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Frontier in Space (TV story)

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RealWorld
Frontier in Space
Frontierinspace title
Novelised as: Doctor Who and the Space War
Doctor: Third Doctor
Companion(s): Jo
Main enemy: The Master, Ogrons, Daleks
Main setting: Earth, The Moon, Draconia and the Ogron planet, 2540
Key crew
Writer: Malcolm Hulke
Director: Paul Bernard
Producer: Barry Letts
Release details
Story number: 67
Number of episodes: 6
Season/series: Season 10
Premiere broadcast: 24 February - 31 March 1973
Premiere network: BBC1
Format: 6x25-minute episodes
Production code: QQQ
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Memorable moment
Never use a lie detector on the Doctor - Doctor Who - Frontier in Space - BBC01:56

Never use a lie detector on the Doctor - Doctor Who - Frontier in Space - BBC

Frontier in Space was the third story in season ten of Doctor Who. It saw the introduction of the Draconians and the reappearance of the Master. It was loosely connected with the following serial, Planet of the Daleks, and is significant for showing an alliance between the Master and the Daleks.

It is further notable as the final appearance of Roger Delgado in Doctor Who before his death. Later in June of 1973, Delgado died in a car accident when the chauffeur-driven vehicle ran off the road and fell into a ravine, during the on-location shoot for the film Bell of Tibet, cancelled following his and two film technician's demises. His character was meant to have a final encounter with the Doctor in the serial The Final Game, which was scrapped, prompting writers to bring the Master back in a decaying form several years later as the main villian of The Deadly Assassin.

Synopsis Edit

The Doctor and Jo are caught in the escalating tension between planets Earth and Draconia, and discover that the Master is secretly working to provoke the two into all-out war.

Plot Edit

Episode one Edit

As the Earth cargo ship C982 moves through hyperspace, it narrowly avoids a collision with the TARDIS, which dematerialises out of the way and rematerialises in the ship's hold. The Third Doctor determines that they are in the 26th century. Jo sees a ship come alongside and hears a strange, high-pitched buzz. The ship shimmers, turning into a Draconian Galaxy-class battlecruiser. The two pilots, Stewart and Hardy, send out a distress signal and prepare for battle. When Hardy goes to get weapons, he meets the Doctor, but, thanks to the sound emitted by the enemy ship, he sees the Doctor and Jo as Draconians whilst Jo sees Hardy as a Drashig. Hardy escorts them at gunpoint as the Draconian captain orders C982 to surrender its cargo or be destroyed.

On Earth, the President and the Draconian ambassador (who is also the Emperor's son) accuse each other of attacking their ships and violating the frontier between the two empires established by treaty. General Williams reports to the President that a mission to rescue C982 is being prepared. Williams's hostility to the Draconians is well known — it was his actions that started the last war between the two — and the Prince believes Williams wants war again, a war, the Prince warns the President, that will see Earth destroyed. News of the attack spreads and anti-Draconian riots break out on Earth. The opposition calls for the government to take action.

Prepare for boarding

The Ogrons board.

Locked up in C982's hold, the Doctor deduces that the strange sound was some kind of sonic hypnosis device that caused Hardy and Jo to see what they most feared. As the boarding party burns through the airlocks, Hardy gets the Doctor and Jo to use as hostages, but when the airlock door bursts open, the boarders are not Draconians, but Ogrons. The Ogrons stun the two pilots and the Doctor. They tie up Jo, and take the ship's cargo and the TARDIS as they leave. When the Doctor revives and releases Jo, she tells him what the Ogrons did, and wonders if they are working for the Daleks, as they were when she first met them. The Doctor points out that the Ogrons are mercenaries. When the rescue party arrives, Hardy and Stewart have stopped hallucinating, but with their memories garbled, accuse the Doctor and Jo of being Draconian traitors...

Episode two Edit

The two travellers get locked up again as C982 heads back to Earth. General Williams believes the Doctor and Jo are human agents planted by the Draconians to sabotage any war effort by Earth. He brings the two travellers to confront the Draconian Prince, but the Doctor denies working for the Draconians. He tries to convince the President that a third party is trying to provoke the two empires into war. However, as the Doctor can provide no reason why someone would want to, Williams orders him and Jo be taken away and vows he will get the truth out of them.

Draconains attack!

The Draconians attack.

