Doctor Who (1963)

Season 16 Episode 26

The Armageddon Factor, Part Six

Aired Saturday 5:15 PM Feb 24, 1979 on BBC
out of 10
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Episode Summary

The Doctor and the Shadow have their final confrontation to take control of the Key to Time. Completing it may entail an awful sacrifice. And the Black Guardian will do anything to obtain it and plunge the Universe into chaos.

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  • The Key to Time saga comes to an end in an anticlimax.

    I'm sure some find this to be Doctor Who at it's height but I dislike the Graham Williams era of the show. They made it more kiddie friendly and added too much humor. They let the sets and plots get shabbier than usual. If the Doctor is not taking threats seriously then why should we?

    I liked the idea of the Key to Time season but I had wished there had been an adversary like the Shadow throughout the season instead of just coming in here at the end. I appreciate that most DW stories are good vs. evil but this White & Black Guardian stuff makes it way too simplistic. The Shadow as well comes off as the representative of pure evil & he's pretty bad at it. Captures the Doctor & the Tardis and then lets him leave? Has people under his control that allow the Doctor to see the control devices on their necks & act as obvious as they can to lure him into a trap? The 3 planets seen in the story are a control room & some corridors on each. I know DW had no budget but some episodes (like this seasons Ribos Operation) at least try to make it seem there is a whole world out there. The characters were one dimensional, Lalla Ward certainly doesn't come off too well & I would think her a terrible actress if she hadn't got the part of Romana II the next season. Drax could have been amusing but comes off annoying. The Black Guardian was cool but not enough of him. Technically, once the Doctor stopped the universe in part 4, wasn't the whole thing over already? Thats what the White Guardian wanted (I'm talking about before he narrowed the time loop to the Marshall's ship & the computer room). What happened to the Zeons anyway? No one seems to mind that a whole planet of people is gone. Tom Baker continues to ham it up & really goes over the top with his fake megalomaniac bit once he has the Key. I like a witty Doctor but not a total clown. And of all the six parters from Tom's era, this one drags the worst after he had some worthy of being six parters like The Seeds of Doom or The Talons of Weng Chiang.moreless
John Woodvine

John Woodvine


Guest Star

Lalla Ward

Lalla Ward

Princess Astra

Guest Star

Davyd Harries

Davyd Harries


Guest Star

Valentine Dyall

Valentine Dyall

The Guardian

Recurring Role

John Leeson

John Leeson

Voice of K9

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

  • QUOTES (5)

    • The Shadow: When the Key is mine, I shall dispel the light. And darkness and blight shall reign!

    • Drax: Me and the Marshal's going 50/50.
      Romana: You and the Marshal?
      Drax: Well, he's out of a job now, isn't he? I mean, no war, no job. So I took him on.
      The Doctor: When did you arrange this?
      Drax: In about a half an hour's time I should think.
      The Doctor: 50/50?
      Drax: Well, 60/40, know what I mean?

    • The Black Guardian: Doctor, you shall die for this!
      The Doctor: I think not. Remember, the Key to Time is still mine, rage all you like.
      The Black Guardian: I shall destroy you for this. I will disperse every particle of your being to the farthest reaches of eternity!
      The Doctor: Ah, well, I wish I could stay and watch you try. But you know how it is. Places to go. People to see. Things to do. Romana?
      Romana: Yes.
      The Doctor: When I give the signal.
      Romana: Yes.
      The Doctor: Dematerialize. Now. (The Doctor snaps the Tracer. The Key breaks into pieces.)

    • The Doctor: Key to Time, I command that you stay exactly where you are!
      The Guardian: Doctor, you have fully activated all the TARDIS defences.
      The Doctor: We can't be to careful, can we? It would be a terrible tragedy for the Universe if it suddenly turned out that I was colour-blind.
      The Guardian: Doctor, release the Key to me immediately!
      The Doctor: Unable to distinguish between the White Guardian and the Black Guardian.

    • The Doctor: We have the power to do anything we like. Absolute power over every particle in the Universe. Everything that has ever existed or ever will exist. As from this moment. Are you listening to me, Romana?
      Romana: Yes, of course I'm listening.
      The Doctor: Because if you're not listening, I can make you listen. Because I can do anything. As from this moment there's no such thing as free will in the entire Universe. There's only my will because I possess the Key to Time!

  • NOTES (4)

    • John Leeson took a break from providing K-9's voice after this episode, returning to the role in Season 18's The Leisure Hive.

    • Lalla Ward would appear as a series regular from the next season (albeit as a different character) when Romana chooses to adopt the likeness of Princess Astra of Atrios for her next incarnation. Ward later described The Armageddon Factor as "the longest audition in history".

    • Final appearance of Mary Tamm as Romanadvoratrelundar.

    • Having gained the enmity of the Black Guardian by the story's close, the Doctor fits a randomising device to the TARDIS, effectively rendering it unsteerable - on the principle that if he doesn't know where he's going, then neither will anyone else and so he'll be safe from any traps laid by his enemy. This device was eventually removed in The Leisure Hive, but the thread would not be fully resolved until Seasons 20's Enlightenment.


    • Trojan Horse: When a shrunken Doctor and Drax hide inside K9 in order to get near the Shadow, the Doctor asks Drax, "Did you ever get to visit the city of Troy?" He is clearly referring to the way the Greeks used the Trojan Horse to gain access to the city of Troy—the same concept that the Doctor and Drax use here.

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