‘My dear man, I have spent more time in space than any astronaut on your staff. Not I’ll admit in the rather primitive contraptions that you use, but I’ll manage.’ The Doctor
21st March – 2nd May 1970
The Time Space Visualiser
This one is all very Quatermass. A swanky new laboratory for the Doctor with stained glass windows and our first look at the TARDIS console in colour. I love the time travel scene. It just reminds us what the TARDIS could do and why it doesn’t anymore. Then the Brigadier is on telly and we get a quick reference to last week with the Doctor having a quick dig about blowing up the Silurians. He seems to be over it though. Ronald Allen is back after being one of the few things in The Dominators that makes the story watchable So we have had an alien invasion from space, and a planned re taking of the Earth from a former dominant species from underground. Now we are in space as humans. Sending people to Mars from the UK.
There is a deafening sound as Recovery 7 links with Mars Probe 7. (Did Mars Probe’s one to six all need recovery too? Was there a Recovery 1, Recovery 2, etc?) The Doctor is convinced he has heard the noise before but he can’t remember where. I do. I am sure it was the sound effect they used for the Ice Warriors in their first story. So the Doctor fools the troubled Frenchman with a bit of transmigration of object. There is a great deal of difference between that and pure Science as we all know but Liz starts going on about converting analogue to digital. Well why would anyone want to do that?
The two probes 7 separate but maintain radio silence. After a lot of movement from the satellite dishes at Goonhilly the probe lands. The Doc and the Brig go to see if anyone survives and are watched. The Brig calls UNIT HQ to collect the landing craft but his radio communication is intercepted. He needs a better call sign than ‘Brigadier’ to UNIT HQ! Something about greyhounds and traps would work better. Do we really need the lengthy scene travelling with the probe where Bessie gets stuck and the Brig sits in his vehicle looking smug. It goes on forever before the helicopter intercepts with whistling smoke bombs that don’t really do much. It stops the convey though and there is a dramatic shootout with people from Ghostbusters who get the Brig! The fight creates Havoc!
Happily the Doctor uses his best Irish accent and Bessie’s anti-theft device (amazing) and Recovery 7 is back with the goodies. It is very creepy how the communication begins with the astronauts. Reminiscent of the Vash Narada. I also think the logo and plate changing magic van is great. Imagine if you had one of those! The astronauts or whatever they are, Ambassadors of Death I guess, are moved to another facility where one of them appears to collapse. Lennox goes in to check them and appears to put on a pair of Anti-Radiation Gloves.
Taltalian has been working on a remote control device for those Ambassadors of Death so they can send them to the space centre and start killing people. Proper gloves from the villain. New ones every week. The AODs are kept alive by radiation which still clicks even though there is no apparent Geiger counter anywhere.
The Doctor prepares for lift off and a bit of gurning and posh girl is back in the space centre. (Or is she a different posh girl?) the rocket is fuelled with a highly volatile M3 variant. As the rocket prepares for lift off someone enters the Space Centre to sabotage the amount of variant and cause the rocket to explode. Fortunately there is a sign on the correct pipe which says M3 variant. Everything has a label, including the decontamination gas. The men in blue glittery suits of death. It’s night when the Brigadier leaves but then it is day?
A very complicated scheme from Carrington that seems to involve quite a few shady characters and all sorts of other twists and turns that make the plot very hard to follow. His project makes the Cyberman’s plan in Wheel in Space easy to follow. It is a shame we don’t spend much time with the aliens and they are only seen very briefly. It’s a David Whitaker masterclass in characterisation though as the episodes seem to fly by with some great action set pieces and wonderful performances.
New titles experiment. The ‘screech’ sting is used for the first time but not at the end of the episode. They are used for the story title which zooms into view, ‘Ambassadors’ first, then a special gunshot sound for ‘of Death’ .
The first credited appearance for Michael Wisher. He was the first Davros, a Dalek voice and played many other roles in Doctor Who. His first unaccredited appearance was apparently a voice in the Seeds of Death.
Geoffrey Beevers appears for the first time. He eventually becomes the slightly dishevelled Master but this is his first role as Private Johnson. He was married to Liz Shaw actress, Caroline John.
Is this the first refinery? Big industrial expanses are the show’s second favourite location after gravel pits as they look like an alien futuristic cyber punk complex. Here though we are on Earth, and it makes a pretty good space control centre with lots of things to climb up and jump off.
The first action hero story with Havoc. But the biggest action hero of them all is the Brig. He fights off all the baddies in episode 7, then liberates the Ambassadors and the Doctor and Liz. All in beige leather gloves.
Episode 2 5:25
The Doctor: I’ll be back in time for re-entry, are you coming?
The Doctor: The astronauts still refuse to come out!
Episode 4 3:07
Carrington: Astronauts do have walkie talkies in their helmets you know.
Well that is impressive.
This Week’s False Moustache is Modelled By
Giving the Brig a run for his money this week is Taltalian who doesn’t just stop at the moustache. No, he goes for it with a full crop of facial hair that would make David Bellamy feel inadequate. His comedy French accent also gives us our ‘Racist Moment of the Week.’ He also forgets to do his accent all the time.
Enlightening Dialogue of the Week
Brigadier: I think the General’s a bit overwrought.
Cornish: I think he’s insane.
We were there ahead of you Cornish. You have had six weeks to work that out.
