[[caption-width-right:344: Oh crap, that astronaut stole all the color!]]
-> ''I don't know what came down in Recovery 7, but it certainly wasn't human!''
-->-- '''The Doctor'''
The Ambassadors--''[[http://youtu.be/we7BNW8UqZw?t=1m12s EEEEEERRRRRRRRWWWW]]'''''''[[http://youtu.be/we7BNW8UqZw?t=1m12s TWAAAANNNG!]]'''''-- of Death!
Mars Probe 7 disappeared with three astronauts on board several months ago, and now the British Space Agency's "Recovery 7" mission is in trouble. UNIT is investigating, and the Doctor (still miffed with the Brig by the Silurians incident) and Liz sort of drop in.
Recovery 7 returns to earth, but the astronauts are kidnapped as soon as they land, and Liz notices that the capsule registers off the scale on her geiger counter. The "astronauts" are in fact aliens, dependent on radiation, who have swapped places with the humans.
The Doctor takes a solo flight in Recovery 7 and finds Mars Probe 7, still orbiting the red planet. A huge alien spaceship appears and the Doctor is taken on board. He finds the real astronauts, unharmed but brainwashed, and a very cross alien captain who threatens to destroy the Earth unless his ambassadors are released.
It turns out that General Carrington, in charge of the Space Agency, has kidnapped the ambassadors to provoke the aliens into attacking Earth, whereupon humanity will have to defend itself and destroy the aliens. Carrington had been on Mars Probe 6 which had encountered the aliens on Mars, where they accidentally killed his comrade by touching him. The Doctor and UNIT stop him and arrange for a return of the ambassadors, after which the Doctor promptly swans off back to UNIT base, satisfied to leave the paperwork to other people.
As you might've guessed, this was where that electronic scream-like sound you hear at [[TheStinger the cliffhanger or close]] of most ''Doctor Who'' episodes debuted.
This story was recorded in colour, but the only surviving colour copies of episodes 2-7 are very poor quality ones recorded from broadcast by a US fan using early home video technology, from a Canadian station at the very edge of its transmitter area. In 2012, the story was released on DVD, restored to full colour by combining the video recordings with the chroma dot automated colour recovery process.
The episode also marks the return of companion Corporal John Benton (now a Sergeant), last seen in "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS6E3TheInvasion The Invasion]]".
* AllThereInTheManual: The novelisation gives Reegan backstory. He is said to have been born in Ireland and started off robbing banks for the IRA, only to flee to America and become a mercenary criminal when they found out he was keeping most of the money for himself.
** The Time Lords wiped the Doctor's knowledge about the Ambassador's species.
** The Doctor is said to have learned the parade ground shout he uses to trick Collinson at Waterloo.
** The novel ''Who Killed Kennedy'' revealed that the shuttles were developed from technology taken from [[Recap/DoctorWhoS6e3TheInvasion International Electromatics]].
* BlastingItOutOfTheirHands: Done by the Brig on Reegan.
* ContinuityNod: The Doctor is still angry at the Brigadier for [[Recap/DoctorWhoS7E2DoctorWhoAndTheSilurians blowing up the Silurians]].
* DeadLineNews: A very unusual variation, with the good guys interrupting the villains.
* DoomedAppointment: When Lennox goes to UNIT with what he knows, he refuses to talk to anyone but the Brigadier because he's afraid anyone else might be working for General Carrington. By the time the Brigadier makes it back to UNIT headquarters, Lennox is dead.
* DragonInChief: Reegan is much more charismatic and threatening than the deranged and finally pathetic Carrington.
* DragonWithAnAgenda: Reegan's intention to use the aliens for ordinary crime once he gets a proper way of talking to them.
* EveryoneKnowsMorse: After being abducted by Reegan, the Doctor rigs an SOS broadcast signal to alert UNIT to his location. Sergeant Benton identifies the meaning of the signal, but remarks that nobody uses it any more.
* FailedASpotCheck: Carrington and the Doctor both completely fail to recognise each other when the Doctor steals the capsule back.
* FantasticRacism: Carrington's motivation.