In the Draconian embassy, the Prince arranges to help Jo and the Doctor "escape" so they can be questioned. When the two are escorted from their cell to be brought to the President, a Draconian squad attacks, taking the Doctor prisoner. Jo tries to get more guards to help, but she is arrested instead. The Draconians question the Doctor, believing that he is involved in a plot with Williams to provoke a new war. The Doctor manages to escape, but is recaptured in the compound by Earth troops. Once he is back in the cell with Jo, she hears the same sound as on C982. Outside, the Ogrons raid the prison, looking like Draconians thanks to the hypnosound. They break into the Doctor's cell and order him to go with them....

Episode three Edit

Penal Colony

The Doctor on the Moon's penal colony.

The second escape goes no better than the first: the Doctor is recaptured again and the Ogrons disappear. This second "rescue attempt" cements Williams' suspicions. He demands the president grant him the authority to strike first against the Draconians. The president agrees to break off diplomatic relations but will go no further without conclusive proof.

Williams puts the Doctor under a mind probe. It indicates the Doctor is telling the truth. Williams refuses to believe it and orders increased power, but the probe overloads. The president orders the Doctor sent to the Lunar Penal Colony, where political prisoners are exiled for life, while Jo remains on Earth. Williams and the president receive records from the Dominion government of Sirius IV, a colony planet that with some autonomy. The records "prove" the Doctor and Jo are citizens of Sirius IV and career criminals. A commissioner from the Dominion has arrived to claim jurisdiction — the Doctor's old enemy, the Master.

On the Moon, the Doctor meets Professor Dale of the Peace Party, who shows him around. The Doctor tries to gain Dale's trust and include him in his plans for escape. On Earth, Jo recognises the Master immediately, and realises he was behind the Ogron attacks. The Master discovered the Doctor and Jo's presence when the Ogrons brought him the TARDIS. Given the unsavoury choice of going with the Master or staying in her cell, Jo agrees to go with him to fetch the Doctor.

Dale believes the Doctor. The peace with the Draconians lasted many years, but suddenly devolved into senseless acts of hostility. The Doctor's fantastic story explains everything. Dale outlines the escape plan: Cross, one of the overseers, will leave two spacesuits near an airlock. They will cross the lunar surface and steal a spaceship. Dale offers to take the Doctor back to Earth where he can tell his story to Dale's contacts in the press and government. However, once inside the airlock, they find that the suits' oxygen tanks are empty. The Doctor tries to open the door, but it is locked. He and Dale realise Cross has tricked them, and is pumping out the room's air...

Episode four Edit

Clambering

The Doctor climbs outside the prison ship.

At the last moment, the Master arrives and restores the room's atmosphere. He obtains custody of the Doctor, and gets the Doctor to come along quietly by revealing that he has Jo. Reunited with Jo in a cell in the Master's ship, the Doctor wonders why he is still alive. The Master explains that his employers are very interested in the Doctor. The Master sets the automatic controls for the Ogron homeworld.

Pretending to tell Jo stories of his life, the Doctor uses a hidden steel wire to file through the cell's hinges. Jo blocks the security camera and natters, pretending to continue the conversation, while the Doctor sneaks out. Donning a spacesuit, he makes his way across the hull and into the flight deck. The Master puts Jo in an airlock, threatening to eject her into space if the Doctor does not surrender. The Doctor takes him by surprise. As the two face off, they do not see a Draconian battlecruiser approaching. Draconians enter the airlock where Jo is located.

The Draconian captain tells them all diplomatic relations with Earth have been severed. Violating Draconian space is punishable by death. The Doctor says he has vital evidence for the Emperor and asks to speak to him. The captain locks up all three of them to take back to Draconia. However, the Master secretly activates a device whose signal is picked up by the Ogrons.

Episode five Edit

In poor company

The Master gives the order to fire.

As the ship arrives on Draconia, the prince is speaking with his father, asking for permission to strike first at Earth. The emperor, like the president, is hesitant. He knows such a war could bring down both empires.

The Doctor, Jo and the Master are presented to the emperor and the Doctor gives the ritual greeting, "My life at your command." The prince is incensed that the Doctor has the temerity to address the emperor like a Draconian noble, but the Doctor says that he is a noble of Draconia — the title was given him by the 15th emperor, five centuries before, when he aided Draconia against a plague from outer space. The Doctor accuses the Master of trying to start a war between Earth and Draconia using Ogrons and the hypnosound device. As the emperor considers this, a courtier announces that an Earth spaceship has arrived. Jo hears the sound of the sonic device, and realises it is the Ogrons. They burst in, guns blazing, and retreat with the Master, leaving several dead Draconians in their wake. One Ogron has been knocked out by the Doctor. As the effects of the hypnosound fade, the emperor sees the "Earthman" before him transform into its true form. He realises the Doctor is speaking the truth.

