Frontier in Space

Doctor WhoAfter months of seething suspicion, Earth and Draconia are on the brink of all-out war, with small skirmishes and raids already taking place. As the TARDIS brings the Doctor and Jo into the fray, they discover that those raids are not all that they seem; the attacks are being carried out by neither Earth nor Draconia, but a third party trying to force the two worlds closer to the beginning of war. The Doctor is outraged to discover that this third party is the Master, working with a hired band of Ogron mercenaries, but the Doctor’s attempts to warn both the president of Earth and the royal house on Draconia go largely unheeded – until it is too late. The Doctor, Jo, and several skeptical humans and Draconians track the Master down, discovering that the war is only part of his plan. For the Master has enlisted the help of his deadliest allies yet: the Daleks.

written by Malcolm Hulke
directed by Paul Bernard
music by Dudley Simpson

Guest Cast: Roger Delgado (The Master), John Rees (Hardy), James Culliford (Stewart), Roy Pattison (Draconian Pilot), Peter Birrel (Draconian Prince), Vera Fusek (President), Michael Hawkins (Williams), Louis Mahoney (Newscaster), Karol Hagar (Secretary), Ray Lonn Ashton (Kemp), Lawrence Davidson (Draconian First Secretary), Timothy Craven (Guard), Luan Peters (Sheila), Caroline Hunt (Technician), Madhav Sharma (Patel), Richard Shaw (Cross), Dennis Bowen (Governor), Harold Goldblatt (Professor Dale), Laurence Harrington (Guard), Bill Wilde (Draconian Captain), Stephen Thorne, Michael Kilgarriff, Rick Lester (Ogrons), John Woodnutt (Emperor), Ian Frost (Draconian Messenger), Clifford Elkin (Earth Cruiser Captain), Bill Mitchell (Newscaster), Ramsay Williams (Brook), Stanley Price (Pilot), John Scott Martin, Cy Town, Murphy Grumbar (Daleks), Michael Wisher (Dalek voices)

Broadcast from February 24 through March 31, 1973

LogBook entry & review by Earl Green

Review: Okay, yes, Frontier In Space is slow at times, but it’s also full of textured characters, lots of chases and captures and escapes (wouldn’t be a Pertwee six-parter without ’em, you know), and the introduction of one of Who-dom’s most interesting races: the Draconians. Funny thing is, the tall, dignified bearded lizards have made but one appearance in the entire history of the series, but this story apparently intrigued enough fans that video and audio spinoffs, and novels aplenty, have been inspired by that singular appearance. In hindsight, it’s easy to yawn a bit at the same Samurai code of honor that has since been applied to such other SF aliens as the Minbari, Klingons, and countless others, but in 1973 the Draconians were truly unique.

Frontier In SpaceFrontier In Space, despite all these commendable qualities, boasts a tragic footnote in Doctor Who history: Roger Delgado’s final magnificent turn in the role of the Master. It really wasn’t planned that way, though the character’s exit was – Terrance Dicks has since revealed that a “final confrontation” was already being planned to give the Master a rest, and that unwritten, unproduced story might even have seen Jon Pertwee out of the role of the Doctor. Roger Delgado died in a car crash en route to a film location in Turkey on June 18, 1973, and his death dealt a serious blow to the show – the late Jon Pertwee even cited the death of his dear friend and on-screen nemesis as a primary reason for relinquishing the role of the Doctor.

Frontier In Space can be a bit plodding at times, but if you get the chance to see it in its original six-part format, perhaps taking in only one or two episodes a night, you may find that it’s more fascinating than you might have thought. Certainly all those Draconian fans thought so.