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24 September 2014

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Frontier In Space

Production Code: QQQ

First Transmitted

1 - 24/02/1973 17:50

2 - 03/03/1973 17:50

3 - 10/03/1973 17:50

4 - 17/03/1973 17:50

5 - 24/03/1973 17:50

6 - 31/03/1973 17:50


The TARDIS arrives in the year 2540 on board an Earth spaceship, which then comes under attack. The crew perceive the Doctor, Jo and the attackers as Draconians, whose empire currently rivals Earth's for control of the galaxy. The Doctor and Jo, however, see that the attackers are really Ogrons.

The Ogrons stun everyone on board and steal the ship's cargo - including the TARDIS. Accused by the Earth authorities of spying for the Draconians, the Doctor is sent to a penal colony on the Moon while Jo is placed in the custody of a Commissioner from Sirius 4 - actually the Master. The Master rescues the Doctor and locks him and Jo up aboard a stolen police spaceship.

Once in flight, the ship is intercepted by the Draconians. Taken to Draconia, the Doctor is able to convince the Emperor of the Master's scheme to provoke a war using the Ogrons and a hypnotic device that makes those affected see whatever they most fear.

Jo is recaptured by the Master and taken to the Ogrons' home planet, where he also has the Doctor's TARDIS. The Doctor follows with General Williams - an emissary from the President of Earth - and a Draconian Prince. Behind the Master's plot are the Daleks, who want a war to break out so that they can invade in the aftermath. The Doctor and his party are placed in the Master's custody as the Daleks leave to prepare their forces, but they manage to escape.

Williams and the Draconian Prince depart to warn their respective peoples of the Daleks' intentions. The Doctor, though, is injured in the confusion. Jo helps him into the TARDIS, where he sends a telepathic message to the Time Lords...

Episode Endings

When questioned by their rescuers, the crew of the cargo ship denounce the Doctor and Jo as stowaways and traitors in league with the Draconians.

Ogrons attack the prison and break into the cell where the Doctor and Jo are being held by the Earth authorities. One of the creatures, brandishing its gun, instructs the two travellers: 'You - come!'

In the penal colony, the Doctor is accompanying the elderly peace campaigner Professor Dale in an escape attempt. They enter an airlock where spacesuits and breathing apparatus have been left for them by an apparent ally, the trustee prisoner Cross, so that they can go outside. In fact they have walked into a trap: the breathing apparatus is empty, and Cross seals them in and starts to pump out the air...

The Doctor, Jo and the Master are held in a cell aboard the police spaceship as the Draconians direct it toward their home planet. Unseen by his fellow prisoners, the Master activates a signalling device on which a light begins to flash. Elsewhere, the signal registers on a screen before which is seated an Ogron.

The Master threatens a horrified Jo with his hypnotic fear-inducing device, telling her 'It works directly on the fear centres deep in your mind!'

Jo helps the injured Doctor into the TARDIS, where he activates the controls and sends a telepathic message to the Time Lords. The police box rushes away through the void...


The Master reads The War of the Worlds and quotes Tennyson.

1984 (moon prison hierarchy).

Star Trek ('Balance of Terror' and 'Errand of Mercy').

Drake 'Privateer' stories.

Dialogue Triumphs

General Williams : "I prefer to put my faith in the mind probe."

The Master : "In a reminiscent mood are you, Doctor? Poor Miss Grant, you have my deepest sympathies."

The Master : [To the Draconian Emperor] "No-one is more concerned about the cause of peace than I."

Draconian Emperor : "An emperor who does not rule deposes himself."

Double Entendre

The Doctor : "There is a plot, yes!"

Williams : [To the President] "You must act now, or they will bring you down"


The TARDIS travels [on occasions] in hyperspace (cf. Romana's comments on hyperspace in The Stones of Blood). It helps the Doctor to get to a destination if he knows exactly where and when they are (see The Daleks). The Doctor states that he intended to return the TARDIS [to the Time Lords]. The TARDIS telepathic circuits can be used by the Doctor to contact his people.

The Doctor's sonic screwdriver can't undo bolts, unless the polarity of the power source is reversed, making it into an electromagnet. The screwdriver is left on the moon [so he must have several]. The Doctor is immune to mind probes, and carries a string file in his boot. He carries a radio direction finder. He gets an odd feeling, a premonition, when Daleks are near (see The War Machines).

Jo once saw a gangster movie. Her uncle pulled strings to get her the UNIT job. She does the HQ filing, and has conditioned herself against being hypnotised. She fears Drashigs, Mutants, and Sea Devils.

