CRRRRS 487 Doctor Who: Time-Flight

By Roy Mathur, on 2023-05-25 at 23:55:45--00:40:30 BST, for Captain Roy's Rusty Rocket Radio Show, Listen

Revisit Journal

Time-Flight, as promised, exactly one day after Earthshock. We're on a roll!

Fire up your time pants, we're going in!


Fifth Doctor: Peter Davison
Companion(s): Nyssa: Sarah Sutton, Tegan: Janet Fielding
Notable Cast: Adric: Matthew Waterhouse
Director: Ron Jones; Black Orchid, Time-Flight, Arc of Infinity, Frontios, Vengeance on Varos, and Mindwarp.
Writer: Peter Grimwade
Producer: John Nathan-Turner
Locations: On location at Heathrow and BBC Television Centre, Shepherd's Bush in 1982.
Broadcast: Season 19 (finale), serial 7, story 122, following Earthshock covered in 486, 4 x c. 25 minute episodes, and first broadcast 22--30 March 1982.
Media: Target novelisation by Peter Grimwade (1983) and audiobook read by Peter Davison (2021), VHS (2000), DVD with Arc of Infinfity also (2007), DVD Doctor Who DVD Files 135 (2014).


Well, we were about to go into a pointless bloody war with Argentina, but let's gloss over that stupidity to tell you something far more important. The Goombay Dance Band was at number one with Seven Tears. Another one hit wonder right after Tight Fit's equally unequalled The Lion Sleeps Tonight. I'll say this: it's an earworm.

What Happens

On approach to Heathrow a Concorde vanishes.

The Doctor, hoping to cheer up Nyssa and Tegan, attempts to take them to the Great Exhibition's Crystal Palace in Hyde Park in 1851, but lands in contemporary Heathrow.

Using his UNIT connections, the Doctor convinces the Heathrow authorities to fly a second Concorde, carrying the TARDIS, along the same flight path. They too disappear from the tracking systems, though those on board seemingly land at Heathrow. They realise that they are in the same place, only 140 million years in the past, when the psychic veil projecting the airport lifts.

The occupants of the first plane have become mind-controlled slaves, working to break into the Citadel, for the sorcerous Kalid. They are set free, then Nyssa and Tegan enter the main chamber. His systems interrupted, Kalid's mask fails and his true face is revealed: the Master! Since Castrovalva, the Master's broken TARDIS has trapped him on old Earth, which is why he needs the power source in the Citadel's chamber. However, now with the Doctor's TARDIS in his possession, he tries to reach the chamber.

The Citadel is breached and the Doctor joins Nyssa and Tegan. He discovers that the power within is a gestalt entity comprising of the Xeriphin species stranded on ancient Earth. The evil Xeraphin, who want to ally themselves with the Master, fight with the good Xeraphin for control of the gestalt.

The Master can't get to the chamber, but succeeds in bring the power source to his TARDIS. However, he finds that his TARDIS has been sabotaged by the pilot and his men.

A truce is arranged and the Doctor and Master exchange components.

Tegan directs the survivors to board the repaired Concorde and the TARDIS returns them home. The Doctor's trickery ensures he arrives first. He stops the Master landing and sends him off to Xeraphin's home instead, where he is again trapped.

The Doctor and Nyssa make a quick exit to escape the police, but forget to retrieve Tegan.

What I Thought

Concorde! Ahhh... the iconic, beautiful, cult Anglo-French super plane. I remember it well from childhood. It was noisy, it boomed when it broke the sound barrier, even in South London, but man... it was the sound of the future. Then they grounded it and that was that. We can't do anything right.

He finally gets Tegan back to Heathrow, by accident, and when she no longer wishes to return. For god's sake, Doctor!

Recreating the exact circumstances of the first disappearance i bloody stupid and ends in disaster when the second Concorde also disappears. Really, Doctor!

Professor Hayter of Darlington University is a standard Professor Quatermass-type. A tweed clever-clogs, though without the signature caution, and that is his undoing. The poor old duffer ends up skeletonised into "plasmatol" when he arrogantly assumes he can absorb the entire knowledge-base of the Xeraphin gestalt. Silly sod.

Tegan finally gets to be a stewardess and ushers the rescued passengers aboard the Concorde, 145 million years in the past! Not a bad first day at work!

And we thought the Talons of Weng-Chiang was a bit uncomfortable to watch. A white actor playing an insane gibbering oriental zombie charlatan sorcerer, done up like a western Orientalis's worse nightmare in truly monstrous makeup? How many hideous racist stereotypes are we talking? Oh dear, Aunty Beeb, you outdid yourself.

Isn't it highly risky for the Doctor to trap the Master on the Xeriphin world, where some Xeriphin wish to side with the maniacal Time Lord and conquer the universe? More of that cavalier attitude, or is this tackled in canon later on, or is it merely the result of inconsistent writing?

The exact question I posed last time in Earthshock, as to why Adric couldn't be rescued, is handled with the same vagueness here. The situation is nicely, if unsatisfactorily, surmised in an exchange between Tegan and the Doctor.

TEGAN: We can change what happened if we materialise before Adric was killed.
DOCTOR: And change your own history?
TEGAN: Look, the freighter could still crash into Earth. That doesn't have to be changed. Only Adric doesn't have to be on board.
DOCTOR: Now listen to me, both of you. There are some rules that cannot be broken even with the TARDIS. Don't ever ask me to do anything like that again. You must accept that Adric is dead. His life wasn't wasted. He died trying to save others, just like his brother, Varsh. You know, Adric had a choice. This is the way he wanted it.
Diagnosis? This Doctor is suffers from right git syndrome.

The Master uses an illusion of Adric to dissuade the companions from approaching. The scene ends with Adric screaming. As if we weren't traumatised enough by his death in Earthshock!

More gittitude from the Doctor: he leaves Tegan behind! First Adric, now Tegan. This Doctor is rather cavalier with his companions; very different to New Who's 12th Doctor's "duty of care".

Last time Adric bought the farm in the Cretaceous, when he accidentally piloted the space freighter back in time. Now a Concorde gets warped back to the Jurassic. The time travel aspect of this story too closely matches the previous adventure.

Time travel, the Master, and Concorde? What can I say? It's mostly a good one. Though Time-Flight and the previous Earthshock are doing nothing to endear me to the Fifth Doctor, who strikes me as irresponsible and immature.


"This was the first time a drama production had been allowed to be filmed inside Heathrow Airport."---IMDB (Uncited).

Next Time

Gird thy loins, nerdlings, for next time on CRRRRS you can expect Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, Silo, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, and a lot of the usual random geeky fun.