Top Ten Fourth Doctor Stories

Tom Baker's era as the Doctor ran from 1974 to 1981 making him the longest serving incarnation of the Doctor. The beginning of his tenure was made famous not only for his portrayal of the Time Lord or his companions, Sarah Jane Smith, Harry Sullivan and Leela but because of the horror elements. In fact some episodes were clearly influenced by famous Hammer Horror films. However these horror elements brought the show under fire from the notorious Mary Whitehouse who found the show to scary for children. Her views on the show have divided opinion from fans, critics and the general public and all right, I can see some of her points, maybe the Doctor being drowned in The Deadly Assassin was a little extreme but its obvious he is going to be fine in the next episode so why cause such a fuss? Personally I think that Doctor Who shouldn't shy away from being scary. I think the show is far better when the monsters are scary what they do is gory and lets face it, with the films and video games available nowadays, Doctor Who is tame.
Yes, Tom Baker's time in the TARDIS is certainly one of the most loved by fans and general public and many of his stories are held in high regard. Below is a list of my favourites. Please remember, these are my favourites and I'm sure yours will be different so leave your top ten in the comments below!

10 - The Androids of Tara

"Grendel! You forgot your hat!" - The Doctor

The Androids of Tara is sadly overlooked by Doctor Who fans which is a shame because there is a lot to enjoy in this tale. It is the fourth story in the Key to Time series but the Key isn't the main focus of the story like other stories in this series which is something I enjoy about this tale. Romana played wonderfully by Mary Tamm leaves the Doctor to his fishing when she meets a 'fearsome' Taran Wood beast. Although you can tell its stunt man Stuart Fell in a furry suit, it doesn't look too bad if you don't approach it with a critical eye. Romana meets Count Grendel the villain of the story and is taken to his castle. She later discovers that he believes her to a android replica of the Princess Strella.
This then leads to the characters having a battle of wits where they have to constantly out-think one another.
Unshamedly borrowing from The Prisoner of Zenda, this story also benefits from the execellent design work and extensive location filming and is a fine example of the BBC playing to its strengths.
There definatly a lot to enjoy here but I feel it is destined to become an overlooked little gem which is a shame.


9 - The Keeper of Traken

"The Keeper dies! He dies!" - Tremas

The Keeper of Traken is the penultimate Baker story and like Androids, is often over looked in Doctor Who circles.
The story is notable for re-introducing the Master, last seen in The Deadly Assassin and it is strange that, by today's standards, the Master seems as much a part of the show's DNA as the Daleks or the Cybermen but the Master was a late edition to the story. In fact the Master was incredibly late to the Doctor Who party, first appearing the opening story of the eighth series. Eighth Series!
The Master is used well in this tale, kept in the background for most of it, he seems more menacing and what makes him even better in this tale is the new Master is under our noses the entire time in the form of Nyssa's father Tremas. Tremas is played by Antony Ainley who goes on to play the Master and makes the part uniquely his own during his tenure as the villain. At the end of the tale when all the loose ends are tied up and the Doctor and Adric depart, Tremas runs into the Master who steals his body.
This is a great hook to lead into the final Baker story, Logopolis with Nyssa asking for help to find her missing father who has now been fully taken over by the Master.
Nyssa is another reason to watch this serial. Played by Sarah Sutton who was eighteen at the time she makes the character instantly likeable and one of the most popular companions of the eighties run if not the entire run of the series.
With a great main cast and guest stars, sumptuous set designs and one of the best story arcs in the show's history, The Keeper of Traken is defiantly one to watch. You won't be disappointed.

8 - Logopolis

"It's the end. But the moment has been prepared for..." The Doctor

This is it, the last story to feature Baker in the role of the Doctor and it must have been a difficult task to bring the successful seven year reign to an end but this story doesn't disappoint. This story has the feel of the series finales we are used to nowadays in fact, where you to split it into two stories they would probably be called something like Logopolis for episode one and The Deal with the Devil for episode two.
No, Logopolis certainly doesn't disappoint and pulls out all the stops. Featuring the Doctor, The Master, the Doctor's current companion Adric, old friend Nyssa and introduces a new companion, Tegan, this story rattles along at such a pace that before you know it, its all over and the Doctor is lying at the base of a radio telescope after a battle with the Master.
Perhaps the strength of this story stems from its strong scientific story which deals with entropy. The idea that everything eventually crumbles to dust and vanishes and maybe that was a metaphor for Baker's run coming to an end.
The story also features two shocking deaths. The death of Tegan's Aunt Vanessa is quite shocking finding her miniaturised in the back of her car and the death of Nyssa's home planet and star system is quite a shocking thing to find in a classic series episode. Sorry current Doctor's but Nyssa was the last of her species long before you where and her maturity when dealing with this certainly puts the current Doctor's to shame. With Nyssa being the last of her kind it makes it even dangerous for the character when she comes up against villains like The Master, Cybermen, The Mara and The Black Guardian before she eventually decides to stop travelling with our favourite Time Lord.
However, Logopolis is ultimately a tribute to Tom Baker's Doctor and as the camera pans down on the Doctor and his companions surround him hundreds of Doctor Who fans around the world begin to cry.
This story defiantly deserves its place on this list. Watch it. Now!


