The Ambassadors of Death


Writers: David Whitaker (note: The original script was written by David Whitaker and intended for the Patrick Troughton era.  However, his rewrite proved unusable.  Trevor Ray, the assistant script editor at the time, wrote the first part, while Malcolm Hulke and script editor Terrance Dicks wrote the rest.  David Whitaker received onscreen credit because this was his last story for Doctor Who)

Director: Michael Ferguson

Producer: Barry Letts

No of Episodes: 7

Season: 7 , ep. 3  (12-18)

Companions: Dr. Liz Shaw (Caroline John) and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney)

Summary: Three astronauts have been sent to recover a Martian probe and disappear.  In their place are three alien astronauts who consume radiation and are unknowingly part of a conspiracy.  The Doctor and UNIT must cooperate in order to investigate and discover the real astronauts.

Review: It’s a well-known fact that every script used in a TV program is the work of a committee rather than the single writer that is given credit.  You might think this story is a mess with three actual writers, but it’s actually not bad. This is probably one of the most action-packed stories I’ve ever watched from the classic series. Liz and the Brigadier are at their best. This story shows just how intelligent she is and she and the Doctor work well together. I also like the fact that we never see what the aliens look like, save for the spacesuits.

This story is not without problems. It is quite slow, particularly in the first three parts.  I actually think this could’ve been written as a four or five-part story. But it’s still worth watching, so I say give it a try.  (Note: This title was restored for the DVD version so that the colorization process was less “washed out”.  

Overall Rating: 7/10

Continuity: The Doctor appears to be holding a grudge from when the Brigadier destroyed the Silurian base in “The Silurians.”  This is the only story where the TARDIS’s console is actually seen outside the TARDIS. “The Christmas Invasion” also had aliens intercepting a Martian Probe.The audio drama Red Dawn also had a manned mission to Mars.  Sgt. Benton made his return to the show in this story. (he had previously appeared in the first ever story to feature UNIT, “The Invasion”. The Companion Chronicles drama The Last Post ties into this story.

Trivia: Originally, the human scientists involved in the conspiracy were meant to be Irish, however, since The Troubles were going on, this was changed.  An unusual title sequence was used for this serial, with the sequence cutting off after the show’s logo, repeating the previous week’s cliffhanger, then returning to the titles for the serial’s name, writer and episode number. Also, Private Johnson was played by Geoffrey Beevers, who would later go on to play The Master in “The Keeper of Traken”.



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