The emperor decides the Ogron must be shown to the Earth authorities, but a Draconian ship would be shot down. The prince, the Doctor and Jo will take the Master's police ship. As they cross the frontier into Earth space, they spot a ship following them. By the time they identify it as the Ogron ship, it has already launched its missiles. As the Doctor takes evasive action, the captive Ogron breaks out of its cell, overpowering its Draconian guard. It enters the flight deck and in the struggle cuts the ship's speed. The prince and the Doctor subdue the Ogron, but the Master's ship catches up and a party boards the ship. A firefight breaks out on the flight deck, just as an Earth battlecruiser shows up. The Master recalls the boarding party, who rescue the Ogron prisoner and take Jo captive. Their ship zips away. The Earth battlecruiser places the Doctor's ship under arrest.

Without the Ogron, the president is not convinced. The Doctor suggests a trip to the Ogron homeworld, but Williams thinks it a Draconian trick to divide Earth's forces. The prince expects this response from Williams — after all, he started the first war. Williams protests, but the prince reveals what is in the Draconian court records. Twenty years before, the Draconians sent a battlecruiser on a diplomatic mission. When the Draconian ship did not answer hails, Williams gave the order to attack. The battlecruiser was unarmed, its missile banks empty, and the reason it did not answer was because its communications systems were destroyed in the same neutron storm that had damaged Williams's ship. Williams is shaken by the prince's revelation and apologises for the wrong he had done to the Draconians. Williams now intends to lead the expedition to the Ogron planet himself.

The Master brings Jo to a bunker on the Ogron homeworld, where he shows her the TARDIS. He plans to use Jo and it as bait for the Doctor. He tries to hypnotise Jo, first with his own powers and then with the hypnosound.

Episode six Edit

Jo's mind is strong enough to resist. The Master orders her taken away. An Ogron reports that one of their ships found and attacked two Earth cargo ships, destroying one. The Master is delighted. This means that war is not far off, and indeed, cries for war from Earth are at a fever pitch.

Williams prepares his personal scout ship. The Doctor and the prince accompany him as it heads at top speed to the coordinates the Doctor got from the Master's ship. Jo digs her way into the next unlocked cell and sneaks further into the bunker as Williams's ship enters orbit, and they avert near destruction from a Draconian cruiser. She pockets the hypnosound, then finds a pad with the coordinates of the planet and bunker. She transmits a distress signal with the information. The Master shows up, revealing that the signal was muted, and only the Doctor could read it. His ship has been detected in orbit. When he comes, the trap will be sprung.

Annual meeting

The Daleks order the Doctor's extermination.

Williams's party lands nearby, not knowing the Ogrons have set up an ambush. The Ogrons open fire on them, but are frightened away by an orange, slug-like lizard they call the Eater. The Master is furious. He warns them their masters are coming. This terrifies them more than the monster. Williams's group hears the roar of a landing spaceship. When they look at the ridge, they see the Master... accompanied by several Daleks, who exterminate Williams' men before they can fire. The Daleks want to exterminate the Doctor immediately, but the Master proposes that the Doctor be placed in his hands, to be allowed to see the galaxy and Earth in ruins before they kill him. The Gold Dalek agrees, and leaves for its ship, to prepare the Dalek army on another planet.

The Doctor explains the Daleks want a war between Earth and Draconia so both empires will destroy each other and the Daleks can pick up the pieces. The Doctor modifies the stolen hypnosound, making the Ogron guard see him as the Gold Dalek. In fear, it unlocks the cell gate. The Doctor tells Williams and the prince to get the word to their respective governments and mount a joint expedition against the base on the Ogron planet. The Doctor and Jo find their way to the TARDIS, but are surrounded by the Ogrons and the Master, who trains a blaster on the Doctor. The Doctor activates the hypnosound, panicking the Ogrons. One knocks the Master's arm, making him fire, the shot grazing the Doctor's head. The Master and the Ogrons scatter. The Doctor, barely conscious, has Jo help him into the TARDIS. He staggers to the console, dematerialises the ship, then presses his palms to the telepathic circuits, sending a message to the Time Lords. The TARDIS spins away into space...

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

References Edit

The Doctor Edit

  • The Doctor once served as a delegate at the Third Intergalactic Peace Conference, though en route he was waylaid by Medusoids who used a mind probe on him and discovered that he was on his way to meet a giant rabbit, a pink elephant and a purple horse with yellow spots, all delegates at the Conference. The Medusoids released the Doctor. Since the mind probe couldn't believe his story, it broke down, and eventually "they ran out of mind probes."
  • Circa the year 2040, the Doctor helped the Draconians with a space plague, so they receive him as an honoured guest.
  • He tells Jo of his trial by the Time Lords, his forced regeneration and his exile to Earth, though perhaps mainly as a way to conceal that he is cutting his way out of an iron cell.
  • The Master says that the Doctor "does not fear death".

