2 complete, 4 reconstructed. This was another very cool sci-fi concept, this time set in present day (1966) Earth. The Tardis lands in Gatwick airport, and although being held by the authorities should have been the extent of their problems, they uncover another sinister plot!
A private travel firm is abducting young people under the pretence of taking them abroad on their planes, but en route they are being miniaturised and transported to an orbiting space station. The planes convert to spaceships. The Doctor just happens to learn all this when he finds someone one of the aliens has murdered for knowing too much. They’re taking people in order to assume their form, as the aliens’ true appearance is grotesquely ‘faceless’, with featureless scaly (possibly green?) faces, apparently due to some sort of illness.
It’s another interesting premise because, like the Macra in the previous episode, they aren’t actually evil as such, they’re just trying to survive, and they consider their own form of life to be above humans in all respects. That said, the mood of this one is very much “invasion of the body-snatchers”, with impostors in key roles in the airport, and no-one sure of who is real, and it takes a while before the Doctor can convince the airport staff that anything is even wrong!
Once they realise something strange is happening, the Doctor is given free reign by the police to sort it all out. In the end, they defeat the aliens due to a stupid design flaw of their transformation process – ie. the original humans have to be kept safely stowed away, or the transformation process can be disrupted and the copy alien can be killed. They threaten the aliens with this and get them to leave, although the Doctor offers to help them find an alternative treatment for their condition.
On leaving the airport, Ben and Polly choose to stay behind on Earth, as they are now back where they left. The ever-loyal Jamie stays with the Doctor and they return to the Tardis, only to find that it is missing! Dun-dun-duuuunnn!!
As Ben and Polly depart, I will summarise and comment on their role.
Like many of the Doctor’s travelling companions, Ben and Polly join the Tardis from present day London and leave it in the same place (more or less). They are reluctant travellers, in that they didn’t mean to be there. They both have lives to go back to, so when the Tardis lands in Gatwick airport, they take the chance to say goodbye. Neither of them do anything remarkable, but Ben provides the ‘muscle’, and Polly provides the ‘sass’. Both of them witness the Doctor’s first (first televised, anyway) regeneration, which I suppose is pretty noteworthy. Anyway, they both end up safe and well, so that’s good.