Remember when… the Fourth Doctor bid adieu?

July 16th, 2012
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

It’s just another manic Monday – and the Doctor’s given us his keys to the TARDIS for our weekly visit to the past!

For our latest Remember when…, we’re journeying back to 1981. A new decade had only just begun, but this year holds significance for Doctor Who fans because it marked the end of an epic era – on 21st March, another one bit the dust! As the Doctor’s fourth incarnation fell to his death from the top off a telescope dish, Tom Baker’s record-breaking tenure in the TARDIS reached its climax.

As always in Doctor Who, though, the ending was just the beginning, and in came Peter Davison as No. 5, in all his celery and cricket loving glory! But that’s for another week…

Were you around to see the Fourth Doctor’s final breath? Share your memories below…

9 comments on this article
  1. Borusa
    July 16th, 2012 at 8.16am | #1

    For me, this is still the saddest regeneration. It’s just so touching and the music brings everything together perfectly. Tom Baker has to have the best final words out of any Doctor.

    Wonderful and so spine-chilling.

  2. Mary
    July 16th, 2012 at 1.57pm | #2

    Although I do love this old regeneration, there is something so powerful and spectacular about the new regenerations! They die with so much more power, whereas here, they lie down and it really does feel defeated, like death (which is very unlike Four!)

  3. Steve
    July 16th, 2012 at 7.09pm | #3

    This is the most chilling of all the Doctor’s regenerations. The Doctor knows he is about to die, the watcher is a constant reminder. It’s a sad story, tinged with excitement about seeing the new Doctor.
    I would say that having fallen to his death, I could not quite see why anyone would think “he lie’s down”. Come to think of it, when the 5th Doctor died, he was grabbing the edge of the console when his started, so falling down also makes sense.
    Both of these are so much more heart wrenching than the unbelievable 10th Doctor regeneration. I could not get my head around it, the Doctor being badly irradiated, then going off around the planet on a joint to catch up with his mates, then blubbing like a baby in the TARDIS and then still remain standing for the regeneration. Unlikely!

  4. JC
    July 16th, 2012 at 8.03pm | #4

    You almost got to me there Steve, lol, almost, but no, I can let it go in respect of opinion and peace.

    I think regenerations these days are not just an event, like the 4th Doctor just dying (albeit with whatever the Valeyard was), but also an event in terms of the shere power unleashed when the Doctor’s entire body changes from one to another. I genuinely prefer to see that than a fade out, fade in effect and it was certainly improvement over the extremely weird 7th Doctor regeneration.

    They were getting there with the thunder and lightning, but the whole facial twisting by the actors was very weird, even if you can sort of see what they meant to put across.

    I can accept that they did what they could at the time of the 4th Doctor though and that no doubt the regeneration effect will continue to change and perhaps improve.

    I will agree with you on one thing, Steve, and that’s that the cause of the 10th Doctor’s death didn’t lend itself well to his final trip to see his Companions. I don’t have a problem with that trip in the slightest, nor do I mind that he was emotional when he was about to die, especially considering that they filmed a version where he was MUCH more distraught, so they knew not to go too over the top, even if it was still too much for you.

    To be honest though, I’ve only ever seen the actual regeneration. I haven’t watched more than one or two episodes of Tom Baker’s era at the most.

  5. Steve
    July 16th, 2012 at 10.21pm | #5

    “like the 4th Doctor just dying” – Just Dying – Really? As you have never seen the story by your own admission, I would suggest you invest time on the trilogy.

    Lets look at the history –
    The first Doctor dies of old age – fair enough, easier to lay down.
    The 2nd Doctor – Forced Regeneration by the Time Lords – Unseen
    The 3rd Doctor – Poisoned on the Planet Of The Spiders – Already dying before his collapse to the floor.
    The 4th Doctor – falls from a great height after risking his life preventing the master from destroying the universe.
    The 5th Doctor – Poisoned and uses the antidote to save his companion. Already dying before falling to the Tardis Floor
    The 6th Doctor – Unknown and unseen
    The 7th Doctor – Dies on the operating table
    The 8th Doctor – Unknown and Unseen
    The 9th Doctor sacrifices himself to save his companion. Acceptable stand point for regeneration.
    The 10th Doctor as I have previously said – the Doctor being badly irradiated, then going off around the planet on a joint to catch up with his mates, then blubbing like a baby in the TARDIS and then still remain standing for the regeneration. Unlikely!

    So, other than the first doctor, 3 Doctor’s fates are almost unknown. 1 Doctor was already on the operating table, 3 Doctors were standing prior to and at the beginning of their respective regenerations.
    The actual regeneration sequence was restricted by the special effects of their time, I would say that these are far more spectacular and so much more powerful than regeneration of the current series, CE aside.

  6. JC
    July 17th, 2012 at 12.52am | #6

    As I say, it’s your opinion and even though we clearly very much disagree, it’s only right that I respect your opinion and I hope you can appreciate that.

