Story time! Here is my strange and unexplained Doctor Who memory:
Back in 2005-2008, I was learning about Doctor Who for basically the first time. When the show returned it was a show I barely remember watching as a little kid in the late ’80s, and my brief return to it in ’96 with the McGann movie. It just wasn’t something I knew much of before seeing Eccleston in the role on Sci Fi Channel. Anyway, during that first series, I was in a rush to read as much as I could about the show, and that checking out books from the University’s library system. One of those books was a hardback bound collection of academic essays discussing the development of the show and various stories throughout the show’s run. I remember skipping ahead to the Fifth Doctor’s seasons.
Skip ahead several years to 2009. Doctor Who is taking its first real break, with only a handful of episodes airing throughout the year (from “The Planet of the Dead” to “The End of Time Part 1”). A group of fans on the Gallifrey Base (or was it Outpost Gallifrey then?) got together to do what they called “The Great Nap Year Marathon”, where they would watch the show from “An Unearthly Child” to the most recently televised episode (which at that point, and for most of 2009, would be “The Planet of the Dead”). I joined in, and watched stories along with new discussion threads that would be posted. While most participants in the marathon were rewatching these episodes for the nth time, I was seeing original Doctor Who for effectively the first time; it was all new to me.
We eventually got to the Fifth Doctor’s seasons, and that’s when the spring semester was done. I fell out of touch with marathon discussions and stopped watching the show. I looked ahead to the list of Fifth Doctor stories and saw one that I remembered reading several essays about. It was the concluding chapter in a trilogy began back with Jon Pertwee’s Doctor, and saw the Doctor returning to that titular planet. The story was called “The Nightmare of Peladon”.
This was a story I’d read several essays about, and I was eagerly anticipating watching this story. For those who don’t remember, “The Nightmare of Peladon” continued that season’s trend of returning to the past, bringing back elements, creatures, locations, from the past. The Doctor was called back to Peladon to deal with the possible outbreak of war between Peladon and other planets in the Federation. The representative of Alpha Centauri made a return appearance, and was again the one to recognize and remember the Doctor. The Doctor, along with Tegan and Nyssa, try to maintain peace between the Federation planets as someone is trying to seed distrust and start a war, destroying the Federation. The Fifth Doctor, along with the Alpha Centauri representative, brought representatives from all the major planets together to broker a peace conference. This story marked the final appearance of Peladon, and brought to an end the “Peladon Trilogy”.
With the Nap Year Marathon, different people posted trailers for each story to begin discussion. I remember watching the trailer for “The Nightmare of Peladon”, seeing the name in the title sequence, and I clearly remember watching scenes of the Fifth Doctor meeting the Alpha Centauri representative and reintroducing himself, and the Alpha Centauri rep learning that Time Lords can regenerate and change their appearance. I remember watching scenes of the peace conference, with all the characters meeting in a great hall, around a great table, with the Doctor at the head of the table. The Ice Warriors were also in this story, but were really only a cameo appearance.
The marathon came and went and I never did get around to watching this story, or any other Davison stories. I forgot all about this story.
Until two years ago. Twitch ran a huge marathon of original series Doctor Who, going from “An Unearthly Child” all the way to “Survival” (while skipping incomplete/missing stories and all non-Terry Nation-written Dalek stories). This was the marathon that spawned numerous Doctor Who memes (“London 1965” “Salami Sandwich” “Heathrow, some 140 million years ago”, etc). I watched as much of this marathon as I could, and was looking forward to the Davison seasons. Finally, I had a good reason and opportunity to watch all of the Davison seasons. I’d finally get to watch all of “The Nightmare of Peladon”, and react to it with the Twitch chat.
There was only one problem.
“The Nightmare of Peladon” does not exist.
The Davison seasons came and went and there was no showing, no mention of this episode. No one in chat made any reference to Davison’s Doctor returning to Peladon.
Confused, I looked around online. I searched episode lists, I searched the TARDIS wikia. I searched anywhere and everwhere for any mention of the title. The story simply does not exist. I couldn’t even find a mention or reference to either the academic essays I’d read or the Gallifrey Base threads I frequented or the trailer I’d watched.
This was much worse than a story going missing from the BBC archives, as 97 episodes do to this day. This entire story simply fails to exist in this reality.
The essay being about a fake story I could reason with. Either done as a joke or a “trap street”, an entire series of essays about a story the essay writers made up could be something that happened. How, though, would you explain the Gallifrey Base thread? Were they in cahoots with the essay writers? What about the trailers, and the actual scenes from the actual episodes starring Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, and Sarah Sutton that I watched? How does all of that end up not existing? Maybe it was all a dream I had, albeit a very vivid dream.
Okay, so it wasn’t televised Doctor Who. Maybe Big Finish did it as an audio story and I listened to it at some point. They do tons of Doctor Who stories, and love to revisit original series stories. Surely they’ve done a “Nightmare of Peladon” story with Peter Davison. Sorry, no such Big Finish story exists. So maybe it was a novel at some point in the ’90s. There were lots of novel strands, ranging from the Virgin New Adventures, the continuing adventure novels, the Eighth Doctor Adventure novels, and so many more. Maybe it was among those. Searching the title “The Nightmare of Peladon” returns no results whatsoever. So maybe I’ve got the title wrong. Nope, there was never a Fifth Doctor adventure taking place on Peladon in any media whatsoever, ranging from Big Finish to novels to even fanfiction. It does not exist anywhere in any form.
Anyway, there you have it, my memories of having watched bits of a Doctor Who story that I can never again watch because it does not exist.