TARDIS Index File

The Rescue (TV story)

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The Rescue's Bennett
Novelised as: The Rescue
Doctor: First Doctor
Companion(s): Barbara, Ian, Vicki
Main enemy: Bennett
Main setting: Dido, circa 2493
Key crew
Writer: David Whitaker
Director: Christopher Barry
Producer: Verity Lambert
Release details
Story number: 11
Number of episodes: 2
Season/series: Season 2
Premiere broadcast: 2 January - 9 January 1965
Premiere network: BBC1
Format: 2x25-minute episodes
Production code: L
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Doctor Who television stories
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The Rescue was the third story of Season 2 of Doctor Who. It was the first story to have a new, regular cast member, being Maureen O'Brien's first appearance as Vicki Pallister. Its second part, "Desperate Measures", was the first episode of Doctor Who to break into the top ten most-watched programmes of the week — something Doctor Who wouldn't regularly do until re-invented by BBC Wales. It remains one of the programme's highest-charting episodes, even taking into account episodes from the 2005 revival.

The Rescue boasted some narrative firsts. This was the first time the Doctor had arrived on a planet other than Earth and claimed to have been there before. It was also the first story to give us a name for how the TARDIS moves. According to the Doctor in "The Powerful Enemy", the TARDIS doesn't land – it materialises.

Summary Edit

The Doctor, Ian and Barbara arrive on the planet Dido. They find a crashed spaceship, the only two survivors of which are terrorised by the monster Koquillion. But who is Koquillion?

Plot Edit

The Powerful Enemy (1) Edit

On a desolate planet lies a crashed spaceship: the UK-201. A young girl by the name of Vicki bursts excitedly into the room of her friend Bennett to inform him that a rescue ship is coming for them. Bennett says the rescue ship is not due for days yet, but Vicki argues that she has seen it on their radar. Before she leaves, Bennett warns her about Koquillion, saying he will be back today. Vicki leaves to radio the ship, who confirms they are sixty-nine hours away. This confuses Vicki. Some kind of ship has landed on the planet already.

Back at the TARDIS, Barbara and Ian are discussing that the ship seems to have stopped. They are concerned because it happened whilst the Doctor was asleep. They wake him and discover they have landed in a cave on a planet vastly different from Earth, yet still safe for humans. Before they leave the TARDIS, the Doctor goes to talk to Susan, but he remembers she is no longer with them. Barbara comforts him. Ian and Barbara go to explore whilst the Doctor takes a rock sample. Ian and Barbara comment on the changes they are seeing in the Doctor, such as his sleeping through a landing and not wanting to explore the planet with them. Ian puts it down to age but Barbara thinks he misses Susan. As they move, a large, hideous creature approaches the TARDIS.

Ian and Barbara come to a cliff where they can look down on the crashed rocket. As they turn to tell the Doctor, they are met by the creature, who is very hostile. He demands the Doctor be sent for. Ian goes to get him. While he is gone, the creature throws Barbara off the cliff and causes a cave-in with a staff he carries. This cave-in traps Ian in the cave.

Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor has discovered that he has landed on the planet Dido, which he has visited before. He is eager to get out and visit the inhabitants of the planet. He hears the cave-in and goes out to find Ian half conscious. When Ian tells him of the creature, the Doctor is concerned. The inhabitants of the Dido whom he left were peaceful. Ian says that creatures can change. The Doctor and Ian head off to find a way out.

Back at the crashed ship, Vicki seems to be interrupted by a noise outside. She looks out the window, grabs some rocks and begins to sort through them. The creature, Koquillion, bursts through the door, demanding to know why Vicki left the ship and what she was doing. She insists she was just collecting rocks and shows them to the creature. He knocks them out of her hand, saying it is not safe for her to go more than fifty yards — another ship has landed on Dido and its passengers were killed by his species.

It seems that Koquillion is protecting Vicki and Bennett from a similar fate. When Koquillion is gone, Vicki rushes to her bed and pulls back a blanket to reveal Barbara, whom she has saved from the cliff. Barbara is shocked by the news that her two friends are reported dead, but listens to the story of how Vicki got here and how she and Bennett came under the thrall of Koquillion. When the crew crash landed a meeting was called between Koquillion's species and them. Vicki was ill and couldn't go. At the meeting, all the men were slain by Koquillion's species. When Vicki awoke, she found Bennett nearly crippled and saved him. Ever since, Koquillion has been protecting them. Bennett is introduced to Barbara once Koquillion has left.

Meanwhile the Doctor and Ian go through the network of caves. The Doctor speaks of the species he knew before he left. To them, war was a foreign concept. There were only a hundred of them, so life was worshipped. The two men plough on; as they skirt along a ledge, a deafening noise roars through the cave. They look down to see a creature in the pit waiting for one of them to stumble and fall. They find a hand hold. Ian reaches for it, but it moves away in his hand. It is a booby trap; large, sharp, metal prongs start to come out from the wall, edging him closer and closer to being forced into the pit.

