This question is based on some facts I learned from Peter Davison, who played the Fifth Doctor, at an American Doctor Who convention about thirty years ago. Among the things Davison told the audience was that his second Doctor Who story, "Four to Doomsday" was his least favorite. (His favorite, for comparison, was his last story, "The Caves of Androzani.") One of the reasons he said that he disliked "Four to Doomsday" was that it used a script that was really written for Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor. (This was apparently a problem, in varying degrees, with several Davison's early stories. Many of the scripts in his first season were commissioned before he was cast. But with "Four to Doomsday," which was actually the first Fifth Doctor story to be filmed, the problem was the most severe.)

However, "Four to Doomsday" also includes one of the Fifth Doctor's most iconic scenes. Floating free is space, between the evil Monarch's ship and the TARDIS, the Doctor digs a cricket ball out of his pocket and bounces it off the Monarch's vessel. Catching it again on the rebound, the Doctor is propelled out to the TARDIS. The episode can be seen here at archive.org; the ball scene is at about the 18:00 mark.

This scene, with the cricket ball, was one of the most memorable with Davison's Doctor. At the convention, Davison answered several questions about how it was shot, and he acknowledged that it was the best part of the whole weak story. However, if the script was originally prepared with Tom Baker's Doctor in mind, how did this scene originally play out? Is there any information about how the action would have worked out without the Fifth Doctor's cricket angle?

  • 2
    The Fourth Doctor was repeatedly shown with pockets full of junk. Is there any actual reason to presume the original script didn't also feature a ball?
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Jan 13, 2019 at 13:54
  • I wonder how bouncy a bag oif jellybabies is....
    – RDFozz
    Commented Jan 13, 2019 at 17:52
  • @OrangeDog True, yes. I think Four was the first one who said, "my pockets are bigger on the inside".
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Jan 13, 2019 at 19:59

1 Answer 1


This question could only be authoritatively answered by a copy of the original script written for the Fourth Doctor. According to the TARDIS Data Core website, the novelisation of this story makes some changes in line with the "early scripts" but whether or not this refers to the very first script written for Four, or simply early drafts of the revision for Five is not clear.

In the absence of the original script to answer the question conclusively, I thought I would point out a couple of things as a sort of frame-challenge.

Firstly, that Davison apparently had some input into his Doctor's cricketing costume. The production team had "sporting attire" in mind but this was the actor's preference, therefore if the cricket ball plotline was written in exclusively to fit the new Doctor's image it may not have even appeared in the earliest revisions for Davison.

However, the cricket ball features very heavily throughout the episode, not just in the scene you refer to. The Doctor is seen playing with it in number of scenes, discusses his bowling technique, and even uses it to distract the monopticon. Were all of these scenes written into the script just to fit the Fifth Doctor's image? Or, is it possible that the original script for Tom Baker's Doctor also contained a cricket ball? After all, it would not be the first time cricket was written into Doctor Who - Douglas Adams' unused script featuring the Krikkitmen was submitted in 1976, 3 years into Baker's run.

Doctor Who stories have sometimes been accused of relying on deus ex machina - a contrived, unexpected solution to a character's inescapable problem. Including the cricket ball throughout the story establishes it as a plot device and so it does not seem contrived when it is used in the final scene to save the day. Although all the scenes could have been written in as a revision for Five it does seem a lot of script revision just for that one scene. Plus, it wouldn't really have been quite so necessary to repeatedly establish the cricket ball as a plot device given that the Fifth Doctor is dressed as a cricketer. He likes cricket, he carries a cricket ball - what is so unexpected about that? It would have been no more deus ex machina than him pulling out the sonic screwdriver and saving the day. I find it more likely that the writer would have worked so hard to establish the cricket ball for a Doctor who was not so obviously into the sport.

So unless a script can prove otherwise I suggest that it is possible the cricket ball was always part of the original script and not necessarily part of the adaption for Davison. If it did already have the cricket element in the script it may explain why this particular story was selected to be filmed as Davison's first appearance on camera.

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