Doctor Who - The Edge of Destruction
Doctor Who – The Edge of Destruction

The Edge of Destruction

Broadcast on February 8th 1964 @ 5.15pm (10.4 million viewers)

Doctor Who - The Edge of Destruction
Doctor Who – The Edge of Destruction

Before 2015’s ‘Heaven Sent’ rewrote the record, ‘The Edge of Destruction’ had the smallest cast for a complete televised story of Doctor Who. Spread over two 25 minute episodes it features the Doctor and his original trio of companions, Ian, Barbara and Susan, and is set in the confines of the ship. As a result, the story is sometimes also referred to as ‘Inside the Spaceship’ or the second episode’s title ‘The Brink of Disaster’. It is only the third serial in the programme’s early development and follows directly on from the story which introduced the Daleks to the world. What it succeeds in doing is reaffirming to the viewer that the four travelers are not friends at this point but hold an uneasy alliance, two school teachers from planet Earth in the company of two aliens from an, as of yet unnamed, other world.

The decision to set a story inside ‘the ship’ is largely a financial one, utilising the expensive TARDIS set but it also provides an exploration of the wondrous machine which Ian Chesterton bumbled into only a few months previously. After a small explosion, the regulars are rendered unconscious and wake up with amnesia symptoms. Confused and suspecting each other, the episode sees ‘cabin fever’ strike the characters. Subtlety, the episode ponders what effect the time and space machine can have on the mind, alludes to the ship being sentient and also if outside forces can enter. This culminates with the episode cliffhanger as a pair of hands from an unknown assailant grabs the Doctor by the throat. Overall, the episode is psychologically intriguing and full of suspense and works so well because the Doctor and his granddaughter at this point in the show are unknown alien quantities.

Doctor Who - The Edge of Destruction
Doctor Who – The Edge of Destruction

Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)

It is absolutely impossible to see a scene involving a character brandishing a pair of scissors in a family show broadcast at a Saturday tea time in the 21st Century. As a result, the scene with Susan and Ian sticks in the mind. Although Susan is a pupil at Coal Hill School we quickly learn in the programme’s debut episode that she is not human and it is important for the viewer to remember that. However, the way in which she frantically stabs at the sofa with the scissors is particularly disturbing. They are quite a long set of scissors too as the camera moves across to focus on the discarded implement!


The Doctor – William Hartnell
Barbara Wright – Jacqueline Hill
Ian Chesterton – William Russell
Susan Foreman – Carole Ann Ford


Director – Richard Martin
Director – Frank Cox
Producer – Verity Lambert
Writer – David Whitaker

Watch as a possessed Susan attacks Barbara

Also first aired On This Day…

  • The Seeds of Death: Episode 3
  • The Ark in Space: Part 3
  • Kinda: Part 3
  • Mawdryn Undead: Part 3
  • Resurrection of the Daleks: Part 1 (45-minute edition)


  1. In my opinion, “The Edge of Destruction”, or as it is more commonly known, “Melted Times”, is one of the most under appreciated gems of Doctor Who. The cliffhanger to part one is one of the most shocking; the look on Susan and Barbara’s faces as that clock melts chills me to the bone every time I watch this!


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