A young lieutenant on an RAF base is already having a bad morning, and it's barely 3 am. The base is on high alert after a fighter jet mysteriously vanished during routine manoeuvres, and two strangely-dressed intruders have been discovered standing over a corporal who appears to be 30 years younger than he had been the day before. The lieutenant is charged with interrogating the captured intruders and discovering how they got into the secure base, and what their purpose is.
The intruders are the Eighth Doctor and Charley, recently arrived to try and track down an escaped Time Roach before it gets up to mischief. They explain their story to the lieutenant, who finds himself believing them despite his better judgement...
After the events of Time of the Daleks, a Time Roach had wriggled its way onto the TARDIS whilst it traversed the vortex. After taking a nibble out of Charley and finding her unpalatable, it had had a chew on the TARDIS' wiring; this had forced the TARDIS into real time and — thanks to the Doctor forgetting to fix the hole it wormed in through — let the Time Roach flee into '70s Scotland. There, it found the unsuspecting Corporal Harris and reverted him to his 5 year old self. The Doctor and Charley had chased it off before it could kill him - and were discovered, standing over an unconscious five year old in a corporal's uniform, inside a secure military base, at 2 am.
Just then, a private returns from his mission to track down the TARDIS - and he's brought a friend. The Time Roach ages him into old age before being beaten off, and while it decides whether the Doctor or the corporal look tastier, Charley distracts it with some rich tea biscuits. The Time Roach is captured in a familiar-sounding small ball, its two victims returned to their correct ages, and Charley and the Doctor are released.
The lieutenant - now revealed to be Mike Yates, who later worked with UNIT and travelled with the Third Doctor - reports back to the Group Captain. He admits that despite his better instincts, he had believed the intruders' stories - and the Captain is pleased. He says that UNIT are arriving to investigate the missing fighter jet, and he's assigning Yates as the liaison officer to their commander — Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart — and their scientific advisor — someone called the Doctor...
Tropes in this story:
- Appeal to Audacity: How the lieutenant ends up believing them.The lieutenant hoped in vain that he'd be able to call their bluff, and get them to admit that their story was rubbish; unfortunately, he was quite sure that they weren't bluffing. The story was incredible enough to be blatant lies, and yet surely no-one would make up a story that combined vagueness, impossibility, insanity, and childishness in such a rich blend.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: The Eighth Doctor, as ever, who even forgets to re-seal the TARDIS to prevent the Time Roach from escaping into the real world.The lieutenant got the sense that [Charley's] job was to stop the Doctor from getting distracted by his own puppyish enthusiasm.
- Continuity Nod:
- The story takes place just after The Time of the Daleks, with the events of that episode referenced.
- The Time Roach seems to be aware of Charley's paradoxical existence.
- The missing fighter jet is the inciting incident of "Vengeance of the Stones", which will be Mike Yates' first meeting with the Doctor and UNIT.
- Have We Met Yet??: The lieutenant is revealed to be Mike Yates, who would later meet and travel with the Doctor's third incarnation. This is his first time meeting the Doctor, who had met him many centuries earlier. The episode ends with Yates being sent to work with Three.The [Doctor] wore a slightly confused expression, as though he recognised the lieutenant from somewhere and was trying to place him.
- I Never Said It Was Poison: Averted. Despite the Doctor knowing that the incident that morning had involved fighter jets, the lieutenant is too tired and confused to remember he had not mentioned fighter jets.
- I Never Told You My Name: Averted. The lieutenant thankfully does not question how the Doctor knows his first name.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: The Doctor seems confident that this won't be an issue, despite their outlandish story."Doctor, I'm not sure if you've considered this, but there is the slightest chance that he might not believe us. It's a slim chance, I know, but it's one that we ought to consider." "Nonsense," said the Doctor, smiling at the lieutenant.
- Refuge in AudacityThe Doctor: I'm an alien, Charley is from 1930, and we have a time machine.
- Robo Ship: According to Charley, at least. The Doctor did not notice Charley getting changed into her sparkly purple catsuit, because:Charley: "You were probably too busy talking to the TARDIS and stroking the console!" She turned conspiratorially to the lieutenant and whispered, "He does that."
- Lewis Carroll is quoted."Begin at the beginning," the lieutenant said, tired enough that quoting Lewis Carroll seemed like a good idea. "And go on until you come to the end, then stop."
- The device for capturing the Time Roach - a "small, white, plastic sphere with a tiny hole in the centre".The Time Roach looked up as the sphere fell towards it, blue light streaming from inside, catching the creature in its beam and drawing it in. Then, the Time Roach was gone. And the sphere sat on the floor, first wobbling, then shaking, then still. It went 'ding', which Yates found strangely appropriate.
- Lewis Carroll is quoted.
- Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: The Time Roach doesn't want anything to do with Charley, due to her unusual and paradoxical time status.
- Young Face, Old Eyes: The Doctor, as per usual.There was something in his gaze that suggested he'd seen more than the lieutenant ever had or ever would.