The 500 Year Diary
23rd November 1972 am
Messing around with the TARDIS console this morning. Both Liz and I were caught up in its time field and ended up being projected a few seconds into the future.
Saw the Brigadier on the television… well what else is he to do now there’s no Silurians to blow up? Anyway, they were broadcasting the efforts to recover Mars Probe 7 which lost contact with Earth nearly 8 months ago. Suddenly there’s a noise… it reminds me of something, but since the Time Lords have removed my memories, I can’t place it.
Barge our way into the space centre and make various demands. There’s a reply to the original message, but it’s coming from Earth and it turns out it’s from a warehouse only 7 miles away. The Brigadier goes to check it out.
Professor Taltalian is being very unhelpful, so unhelpful infact, he pulls a gun out on us!
23rd November 1972 pm
Taltalian wants the tape with the message on, but am able to use the principles of transmigration to make it disappear. After rough handling Liz he escapes. He also has managed to sabotage the computer – 2+2=5 indeed.
The Brigadier introduces me to one of the men detained at the warehouse. After using a bit of shouting, work out that he’s a soldier, but who is he working for?
The Recovery probe manages to land, not far from the space centre. We go and see if we can get the astronauts out, but no joy. They take it back to the space centre in a convoy – having a bit of trouble with Bessie and follow on later. Lucky really as the convoy was obviously intercepted, but using a bit of acting skills and Bessie’s anti-theft device age to reclaim it.
There’s obviously someone on the inside as these known others seem to be one step ahead. Go and see Sir James Quinlan, but he seems content to sweep it under the carpet. Typical civil servant. Hope I don’t have to deal with too many of these whilst stuck on Earth.
Finally, we hear voices from the rocket – but they’re repeating themselves. Something’s very wrong. We have to cut open!
24th November 1972 am
The capsule was empty, but there is a lot of radiation.
Introduced to General Carrington, who is the head of the Space Security Department – even the Brigadier has never heard of them. He has removed the astronauts to a safe location so the public aren’t panicked. Not sure why Quinlan couldn’t tell us this in the first place.
When we get there, the ‘astronauts’ have been removed by yet another group. However the fact is that these can’t be the real astronauts as they never would have survived the radiation – the astronauts are still in orbit, who knows what’s in those suits?
Back at the space centre, we’re called away by the Brigadier to examine bodies of two radiation victims found in a gravel pit. Well I’m too busy preparing Recovery 7 for another flight now that the radiation has gone. Turns out the Brigadier didn’t send that message, so what’s happened to Liz?
24th November 1972 eve
Got a phone call telling me to stop interfering otherwise Liz will die. Well, when has that ever stopped me? Whilst working at the Space Centre, Tatalian arrives and tries to kill me with an exploding briefcase. Except it’s sabotaged and only Tatalian is killed – I needed a plaster! Perhaps he was becoming a liability to this other group who seem to have a supply of foreign combs.
Find a device in Tatalian’s possession. Some sort of communication device similar to the one I was building.
Summoned to Quinlan’s office. Apparently, he’s not happy about me offering to pilot the recovery rocket. When I arrive in his office, he’s lying on his desk. I go to check for life signs.
25th November 1972
The Brigadier arrives in the nick of time and saves me from the alien; sadly, it means another UNIT soldier dies. Sergeant Benton arrives to assist – I’m glad he’s been promoted – a fine chap.
Decide to definitely pilot the Recovery 7 rocket despite General Carrington’s objections so after a lot of hanging about, I take off. But there’s a problem. It appears that there’s too much M3 variant in the fuel mix and the only way to stop the rocket flying into the orbit of the Sun is jettison the primary boosters early – a big risk, but thankfully it works!
So I connect with the Mars Probe, but what’s that? There’s some huge spaceship coming towards me!
26th November 1972 am
The spaceship is huge. I head towards the light as directed.
I come across the three astronauts who think they are still on Earth. They are under the influence of some alien who explains that they are being held here until their ‘ambassadors’ are returned. Ambassadors? The ambassadors of death?
I promise to help them on my return to Earth. It appears to be a bit of a misunderstanding, but if I can’t sort it out they’ll be carnage.
As I rest in the decontamination unit back at the Space Centre, I smell poisonous gas which knocks me out…
I wake up in a room with Liz there. Thank goodness she’s alright. I’m forced to help them make a communication unit (but I was actually going to do this anyway). As I’m working on it, surprise surprise, in walks General Carrington who is about to kill me!
25th November pm
Reegan manages to convince Carrington that shooting me would be a bad idea as I am the only one who understands the technology. Carrington is actually out for revenge for the killing of one of his colleagues when he went up in a probe. As I said earlier, it’s all a bit of a misunderstanding. Anyway, this xenophobia is going to cause all-out war!
Whilst making the communication device, I manage to contact UNIT HQ using Morse Code of all things. Anyway, success with the device as we can now communicate. The Brigadier and UNIT rescue us and we launch an attack on the Space Centre, which has been taken over by Carrington and his men in preparation for a live telecast all over the world to expose the alien threat.
Well, we manage to stop the broadcast and Carrington is taken away. I feel sorry for him. He’s not helped by a rather ill-fitting wig. Anyway, leave Cornish and Liz to arrange the return of the ambassadors and off I go.
Five Word Lords
A complex Bond style epic.