The Fifth Doctor - Peter Davison
The Fifth Doctor’s sonic screwdriver was physically the same base prop carried over from the previous Doctor’s tenure. The prop had already been repainted and smartened up during Tom Baker’s final season, before it was then handed over to actor Peter Davison when he started his run as the Fifth Doctor.
The prop was repainted finally and now had a brighter red paint job and a refreshed white thumb grip after years of looking a bit worse for wear. The bent emitter section was still noticeable occasionally but was nowhere near as bad as it had previously appeared in such stories as “The Leisure Hive” before the revamp.
In 1982 during the Season Nineteen story, “The Visitation”, the sonic screwdriver sadly finally met its end when The Doctor was thrown into a room where the Terileptil forces him to drop his sonic device. The Terileptil then destroys it with a blast from his weapon to make sure he cannot escape. With his multi-purpose tool now a lump of twisted metal, The Doctor sadly remarks, "I feel as though you've just killed an old friend." An appropriate response to the end of the longest running sonic screwdriver prop in the history of the show. During the SFX sequence where the prop was engulfed in flame the sonic prop was swapped out with a crude, plastic replica prop.
This was not the original plan, however. Eric Saward's script for “The Visitation” initially carried an ending scene where The Doctor would simply seek a replacement from a room full of the devices in the TARDIS. Producer John Nathan-Turner objected, actively wanting to get rid of the device, which he thought of as a narrative crutch that writers should be forced to avoid. Accordingly, the sonic screwdriver device didn't return to television until Doctor Who: The Movie in 1996.
In total, this original prop that started life in 1966 for “Thunderbirds Are Go” was in continuous use as the sole sonic screwdriver prop on Doctor Who from 1971 until 1982 spanning a remarkable eleven seasons and eleven years of production.
It is believed that the original prop was kept by producer John Nathan-Turner in his office for a number of years until it mysteriously vanished. Its whereabouts or even survival still remain unknown to this day.
The Fifth Doctor
The Sonic Screwdriver Archive
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