The Ultimate Adventure Montrage featuring Daleks, Cybermen and Jon PertweeDoctor Who The Ultimate Adventure Logo
The Ultimate Guide to Terrance Dicks' Doctor Who Stageplay

The Ultimate Adventure Doctor Who 1989 Stage Play

Jon Pertwee & Colin Baker starred as the Doctor in this tribute to the Doctor Who series writted by legend Terrance Dicks.

Madame Delilah and the Black DalekThe Stageplay


In 1989 a Doctor Who Stage Play was mounted backed by TV series producer of the time, John Nathan-Turner. Performances began in the spring prior to what would be the final season of the classic Doctor Who series and it opened in London on 23rd March.

The Ultimate Adventure was the third official Doctor Who stageplay to be produced, after Curse of the Daleks back in 1965 and The Seven Keys to Doomsday in 1974, the latter of which was also written by Terrance Dicks, and all three plays chose to exploit the obvious draw of the Daleks.

Broadly speaking Terrance Dicks' story was pitched for a younger audience than the majority of television stories however it remained true to the spirit of Doctor Who that its plot could be followed easily by children, while the dialogue sustainted enough jokes for the older members of the audience. The narrative took the ambitious form of a string of set-pieces with special effects and multiple locations that were realised with varying degrees of detail.

There were three key elements that contributed to the lure of this production: Firstly the lead was an actor who had actually played the Doctor on television, something that had never happened before. Secondly it featured both the Daleks and the Cybermen, which was something of a fan's dream. Thirdly the production employed lasers and a large computer screen to great visual effect giving the play a technological edge and a portrayal of futuristic weapons and force-fields that was superior to most of the television series.

The Ultimate Adventure CastAside from the usual Doctor Who plot devices, The Ultimate Adventure plagiarised two main elements from the television series: The main thrust of the Daleks' plan was to cause war on Earth by blowing up a peace conference after which each world power would blame another for the bomb. With the Earth decimated from its own conflict the Daleks would step in and quell the survivors. This plot is identical to that of Day of the Daleks (1972). Another strand copied once already on TV was the theft of a Dalek casing by one of the heros. This idea was first seen The Daleks (1963) written by Terry Nation and the Dalek creator reused his own idea in his 1973 serial Planet of the Daleks. As if that wasn't enough, on both television occasions and in The Ultimate Adventure, the escapade culminated with the audience believing the hero inside the Dalek had been killed when the Daleks exterminated the imposter, only to discover the hero had already climbed out unseen. Seeing this version of events on stage it's hard not to wonder whether the glib nature of the explanation was actually a deliberate reference to the previous repetition of the idea.

Two Daleks in Dalek ControlThe Cybermen were extremely under-used in the play, amounting to little more than henchmen with only a few lines but the chance to pair them up with the Daleks was an opportunity not to be missed. A nice touch was the inclusion of the Dalek Emperor who was only ever seen on screen in 1968's The Evil of the Daleks, up until his re-invention for the 2005 new series. Further continuity with the television series came in the form of the Black Dalek who first appeared as head of the Dalek invasion force in The Dalek Invasion of Earth and as a general leader in the subsequent The Chase (1965) and The Daleks Master Plan. The Dalek drones themselves owed something in their appearance to the props in the first feature flim, Dr Who and The Daleks in that they not only lacked the shoulder slats of later stories but also posessed a blue and grey colour sceme, including a blue head. Their colour scheme owed something to the Dalek movie props from the first film starred Peter Cushing entitled Dr Who and the Daleks. The grey and blue that appeared on stage, their tall stature, plus the fact that these props lacked their slats made them seem very reminiscent of their movie outing.

Overall there was much to commend this production. It boasted more alien settings than most television stories, a return of one of the most popular actors to play The Doctor, plus two heavyweight alien foes and an array of dazzling visual effects. Not a classic work of fiction but a fondly-remembered 90-minute adventure.

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