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Frontier in Space
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Season Number: Season 10
Story Number: 67
Doctor: Third Doctor
Companions: Jo Grant
Writer: Malcolm Hulke
Director: Paul Bernard
Broadcast: 24th February - 31st March 1973
Format: 6 25-minute Episodes
Previous Story: Carnival of Monsters
Following Story: Planet of the Daleks
"Believe what you want, Miss Grant, I have my reasons. Now, are you coming, or do you really wish to vegetate in this hole for the rest of your natural?"
―The Master



The Doctor and Jo are caught up in the escalating tension between planets Earth and Draconia, and discover that the Master is secretly working to provoke the two sides into all-out war.


Episode One

As the Earth cargo ship C982 moves through hyperspace, it narrowly avoids a collision with the TARDIS, which dematerialises out of the way and rematerialises in the ship's hold. As the Doctor determines that they are in the 26th century, Jo sees a ship come alongside and hears a strange, high-pitched buzz. Before her eyes, the ship shimmers, changing shape, turning into a Draconian Galaxy-class battlecruiser. The two pilots, Stewart and Hardy, send out a distress signal and prepare for battle. When Hardy goes to get weapons, he meets the Doctor, but thanks to the sound emitted by the enemy ship, sees him and Jo as Draconians. Hardy escorts the Doctor and Jo at gunpoint to the ship as the Draconian captain orders C982 to surrender its cargo or be destroyed.

On Earth, the President and the Draconian ambassador (who is also the Emperor's son) accuse each other of attacking the other's ships and violating the frontier established by treaty between the two empires. General Williams reports to the President that a mission to rescue C982 is being prepared. Williams's hostility against the Draconians is well known — it was his actions that started the original war between the two sides and the Prince believes Williams wants war again, a war the Prince warns the President that will see Earth destroyed. News of the attack spreads and anti-Draconian riots break out on Earth, with the opposition calling for the government to take action.

Locked up in C982's hold, the Doctor deduces that the strange sound was some kind of sonic hypnosis device that caused Hardy to hallucinate and see what he most feared. As the enemy boarding party burns its way through the airlocks, Hardy gets the Doctor and Jo to use as hostages, but when the airlock door bursts open, the boarders are not Draconians, but Ogrons. The Ogrons' energy weapons stun the two pilots and the Doctor. They then tie Jo up, taking the ship's cargo and the TARDIS as they leave. When the Doctor revives and releases Jo, she tells him what the Ogrons did, and wonders if they are working for the Daleks, as they were when she first met them. The Doctor points out, however, that the Ogrons are mercenaries. When the rescue party arrives, Hardy and Stewart have stopped hallucinating, but with their memories garbled, accuse the Doctor and Jo of being Draconian spies...

Episode Two

The two travellers get locked up again as C982 heads back to Earth. General Williams believes the Doctor and Jo are human agents planted by the Draconians to sabotage any war effort by Earth. He brings the two travellers to confront the Draconian Prince, but the Doctor denies working for the Draconians. He tries to convince the President that a third party is trying to provoke the two empires into war. However, as he can provide no reason why someone would want to, Williams orders the Doctor and Jo be taken away and vows he will get the truth out of them.

In the Draconian embassy, the Prince arranges to help Jo and the Doctor "escape" so that they can be questioned. When the two are escorted from their cell to be brought to the President, a Draconian squad attacks, taking the Doctor prisoner. When Jo tries to get more guards to help, she is arrested instead. The Draconians question the Doctor, believing that he is involved in a plot with Williams to provoke a new war. The Doctor manages to escape the embassy, but is recaptured in the compound by Earth troops. Once back in the cell with Jo, however, she hears the same sound as on C982. Outside, the Ogrons raid the prison, being seen as Draconians thanks to the hypnosound. They break into the Doctor's cell and order him to go with them....

Episode Three

The second escape goes no better than the first: the Doctor is recaptured yet again and the Ogrons disappear. This second "rescue attempt" cements Williams' suspicions, making him demand that the President give him the authority to strike first against the Draconians. The President agrees to break off diplomatic relations but will not go further without conclusive proof.

