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Colony in Space (TV story)

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Colony in Space
Colony in space main
Novelised as: Doctor Who and the Doomsday Weapon
Doctor: Third Doctor
Companion(s): Jo
Main enemy: The Master, Captain Dent
Main setting: Uxarieus, March 2472
Key crew
Writer: Malcolm Hulke
Director: Michael Briant
Producer: Barry Letts
Release details
Story number: 58
Number of episodes: 6
Season/series: Season 8
Premiere broadcast: 10 April - 15 May 1971
Premiere network: BBC1
Format: 6x25-minute episodes
Production code: HHH
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Doctor Who television stories
The Claws of Axos The Dæmons
Memorable moment
BBC Classic Doctor Who Rulers of the Galaxy - Colony in Space03:51

BBC Classic Doctor Who Rulers of the Galaxy - Colony in Space

Another memorable moment
BBC Classic Doctor Who The Master's Threat - Colony in Space01:23

BBC Classic Doctor Who The Master's Threat - Colony in Space

One more memorable moment
Working for the Man - Doctor Who - Colony in Space - BBC03:25

Working for the Man - Doctor Who - Colony in Space - BBC

Behind the scenes video
Exclusive First Look Casting the Primitives - Doctor Who - Colony in Space02:14

Exclusive First Look Casting the Primitives - Doctor Who - Colony in Space

More behind the scenes stuff
Exclusive First Look Colony in Space Vehicles - Doctor Who Colony in Space - BBC01:54

Exclusive First Look Colony in Space Vehicles - Doctor Who Colony in Space - BBC

Another behind the scenes moment
Exclusive First Look Colony In Space Models - Doctor Who - Colony in Space02:19

Exclusive First Look Colony In Space Models - Doctor Who - Colony in Space

Colony in Space was the fourth serial of season 8 of Doctor Who. It was narratively significant for being the first off-Earth story recorded in colour. It was the first time any companion had travelled in the TARDIS with the Doctor since The War Games and therefore, Jo Grant's first visit to another planet. It introduced the Interplanetary Mining Corporation (IMC), which would reappear in several stories in other media. The story also introduced a new model of the sonic screwdriver unique to the Third Doctor. He had mentioned having one in The Silurians, but this was its first physical appearance within a serial. Its debut here would preclude the more frequent, conventional use of the sonic screwdriver as the Doctor's preferred gadget.

The Virgin Missing Adventures novel The Menagerie would retcon a link between The Space Pirates and Colony through the IMC. Subtextually, the script was Malcolm Hulke's intentional science fictional comment on the struggle between European settlers and Native Americans.[1] Colony was the first Doctor Who directorial assignment for Michael Briant, who had been a production assistant, amongst other roles, during the Innes Lloyd and Peter Bryant producerships. Briant would later direct some of the most iconic serials of the 1970s, including The Robots of Death and The Sea Devils.

Synopsis Edit

The Time Lords discover that the Master has stolen their secret file on the Doomsday Weapon. They grant the Doctor a temporary reprieve from his exile on Earth to deal with the crisis. He and Jo arrive on the planet Uxarieus and become enmeshed in a struggle between an agrarian colony and a powerful mining corporation.

Plot Edit

Episode 1 Edit

The Time Lords find the Master has stolen their secret file on the Doomsday Weapon. They allow the Third Doctor temporary control of his TARDIS to deal with the situation. He is showing Jo around the TARDIS for the first time when it activates spontaneously and dematerialises. Jo is terrified at first, but the Doctor is excited at the prospect of being, temporarily at least, free from the bounds of imprisonment on Earth.

They arrive on the planet Uxarieus in the year 2472, where they find an agrarian colony from Earth, led by Ashe. Despite their uneasy truce with the mute Uxariean primitives, the colony struggles to survive; their crops are failing for no reason, the outer settlements are being attacked by a mysterious monster and they fear they will lose their charter in favour of the powerful and corrupt Interplanetary Mining Corporation (IMC). Some of the colonists wonder if they should return to Earth despite its horrible pollution, overpopulation, and repressive government.