The Ogrons are stupid mercenaries, living on a barren, uninteresting planet, where they worship 'The Monster', a blobby orange creature which they fear almost as much as the Daleks (see Day of the Daleks). A large savage reptile is the dominant life form there. The Ogrons carry neuronic stun guns which can also kill.

The Master knows Earth poetry ('My strength is as the strength of ten,/ Because my heart is pure' from Tennyson's 'Sir Galahad') and song.

The Dalek patrol is led by a gold Dalek. They recognise the Doctor. Their army is ready at a base (see Planet of the Daleks).

The Draconians have galaxy class battle cruisers, armed with neutronic missiles. They [like to think that they] do not lie. Nobles address the Emperor with 'My life at your command.' The power of the throne depends on the great families for support. The Emperor consults the nobles of the court. Females are not equal to males, and are not permitted to speak in the presence of the Emperor.


The First History of the Daleks

Season 6(b)




The Moon.


the Ogron planet (on the remote fringes of the Milky Way galaxy) and routes in between.

The 26th century [2540].

This is at the start of Earth's empire, while The Mutants is set towards the end in the 30th century.

Future History

The Draconia/Earth war took place 20 years previously [2520]. Subversion and espionage are forbidden by the treaty that ended the war. The President of Earth rules an Empire, but run along diplomatic lines, via her cabinet, treasury, government, and the opposition, led by Congressman Brook, all contained within either the senate or congress.

The President can over-rule General Williams [the head of the armed forces] only with the backing of the entire senate [a measure of his power there, rather than a legislative norm].

Earth has a free press and broadcasting service. There is a division between the military and 'security'. The Special Security Act allows political prisoners to be deported to the Lunar Penal Colony for life. The Peace Party still use peace signs, and aim to take political power.

There is a historical monument preservation society. A Bureau of Population Control limits couples to one child, unless they move to the newly reclaimed arctic settlements of New Glasgow and New Montreal, where they may have two. The calendar remains intact, as do certain city names: Tokyo, Belgrade, Helsinki and Los Angeles.

Interstellar travel is routine. The Earth and Draconian Empires continue to expand through the Milky Way galaxy. Interplanetary Police Commissioners, with their own ships, administer off-planet law.

Certain colonies, like Sirius 4 (which also governs Sirius 3), have achieved dominion status, which means they can tax and try their own citizens. They have a bank, charge income tax and ship tax (and insurance), their currency is 'c', and there is a high court at Bassat.


The Doctor was once captured by the Medusoids, hairy one-legged jellyfish, 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 3rd inter galactic peace conference. He's a noble of Draconia, having aided the 15th Emperor 500 years ago [therefore the Draconian Empire dates back to at least the 21st century] in dealing with a plague from space.


Assistant floor manager John Bradburn plays the 'Ogron eater' monster seen on the Ogrons' planet.

This story marks Roger Delgado's last appearance in Doctor Who. On 18 June 1973 he was killed in a car crash in Turkey while on the way to the location for a film called Bell of Tibet.

The Master is seen reading a copy of H G Wells' The War of the Worlds.

There are brief shots of a Sea Devil, a Solonian mutant and a Drashig in the scene in Episode Six where the Master subjects Jo to the effects of his fear-inducing device.


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.)


If the Master's device makes one see one's greatest fear, why does Jo see the ship change shape in episode one? [There's some camouflage at work too.]

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 hold up the Doctor up for his spacewalk in episode six.

In General Williams' past, if both human and Draconian ships had arrived unarmed, what did he do to destroy the Draconians? [He broke the terms of the treaty perhaps?].

The Ogron monster is a big orange carrier bag.

As the space walking Doctor opens the airlock in episode four there is a technician visible inside it.

Fashion Victim

The President's chunky shoes.

The Earth military uniform.

The interrogator in a silver evening gown and long dress gloves.

Cast & Crew


The Doctor - Jon Pertwee

Jo Grant - Katy Manning

Congressman Brook - Ramsay Williams

Cross - Richard Shaw

Dalek - John Scott Martin

Dalek - Cy Town

Dalek - Murphy Grumbar

Dalek Voice - Michael Wisher

Draconian Captain - Bill Wilde

Draconian Emperor - John Woodnutt

Draconian Messenger - Ian Frost

Draconian Prince - Peter Birrell

Draconian Space Pilot - Roy Pattison

Earth Cruiser Captain - Clifford Elkin

First Ogron - Stephen Thorne

Gardiner - Ray Lonnen

General Williams - Michael Hawkins

Hardy - John Rees

Kemp - Barry Ashton

Lunar Guard - Lawrence Harrington

Newscaster - Louis Mahoney

Newscaster - Bill Mitchell

Patel - Madhav Sharma

Pilot of Space Ship - Stanley Price

President of Earth - Vera Fusek

Prison Governor - Dennis Bowen

Professor Dale - Harold Goldblatt

Second Ogron - Michael Kilgarriff

Secretary - Karol Hagar

Sheila - Luan Peters

Stewart - James Culliford

Technician - Caroline Hunt

The Master - Roger Delgado

Third Ogron - Rick Lester


Director - Paul Bernard

Director - David Maloney David Maloney directed, uncredited, the final moments of the story

