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Serial C:
Inside The Spaceship
(aka The Edge Of Destruction, Beyond The Sun)

Plot

Something is very wrong with the TARDIS. The doors open to reveal a white void, clock faces melt, and each of its occupants behave in an increasingly erratic, paranoid and even violent manner. Has some strange force invaded the TARDIS, or is one of the time travellers actually sabotaging the Ship? As the seconds slip away and hysteria mounts, the truth may doom them all.

Production

Doctor Who was nearly cancelled before it even began. In late October 1963, BBC Chief of Programmes Donald Baverstock had effectively indicated that he would not allow the show to proceed beyond its initial four-part serial, due to perceived cost overruns. Head of Drama Sydney Newman and Head of Serials Donald Wilson -- two of the chief architects of Doctor Who -- intervened and managed to assuage Baverstock's concerns. The result was that Baverstock agreed to authorise the production of the first thirteen Doctor Who episodes.

Unfortunately, at this stage the first three serials were 100,000 BC (four parts), The Daleks (seven parts) and John Lucarotti's Marco Polo (also seven parts). Because the thirteen-episode order would only take the series up to the second installment of Lucarotti's story, it was agreed that a new two-part adventure should be developed which would be inserted in between The Daleks and Marco Polo. Story editor David Whitaker agreed to take on the task of writing these scripts over the course of a weekend. By the end of October, Inside The Spaceship was officially announced as Serial C. (Some references cite “Beyond The Sun” as an alternative title for this story, but in fact this was a working title for The Daleks. The confusion arose when a mid-Seventies BBC Enterprises document used the incorrect title.)

Due to concerns about a story editor commissioning himself, Whitaker agreed that he would be credited only as the adventure's author. He was not formally commissioned until several months later, on February 10th, 1964. As the basis of his story, Whitaker turned to an idea he had mooted during July 1963 of a TARDIS-based adventure which would serve as a showcase for both the Ship and its passengers. Moreover, it would enable the serial to be produced very cheaply, further allaying concerns about Doctor Who's budget. As an added bonus, this would allow the first three serials to exploit the three different types of settings originally envisaged for the programme -- past, future and “sideways” -- something which had been lost when CE Webber's “The Giants” (in which the Doctor and his companions are shrunk to just inches in height) had been dropped as the debut adventure.

The director originally assigned to Inside The Spaceship was Paddy Russell, one of the first female directors at the BBC. Russell was not available for the studio dates, however, and Doctor Who's associate producer, Mervyn Pinfield, was suggested as her replacement. Ultimately, Richard Martin -- who had directed some episodes of the preceding story, The Daleks -- was pencilled in to helm Serial C. As recording approached, slight changes were made to the adventure's climax, having Barbara alone deducing that the TARDIS was trying to communicate with its passengers (whereas originally this achievement was shared with Ian). In rehearsals, the resolution to this crisis was made more exciting: Whitaker's script had simply described the Doctor flipping the Fast Return Switch to save the Ship.

Subsequently, it was realised that Martin would not be available to helm The Brink Of Disaster. As such, it was decided to allocate the episode to Frank Cox, who had recently completed the directors' training course. Cox had originally aspired to be an actor but, after being refused admission to RADA, became a floor assistant at the BBC.

Requiring no filming, nor indeed any supporting cast, Inside The Spaceship went before the cameras on two consecutive Fridays starting on January 17th, at Lime Grove Studio D.

Sources
  • Doctor Who: The Handbook: The First Doctor by David J Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker (1994), Virgin Publishing, ISBN 0 426 20430 1.
  • Doctor Who: The Sixties by David J Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker (1992), Virgin Publishing, ISBN 1 85227 420 4.
  • Doctor Who Magazine #276, 7th April 1999, “Archive: Inside The Spaceship” by Andrew Pixley, Panini UK Ltd.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #7, 12th May 2004, “Do You Want To Know A Secret?” by Andrew Pixley, Panini Publishing Ltd.

Original Transmission
1: The Edge Of Destruction
Date 8th Feb 1964
Time 5.15pm
Duration 25'04"
Viewers (more) 10.4m (21st)
· BBC TV 10.4m
Appreciation 61%
2: The Brink Of Disaster
Date 15th Feb 1964
Time 5.17pm
Duration 22'11"
Viewers (more) 9.9m (31st)
· BBC TV 9.9m
Appreciation 60%


Cast
Dr Who
William Hartnell
Ian Chesterton
William Russell
Barbara Wright
Jacqueline Hill
Susan Foreman
Carole Ann Ford


Crew
Written by
David Whitaker
Directed by
Richard Martin (episode 1)
Frank Cox (episode 2)
Produced by
Verity Lambert
(more)

Title music by
Ron Grainer
BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Designer
Raymond Cusick
Associate Producer
Mervyn Pinfield


Media
DVD Release
Doctor Who: The Beginning (2006; boxed set)
Buy: Canada · UK · USA
Audio Release
Doctor Who: The Edge Of Destruction narrated by William Russell (2011; novelisation talking book)
Buy: Canada · UK · USA
Novelisation
Doctor Who: The Edge Of Destruction by Nigel Robinson (1988)

Updated 9th January 2011