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Recap / Doctor Who S19 E7 "Time-Flight"

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Sorry, Peter, but you're still riding coach.

"It means the Master has finally defeated me."
The Doctor (having a sudden attack of Genre Blindness)

Production code: 6C

The one where the Doctor regrets losing the scarf.

Mostly notable for being the first time British Airways allowed filming aboard a Concorde,note  "Time-Flight" is one of the sillier stories of Classic Who.

Written by Peter Grimwade. This four-episode serial first aired from March 22—30, 1982.

Following the events of Earthshock, the survivors from the freighter have been returned to their own time and the remaining Cybermen have dispersed. But Adric is dead and Tegan, on the TARDIS with the Doctor and Nyssa, pleads with the Doctor to go back and rescue him from the freighter before it crashes into the prehistoric Earth. However, the Doctor says the Laws of Time mean this is impossible and the only thing he and his remaining companions can do for Adric now is try to get on with life; he suggests they take some time out to go to the 1851 Great Exhibition.

Instead, they accidentally end up at Heathrow Airport. Tegan's happy to be finally back home, and the Doctor, checking the paper for the latest cricket news, avoids arrest by being incredibly smart and simply telling the airport crew to call UNIT and verify his credentials, while wondering if the Brigadier has become a General yet. When asked, UNIT immediately tells the airport's board members to do the smart thing and brief the Doctor on the bad stuff occurring - namely the mysterious case of a missing Concorde.

As it turns out, the Concordes are suddenly vanishing to the Jurassic era, so the Doctor, Nyssa, and Tegan follow the same flight path aboard a second Concorde, and appears to land safely back at Heathrow. However, the Doctor, monitoring the flight in the TARDIS, reveals they are 140 million years in Earth's past; a strong psychokinetic field is projecting the illusion of Heathrow to the humans. Outside, they spot the first Concorde, its crew and passengers under the assumption they are at Heathrow. However, they are performing slave labor under the control of Plasmatons, humanoid blobs of protein held together by the psychokinetic field.

One of the passengers, Professor Hayter, reveals he had seen through the illusion, and it is revealed that a mysterious Oriental-like mystic named Kalid is controlling the psychokinetic field from a nearby Citadel, brainwashing the other passengers to try to break into a central chamber contained at the Citadel. As they learn of these events, they observe the passengers taking the TARDIS back to the Citadel.

As the group approaches the Citadel, Nyssa develops an empathic connection with the energy source, and Kalid erects a psychokinetic shield around her, preventing her from moving. As Tegan stays with her, the others continue on. At the Citadel, the Doctor goes off alone to find Kalid, learning that the mystic is seeking to gain direct access to a power source within the central chamber. When Stapley, the second Concorde's captain, and Hayter start to disrupt Kalid's control on the passengers, Kalid redirects his psychokinetic field to enforce the illusion; this causes the field around Nyssa to fall. Nyssa and Tegan continue to the Citadel. Along their way, Adric shows up, previously believed to have been killed, who warns that he will die again if Nyssa and Tegan continue onwards, and urges them to retreat. However, Nyssa outs Adric as a mere apparition upon noticing his gold star-shaped badge, which the Doctor destroyed when he lethally grinded it into the late Cyber-Leader's ventilation unit aboard the TARDIS. Knowing this, they press on, causing "Adric" to dissipate.note  Due to Nyssa's empathy, the two are able to enter the central chamber without obstruction. Nyssa, acting on instinct, throws an artifact into a large object in the chamber, causing a surge of power that disrupts Kalid's energy source, revealing him to be, to no-one's surprise except the Doctor's, the Master back again.

The Master explains that he barely escaped from their last encounter in Castrovalva, his TARDIS damaged in the journey. Now stuck in Earth's past, he seeks to use the power source in the central chamber to power his TARDIS and escape, and is using the passengers and crew of the Concorde to break into the chamber. The Master uses the Doctor's TARDIS to try to access the central chamber directly, while the Doctor, along with Hayter, find that the passengers have successfully broken through, and enter the chamber directly, rejoining with Nyssa and Tegan. They find that the energy source is really a gestalt intelligence of a great number of members of the Xeraphin species; their species were targeted in the crossfire between two other warring species, and they had tried to escape, but instead crashed to Earth, where the radiation of their damaged ship wracked their bodies, forcing them to take the form of a Hive Mind within the gestalt. They had constructed the Citadel to house the gestalt until the radiation had waned. However, when the Master arrived, his presence caused the gestalt to become unstable and causing a split personality within it, one evil side willing to help the Master, the other good side seeing his villainy and trying to stall the Master's actions.

