Mission to the Unknown

First Broadcast October 9th 1965 @ 5.50pm (8.30m viewers)

‘Mission to the Unknown’ is a unique oddity in the history of Doctor Who. It is currently the only full-length televised episode of Doctor Who that doesn’t feature the Doctor. A companion and even the TARDIS are also conspicuous by their absence. Despite this William Hartnell still appeared in the credits for contractual reasons.

Long before the old Tardisodes, red button or online prequels, ‘Mission’ served as a full-length prelude to an upcoming adventure. That adventure would be the epic 12 part story ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan’. In reality, however, Producer Verity Lambert simply wished to give the regular cast an extra week of holiday. This was also afforded to the team because ‘Planet of Giants’ had been cut from four episodes to three during the previous year. Confusingly the next week the Doctor and his companions would find themselves outside the City of Troy. ‘The Myth Makers’ therefore provided a 4-week hiatus between ‘Mission’ and ‘Master Plan’.

Doctor Who Mission to the Unknown (c) BBC
Doctor Who Mission to the Unknown (c) BBC

Instead of the Doctor and his companions, this episode features a trio of humans. Two are repairing a ship whilst the third is a little worse for wear. It is revealed that that man, Jeff Garvey, has been infected and, despite being shot, is slowly metamorphosing into one of those Varga plants. This is quite a graphic and grotesque concept for 1960’s TV drama, long before the ‘body-horror’ movies of the 1980’s. Sadly, unlike some missing Doctor Who episodes, no known telesnaps (photographs of the images on the television) are known to exist. There is also a very limited number of publicity photographs. As a result, we are only left with the original audio. However, there is a particularly good animated version online, a project led by Ian Levine.

Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)

Doctor Who Mission to the Unknown (c) BBC
Doctor Who Mission to the Unknown (c) BBC

Space Security Service agent Marc Cory’s suspicions prove to be correct. The Daleks are in our solar system and on Kembel. Worryingly the Daleks have also formed an alliance with six other planets. Representatives from these six planets are a real motley crew of peculiar alien creatures. To build suspense for the approaching story ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan’, it is revealed that the Daleks and their allies are intending on attacking the Galaxy. Beginning with Earth!

As an episode designed to create excitement for an upcoming story it could not be better. The Daleks are even victorious for a change in preventing Marc Cory from sending a warning message. Our Galaxy is in grave danger and worryingly the Daleks appear stronger than ever.


Gordon Lowery –  Jeremy Young
Jeff Garvey – Barry Jackson
Malpha – Robert Cartland
Marc Cory – Edward De Souza


Director – Derek Martinus
Producer – Verity Lambert
Writer – Terry Nation

Also First Aired On This Day…
  • The Hand of Fear: Part Two


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