The Ambassadors of Death

Doctor WhoA British manned Mars mission has fallen silent, its crew incommunicado for months. A second manned space vehicle is launched to recover the first, but it too loses contact with Earth. Strange, piercing signals are heard in Space Command on Earth, and the Doctor quickly realizes that they may be messages from whoever took the astronauts – only to hear a similar coded reply being sent from somewhere on Earth moments later. The Brigadier is able to trace the source of the reply and finds that the people who transmitted it are better organized and better armed than anyone suspected, and they even have allies within Space Command who try to sabotage the Doctor’s analysis of the original message. The recovery mission returns to Earth, but when the hatch is opened, the crew is nowhere to be found. Three astronauts did, in fact, arrive safely, but they aren’t from Earth. When Liz is kidnapped and forced to experiment on the alien visitors, and the military suddenly becomes reluctant to aid the Brigadier, the Doctor finds himself racing against time to avert an interplanetary war sparked by one paranoid man.

written by David Whitaker
directed by Michael Ferguson
music by Dudley Simpson

Guest Cast: John Levene (Sergeant Benton), Robert Crawdon (Taltalian), Ric Felgate (Van Lyden), Ronald Allen (Ralph Cornish), Michael Wisher (John Wakefield), Cheryl Molineaux (Miss Rutherford), John Abineri (Carrington), Ray Armstrong (Grey), Robert Robertson (Collinson), Juan Moreno (Dobson), James Haswell (Champion), Bernard Martin (Control Room Assistant), Dallas Cavell (Quinlan), Steve Peters, Neville Simons (Astronauts), Gordon Sterne (Heldorf), William Dysart (Reegan), Cyril Shaps (Lennox), John Lord (Masters), Max Faulkner (Soldier), Joanna Ross (First Assistant), Carl Conway (Second Assistant), Ric Felgate (Astronaut), James Clayton (Parker), Peter Noel Cook (Alien), Peter Halliday (Alien voice), Neville Simons (Michaels), Steve Peters (Lefee), Geoffrey Beevers (Johnson), Roy Scammell (Peterson), Tony Harwood (Flynn)

Broadcast from March 21 through May 2, 1970

LogBook entry & review by Earl Green

Of the three seven-parters in this season, Ambassadors Of Death seems the longest. There are numerous car chase, hijacking, and military action scenes that could’ve been pared down to make this a six-parter at most, but for the most part, Ambassadors is a complex story that needs that time to unravel, even if it drags on a bit slower than Silurians or Inferno (though some may disagree with me there). This is also probably the most X-Files-ish Doctor Who story of them all, with renegade conspiracies within the government, kidnappings, black ops of all kinds, and paranoia to spare. Adding to the fun is the best Dudley Simpson score ever, with one gently undulating cue recurring throughout the seven episodes, often coinciding with the ethereal appearance of the spacesuit-clad aliens. On a trivial note, beloved UNIT regular Sergeant Benton makes his first appearance since 1968’s The Invasion…so I guess he wasn’t actually a UNIT regular, beloved or otherwise, until this story.