    I’ve seen bits and pieces of the Classic Series. The 1st Doctor’s first serial, the 3rd Doctor’s first serial, Genesis of The Daleks from the 4th Doctor’s era and both the 3 and the 5 Doctor specials.

    Having said that, I generally find it difficult to watch the Classic Series. I don’t mind admitting I don’t have the attention span required for a lot of the Classic Stories and I find myself getting bored after the first couple of episodes.

    In terms of the 10th Doctor though, respecting but disagreeing with your opinion is the end of the conversation for me.

    The 10th Doctor was my Doctor and that hasn’t changed in the face of everyone who, in retrospect, seem to despise him. I’m happy to give ground to a certain extent, but beyond that, my opinions are fixed based on what I believe.

    Anyway, sorry to go off-topic and in what I’ve said, no offense is meant to any Classic Series fans. There was obviously something about it that made it the legend it became and I can respect that and what it’s contributed to Doctor Who today.

  7. stormageddon
    July 17th, 2012 at 10.33am | #7

    Intersting convo going on above ! For me personally, as a long term fan of the series, this regeneration will always be the one that I’ll remember ! While JP will always be my fave Dr, TB was the Dr I grew up with and I remember grying my eyes out when he lay there having fallen from the Pharos Project ! I wasnt a fan of All Creatures Great and Small (Tho my sister watched it avidly !) so I didnt really know who this newcomer was and remember also being angry initially at this young upstart taking the place of MY Dr (True to say that PD soon became and remains to this day one of my TOP Dr’s) !

    In terms of regeneration in general, I recall them in the classic series all being different in cause and style thus making each one a special and unique event not just for the viewer but in TV in general. For me personally, this is an area where the re imagined series gets it wrong (And belive me there are not many areas where the new series does get it wrong !). Regeneration will affect the different Dr’s in different ways and thus will happen differently for each of them. The new series seems to be suggesting that regeneration is an ordinary “run of the mill” thing…and based on the evidence of previous regenerations from 1 to 2 through to 7 to 8, it very clearly isnt !

  8. JC
    July 17th, 2012 at 1.21pm | #8

    A good post and I agree that regeneration is used quite a lot nowadays, probably because the budget allows it.

    9th Doctor regenerated in Series 1, the Master regenerated in Series 3, 10th Doctor partially regenerated in Series 4 and created the Meta-Crisis, then he properly regenerated.

    When the 11th Doctor was ‘born’, my main problem was how easily he got over it. When the 4th Doctor regenerated (link to this article), regeneration nearly failed and he had to go into the Zero Room, the 8th Doctor had full on amnesia and the 10th Doctor was bed-ridden during the Sycorax attack, but the 11th Doctor had a quick sit down by the duck pond (“Why is it called a duck pond if there are no ducks?”) and he was fine. I still don’t understand that, especially since the 10th to 11th transition was so violent.

    And then we had River Song, who was happy, relaxed and even seemed to enjoy regenerating, despite her incarnations dying like in full Time Lords.

    So yeah, you make good points Stormageddon.

  9. Borusa
    July 17th, 2012 at 4.01pm | #9


    The length each Doctor has had to recover from each regeneration has varied greatly, so implying Matt Smith’s Doctor got over it quicker than all the others isn’t really correct.

    Some have taken the whole story to get over it, such as Peter Davison in ‘Castrovalva’ and some get over it very quickly, such as Tom Baker in ‘Robot’ who had recovered well by the end of the first episode. Then you have an occasion like Colin Baker where he still hadn’t recovered by the end of the infamous ‘The Twin Dilemma’, where he’s a very, very hateful character. It was only in his second story at the beginning of ‘Attack of the Cybermen’ (the following season) when you were reassured the Doctor was fine.

    With Matt Smith it was more of a slow recovery and it wasn’t until the very end when he puts on his suit that he truly is a new man. It may have felt quick given he was pretty manic for only the first 10 minutes or so, but if you watch it you can see the transformation of the character and how he still isn’t really himself until the end.
    And tbh, I wouldn’t call Tennant’s regeneration violent, it was pretty run-of-the-mill IMO. Sure the TARDIS was blown apart, but that was more of a decision by director Euros Lynn and didn’t really have any importance to the story or the Eleventh Doctor. If anything I’d say the Fifth Doctor’s regeneration was the most violent, because he’s doomed from the very first episode of ‘The Caves of Androzani’ and actually almost dies. The only other one which could possibly match it is the Seventh Doctor when he was shot by a gang.

    So far as regenerations being used more in the New Series, that really doesn’t bother me, if anything I quite like it. But it really does bug me how they’re all exactly the same. Surely how each regeneration looks would depend on why they regenerate in the first place. The Ninth Doctor made perfect sense, but everyone else’s not at all. I just hope when Matt Smith regenerates they change it, because when you have so many visual effect tools at your disposal why just stick with the same every single time?

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