7 - Terror of the Zygons

Kicking of the show's thirteenth series, Terror of the Zygons marks a new direction for the show. After a planned series by the previous producers, new producer, Phillip Hinchcliffe and script editor Robert Holmes deliver a story rich in a gothic quality rather than in strong sci-fi.
This dark and eerie tale has the feel of an old Hammer Horror film and the music by Dudley Simpson creates a genuine unease for the audience as watch the Zygons spying on the humans. And the idea that those you trust, even your best friends - may not be who they say they are is scarily realised in the scene where Harry attacks Sarah Jane with a pitchfork.
This story allows the regular cast to shine and their camaraderie balances this stories dark tone with humour and warmth.
The Zygons went on to become one the most famous villains during the show's initial run and returned for the 50th anniversary tale, The Day of the Doctor and are appearing in the upcoming series 9 of the show this year.
This story also marks the departure of the UNIT regulars from the show as series regulars and we bid farewell to the Brigadier and Sergeant Benton. We also bid farewell to the Doctor's companion Harry Sullivan who departs saying that he'll stay behind. We see them again in The Android Invasion but this is defiantly the last UNIT hoorah.
Terror of the Zygons is bold, has confident storytelling which is finished off with wonderfully atmospheric direction from Douglas Camfield.
The Zygon costumes are impressive and it is clear that money has been spent on the whole production. Now all we need to do is look past is the facilely shaped knobs on the control panels...

6 - Horror of Fang Rock

"I've got news for you. This lighthouse is under attack and by morning we might all be dead!" The Doctor.

Horror of Fang Rock was the first story produced under the tenure of newcomer Graham Williams and is a classic adventure is the ever was one.
The producers where given the task of toning down the violent and sadistic elements and themes which had earned the show criticism over the past three years. So, how do they respond? By making one of the most chilling adventures ever where everyone except for the Doctor and his companion Leela, die!
Notiable for introducing the Rutans, the Sontaran's arch enemies, for the first time, the story does anything but tone down the dark elements that Mary Whitehouse got her knitting in a flap about.
Written quickly by author and Doctor Who veteran, Terrance Dicks, Horror of Fang Rock, demonstrates the production team's ability to act under pressure. An excellent cast bring the script to life and director Paddy Russell's visuals ensures that Horror of Fang Rock remains amongst the most highly acclaimed Doctor Who stories of all time.


 5 - City of Death

"I say, what a wonderful butler, he's so violent! Hello, I'm the Doctor..." The Doctor

Where do we begin. Everything about this tale oozes class, the acting, the witty one-liners that are now famous amongst Doctor Who fans, the beautiful location shooting with it's Paris backdrop. Everything about City of Death works well and complements each other perfectly. The rapport between Tom Baker and Lalla Ward is wonderful creating one of the most popular Doctor/Companion teams of all time. Add that to the fact that the story was written by Douglas Adams under the nom-de-plume of David Agnew who of course, doesn't exist and you've got yourself a recipe for success.
It is apparent with this tale that Adam's first love was comedy and this tale see's the show at its comedic highpoint. The script oozes wit and intelligence but is also good complex science fiction that doesn't confuse the viewers and has many one liners which have gone down in Doctor Who history. So much so that it is considered a faux-pas to get them wrong. It's even worse than pronouncing Peter Davison's surname, Davidson. Admit it. You did it!
City of Death is famous for the show's first overseas filming in Paris. And all the location boxes are ticked. Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Seine, Champs Elysees... Check!
This story has some beautiful location footage and its not hard to understand why this story achieved some of the highest viewing ratings in the show's long history.

