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A plan of a building, its security, the location of a safe, a ventilator grille, a security alarm... and a group of three young teenagers are planning a raid. 'tomorrow's the big day!'


A coach arrives at Elsdene School, a large private school, and watching from an upstairs window is a gaggle of school children including Wagstaffe, Malcolm Priestland and Colin Tredget. The classroom is full of computer terminals. Wagstaffe runs through his itinerary by Priestland. 'We depend on you.' A teacher enters and tells them that they are very lucky to visit a major concern like Beresfords, and to mind their manners. For one thing there's an other party from the school going tomorrow so they will want to leave a good impression. 'Don't be patronising or supercilious. People respect cleverness but they don't like prigs.'

A picture of Malcolm is on his father's desk which Ridge looks at whilst talking to the handyman who is painting the skirting board. Priestland senior comes in with Fay, with whom he is very much taken with, and doesn't notice Ridge is behind the door! Priestland is less pleased to see him, waiting to give Fay a lift home. Dr Chantry asks to take some of the test results back with her. Dr. Quist will want to see them. Ridge offers to bring them back tomorrow.

The tour of children is lead by the dour scientist Kelsey. Colin Tredget fakes a trip over a bucket, giving the boys time to sneak Wagstaffe inside a ventilation grille on the floor level... Priestland goes out to see what has happened and later explains to Ridge and Fay about the trip. He tells them that his wife died some years ago and his son goes to a boarding school. His son has always been interested in the scientific side of work and when the school asked to visit he was happy to oblige. His son will be there tomorrow.

That night, the boys in the school lead by Malcolm Priestland follow the plan as Wagstaffe puts on gloves, has a sip of orange drink and then emerges from his hiding place after two security guards walk by. He enters Priestland's office and switches off the alarm but needs a chair to reach the switch. Using a gadget on the safe to open it, he removes certain documents, and then closes the safe, puts on the alarm again and then phones the school. One of the other boys gets the call. Wagstaffe returns to his hiding place. Priestland junior is pleased. When they visit the centre tomorrow, they will bring Wagstaffe out.

The next day, Ridge returns the files, accompanied by Geoff Hardcastle who is pleased with his new jacket. They find Priestland senior and Kelsey talking to a CID sergeant. The K.27 formulae is missing. Ridge is a little bemused to be questioned by the sergeant who wants some information on the matter. Kelsey wants to go as he is going to be busy but Priestland tells him that he telephoned the school and cancelled the trip.

Wagstaffe glances at his watch impatiently...

Ridge explains that Doomwatch is testing the very powerful new antibiotic, the K.27. It was a major breakthrough but it did have major side effects and they have been monitoring the drug's development. The side effects have been eliminated and Ridge thinks that permission to market the drug will automatically be forthcoming. As Priestland explains about how the drug would have been patented by them, and they have been leading the field. The formula is quite valuable to a foreign competitor. Ridge is interested by the high positioned switch to the safe on the other side of the room. Priestland isn't amused by Ridge not the police needing a list of everyone who knows the contents of the safe. Ridge also notices two marks in the painted skirting board which match a chair near by... Ridge asks if he and Dr. Chantry were the only outside visitors yesterday? Only the school. The sergeant tells Ridge he has no other questions for the moment which Ridge doesn't like. It makes him sound like a suspect which, technically, he is! 'Why should he bother to break into the safe when he had access to the files?' asks Geoff. 'Perhaps for that very reason, sir?' counters the CID sergeant. Outside the office, Geoff asks Ridge what all that was about? Ridge asks him if he fancies a trip back to school.

When they arrive at the school, Ridge confesses to being curious about the place and is going to look around on the quiet. The three boys watch their arrival. Ridge is recognised. They had allowed for the cancellation of the trip but they hadn't allowed for this... Ridge and Geoff watch a lesson, all being done by computers. an exercise in logic, how to find a new source of energy for a stalled boat and get it out of a danger zone. The boys are encouraged to find a factor totally in their control. They are encouraged to use the logic board. The computer programming is several years behind the times though.

