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Genetic engineering can alter the shape, personality and intelligence of a human being, even before it is born: by tampering with nature we can make Superman. Today, we experiment on lesser animals, like... the rat.

A young child pushed in his buggy by his mother spots what he thinks is a pussy cat. It is, in fact, a rat. And it attacks him.


In the Doomwatch lab a rat inside a cage is the centre of attention. Pat isn't terribly keen on the animals, which doesn't surprise Quist. There have been several attacks on Londoners recently, and the one thing they all had in common was being vulnerable... Elderly men and women, one bed ridden, even a cat and now a child. According to Brad, the area in question had been rat free for eighteenth months before that it had been the worst area in London. So they sent for the ministry. Ridge can't believe rats are carnivorous even though they're omnivorous. 'Rats are the greediest animal on earth apart from your emotionally disturbed human being that is.' Brad tells him 'Don't look at me,' leaving Quist to make a pap diagnosis. Ridge continues with his view that rats aren't dangerous. They don't attack unless threatened. Wren wonders if it was an escaped marsupial, a Tasmanian devil, a flesh eater. Several attack cases are reported. One on them involving a dog. Their rat specimen is fed and prefers nuts. This rat comes from the sewer near where the first attack happened. Quist wants another one – the one that eats flesh.

Wren and Pat Hunnisett visit the Chambers, where their boy, Alan, had been attacked by a rat and is now in hospital. She shows them the kitchen where it happened. The other lady apparently said they must have come from behind the cooker. Wren asks 'what other lady?'

Dr Mary Bryant is explaining to Preston, her employer, why she went to visit the Chambers. Preston is annoyed that she identified herself on this visit. What concerns him is Quist. 'At best a professional busy body, at worst the head of a science Gestapo... Doomwatch.' Bryant has heard of them and he is on his way. Bryant wonders if she should be told that she has developed a strain of flesh eating rats but he says no, there's no proof, despite all these attacks happening in the same area. 'Cannibal rats is your experiment, it's the Ministry's responsibility.' But it won't be the Minister who will carry the can. 'But he agreed to the experiment... I was there. He laughed at his own joke. “The final solution to the rat problem,” and he creased himself.' A Minister only exists on recommendations. If the experiment succeeded the minister takes the credit, if it fails their heads roll. She understands now why she was encouraged to work at home: to cover his tracks. 'You were asked to work at home to keep down costs.' But officially she did the work here as she has no license. 'It's unscientific to indulge in a cosy sense of guilt.' Bryant calms down and agrees to keep quiet if and when the press get hold of the story. Bryant leaves just as Quist enters. He stops for a moment, as if remembering a connection but then drops it. Quist does indeed want to talk about rats: one died this morning trying to take on a navvy. Ratus Nonvegicus indeed. He talks about is it usual for a de infested area to repopulate so quickly? Preston runs through the techniques they use in killing the rats and some of the problems from the cruel poisons to animals act to an experiment in sterilising them.

Dr Bryant is drowning her sorrows in a pub and uses a well rehearsed put down line on an elderly gentleman she feels is about to offer her a drink...

Wren and Pat report back to Quist who asks Bradley to find out all he can about a Dr Mary Bryant. She works for the rodent disposal part of the Ministry. Bradley has been investigating the dead rat. It has abnormally high density of brain cells. Suddenly, Quist remembers Bryant: she's a geneticist. He even remembers the name of one of her scientific papers: immunology with a biochemical bias. He feels this is a job for Ridge, who is on the phone trying to arrange a date. He suggests he cancels it and chat up Mary Bryant. He also suggests another scientific paper of hers to read. Mary Bryant works for Preston and Quist knows him well enough to know he is concealing something. 'She's a nice bit of homework.'

