The Space Pirates


‘Oh dear, Madeleine, you’ve disappointed me. We could have made a fortune together, instead of which I have to leave and you have to die.’


8th March – 12th April 1969

Vital Statistics

Only two stories left from the Troughton Era and 60s Doctor Who but with 16 episodes in total these two stories gave viewers more episodes than a full 7th Doctor Season did 20 years later. It is of course the last story with any missing episodes. By the time the credits roll at the end of episode 6 there will be no further need for telesnaps recons and soundtracks. At some points these have been hard work but as they have been such a rarity in the last few stories these final five do not seem a challenge and I am pleased to have been on this pilgrimage enjoying all these episodes chronologically. And am thankful that fans of the show more dedicated than me have made this journey much more enjoyable than it otherwise would have been.

Time Space Visualiser

Is this the longest we have to wait for the TARDIS crew to arrive? I didn’t log the time but it is less than ten minutes from the end of the episode and when they do all they do is get separated from the TARDIS and provide us with a cliffhanger. I am puzzled slightly but what is going on but basically there are four stations orbiting in a group, some space pirates wondering between all of the stations doing a bit of space walking (nice loose cannon CGI thank you.) and George Layton off of Brookside and it Ain’t Half Hot Mum has an amazing moustache off of Earl’s Court in the 70s.

It’s all a bit baffling but I think I am focusing too much on how good Jack May is at shouting in a microphone. (Always loved him on the Archers,) will try and pay better attention in episode two. And we are back to live action. Donald Gee as Ian Warne reminds me slightly of Ian Levine. Surely his helmet is the Ice Lord’s from last week. As helmets go (oh-err) Madeline clearly has the best in any Doctor Who story to date, almost as good as the UFO purple wigs. It even has a side parting. I wonder if you can get different types.

It is argonite the pirates are after and have a very clever way of getting it back too with the baffling controlled formation that we later find will happily have brought it to the Argonite planet. Clancy is after the Pirates and General Hermack is of course wrong to suspect him. The travellers begin their search in the claustrophobic tunnels and running away from a blast from a pirate gun lead us into the third cliffhanger as they all fall.

The travelers find Milo Clancy down in the mine and he is unconscious. Using a stethoscope The Doctor manages to locate an audio switch. Quite how that helps is unclear. The commander is still obsessed with finding Clancy and proving him as the pirate. Meanwhile, the real pilots insert the end of their ship into a handy nose cone disguising them as a mining ship. The only difference between the two rather bizarrely. Not sure why Jamie gets so angry with the Doctor trying out different notes on the tuning fork, other than to provide the comedy solution with Jamie hitting the note by mistake. Doesn’t a tuning fork always play the same notes? The music in this is all sing songy Star Trek again but it works.

I can’t confess to be that interested in the main plot of the argonite and the pirates but despite the short comings there are some lovely parts to the story. Early reservations aside I can’t help warming to Clancy and Maud with the silver hair. Her character goes on a much better journey than most of the female leads since Pauline Collins. The regulars are on form but they seem to spend too much of the episode traveling from one setting to the next and are almost incidental to the plot.


Notable Firsts

Ian Warne has the first mention of a mind probe, 14 years before the Five Doctors.

Cliché Counter

Clancy. His clothes, wig, moustache, accent. Just about everything about him! We haven’t seen a stereotype quite this full of clichés in a while. He even has a tray from those catalogues you used to get with the Radio Times. It gets quite stressful though, watching him try and relax to eat his food. I found myself talking to the iPad telling him to just eat at the desk!

Seems a very first Doctor set up to have the TARDIS crew separated from their ship and basically only sort out the pirate problem to get back to it.

It is not until episode three that Zoe gets asked to make tea.

Fascinating Facts

The Space Pirates is the last missing story from the archives. In the 70s old episodes of Doctor Who were regularly cut up and turned into Christmas decorations by Valerie Singleton on Blue Peter.

The Best Scooby Doo Laughing at the End of the Episode award at the 1969 Golden Globes was hotly contested between the end of episode 6 of Space Pirates and an episode of Bewitched (starring of course JR and Sue Ellen (29) off of Dallas.) both episodes were however pipped to the post by the end of ‘The Galileo Seven’, an Episode of the popular Star Trek series.


The 500 Year Diary

21st January 2135 am

Landed somewhere on a space ship. Initially think we’re alone, but then we get shot at. We run away from the space pirates I suppose, but the men disappear leaving us as prisoners as they weld the lock of the room we’re in. Next thing there’s an explosion!


21st January 2135 pm

Trapped inside a section of a beacon. Oxygen begins to run out. Try to use a bit of magnetism to attract the next segment, but instead we go hurtling off into space. Ooops!

We’re then boarded and Jamie is shot!


21st January 2135 eve

Jamie was just stunned and we end up being rescued by a quaint old fellow called Milo Clancey who takes us on his tinpot spaceship with an actual china teapot.

He takes us to the planet Ta where the Issigri Mining Corporation is based. He tells us to stay put, but Zoe messes around with applied mathematics and works out the TARDIS has landed here. Why didn’t I work that out? Anyway, we get lost in the argonite mines. Next thing, we hear men and gunfire coming towards us so we dive down a passage which is a massive chasm…


21st January 2135 am

Well the chasm wasn’t actually that big and I land on my drawing pins. I like drawing pins. We’ve landed in a prison cell alongside one of the men who was shooting at us in the beacon – a Lieutenant Sorba. Turns out he’s alright.

Work out that there must be another way in – there must be an audio lock. Use a tuning fork which I happen to have with me. Must make sure I keep my sonic screwdriver on me at all times! Anyway Jamie accidentally finds the right note and we escape, running into Milo again.

We head for the headquarters of the corporation pursued once again and hindered by an injured Sorba. We make it and then a Cavan bursts in and kills Sorba!


21st January 2135 pm

The boss, Madeleine Issigri, is in league with these nasty space pirates, but manages to plead for us not to be killed. Instead we’re thrown into an old study where we find Dom Issigri, who used to be Milo’s old partner and Madeleine’s father.

We escape again – again, luckily had marbles on me! Get separated from Jamie and Zoe and go back to look for them and end up being caught in the backblast from the rockets.


21st January 2135 pm

Jamie and Zoe rescue me and I manage to recover.

Just a rush to sort everything out. Cavan has set up an explosive atomic charge, but manage to remove the detonator. In addition, have to help Milo remove the remote control from his ship, which manage to do.

The pirates are destroyed, Madeleine will stand trial. Milo offers us a lift to the TARDIS. Jamie said he’d rather walk. I said we might have to. How we laughed!




The Five Word Lords

Not enough burgeoning Holmsean genius.


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