Ridge tries to express his concerns to Quist. Geoff thinks that the classroom looked more like a space shuttle! 'All the kids in headphones, wired up to a computer, being fed questions, feeding back answers...' Quist isn't surprised. Professor Grantz helped to pioneer that form of teaching. He heard of it when it was first started up. He asks Fay to look it up in the public school yearbook. 'Logic boards, group thought,' muses Quist. 'Logic in a child is superior in many ways to an adult.
Take chess, for example. Logical game, many child masters. It's a teaching system that takes advantage of this. Things have changed since you went to school, John.' Quist quite approve of logic machines. 'Youth without an adult's emotional stresses can absorb an enormous amount of this symbolic training... The ability to think straight, a cool appraisal of any situation, uncluttered by emotion or bias, that's what the modern world needs today.' Grantz is also a great educationalist in the human sense. But it was the inhumanities that bothered Ridge. There was an atmosphere about the place, the pupils had a sense of mental arrogance. 'How would you describe the Hitler youth?' Fay notices that the school is run by Grantz's widow and she had nothing to do with it originally... Perhaps his splendid educational techniques have gone out of hand. Ridge explains why they were at the school in the first place, making Quist laugh. a bunch of kids stealing a scientific formulae? Ridge gets heated: a well planned crime at that school would have no moral consequences in an exercise in logic. Quist looks at the book and takes the challenge silently.

Before bed time at the school, and the three boys are planning Wagstaffe's recovery. His disappearance from the school hasn't been noticed. 'It's one of the advantages of our schools lack of so called formal discipline!' remarks Richard Whetlor. Using a logic board drawn in chalk on the floor, the most feasible solution to their problem is to bypass the situation. They don't actually need the files to proceed with their plan.

Wagstaffe, having spent a second night in a ventilation tunnel, returns to the office and telephones the school. Priestland answers the phone this time and tells him he'll bring some food in.

Quist visits Mrs Grantz and quizzes her about the teaching methods she did not help to create. Her staff and her late husband's tapes she thinks is adequate. She is surprised by Quist's interest in her school, and the idea of a thin line between instruction and indoctrination and whether it had been crossed here? He praises Mr Grantz vision – ethics, morality, etc. These played a large part in his teachings and the dangers of the system. 'What dangers?' Quist gently points out that her husband would not have asked such a question. He would have known. She knows that there is a lack of traditional discipline here, the children are afforded the same sort of liberty as a university student, but most visitors are impressed by this. 'I was thinking of education by computer tapes without the proper supervision your husband provided... Logic, as an abstract subject, carries with it great powers. With its training and methodology, you can plan events and design strategies with a great probability of success. If you want something, logic says you can get it and shows you how. Doesn't even raise the question of whether it is right or wrong for you to get it.' Quist is getting worried by Mrs Grantz's answers and lack of concern. She offers to show Quist around and put his fears to rest.

Malcolm is visiting his father and sneaks some extra food for Wagstaffe in his waste paper bin. He is pretending he is visiting his dad to show how disappointed the school is in the cancellation of the trip. Malcolm wants to see his dad in the half term break next week, offering to meet him in Petersfield. Ridge enters, and as Malcolm leaves, comments he saw him at school. Ridge denies it but Malcolm leaves, says to his dad, where do you want me to meet him next week? Further down the corridor, Malcolm speaks to Wagstaffe through the grille. The formulae thief is getting bored!

Priestland wonders why his son made a mistake with a photographic memory like his... It's the same at that school. 'Observe, record,, evaluate. The little horrors.' Ridge asks why did he send him there. 'We live in a technocracy. A trained mind will get you anywhere you want.' Priestland asks him if he was sure he didn't go down to the school... The day after the robbery, Ridge had noticed something he had noticed too. 'If there had been anything significant to it, the police would have followed it up.' Ridge asked if he pointed it out to the police. Priestland retorts that just because he called them little horrors, he didn't mean he thought they were capable of- He stops and gets back to the point of the meeting. He wants to know what Doomwatch is doing to get the formulae back? He has approval from the company to take any steps to secure its recovery with or without police approval. Ridge doesn't quite know what is expected from them. Priestland thought Doomwatch had done this sort of thing before and thinks they should take some of the blame for this ever occurring; their insistence on further tests. 'You'd rather have marketed the product with the side effects we know that it had?' Priestland also didn't like having government scientists running around the place. ridge noticed how he didn't object to Dr. Chantry's presence. 'Quite the reverse, in fact!' Kelsey enters with a tape marked urgent...