That night, Bradley and Wren set up baited traps in the Chamber's kitchen. He asks the husband and wife to leave them to it, as they unblock the hole in the kitchen the rats came through. Then they sit on the stairs and wait, Wren lights up a cigarette and Bradley writes some notes. Almost immediately they hear the noises of rats in the kitchen and the spring of a trap. Bradley stops Toby from going in too quickly, before the rats go. The traps are empty – propped open by spoons and forks! They can't believe it. Wren remembers the report on the rats. Intelligent rats. 'We have got a reasoning carnivorous animal – ratus sapiens.' Suddenly the rats attack, going for their legs. The Chambers enter to help but the wife faints. Wren goes berserk and kills one on the table, repeatedly banging its head. Bradley swipes his attackers away with a saucepan. Wren is in a state of chock and needs a stiff drink. The rats escaped, and took away its fallen comrade. 'And it won't be to bury it either.'

Ridge finds Bryant still propping up the bar and rebuffs her usual chat up thwarting line, by congratulating her on her paper. This rather surprises Bryant who, after a spot of verbal banter, allows John to buy her another drink.

After Wren and Bradley have left, Mr Chambers is trying to comfort his distraught wife. The rats are still in the kitchen and show themselves after they switch off the light.

Ridge and Bryant settle down for some post coital chat on the sofa. She has a suspicion that he is a professional snooper, he is interested in rats. Ridge explains that is hardly surprising since they are mentioned in her paper enough times. Her guilt complex begins to show and she is uneasy, resisting any chances of another roll in the hay with Ridge. He wonders if she gets more excitement out of her rats, a comment she doesn't think is worthy of him, his technique. But then she agrees. She does. And explains her philosophy. 'We roll in the hay, I'm less than careful, you have a chromosotic idiosyncrasy, and I give birth to an abnormal child. In my view, the height of human irresponsibility. The work I do on rats will be extended to human beings. By adding and subtracting from the genetic structure you can eliminate the abnormal.' Ridge would argue that some people would feel that she would be interfering with nature or their god's law. 'I feel that god sends abnormal children to be born are irrational.' But where would her work stop? She doesn't deny that she isn't interested in making super men. Hitler endowed people like her. 'you blinkered Neanderthal man, groping around in the dark.' 'now you're talking,' and pounces on her.

Early next morning, a stable girl discovers a partially eaten horse.

It is Ridge later that morning who answers the phone for Mary Bryant. It is Preston, startled to hear a man's voice. When Mary gets on to the phone, Ridge gets the newspapers. More rat attacks – and the Minister has started leaning. Ridge holds out a front page. She immediately thinks he's a journalist but he tells her he is a snooper, a civil servant, a watchdog. She realises: Quist.

She meets with Preston. Her job is as a rat killer but her indirect work is her genetic engineering. 'Tampering with nature? Yes. I'm being sacked.' No. He wants her to get this department off the hook, by resigning, which is not accepted, and is offered a job in the agricultural division where her work in genetics is transferred to cereals. Business as usual. The reason for resigning is that she released a strain of cannibal rats prematurely (not true!) from her home (true, for the sake of convenience). With Quist and the press she is to co-operate.

Her story is on the front page of the newspaper being read by the Chambers. They recognise her as Mary Bryant, and that she lived just around the corner. She has released 500 of the cannibal rats! The paper quotes her saying that due to the cruel poisons act of 1962 was only possible in a country that loved animals more than children. 'She's blaming it on us,' says Mr Chambers. 'She must be out of her Chinese little mind!' 'And she seemed such a nice person too,' says the wife.

Bryant goes to talk to Doctor Quist, offering to help as she knows the animal. She is bothered by the anomalies. Her rats were conditioned against human flesh and she explains how. A negligible failure rate. But they've certainly had a go at hunting it, says Quist. Ridge still isn't convinced. They had a go at Toby because he trapped them and they had a greater awareness of being threatened. .Her rats were also sterile, there couldn't be 500 of them, 250 at most. In eighteenth months the strain will die out. Quist wants one of them.

Bryant shows Quist and Ridge her laboratory in her home. The human flesh she uses comes from a hospital. She has an observation room next door, the rats live in a bunker at the other end. She has a make shift apparatus which measures when a rat feeds from a trough platform.