The Doctor's items Edit

  • The Doctor's sonic screwdriver can't undo bolts, unless the polarity of the power source is reversed, making it into an electromagnet.

Literature Edit

The Master Edit

  • The Master privately characterises the Daleks, his ostensible allies, as "stupid tin boxes".

Species Edit

  • The Doctor has met the Draconians before.
  • There are brief appearances of a Drashig, a Sea Devil and a Mutt when the Master uses his fear machine on Jo.

United Nations Intelligence Taskforce Edit

  • Jo mentions again the uncle that got her a job at UNIT, discussing the drudgery and lack of romance involved in her job. Friends and family think she goes on glamorous secret agent missions. She compares the Brigadier, unfavourably, to James Bond. Like the Doctor, she gives a monologue in order to cover the Doctor's escape.

Story notes Edit

  • This story had the working title Frontiers in Space.
  • The original outline had the Cybermen working with the Master but they were swapped for the Ogrons before scripting started.[4]
  • An unfortunate error was made at the time of production, whereby one of the on-screen cast credit slides for episode one was inadvertently substituted for one of those from episode two. This resulted in Lawrence Davidson (Draconian First Secretary) and Timothy Craven (Cell Guard) not being credited on-screen for episode two, though they were credited in Radio Times, and Louis Mahoney (Newscaster) and Roy Pattison (Draconian Space Pilot) being repeated — even though their characters appeared only in episode one.
  • Assistant floor manager John Bradburn plays the Ogron eater monster seen on the Ogrons' planet.
  • During editing, the first scene of episode three, following the reprise, was drastically cut down for timing reasons: a key background scene was eliminated and the character of Sheila, assistant to the President of Earth, was reduced to merely that of a walk-on who massaged the president whilst she talked to her secretary. In the complete version of the scene, Sheila had discussed the origins of the tensions between Earth and Draconia with the President, during which it was revealed that the young General Williams had destroyed a Draconian battle-cruiser – not realising that it was unarmed, and merely being used to transport the Draconian envoy – in a blast from his own spacecraft's exhaust rockets. Luan Peters (Sheila) retained an on-screen credit despite no longer having any lines.
  • During the scene in the President of Earth's office in episode six, where the Doctor, the President and the Draconian prince are seen watching on a large wall-mounted video screen a news film report of Congressman Brook at a rally calling for war with Draconia, Bill Mitchell was originally to have featured as a newscaster, announcing the news of the rally and introducing the film report. Unfortunately, either due to the episode over-running or a decision by Paul Bernard to use only the footage of Congressman Brook, his appearance was edited out of the finished programme. This decision would appear to have been made at a late stage, which explains why Mitchell is still credited both on-screen and in Radio Times.
  • John Scott Martin is credited as 'Chief Dalek' in Radio Times, while Cy Town and Murphy Grumbar are credited on-screen but not in Radio Times.
  • Episode six had to be revised after it was delivered by director Paul Bernard. Barry Letts greatly disliked the way the Ogron eater had been realised by the production team, and tried to limit its inclusion in the serial. Unfortunately, it was centre stage in the final moments of episode six, and the only way to get rid of it was to film a corrective pick-up on the first day of studio recording for Planet of the Daleks. This meant that, technically, episode six contained some work by Planet director David Maloney. However, this did not alter Bernard's sole directing credit for the episode.
  • Episode five is one of only two episodes in Doctor Who history to feature the "Delaware Theme" during its opening as well as its closing credits. The UK broadcast used the standard theme music, but the version sent to Australia already had the unused arrangement edited in.
  • When the Doctor uses the stolen hypnosound to appear as a Dalek to the Ogron guard in episode six, his commands are provided by Dalek voice actor Michael Wisher.
  • Reviewers have observed that the precipitating incident of the first Earth-Draconia war, as depicted in this story, is very similar to the beginning of the Earth-Minbari War in the 1990s television series Babylon 5.[5][6] Both space wars begin because an Earth vessel misinterprets the approach of an alien ship as a threat, and fires on the ship based on this misunderstanding.
  • 8A Fitzroy Park at Highgate, London, which was used as the exterior of the Draconian embassy, was at the time the home of another BBC director, Naomi Capon.
  • Music from episode one and two exists from this story.