A couple named Leeson is attacked and killed in their dome by the mysterious monster. When the colonists and the Doctor arrive at the dome, Ashe decides they will track the creatures in the morning.

Morale worsens when a dishevelled man named Norton arrives, claiming to be the last survivor of another Earth colony beyond the mountains. He claims the monsters wiped out most of his fellows and the Uxarieans picked off the rest. The next morning the Doctor and Ashe arrive at the dome to investigate. After Ashe leaves, the Doctor is attacked by a huge robot.

Episode 2 Edit

Corruption and Deception - Doctor Who - Colony in Space - BBC02:49

Corruption and Deception - Doctor Who - Colony in Space - BBC

The Doctor tries to convince Dent to leave.

An IMC foreman named Caldwell, holding a remote control, arrives and deactivates the robot. He apologises, claiming not to know the planet was inhabited. The Doctor accompanies Caldwell back to his ship. He meets the captain, Dent, who doesn’t seem to care that people have been killed, but only cares that Uxarieus is rich in duralinium, a much-needed mineral on Earth. He has Morgan accompany the Doctor back to the colony, but arranges for him to meet with "an accident."

Winton shows Norton around the colony, and watch Jim, the chief engineer, repair the power generator with the help of a Uxarien primitive. Norton, actually an IMC operative, later returns and kills them both and sabotages the generator. He accuses the primitive of killing Jim and attacking himself before he killed it in self-defence.

Caldwell complains to Dent about his ruthless methods, but Dent politely reminds him of the vast sum of money he stands to make on this mission if he stays quiet and obedient.

Morgan and the Doctor investigate the Leeson dome. The Doctor announces that he knows that the monster attacks are fakes. Another IMC robot appears, now bearing a set of lizard-like claws. As it bears down on the Doctor, Morgan pulls a gun and remarks, "Purely business, you understand, nothing personal."

Episode 3 Edit

When the robot attacks him, the Doctor lunges at Morgan, grabbing the remote control. Morgan runs off and the Doctor deactivates the robot.

Dent meets with Ashe and says he will send for an adjudicator to decide whose claim will be honoured. The Doctor returns and explains that the 'monster' is actually an IMC robot with a holographic device to create the image of an enormous lizard. Dent returns to his ship and is warned by Norton that Jo and Winton are on their way to investigate his ship. When they arrive, they are captured.

The Doctor fixes the colony’s power supply and goes to the IMC ship to rescue Jo. Dent explains that Jo and Winton are attached to a bomb.

They manage to free themselves and escape with the assistance of Caldwell, who persuades the pursuing guards that he killed them. Caldwell helps Winton get back to the colony and advises the colonists to leave because it’s too dangerous to stay.

Break-in! - Doctor Who - Colony in Space - BBC03:14

Break-in! - Doctor Who - Colony in Space - BBC

The Doctor and Winton break in.

When Winton returns, the colonists want to attack the IMC ship. The Doctor urges them not to attack and goes to meet Caldwell. He tries to convince Caldwell to free Jo and tells Caldwell about the colonists’ attack plans. Caldwell thinks the colonists would be slaughtered if they attack.

Primitives attack the ship and take Jo away. The colonists reach the ship, with the Doctor and Winton sneaking in to find Jo. They succeed in taking the IMC guards prisoner. The Doctor learns Jo has been taken by the primitives to their underground city.

Episode 4 Edit

The Doctor plans to go to the Uxarieans to get Jo back. Winton, on the IMC ship, finds evidence that IMC are behind the monster attacks. The Adjudicator’s ship arrives and he wants both sides to prepare for him. Morgan overpowers Winton and releases the rest of the IMC guards.

