Doctor Who: Season 12, Episode 5

The Ark in Space: Part One (25 Jan. 1975)

TV Episode  -   -  Adventure | Drama | Horror
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 274 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 8 critic

The Doctor's attempt to give Harry a trip in the TARDIS sees the two of them and Sarah arriving onboard a space station in the far future, with some rather deadly security mechanisms.



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Title: The Ark in Space: Part One (25 Jan 1975)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Ian Marter ...
Gladys Spencer ...
High Minister (voice)
Peter Tuddenham ...
Computer (voice)


The Doctor's attempt to give Harry a trip in the TARDIS sees the two of them and Sarah arriving onboard a space station in the far future, with some rather deadly security mechanisms.

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Release Date:

25 January 1975 (UK)  »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Vira was originally black. See more »


When the Doctor and Harry first discover the room full of cryogenically frozen humans, there is a point where the two of them are talking and, from over Harry's shoulder, you can see one of the "frozen" humans opening and closing his eyes. See more »


Harry Sullivan: She's coming round. Steady, steady on, old girl, steady on.
Sarah Jane Smith: [dazed] Harry?
Harry Sullivan: Yes, I'm here, I'm here.
Sarah Jane Smith: Call me old girl again... and I'll spit in your eye.
See more »

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User Reviews

Fantastic sci-fi claustrophobia and parasitic alien attacks on humans - a classic forerunner of Alien.
18 November 2014 | by (South Wales, UK) – See all my reviews

Review of all 4 episodes:

Whether there is a direct influence from this on Ridley Scott's 'Alien' I do not know but either way it clearly foreshadows ideas seen in that film. It has humans in stasis for space travel, a claustrophobic atmosphere on a space vessel under attack, 'body horror' as aliens attack humans parasitically and a strong and intelligent female crew member taking a lead role. It is striking how this story has many similarities with that famous film which came a few years later and all those similar aspects are really good ones.

This story is top notch Doctor Who. It is intelligent, very entertaining, sometimes very funny, sometimes very scary (particularly for children), atmospheric and exciting with brilliant scripts and acting.

The Doctor, Sarah Jane and Harry arrive by accident on the space station Nerva which is an Ark of human knowledge, Earth history, culture and life. It contains specially selected representatives of the human race sleeping in stasis and being sent out from Earth at a time when the planet was threatened by solar flares. The time in stasis has gone way longer than intended (10,000 years) due to the station being attacked and sabotaged by an alien creature. This creature is a giant insect called a Wirrn. It has laid larvae on board and the Wirrn are multiplying and attacking with the intention of absorbing the humans and gaining all human knowledge into their collective intelligence. The human leader is touched by a Wirrn larvae and begins to slowly metamorphosise into a Wirrn.

The space station set is superb and the production in general makes the best of cheap effects. The story itself is interesting and thoroughly good quality throughout. The characterisation of the guest characters is excellent with the convincing acting and clever characterisation of 'Noah' who is being gradually taken over by the alien parasites well as the aforementioned strong female guest lead character (which in addition to the wonderful Sarah Jane gives us two top class female roles), and technician Rogin.

This is a top class story and a true classic with Tom Baker really establishing himself as an incredibly good Doctor in only his second story.

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