TV Club: The Edge of Destruction

The Edge of Destruction aka Inside the Spaceship aka Beyond the Sun.

Doctor Who’s first ever bottle episode.

Only two episodes but packed with a lot to discuss.

Both episodes are available on iplayer:

Or on DVD in The Beginning boxset.

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This story is absolutely wild. In many ways it gives me Moffat vibes with a weird atmospheric bottle episode, similar to episodes like Heaven Sent in a way. The character growth present within this story is very compelling and Barbara is definitely the standout with her blatantly stating her distrust for the Doctor in a very memorable scene. I think the worst part about the episode is the plot but that barely matters when the overall story of the episode is gripping for its entire run time with little to no boring scenes. Ian and Susan are both really chilling when they are in their violent states due to the effects of the Tardis. Speaking of the Tardis, this story introduces the concept of the Tardis having something of a conscious, a concept that will proof to be a core staple of the Tardis in the 59 years following this story. Overall, Edge of Destruction is a great story bringing character growth to the Tardis team with the plot being a background element. I give this story an 8/10


I’ve shared my love for this one a few times and it’s still my favorite 1st Doctor story. I absolutely love bottle episodes that basically just lock the cast in a room and make them turn on each other (btw Class also has one of these and it’s great) and the eerie vibes that make you think they might be possessed are just impeccable.


I’m in general agreement that it’s a great serial, and a rather short one, too.

Obviously, having everything happen in the TARDIS saves on budget, and I think everyone pulled it off well. It’s always interesting to see characters acting OOC, too, and I might even prefer Susan threatening people with scissors to screaming and needing rescue…

I also love how simple the root of the problem actually is. It’s amazing how much trouble a simple malfunction like a stuck switch can cause sometimes.


I did not like this when I first watched it. Will try to rewatch it. But when I first watched it I gave it a 1.5/5.


Bit chaotic but ultimately fun. I abasolutely love the Doctor’s little speech about the formation of a star. Also the first hint that the TARDIS is a sentient being


I would like to join the Chorus praising “The Edge of Destruction”.
I don’t think there is really a dull moment in it, it’s a locked-room who-dunnit with no-one actually being the culprit. The cast turns on each other so readily as they still haven’t built any palpable trust among them - the story would have been radically different had it been at the start of season 2 when there is genuine affection and camaraderie among the cast.
If you’re watching for space battles, laser guns and all that future sci-fi goodness, this is not the story for you. It’s just a small two-part character building story relying on the cast talking to each other.

And Susan going apes**t on that couch with a pair of scissors, if that’s not memorable I don’t know what is :sunglasses:
I rated it 4/5 :star: , mainly for the great character building happening in these 50 minutes.


That was a spectacular episode, it really couldn’t have worked at any other point in the show’s history. Nice to see Susan doing something for a change, even if that something is threatening the others with scissors. Great performances all round, as they really sell the paranoia.


While not the worst episodes of DW it is certainly up there. What could have barely been 1 episode was stretched to 2. While the idea is solid the executuion was poor and very VERY repetative. I rated it 2.5/5 (5/10) mainly because it was short and a contractual obligation.


I highly recommend listening to Toby Hadoke’s Too Much Information podcasts about these two episodes.

If nothing else, it puts paid, once and for all, to the myth that these were some kind of ‘filler’ because other things weren’t ready or because an episode extension hadn’t been granted.

There is also a (Far) Too Much Information podcast for the story available to patrons of his podcast.

Take a deep dive into the production of The Edge of Destruction:

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I freaking ADORE this episode! It’s our four leads having an argument and it creates some of the most riveting and fascinating drama possible. It’s the first time Who shows its potential to be something a little deeper than a silly sci-fi show for kids. You can draw a direct line from here to the high drama that is Midnight, Blink, and Heaven Sent.


I’m not as big a fan of this one as most fans seem to be, but it is a memorable bottle episode, so it has something going for it!

The Edge of Destruction is the first experimental story in Doctor Who set entirely within the TARDIS, with intriguing sci-fi concepts and unexplained phenomena.

The narrative is careless, with ambitious concepts and unexplained phenomena that don’t fully come alive with the resources put into the serial. The sense of mystery fuels the early parts of the episode, before the characters understand that working together is the way to success.

The serial messes around with established characterizations (too early, as we don’t know the characters very well yet), and Carole Ann Ford’s decline as a companion begins, as she is so annoying here. The most satisfying aspect of the serial is the head-to-head confrontation between Barbara and the Doctor, with William Hartnell and Jacqueline Hill delivering well-performed scenes. I really like Hartnell’s monologue at the end; it’s well-shot and memorable.

The pacing is good, but the solution to the problem is laughably bad, making it one of the worst solutions to the weirdest villain in the series’ history.

Score: 6/10


I did not mind this one. Gives you an ideal that the tardis is more than just a machine, well maybe it is a senile machine.


I just rewatched this and it is a good story. I think it was a little slow at times, but it was fun seeing the performances as the characters turn on each other.


This story is just so weird, especially for the time, that I really like it. The atmosphere, the at times stilted acting style, the sparse but strange score/sound fx all contribute to a unique story even all these years later. With this, the last story on an alien world, before that one in the past & of course the opening episode in the present Doctor Who is already showing us how varied it can be. & I love the scene at the end with some bonding between Doctor Who & Barbara.


4 days until this is released for all those rabid Edge of Destruction fans on TARDIS Guide :wink:

I’m not a huge fan, I think it gets way too much hype, but it’s fine. Barbara and the Doctor get a lovely scene at the end. Susan with scissors is unforgettable lol

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This is the first story that IMO hasn’t aged well. The setup in the first episode was genuinely chilling, especially Susan coming across as dangerously unhinged, and the build-up to the resolution was structured well. The episode represents the “storming” stage of the relationship between the 4 leads after the “forming” stage in the first two serials and now that the Doctor has fully accepted Ian & Barbara, hopefully the crew will start to form a genuine bond from now on. At the time of original transmission I would have rated this much higher, but unfortunately the dated “technology” of the TARDIS and occasional clumsy acting drags it down a bit when viewing it through today’s lens.


Just finished reading the Black Archive book about this serial and it is an excellent, thought-provoking read. Only £3.99 as an ebook - highly recommended.