Mission to the Unknown


019 – "Mission to the Unknown"
Doctor Who episode
Mission to the Unknown.jpg
The Daleks collude with the masters of the Fifth Galaxy on a diabolical scheme (production still from the episode)
Directed byDerek Martinus
Written byTerry Nation
Script editorDonald Tosh
Produced byVerity Lambert
Executive producer(s)None
Incidental music composerStock music by Trevor Duncan
Production codeT/A, T Episode 5, or DC
SeriesSeason 3
Running time1 episode, 25 minutes
Episode(s) missing1 episode, 25 minutes
First broadcast9 October 1965 (1965-10-09)
← Preceded by
Galaxy 4
Followed by →
The Myth Makers
List of Doctor Who episodes (1963–1989)

"Mission to the Unknown", sometimes known as "Dalek Cutaway" and also "Dalek Cutaway-Mission to the Unknown" and "The Beasts from UGH" in publicity material,[1][2] is a missing episode of the third season of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, first broadcast on 9 October 1965. The sole standalone episode of the show's original run (apart from the 1983 feature-length anniversary special The Five Doctors, which was later shown in a multi-episode form) it serves as an introduction to the 12-part story The Daleks' Master Plan. It is also unusual for the complete absence of the regular cast, including the Doctor (although William Hartnell is still credited on-screen). The story focuses on Space Security Agent Marc Cory (Edward de Souza) and his attempts to warn Earth of the Daleks' latest plan. Although audio recordings and production stills of the episode exist, no footage is known to have survived.

In 2019, thanks to the students of the University of Central Lancashire, this became the first (and so far only) missing episode of Doctor Who to be fully recreated in live-action, with original production values of the 1960s. The project was released on the official BBC YouTube channel on 9 October, 54 years to the day after the episode's original broadcast.



On the planet Kembel, Marc Cory and Gordon Lowery of UN Deep Space Force Group 1 attempt to repair their spaceship to reach their rendezvous when they are attacked by their crew member Jeff Garvey, who was in a violent state of mind upon waking up in the jungle. Cory shoots Garvey dead when he was about to fire at Lowery, pulling out a long thorn from behind his ear. Bringing Lowery into the spaceship for debriefing, Cory explains himself to be a Space Security agent assigned to investigate a possible Dalek base for universal invasion with the presence of a Varga plant confirming their presence. Outside, Garvey gradually mutates into a Varga. At the Daleks' base, Dalek Supreme is informed that the representatives from the seven planets will soon arrive while sending a Dalek platoon to destroy Cory and Lowery.

Cory stands guard against the slow-moving Varga plants while Lowery finishes building a rescue beacon. They notice a spaceship flying above them, Cory deducing the Daleks are planning something big. As Lowery was about to record a message, Cory notices something moving in the jungle, ducking behind some bushes. The Dalek platoon arrives and destroys their ship with Lowery accidentally stabbing his hand on a Varga thorn as he and Cory flee. In the Dalek base, the representatives from the seven galaxies have gathered in a conference room. Dalek Supreme assures representative Malpha that the human intruders will be dealt with. Cory is forced to kill Lowery upon learning he became infected and records a message, only to be surrounded by the Daleks and exterminated before he could launch the beacon. Back at the Dalek base, the representatives all approve in forming an alliance with the Daleks' plan to take over the Solar System while chanting "Victory."


EpisodeTitleRun timeOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions) [3]
Archive [4]
1"Mission to the Unknown"24:429 October 1965 (1965-10-09)8.3Only stills and/or fragments exist

^† Episode is missing

The episode came about because producer Verity Lambert wanted to give the cast regulars an extra week's holiday between the second and third production blocks, extending their break from five weeks to six, and so it was decided to make the final episode in serial T a one-off story introducing elements of the forthcoming story The Daleks' Master Plan (Serial V) without including any of the regular actors.[5] The episode was made by the same team as Galaxy 4[6] (Serial T), with both stories sharing pre-filming. It was also the final Doctor Who episode on which Verity Lambert served as producer.[7]

Terry Nation wrote this episode partially as an attempt to create a story about the Daleks that did not involve the Doctor or his companions, so that he could eventually develop and sell the idea of a Dalek series, divorced from the Doctor Who universe. In the proposed series, the Space Security Service was tasked with hunting Daleks, and it would follow their adventures—an approach that can be seen in short stories and comic strips written for the 1965 Dalek Outer Space Book (cover dated 1966). An unmade pilot titled The Destroyers was written, but the series concept was never sold.

Alternative titles and production codes

Perhaps more than any other Doctor Who story, "Mission to the Unknown" generates confusion and debate over both the title used and the serial/production code allocated. All Doctor Who stories from this period have no overall on-screen title, with the story referred to either by a production code or an internal title by the production team. (For example, the early 1965 story featuring Nero was Serial M or The Romans.) The two were confusingly used interchangeably in many production and overseas sales documents. "Mission to the Unknown" generates further confusion because some documents do not refer to it as a serial but rather as a "cutaway episode". As the story was produced alongside Galaxy 4 the two appear to have been referred to together. Several of the production codes offered are either Serial T or Serial T +, an appendage.

The camera script calls the episode "Doctor Who: Mission to the Unknown", but in the left margin the words "Dalek Cutaway" are typed. A handwritten addition on the front sheet states "Serial T Episode 4" (which actually is the production code for the episode from the week prior).[8] In the Programme as Broadcast document, the episode is titled "Dalek Cutaway – Mission to the Unknown". No production code appears.[9] In a production memo provided to the new producer John Wiles, dated May 1965 and called "The History of Doctor Who", the episode is called "Serial DC".[8] In a design document dated 9 July, the episode is referred to as "T/A Episode 1", and in another dated 20 July, it is called "Serial T, Episode 5".[8] A publicity document held in the BBC Written Archives refers to the serial as "The Beasts from UGH", as does a photograph in the Getty Archives.[1][2] In 1969, when the videotape of the episode was due to be wiped (although this did not actually happen until July 1974), the relevant paperwork referred to it as "Serial Ta Episode 1/1".