Jo is taken to a room in the Uxarieans’ city that is filled with sophisticated equipment. The Doctor arrives at the Uxarieans’ city and offers them food if they will release Jo. They bring him into the city and lock him in with Jo. He speculates that there is more than one race of Uxarieans on the planet.

Trapped Underground - Doctor Who - Colony in Space - BBC03:58

Trapped Underground - Doctor Who - Colony in Space - BBC

The Doctor and Jo attempt to escape, and meet the Guardian.

The Doctor and Jo learn they are to be sacrificed, and briefly escape from the nearly blind guards, but are recaptured. The Guardian, overseer of the city and the last of the ancient Uxarieans, meets with them and lets them go.

The Adjudicator has nearly finished his hearing when the Doctor and Jo arrive. They are shocked to discover that he is actually the Master. He meets with Jo and the Doctor privately, admitting he has forged credentials but they, on the other hand, have none. He returns to the hearing and rules in favour of IMC. Winton, against Ashe's orders, wants to raid the IMC ship. He organises his ambush but Norton warns the IMC men.

Ashe talks with the Adjudicator, who tells him an appeal will fail unless the planet has some historical value. Ashe tells him of the primitives and their city.

The IMC men arrive at the colony and the fighting begins. Caldwell sneaks away, refusing to fight. The Doctor and Jo try to stop the fighting but are threatened at gunpoint by the Master, who intends to make them the victim of "stray bullets."

Episode 5 Edit

The Master hides his weapon when Ashe appears, trying to stop the fighting. The colonists gain the upper hand over the IMC men. They lock the IMC men up in their ship and force them to leave the planet.

The Doctor, seeing the Master’s interest in the Uxariean city, tells Ashe that he is not the real Adjudicator, but the Master then tells Ashe that the Doctor has no credentials. The Doctor decides to inspect the Adjudicator’s spaceship, which is the Master’s TARDIS. They find the real Adjudicator’s credentials and information on the planet, but as they leave the TARDIS they trip an alarm, alerting the Master, who releases a sleeping gas in the TARDIS that overpowers them.

Meanwhile, Dent has also learned that the Master is not the real Adjudicator. The Master gets a map of the city from Ashe, but learns that only the Doctor has been inside the city and returned. The Master revives the Doctor and uses Jo as a hostage so the Doctor will take him to the city.

The IMC ship, which has remained in orbit, lands, and the guards overpower Winton’s men. Another gunfight breaks out, and ultimately the colonists surrender. Dent holds a trial and finds them guilty. Instead of execution, he orders the colonists to depart in their decrepit spaceship, aware that it likely wouldn’t survive blastoff.

The Doctor and the Master arrive at the Uxariean city but don’t know how to open the door. Caldwell and Morgan try to search the Adjudicator’s ship, and find the key. When they go inside, they try to rescue Jo. This triggers an alarm, and the Master is ready to kill Jo.

Episode 6 Edit

The Doctor kicks the Master’s control device away, but they are both captured by the primitives and taken into the city. They are brought to the Guardian's chamber, where the Master explains what he learned from the Time Lord files. The controls to the Doomsday Weapon, which can cause any star in the Universe to go supernova, are in the Guardian's chamber. With this weapon, the Master would have absolute power over the Universe, and offers the Doctor a partnership. The Doctor, appalled, declines - he'd rather see the Universe than rule it. As the Master prepares to kill the Doctor, the Guardian once again appears.

Dent and his men make sure the colonists have boarded their ship. Caldwell has rescued Jo, but they both can only watch in horror as the colonists' ship explodes shortly after takeoff. They attempt to rescue the Doctor in the underground city.

The Doctor successfully convinces the Guardian that the Doomsday Weapon is responsible for the decline and fall of the Uxariean civilisation. The Guardian allows the Doctor and Master to leave and destroys himself, the Weapon, and the city. The Master escapes in his TARDIS, but the Doctor and Jo are overjoyed to learn that the colonists are safe; they escaped shortly before takeoff except for Ashe, who sacrificed himself to launch the ship. The colonists overpower Dent and his henchmen. With sufficient evidence of their illegal activity, thanks to Caldwell, they are confident the real Adjudicator will rule in their favour.

