You'll have tae eat more porridge.The TARDIS lands on a space beacon just before it is attacked by the titular Space Pirates. They blow off a chunk of the beacon with the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe (but not the TARDIS) aboard, and tow it off to be salvaged.There is a fight between the pirates and the Interstellar Space Corps, who believe the pirates' leader is an eccentric explorer called Milo Clancey, while in fact it is a man called Caven. Caven is assisted by Madeleine Issigri, daughter of his partner Dom, who he has double-crossed and keeps prisoner. When Madeleine discovers this, she shops Caven to the ISC and the exonerated Clancy gives them a lift back to the TARDIS.With the exception of episode 2, this entire story is missing from the BBC archives. Thankfully, these are the last missing episodes. Everything beyond this point exists, though not always in the originally recorded format.
— Jamie to Zoe, as she fails to open a door
- As You Know: Early in the first episode, the Space Navy officer announces his theory that the pirates are after "Argonite," which wouldn't be quite so egregious, until he adds, "the most valuable mineral known to man."
- Deadpan Snarker: The Doctor, when Jamie is revealed to still be alive.Jamie: Anything's possible in the TARDIS, especially when he's at the controls.
- Everybody Laughs Ending: A potentially Mood Whiplash-inducing one, given that the Doctor was desperately defusing a bomb less than two minutes earlier.Doctor: Well, [the TARDIS is] no problem. It's orbiting Lobos, Milo's home planet, in one of the beacon sections.
Zoe: Oh, no problem, eh? Well, how are we going to get to it?
Doctor: Milo's very kindly offered to give us a lift in the LIZ!
Jamie: Oh, no. Not the LIZ again. Frankly, I'd rather walk.
Doctor: Walk? You never know. You might have to.
Everyone: [Uproarious laughter]
- MacGuffin: The Argonite that everyone's after. It's stated early on the be "the most valuable mineral known to man", which is about the end of its meaningful role in the plot.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: The name would suggest that it's just Pirates IN SPACE! The introduction of Clancey quickly turns it into a strange blend of Space Pirates in a Space Western.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Doctor's attempt to link segments up backfires spectacularly.
- Officer and a Gentleman: General Hermack. Unfortunately, he also spends most of the story being a complete idiot.
- One-Woman Wail: Used throughout the soundtrack to evoke the vastness of space.
- Prospector: Milo might live on another planet in the distant future, but he doesn't let that stop him from living this trope to the fullest.
- Padding: It's pretty obvious that this wasn't supposed to be a six-parter.
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Averted. Robert Holmes goes to great pains to establish that travel through space takes a good deal of time.
- Space Western: If you think of the titular pirates as actually being a gang of outlaws, suddenly the fact one of the main characters is a grizzled old prospector makes a lot more sense. And if his plaid shirt and over-the-top facial hair didn't make it clear enough, the Space Navy officer and his XO have a conversation in the second episode that seals the deal, about similar "old-timers" who ran wild in the early years of space travel, and now resent the advent of law in space.
- Used Future: Milo's rickety old ship, LIZ-79. The other ships are new and shiny, though.