a real world point of view
|Novelised as:||The Ark|
|Main enemy:||The Monoids|
|Main setting:||The Ark, The 57th Segment of Time|
|Writer:||Paul Erickson & |
|Number of episodes:||4|
|Premiere broadcast:||5 March - 26 March 1966|
|Doctor Who television stories|
|The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve||The Celestial Toymaker|
- You may be looking for The Ark in Space.
The Ark was the sixth story in the third season of Doctor Who. It was the first full serial for new companion, Dodo Chaplet, who had appeared only briefly at the end of the previous episode. It was also the first to take place in what was definitively humanity's far future, and the first to depict the demise of Earth.
Behind the scenes, it was notable for its then-groundbreaking use of out-of-sequence recording. The final episode, "The Bomb", was the first in Doctor Who history to be recorded according to set availability and then edited into proper sequence. (DCOM: "The Bomb") Director Michael Imison also notably achieved a number of special effects shots through the liberal use of forced perspective, something which hadn't been widely attempted in Doctor Who to that time. Imison's use of playback to indicate that the bridge computers and control consoles on the Ark were fully operational was also unusually sophisticated for the Hartnell era.
The Doctor and his companions Steven Taylor and Dodo Chaplet arrive some ten million years into the future, on board a generation starship which is carrying the last of humanity away from an Earth that is about to fall into the Sun. However, the cold that Dodo has could prove devastating to these future humans and their servants, the Monoids.
The Steel Sky (1) Edit
Over ten million years in the future, the TARDIS materialises on a vast spacecraft that has its own miniature zoo and arboretum. The Doctor and Steven are still explaining the basics of their time travel ability to new companion Dodo Chaplet when she starts to show signs of a cold. It is only a matter of time before they are found and taken to the control chamber of the vessel. Their captors are the mute Monoids, seemingly identical alien beings with a single eye.
The Monoids live in peace alongside the humans who command the spaceship, their own planet having been destroyed, but often do much of the menial work. The humans in charge of the ship explain that the Earth is about to be destroyed because of the expansion of the Sun and that this ship is an Ark sent into space with the last remnants of humanity, civilisation, and various forms of flora and fauna. The human Guardians in charge of the craft run a tight ship: failure to conform to rules means either death or miniaturisation until they reach their destination, an Earth-like planet called Refusis II, which takes nearly 700 years to get to. As an amusement during the journey a vast statue is being carved by hand, depicting a human being.
Dodo's cold has now spread amongst the Monoid and human populations, but regrettably, they have little natural immunity. When the Commander of the Ark collapses with the malady, the whole ship is placed on alert. Zentos, the Deputy Commander, is suspicious of the travellers and believes they have deliberately infected the ship. When the first Monoid dies, there is little the Doctor can say to pacify the angry Guardians. Zentos places the Doctor, Steven, and Dodo on trial for their crimes.
The Plague (2) Edit
A young Guardian called Manyak and the Commander's daughter Mellium undertake the Doctor, Steven, and Dodo's defence. Steven acts as the first defence witness, attacking the closed nature of the minds of the Guardians, but exhausts himself in the process and collapses with the fever. His words have no impact on Zentos, who orders their execution, but the ailing Commander intervenes to protect the three travellers and permit them access to medical equipment to devise a cure for the cold. The Doctor is thus able to recreate the cold vaccine from the membranes of animals on the craft, and this is administered throughout the crew. The Commander, Steven, and the others infected are soon on the road to recovery. Their work done, the trio have only time to observe the end of Earth on the long-range scanner before the Doctor leads them back to the TARDIS.
Curiously, when the TARDIS rematerialises, they are still on the Ark. As they look around, Dodo notices the statue has been finished—with a Monoid head.
The Return (3) Edit
Seven hundred years have passed and there has been a major change: the Monoids are in control. They have completed the statue in the image of themselves, having staged a coup during the long journey. This was made possible by a genetic weakness introduced into the humans, but not the Monoids, by a second wave of the cold virus 700 years earlier. The Monoids also now have voice communicators and use numerical emblems to distinguish each other. The humans are now little more than slaves, with the odd exception like the collaborator subject Guardian Maharis, and have little hope of change. The Doctor and his friends encounter the Monoid leadership, installed in a throne room on the Ark, after which they are sent to the security kitchen to help prepare meals for the Monoids. Two humans, Venussa and Dassuk, believe the moment of their liberation is at hand. Steven tries to help them in a revolt which is unsuccessful.
The arrival on Refusis is close at hand and a landing pod is prepared. Monoid 1 wants to make sure that the new world is inhabited only by Monoids, despite promises that the human population will be allowed to live there too. A landing party is assembled: the Doctor, Dodo, Monoid 2 and a subject Guardian named Yendom. They soon reach Refusis II and start to investigate. A stately castle which seems to be unoccupied is in fact the home to the invisible Refusians, giant beings rendered invisible by solar flares. They welcome their guests and have been expecting them, but only want to share the planet with other peaceful beings. Monoid 2 and Yendom flee the castle, and en route Yendom realises the humans will not be allowed to reach Refusis with the Monoids. Monoid 2 kills him and is shortly afterward killed himself when the landing pod explodes. The Doctor and Dodo are stranded on Refusis.
The Bomb (4) Edit
The tension of the situation ferments dissent in the Monoid ranks, with Monoid 4 openly opposing Monoid 1's plans to abandon the humans and colonise Refusis without more checks on the planet. Two launchers are sent to the planet, Monoids 1 and 4 commanding one each, and when the crews emerge Monoid 4 interprets the destroyed landing pod as evidence of the danger that Monoid 1 has led them to. A civil war erupts between the two Monoid factions. The Doctor, Dodo and a Refusian use the confusion to steal one of the launchers and pilot back to the Ark.
