Shiny Shelf

Quick Doctor Who poll

By Shiny Shelf on 23 June 2010

Updated 27/6/10: The poll is now closed, thanks to everyone who voted.

Sometime next week we’ll be running recommendations for old ‘Doctor Who’ stories that fans of the new show should watch during the break between ‘The Big Bang’ and this year’s Christmas special.

We’d like suggestions from Shiny Shelf readers as to which stories should make the cut.

How to vote

Please suggest three pre-2005 ‘Doctor Who’ stories either:

- In the comments thread below.

- on Twitter as @replies to @shinyshelf, preferably with the hashtag #shinywho.


- in the topic thread on the Shiny Shelf Facebook fan page.


- Three stories per person, please. We’re very sad, so if you just use one word (‘Talons’, ‘Vervoids’) we’ll usually know what you mean, but be wary of words used in more than one title (‘Seeds’, ‘Robot’, ‘Death’ etc).

- Stories suggested must be ‘Doctor Who’ TV stories broadcast by the BBC before 2005: no books, radio plays, webcasts, comic strips, school projects etc.

- The more readily available a story is on DVD, CD, iTunes or the official BBC Youtube channel the better.

- Shiny Shelf reserves the right to squidge stories from the same Doctor/era together to make for a balanced list, especially if they’re in the same box set.

- Shiny Shelf reserves maximum respect for voters who mention stories from a wide range of periods in ‘Doctor Who’, and furthermore reserves the right to gently mock voters who only pick stories from their own childhoods.

- Feel free to add a little commentary with your votes, and we may pick some quotes to run with the list.

- Polls close whenever we feel like it, but feel free to get entries in nice and early. You’re probably safe until Sunday.

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By Shiny Shelf

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19 Responses

  1. Michele says:

    Doctor Who and the Silurians
    Genesis of the Daleks
    The Caves of Androzani

    In my view, Silurians is the most thought-provoking Third Doctor UNIT story ever written, Genesis is the most thought-provoking Dalek story ever written, and Caves is the most interesting regeneration story.

  2. Matty says:

    1. Ghost Light
    2. The Caves of Androzani
    3. The Talons of Weng-Chiang

    “Ghost Light” is a great example of sci-fi on a budget: all set in one house and built around intriguing ideas and mystery rather than SFX.

    “Caves” reputation precedes it much of the time and it really lives up to it. Great example of family sci-fi dealing with adult themes (political corruption, no clear good guys and bad guys, a lot of death).

    “Talons” has some aspects which have aged badly (notably the racism) but it’s a good story, Victorian London is re-created well and it has some stunning scenes (notably Chang performing on-stage in front of the Doctor).

  3. Dave says:

    Ok. Here are my three.

    The Ribos Operation (Tom Baker)
    The Caves of Androzani (Peter Davison)
    The War Games (Patrick Troughton)

  4. Stuart Douglas says:

    1. Dalek Invasion of Earth – it’s got daleks, it’s set in a recognisable London, a companion leaves and it’s readily available. What more could you ask for?

    2. Invasion – alternate universe, UNIT, “Rise of the Cybermen” style mirrored regulars, Liz dressed up and looking hot and the destruction of Earth.

    3. Caves of Androzani – fast paced with a memorable villain, a regeneration and Peri bouncing on a hidden trampoline for that hint of ironic smiling from the modern viewer.

  5. Henry Potts says:

    Cold Fusion… oh, doesn’t count.

    Second Empire… no?

    Of the City of the Saved…?

    OK, I’ll play seriously. The Day of the Daleks, The Face of Evil and Castovalva. Not because they’re the best, but because they all played a role in getting me hooked on Who, and might do the same for fans of the new show. And they’re all quite Moffatian, if you think about it.

  6. Alex says:

    1. Terror of the Vervoids
    2. The Mind Robber
    3. The Horror of Fang Rock

    Only three?!!! Well, I’m voting slightly tactically as I assume City of Death, Talons of Weng Chiang and Remembrance of the Daleks are a shoe in…

    1.) is yes, something I do remember as a kid but still have a strange soft spot for (unlike the rest of Trial of a Time Lord, so could I ask that the entire season not be lumped together). The cod Agatha Christie plot is great fun, the monsters are brilliant and Honor Blackman’s performance is wonderful!

    2.) My favourite Troughton and completely bonkers showing that if the rest of his era had been a bit more experimental and not ‘monster of the week’ it could have been the best period of Who ever.

    3.) My third favourite Tom Baker after City and Talons – I love Leela Doolittle in Victorian settings – it’s exemplary how they keep a base under siege story going for 4 episodes and it’s still remarkably creepy today…

  7. So, I went for:

    * The Talons of Weng Chiang (my favourite Tom, for its atmosphere).

    * The Caves of Androzani (almost everybody’s favourite Davison).

    * The Curse of Fenric (not my fave McCoy, which is Ghost Light, but probably the best example of Who being at the top of its game even as it raged against the dying of the light).

  8. JamesHG says:

    1) Unearthly Child – only recently have I seen episodes 2-4 of this, and they’re well worth watching, contrary to received fan wisdom as was. Plus you get to Hartnell bashing peoples’ heads in with rocks while giggling insanely.

    2) Mind Robber – Pat and Frazer are always fun to watch, and here they’re in a high-concept story that departs so far from the norm (especially at this otherwise samey point in the show’s history) that it is stirring, thought-provoking stuff. If the current team could remake a story from Old Dr Who, this would be top of my wish list.

    3) Underworld – because it’ll annoy Jim.

