OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 582
STORY NUMBER: 124
TRANSMITTED: Monday 22 March 1982
WRITER: Peter Grimwade
DIRECTOR: Ron Jones
SCRIPT EDITOR: Eric Saward
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 10.1 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Time-Flight/ Arc of Infinity
Heathrow Airport tracks the loss of one of it's Concorde aircraft by radar. Affected by the same disturbance the Tardis is forced onto Heathrow's flightpath and then into the terminal buildings where the Doctor uses his UNIT credentials to explain their presence and is co-opted into the investigation. He has the Tardis loaded onto a second Concorde flight which also vanishes from Heathrow's radar but the crew find they have landed at the airport. The Doctor proves it is an illusion and they are in fact in a barren prehistoric landscape with the original Concorde. While the Doctor & Tegan investigate a spaceship wreck the Tardis is seized by passengers from the first flight and taken away to the citadel of the wizard Kalid who is observing proceedings. Two of the crew of the Doctor's Concorde pursue their colleagues but are surrounded by grey alien creatures and teleported away. When the Doctor returns the creatures come for him too....
You know what this is ? It's "we've done a deal with Heathrow Airport to use it and a Concorde in a program. Look everyone - it's Concorde!" And while the location work at Heathrow looks realistic, aided by a layer of snow, the alien landscape in the studio is poor, looking like it's a studio, and the script by first time writer but successful director Peter Grimwade is somewhat pedestrian. And of course as soon as we see Heathrow we're thinking "Gatwick Airport" & "Faceless Ones".
It's nice to see the events of the last episode referenced as the Doctor tries to explain why he couldn't go back for Adric..... but fails completely. My point from yesterday stands: There's a considerable gap in time between the escape pod launching and the freighter being destroyed, how does the Doctor know what has happened on the bridge during this time? Why doesn't he land the Tardis on the bridge the moment the escape pod leaves and rescues Adric? Still it's good to know Scott, Briggs, Berger and the remaining Trooper don't get marooned on prehistoric Earth forever. It's also nice to see the Doctor's connection with UNIT being given it's first mention in the series for donkeys years. UNIT would have been relatively fresh in viewers' minds following the repeats of The Three Doctors during the Five Faces of Doctor Who the previous November.
I find it rather humorous that having spent most of the season trying to get Tegan back to Heathrow airport that it's only when she's decided she wants to stay and he's aiming for somewhere else that the Tardis lands there!
On first viewing in 1982 I found the figure of the Kalid (poor choice of name considering there's a significant alien race in Doctor Who called the Kaleds) an interesting figure, surrounded by technology in the middle of the prehistoric landscape. He must be a survivor of the crashed spaceship the Doctor and Tegan found. The Kalid's credited actor is Leon Ny Taiy..... The Captain of the first Concorde, Captain Urquhart, is played by John Flint who was William des Preaux in The Crusade. Andrews, the head of security at Heathrow, is a familiar figure to sit com viewers in the 80s: he's played by Peter Cellier who was in Yes Minister and it;s sequel Yes, Prime Minister as Sir Frank Gordon, the Permanent Secretary to HM Treasury. When I saw Horton, the radar operator played by Peter Dahlsen, all I could think of was how much he reminded me of Fred Mumford, the original lead character in Rentaghost played by Anthony Jackson. It doesn't help that his superior Sheard, played by Brian McDermott pays more than a passing resemblance to Edward Brayshaw (Reign of Terror/The War Games) who was Mr Meeker in Rentaghost!
There is a rather ominous milestone we must mark with this episode: This is the last time the original series of Doctor Who records a viewing figure over the 10 million mark.