The radiation from the Doomsday Weapon was the cause of their crop failures, and the Doctor assures the colonists that their future is now secure. The TARDIS returns the Doctor and Jo to UNIT seconds after they left.

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

References Edit

The Doctor Edit

  • The Doctor claims to be an expert in agriculture during John Robert Ashe's plea to the colonists in part one.

The Master Edit

Organisations Edit

  • IMC has a mining contract for Uxarieus.

Planets Edit

  • The Doctor recognises the planet Uxarieus.
  • Earth, at this time, is home to a hundred billion people. It is polluted and has a repressive government.
  • In a discussion between the Doctor and the Master, it is revealed that the Earth's sun will explode about ten billion years from the time of this story.

Species Edit

  • The Uxarieans have mutated into three varieties, all psychic, the highest of which can communicate and teleport small items.


Technology Edit

Vehicles Edit

  • Caldwell smuggles Jo away from IMC in a space buggy. The Uxarieans destroy a second buggy.

Weapons Edit

Story notes Edit

  • The story had the working title The Colony.
  • Director Michael Briant voiced the commentary accompanying a propaganda film watched by the Doctor on the IMC spaceship in episode two. This part was originally intended for Pat Gorman – who was credited on episodes one and two as 'Primitive and Voice'.
  • The Radio Times programme listing for episode one was accompanied by a continuation of the comic strip adaptation (see Comic Strip Adaptation below) in the form of three additional black and white illustrations not included in the strip itself: the first showed the Doctor looking over a rise, with Jo in the background asking "What is it?"; the second depicted the colonists' dome and spaceship; and the third was of the shadow of a mysterious humanoid figure behind the Doctor and Jo. The accompanying caption read "A new adventure for Dr. Who: 6.10".
  • Briant had intended that the role of Morgan be played by Susan Jameson. However, he was overruled by Head of Drama Serials Ronnie Marsh, who believed that a woman in that role wouldn't be appropriate for a family audience, (REF: The Third Doctor Handbook) as it might impart an unintended sexuality to some scenes. Because she was already signed to a contract when Marsh got involved, she was still paid her full salary.[1]
  • This story is notorious for low-calibre special effects due to the budget constraints on the Pertwee Era. For example, one of the roundel-covered walls on the Doctor's TARDIS is merely a printout with none of the actual roundels hollowed into the wall- though with the Doctor continually disassembling the TARDIS during this time of exile, it could simply be a temporary wall fixture that can be easily moved while he conducts repair work. Another instance is the failure of the director to add the dematerilisation effect for the TARDIS, making it appear to simply pop in and out of shots.
  • Right after the lights to the colony go out following Norton's attack on Jim Holden and a primitive, Mary Ashe says to her father, "Don't worry, Jim'll fix it!" By coincidence, this line unintentionally name drops the title the BBC show Jim'll Fix It, which did not premiere until 1975. However, it later featured Tom Baker and Peter Cushing, who played the Fourth Doctor and Dr. Who respectively, and also devised the non-canon story A Fix with Sontarans.

Ratings Edit

  • Episode one - 7.6 million viewers
  • Episode two - 8.5 million viewers
  • Episode three - 9.5 million viewers
  • Episode four - 8.1 million viewers
  • Episode five - 8.8 million viewers
  • Episode six - 8.7 million viewers

Myths Edit

  • The main action of this story takes place on the planet Exarius. (The name given to the planet in Malcolm Hulke's script for Episode One is "Uxarieus".)