Meanwhile, the young boy Alan Chambers is returned home in an ambulance. A rat watches from beside a bin and climbs inside... The ambulance man shuts the doors on it without realising and the creature goes berserk.

Toby and Bradley are studying the rat in the Doomwatch lab. Wren thinks it is listening to what they are saying. This is the rat from the ambulance. It won't take food. 'I know it's suspicious,' says Wren. Quist, Ridge and Bryant return having been told of the capture. Wren had put it through its paces in a series of tests which it solved without hesitation. It didn't take the food, just trying to find a way out, and now it's watching and waiting. 'And listening,' says Bradley. Bryant says this isn't one of her rats. It's too young from the released batch of 500 and has no skin graft. Wren feeds it some more but when he cuts himself on the cage, the rat reacts to his blood! 'Like a shark!' says Quist.

That evening, Ridge is investigating the observation room. Despite her protests, Ridge declares that unsterilised rats have escaped. He is looking for weaknesses in the concrete and steel walls and anomalies. Most of which Bryant can counter. The back wall is wooden, treated with aversion treated wood. At the bottom of the wall are a series of pressure sensored plates, where food is left, through heavy zinc plates that lift. And behind one is a gnawed hole. They are also taking the human flesh without it registering on the machine outside. That's because they have wedged it firm. Ridge discovers how to get that back plate out if you are a rat – a rudimentary lever...

Now that it is known that unsterilised rats have escaped, Quist goes to confront Preston who maintains that the experiment has been vindicated. Dr Bryant says you have to take risks, otherwise you'd still be in the primeval slime. Quist decides to go and investigate the sewer and wants Bryant to go with him. Preston would rather they leave the investigation to his department. Quist is not here to contribute to his happiness.

As Quist goes down into the sewer, he is intercepted by some journalists but doesn't give them any answers. He has never been down a sewer before, he says, apart from Fleet Street.

Inside the sewer, they discover the rats' nest behind some lose bricks in the wall. It appears to be organised, workers, soldiers, a queen. And there are mouse droppings. Perhaps they herd mice like we heard cattle, wonders Bryant. 'Embryonic Nazis on four legs,' muses Quist.

Meanwhile, the rats are getting bolder. One in a car causes a driver to crash; another can be seen in a kitchen cupboard, or coming out from a toilet, and hordes chasing children across a playground.

The rats have killed three children in Brentford. Including the Chambers boy. Quist demands to see the Minister straight away.

The Chambers are in a state of shock...

Quist explains to the Minister that these rats are mutants, they have never been exposed to the conditioning of the first generation. Preston agrees. A formidable alliance, considers the Minister. Quist reminds the Minister of how fast rats breed: fertile in three months, six litters in a year. Ten young to a litter. A pair of rats could create a colony of a hundred million in a year! 'Three children have died, over-sentimentalising pressure groups must go over the board.' They use war metaphors with confusing effect. To hell with the cruel poisons act! says Quist. The casualty rate will be high with farm and domestic animals, says Preston. With emergency measures, Preston will be able to mobilise in three days. The Minister suggests they anticipate the cabinet decision and do it.

Amidst huge banner headlines about rats, pest controllers and local authorities begin to flood the sewers with rat poisons, some of which have been banned for years. Soon, evidence of their effectiveness is apparent by the number of rat corpses in the sewers and by river banks.

A depressed Mary Bryant, feeling guilty over the deaths, is phoned by Ridge who tells her they are winning – they are getting results. He offers her his company, but she doesn't want any company. Ridge won't take no for an answer. He will be around at 7:30 looking fantastic! The door bell goes and Mary answers it. It is Mrs Chambers, looking venomously at the woman who indirectly killed her son. She spits at her and then swings a huge knife! Mrs Chambers breaks down but when Mary Bryant tries to comfort her, Chambers just looks at her, as if she were vermin and runs away. Bryant only then notices her arm has been slashed. She runs into the next door room to clean up.

Preston is receiving reports on the success of the enterprise. Quist is pleased, but feels that they may need a rat day every month...

