23) THE ARK

5 - 26 March 1966

Average Viewing Figure: 6.5M

Plot

Arriving on a spaceship Dodo's begins to kills a crew of Humans and Monoids, but the true danger might not be Dodo's cold

Cast

William Hartnell (The Doctor), Peter Purves (Steven Taylor), Jackie Lane (Dodo), Eric Elliott (Commander), Inigo Jackson (Zentos)

Roy Spencer (Manyak), Kate Newman (Mellium), Michael Sheard (Rhos), Ian Frost (Baccu), Stephanie Heesom (1st Guardian)

Paul Greenhalgh (2nd Guardian), Terence Woodfield (Maharis), Ralph Carrigan (Monoid Two), Terence Bayler (Yendom)

Edmund Coulter (Monoid One), Brian Wright (Dassuk), Eileen Helsby (Venussa), Frank George (Monoid Three)

John Caesar (Monoid Four), Edmund Coulter (1st Monoid), Frank George (2nd Monoid), Roy Skelton, John Halstead (Monoid Voices)

Richard Beale (Refusian Voices)

Uncredited Cast

Eric Blackburn, Chris Webb, Raymond Byrom, Bernard Barnsley (Monoids [Slaves]), David Greneau (Male Guardian [Miniaturised])

Bill Hunter, George Gibbs, Roy Douglas, Trevor Griffiths, Mark Allington, Ron Gregory, Tony Kemp (Male Guardians)

Judith Webb, Jackie Salt, Jackie Duval, Sheila McGrath, Jan Williams, Terry Cashfield, Diane Chapman, Iris Fry (Female Guardians)

Hazel Graham, Jacqueline Lewis, Philips Harris, Paul Johnson (Child Guardians)

Eric Blackburn, Chris Webb, Raymond Byron, Bernard Barnsley, Denis Marlow, Bill Richards (Monoids)

Crew

Paul Erickson, Lesley Scott (Writers). Ron Grainer (Title Music), Tristram Cary (Incidental Music), Tony Leggo (Film Cameraman)

Noel Chanan (FIlm Editor), Daphne Dare (Costume Designer), Sonia Markham (Make-Up), Howard King (Lighting)

Ray Angel (Sound), Gerry Davis (Story Editor), Barry Newbery (Designer), John Wiles (Producer), Michael Imison (Director)

Uncredited Crew

Chris D'Oyly John (Assistant Floor Manager), Brian Hodgson (Special Sounds), Delia Derbyshire (Theme Arrangement)

David Maloney (Production Assistant), John Friedlander (Visual Effects Assistant), Clive Halls (Vision Mixer), Ernest Skinner (Floor Assistant)

Tony Bowers (Grams Operator), Fred Wright (Technical Manager)

Broadcast

Filming Locations

  • Ealing Film Studios

  • Riverside Studio 1

Deaths

  • Monoid One [killed during fight between the Refusians]

  • Monoid Two [killed when his spacecraft exploded]

  • Monoid Three [killed during Monoid Four's Mutiny]

  • Maharis [shot and killed by Monoid Four]

  • Yendom [killed on Refusis II]

  • Humans [killed by Vicki's cold]

  • Monoids [killed by Vicki's cold]

Production Days

  • 10 days between Monday 24 January - Friday 11 March 1966

Production Errors

  1. A cue can be heard off-screen at the start of episode two

  2. After Monoid Two  kills a Guardian in episode three, the Guardian is still breathing

  3. Monoid Two trips up whilst walking down the stairs when the landing party arrives at the castle 

  4. The Doctor's advice to keep feverish patients warm, is a bit inaccurate 

Working Titles

  • The Space Ark

Verdict

The first of many Doctor Who serials to provide us with an end of the world narrative, whilst having nothing to do with the end of the world at all. The Ark in itself is actually two two-part stories which share the same plot, but at two different ends of a space journey. It’s a format that will never be revisited, thus making this rare occurrence all the more unique. 
The Ark is the last William Hartnell serial where the budget is well spent. The production team were blessed with a whole array of live animals for the opening episode including a real life elephant. The direction is very clever in a sense, where upon first viewing you would believe that stock footage was used for the elephant, but nope, director Michael Imison fools us by having The Doctor and his friends go up and stroke its trunk. It’s an ambitious few precious moments that even the director cited as his proudest achievement. No understatement. The sets, although minimal at the best of times, are some of the finest in the early years of the show, aided by some of the most imaginative camera movements seen in a while. But this becomes an undoing in a sense, and are exactly the reason Imison never worked on the show again. Over spending on Doctor Who is a big no-no. Imison is one of the best all-round directors to work on the show, who will sadly never been seen again.
The two two-parters are imaginative, but poorly structured at times. There’s a lot of talking, sitting around, expositional dialogue, and very convenient plot conveniences to keep everything moving. The common cold plot killing the human crew could have served as the main narrative for all four episodes, but what we get in ‘The Return’ and ‘The Bomb’ does make for some compulsive viewing. But again, the Monoids descend into a civil war, which is both uncalled for, and uninspired to say the least. Speaking of the Monoids, they are interesting, in that they have a great presence through voice, but lack dominance through body language. They are decent monsters, but The Ark will see their first and last appearance. It’s not hard to see why this is. The Ark is a great space adventure, and remains up there with commendable 60s Doctor Who. ***