The Monoids have placed a bomb on board the ship and plan to evacuate soon to the planet surface, leaving the humans to die on the spaceship. Word of this threat spreads and spurs a human rebellion. The arrival of the Doctor and the Refusian spur things along, and they soon realise the bomb has been placed in the head of the statue. Thankfully the Refusian is able to help dispose of the statue into space before the bomb explodes. The humans now begin to land on Refusis themselves, having been offered support on peaceful terms by the Refusians. Many of the Monoids have been killed in their civil war and those that remain are offered peaceful settlement alongside the other two species.
Once more the TARDIS departs, and this time the curiosity is that the Doctor simply vanishes from the TARDIS control room in front of Steven and Dodo, although his voice can still be heard. Dodo wonders if this has something to do with the Refusians, but the apparently invisible Doctor says this is some form of attack...
- The Doctor — William Hartnell
- Steven Taylor — Peter Purves
- Dodo Chaplet — Jackie Lane
- Commander — Eric Elliot
- Zentos — Inigo Jackson
- Manyak — Roy Spencer
- Rhos — Michael Sheard
- Mellium — Kate Newman
- Baccu — Ian Frost
- Monoids — Edmund Coulter, Frank George, Ralph Carrigan, John Caesar
- Monoid Voices — Roy Skelton, John Halstead
- Maharis — Terence Woodfield
- Dassuk — Brian Wright
- Venussa — Eileen Helsby
- Yendom — Terence Bayler
- Refusian Voice — Richard Beale
- Assistant Floor Manager - Chris D'Oyly John
- Costumes - Daphne Dare
- Designer - Barry Newbery
- Film Cameraman - Tony Leggo
- Film Editor - Noel Chanan
- Make-Up - Sonia Markham
- Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson
- Studio Lighting - Howard King
- Studio Sound - Ray Angel
- Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Delia Derbyshire
- Incidental Music - Tristram Cary
- Production Assistant - David Maloney
- Writer - Paul Erickson, Lesley Scott
- Story Editor - Gerry Davis
- Director - Michael Imison
- Producer - John Wiles
- The statue is made of gregarian rock and was supposed to last forever.
- The peaceful Refusians (natives of Refusis II) are now invisible, due to solar flares.
- The Doctor speculates that they are some ten million years in the future.
- The Commander says that the reign of Nero, the Trojan War and wars involving the Daleks all took place in the First Segment of Time. Their present day is the Fifty-Seventh Segment.
- Chameleons, monitors, elephants and locusts are among those creatures aboard the Ark.
Story notes Edit
- This story had the possible working title of The Space Ark.
- Although Lesley Scott, Paul Erickson's then-wife, was credited as a co-writer, she did no work on the scripts. Erickson would later give his reasons for sharing credit with her: "It was a personal arrangement I had with her, which was my own personal business at the time. The circumstances went into history. I need say no more than that." (REF: The First Doctor Handbook)
- The Monoids were played by actors, each holding a ping-pong ball in his mouth to represent the alien's single eye. The upper portion of the actor's face was hidden by a 'Beatle' wig.
- This was the first story in which Michael Sheard, a frequent and favourite guest star on Doctor Who, appeared.
- Future Dalek voice Roy Skelton did his first work on Doctor Who, voicing the Monoids in Episodes 3 & 4.
- There are occasional lapses by Jackie Lane into the Cockney accent in which she rehearsed the story, before the production team were instructed by their superiors that it was unacceptable for a regular character in Doctor Who to speak in anything other than 'BBC English'. Companion Ben Jackson (introduced only four stories later in TV: The War Machines) was allowed to keep his Cockney accent.
- "The Steel Sky" - 5.5 million viewers
- "The Plague" - 6.9 million viewers
- "The Return" - 6.2 million viewers
- "The Bomb" - 7.3 million viewers
Filming locations Edit
Production errors Edit
- At the start of episode 2 a cue can be heard off screen.
- In TV: The Ark in Space, the Earth was also evacuated because of solar flare activity that rendered the biosphere uninhabitable for five thousand years. There, however, the survivors of mankind slept in suspended animation and returned to repopulate the planet after that period had passed.
- The Earth is seen trailing smoke as it heads towards the Sun at the close of episode two. However the National Trust, over the billions of years that followed, preserved it and restored it into a 'classic Earth' before it was finally destroyed by the expanding sun in the episode TV: The End of the World.
- The Monoids also feature in the Bernice Summerfield audio drama AUDIO: The Kingdom of the Blind.
- The Silurians built an ark of their own, when they believed much earlier that the Earth was about to be destroyed. (TV: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship)
Home video and audio releases Edit
Video releases Edit
- This story was released on VHS in 1998.
- Editing for the VHS release was completed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team.
DVD releases Edit
A commentary for this story was recorded in October 2009, and it was released on DVD on the following dates:
The following special features are included:
- Audio commentary by Peter Purves (Steven), director Michael Imison and Toby Hadoke
- All's Wells That Ends Wells - exploring the influence of H.G. Wells on Doctor Who
- One Hit Wonder - What gives a monster staying power?
- Riverside Story - Peter Purves returns to Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, home to numerous 1960s Doctor Who stories
- Photo Gallery
- Production Note
- Subtitle Option
- PDF Materials: Radio Times Listings
Audio releases Edit
- BBC Audio released an audio CD edition containing the audio tracks from the original episodes, along with descriptive narration by Peter Purves, in 2006.
- The Ark at the BBC's official site
- The Ark at BroaDWcast
- Detailed synopsis of The Ark at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- The Ark at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)