Williams places the Doctor under a mind probe, but it indicates the Doctor is telling the truth. Refusing to believe it, Williams orders increased power, but eventually the probe overloads. The President orders that the Doctor be sent to the Lunar Penal Colony where political prisoners are exiled for life, while Jo remains on Earth. Williams and the President receive records from the Dominion government of Sirius IV, an Earth colony planet that has achieved a degree of autonomy from Earth. The records "prove" the Doctor and Jo are citizens of Sirius IV as well as career criminals. A commissioner from the Dominion has arrived to claim jurisdiction — who is in actuality the Doctor's old enemy, the Master

On the Moon, the Doctor meets Professor Dale of the Peace Party, who shows him around. The Doctor tries to get Dale to trust him and include him in his plans for escape. On Earth, Jo of course recognises the Master immediately, and surmises correctly that he was behind the Ogron attacks. The Master found out about the Doctor and Jo's presence when the Ogrons brought him the TARDIS. Given the unsavoury choice of going with the Master or staying in her cell, Jo agrees to go with him to fetch the Doctor.

Despite his fantastic story, Dale believes the Doctor. The peace with the Draconians lasted many years, but suddenly devolved into senseless acts of hostility. The Doctor's story would explain a great deal. Dale outlines the escape plan: Cross, one of the overseers, will leave two spacesuits near an airlock, and they will walk across the lunar surface to steal a spaceship. Dale offers to take the Doctor back to Earth where he can tell his story to Dale's contacts in the press and government. However, once inside the airlock, they find oxygen tanks for the suits are empty. Cross has double-crossed them, and the room is depressurising...

Episode Four

At the last moment, the Master arrives and restores the room's atmosphere. The Master obtains custody of the Doctor, and gets the Doctor to come along quietly by revealing that he has Jo. Reunited with Jo in a cell in the Master's ship, the Doctor wonders why he is still alive. The Master explains that his employers are very interested in the Doctor. The Master sets the automatic controls for the Ogron homeworld. Under the cover of telling Jo stories of his life, the Doctor uses a hidden steel wire to file his way through the hinges of the cell. While Jo blocks the security camera and natters on, pretending to continue to conversation, the Doctor sneaks out. Donning a spacesuit, the Doctor exits the ship and makes his way across the hull and into the flight deck. The Master puts Jo in an airlock, threatening to eject her into space if the Doctor does not surrender, but the Doctor takes him by surprise. As the two face off, they do not notice a Draconian battlecruiser approaching. It docks, and enters the airlock where Jo is located.

The Draconian captain informs them that, as all diplomatic relations with Earth have been severed, violating Draconian space is punishable by death. The Doctor says he has vital evidence for the Emperor and asks to speak to him. The captain decides to lock up all three of them and take them back to Draconia. However, the Master secretly activates a device whose signal is picked up by the Ogrons.

Episode Five

As the ship arrives on Draconia, the Prince is speaking with his father, asking him for permission to strike first at Earth. The Emperor, like the President, is hesitant, as he knows such a war could bring down both empires.

The Doctor, Jo and the Master are presented to the Emperor and the Doctor gives the ritual greeting, "My life at your command." The Prince is incensed that the Doctor has the temerity to address the Emperor like a Draconian noble, but the Doctor says that he is a noble of Draconia — the title was given him by the 15th Emperor, five centuries before when he aided Draconia against a plague from outer space. The Doctor accuses the Master of trying to instigate a war between Earth and Draconia using Ogrons and the hypnosound device. As the Emperor considers this, a courtier announces that an Earth spaceship has arrived. Jo hears the sound of the sonic device, and realises it is the Ogrons. They burst in, guns blazing, and retreat with the Master, leaving several dead Draconians in their wake. One Ogron has been knocked out by the Doctor, and as the effects of the hypnosound fade, the Emperor sees the "Earthman" before him transform into its true form. He then realises the Doctor is speaking the truth.

