Ten Downing Street, and the Minister is anxiously waiting the arrival of Doctor Quist who is late for an important meeting with the Prime Minister. Duncan blames the traffic, Quist is being driven by car from the airport. The Prime Minister's secretary is also alarmed. Quist suddenly bursts in, he is unsteady on his feet, confused, slurring his speech and looks exhausted. He blames the driver for getting lost. He asks to be briefed on the meeting and is taken into the meeting leaving the Minister in no doubt what is wrong with the man. 'He's drunk! Doctor Quist is drunk...'
This excellent script was an idea from Martin Worth who took an idea, current at the time that people suffering from jet lag could be manipulated, almost brainwashed. As the author himself concedes, this was nonsense. Jet lag can and does affect people – irritability and disorientation are just two of the side effects. So this can go down as another example of 'nothing to worry about,' Doomwatch episode, like By The Pricking of my Thumbs. That episode dealt with how 'bad science' can destroy lives through the misinformed or lazy media. Flight Into Yesterday does not try to demolish the idea. It has bigger fish to fry...
“Ideas for “DOOMWATCH” that we thought could make a play included one about jet-lag about which there was a lot in the press at the time. It seems almost laughable now, but at that time there was some idea that you could exploit people suffering from jetlag and that was what “Flight Into Yesterday” was about. I suggested to Terry that the Minister could be seen going to sign some important contract in America where those who wanted to discredit him could exploit his jet-lag so that by the time be got to the meeting, he’d be a complete mess. So he was given the wrong sort of food on the plane, and when he arrived in the States he was immediately whisked off to parties and given no time to relax. Every time he thought it was the middle of the night he was reminded that it was the middle of the day, and so on. It was fun to write and there were some lovely performances, notably from Robert Urquhart as the villain manipulator.” “We now know that Jet-lag was never really the danger we thought it might have been then.
The episode was designed to use the full cast and the booking department were informed of this on 9th December 1970 with the episode taking project number 02240/4422 with a planned recording date on 19th January 1971.
NEW SCIENTIST - New Scientist 4 February 1971
The production team of the BBC series Doomwatch are rather tickled to discover that their efforts are included among those nominated for the Mullard Award which goes to the programme doing the most to promote public understanding of science. All the other entries are solid down-to-earth documentaries. Perhaps victory in this field will ensure a third incarnation of Dr Quist and his team. The last programme of the present series is about to be recorded and there is some doubt in the upper echelons of the Television Centre about the continued flow of doomladen situations. Those involved see no prospect of a drying up, however, and can rattle off a list of so far untapped subjects-treatment of laboratory animals by students, transportation of nerve gas, nuclear engineering, massive river pollution (of the Rhine), sewage disposal at Lake Constance, booming anti-pollution business in the United States, the use of dolphins to aid navies, race and IQ, the production of quick results to satisfy fund-providers, mining the continental shelf, etc.
Terence Dudley the producer, conscious of the cardboard characterisation of which some critics have complained, wants to emphasise human reactions to catastrophe a bit more and develop conflict among his characters. He is grateful to Dr Kit Pedler, who had the idea for the programme (he also founded Dr Who), for many things, one of which is the assurance gained from a visit to Pedler’s lab at the Institute of Ophthalmology that scientists are not the white-coated stereotypes of traditional fiction. But the huge following the series has built up among the young is not put down to the trendiness of Dr Ridge’s gear. Letters, while they include many from girls obviously hooked on one or the other of the characters (the late Toby Wren led the field), do show that the concern demonstrated by the stories is shared and welcomed. This concern is also to be found in an older group of people uninvolved in science.
The rest of the mail is made up of requests for source material and the occasional GP worried lest his patients get the wrong idea. Complaints of inaccuracy, says Dudley, usually spring from mishearing or misunderstanding the dialogue.
Several of the programmes have had real-life near-counterparts following closely enough to evoke comment in the press but the producers are not out for Whitehall reaction. They did notice, however, that when Tony Crosland wore an environmental hat he referred to “Doomwatch situations” during an interview. Last Monday the Quist team faced the problem of the effects of time zone changes on jetting travellers. For this one advice was sought from Dr George Christie of Syntex Pharmaceuticals who produced a study of effects under the title, Project Pegasus. Pilots (there were two of them involved) suffered least and extrovert go-getters more than solid company men. It’s also better not to travel alone but with a colleague of roughly approximate status to give you psychological support.
CLASSIC NEWSPAPER REVIEWS
Dr. Spencer Quist
Dr. John Ridge
Dr. Fay Chantry
and guest stars
The Minister - Sir George Holroyd
Series devised by
Theme Music by
Assistant to Producer
1ST FEBRUARY 1971
9.20PM - 10.10PM
With thanks to John Archbold for the Radio Times listing and cover.