This is one of the stories which has parts in b/w.
The world is following the fortunes of Space Probe 7 which has been to Mars and is returning home. There has been radio silence; another ship is dispatched to rendevous with the probe. The Doctor sees the Brigadier is on TV and at the space centre; he tunes in and follows what is happening. The recovery shuttle astronaut van Lyden links up and opens the hatch. A deafening , alien, noise is heard. Contact with van Lyden is lost. The Doctor goes to the space centre as he has heard the sound before but cannot remember where. At the centre the sound is heard again. The Doctor wants to analyse the sounds because it is a message. Professor Cornish, the head of the centre, agrees to let the Doctor help. They then hear a reply. The Doctor orders radio telescopes be employed to triangulate; a further reply signal gives the origin: a warehouse in London. UNIT troops descend on the warehouse where they engage in a firefight with a group in there. The Brig. takes some men into custody. The radio equipment has a bomb set on it, whilst General Carrington and one of the men slip away. The Doctor and Liz go to see dr. Taltalian, one of the centre scientists; he pulls a gun on them.
The Doctor magics a tape of the message into thin air, which Taltalian was after. The Brig. interrupts the man, who runs off. The capsule with the astronauts starts making a re-entry orbit. One of the arrested men is broken out by an unseen accomplice. The Centre's computer has been tampered with and is useless. The capsule lands, there is no response from the crew and the hatch won't open. The Doctor, Brig and Cornish decide to move it back to the Centre, unaware that they are being observed. The convoy carrying the capsule is ambushed and some masked men, one of them Carrington, armed with alien weaponry, make off with the transporter. The Doctor blocks the road and pretends Bessie (his vintage roadster) ihas broken down. The Doctor engages a anti-theft device, which sticks the two men to her for a bit; the Doctor returns with the capsule. Liz starts to crack the alien code and discusses this with the Doctor; a Centre worker (Dobson), makes a call informing. The Brig and the Doctor see Sir James and recount what has happened; when they leave Taltanian comes in. The Doctor and Cornish try to establish contact with the astronauts but van Lyden keeps reeating the same thing. They decide to cut open the capsule.
The capsule is empty. The voice they heard was merely a tape recording. The astronauts have been removed and the capsule is radioactive. Elsewhere, three astronauts are lying in a radioactive room. Carrington instructs the scientists to keep exposing the astonauts to radiation. At Sir James's office, the Brig, Doc and Liz meet Carrington. The latter says the whole thing was orchestrated for security reasons because the astronauts are contaminated with a self sustaining radiation that could become a plague and threaten Earth. The scientists are killed, the astronauts loaded aboard a van and then driven away by some men. The Doctor and co. go to see the astronauts to discover the scene. The driver of the van, in radiation suit, takes out the bodies of his two accomplices and dumps them in a gravel pit. The Doctor, upon investigating the area, is certain that the astronauts are still in orbit whereas what came down wasn't alien. Cornish calls Sir James who refuses to send up a second capsule; Carrington is listening in on the phone call in James's office. In a hideout, Reegan and Lennox are looking after the astronauts; their radiation levels are dropping so they are given more radiation. Reegan is given pictures of Liz and the Doctor and ordered to deal with them. The two dead men are discovered in the gravel pit. Liz receives a message to see the Brig at the crime scene, but the message was not from him. She is followed by two henchmen; running from them, she falls over the side of a gate above a fast flowing river.
Liz is helped up and taken to the hideout. The Doctor returns to the Centre and is assisted by Tantalian in deciphering the message. The Doctor gets a phonecall with a threat from someone who threatens to kill Liz if he doesn't stop interfering. Lennox aids Liz escape. She makes it to the road but is recaptured and taken back by Tantalian; he reports on the Doctor's progress to Reegan. The Doctor, meanwhile, doesn't believe a word Carrington or Sir James have said but is unsure what to do next. Reegan gives Tantalian a briefcase containing a bomb to be placed by the Doctor - unknown to Taltanian, the timer is set for zero. He is killed setting the bomb. The Doctor finds alien machinery in the dead man's office, similar to the machine he has been working on. Carrington and Sir James discuss events, such as the capsule being sent up with the Doctor as astronaut. Sir James thinks they should perhaps tell the truth, Carrington disagrees, as it could spell disaster for the Earth. One of the alien astronauts is sent out; its touch is deadly. It kills Sir James, who has telephoned the Doctor and asked to meet him. The Doctor examines Sir James whilst the astronaut moves up behind him.
The Brig distracts the alien, shooting at it. It leaves. The Doctor surmises that someone is using the aliens for their own purpose. The Doctor prepares for a launch to rescue the human astronauts. Lennox makes his way to UNIT and is held in protective custody. Reegan tries to sabotage the lift off. Lennox is brought food - a radoactive rod. The Doctor solves the sabotage and moves into link up with the other capsule, Mars Probe 7. A large object heads towards the craft, on a collision course.
The object is a spacecraft. The Doctor has been taken aboard the ship and discovers the astronauts have been unharmed by the aliens. The Doctor meets van Lyden and the two other astronauts, who believe they are on Earth. The Doctor learns that the aliens have three ambassadors who have been taken prisoner; unless they are returned, the Earth will be destroyed. Carrington wants to launch an attack on the ship with nuclear weapons. The Doctor promises to find the ambassadors. He returns to Earth, and Reegan knocks him out with gas in the decontamination room and takes him to the hideout. Carrington turns up and points a gun at the Doctor.
reegan stops the General because they need a more complex messaging machine to talk to the aliens. Carrington relates that he met the aliens on Mars in a previous mission; he drew them to Earth in order to destroy the aliens, who he thinks are an enemy. Carrington then takes one of the aliens to the Space Centre. Reegan and the other two aliens attack a centre for isotopes. The Doctor has in fact also made a telegraph and messages an SOS which is picked up by Benton and UNIT. Carrington prepares for a news broadcast, unveiling the aliens and planning to appeal for a missile attack on the alien ship. The Doctor is able to communicate with the ambassadors, who want to know why they are captive and are being made to kill. The alien ship messages Earth and says the humans have little time remaining to return the ambassadors. Carrington has UNIT arrested at the Space Centre. The Brig escapes and with Benton and a couple of others uses Bessie to drive to the hideout. Reegan and co are overwhelmed , the Doctor and Liz rescued and the ambassadors taken to the Space Centre. Carrington is placed under arrest and the ambassadors are exchanged for the astronauts.
David Whitaker's final story for Who is, alas, a somewhat dragged out affair in places, not to mention a bit disjointed. There are some good parts to the story though - the way Reegan callously lets two henchmen die in the back of a lorry with the ambassadors, before disposing of their bodies, and the way Lennox is killed are quite horrific really and tell of the adult approach the show had. The incidental music is quite funky; the docking scene music has been described as Procol Harum in outer space. Once again, though, UNIT looked like Sunday soldiers - this is true of all UNIT stories really. They can't fight, they get overpowered by unarmed opponents and the body count at the hands of aliens is quite high; never mind the army, don't join UNIT!
Some fans are smitten with this story; I don't think it is as great as some argue.
More minis, white go-go boots, another wig and a big, floppy, white hat
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