Desperate Measures (2) Edit

Ian skirts the bars holding him in before the razor-sharp points push him to the creature below. The Doctor and Ian figure out how to retract the spikes and continue towards light.

Bennett, after meeting Barbara, fainted from the effort of rising from his bed. Barbara shares an idea with Bennett and Vicki. They will use Barbara as bait and shoot Koquillion with a gun that Vicki and Bennett have. Bennett reacts angrily to this, saying that if that happens they will be wide open to an attack from the Dido people.

As Barbara goes to return Bennett to bed, Vicki goes outside. The creature in the pit has found a way out of the cave. When Barbara returns, she sees Vicki is in danger and rushes out with the gun to shoot the creature dead. To her confusion, Vicki is distraught about this. She explains the creature was Sandy, her pet, and she has trained it to be tame and come out for food at certain hours.

Vicki's outburst is brought to an abrupt end when they are interrupted by the Doctor and Ian. After an introduction, the Doctor is also on the receiving end of Vicki's ire when he suggests a way of catching Koquillion and bringing an end to his rule over them. Vicki resents being told what to do by strangers and shouts at him. Barbara and Ian leave the Doctor to talk to Vicki. They decide that if Bennett agrees, they will go ahead with the plan.

Vicki shows the Doctor where Bennett sleeps and leaves them to talk. The Doctor hears Bennett say, "You can't come in! Go away!" The Doctor tries to talk with him, but there is no answer. He forces his way into the room and finds it empty. He finds a tape recorder linked to the door so it automatically plays the message of Bennett asking to be left alone. He also finds an intercom system. Over it, he hears Barbara and Vicki, who have made up, saying how, for all his eccentricities, the Doctor seems to exude trust. Ian tells Vicki that the Doctor's spacecraft travels not only through space but also time. Vicki struggles to get her head around the idea that this makes Ian and Barbara five hundred years old.

Back in Bennett's room, the Doctor discovers a trap door and goes down to explore where it may lead. He finds himself in some sort of a temple, where he finds sacerdotal clothes in a chest. A figure walks up behind him. It is Koquillion, but the Doctor greets him by the name of Bennett. He explains it is blasphemy for someone who is not from Dido to wear their religious garb and he should take it off. Koquillion removes his mask to reveal himself as Bennett. He explains that before the ship crashed, he was put under arrest for murdering another crew member, and would have been tried on his return to Earth. When the ship crashed, he arranged a meeting between the crew and the Dido people, then killed everyone in an explosion he had engineered beforehand — human and Dido alike. He planned to take Vicki (who was unaware of his crime) with him back to Earth to testify to his innocence.

The Doctor is outraged. When Bennett threatens the Doctor's life, the Doctor turns on him with Koquillion's staff. The men scuffle and Bennett pins the Doctor to the ground, strangling him — until two Dido people appear. Bennett backs away, astounded, to the cliff where he falls to his death.

The Doctor wakes to find himself back in his TARDIS. Ian and Barbara explain they found him outside the cave unconscious and used his TARDIS key to let themselves back in. He tells the whole story to the pair. He asks where Vicki is and learns she is waiting outside.

The Doctor goes out and explains the whole situation to her. She is shocked that Bennett could have killed the whole crew like that. The Doctor asks if she would like to travel with him rather than stay with the Dido people. He leaves her to make her decision. When he re-enters the TARDIS, Ian and Barbara have had the same idea. Vicki comes in and takes the Doctor up on his offer.

As the TARDIS leaves, the Dido people enter the ship and destroy the radio communications system. The approaching rescue ship will now never find the planet.

The TARDIS has arrived at a new location, but materialises on the edge of a cliff. The Doctor shouts a warning to his companions and the travellers grab hold of the console as the ship slowly topples and falls over the edge...

Cast Edit

Uncredited cast Edit

Crew Edit

Uncredited crew Edit

References Edit

Planets Edit

Species Edit

  • Ian mentions he would rather face the Daleks than Koquillion any day.


  • The Doctor instructs Barbara to use Number 4 Switch to open the doors.

