The Edge Of Destruction: Doctor Who: Season 1








The Edge Of Destruction SYNOPSIS:

An explosion in the TARDIS, Ian and Susan are hit with slight amnesia, the Doctor is injured and his clock is melting. The crew begin acting strangely toward each other and the Doctor suspects the schoolteachers of sabotaging his ship to force him to return them to 1963.

Susan is beginning to exhibit murderous feelings toward Ian and Barabra and the Doctor attempts to drug his two unwanted guests until he can figure out what is wrong with the TARDIS. While Ian confronts the Doctor, Barbara collects clues to find out why everybody is behaving oddly.

Their strange behaviour is a side effect being caused by the telepathic TARDIS warning them of imminent disaster. Barbara has convinced the Doctor the fast return switch is jammed and if not fixed they will hurtle back to the beginning of time where the ship will be destroyed in the big bang.

Return to top of page

The Edge Of Destruction DETAILS:

Episode Broadcast Run Time Viewership (In Millions)
Episode One: The Edge Of Destruction 8-Feb-64 25:04 10.4
Episode Two: The Brink Of Disaster 15-Feb-64 22:11 9.9

Return to top of page

The Edge Of Destruction CAST & CREW

The Doctor:
William Hartnell (First Doctor)

Carole Ann Ford (Susan Foreman)
William Russell (Ian Chesterton)
Jacqueline Hill (Barbara Wright)

Production Staff for Serial C:
Writer - David Whitaker
Directors - Richard Martin (Episode 1) & Frank Cox (Episode 2)
Script editor - David Whitaker
Producer - Verity Lambert
Associate producer - Mervyn Pinfield

Return to top of page

The Edge Of Destruction REVIEWS


Brink Of Disaster - what ironically well titled episodes. This is what the show must have seemed to be by this little filler piece.

After the huge success of the Daleks we get this four hander play set only within the Tardis. The Edge Of Destruction's bad. Why? Because it was written the day before by the sript editor because some backwards planet story fell through and there were no other sets apart from 'the ship' (You'd know the title of the dropped story Grob) Well that's what I read Grob, didn't know about the BBC Director General stuff. If they had this episode planned and worked out it could have been brilliant but it's clear the actors have no idea what is going on nor did I, it's twaddle.

Hartnell fluffs his lines for the first time, You can actually tell nearly all of them at some point are reading the script off a teleprompter. No reflection on them they just never had a chance to learn it. Plus they seemed all so comradely toward each other when The Daleks concluded and now they are at each others throats even more so than the first story. The opening 5 minutes is almost creepy then it slides down hill from there. Maybe had they thought this entire segment out, fleshed it out to 3 parts, given the actors time to learn it and replaced the cave man story with it, may have turned it into a classic. Rather than 50 minutes of naff TV. Interesting premise, badly executed. 3/10

Also Tim could you mark my Edge of Destruction down one point to 2, the more I think about it the more crap I realise it was.


Depending on who you believe, The Edge of Destruction came about because of one of two things;a) It was commissioned cos the original episode of Dr Who was 13 episodes and this was made to make up the count after the four part Unearthly Child and the seven part Dalek epic. Or -b) The sets for the forthcoming Marco Polo were yet to be built.It turns out that A is correct here as the BBC director at the time - Donald Baverstock - was yet to agree to a full series of the show so at this stage on 13 episodes were commissioned.

The Edge Of Destruction is the earliest equivalent of Fear Her. Whereas Fear Her had......Oh, who am I kidding??? Even by 1960's standards, Fear Her still has fuck all going for it! Anyway, being the self confessed little Who geek that I am (shut up, Tim) one does read a lot of the history and story backgrounds to this little sci fi series and one thing that seems to come up is the description of this two parter as a "character study". This is pretty ironic considering what we know of our four leads so far they are definitely acting OUT of character.

