DOCTOR WHO - The most memorable cliffhangers of the 80s - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

Home Top Ad

Post Top Ad

DOCTOR WHO - The most memorable cliffhangers of the 80s

Wil takes a look back at some of his favourite Doctor Who cliffhangers from Doctors Five, Six and Seven.

I firmly believe that the cliffhanger needs to return to Doctor Who. Once it was such an integral part of the show, what seemingly impossible to escape situation would the Doctor find himself in that week?

In the 1960s many Doctor Who adventures would also include a cliffhanger in their final installment, teasing the viewer to come back for the next new story.

As the years went on the Doctor Who cliffhanger became more and more intense, famously angering Mary Whitehouse and petrifying children across the country. But that was it's job wasn't it? We want to feel that the Doctor is in real danger, how on Earth could he survive that? We'd just have to tune in next week to find out!

In all of classic Who, you could count on seeing the Doctor, his current assistant, the monster of the week and a cliffhanger in nearly every episode.

Even when the show returned to our screens in 2005 we'd still get two or three cliffhanger's a year, but now the standalone episode format has (largely) made it a thing of the past.

So let's look back at some of the most memorable Doctor Who cliffhangers. I've decided to begin with the 1980s, and I'll cover the 60s and 70s in different articles.

I'm also cheating a bit by saying 1980s - I'm counting that at Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy. You'll find Tom Baker's final year, season 18, as part of my 70s collection in case you were wondering where a certain Keeper Of Traken cliffhanger was!

So let's start with the Peter Davison years.

The Caves Of Androzani - Episode 3
Peter Davison's final story was also his very best, what a way to go out.
The Fifth Doctor is on a crash course with Androzani Minor, he's being threatened at gunpoint by Stotz, but he knows both he and Peri are going to die from Spectrox poisoning unless he can find the antidote. The final words "I'm not going to let you stop me now", and then there's the close up on his 'doomed' face. Ansolutely priceless.
In my opinion this is the greatest Doctor Who cliffhanger of all time.


The Caves Of Androzani - Episode 1
The Caves Of Androzani includes not just one, but two fantastic cliffhangers. At the end of episode 1 the Doctor and Peri are seemingly gunned down by a firing squad. I was completely sure they couldn't have survived that, but fortunately Sharaz Jek had replaced them with robots. Phew!

Earthshock - Episode 1
Long before the internet existed and spoilers were at our fingertips, Earthshock delivered one of the biggest surprises in Doctor Who history, well for me anyway.
Unlike many Who stories the title gave nothing away, I was completely taken aback when the Cybermen were revealed as the story's antagonists at the end of episode 1.

Earthshock - Episode 4
Another story with 2 great cliffhangers, although this one is memorable for a completely different reason. Adric's death and the silent credits at the end are truly haunting. He was never the most popular companion but he went out like a hero and the image of his broken star stayed with me for weeks afterwards.

Arc Of Infinity - Episode 1
Although this is not the best story, when you watch it today there is something quite special about the cliffhanger at the end of the first episode. In it Security Commander Maxil aka Colin Baker aka the Sixth Doctor, shoots the Fifth Doctor! It's as if he's saying "I'm taking your job mate!".

Vengeance On Varos - Episode 1
Poor Colin Baker. He was right royally shafted by the BBC during his time on Doctor Who. But that's another story.
There's not a lot of good cliffhangers in his era to choose from, but this one from Vengeance On Varos is amongst the best the show has ever presented.
Whilst hallucinating, the Doctor thinks he's stranded in a desert. A mirage of Peri appears just as he collapses to the floor, seemingly dead.
But hang on, we don't cue the music just yet. The scene switches to Martin Jarvis, the Varos Governor. He's in the control room watching and broadcasting the Doctor's death to the citizens of Varos who are tuned in at home. "And cut it... now!" he tells the editor. The screen goes dead and the episode is over.
Vengeance On Varos is a pretty scary Orwellian story anyway, but this was a really chilling ending.

Remembrance Of The Daleks - Episode 1
What a brilliant story Remembrance Of The Daleks is. After the shambles of season 24, the 25th anniversary year kicked off extremely strongly, and delivered the best Sylvester McCoy cliffhanger of his tenure in the TARDIS.
Finally we could put to rest the old joke about how can a Dalek conquer the universe if it can't even conquer the stairs (Stannah Stairlift of course - I'm surprised Davros didn't have an attachment containing one!).
McCoy's Doctor was as surprised as anyone when the attacking Dalek starter hovering and gliding up the stairs. It's a genuinely suspenseful "Exterminate" moment.

Dragonfire - Episode 1
I don't think we ever had an actual cliffhanger before, unless you count that one time when Sarah-Jane was struggling with 'the gradual incline of terror' (The Five Doctors).

Whilst exploring an ice world the Seventh Doctor decided to take a shortcut to a lower platform by climbing over the side and dropping down. He ends up dangling on his umbrella, and gradually his hands slip down the handle. Cue music.
It's kind of ridiculous but very memorable.

Well they are my memorable cliffhangers from the 80s, what ones do you remember the most?

Follow Wil on Twitter

Post Top Ad