Doctor Who Magazine #474 – The Best (& Worst) Stories of All Time


Check out the crazy/beautiful/ugly/monster-stuffed cover foldout image for this months Doctor Who Magazine! Every monster to ever feature in the show. I don’t imagine they’d be capable of stuffing any more! Anyway, DWM 474 reveals the results of their biggest survey yet, ranking each story. With exactly 800 episodes encompassing 241 stories that is no simple task. The survey was previously conducted in 2009, with The Caves of Androzani topping the charts, and surprisingly it’s jumped down to fourth. What I’m most surprised about however is that The Day of the Doctor claimed the number one spot. I know how good it was – I watched it many times. But number one might be too high of praise in my opinion. I wonder where it’d fall if this survey were released a few years after it’s airing.

1. The Day of the Doctor (92.06%)
2. Blink (91.87%)
3. Genesis of the Daleks (91.60%)
4. The Caves of Androzani (90.60%)
5. City of Death (90.30%)
6. The Talons of Weng-Chiang (90.15%)
7. The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances (89.48%)
8. Pyramids of Mars (88.26%)
9. Human Nature/The Family of Blood (87.90%)
10. Remembrance of the Daleks (87.88%)

And now the worst rated stories. No surprises here. The only “newcomer” to this end of the spectrum is The Rings of Akhaten. Man oh man, I ranted about how bad that episode was for weeks!

232. The Space Museum (53.78%)
233. The Rings of Akhaten (53.44%)
234. The Dominators (50.32%)
235. The Space Pirates (47.23%)
236. Underworld (46.68%)
237. Time-Flight (45.74%)
238. Timelash (45.22%)
239. Time and the Rani (45.09%)
240. Fear Her (42.68%)
241. The Twin Dilemma (40.18%)

And now, for the sake of science and wasting your precious time, here’s some more useless facts! Below are both the results of the survey’s favorite Doctors and then the calculated average score of each Doctor’s era as a whole.

First Doctor – 9th favorite, 9th place in ranked average at 148.
Second Doctor – 4th favorite, 4th place in ranked average at 111.
Third Doctor – 5th favorite, 2nd place in ranked average at 99.
Fourth Doctor – THE favorite, 5th place in ranked average at 112.
Fifth Doctor – 6th favorite, 7th place in ranked average at 135.
Sixth Doctor – 11th favorite, 11th place in ranked average at 170.
Seventh Doctor – 7th favorite, 8th place in ranked average at 145.
Eighth Doctor – 10th favorite, 10th place in ranked average at 152.
Ninth Doctor – 8th favorite, 1st place in ranked average at 95.
Tenth Doctor – 3rd favorite, 3rd place in ranked average at 109.
Eleventh Doctor – 2nd favorite, 6th place in ranked average at 121.

I hope Colin Baker never reads the outcome of this poll… Also, very interesting the correlation of where Eccleston falls on the favorites list, compared to how high his accumulated stories rank.

What are your thoughts? Is The Day of the Doctor your favorite story? Is Fear Her really that bad? (It is). Should the Sixth Doctor be cut some slack?? And would you like me to post the full list?

26 thoughts on “Doctor Who Magazine #474 – The Best (& Worst) Stories of All Time

  1. Poor old Timelash. Having had the misfortune to watch paradise towers recently, I don’t believe there is anything worse from the classic series BUT For the new style Who I’d rate the entire last season 4 billion times worse than it (no apologies to Heaven sent)


  2. My Top 10 Favourite:

    10. The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances
    9. The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang
    8. City of Death
    7. Human Nature/The Family of Blood
    6. Pyramids of Mars
    5. The Day of the Doctor
    4. Genesis of the Daleks
    3. Blink
    2. The Caves of Androzani
    1. Midnight

    His best friend’s opinion:

    10. The Day of the Doctor
    9. Genesis of the Daleks
    8. The Ark in Space
    7. Pyramids of Mars
    6. Vincent and the Doctor
    5. Midnight
    4. The Doctor’s Wife
    3. City of Death
    2. Blink
    1. The Caves of Androzani

    My Top 10 Least Favourite:

    10. Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS
    9. Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks
    8. The Space Pirates
    7. The Horns of Nimon
    6. Warriors of the Deep
    5. The Gunfighters
    4. Fear Her
    3. Time and the Rani
    2. The Twin Dilemma
    1. Timelash

    His best friend’s opinion:

    10. Time-Flight
    9. Delta and the Bannermen
    8. The Gunfighters
    7. The Horns of Nimon
    6. The Space Pirates
    5. The Sensorites
    4. Time and the Rani
    3. Fear Her
    2. The Ultimate Foe
    1. Timelash


  3. Is The Day of the Doctor your favourite story?: It’s certainly up there, one of the best of the revived series at least.