The Emperor determines that the Ogron must be shown to the Earth authorities, but as a Draconian ship would be shot down, the Prince, the Doctor and Jo will take the Master's police ship. As they cross the frontier into Earth space, they spot another ship following them. However, by the time they identify it as the Ogron ship, it has already launched its missiles. As the Doctor take evasive action, the captive Ogron breaks out of its cell, overpowering its Draconian guard. It enters the flight deck and in the struggle cuts the ship's speed. The Prince and the Doctor subdue the Ogron, but the Master's ship catches up and a party boards the police ship. A firefight breaks out on the flight deck, just as an Earth battlecruiser shows up. The Master recalls the boarding party, who take Jo captive along with rescuing the Ogron prisoner, and their ship zips away. The Earth battlercruiser places the Doctor's ship under arrest.

Without the Ogron, the President is not convinced. The Doctor suggests an expedition to the Ogron homeworld, but Williams thinks it is a Draconian trick to divide Earth's forces. The Prince expects such a response from Williams — after all, he started the first war. Williams protests, but the Prince reveals what is in the Draconian court records. Twenty years before, the Draconians sent a battlecruiser to meet the Earth Empire on a diplomatic mission. When the Draconian ship did not answer the Earth ship's hails, Williams gave the order to attack, believing that the Draconian ship was about to attack his damaged vessel. The battlecruiser was unarmed, its missile banks empty, and the reason it did not answer was because its communications systems were destroyed in a neutron storm, the same storm that had damaged Williams's ship. Williams is shaken by the Prince's revelation and apologises for the wrong he had done to the Draconians. Williams now intends to lead the expedition to the Ogron planet himself.

The Master brings Jo to a bunker on the Ogron homeworld, where he shows her the TARDIS, which he plans to use as bait for the Doctor in addition to Jo herself. He tries to hypnotise Jo, first with his own powers and then with the hypnosound.

Episode Six

However, Jo's mind is strong enough to resist, and the Master orders her to be taken away. An Ogron reports that one of their ships found and attacked two Earth cargo ships, destroying one. The Master is delighted, as this means that war is not far off, and indeed, demands for war from Earth are at a fever pitch.

Williams prepares his personal scout ship, with the Doctor and the Prince accompanying and heads at maximum speed to the coordinates the Doctor took from the Master's ship. Jo manages to dig her way into the next, unlocked cell and sneak further into the bunker as Williams's ship enters orbit. She pockets the hypnosound, then finds a pad with the coordinates of the planet and bunker on it and transmits a distress signal with the information. The Master shows up, revealing that the signal was muted, and the only person who could have picked it up was the Doctor, whose ship he detected in orbit around the planet. When the Doctor comes, the trap will be sprung.

Williams's crew lands the scout nearby, not knowing the Ogrons have set up an ambush. The Ogrons open fire on the landing party, but are frightened away by an orange, slug-like lizard they call the Eater. The Master is furious, and warns the Ogrons that their masters are coming, which makes them even more terrified than they were of the monster. Williams's party hears the roar of a spaceship landing, and when they look up on the ridge, they see the Master... accompanied by several Daleks, who exterminate Williams's men before they can even fire. The Daleks want to exterminate the Doctor immediately, but the Master proposes that the Doctor be placed in his hands, to be allowed to see the galaxy and Earth in ruins before they kill him. The Gold Dalek agrees, and leaves for its ship, to go and prepare the Dalek army on another planet.

Answering the Prince's question, the Doctor explains that the Daleks want a war between Earth and Draconia so both empires will destroy each other, and then the Daleks can pick up the pieces. The Doctor modifies the stolen hypnosound, making the Ogron guard see him as the Gold Dalek, and in fear, it unlocks the gate to the cell. The Doctor tells Williams and the Prince to get the word back to their respective governments and mount a joint expedition against the base on the Ogron planet. The Doctor and Jo find their way to the TARDIS, but are surrounded by the Ogrons and the Master, who trains a blaster on the Doctor. The Doctor activates the hypnosound, panicking the Ogrons. One knocks the Master's arm, making him fire, the shot grazing the Doctor's head. The Master and the Ogrons scatter.