Dressed in a tuxedo, Ridge arrives at Mary's house and finds the front door open and the place in darkness... He calls for Mary and goes looking for her. The laboratory too is in darkness. He goes into the Observation Room and switches on the light. There, lying face down is her body, her arm where it has been cut, has been eaten into. Ridge falls onto his knees in grief.

Synopsis by Michael Seely


The Animals (Cruel Poisons) act 1962 is the villain of the piece, at least so Terence Dudley's script seems to suggest.

Because they cannot use the strongest poisons on the market, they have to use other forms of attack, including wafarin, an anti coagulant (stops blood clotting) which the rats are forming an immunity in. So the unnamed Ministry in this episode – presumably Health - (although the same Minister pops up in Survival Code) is having to develop more like term solutions to the rat problem – the final solution, the Minister thinks is hilariously funny, according to Dr. Mary Bryant. And now they are developing a genetic form of attack. By the end of the episode, with mutant rats now out there and capable of producing several million others, Quist says 'To hell with the cruel poisons act,' - three children have died. Much earlier, Bryant is quoted in the newspapers and attacks the cruel poisons act (eight years old) as only being possible in a country that loves animals more than children. Well, to be fair, the UK loves cute animals and doesn't mind eating others, but there can't be that many rat lovers.... Although, having said that, you can buy rats from a nearby pet store from me. To help the Minister justify their attack on the mutant rats, Quist uses a number of military metaphors. This is Terence Dudley trying to write High Dialogue. Concerted attacks, all out war, etc.

If that was Dudley's agenda (and it probably wasn't), Kit Pedler's concern would have been over genetic engineering, and how it goes wrong. Mary Bryant succeeds in increasing the intelligence rats, trying to put them off human flesh. She creates a breed of flesh eating rats – cannibal rats – well, cannibals suggest they eat each other, as well as other species. Her experiments have made them so clever they can use spoons and forks to jam open traps, jam pressure sensitive plates, and use levers to remove a back plate to gnaw through wood which although treated with aversion therapy, they nibble through. They have nests in sewers and herd mice as we would cattle. They are cunning and intelligent. Initially, the blame for the attacks were blamed on the gradual release of the sterilised first generation of experiments. The rats were not inside government property but in a London house. This was too keep costs down, science on the cheap. Quist and Ridge are quite impressed by her rudimentary outfit and that she has a basic knowledge of electronics as well as her own expertise in genetics. This is why the intelligent rats escaped and no one knew. As Wren discovered, they could easily solve tests.

Genetic engineering gets the Terence Dudley debate too. He likes to have people sitting down, having a good debate. He can't resist them in his writing! Bryant explains how she eventually hopes to create a super-man, believing that the height of irresponsibility is knowingly to conceive a disabled or abnormal child. This is definitely Hitlerian as Ridge points out – but he screws her all the same. Later, Quist warns her that if you create a biologically perfect being, you may come face to face with God, a risk she is willing to take!

Here is a problem. The door to the observation room hasn't been opened that often so how do the rats get fed? The feeding boxes with the plate sensitive boxes and back plates are at the other end of the room. If the human meat is never registered on the meter, does she or her assistant never notice it isn't there next time they feed them? I'm confused! And come to think of it, where DID the rats find the spoons and forks to jam the trap during that famous scene. Wren in a confusing bit of dialogue says that they are not in the kitchen so obviously they either brought them with them or hidden them somewhere.

Sometimes, Dudley's dialogue is so convoluted at times, so clever clever, with ripostes, and attempts to be high brow that sometimes you are scratching your head over the actual meaning of the scene! Well, in my case certainly. Since this is normally 'Episode 2' for those of us discovering Doomwatch, it is a complete and total contrast to the spartan, direct, scientific dialogue that Gerry Davis and Kit Pedler produced for The Plastic Eaters and their two other scripts and here are two very distinctive styles.

Dudley also directs this episode. Rats, like a lot of animals, are perilously difficult to shoot. The animal trainer for this episode handled similar requirements in Dudley's next big sci-fi series, Survivors. The problem initially were rather tame dogs but by the third they had genuinely viscous Alsations. Rats too made an appearance in that series, and they tried their best on that one too...

