The Edge of Destruction is the third serial of the first season of Doctor Who. It was written by David Whitaker, directed by Richard Martin and Frank Cox and featured William Hartnell as the First Doctor, William Russell as Ian Chesterton, Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright and Carole Ann Ford as Susan Foreman.
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Something has caused the TARDIS console to explode in mid-flight, plunging the ship into darkness and rendering the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan unconscious. As they slowly recover, they find themselves suffering from loss of memory and headaches. The TARDIS behaves oddly, as the doors open and close of their own accord. Has the ship been possessed in some way, or is something more dangerous happening to the time travellers?
The Edge of Destruction (1) Edit
As the TARDIS is smoothly in flight, the Doctor, Ian and Susan take a moment relaxing. Then, without any sudden warning, the console erupts with energy and the whole room is consumed with darkness. The Doctor is thrust to the floor and his friends lay all unconscious all around the room.
Barbara enters the control room to find the other's unconscious while also unable to assuredly recall Ian's name. Susan is the first to awaken, also unsure of her surroundings, when she is alarmed to see the Doctor lying on the floor; Barbara tends to him while Susan goes and collects water. When going, however, she spots Ian lying in the chair, unable to remember him.
Barbara turns from the Doctor to see Ian standing, where he seems to think he's still in his school. As Susan grabs some bandages from a first-aid kit, Ian and Barbara watch over the Doctor, when he starts spouting delirious nonsense. Susan tries to collect water from the machine, but it says it's empty. However, Susan takes the water bag from within the machine and it's full.
Returning to the control room, Susan is stunned to see the interior doors open and fretfully claims that they simply cannot open of their own accord. Ian suspects the Doctor of opening them, and Barbara reasons they opened when they crashed, but Susan dismisses both of those. Which she and Barbara administer the bandages to the Doctor's head injury, Ian approaches the doors and they close, without Barbara or Susan having done anything. As he walks away from them, they open again and vice versa.
Susan tries to use the controls but they spontaneously faints. As the Doctor starts to regain consciousness, Ian takes Susan to bed. The Doctor claims on waking up that he was hit on the back of the neck, to Barbara's suspicion. After Ian lays Susan down, he tries the food machine for water, but it again comes up empty with a full supply. When he returns, Susan is conscious again, brandishing a pair of scissors and claiming not to know who Ian is. He tries to approach her, but she thrusts the scissors at him; she then suddenly experiences another head pain and violently stabs the bed with the scissors before collapsing again.
The Doctor tries to fathom out the situation, but Barbara accuses him of mere guesswork. While they and Ian wander, Barbara starts to believe that something may be inside the ship, having entered when the doors were open, but the Doctor debunks it. As he and Ian examine the Fault locator, Susan overhears Ian telling Barbara to watch her but not tell her about something possibly being in the TARDIS and goes and grabs the scissors again.
Barbara goes to check on Susan who wakes up immediately. Susan starts asking accusatory questions in rapid succession and Barbara realises she has the scissors again. Before Susan can do any harm, Barbara manages to get them off her. In a moment of tension, Barbara starts to wonder again where a creature from outside the ship could hide; Susan immediately suggests that it could be in one of them. Ian suddenly enters and informs the women that there was no fault found with the ship. He says that with that determined, the Doctor believes the fault to be outside the ship and is going to turn on the scanner. Susan panics and rushes to stop him.
She bursts into the control room where the Doctor is stood stationary away from the console. With warning of Susan's experience at trying to work the controls, the Doctor has her primed behind him as he attempts the scanner control. He manages to use the switch without any ill effects and the scanner works fine. The screen brings up an photograph of a countryside; the doors suddenly open and close behind them and the scanner shows a picture of the planet Quinnis. While the Doctor ponders, the scanners shows a progression of events culminating in an explosion of light.
The Doctor ponders whether or not Ian could explain it, to his confusion, when he suddenly starts to accuse both he and Barbara of being the cause of the predicament and knocking both himself and Susan unconscious. He argues that the two schoolteachers did it out of blackmail so the Doctor would return them home, when Barbara furiously calls the Doctor out on his accusations, reminding him of everything that the group had been through and what she and Ian had done for the Doctor, stating that he should be more grateful of them rather than blame them.
