CRRRaSh! 290 Doctor Who: Frontier in Space

By Roy Mathur, on 2019-12-04, at 12:50:12 to 13:30:47 GMT, for Captain Roy's Rocket Radio Show, Listen

Doctor Who: Frontier in Space (1973)

Cast and Production

Third Doctor: Jon Pertwee
Jo Grant: Katy Manning
Director: Paul Bernard
Writer: Malcolm Hulke
Producer: Barry Letts
Third serial/story of season 10, 6 x 25 minute episodes, 24 February to 31 March 1973.

On This Day

In lieu of no trailers or clips due to the big bullying media megacorps, I am instead returning to giving you a brief flavour of the day of the first broadcast.

Arsenal, my football team, made it through to the FA Cup semi-finals, and The Sweet were number one in the singles chart with Blockbuster.

On a personal front, I was continuing to vigorously not enjoy school in SE London.

What Happens

The Doctor and Jo arrive on a spacecraft that is suddenly attacked. The human crew, suffering from hallucinations, take them prisoners as Draconian spies. They are taken to earth and interviewed by the President of Earth, then imprisoned and interrogated. They try to torture the Doctor with a mind probe, but the machine breaks down.

Later, an escape is arranged by the Draconian diplomats, but this time, the Doctor is suspected of being a human spy. The Doctor is recaptured by the humans and sent to a penal colony on the Moon.

The Master, impersonating a commissioner, has extradition papers from an ex-colony world for the Doctor's arrest, and arrives in time to save the Doctor from a sabotaged attempted escape. The Master has also captured Jo and the begins the journey back to his hideout on the world of the Ogrons. In the midst of an escape attempt by the Doctor and Jo, Draconians seize them and take them to the Draconian Emperor. The Doctor, who helped Draconia many years before, attempts to broker a peace by explaining that it is the Master who is trying to start a war with the use of his fear inducing hypnosound hallucination device, but is stymied by a sudden attack of Ogrons summoned by a signal from the Master. In the scuffle, the Emperor sees the through the disguise to the Ogron beneath. To stop the war, the Doctor, Jo, and the Draconion Prince start their journey back to Earth with an Ogron prisoner as evidence, but are attacked by the Master's ship and Jo is taken. Without the prisoner, the President of Earth doesn't believe the Doctor, so the Doctor suggests they go to the Ogron world.

They land on the Ogron world, fight some Orgons, then confront the Master and his true paymasters; the Daleks. The Doctor surmises that the Daleks wish to set the human and Draconian empires at odds, then mop up after the slaughter. He suggests the humans and Draconians should retreat to their home planets for reinforcements, then return and attack the Daleks. As the Doctor and Jo make their way to the TARDIS, a battle ensues and a stray shot from the Master's gun hits the Doctor in the head. With Jo's help they enter the TARDIS, where he transmits a telepathic message to the Time Lords on Gallifrey.

What I Thought

Another of those very Blake's 7-like sets, locations, and wardrobe. Imperial Earth, like Federation Earth, is very clean and clinical, and outside there is lot's on hard angles and concrete. There's even a Madame President of Earth, though she is a lot nicer than Servalan.

There's a lot of extra plot that doesn't seem to go anywhere; like the Doctor meeting up with political prisoners on the Moon and the escape attempt.

As well as a female earth president, diversity seems to be improving. There is a young brown man (Madhav Sharma) of the Peace Party who actually has dialogue, a black male news presenter (Louis Mahoney ;he also had a part in another OldWho story and a NewWho story), and numerous women in the background as government staff and prisoners.

I felt the extra episodes and the artificially stretched out script and all that toing and froing made the story thin in places.

The Master again? I love Roger Delgado and could happily watch him in anything, but having him pop up yet again... Oh well, might as well get used to it. Besides, how many times have I said this very same thing now? (To keep the rewatch interesting, I'm deliberately not reading ahead, so I don't know exactly how many more Pertwee/Delgado duels to expect).

Jo's time with the Doctor, combating his arch-nemesis, the Master, who favours hypnosis as a weapon, is clearly paying off. She has learned to resist telepathic mind control, as we can see from the way she defeats the Master's hypnosound machine.

There's a cliffhanger ending and I supposed you'll have to tune in again to hear what, I'm assuming, is an almighty punch-up with those Dalek gits.


The president's masseur is played by Luan Peters AKA Karol Keyes, but born Carol A. Hirsch in Bethnal Green, London. She was also in the Doctor Who: The Macra Terror (1967), a Hammer regular in the 70s, as well as singer.

The president herself is played Czech actress Vera Fusek. The family still own the dress she wore for the role.

Lots of aliens! Draconians, Ogrons, and, thanks to the hypnosound device, a hallucination of a Drashig (from the previous story), a Sea Devil, and another alien I didn't recognise, and, of course, finally, the Daleks.