Story notes Edit

  • This is the first episode featuring Vicki. She was the first regular character to be added since the original cast (Barbara, Ian, Susan and the Doctor).
  • The Doctor, perhaps because he missed his recently-departed granddaughter, asked Vicki to come with him and the others, making her the first companion that the Doctor was seen to willingly invite to travel in the TARDIS. Being invited to travel with him would later become an important hallmark of the Doctor's companions.
  • Both episodes exist in 16mm telerecordings.
  • Negative film prints of both episodes exist and were recovered by the BBC in 1978.
  • Telesnaps of this story are held by private collectors.
  • The story was originally known as Doctor Who and Tanni. It was originally intended that the new companion would be named Tanni. Other names considered for Vicki were Valerie, Millie and Lukki. The name Tanni was still in use when the following story, The Romans, was written. Ultimately, this was worked into the narrative of Doctor Who universe. In the novel Byzantium!, it's revealed that Vicki's mother had considered naming her Tanni, before settling on Vicki.
  • Vicki's last name is not revealed in this story, nor is it ever mentioned on screen in any future stories. This places Vicki in the select company of Polly, Mel and Ace as Earth companions whose last names are never revealed on screen. Spin-off media have given Vicki the last name Pallister.
  • Koquillion was originally credited as being played by Sydney Wilson (a combination of the first name of Sydney Newman and the surname of Donald Wilson respectively) to preserve the "whodunnit" aspect of the story. This was the first instance of a pseudonym being used in a story to avoid giving away a plot surprise.
  • Radio Times credits Sydney Wilson as "Koquillion" for both episodes and Ray Barrett only as "Bennett". On-screen, "The Powerful Enemy" credits Ray Barrett as "Bennett" and Sydney Wilson as "Koquillion", while "Desperate Measures" credits Ray Barrett as "Bennett & Koquillion".
  • This story leads directly into The Romans.
  • "Desperate Measures" was the first episode of Doctor Who to make the UK's top 10 most watched programs list.
  • The 1973 Radio Times tenth anniversary special called the story "The Powerful Enemy" as it titled all the early stories by the title of the first episode. Some later listings repeated this, as did the story's broadcast on some American PBS stations.
  • During the scene in which Jacqueline Hill fired a flare gun at Vicki's pet, she was injured, suffering shock and a sore face. This occurred when the explosive connected to the wooden gun went off with more force than expected.
  • "The Rescue" is also the original broadcast title of the seventh episode of The Daleks.
  • Tom Sheridan, who played the Space Captain heard but not seen in this story, was also inside the Sandy costume. (DWM 325)
  • "The Powerful Enemy" boasts the first occasion on which a sound effect is laid over footage of the TARDIS re-materialising. Before this, exterior shots of the TARDIS landing had implied that the ship appeared soundlessly in a new environment. Although the precise sound of "re-materialisation" — with its distinctive, final "thud" — would not be finalised until The Three Doctors, this was the start of an important convention of the TARDIS. People on the outside can hear it coming and going. Without this innovation, the teaser from The Christmas Invasion, for example — in which Jackie and Mickey respond solely to the sound of the TARDIS — wouldn't have been possible.

Ratings Edit

  • "The Powerful Enemy" - 12.0 million viewers
  • "Desperate Measures" - 13.0 million viewers

Myths Edit

  • The inhabitants of Dido are known as Didonians. (There is no evidence provided in the episode to support this. In fact, the Doctor calls them "Dido people".)
  • Vicki is from the planet Dido. (This error has been mentioned in numerous places, but the story establishes that she is from Earth.)

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 "Desperate Measures", a stage hand can be seen behind Vicki's pet.
  • When Barbara fires at Vicki's pet, the firework can be seen to fall off the gun.
  • During "The Powerful Enemy", one of the TARDIS windows on the front falls inwards and is leaning in for the rest of the episode and "Desperate Measures".

Continuity Edit

Home video and audio releases Edit

DVD releases Edit

This story was released on DVD alongside The Romans in February 2009 (UK) and July 2009 (North America). For the release, the episodes have been reprocessed via computer to restore the original videotaped look of the production. The "Next Episode" caption has been restored to "Desperate Measures".


  • Mounting The Rescue - production featurette.
  • Photo Gallery
  • Production Notes
  • PDF content: Raymond Cusick's original design drawings, Radio Times listings.
  • Audio Commentary by actor William Russell (Ian Chesterton), director Christopher Barry, and designer Raymond Cusick, moderated by Toby Hadoke.
For additional extras on this DVD set, see The Romans.

Rear credits:


Digital releases Edit

  • This story was released in BBC Store, opened for UK residents on 5 November 2015.
  • Was available for streaming in the US through Hulu Plus until early 2016.

Video releases Edit

This story was released as Doctor Who: The Rescue/The Romans.

Both the "Next Episode" caption and the lead-in to The Romans have been removed from "Desperate Measures".
It was released as a double-video pack with The Romans.
UK Release: September 1994 / US Release: March 1996
PAL - BBC Video BBCV5378 (2 tapes)
NTSC - Warner Video E1313 (2 tapes)
NTSC - CBS/FOX Video 8338 (2 tapes)

External links Edit

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