Serial: CCC Episode Nos. 265, 266, 267, 268, 269, 270, and 271. Title: The Ambassadors of Death
A British space capsule has run into trouble on a mission to Mars. The astronauts have not responded
once during their trip back to Earth, and upon arrival, refuse to come out of the capsule!
What’s more, it seems that people within the British government itself are conspiring against UNIT to
kidnap the astronauts! And then there’s the matter of the mysterious radio signals the capsule’s emitted,
and how when the astronauts finally do come out... they are lethal to the touch and highly radioactive.
Fortunately for UNIT, the Doctor is on their side... but whose side is everyone else on?
starring Jon Pertwee as Doctor Who, Caroline John as Liz Shaw, Nicholas Courtney as
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, and John Levene as Sergeant Benton.
Written by David Whitaker, Produced by Barry Letts, Directed by Michael Ferguson.
transmitted from 21 March 1970 to 2 May 1970 on BBC1.
A 2-disc set.
On Disc 1:
- All 7 episodes of the story, fully color-restored and digitally remastered.
- Graphical menus, episode and scene selection features.
- Optional commentary track recorded in 2009 featuring actors Caroline John (Liz Shaw),
Nicholas Courtney (the Brigadier), John’s husband Geoffrey Beevers (Private Johnson),
and Peter Halliday (Alien Voices), script editor Terrance Dicks, director Michael Ferguson,
stunt arranger Derek Ware, and stunt performers Roy Scammell and Derek Martin.
Moderated by Toby Hadoke.
- Information Text. This option displays pop-up production trivia information as
subtitles as the episodes play.
- Subtitles for the hearing impaired.
On Disc 2:
- “Mars Probe 7: Making the Ambassadors of Death” A new 26-minute featurette about the making of
the show, featuring interviews with the aforementioned Terrance Dicks, Michael Ferguson, Derek Ware,
and Roy Scammell, and also assistant floor manager Margot Hayhoe.
- Trailer. A 1:30 trailer for the serial featuring specially recorded links from Jon Pertwee.
- Tomorrow’s Times: The Third Doctor. A 13-minute look at how the Jon Pertwee era of the show was
reviewed in the press at the time, presented by Peter Purves.
- Photo Gallery. 4-minutes of stills taken during the production of the story.
- PDF Materials. Place this disc into the optical drive of your computer, and you can access a .pdf file
of the original Radio Times billings for this story from 1970.
- Coming Soon. A 1-minute trailer for the forthcoming DVD of The Claws of Axos Special Edition.
- Subtitles for the hearing impaired.
FAQ: The Color Restoration. What’s been done, why was it needed, and how good is it?
This story fell victim to the BBC Archive videotape purges of the 1970s. The original color videotape
of the first episode is the only one to survive to this day. Black-and-white film copies of all 7 episodes
were made, however, and those survived and were used for syndication in North America from the 1980s
onwards. Also in the archives is a color domestic Betamax recording from off-air made by an American
during a syndication broadcast in the late 1970s. Unfortunately, the colors on this recording were
intermittent given the distance between his receiver and the UHF station he was recording from.
This recording was used to restore some of the color to this story when it was released on VHS in the
early 2000s, however, 45% of the serial remained in black-and-white only.
The BBC Restoration Team has successfully restored the color to all of the episodes for this DVD release,
using a mixture of the useable color from the 1970s Betamax tape and color retrieved from high-resolution
scans of the black-and-white film prints and put through the Color Recovery process that analyzes the
interference patterns left by the original colors in the black-and-white film and uses them to reassign the
original colors of each pixel.
As for how good it all now looks, the answer is very good indeed when compared to the original source
materials or the earlier VHS release. It’s not, however, quite as good as having the original tapes to watch,
as you’ll be able to tell when you compare Episode 1 (which does come from the original surviving videotape)
to the later episodes. Based on my own subjective viewing experience, if we say that the color on Episode 1
is a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate the “worst” sections of Episodes 2 and 3 as a 6/10, and those of
the rest at 8/10. There are portions of all 6 of the restored episodes that look better than that, all the way
up to 9/10 to my eyes.