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Doctor Who – Survival

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Dr. Who - Survival, starring Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Anthony Ainsley
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Doctor Who – Survival, starring Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Anthony Ainsley

Synopsis of Doctor Who – Survival

Survival – The Doctor takes Ace back to her hometown of Perivale, only to find that something is very, very wrong. Many of Ace’s old friends and neighbors have disappeared while domestic pets become victims of unseen killers. Will the hunter become the hunted when only the fittest survive?

[last lines]
The Doctor: There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea’s asleep and the rivers dream. People made of smoke, and cities made of song. Somewhere there’s danger, somewhere there’s injustice and somewhere else the tea’s getting cold. Come on, Ace, we’ve got work to do.

Editorial review of Doctor Who – Survival courtesy of

Dr. Who - Survival, starring Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Anthony Ainsley

The final serial in Doctor Who’s original run on the BBC (before it was revived in 2005), this three-episode story stars Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor, who brings his companion Ace (Sophie Aldred) back to Earth, only to discover that a race of feline aliens have turned the planet into their private hunting ground. The aliens, called Cheetah People, are traveling between their dying planet and Earth to kidnap humans for food–and lurking behind the whole scheme is none other than the Doctor’s arch enemy, the Master (Anthony Ainsley in his final TV performance as the character). Despite the relative lack of quality of its video cinematography, Survival is a sold serial from the McCoy era, with some genuine suspense and an affectionate (if temporary) send-off for the venerable sci-fi hero.

The two-disc set of Survival is typical of the impressive presentations that the Doctor’s adventures have received on DVD. Two commentary tracks have been recorded–one featuring McCoy, Aldred, and script editor Andrew Cartmel, and the other by the winners of a contest sponsored by Doctor Who magazine (this appears only for episode 3). The hour-long, two-part Cat Flap (one of the original titles for the serial) covers the making of the serial from start to finish, and Endgame is an intriguing look at how the program might’ve continued after Survival had it not been cancelled in 1989.

Little Girl Lost is a 15-minute exploration of Ace’s character from her debut story until Survival, and Destiny of the Doctors features footage of Ainley as the Master taken from the 1997 computer game of the same name. The extras are rounded out by several deleted and extended scenes, a round of outtakes, the standard photo gallery, text-only commentary track, Radio Times listings (in DVD-ROM format), and a 20-minute episode of a U.K. educational program called Search Out Science, which features McCoy and Aldred as their characters in a discussion of (what else?) time and space. —Paul Gaita

“Life’s not a game. I?m teaching you the art of survival-I’m teaching you to fight back.” The Doctor takes Ace back home to Perivale so she can catch up with her old friends. But Perivale has changed, the old gang has split up, and some of them have vanished without trace. They are not the only ones – West London is plagued by unexplained disappearances. Before long the mysterious kidnappers make themselves known. A race of galactic hunters called the Cheetah People have found a way to transport themselves to Earth-and the entire human race is their prey.

They have been shown the doorway to the planet by an old foe of the Doctor, a bitter and desperate enemy who needs the Doctor’s help to free him from a diabolic enchantment. As the Doctor tries to unravel the mystery, Ace finds some of her old friends, trapped on the savage and beautiful world of the Cheetah People. But the only way she can lead them to safety is to allow herself to succumb, like so many before her, to the curse of the planet. The Doctor realizes that Ace’s new sacrifice of her humanity to the most bestial and dark side of the human nature?


  • Sylvester McCoyThe Doctor. The seventh Doctor.
  • Sophie Aldred (Doctor Who: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy) … Ace
  • Anthony Ainley (Logopolis) … The Master. The renegade Time Lord who wants to control everything … For the greater good, of course. Hee’s been trying to extend his life for some time. And he’s trying to combine those two desires with the Cheetah People.
  • Julian Holloway … Paterson
  • Lisa Bowerman … Karra
  • Will Barton … Midge
  • Sakuntala Ramanee … Shreela
  • David John … Derek
  • Adele Silva … Squeak
  • Michelle Martin … Neighbour

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