53) THE AMBASSADORS OF DEATH

21 March - 2 May 1970

Average Viewing Figure: 7.3M

Plot

The Doctor must go into space without The Tardis if he is to solve the mystery behind Mars Probe 7

Cast

Jon Pertwee (The Doctor), Caroline John (Liz Shaw), Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart), Ronald Allen (Ralph Cornish)

Robert Cawdron (Taltalian), John Abineri (General Carrington), William Dysart (Reegan), Cyril Shaps (Lennox)

Dallas Cavell (Quinlan), Gordon Sterne (Heldorf), Ric Felgate (Van Lyden), Michael Wisher (John Wakefield)

Cheryl Molineaux (Miss Rutherford)Ray Armstrong (Grey), Robert Robertson (Collinson), Bernard Martin, Joanna Ross,

Carl Conway (Control Room Assistants), Juan Moreno (Dobson), James Haswell (Corporal Champion), Derek Ware (UNIT Sergeant)

Max Faulkner (UNIT Soldier), John Lord (Masters), Ric Felgate, Steve Peters, Neville Simons (Astronauts), Tony Harwood (Flynn)

Geoffrey Beevers (Private Johnson), John Levene (Sergeant Benton), James Clayton (Private Parker), Roy Scammell (Technician)

Peter Noel Cook (Alien Space Captain), Peter Halliday (Alien Voices), Steve Peters (Lefee), Neville Simons (Michaels)

Uncredited Cast

Max Diamond, Les Clark (Military Policemen), Steve Smart, Geoffrey Brighty, Rod Peers, Clive Rogers, Keith Simons, Tom Laird

Roger Minnis, Eric Kent, Stuart Myers, Crawford Lyall, Doug Roe, Roy Brent, Jo Santos, David Aldridge, Max Faulkner

Keith Goodman, Mike Stevens, Brian Justice, Dixie Dean, Steve Kelly, Derek Chafer, Ron Gregory, David Pixie, Terry Walsh

Derek Ware (UNIT Soldiers), Billy Horrigan, Alan Chuntz, Ray Emmins, Vernon Preston, Les Shannon, Garth Watkins (Collinson's Men)

Dinny Powell, Gordon Stothard, Tony Bradburne, Paul Warren (Reegan's Heavies)

Dinny Powell, Derek Martin, Barry Kennington, Charles Pickless, Mike Horsburgh (Heavies) 

Crew

David Whitaker (Writer), Ron Grainer (Title Music), Dudley Simpson (Incidental Music), AA Englander, Tony Leggo (Film Cameramen)

Don Godden, Chris Wimble (Film Editors), HAVOC (Action), Peter Day, Ian Scoones (Visual Effects), Christine Rawlins (Costumes)

Marion Richards (Make-Up), Geoff Shaw, Dave Sydenham, Ralph Walton (Studio Lighting), Gordon Mackie (Sound)

Brian Hodgson (Special Sound), Terrance Dicks (Script Editor), David Myerscough-Jones (Designer), Barry Letts (Producer)

Michael Ferguson (Director)

Uncredited Cast

Margot Hayhoe (Assistant Floor Manager), Trevor Ray, Malcolm Hulke (Writers), Brian Hiles (Studio Sound), Delia Derbyshire (Title Music)

Andy Stacey, Tony Philpott (Grams Operators), Roger Twyman, Nigel Walters (Film Camera Assistants), Bernard Fox (Technical Manager)

Teresa Wright (Location Make-Up), Jeff Higgs, Ron Bowman (Videotape Editors), Dick Coles (Design Assistant)

Sandra Brenholz (Production Secretary), Kate Nemet, Pauline Silcock (Director's Assistants), Nicholas John (Production Assistant)

Doug Mawson (Sound Recordist), Mervin Broadway (Assistant Sound Recordist), Alan Gomery, A.J. Mitchell (Inlay Operators)

Barbara Buchanan (Artists Booker), John Barclay (Vision Mixer), John Turner (Floor Assistant), Rhys Jones (Visual Effects Assistant)

Arthur Funge (Jon Pertwee's Dresser), Jean Holder (Caroline John's Dresser)

Broadcast

Filming Locations

  • Television Centre: Studio 3

  • Wycombe RDC Sewage Works, Little Marlow, Bucks

  • Spade Oak Quarries, Bucks

  • Southall Gas Works, Southall, Middx

  • White Street, Southall, Middx

  • TCC Condensers, Ealing

  • Wycombe Air Park, High Wycombe, Bucks

  • Gossmore Lane, Marlow, Bucks

  • Marlow Weir, Marlow, Bucks

  • Claycart Bottom, nr Farnborough, Hants

  • Puckeridge Hill Road Bridge, Aldershot

  • Royal Engineers Driving Circuit, Franborough, Hants

  • Beacon Hill, Ewshot, Hants

  • Blue Circle Cement Works, Northfleet, Kent

  • Television Centre: Studio 4

  • Television Centre: Studio 1

Deaths

  • Taltalian [killed after a bomb explodes]

  • Quinlan [murdered by one of the Alien Astronauts]

  • Lennox [killed by a radioactive isotope]

  • Heldorf [shot and killed under Reegan's orders]

    • Unit Soldier [apparently killed by one of the Alien Astronauts]

  • Technician [knocked off a gantry by Reegan]

  • UNIT Soldier [killed by one of the Alien Astronauts]

  • Heavies [two are killed by radiation from the Alien Astronauts]

  • UNIT Soldiers [killed during a gun-fight]

  • Heavies [killed during a gun-fight]

Production Days

  • 18 Days between Saturday 3 January - Friday 27 March 1970

Production Errors

  1. During a close-up shot on the Brigadier, Caroline John can be seen standing in the background waiting for her cue to walk on set.  

  2. The climax of episode one involves Taltalian pulling out a gun on The Doctor and Liz, and is also wearing glasses. However at the reprise of episode two, Taltalian's glasses are nowhere to be seen and he doesn't pull his gun out at all. He has it in his hands from the beginning of the scene

  3. The office walls of Quinlan's office shake about at one point when the Brigadier attempts to open the door 

  4. The Doctor notably has a plaster after surviving the explosion which killed Taltalian. However by episode five the plaster has disappeared and no one seem to notice

  5. Taltalian's accent switches from French and British between studio and location work 

  6. The nose of Recovery 7 changes colour between prop and model shots

  7. During four, Max Faulkner plays a UNIT Soldier who dies (his character was scripted as such). However during episode six, he is alive and well, with no explanation of his miraculous recovery

  8. Despite being held prisoner, and the narrative taking place over a short period, Liz's tights change colour from episode to episode, did she have a few pairs on her possession when captured?​​

Working Titles

  • The Carriers of Death

Verdict

Visually impressive to both the ears and mind but then again the slick looking aesthetic feel of the episodes can often be its downfall. The show attempts to do a conspiracy-theory, action-packed, militaristic narrative where the story tends to drag a bit and the writing can seem a little clucky. There is however a lot of thought and time put into the production with multiple twists and turns to keep viewers guessing what will happen next and a large cast of characters to keep things fresh. Director Michael Ferguson uses various jump-cuts to keep the fast-paced nature of the story on its toes and cuts out any unnecessary filler. The Astronauts are admirable monsters helped along by Simpsons’ score and cinematography to provide some eerie scenes. The story again tries to have a mystery side of the story but the ‘surprise’ villain is not that surprising at all. The story again uses greedy powerful villains who are only appear as and when the story calls for a moment to regenerate itself. Watched in a one-sitting can be very draining but watched episode by episode does add up to very compelling stuff. ****​