The Doctor, barely conscious, asks Jo to help him into the TARDIS. He staggers over to the console, dematerialising the ship, then pressing his palms to the telepathic circuits. The Doctor is sending a message to the Time Lords...


  1. 1.0 1.1 This actor would have been credited for episode 2, had not the BBC run the same credits for both Episodes 1 and 2
  2. 2.0 2.1 This actor was credited for episode 2, even though he only appeared in episode 1
  3. This actor was credited for episode 6, but never appeared in this serial



  • There are brief appearances of a Drashig, a Sea Devil and a mutant when the Master uses his fear machine on Jo.
  • Jo mentions again the uncle that got her a job at UNIT and the lack of romance involved in it and the drudgery involved. Friends and family think she goes on glamorous secret agent missions. She compares the Brigadier, unfavourably, to James Bond. (Like the Doctor, she appears to have a monologue in order to cover the Doctor's escape.)
  • In a moment of leisure, the Master relaxes with a copy of the H.G. Wells novel The War of the Worlds. He characterises the Daleks, his ostensible allies, privately, as "stupid tin boxes".
  • The Doctor's sonic screwdriver can't undo bolts, unless the polarity of the power source is reversed, making it into an electromagnet.

The Doctor

  • The Doctor once served as a delegate at the Third Intergalactic Peace Conference, though en route he got waylaid by Medusoids who used the mind probe on him and discovered that he was on his way to meet a giant rabbit, a pink elephant and a purple horse with yellow spots, all delegates at the Third Intergalactic Peace Conference.
  • Circa the year 2040, the Doctor helped the Draconians with a space plague and so they receive him as an honoured guest. He tells Jo the story of his trial by the Time Lords, his forced regeneration and his exile to Earth, though perhaps mainly as a way to conceal the fact that he meanwhile manages to cut his way out of an iron cell. The Master says that the Doctor "does not fear death".

Story Notes

  • This story had the working title: Frontiers in Space
  • An unfortunate error was made at the time of production, whereby one of the on-screen cast credit slides for Episode One was inadvertently substituted for one of those from Episode Two. This resulted in Lawrence Davidson (Draconian First Secretary) and Timothy Craven (Cell Guard) not being credited on-screen for Episode Two, though they were credited in Radio Times, and Louis Mahoney (Newscaster) and Roy Pattison (Draconian Space Pilot) being repeated – even though their characters appeared only in Episode One.
  • Assistant floor manager John Bradburn plays the 'Ogron eater' monster seen on the Ogrons' planet.
  • This story marks Roger Delgado's last appearance in Doctor Who. On 18th June 1973 he was killed in a car crash in Turkey while on the way to the location for a film called Bell of Tibet. As a result of Delgado's death, the writers chose not to cast a new actor in the role of the Master and instead abandoned future plans for the character's interaction with the Third Doctor. The Master would eventually return several years later in The Deadly Assassin but would not become a regularly recurring villain again until The Keeper of Traken during which the part was passed to Anthony Ainley, who would become a recurring guest star during the final seasons of the original series.
  • Episode Six had to be revised after it was delivered by director Paul Bernard. Barry Letts greatly disliked the way the Ogron Eater had been realized by the production team, and tried to limit its inclusion in the serial. Unfortunately, it was center stage in the final moments of Episode Six, and the only way to get rid of it was to film a corrective pick-up on the first day of studio recording for Planet of the Daleks. This meant that, technically, Episode Six contained some work by Planet director, David Maloney. However, this did not alter Bernard's sole directing credit for the episode.