Walking away, Barbara and Susan are heavily alarmed by the nearby clock face, which have completely melted, as have Ian and Barbara's watches. To calm everyone, the Doctor brings beverages for the four of them and Barbara goes to bed, distraught, followed by Susan. Ian talks in confidence with the Doctor, agreeing with Susan that he should apologise to Barbara, but he seems to pay little attention; he leaves Ian to ponder on his words. Susan tries to apologise to Barbara for the Doctor's harsh words, but she is still too upset to pay heed to them.
Later, after ensuring the others were asleep, the Doctor quietly scuttles to the control room, hands primed at the console, when an unseen assailant comes up behind him and grabs him by the collar.
The Brink of Death (2) Edit
The assailant, Ian, loosens his grip on the Doctor and collapses. Just as Barbara comes in, the Doctor becomes certain of their duplicity, unwilling to accept that anything is happening to him. While Barbara tries to plead their innocence, Susan comes in suddenly taking the Doctor's side. Assured of their supposed intent, the Doctor decides to put them off the ship. Barbara tries to wake Ian; when he does raise, he shouts a warning to the Doctor not to touch the control. This convinces Susan of their innocence but the Doctor is not easily swayed. He insists on his ways to put them both off the ship, when the Fault locator's danger signal goes off. Checking the warning, the entire device lights up, concerning both the Doctor and Susan.
The Doctor tries to approach Ian and Barbara but his threats have made them weary of him. He explains that if a piece of the TARDIS apparatus fails, the Fault locator informs him of the problem; the fact that the whole thing lit up indicates that the ship is on the point of disintegrating. With Ian finally speaking coherently, he gets to say that he was warning the Doctor off the control or he'd electrocute himself; this puts the Doctor's ill-will of them both to rest.
Finally acknowledging the dangers they're in, the Doctor has everybody pool their resources to discern the problem. The column in the console then suddenly springs up; the Doctor explains the TARDIS' heart is underneath the column and when it rises, it's height shows the extent of power thrust used by the ship and if the column were to come out, the power could escape and kill them all instantly. Determining they have 10 minutes for death, the Doctor is at a loss for a course of action, when Barbara and Ian start putting together all of the hints that the TARDIS has been giving them.
With little other option, the Doctor has Barbara and Susan stand by the doors to see what's outside, but confides in Ian that this is a lie and doesn't know how to resolve the issue. When the doors open, Susan is distresses when they see nothing outside. Finding the connection between the scanner and the doors opening, the Doctor watches the sequence of images from before and realises the ship has been travelling on a journey backwards through time, right at the very beginning of a solar system, causing a gravitational force powerful enough to attract the TARDIS' energy.
Recalling the destination he programmed when the TARDIS left Skaro, the Doctor tells Ian he used the Fast return switch, but when the pair of them examine it, they find it stuck in place, which resulted in the TARDIS perpetually taking them back through time. Upon repairing the switch, the TARDIS returns to life and the danger subsides. After explaining the situation Susan, she says that he should probably apologise to Ian and Barbara for all the horrible things he said and threatening to put them off the ship. Ian brushes it off right away, but Barbara is still upset by his words, in spite of his attempt to apologise and leaves.
Later on, the TARDIS has landed at it's next destination. Barbara sits quietly alone when the Doctor approaches her again. He talk with her and again apologises for his threats, conceding that seeing as he put a threat to take her off the ship, she was determined to disprove him, and thus lead her to the solution they needed to fix things. Susan comes in and asks Barbara if she's coming, which she courteously accepts and leaves after her with the Doctor. Barbara goes outside with Susan while the Doctor confers with Ian in the control room. Before they can step outside, however, Susan and Barbara call out to them directing them to a giant footprint in the snow...
- Dr. Who - William Hartnell
- Ian Chesterton - William Russell
- Barbara Wright - Jacqueline Hill
- Susan Foreman - Carole Ann Ford
- Writer - David Whitaker
- Designer - Raymond Cusick
- Associate Producer - Mervyn Pinfield
- Title Music - Ron Grainer, BBC Radiophonic Workshop
- Director - Richard Martin ("The Edge of Destruction"), Frank Cox ("The Brink of Disaster")
- Producer - Verity Lambert
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Story notes Edit
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Broadcast & Ratings Edit
|No. Overall||#||Title||Runtime||First Airdate||Viewers (in millions)|
|#12||1||The Edge of Destruction||25:04||08 February 1964||10.4|
|#13||2||The Brink of Death||22:11||15 February 1964||9.9|
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Home video and audio releases Edit
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External Links Edit
- Official The Edge of Destruction page on Doctor Who Website