Mrs Grantz shows Quist the computerised nerve centre of the school; the battle of Stalingrad was converted here into logic of tactics and strategy. It's an expensive system to keep running. Financially, they seem to be on a constant knife edge. They do not have a profit motive and her husband wanted his techniques available widely. They are not subsidised being too unorthodox. They rely on bequests and donations. And a new crisis is looming soon. The boys are aware of the situation. It is the school's policy to hide nothing from them. Quist ponders...

The tape has a voice treated message giving the company instructions in how to give them moneyg in return for the formulae. Money is to be thrown out of a railway carriage at a predetermined signal from a receiver also enclosed in this package. They want £25,000 and Priestland is prepared to pay it and daren't risk contacting the police.

Kelsey has the bag of cash and is sitting next to Geoff Hardcastle on the train who fits a tracker into it. No one told Priestland. It is being monitored by Colin Bradley in the Doomwatch office. The train is near Godalming. Quist tells Fay he thinks the scheme is the safest way for the thieves to collect their money, jettisoned anywhere between London and Portsmouth. Seventy three miles! 'It's been well thought out, logically thought out.' And they'll soon find out if the boys are doing it. Ridge is down at the school to see which of the 350 boys are not at the school.

Kelsey is unhappy that Priestland hasn't been told of the bug and explains that he is here because the boss is spending time with his son. The school has a holiday today. Geoff is impressed! 'They really have thought of everything.'

The two boys, Colin and Richard, are waiting by the train lines, hidden by bushes, and transmit the signal. The bag is thrown out and they retrieve it and run away with it to a safe spot where they scan the bag for the bug which they find. Priestland joins them and they smile at their success. They transfer the money into a second bag and replace the bug into the brief case. Then they split up, Malcolm Priestland takes the case.

Ridge discovers that all the boys are on holiday. Mrs Grantz doesn't seem too convinced by Ridge's story as being a friend of the Priestland's. He telephones the Doomwatch office and calls Fay 'Mother' and she quickly twigs he can't talk freely. Fay tells him that they are picking up the bug but it's not heading their way at all – it's going to London... As Mrs Grantz escorts Ridge out, she stops past Colin and Richard asking if they have seen Malcolm. They say that he is meeting his dad at Petersfield. They don't know why... The boys look worried...

The bug has settled at Hampstead.

The boys soak the money in a solution to remove any potential chemical treatment. Richard sums up. 'All that remains now is for our anonymous rich dead woman to make her donation through to the school... Through her fictitious solicitor.' Colin reminds him that they have to return the files and get Wagstaffe out.

Wagstaffe emerges from the ducting that night, and returns to the office where the boys smash open the window, and throw the file back in, as Wagstaffe jumps out, and the alarm rings!

Priestland phones Ridge and Quist tells them that they got the file back. 'Tell him we'll be over to see him right away.'

