Wednesday 9 March 2011

107 The Ark Part 1: The Steel Sky

EPISODE: The Ark Part 1: The Steel Sky
TRANSMITTED: 05 March 1966
WRITER: Paul Erickson & Lesley Scott
DIRECTOR: Michael Imison
PRODUCER: John Wiles
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Ark

A brand new DVD of the Ark awaits me: It's been a while since I saw this story so I'm approaching it almost new.

The Tardis lands in a jungle containing animals from many areas of Earth. Dodo, who has a cold, thinks they are in Whipsnade Zoo until the Doctor points out the steel roof and they meet the one eyes shaggy haired reptiles the Monoids. The mute Monoids serve the Guardians, humans who have left a doomed Earth behind that will shortly be destroyed by the sun. The Ark they are travelling in journeys to the far off planet of Refusis. The rest of the population of the Earth is stored in a shrunken state on the ship as are any Guardian punished for neglect of their duties. Although most are welcoming, showing the travellers the massive statue being constructed by hand during their 700 year voyage, some of the Guardians are hostile, and this increases when first the Monoids and then the humans are affected by a fever. They have caught Dodo's cold and as the cold virus was eradicated on Earth centuries ago they have no defence. When a Monoid dies from the fever and the expedition's commander is taken ill the travellers are imprisoned.

That wasn't bad at all. Fantastic jungle set, decent monsters, behaving very differently to most we've seen in Doctor who and some cracking concepts: the jungle in a spaceship, Earth to be destroyed by the sun and the shrunken populace being transported to a new planet. The scale of the Ark is emphasised by the large main set complete with an electric car moving round it.

This is only the second time the Tardis has landed in a Space vehicle (1964's The Sensorites is the first) but it will become a staple of the series. Troughton does it in Wheel in Space & The Space Pirates, Pertwee in The Mutants (recently released on DVD) and Frontier in Space, Tom Baker in Ark In Space, The Invisible Enemy, Underworld, Nightmare of Eden and would have done in Shada. Peter Davison visits Spaceships via the Tardis in Four to Doomsday, Mawdryn Undead, Terminus & Enlightenment, Colin Baker does it in the Terror of the Vervoids section of Trial of a Timelord leaving McCoy & McGann as the only original Doctors not to visit a space vehicle using the Tardis.


  1. Jon landed in a spaceship in Carival of monsters too.
    Also with Lord Tom, you missed out Planet of Evil.

  2. Carnival: Doesn't he land on the sailing ship SS Bernice, which is inside the Scope? I'm pretty sure the scope is off the Transport by this point - we watched Carnival a week or so back (have you got Carnival, will shortly have a spare)

    Planet of Evil: I'd had this on my list, checked the begining where he materialises on the planet and crossed it off. However he does materialise on the ship at the end of the story.

  3. I think we have carnival on VHS. My memory of the story has the TARDIS landing on the boat in the scope on the spaceship, and customs being a later part of the story.

  4. I've dug the dvd out and watched it: The ship lands, the scope is unloaded and then the Tardis materialises.

  5. Ah, the start of a great story. There is a lovely sense of the epic to this - the survivors of humanity leaving their doomed planet and voyaging through space to a new home. And the fact that the jungle is so well realised just adds to the sense of wonder. Unfortunately this story is also the first full story to feature Dodo..... Not a fan of Dorothea Chaplet at all I'm afraid.