Ratings Edit

  • Episode one - 9.1 million viewers
  • Episode two - 7.8 million viewers
  • Episode three - 7.5 million viewers
  • Episode four - 7.1 million viewers
  • Episode five - 7.7 million viewers
  • Episode six - 8.9 million viewers

Myths Edit

  • The fifth episode as seen on the BBC Video release of this story, which is about a minute longer than the one originally transmitted and features the abandoned Delaware synthesiser arrangement of the theme music, is a special 'extended version'. (It is a rough cut that was prepared during the original editing of the story and never intended for public consumption.)
  • Roger Delgado died soon after appearing in the episode which is why the Master doesn't appear in Planet of the Daleks. He died several months later; there's no indication the Master was ever intended to appear in the second chapter.
  • A related rumour states that Katy Manning decided to leave the series after Delgado's death. In fact, by the time Delgado died (June 1973), Manning's final episode had already been filmed (April 1973), and her decision to leave would have likely been made by the time Frontier in Space had been shot, even if the rumour above was true.

Filming locations Edit

  • Hayward Gallery, Belvedere Road, Lambeth, London
  • 8A Fitzroy Park, Highgate, London
  • Beachfields Quarry, Cormongers Lane, Redhill, Surrey
  • South Bank Centre, Waterloo, London
  • Bray Studios, Slough
  • BBC Television Centre (Studio 3 & 4), Shepherd's Bush, London

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.
  • Jo splits her trousers while running to escape the Ogrons in episode three.
  • Her tights change colour from scene to scene (and occasionally she isn't wearing any at all).
  • Big strings can be seen holding up the Doctor when he exits the Master's stolen prison transport ship in episode four, and again for his second spacewalk in episode six.
  • As the space walking Doctor opens the airlock in episode four, there is a technician visible inside it. Their hand is caught in the shot and can be seen helping the hatch open below for a brief moment before being pulled back out of view.
  • During episode two when the Doctor rolls back on his chair to escape his Draconian captors, it is quite obvious that he isn't Jon Pertwee, but a stunt double in a wig.

Continuity Edit

  • Jo refers to Solos and the Earth empire as seen in The Mutants.
  • The conclusion of this story ends on a cliffhanger leading straight into TV: Planet of the Daleks. Originally both this story and Planet of the Daleks were going to be a 12 part story, and as the two storylines are connected, they are often unofficially considered as such.
  • The Doctor tells Jo the story of his trial at the end of The War Games, which the Master overhears on a closed circuit television channel.
  • PROSE: Legacy of the Daleks is set (for the Master) after this story.
  • PROSE: Love and War is set after this story, when Earth and Draconia are at relative peace.
  • The war touched off by the Master during this story is the Second Dalek War, which will profoundly affect the life of future companion Bernice Summerfield.
  • The Tenth Doctor would later (accidentally) travel back to the war in PROSE: Prisoner of the Daleks and help put an end to the Dalek threat.
  • This story is referenced by the Eleventh Doctor in PROSE: Apollo 23. He describes his imprisonment on the Moon as "cool". He revisits what will become the prison, but it only has a few of prisoners in it and is a moonbase.
  • Jo would later remember the events of this story along with others in TV: Death of the Doctor.
  • The Master would later mention their encounter with the Dalek to the Tenth Doctor. As the Master lay dying and refusing to regenerate shortly afterwards, the Doctor asked him to remember all of their experiences, including their encounter with the Daleks. (TV: Last of the Time Lords)

Home video and audio releases Edit

VHS releases Edit

Released in August 1995. BBC Video 5640

DVD releases Edit

This story was released in a box set called Dalek War, along with Planet of the Daleks. The DVD was released in the UK (Region 2) on 5 October 2009, in Australia and New Zealand (Region 4) on 4 February 2010, and in North America on 2 March 2010.

Special features Edit

Covers Edit

Box sets Edit

Footnotes Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Uncredited on-screen for episode two, due to one of the cast credit slides for episode one being inadvertently reused, but credited in Radio Times.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Credited for episode two, but appears only in episode one.
  3. Credited both on-screen and in Radio Times for episode six, but does not appear.
  4. The Essential Doctor Who: Cybermen pg113
  5. In About Time 3, Lawrence Miles and Tat Wood write: "Fans of American TV-SF, however, will no doubt enjoy the similarities between the start of the Earth/Draconia war and the start of the Earth/Minbar war in Babylon 5. The Draconians, like the Minbari, approach the humans with their gunports open."
  6. Doctor Who - Frontier in Space - Video. amazon.com. Retrieved on 8 March 2012. “Sci-fi aficionados will not need much convincing that this story provided inspiration for Babylon 5's Earth-Minbari war.”

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