  • Episode 1 - 9.1 million viewers
  • Episode 2 - 7.8 million viewers
  • Episode 3 - 7.5 million viewers
  • Episode 4 - 7.1 million viewers
  • Episode 5 - 7.7 million viewers
  • Episode 6 - 8.9 million viewers


  • The fifth episode as seen on the BBC video release of this story, which is about a minute longer than the one originally transmitted and features the abandoned Delaware synthesiser arrangement of the theme music, is a special 'extended version'. (It is a rough cut that was prepared during the original editing of the story and never intended for public consumption.)
  • Roger Delgado died soon after appearing in the episode which is why The Master doesn't appear in Planet of the Daleks. He died several months later; there's no indication the Master was ever intended to appear in the second chapter.
  • A related rumour states that Katy Manning decided to leave the series after Delgado's death. In fact, by the time Delgado died (June 1973), Manning's final episode had already been filmed (April 1973), and her decision to leave would have likely been made by the time Frontier in Space had been shot, even if the rumour above was true.

Filming Locations

  • Hayward Gallery, Belvedere Road, Lambeth, London
  • Fitzroy Park, Highgate, London
  • Beachfields Quarry, Cormongers Lane, Redhill, Surrey
  • South Bank Centre, Waterloo, London
  • Bray Studios, Slough
  • BBC Television Centre (Studio 3 & 4), Shepherd's Bush, London

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • If the Master's device makes one see one's greatest fear, why does Jo see the ship change shape in episode one? The implication is that she is seeing the effect of the device being turned on, but it's still an error; Jo wouldn't be afraid of a Draconian ship any more than any other kind of spaceship.
  • Jo splits her trousers while running to escape the Ogrons in episode three.
  • Her tights change color from scene to scene (and occasionally she isn't wearing any at all).
  • Big strings hold up the Doctor up for his spacewalk in episode six. This is probably due to the fact that if a course correction was made like in episode four, then the Doctor would not drift away.
  • As the space walking Doctor opens the airlock in episode four there is a technician visible inside it. Doctor Who is a low budget show in which health and safety has to count, it may have been unavoidable as the shot to take was complex so he was probably put there to help Jon Pertwee get back into the ship.
  • If the Master's devise makes Jo see people as Drashigs at first, then why wouldn't she see them every time she hears that sound? (Different fears are foremost in her mind at different moments.)


  • The conclusion of this story ends on a cliffhanger leading straight into DW: Planet of the Daleks. Originally both this story and Planet of the Daleks were going to be a 12 part story, and as the two storylines are connected, they are often unofficially considered as such.
  • The Doctor tells Jo the story of his trial at the end of The War Games, which the Master overhears on a closed circuit television channel.
  • EDA: Legacy of the Daleks is set (for the Master) after this story.
  • NA: Love and War is set after this story when Earth and Draconia are in relative peace.
  • The war touched off by the Master during this story is the Second Dalek War, which will profoundly affect the life of future companion Bernice Summerfield.


For the Doctor:

For the Master:

DVD, Video and Other Releases

  • VHS: Released in August 1995. BBC Video 5640
  • It was released in 2009 in a boxset called: The Dalek War, along with Planet of the Daleks.


Main article: Doctor Who and the Space War

External Links

  • BBC Episode Guide for Frontier in Space
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide: Detailed Synopsis - Frontier in Space
  • A Brief History of Time (Travel) Guide to Frontier in Space
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who - Frontier in Space
Season 10
The Three Doctors  • Carnival of Monsters  • Frontier in Space  • Planet of the Daleks  • The Green Death
The Master - TV Stories
Terror of the Autons  • The Mind of Evil  • The Claws of Axos  • Colony in Space  • The Dæmons  • The Sea Devils  • The Time Monster  • Frontier in Space  • The Deadly Assassin  • The Keeper of Traken  • Logopolis  • Castrovalva  • Time-Flight  • The King's Demons  • The Five Doctors  • Planet of Fire  • The Mark of the Rani  • The Ultimate Foe  • Survival  • Doctor Who: The TV Movie  •
Utopia/ The Sound of Drums/ Last of the Time LordsThe End of Time

This article uses material from the "Frontier in Space" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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