3) THE EDGE OF DESTRUCTION

8 - 15 February 1964

Average Viewing Figure: 10.1M

Plot

The Tardis crew start to turn on one another after being knocked out due to an explosion inside The Tardis

Cast

William Hartnell (The Doctor), William Russell (Ian Chesterton), Jacqueline Hill (Barbara Wright), Carole Ann Ford (Susan Foreman)

Crew

David Whitaker (Writer), Ron Grainer (Title Music), Raymond Cusick (Designer), Mervyn Pinfield (Associate Producer)

Verity Lambert (Producer), Richard Martin, Frank Cox (Directors)

Uncredited Crew

Jeremy Hare (Assistant Floor Manager), Daphne Dare (Costumes), Ann Ferriggi (Make-Up), Tony Lightley (Production Assistant)

Brian Hodgson (Special Sounds), Jack Brummitt (Sound Supervisor), Delia Derbyshire (Theme Arrangement), Clive Doig (Vision Mixer)

Valerie Speyer (Producer's Secretary), Margaret Allen (Secretary), Mark Lewis (Technical Manager0

Broadcast

Filming Location

  • Lime Grove: Studio D

Deaths

  • [death fails to follow The Doctor this time]

Production Days

  • 2 Days on Friday 17 and Friday 24 January 1964

Production Errors

  1. During episode one, the shadows of two floor assistants can be seen against the door leading into the bedroom 

  2. When describing the birth of a solar system, a cough be heard coming from the studio

  3. At the beginning of the reprise, Susan is wearing ankle-socks, afterwards she is not

Working Titles

  • Inside the Spaceship

Verdict

A lack of action and change of setting make for a decent serial which lacks an overall antagonist and a direct narrative. For a two-parter, the story holds itself together for the most part, and there is clearly an effort to bring new ideas to science fiction television drama. The lighting design and quiet moments here and there bring a new direction to the show and plunge the Tardis, often seen as a safe haven for The Doctor, into mortal danger. But then, the irrationality happens.

There is an interesting idea here concerning the possibility that a strange unknown identity has penetrated the safety of the Tardis, and has possessed one of the series regulars, the only question is, who? We get a frightening image of Susan threatening Ian with a pair of scissors – is it her? The Doctor’s behaviour becomes excessively strange – is it him? The Tardis doors close when Ian approaches them, as if by some invisible command – is it him? Is it Barbara? Think of all of the possibilities to mislead the audiences, the dead ends, the red herrings, and finally the big reveal, and the exposure of the party responsible. ‘Deep sigh’. Alas, no. The Doctor deduces that every strange occurrence is the result of a broken circuit. Really? It would seem that David Whitaker wasn’t really sure where he wanted the story to go whilst writing it, so opted for a cheap get out of jail free card, with no regard for the silliness of the resolution. The Doctor seems very sceptical himself, in believing the illogicalness that is unravelling before him, and in turn so do the audience. The more one thinks about it, the less credible it becomes. The regulars are also a mixed bag, but Carole Ann Ford shines, and William Hartnell continues portraying The Doctor, as a heart-warming grandfatherly figure (Get used to Susan calling, “Oh Grandfather, Grandfather”). This claustrophobic tale makes great use of The Tardis sets and leaves viewers wanting to know more about the mysterious old ship. ***