Quist and Ridge watch as Priestland expresses his relief with a glass of whisky, that the business is over and wants no more trouble from the police in tracking down the culprits or even recovering the money. 'You know who is responsible and wants to protect them,' Quist says. 'You suspected as soon as I did, probably sooner,' backs up Ridge. Quist tells him that if he didn't suspect for one moment that his son was the ringleader he would have told the police. Priestland admits that his son has been strange, lately. They had been growing apart. But he did have to send him away to school... 'I had my work, I couldn't keep him at home.' Priestland still denies his sons involvement that he saw his son at Petersfield yesterday on business. That's why they chose that train line, remarks Ridge. The case was thrown of the train about three miles from Petersfield at precisely 4:25 pm. Priestland is nervous. The arrangement was to meet his son at 4pm by the level crossing at Petersfield. He waited for nearly an hour. Quist tells him to call the police. They may be wrong. 'He's as good as confessed,' admits Priestland. When he turned up he was over-wrought, like a little boy again. 'He's human despite what that school's done to him.' He begged his father not to call the police, that he had been with him since 4pm. Ridge groans. He needed an alibi! After that he drove his son home. 'I was quite glad in a way... He didn't go back to school until this morning. He didn't tell me what it was all about...' 'But you guessed,' says Quist. 'Yes.' And he will give him that alibi if he has to. 'He's not a criminal, just too clever by half. It's all the fault of that school. They're not educated there, they're programmed. And they love it. Little tin gods... tomorrow elite.' Quist again tells him to phone the police because if Quist does it, the police will suspect Priestland! 'Have you got an alibi for yesterday at 4:25?' Malcolm will tell the police it was his father's idea... They tell them about the bug, and where it now is to be found. In his back garden! Priestland looks shaken. Malcolm doesn't want his father to call them because it would clear him instantly. 'But just in case I have to call them...He's taken the precaution of covering himself. By framing his dad!' Priestland slowly takes the phone Quist offers him and asks for the police. Priestland suddenly sees the bright side. 'In law, he's a minor! The school will have to take the blame.' He laughs. 'at least he can take care of himself. He'll do well in business!' By the looks of Ridge and Quist, they agree...

Synopsis by Michael Seely

What is it about children that middle aged writers fear? Their energy, enthusiasm and questioning nature? Their ability to intuitively understand machines they cannot even comprehend? It is hardly surprising that this episode, filmed second and buried towards the end of the run, was a Kit Pedler storyline. He tackled logic in Doctor Who's The Tomb of the Cybermen as a basis for a secretive power hungry brotherhood that also wanted to use the cold, emotionless power of the Cybermen to rule a weak earth. He also provided ideas for The Wheel In Space which introduced Zoe Herriot, whose reliance on logic, facts and figures made people uneasy around her, especially when facing a catastrophe.

In this episode of Doomwatch, it is not a power crazed computer that is doing the harm but an educational system that has gone unsupervised, the ethical dimension has been left out of a programme of sheer logic. The human element is lacking, as in The Iron Doctor or judgement as in Project Sahara.

Children can used to hugely unsettling effect in science fiction (see The Midwich Cuckoos) as well as victims to life's adult induced ills. But when children go wrong, the adults do roar... Children seldom go bad in themselves, it's the environment around them that does it. By The Pricking Of My Thumb tried to junk the genetic theory of inheriting badness, a predestination of the blood that was in vogue a few years earlier. Now it's the turn of education The Catholic church used to believe that put into their care (or power) young enough, they could mould people for life.

Indoctrinating children can be used as a political tool. The cultural revolution in China had children humiliating their teachers; the Hitler Youth brain washed the young, and many of them lost their lives defending the crumbling ruins of Berlin in the last days of the second world war.

Children without correct supervision are seen as monsters. The school gets the blame for the logicians crime, despite their rather pure motives. The money was to be used to keep the school running, not for personal gain. The finger of blame though does get pointed at the father who saw the boarding school as an ideal place for a child to be educated in a technocracy. In those days though, as now, powerful businessmen, and not just widowers, did put their kids into boarding schools so they didn't either have to fund expensive nannies, or bother with them except for holidays abroad. The aristocracy seldom troubled itself with the upbringing of their own children too in centuries gone by. Now the bourgeoisie are at it!

It is that modern fixation, that without a father figure, wagging a moral finger in the drawing room with one hand and reaching for a cane in the other, children will end up robbing pharmaceutical concerns of their new powerful antibiotic. Victorian claptrap. But you do see in Priestland, a man trying to do what is right for his son, and inadvertently turning him into a machine! He takes the idea that his son was setting him up to take the blame for the robbery of the files and sees it as evidence that he will do well in business!

Nowadays, there isn't a school without a computer or access to the world wide web. Quite what Kit Pedler would have made of that, who knows. But the biggest fear twixt the child/computer interface is unlawful contact with perverts, advertising, social pressures, and scams, not to mention badly researched and hastily written articles with lots of copying from Wikipedia (irony). There isn't much logic on the net!