    Is Fear Her really that bad?: Yes. Yes, it is. I’m surprised Boom Town wasn’t in the bottom 10 as well. Those are the two that really stand out for me personally as being terrible episodes.

    Still working my way through the classics – I’d better continue with the ones on the top 10 I haven’t seen yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s interesting to compare this poll to the ones from the 1970s and especially the increasingly self-aware Doctor Who fandom of the 1980s when the just awful JNT era traded on self referentiality like it was insulin for a diabetic.

    There are stories that “everyone” used to agree were the worst such as Nightmare of Eden that seem to have faded entirely from memory, and ones where the cheap effects jumped the shark like Dinosaur Invasion which were also supposedly universally despised. But what is interesting is how some of the old series plonkers STILL rate very low. This consistency of contempt is indicative of genuinely low quality or satisfaction.

    A lot of the 2005- series will date horribly, more like how Gerry Anderson live action shows have dated, where a large number of the old show’s stories have dated or aged about as much as they are going to. They are Doctor Who shakespeare now, old school and universally referenced and this will only make them retro and fondly remembered from here on in. Tom Baker’s long time in the role meant he is “my Doctor” for two generations and has the highest brand recognition as well so he is going to keep that top spot until the 2005- repeats on American TV and online viewing puts the new series in fandom’s collective unconscious.

    The new series has JNT style constant fanwank and fanservice but done more professionally and in a more deliberately manipulative way. This will have the paradoxical effect of confirming Doctor Who’s shift from prime time general television viewing to nich fan / cult viewing. In turn this paradox of isolation will prevent Doctor Who crossing back over into general television mainstream again- television in its current form will have disappeared soon and that will prevent any more old style “television hits”. Fragmented viewership prevents that shared cultural experience.

    The thing that the show producers should note from the poll (but won’t) is that despite the better production values etc.etc. Doctor Who is still a show where good strong straightforward ideas do a lot better with a lot more people than either agenda ridden politically correct crap or convulted fans-only twaddle. Talons of Weng Chiang is accessible to anyone, so is Blink. Blink is sometimes treated as this amazingly complex and subtle story that’s hard to follow. In fact, that view is totally wrong. It’s simple stuff. Scavenger hunt, time travel McGuffin (which in Blink is never explained or used consistently- didn’t need to be), romcom aspects, Doctor busy Doctoring- done in one.

    Day of the Doctor is the normal local spacetime “noise” these polls always produce- it won’t keep that spot and doesn’t stand up to rewatching as well as many other stories. No big deal.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Generally agreed (love the hymn book line and reference, considering he immediate context), but that weakness you note to the McCoy stories I find endemic to the late JNT run per se (ranging all the way back into late Tom Baker through series end in 1989). He had ideas and likely kept the series running through the decade, but was far more of a theatrical, panto-leaning type, with his ‘easily identifiable costumes’ and over the top characterizations (just look at the baddies and guest stars under his tenure).

    I’ve come to appreciate what he brought to the line, obviously, but Doug Adams aside, it was a tremendous break from the po faced feel of Pertwee’s best days or Tom Baker’s, and more OTT than even the Troughton material.

    Davison is a fantastic Big Finish Doctor (as is McGann, whose quite Americanized sole TV appearance was rather weak, though he was and is a rather good and quirky actor in film), but as you note, they were totally overshadowed by more authoritative Doctors like Pertwee, Tom and Colin (particularly in his Big Finish days, but it’s very much there in the 80’s if you don’t get distracted by JNT’s panto comic surroundings and his daring take on the Doctor’s (intended) development during his run).

    Even McCoy, in his Ace days, was authoritative as hell, being the only believably ‘Dark Doctor’ (Tennant’s teddy bear threats come off like a bullied child trying to scare off tormentors – I find his take overly sensitive, ‘romantic’ – which is inappropriate to the Doctor, really – and generally pathetic, particularly in retrospect against more interesting takes by Eccleston and Smith. I find him tying for t he bottom of the list alongside Hartnell…and falling behind Bill in the crunch!). Of course, all we hear these days is how David is somehow the ‘greatest’ of Doctors – I was surprised this survey kept Tom at his traditional #1 spot, actually.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Third Eye, we are singing off exactly the same hynm sheet. I originally dismissed Colin Baker at the time failing to see past the coat and not impressed with the not so special effects. But having reappraised the dvd’s I agree 100%. I am yet to be won over by McCoy as I really don’t think he can act to be honest and some of his stories were a mess of good ideas put together badly by a producer who wanted out at the time. Davison somehow leaves me cold (with a few exceptions) most likely by following in Tom Bakers shadow and attempting and succeeding in being totally different but less “alien”.
    I’m sure I’d actually rate McGann a lot higher if he had had a proper series

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I agree with Simon and Hannah. This list is quite skewed by ‘modern’ sensibilities (cough New Who Noobs). While I’ve sat through most or all of the Who revival episodes (and UK Torchwood ones), there are exactly zero that I’d put up against classic Who in terms of quality or projected endurance (I.e. Will they stand the test of time one tenth so well, 20-40 years on? Unlikely.). I did like some more than others, and if Blink was the original Weeping Angels one, I’d certainly give it the nod as one of the better of the new series (if nothing else, for the clever monster idea), but against any Hinchcliffe era episode whatsoever? Or Fang Rock? Or most Pertwee/Jo/Delgado episodes? Or even the “monster era” of Troughton/Jamie/Victoria?

