Number : Season 7, serial 3 of 4.
Which One : Radioactive Spacemen.
Cast : The Doctor : Jon Pertwee
Liz Shaw: Caroline Johns
Brigadier : Nicholas Courtney
Sergeant Benton : John Levene
General Carrington : John Abineri
Ralph Cornish : Ronald Allen
Bruno Taltalian : Robert Cawdron
Miss Rutherford : Cheryl Molineaux
Collinson : Robert Robertson
Grey : Ray Armstrong
Sir James Quinlan : Dallas Cavell
John Wakefield : Michael Wisher
Reegan : William Dysart
Lennox : Cyril Shaps
Dobson : Juan Moreno
Van Heldorf : Gordon Sterne
Masters : John Lord
Flynn : Tony Harwood
Technician : Roy Scammell
UNIT Sergeant : Derek Ware
Corporal Champion : James Haswell
Private Parker : James Clayton
Private Johnson : Geoffrey Beevers
UNIT Soldier : Max Faulkner
Alien voices : Peter Halliday
Alien Space Captain : Peter Noel Cook
Astronaut Van Lyden/Alien Ambassador : Ric Felgate
Astronaut Lefee/Alien Ambassador : Steve Peters
Astronaut Michaels/Alien Ambassador : Neville Simons
Written By : David Whittaker, Trevor Ray, Malcolm Hulke and Terrance Dicks
Produced By : Barry Letts
First UK Broadcast : 21 March – 2 May 1970.
Length : 7 x 25 minute episodes.
Plot : Three astronauts returning from a mission to Mars, are kidnapped by a sabotage group, operating out of UNIT. The human astronauts have been replaced by aliens, who thrive on radiation – and can kill with just a touch.
Whats good : Interesting premise. The alien astronauts as weapons. Ralph Cornish. General Carrington.
Whats bad : Too long. The espionage plot is silly. UNIT’s basic security incompetence.
Review With Spoilers : The Ambassadors Of Death is the third serial of season 7 – and the only episode to feature a one-off short additional title sequence following the main credits – and recap on the previous episode.
Three Astronauts, returning from a Mars mission – go missing and when they finally return to Earth – they are kidnapped by a shadowy splinter cell of UNIT.
The Astronauts are switched with radiation-loving aliens, who can kill with just a touch – but require constant recharge through radioactive isotopes.
It’s a neat idea and the quietly shuffling alien spacemen, have a strange eerie quality about them. Especially, the repeating speech recording from inside the capsule, requesting re-entry.
The Doctor even breaks his Earth exile for a while, by offering to pilot a rocket into orbit, to go looking for the original human Astronauts – replaced by the aliens.
The Ambassadors Of Death is a really tightly acted and well produced serial of Doctor Who. It has some good performances and plenty of strong location work, which is particuarly reflective; of early Pertwee era.
Strong performances from regular Doctor Who character actor; John Abineri as General Carrington – and Caroline Johns as Liz, help; along with a strong performance from Pertwee.
However, due to the script passing through a number of hands – and subsequent rewrites. The plot and narrative is choppy and inconsistent.
The UNIT conspiracy angle is initially mysterious- and promising. However, due to too early a reveal; the viewer gets to knows that General Carrington is behind it all – it quickly becomes tedious.
The other thing that you really notice about The Ambassadors Of Death, is that; it is far too long – at 7 episodes and much of the action, dialogue and plot – is stretched out to fit – the longer running time.
“No! You saw three spacesuits. I don’t know what came down in Recovery 7, but it certainly wasn’t human!” The Doctor
The story really doesn’t have enough in it, to stretch to 2 hours and 15 minutes. A few cuts, to make it a brisk 4-parter; would have made it – a far better paced adventure.
The Brigadier and UNIT get a good supporting role, in this but to their detriment; UNIT seem to be totally incompetent – at protecting the space centre and launchpad, from attacks.
Even though they are fully aware of a conspiracy – and a group of UNIT saboteurs on the loose. As a result, the badguys seem to come and go – from UNIT controlled bases, (as they please); easily killing – or rendering UNIT’s finest ‘redshirt’ guards; unconcious.
There is also a distinct lack of SFX – in The Ambassadors Of Death, bar some model-work of the ‘Mars Seven’ Lander probe – and the alien ship; which leaves some of the Earth-based action scenes – stangely sterile.
The sequences featuring the Doctor piloting the rocket into space, is left to the imagination – or described by mission control. Even though any added SFX, would have dated with time; it would have given a bit more scope – and grandiose to proceedings, which remain flat.
The Ambassadors Of Death is an overly long astronaut/space-rocket romp, which bar a few neat ideas (the alien spacemen) fails to liven up proceedings. As a result, most viewers attention will begin wandering – around episode 4.
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