Doctor Who – The Ark

Ooooh, nice. This is a gem from March 1966 with William Hartnell as the Doctor, Jackie Lane as Dodo, who had just joined the series at the end of the previous story, and future Blue Peter presenter Peter Purves as Steven. All in glorious restored black and white, of course.

The TARDIS materialises on what turns out to be a massive ark ship, taking the surviving population of Earth to a distant planet. Unfortunately, Dodo has a bit of a cold, which is a bit of a problem, as the people of this time have no immunity to it, and lots of the crew – both humans and their alien servants, called Monoids, start to die. In the usual way, there’s a threat to execute the travellers, but this is averted as the Doctor manages to find a cure. But all that just took two episodes, so what’s going on here? It’s worth knowing that at the time, each episode had its own title rather than being billed as part of a story, so for all the audience knew, this could have been a shorter than usual story. But the TARDIS returns to the ark ship to find that a lot of time has passed, and much has changed. The Monoids are now the masters, and the ship’s destination is growing close. And the Monoids are planning to leave the humans on the ship and take the planet for themselves…

Of course, the Doctor sorts it all out with some help from the invisible natives of the planet Refusis, and off everyone goes again.

I enjoyed this one – it’s a bit creaky in places, with the Monoids suffering a bit from dodgy costume syndrome and excess hand gestureitis, but overall it works well, with a good performance from Peter Purves in particular.

Just a small selection of extras this time. In addition to the usual bits, we have:

  • All’s Wells That Ends Wells – assorted talking heads talk about the influence of HG Wells on Doctor Who. Mildly pointless, but Kim Newman’s in it, and he’s always fun.
  • One Hit Wonder – a short piece which tries to work out why some monsters are strictly one-offs, while others keep coming back, hanging off the idea of the Monoids being intended as a recurring foe. Oh dear. But hey, there’s more of Kim Newman, so it’s not a complete waste.
  • Riverside Story – Peter Purves is taken back to the BBC’s Riverside studios, where a lot of the 1960s episodes were recorded. Nice bit of nostalgia.