    Hell, thanks to Big Finish, I’ve been able to reassess the Colin Baker and McCoy runs as well, and honestly? Those stories hold up ten times better than most Davison (bar perhaps Black Orchid, a fun period vignette, or the Terileptil/London Fire one) or any Hartnell. Speaking objectively, the Colin Baker Rani episode was quite good, as was the old dark house in space Vervoids, Varos had a lot to say and the entire McCoy run (yes, even including most of the Mel ones) was the most entertaining the series had been since City of Death with Tom Baker.

    Needless to say, the survey comes off quite inane to longtime Whovians, whatever their era of preference…and I liked both Eccleston and Smith!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I understand your sentiments. And I do believe its skewed by modern sensibilities (ie. The Day of the Doctor being at the top), but the list isn’t completely biased and intermingles immensely. Hell, even last years The Rings of Akhaten, an episode beloved by the fangirls and New Who Newbs of the world, (but one that was truly atrocious) made it to the rock bottom of the list. 20-30 years from now, who’s to say we won’t be complaining that the Eleventh Doctor’s episodes were 100x better than the 21st Doctor’s era etc.

      For the most part, I do tend to agree with the list. And that doesn’t mean I don’t disagree about what Big Finish has done with the classic range, cause I LOVE BF, and I love the Classic Range. McCoy is my third favorite, followed by Troughton and Davison. But I try and view Who as one huge unfolding masterpiece. Sometimes a story from the new series is better than several from the classic era, and vice versa.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I actually like Colin Baker and one of those stories classed as the worst (Timelash) I also think is rather good. But the biggest travesty is how on earth did The Dominators end up in the bottom ten? What were they thinking? Definitely not “Command accepted” or Quark strangeness and Charm I’ll warrant.
    My doctor favourites would be:-
    First Doctor – 6th
    Second Doctor – 3rd
    Third Doctor – 1st
    Fourth Doctor – 2nd
    Fifth Doctor – 10th
    Sixth Doctor – 5th
    Seventh Doctor – 11th
    Eight Doctor – 7th
    Ninth Doctor – 9th
    Tenth Doctor – 4th
    Eleventh Doctor – 8th

    Liked by 1 person

      • Dominators is a good story especially as its a 6 parter some of which can drag. The Quarks were the BBC’s failed attempt to find an alternative monster villain to the Dalek and cash in on the merchandising as they would own 100% of the rights as oppose having to share the profits with Terry Nation. Something they still smart over to this day but which I have no sympathy whatsoever. It really irks them that they don’t own the complete rights. When in a moment of unbridled geeky joy I bought a Genesis Dalek I had to sign a contract as does anyone who buys an officially licenced prop that I would not use it for any money making endeavour without permission (which if it was given a percentage would go to their coffers!). Also if I wanted to use it to assist a charity (for example with a grand opening of a facility or just a meet the daleks type of event) I would also have to gain permission in advance from the Thals at the Beeb. Totally over the top if you ask me but I’m digressing.

        I know you have a soft spot for McCoy. I think his best was definitely Fenric and Remembrance of the Daleks deserves special mention for the Civil War that really deserves its own stand alone story (after the 9pm watershed without the Doctor) and the epic Special Weapons Dalek. But in my opinion I really don’t think he’s a very good actor. His forte was magic tricks before landing the role and I would have preferred it if he had kept to that to be honest. I did think he was excellently cast as Radegast in the Hobbit but really he was out of his depth in Who although it wasn’t all his fault as the show at that time was struggling with Nathan-Turners best efforts to leave being thwarted and with your shows producer not wanting to stay or be involved it was bound to suffer from the lack of interest in it.


  9. In the Mouse House

    I know very little about Doctor Who but my son (14) is a dedicated fan! I will share this with him (or should I just study it and act like I’m an expert?)


    • He will certainly get some of the references. He’ll appreciate the image with all the monsters regardless because it’s something you don’t see every day. I’m 99% sure he won’t get all the references. Doctor Who is a 50 year old program that was off the air for the better part of 16 years between 89-05. Because of this, younger audiences will only know of Doctor’s 9-11 from what fans call “New Who” (as apposed to Classic Who). This list ranks the favorites from both eras. Your son will appreciate this issue of the magazine as it’ll help expand his reach from mere New Who to some Classic Who.