* FirstContactFauxPas: ''Doctor Who'' universe humanity's proper First Contact with an alien species not trying to invade, but gone badly wrong.
* FlappingCheeks: Happens to the Doctor when he leaves Earth by conventional rocket.
* GeneralRipper: Carrington. His actions are prompted by xenophobia driven by his own encounter with the alien beings when he piloted Mars Probe Six some years earlier. His co-pilot, Jim Daniels, was killed on contact with the aliens and Carrington signed the treaty with the aliens to lure three of their number to Earth, where he hoped he could unveil their real agenda of alien invasion.
* GoodIsNotSoft[=/=]FamilyUnfriendlyViolence: The Brigadier is clearly seen to gun down several mooks in the course of this story, and has a very brutal fistfight with one during the final attack on Reegan's hideout.
* GracefulLoser: Carrington in the end.
* HeKnowsTooMuch: Lennox, the scientist keeping the aliens alive for Reegan, is killed when he decides to go to UNIT with what he knows.
* IDidWhatIHadToDo: General Carrington belives firmly in this.
* KnockoutGas: Reegan's kidnapping of the Doctor.
* NuclearNasty: The aliens "eat" hard radiation and can kill people or incinerate objects with a touch.
* PetRat: Reegan.
* PoisonousPerson: The aliens, thanks to their natural radioactivity.
* PoorCommunicationKills: A justified example, due to the fact that the aliens communicate via radio waves instead of sound. No one realized this until the Doctor correctly identifies a seemingly random burst of noise as a signal and subsequently makes an attempt to decipher it. Since no one can understand the aliens, their radioactive nature and unintentionally deadly physical touch makes them easy to misunderstand as murderous invaders, when, in fact, all they originally wanted to do was make diplomatic contact.
* PragmaticVillainy: Reegan.
* RankUp: Corporal Benton is now a Sergeant.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: Cornish, the top man at the Space Centre. He starts out rather annoyed at the way the Doctor bulls his way into the situation (which, let's be honest, ''would'' be fairly annoying), but after a little while sees that he really knows his stuff and learns how to work with him.
* RevengeMyopia: Carrington has persuaded himself that the aliens are evil and must be destroyed because they accidentally killed one of his crewmates on an earlier mission.
* ShoutOut: The names on Reegan's chameleon van are shoutouts to Margot Heyhoe, the assistant floor manager, and Pauline Silcock, the director's assistant.
* StarfishLanguage: The aliens communicate by directly emitting and receiving electromagnetic waves rather than vocally.
* StopTrick: Used in one of the first scenes, in which the Doctor is attempting to repair the TARDIS's Time Vector Generator, which accidentally sends both himself and Liz forward in time by a few seconds. First Liz disappears, then the Doctor, then Liz reappears, and the Doctor reappears. It proves to be a mild ChekhovsGun when the Doctor does something similar with an important tape recording to keep it out of an enemy's hands.
* TheTeaser: The only classic [[Series/DoctorWho Doctor Who]] serial to use them for cliffhanger reprises, though they actually occur halfway through the title sequence, after the "Doctor Who" title appears but before the "The Ambassadors (p'tang) of Death" title.
* TragicBigot: Carrington developed his hatred of the aliens after one of them accidentally killed his crewmate.
* VulnerableConvoy: The convoy transporting the Recovery 7 capsule with the alien astronauts in it is attacked, and the truck carrying the capsule hijacked.
* WellIntentionedExtremist: Carrington is one of the ''extremely'' paranoid variety. During his backstory, he misinterpreted the accidental killing of his partner as a murder; fast-forward to the present-day, and he is now determined to stir up a global effort to annihilate the aliens.
* WhatTheHellIsThatAccent: Professor Taltalian can't make up his mind whether he's French, German or something else entirely.
* WholePlotReference: The plot owes a great deal to ''Series/TheQuatermassExperiment'' (returning astronauts being aliens).
* YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness: Reegan letting his minions get fatally irradiated in the back of the van, and Taltalian's killing is halfway between this and HeKnowsTooMuch.