Written by Dennis Spooner, The Logicians is the closest Doomwatch came to comedy. With John Ridge the gooseberry of the Priestland/Chantry 'romance', a foil for the CID inspector, wise cracks at the expense of Geoff Hardcastle, and knocking the desk twice for some unfathomable reason in Quist's office, he provides more than ample light relief. Once he starts calling Fay Chantry 'Mother' on the phone, you do see Dennis Spooner is desperately trying to fight a rear guard action against his ITC instincts where humour and adventure go hand in hand. 

Review by Michael Seely 


Project Number: 02240/4412

Artists booked for Project Number: 02240/4412 for August 14th 1970 on 16th July 1970.

21st July 1970 Simon Oates
Telerecorded: 14th August VTC/6HT/61551
The episode overran in the studio.

Audience Research Report
15th April 1971

Size of audience (based on results of the Survey of Listening and Viewing).
It is estimated that the audience for this broadcast was 18.8% of the United Kingdom population. Programmes on BBC2 and ITV at the time were seen by 3.1% and 14.7% (average).

Reaction Profile (based on 508 questionnaires completed by 20% of the Viewing Panel)
Viewers were asked to rate the broadcast on four dimensions defined by pairs of adjectives or descriptive phrases. Their selection of one of five scale positions between each pair resulted in the following reaction profile:

Gripping 26%    40%    22%    6%    6%    Didn't hold attention
Entertaining    45%    31%    17%    6%    3%    Boring
Believable    28%    22%    17%    15%    18% Unbelievable
Quick-moving    30%    25%    28%    9%    8%    Slow-moving

The majority of reporting viewers had evidently enjoyed this story, which held their attention to the end, leaving food for thought and the feeling that 'this could come true'. As one of the more enthusiastic remarked;
'This programme always seems so real to me; that kind of teaching could possibly produce boys with minds like computers and no real sense of right or wrong'.
But for a good many its appeal was generally moderate. This was not one of the best episodes in the series, in their opinion; it lacked 'the holding power of previous ones' and was 'not very exciting'; above all it was 'much less likely than most of the others'. Verdicts as to its improbability ranged from 'rather far-fetched'; 'the only story I could not quite believe could ever happen' to isolated objections that it was 'very unrealistic' and 'ridiculously incredible'.

Acting and production were generally considered satisfactory, quite a number, in addition to commending the Doomwatch team, praising the performances of the young actors playing the schoolboys, who, it was said, for instance, come over as 'real characters'. There was some criticism, on the other hand, on the grounds that the children appeared 'stilted' and lacking in conviction, a few finding the acting generally not very convincing.

86% of the reporting sample said they viewed the whole programme, 9% came in in the middle, 2% tried a bit and 3% switched off before the end.

Asked for their opinion on the series, the majority of those reporting were appreciative. According to some, admittedly, the stories varied in credibility and holding-power. But generally, they agreed that the series had been an interesting and entertaining one, and many had enjoyed all or most of the episodes heard, finding them compelling and thought-provoking and 'splendid entertainment value'. Their topicality was a special feature it was said, and also the fact that they 'touch on things the layman never gives a second thought to', and 'make people realise how progress can get out of hand'.

Less often there was support for the view that this series had 'never quite made the standard of the previous one' and had lost 'some of its earlier impetus and appeal'. Isolated viewers were inclined to dismiss it as far-fetched rubbish.

Votes on whether viewers would like another series worked out as follows:-

yes, very much 76%
Not particularly 22%
Definitely not 2%


Dr. Spencer Quist

Dr. John Ridge

Geoff Hardcastle

Dr. Fay Chantry

Colin Bradley

Mrs. Grantz

C.I.D. Sergeant




Malcolm Priestland

David Wagstaffe

Colin Tredget

Richard Whetlor

And Guest Star



Series devised by

Theme Music by

Film Cameraman

Sound Recordist

Film Editor

Studio Lighting

Studio Sound

Script Editor


Assistant to Producer


Directed by

15TH MARCH 1971
9.20PM - 10.10PM

With thanks to John Archbold for the Radio Times listing and cover.