      But if you’re interested in impressing him with some knowledge.. I recommend watching a few episodes on Netflix or whatnot. The special effects in 05-06 were downright atrocious, but as it got more popular the quality of the productions increased exponentially. I recommend giving the episode “Blink” from season 3 of New Who a try. It’s a completely standalone episode and is the episode most people use to see if they’d like to get into Doctor Who. As you can see from above, it’s THAT good. You may also wish to give The Girl in the Fireplace from season 2 a try. That’s a personal favorite and a tear jerker. Just note, if you watch a few episodes you may get hooked. But coming from a son who watches it with his own parents on occasion, it’s something to share with your kids that’s intelligent, silly, insanely thrilling, and morally sound. I’d recommend it to anyone.


      • In the Mouse House

        He is pretty hard core Doctor Who … He has watched all the modern era episodes and is now even watching Classic Doctor Who (or what episodes are available on Hulu / Netflix) … And he has a massive crush on Jenna Coleman! Thanks for the tips. I will blow his mind by asking him to let me watch “Blink”


      • In the Mouse House

        Looked that episode up and as soon as I saw the Weeping Angels I knew it was one of the 2 or 3 episodes I have seen. The other I know I have seen is The Snowmen.


  10. I really regard classic and new Who as 2 different entities but without doubt BLINK is my favourite of the new series, followed by BAD WOLF/PARTING OF THE WAYS. The worst is so bad I don’t even know the title of the show but its the one with those Adipose nonsenses. Russell T Davies at this point had outstayed his welcome big time.
    Onto main area of interest, The Classic Series (with the caveat that I still have about 20 still to rate and my unhealthy obsession with all things Mark III travel machine related) my top 10 would be:-

    1st – Planet of The Daleks (yep a big surprise but for me that army of toy daleks thawing out was pre-video playback the greatest ever moment on television for a young impressionable Dalekophile 7 year old).
    2nd – Death to the Daleks (another one that gets knocked a bit but the scheming Daleks truce with the Doctor again got me so bad I actually wanted them to win in the end)
    3rd – Genesis of The Daleks (pure style, pure sex!)
    4th – Pyramids of Mars (Sutekh so SO needs to be brought back for the new series)
    5th – Planet of Evil (I love Forbidden Planet so this homage ticks all the boxes)
    6th – The Seeds of Doom (Before Alien and before The Thing remake. Harrison Chase is also up there as one of the best bad guys)
    7th – Spearhead form Space (how my parents let me watch this as a 3 year old I’ll never know but its still burnt into my consciousness. My earliest memory being taken down Bury High Street walking past a gentleman’s outfitters and almost sh!tting myself in terror looking at the mannequins in the display window will NEVER leave me)
    8th – Inferno (original parallel universe with an excellent Fascistic Unit Brigade Leader
    9th – The Invasion (Cybermen in front of St Pauls Cathedral one of the first Who locations I managed to visit. Plus the superb Tobias Vaughn villain)
    10th – Revenge of the Cybermen (The cybermats got this story up there for me)

    As I still have rate The Daemons, The Tenth Planet and Web of Fear this list will no doubt change.

    The hall of shame worst 5 (SO FAR) would be in reverse order of crapulousness

    5th – The Gunfighters (when the singing started I almost turned it off)
    4th – Delta and the Bannermen (THAT baby, Ken Dodd, the space bus, the holiday camp there is so much wrong here)
    3rd – Castrovalva (Began my serious doubts that Who had declined beyond redemption)
    2nd – Survival (Most of my negativity towards this was apart from the cat puppet was the fact that the series ended on such a low)
    1st – Ghostlight (Not even the lovely when she was younger Sylvia Sims could save this unfathomable mess)
    With Paradise Towers, and the Happiness Patrol still to unfortunately be watched I confidently predict that this bottom 5 will also change for the worse!


    • Of the three Dalek stories in your top three I’d place Genesis atop the rest. Spearhead I’d put at two or three.. Worst 5 were terrible stories. I’m not sure if any aside from Ghost Light would be on my personal list however. But for the most part I really like 7, so that does change my viewing experience a bit. I LOVE Curse of Fenric, and Greatest Show in the Galaxy.


    • Revenge of the Cybermen – 7/10
      The Invasion – 10/10
      Inferno – 10/10
      Spearhead from Space – 9/10
      The Seeds of Doom – 10/10
      Planet of Evil – 8/10
      Pyramids of Mars – 10/10
      Genesis of the Daleks – 10/10
      Death to the Daleks – 4/10
      Planet of the Daleks – 5/10

      The Gunfighters – 2/10
      Delta and the Bannermen – 4/10
      Castrovalva – 6/10
      Survival – 6/10
      Ghost Light – 8/10


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