The Master finds he is unable to access the central chamber with the TARDIS, and instead creates an induction loop to transfer the gestalt to his own TARDIS with the aid of the evil part of the gestalt. The Master attempts to leave but finds he took the wrong replacement parts from the Doctor's TARDIS, as a result of sabotage by Stapley and his crew, and still lacks a critical temporal limiter. The Master offers a deal with the Doctor for a temporal limiter in exchange for the other parts he took and releasing the humans from his control. After installing the device, the Master departs in his TARDIS. The Doctor quickly instructs the humans to return to the second Concorde, and then uses his TARDIS to guide the aircraft back to contemporary times at Heathrow.

In the end, the Doctor explains that he had programmed the temporal limiter so that the Master's TARDIS arrived later than his, and materialised his TARDIS where the Master's TARDIS would appear. As they observe, the Master's TARDIS fails to materialise and is bounced to an alternate destination — modern-day Xeraphin, where he would likely face the wrath of that species.

Finally, thinking that he's finally gotten Tegan home at last, the Doctor leaves her there — unaware that she was having second thoughts about the job and really wanted to stay aboard the TARDIS. They'll pick her up again almost a year later from her perspective. The Doctor and Nyssa will go on to about two dozen adventures in between.note 


  • Agent Scully: Professor Hayter, who thinks the entire thing is an elaborate Soviet hoax.
  • Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: Professor Hayter, after obtaining the knowledge of the Xeraphin.
  • Behind a Stick: The Master's TARDIS here takes the form of a black classical column, which is only just wide enough for an actor to stand behind and doesn't seem big enough to have any kind of conventional door. It is, however, very typical of the Master as it sticks out like a sore thumb in Heathrow.
  • Big Bad: The Master.
  • Big Red Button: Discussed, sort of. When looking for the TARDIS door control, Captain Stapley immediately dismisses the HUGE RED LEVER, presumably for this reason.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In what threatens to be the most barmy moment of Doctor Who (and this is a hotly-contested category), flight attendant Tegan shepherds the dazed passengers across a swamp and back into the Concorde as though they are on the tarmac at Heathrow.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The Doctor says that Adric died saving others, just like his brother.
    • The Doctor tells the airport security to contact UNIT, and send his regards to Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart... "unless, of course, he's a General by now!"
    • The Doctor activates a feature in the TARDIS to shift the interior of the ship so it is the right way up. Nyssa says that she wished that they knew about this feature back on "Castrovalva".
      • The Doctor thought that the Master might have been destroyed when the illusory city of Castrovalva vanished.
    • The Doctor says, when cold, it's "times like this I wish I still had my scarf."
    • When Nyssa and Tegan try to reach the sanctum, images of Adric, the Melkur ("The Keeper of Traken") and a Terileptil ("The Visitation") appear in order to dissuade them from going on any further.
    • Nyssa mentions that the Master killed her father Tremas.
  • Cool Plane: The Concorde. And two of them to boot.
  • Crystal Ball: Kalid has one.
  • Danger Deadpan: Captain Stapley of Concorde Golf Victor Charlie shows remarkable self-control and British reserve given the circumstances.
  • Dramatic Unmask: Literally the only reason why the Master is disguised as a Middle Eastern mystic in the Jurassic period. There is no-one with him, or even alive at this point in time, meaning it's entirely for the benefit of the audience at cliffhanger time. On the other hand, it does set up the hilarious piss-taking of the Master's Complexity Addiction in "The Mark of the Rani".
  • Early Instalment Weirdness: When asked why they can't save Adric now that the TARDIS is repaired, the Doctor just gives a very vague explanation that there are certain rules he can't break. In the post-2005 series, they'd have had the Doctor more clearly explain that Adric's death was part of a fixed point in time, and that interfering with it in any way, shape or form would be incredibly dangerous.
  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: The Master's disguise gives him an unfortunate speech impediment that makes him hard to understand at times,
  • Face Your Fears: Nyssa's personal illusion is seeing the Master's TARDIS again. "I don't believe in you!" she cries before stomping right through it like a B.A.M.F.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Adric. Aside from the opening discussion between the surviving members of the TARDIS crew, followed (in the next episode) by Tegan and Nyssa encountering a projection of him, his death is barely acknowledged within the story, as is the fact that he was ever part of the Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa's lives. Instead, the Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa just carry on as normal, and even Adric's role in the events of "Castrovalva" (to which this story is a sequel) doesn't get a mention.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Hayter gives himself up to the Xeraphin so that the Doctor can communicate with them.