  9. The Daleks – not only does it offer Daleks but its probably the greatest slice of 1960s Cold War paranoia Sci-Fi you’ll ever see.

    The Talons of Weng-Chiang – not only one of the greatest Who stories ever but one of the two best historical stories ever produced.

    The Visitation – not only one of the greatest Who stories ever but one of the two best historical stories ever produced.

    They’re also the best stories of the First, Fourth and Fifth Doctors!

  10. Rob Buckley says:

    My three:

    1) Caves of Androzani
    2) The Ambassadors of Death
    3) Snakedance

    Caves because it’s just the aces: bleak, everyone including the Doctor dies (with two exceptions), Graeme Harper proving he was to 4:3 colour video what Douglas Camfield was to 4:3 black and white (shame he sucks in 16:9), Morgus’s monologues to camera, and a true sense of danger and dread that you just don’t tend to get with Doctor Who – with the Doctor getting beaten and his pure white coat symbolically dirtied. Best of all, it’s exactly what would happen if the Doctor landed in the middle of a war: he’d be tossed around from side to side and/or shot and killed, unable to do anything much except try to survive.

    Ambassadors is simply fantastic. The direction’s brilliant. Liz Shaw shows why she’s the premiere companion, able to understand complex science and machinery, outsmart the Doctor, offer witty putdowns to the baddies, speak French without a TARDIS, fight off guards, hatch escape attempts and drive in a car chase in Bessy of all things. Hell, at the end, the Doctor just legs it saying that Liz Shaw can handle everything in his absence.

    It’s also the only (unless anyone else can think of another) crime story on Doctor Who. We have a proper villain who’s only it for the money. He’s going around shooting people and burying the bodies. He switches allegiances whenever it’s convenient. He reports to a boss whose motivation isn’t world domination but who is simply misguided and trying to help the world wake up to what he thinks is an imminent alien invasion. And the aliens aren’t the baddies. It’s a human crime story with an alien backdrop and without the near-textual comments on morality the close-runner Doctor Who and the Silurians has.

    Snakedance beats out Kinda for the top Doctor Who story that actually means something without completely heading off-format. Great as Kinda is for sub-text et al, Snakedance manages to marry the allegories and Buddhism of Kinda with a standard Doctor Who plot. Okay, you have to overlook Martin Clunes, but Davison’s performance is excellent and the idea that it’s the Doctor who doesn’t have the wisdom to save the situation for once, because he is too tainted by his own Mara is subtly done yet awe-inspiring at the same time. And once you’ve seen the Doctor forcing a real snake to bite him so that he can achieve internal harmony and save the day, it’s very hard to forget – particularly when you watch one of Rusty’s “press this red button to commit genocide” endings.

  11. Jonn says:

    The Myth-Makers, because it’s both like a Round the Horne film parody and a prototype for RTD’s sillier historicals.

    The Power of the Daleks, because it boils down the concept to something that’s instantly recognisable, even when the Doctor isn’t.

    The War Games because it’s one of the series’ few proper epics, and because it’s just so damned cool.

  12. Simon Jerram says:

    For no apparent reason

    The Invasion of Time

    Four to Doomsday

    Carnival of Monsters

  13. Mark Clapham says:

    Thanks for all the votes so far. Please spread the word.

    So far 38 out of 159 eligible stories have received votes, with a top three emerging from the pack. All other stories are floating in the 1 to 3 votes area. So there’s still a lot to play for!

  14. 1: An Unearthly Child
    2: Genesis of the Daleks
    3: Survival

    Three distinct Doctor Who stories, showcasing the evolution of the show during its original run – literally, as they represent in numerical order the first, mid-point, and last stories broadcast. But they also represent more than that.

    With An Unearthly Child you have a show still finding its feet in every department, yet still with an assuredness that belies the difficult origins. The seeds for what would be 60s style Who are laid here right from the off – the sense of mystery and exploration, the unease over the main character’s motivations, the otherworldliness of it all. Even a bunch of hairy cavemen arguing over a campfire is given a spooky quality.

    With Genesis, you’ve a show at it’s zenith. The lead, not yet the caricature he would become. Solid effects, monsters and design that are a part of the plot, not just sci-fi dressing for a bog-standard romp. A show aware of its own origins yet not afraid to play with them. In many ways the template for what would become Nu-Who can be seen here as much as anywhere. The Doctor is an unlikely crusader, a morally torn hero.

    And with Survival, you have the show at it’s end – going out not with a bang, but certainly not with a whimper. Assured direction, slick creative concepts and ideas, a confidence in modern storytelling through production, effects and writing, and the template for what Who would be in the 90s – albeit in written form – in the interpersonal relationships between the Doctor and the Master, and the Doctor and his companion.

  15. Mark Clapham says:

    Hello. Just another quick note: could you please mention if you’ve already voted via Twitter and are adding extra comments on here (Martin and the Thumbcast don’t need to do this, as I’ve already taken them into account).

    Cheers, and many thanks for all your votes.

  16. Dorian says:

    An Unearthly Child: It’s never a bad idea to revisit how it all begain, nor to see how far the show has come from its roots.

    Doctor Who and the Silurians: It’s probably an episode too long, but it’s also one of the best stories ever written for the series.

    Survival: One of the highlights of the oft reviled McCoy era, but also an ending for the series that goes out on a note of optimism and maturity.

  17. Rullsenberg says:

    Never one to knowingly refuse a polling opportunity…

    The Daleks
    Doctor Who and the Silurians
    Caves of Andrazoni

    Three is way too hard to choose …

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