4 - The Robots of Death

"That's impossible, the first law of robotics state that robots can't harm humans." Pool

We get our first strangulation in this story a few minutes in when an arrogant crew member gets his after calling for a robot with a severe case of conjunctivitis. Robots strangling people isn't something new to Doctor Who but for the young viewer I was when I first saw the first episode was released by The Sun, it was shocking but I wanted more!
Robots of Death doesn't disappoint and keeps the viewer guessing until the very end when it is revealed that Taren Capel is one of the most members of the sand miner's crew. Based on stories by Agatha Christie, this story is written by Chris Boucher and he manages to create a wonderful group of characters, who with the likes of Pamela Salem in the guest cast, spring off of the screen giving us some of the best Doctor Who characters of all time.
As usual, regulars Tom Baker and Louise Jameson are on top form and their chemistry leads to another of the most popular Doctor/Companion teams of all time. It's hard to believe that they didn't like each other at this point.
With a wonderfully written script, tight direction and creepy robots, it is little wonder that The Robots of Death is one of the most highly regarded stories of all time.

3 - Pyramids of Mars

"Someone is messing with time Mr. Scarman. And time is my business." The Doctor

It is not hard to understand why this story is such a highly regarded tale in the history of the show, with its combination of horror and black humour. This was the first Doctor Who story that I ever saw. My junior school had an Egypt week and my teacher was a huge fan of the show and showed this story. Personally, I think it was just an excuse to watch Doctor Who but I'm glad he showed us this as it made me the fan I am today.
Sutekh is chilling and his voice portrayed by Gabriel Wolf is effectively chilling. The mummy robots where my first Who monsters and they don't disappoint, managing to scare me when I was younger and they went around strangling people, not to mention something that I have gone on to call, the boob attack moment where they strangle a poacher between them using their chest units to throttle him!
There is a lot to enjoy in this tale. It's great monsters, its rich script, amazing direction yet again from Paddy Russell, great acting, Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen are at their best, wonderful location footage and sumptuous studio set designs and soaked in rich and detailed Egyptian mythology, this story is truly epic.

2 - The Talons of Weng-Chiang

"Let the talons of Weng-Chiang shred your flesh!" Magnus Greel

The Talons of Weng-Chiang is the last of the proper horror Who stories and the last to be produced under Phillip Hinchcliffe. Fans say that Doctor Who really came into its under his producing reign and it is easy to understand why with so many of his stories on this list. One does feel that because he was being moved on because the show had apparently become to violent for child viewers, he was going to have one last Hurrah and why not? Talons in fantastic. Written by horror Who writer and script editor Robert Holmes the script is a wonderful period piece. Set in the late Victorian era, this allows the BBC set and costume departments to really play to their strengths with many period shows being distributed around this time. Director David Maloney delivers a great story and Tom Baker and Louise Jameson are superb as always. The villains are dark and scary, Magnus Greel is excellent and Mr. Sin is terrifying and I really like the scene when the ventriloquists dummy goes to attack Leela and she hurls a knife at it which lodges itself in its throat. Its wonderfully dark and scary stuff.
This story is laced with black humour and genuinely funny moments, in particular Professor Litefoot trying to teach Leela, a warrior from an alien tribe, how to eat and behave like a Victorian lady. But Leela just ends up rubbing off on him, teaching him to eat a whole piece of meat off of the bone, the whole sequence is extremely funny and shows that the producers were trying to make Leela a more developed and rounded character.
Perhaps the standout performance in this story are from Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter as the wonderful Jago and Litefoot. The chemistry between these two have led the characters to make reappearances in many different Who related material like books, and audiobooks and Big Finish have even created a range called 'Jago and Litefoot' for fans to enjoy.
Oh corks, this story is fantastic!

1 - The Seeds of Doom

"On your world, the animal eats the vegetation but on any world where the Krynoid gets established, the vegetation eats the animal..." The Doctor

I know, you were expecting Genesis of the Daleks to take the top spot and while the story is amazing I personally love The Seeds of Doom more.
The Seeds of Doom constantly rates highly in fan appraisal and the final story of the series' thirteenth season, it adds to the horror stories that had proceeded it and delivers its own scenes of terror with a lumbering green monster, a vicious machine, alien tendrils bursting from pods, scrabbling towards the nearest source of human flesh and people screaming as every plant in their garden suddenly has a carnivorous intent.
The second of two stories written by Robert Banks Stewart, the story is expertly written and characters that are well rounded and have a great presence on screen. We have a human villain who is truly insane and his henchmen one of whom is portrayed by the wonderful John Challis, Boycie from Only Fools and Horses.
This story see's the Doctor at his most violent as he gets caught up in the maelstrom as events unfold around him.
With such a well written plot, terrifying images that linger in the mind long after the story has finished, wonderful direction from Douglas Camfield and strong characterisation it isn't difficult to see why The Seeds of Doom constantly rate highly in fans appraisals.

There you have it, my top ten Fourth Doctor Adventures.
Please remember that these are my favourites and therefore my opinion. But leave your favourites in the comments below!