  • Hive Mind: The Xeraphin.
  • Just Eat Gilligan: Tegan actually invokes this trope early in the first episode by asking why, now that the Doctor has fixed the damage that was caused to the TARDIS console at the end of the previous story, they don't just land on the freighter right before it crashed into prehistoric Earth and rescue Adric, even pointing out that it wouldn't require them to stop the freighter from crashing. The Doctor just dismisses it as impossible with no real explanation (other than the danger of causing a time paradox which could only be fixed if Adric returned to the freighter knowing he would die as result), and tells Tegan and Nyssa they must never suggest such a thing again and must accept that Adric cannot be saved.
  • Just Plane Wrong: That control tower sure is understaffed.
  • Lie to the Beholder: The Concorde crew thinks they've landed back at Heathrow, not in a Jurassic swamp. They don't even feel the plane shake when it touches down in a rough patch. One of the other jet's passengers thinks he's in Russia. A phoney Adric tries to block Nyssa and Tegan's path, saying that if they pass through him, he'll vanish for good.
  • Lighter and Softer: After the Gut Punch of Adric's death in the previous story, a lighter touch was used here. Despite the presence of the Master, no one dies onscreen other than Professor Hayter, and even he Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence in compensation.
  • Mass Hypnosis: The Concorde crew and passengers are hypnotised into believing they were at Heathrow Airport rather than the mid-Jurassic.
  • Mass Teleportation: Happens to the passengers and crew of the Concorde.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The massive Cyberman invasion fleet that was mentioned in the previous story is mentioned by Nyssa as having been dealt with off-screen. In fairness, the previous story did at least have the Cyber-Leader mention that their fleet wasn't strong enough to deal with Earth by itself, needing them to resort to their bomb plot to soften it up first.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The Doctor departs from Heathrow without Tegan, both having apparently assumed she would just want to stay there now that she was finally at the place she'd been demanding to be taken back to the entire season, only for her to be dismayed because she thought she was going with them. Why both the Doctor, and Nyssa who considered Tegan her friend, chose to leave without informing Tegan at all or even saying goodbye to her is anyone's guess.
  • Put on a Bus: Tegan gets left behind at Heathrow at the end of the story. She comes back with shorter hair next season.
  • Significant Anagram: Kalid is credited in the first episode as being played by "Leon Ny Taiy" — an ambiguously Asian anagram of Tony Ainley.
  • Spanner in the Works: Stapley invokes this by name when he admits he swapped around some of the parts in the Doctor's TARDIS, hoping the Master would take the wrong ones. He thinks it was a stupid idea, since he had no clue what he was doing, but it works nonetheless.
  • Spot the Imposter: While Tegan and Nyssa are en route to the citadel, a projection of Adric tries to stop them, saying he will vanish for good if they get too close to him. However, Nyssa points out that what she and Tegan are seeing can't be the real Adric because he is still wearing his badge, which was broken into pieces when the Doctor used its gold content as a weapon against the Cyber Leader.
  • Stock Footage: A very blatant example when the Concorde takes off from the Jurassic - made worse by the fact it's behind model mountains.
  • To Absent Friends: The brief (read: one minute and fifteen seconds long) discussion of Adric's death. Hopefully they did some more heartfelt mourning off-screen.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Averted among rare circumstances. The sole reason for the appearance of Adric is because John Nathan-Turner realised that the Radio Times issue with cast listings for the first two episodes of this serial would be on sale before "Earthshock" had finished airing, spoiling the fact that he left the show at the end of that serial. Thus, the cameo was written in, Matthew Waterhouse was contracted for that one episode, he could be credited in the Radio Times, and the secret was preserved.
  • Undercover When Alone: Why the Master maintains his cover as Kalid, including the strange mystical chanting, when he is alone is anyone's guess.
  • Unexplained Recovery: The last time we saw the Master, he was trapped in the mathematically-constructed city Castrovalva as it collapsed in on itself. The full "explanation" for this was as follows:
    The Doctor: So you escaped from Castrovalva. I should have guessed.
    The Master: As gullible as ever, my dear Doctor.
  • Wham Shot: As the TARDIS takes off at the end, the pilots see it off... as well as Tegan, who rushes into frame. This after it was assumed she'd want to be back home.

Stapley: I thought you were going with The Doctor.
Tegan: (bitterly) So did I.