When it came to offering the story for sale overseas, the synopsis sent by BBC Enterprises gave the title as "Mission to the Unknown (Dalek Cutaway)". The 1974 Enterprises document A Quick Guide to Doctor Who, which listed the stories produced so far for potential overseas buyers, gave the title as "Dalek Cutaway (Mission to the Unknown)" and did not offer any production code at all. When fans started compiling reference books in the mid-1970s, it was this latter document which formed the basis of many lists. The story was referred to alternatively as "Dalek Cutaway" and "Mission to the Unknown" on many occasions, whilst the production code went vacant until the discovery of the design documents stating T/A.

Cast notes

This is the only Doctor Who story that does not feature the TARDIS or the character of the Doctor. Despite this, William Hartnell is still credited[10] as "Dr. Who"—this was because his contract specified he would be credited for all episodes, including those in which he appeared only in the reprise or did not feature at all. The Doctor's companions Vicki (Maureen O'Brien) and Steven Taylor (Peter Purves) do not appear either. Unlike Hartnell, their contracts did not guarantee they would be credited, though they were in the BBC listings magazine Radio Times[11] (and episode guides taking their information from there).

The alien delegates seen at the Daleks' HQ on Kembel would return in The Daleks' Master Plan, but recast with some make-up and costume changes and with a notably different line-up including some speaking characters, leading to some confusion over which is which. The disparity only came to light when the Master Plan episode "Day of Armageddon" was returned to the BBC archives.

Barry Jackson had previously appeared as Ascaris in The Romans and would appear as Drax in The Armageddon Factor (1979). Jeremy Young had previously played Kal in An Unearthly Child (1963). Edward de Souza would later play Mortimer Davey in the audio play The Roof of the World.

2019 remake

Students at the University of Central Lancashire recreated the episode with the involvement of Peter Purves, Edward de Souza and Nicholas Briggs in 2019.[12] The episode premiered on the Doctor Who YouTube channel at 5:45pm BST on 9 October, exactly 54 years after it first aired.[13] The channel would also release a documentary entitled "The Making-Of Mission to the Unknown" on the same day, narrated by Josh Snares and chronicling the production of the remake.[14]

Commercial releases

In print

Mission to the Unknown
Doctor Who Mission to the Unknown.jpg
AuthorJohn Peel
Cover artistAlister Pearson
SeriesDoctor Who book:
Target novelisations
Release number
PublisherTarget Books
Publication date
21 September 1989

The story was novelised as part of The Daleks' Master Plan I: Mission to the Unknown by John Peel, published in September 1989. The rest of the book contained an adaptation of the first six episodes of The Daleks' Master Plan.

An unabridged reading of the book by Peter Purves and Jean Marsh, with Dalek voices supplied by Nicholas Briggs, was released by BBC Audiobooks in May 2010. The title was slightly modified to Daleks – Mission to the Unknown.

Home media

This story is one of three (the others being Marco Polo and The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve) to survive in audio form only, with no broadcast footage of any form currently known to exist. The audio was released as part of the soundtrack CD The Daleks' Master Plan, as was also released as part of the vinyl. A reconstruction of the episode was produced by Loose Cannon Productions in 2000, using set photographs and the existing audio.[15]


  1. ^ a b BBC Written Archives Centre T66/25/1
  2. ^ a b "Verity Lambert on the set of Doctor Who, where 'The Beasts from UGH..." Getty Images. Archived from the original on 28 December 2020. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  3. ^ "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Archived from the original on 11 September 2019. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  4. ^ Shaun Lyon; et al. (31 March 2007). "Mission to the Unknown". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 18 June 2008. Retrieved 30 August 2008.
  5. ^ Howe-Stammers-Walker, Doctor Who: The Handbook: The First Doctor (London: BBC Book, 1994), pp. 280–81, 285.
  6. ^ "BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Mission to the Unknown - Details". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 December 2020. Retrieved 5 July 2020.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ a b c Andrew Pixley, "A Question of Answers," TSV 53 (March 1998)"A Question of Answers". Archived from the original on 28 December 2020. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  9. ^ "Programme as Broadcast document" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 December 2020. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  10. ^ "BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Mission to the Unknown - Details". www.bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 28 December 2020. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  11. ^ "Mission to the Unknown ★★★★". Radio Times. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  12. ^ Allen, Ben (20 February 2019). "Classic Doctor Who companion Peter Purves helps recreate lost episode Mission to the Unknown". Radio Times. Archived from the original on 28 December 2020. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  13. ^ Belam, Martin (10 October 2019). "Mission impossible! Lost Doctor Who episode remade for YouTube generation". theguardian.com. Guardian News & Media Limited. Retrieved 10 October 2019. The recreation premiered on the official BBC Doctor Who YouTube channel at 5:50pm on 9 October, exactly 54 years after the story was broadcast for the one and only time.
  14. ^ "The Making-Of Mission to the Unkown)". YouTube. Retrieved 16 April 2021.
  15. ^ "Mission To The Unknown (aka Dalek Cutaway)". Loose Cannon Productions. Archived from the original on 6 May 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  • By Any Other Name – Article by Andrew Pixley detailing the problems of early Doctor Who story titles.

External links