Assistant Floor Manager - John Bradburn

Costumes - Barbara Kidd

Designer - Cynthia Kljuço

Film Cameraman - John Tiley

Film Editor - John Bush

Incidental Music - Dudley Simpson

Make-Up - Sandra Shepherd

Producer - Barry Letts

Production Assistant - Nicholas John

Script Editor - Terrance Dicks

Special Sounds - Dick Mills

Studio Lighting - Ralph Walton

Studio Sound - Brian Hiles

Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Delia Derbyshire

Visual Effects - Bernard Wilkie

Visual Effects - Rhys Jones

Writer - Malcolm Hulke

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

Worthy, very well directed and designed to the hilt with a solid costuming policy for both empires. However, it's obviously padded in parts.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

Frontier in Space is a surprisingly rare foray by Doctor Who into the realms of space opera - stories of interplanetary conflict in which spaceships flying about the galaxy are a predominant feature. One of the few other examples is The Space Pirates in season six. Unlike that rather lacklustre earlier story, however, this one works brilliantly, being both very well scripted by Malcolm Hulke and superbly brought to the screen by director Paul Bernard and his team. 'Frontier in Space is very good TV drama,' wrote Charles Daniels on an internet newsgroup in 1997. 'The very basic nature of the conflict works extremely well - both sides are convincingly characterised, and Malcolm Hulke... manages to avoid making the Draconians into bad guys. (Indeed, sympathetic monsters is one of the best overall features of the Pertwee era.)'

The model filming for the space scenes is excellent, and the frequent changes of planetary location put the whole thing on a suitably grand scale. The Draconians are well conceived and realised creatures, with their superb 'half masks' created by visual effects sculptor John Friedlander, and it is easy to see how they became Jon Pertwee's own personal favourite of all the alien creations that appeared during his time as the Doctor. The Master is as charmingly evil as ever, and it is just a pity that he does not get a proper farewell scene given that (although obviously no one could have known it at the time) this is Roger Delgado's last appearance in the series. It is good to have the Ogrons back again, and the surprise arrival of the Daleks for the final episode is very welcome and effective, its impact all the greater for the fact this is the first time that the series has featured a twist ending of this kind. On the downside, the Master's fear inducing device repeats an idea used to rather better effect with the Keller Machine in The Mind of Evil and the story's lack of a clear resolution is undeniably disappointing, although this may have been unavoidable given that it was always intended to serve as a lead in to the Doctor's next adventure.

Contemporary viewers certainly gave Frontier in Space an overwhelmingly positive reception, according to the BBC's Audience Research Report on the closing episode:

'Despite some criticism that the story... was dull, predictable and came to an unsatisfactory conclusion, this last episode was evidently enjoyed by the majority of those reporting. This had been an exciting and entertaining tale, they said, and the reappearance of the Daleks certainly "got things humming", while the somewhat open-ended conclusion had its advantages in leaving scope for a new but "related" adventure...

'[With] scattered exceptions, those reporting had the warmest praise for the way in which the whole cast made the very most of the script. Jon Pertwee was, as always, excellent as the Doctor, it was said, and both Katy Manning (Jo Grant) and Roger Delgado (the Master) were warmly commended. A few felt the production lacked pace or offered nothing new in the way of "effects", but most were quite satisfied with this aspect of the serial, settings, costumes and make-up (especially for the various "alien" species) being considered very good indeed.

'As always, there was a hard core of opinion that the Doctor Who series had long outlived its entertainment value... Nevertheless, it was clear from viewers' comments that it was still widely regarded as excellent family entertainment, from those who said that their children would never miss it to the rather older viewer who wrote: "I sometimes feel, at 64, that I shouldn't be watching this!", and a considerable number evidently agreed with the member of the sample who said: "I feel this enjoyable piece of fantasy could go on for ever - each new generation is potentially a new race of Doctor Who fans".'

These pleasingly positive sentiments are testament to the fact that Frontier in Space is, overall, one of the strongest stories of the tenth season.

< Carnival of MonstersThird DoctorPlanet of the Daleks >

This episode guide is made up of the text of The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping, and Doctor Who: The Television Companion by David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker.

The Discontinuity Guide © Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping 1995.
Doctor Who: The Television Companion © David J Howe and Stephen James Walker 1998, 2003.

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