Filming locations Edit

Production errors Edit

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • In episode two, the monitor screen on board the IMC spaceship turns bright blue in every close up.
  • In episode one, the Doctor and Jo exit the TARDIS, leaving the door open; soon after it is closed without explanation.
  • In episode three, as Winton, while pursued by IMC guards, falls at Caldwell's feet, seagulls can be heard.
  • In the last scene of episode six, after the Brigadier has repeated his "Come back at once" line, the shadow of a crew member can be seen projected across his front.
  • In episode four, when the diminutive leader of the Primitives, the Guardian, exits from the wall, its puppeteer, particularly his hand, is visible.
  • Briant admits in the commentary track for the DVD release and in the accompanying documentary IMC Needs You! that the reason the TARDIS pops in and out of sight in episodes one and six instead of fading out is that he just didn't know it was supposed to.
  • In the first episode, when The Doctor and Jo are in the TARDIS, Jo is wearing a pink shirt with black stripes. Once they left the TARDIS after landing on the planet, however, she is wearing a grey shirt with black stripes. When held hostage, she is wearing the pink shirt again.

Continuity Edit

  • This is the first time since TV: The War Games that the TARDIS travels to another planet.
  • From the Brigadier's perspective, the Doctor and Jo were only away from UNIT headquarters for seconds. It is thus the only televised example of Rose Tyler's admonition to her mother in TV: World War Three that the TARDIS is "a time machine. I could go travelling around suns and planets and all the way out to the end of the universe, and by the time I get back, ten seconds would've passed. Just ten seconds."
  • The TARDIS was previously carried away during the Doctor's absence in TV: The Web Planet.
  • This story gives us a glimpse of Time Lords on Gallifrey. Time Lords are again depicted as wearing black and white robes, as they were in TV: The War Games.
  • The Doctor and Jo gain entry to the Master's TARDIS using the key the Doctor obtained in TV: Terror of the Autons. However, the Doctor appears not to have the key at the conclusion of this story. He probably never retrieved it from Morgan after he dropped it on the ground.
  • This is the first time Jo Grant sees the interior of the Doctor's TARDIS. Much of the first half of episode one revolves around Jo's adjustment to her new status as a time/space traveller. Though having been the Doctor's companion for some time, she reveals that she never really believed that the Doctor could travel in time and space until this story. Thus, this story has many features of the traditional "first story" for a new companion.
  • The Adjudicators are expanded upon in PROSE: Lucifer Rising and Original Sin.
  • The Doctor himself posed as an earth magistrate, the Examiner, on the planet Vulcan in The Power of the Daleks.

Comic strip adaptation Edit

  • The opening scenes of episode one were adapted as a three-page comic strip — with the first two pages in colour, and the third in black and white — illustrated by Frank Bellamy in Radio Times (cover dated: 10-16 April 1971), which accompanied a short article by Russell Miller entitled Dr. Who zooms off into time again. The opening narrative panel for the strip referred to the previous adventure, The Claws of Axos, by its working title Vampire from Space and read "In his last adventure, 'Vampire from Space', Dr. Who used his space/time machine the Tardis to save Earth from the alien parasite creature Axos by forcing it into a time-loop. But Dr. Who is afraid that the Master, who sent Axos to destroy Earth, has escaped and will fight again... now read on". The closing narrative panel read "Who are these strange humanoid creature [i.e. the Primitives]? Is it their machine whose tracks Dr. Who has discovered — or are otyher forms of intelligent life on this planet? And why have the Time Lords sent the Doctor here? Don't miss the first thrilling episode of his new adventure: Saturday 6.10 BBC1 Colour".

Home video and audio releases Edit

VHS releases Edit

This story was released as Doctor Who: Colony in Space.


  • UK November 2001 (as part of the Master box set which also contains The Time Monster)
  • Australia December 2001 (as part of the Master box set which also contains The Time Monster)
  • US January 2003 (the only place it is available separately)

DVD Release Edit

The commentary was recorded in January 2011, and the DVD was released on the 24th of October, 2011.

External links Edit

Footnotes Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Shannon Sullivan on Colony in Space
  2. Credited as Primitive and Voice on Episodes One and Two, but did not provide Voice. Billed only as Primitive in Radio Times.

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