Doctor Who (William Hartnell) – The Edge of Destruction


The third story in the first season of Doctor Who, is a short one, it’s a two-parter, and is also a bottle show, it all takes place on the standing sets of the TARDIS, nothing new had to be built. This allowed the show to save money.

The first part, The Edge of Destruction aired 8 February, 1964, with the conclusion airing 15 February, 1964 and called The Brink of Disaster. Both episodes were penned by David Whitaker.

Picking up with the flash of light across the TARDIS’ console, we find that our four heroes all seem laid out on the floor, barely conscious. Ian (William Russell), when he comes around, seems a little out of it, and possibly concussed.

When Susan (Carole Ann Ford) attempts to touch the console she receives a painful shock, which seems to affect her personality. This and the constant opening and closing of the door, seemingly spurred on by the picture scanner, leads the Doctor (Hartnell) to suspect that there is something more going on here.


He begins to believe that Ian and Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) may have intentionally sabotaged the TARDIS so that he is forced to take them home.

Unfortunately, we learn that they are in some serious trouble, quite possibly about to tumble into the big bang!! It seems that the TARDIS herself may disintegrate.

We get the first hint, that maybe, just maybe, the TARDIS is a living thing and a bit aware. Though the Doctor isn’t entirely sure, with what we know about the TARDIS now, I like to think he was just trying not to scare Ian by revealing how intelligent the TARDIS is.

As we draw to the conclusion of the story, the reveal of what is really going on is a bit of a let-down, though not entirely out of the realm of possibility, seeing as we know the TARDIS can by a little off at times…

I’m not kidding here, the fast-return button’s spring was stuck, leaving the travel circuit engaged.



The Doctor by the story’s end has to apologize to Ian, and especially to Barbara for doubting her as he did.

That is a nice moment, because despite everything that gets said, the accusations, panic and paranoia that seem to infiltrate our heroes in this story by its close, it’s kind of nice to see Hartnell’s Doctor beginning to warm up a little. He’s a lot more likable by the close of the second episode than he has in any of the episode’s previous, his dialogue is a little more playful as well.

This is something that is going to make traveling with him a lot more fun in the future.

When the story closes, the TARDIS finally touches down, and Susan starts a snowball fight in the winter wonderland they’ve apparently landed in, until they find a giant footprint in the snow.

The next story is the first of the historical stories of the series, the 7 episode arc… Marco Polo!

The Edge of Destruction 1

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