Thursday 18 August 2011

269 The Ambassadors of Death: Episode Five

EPISODE: The Ambassadors of Death: Episode Five
TRANSMITTED: 18 April 1970
WRITER: David Whitaker (and Malcolm Hulke - Uncredited)
DIRECTOR: Michael Ferguson
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Barry Letts
FORMAT: VHS: Doctor Who-Ambassadors of Death
Episode Format: 16mm b&w film recording recoloured using 525 off air video

The Brigadier shoots at the alien but the bullets have no effect and it escapes. Liz helps Lennox to escape and sends him to the Brigadier, where he's put into protective custody. With all the astronauts suddenly unavailable, The Doctor decides to pilot Cornish's planned flight back to Mars Probe 7. Reegan infiltrates the Space Centre, killing Lennox with a Radioactive isotope and sabotaging the fuel mix to the rocket. Carrington forcibly objects to the rocket's flight but Cornish reminds him he has no power to stop it. On launch the Doctor experiences difficulties but brings the capsule under control. He docks with the Mars Probe, but the ship is then approached by a much larger alien ship.

Some more Pertwee gurning during this episode as he's trapped in the out of control space capsule, but most of the episode concerns the rocket's launch. There's some nice location filming here, shot at Southall Gas Works which effectively substitutes for the Space Centre Fuel Plant.

Two of the technicians in this episode have other Doctor Who form. Roy Scammell is an RSF Sentry in the next story Inferno. He was a stunt man, specialising in falls, and a member of the HAVOK stunt agency, so I think we can be sure he's the one that Reegan pushes over the balcony. Much later he was also the Stunt Arranger for Delta and the Bannermen. Carl Conway, who I presume is the speaking male technician later appears as the US Correspondent in The War Machines, a previous Doctor Who story directed by Michael Fergusson. His female counterpart in the same scene is terrible looking thoroughly bored when perhaps concentration or concern might be better emotions to be expressing!

The big casting highlight here can be found near the start of the episode (we cheered when he turned up!) Rejoining the cast in this episode is John Levene as the promoted Benton, who previously appeared in the Invasion, now a Sergeant. In the planning stages for the following story Inferno the director of that story Douglas Camfield decided to employ John Levene as the same character he played in Camfield's previous story The Invasion. Once that decision was made the production team decided to replace the role of the scripted sergeant (whose surname was apparently West) with John Levene's character which provides a nice bit of continuity for the following story and helps to strengthen it's themes. Levene would appear in every Earth bound unit story from here till The Android Invasion.

This is the second time the Doctor has taken a rocket into space after the Second Doctor's efforts in Seeds of Death, also directed by Michael Ferguson. If you think that the spacecraft set in this story looks rather good then that's due to two separate BBC productions paying for & using it. After it appeared in Doctor Who is was used in Doomwatch, the science fiction series created by former Doctor Who script editor Gerry Davis & writing partner Kit Pedler, who had previously created the Cybermen. The Doomwatch episode it appears in is Re-Entry Forbidden, where it appears as Sunfire One, which aired 16th March 1970, just before Ambassadors Of Death began broadcasting.

This is the only episode of this story that has been completely recoloured.

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