The story, in short, is the TARDIS decides to have an attack of PMT, crack the sads and take it out on our four new-found friends. Everyone starts acting like they are in a drama directed by David Pickup (ask Tim, Goldby) and it goes pear-shaped from there. Scissors are brought out, chairs are attacked and a clock decides, for no apparent reason, to melt. Everyone blacks out and then comes round. No one knows who is who and everyone decides to let their acting skills take a holiday for the next forty five minutes. Then Ian blacks out. Then Susan. Ian comes round. Then Barbara blacks out. Then the Doctor poisons everyone. Then...... maybe I blacked out too! The first episode directed by Richard Martin is worse than the second one directed by Frank Cox (which in itself is ironic as Frank Cox directed The Sensorites and THAT is even worse!!!!!!)

The problem here is that the script makes no sense no matter how you look at it; thriller, character study, sci-fi, one-act play, whatever. And since the script makes no sense, the actors have no idea what they are doing - the actors themselves in various interviews actually back this up. Its just so bloody strange!! Anyway the thing ends (spoilers ahead) by the Doctor realising that the spring on the "fast return" (which is written in nice black felt tip pen!) switch is busted and they are heading back to the beginning of the universe. It makes you wonder that while they are at the beginning of the universe why they didn't wave a cheery "hello" to the future Tardis occupants from "Castrovalva" or "Terminus" or even further with "Slipback" or even further again with "The Runaway Bride". Hey; that's five lots of Tardises appearing during the same event. That's even more of an unrealistic coincidence that three Time Lords turning up at the same period in history for three unrelated reasons in Mark of the Rani!!!

Again, the new remastering of this episode makes a difference but it doesn't hide the tedium or the crap acting and script. So its a lovely number 2 from me today.


The Edge of Destruction.

Okay, okay OKAY! Who slipped me the LSD? What the hell is this? I was watching Hartnell era Doctor Who. All of a sudden I’m in tripped out land with Susan and her scissors (Verity Lambert said they might have gone a bit too far on reflection with that scene. No shit Sherlock!) the Doctor is potty, okay no change there... Ian and Barbara are the only pseudo good guys. Yes the two parts with the same title but different adjectives are here! Inside the Spaceship! Or ‘this is what the sixties was really like!’ So why does Ian forget everything and think he’s back at school? Oooooh nice lighting in the TARDIS! Cool bandana Mr Hartnell! Weeeeheeeeeee. Why is Ian talking like a Dalek? I’m fucking freaked out. Five minutes in. This review is almost as weird as the story. Oh that ‘food’ dispensing machine makes a guest appearance. Uncredited as well.

In all seriousness this is a hard story to judge. It’s as adult at times as Hartnell gets. It’s Doctor Who’s answer to the episodes shot in the main set cos the season’s budget has been blowed. Only the main characters, no guest stars. Whitaker had to write something to fill in the gap hey? And he did. Oh Susan is doing the funky chicken when she tries to touch the console Why, when a switch is stuck the whole crew should go wacko I have no idea. If the TARDIS knows there’s a problem, why doesn’t it just flash the answer up on the scanner. I mean I don’t think it’s particularly bad, but it is the first of those lame answered endings. Now Susan has those scissors. No explanation is given for the character’s bizarre descent into utter madness.

Okay that’s enough blabber. A score is needed. Hmmm. 0.5/10.satisfied? Me neither.

Return to top of page

Return from The Edge Of Destruction to Dr Who Classic Series


Return to the Old TV Shows home page

Screen Shots:

Dr Who Edge Of Destruction Titles

Dr Who Edge Of Destruction Comatose Doctor

Dr Who Edge Of Destruction Space

Edge Of Destruction Doctor unconscious

Edge Of Destruction Susan shocked

Edge Of Destruction Doctor Ian and Barbara

Edge Of Destruction Susan attacks

Edge Of Destruction melted clockface

Edge Of Destruction the Doctor

Edge Of Destruction Susan threatens Ian

Edge Of Destruction melted watchface

Edge Of Destruction Injured Doctor and Ian

Edge Of Destruction Susan

Edge Of Destruction Ian and Barbara

Edge Of Destruction Suspicious Doctor

Edge Of Destruction Barbara notices melted clockface

Edge Of Destruction Doctor deduces

Edge Of Destruction Tardis responds

Edge Of Destruction the Doctor declares

Edge Of Destruction space again