cool, I’ll admit, and the final moment where she’s surrounded by them with only one left is great (“Which one of you will die? And which one will be lucky?”–great Ace line), it still looks silly.

To sum it up, this story isn’t the best, but it’s far from the worst.  I like it when Ace and the Doctor interact. They are always great together, no matter how bad the story gets.  I love watching the Seventh Doctor set plans in motion as quickly as he does.

Overall Review: 6/10

Continuity: In Part Two the Doctor dematerialises the TARDIS as an arrow hits it. This also happened in “The Shakespeare Code” . In both cases the arrow dematerialises with the TARDIS.  In one scene, the Doctor is seen wearing a fez and carrying a mop, which the Eleventh Doctor also does in “The Big Bang”. Ace asks the Doctor who he is, and this is part of Andrew Cartmel’s “master plan”, which inspired the “ultimate question” story arc of Series 6 in New Who.  The chess game that the Doctor is playing comes up again in “The Curse of Fenric”, where viewers see that the Doctor was actually playing against Fenric, an Elder God (like the Great Intelligence).

Trivia: This was the 25th anniversary episode. There are cameos from Nicholas Courtney and story writer Kevin Clarke.  The jazz musician that the Doctor and Ace listen to is in reality Courtney Pine, a popular jazz musician from the 80’s, who happens to be playing himself.