Dudley goes to town on the gruesome elements on the episode with its gnawed horses, and Bryant's corpse at the end. A rat attacks his real life son out of vision in the opening and his wife is one of the house wives terrorised by rats too. Dudley will never write such a hard hitting, high casualty rate script again. He pours on the grief for the Chambers family. Their son is first attacked and later killed, and two other children's deaths are reported. Then Mrs Chambers goes for Mary Bryant with a kitchen knife in a superbly acted scene. The way Mary Bryant tries to comfort Mrs Chambers, comfort her own guilt, and is instantly repelled with a vicious look is a powerful moment.

Here is another problem for the episode, although it may well not be a problem. What did happen to Mary? She looked at her arm and went 'eugh!' and obviously runs off to clean up the wound. Did the rats go for her in the toilet and drive her into the observation room before they killed her? When other writers have written about Doomwatch in magazines during the eighties, they frequently cited her death as suicide. But then again, Ridge arrives ('looking fantastic!') and finds that the lights are off. Had the Chambers' knife scene occurred during the day this would make sense but the scene was played at night. So, who turned off the lights? Mary did not shut the door either. Did she indeed commit suicide by letting her creations kill her, and left the door open for Ridge to find her?

'And she seemed such a nice person, too.'

Reviewed by Michael Seely

Tomorrow, The Rat has Terence Dudley doing triple duty as producer, director and writer. In fact Dudley getting both a producer and director credit at the end credits is unusual itself for a BBC show as it was the norm for the director credit to be absent when that task has been done by the producer.
Dudley has sure taken advantage of his triple role for this episode which starts with a boy who is implied to have been killed by a rat. The boy in reality is Dudley's son Stephen.
Tomorrow, The Rat is about a scientist Dr Mary Bryant conducting an experiment to solve the rat problem which ultimately goes wrong.
The rats looks terrifying whenever they appear on-screen. Director Dudley realised well on-screen the terror on ordinary citizens of seeing rats.
While Ridge romancing Bryant may not have been unexpected, the shock on his face is convincing upon seeing Bryant's corpse whose death was caused by a distraught mother whose son was killed by rats.

Reviewed by Matthew See Added 18th September 2009


“a very frightening story about some rats that mutated slightly and became a little more intelligent. They carried off their dead and triggered off traps. You’d put a trap out and they’d bring a spoon, drop it on the trap, then they’d get the cheese. They were in a modern building, not in an old haunted house.”
Gerry Davis

London is plagued with a new breed of intelligent killer rats partial to the taste of human beings. In that same week a massive outbreak of a particularly dangerous kind of rat was reported in Shropshire. These ‘super rats,’ as they have been christened, were hitherto unknown in Britain. They are immune to Warfarin and all permitted rodent poisons. Ministry of Agriculture experts soon gave up hope of ever exterminating them completely.

In keeping with this horror story format the episode ended with a very horrific scene. “When our team got there,” described Davis, “they find the person who’s been responsible, the scientist who’d set up the experiment. They saw her skeleton on the floor picked clean by these rats. That got us more mail, it had a big effect.” As he recalls, a similar story arrived from Australia where “they had rats who’d been doing that sort of thing. They’d been carrying their dead and they’d been triggering traps, and we knew nothing about that when we wrote it.” The graphic horror of the episode shocked and instilled fear, causing the BBC switchboard to be jammed with complaints. Questions were asked in the Houses of Parliament and it is possible that pressure was brought to bear on the production team and the BBC to tone things down from now on. Some viewers complained that the final scenes were an unpleasant, unnecessary sight, despite the shows late slot in the schedules.

A the storm of protests were launched at this episode. Generally regarded as DOOMWATCH at its very best. The next day everyone was discussing it as they had done with the Quatermass serials just over a decade previously. The pre-credits are unforgettable. The first shot shows a rat scuttling along gutters by the road and squirming around milk bottles. A mother comes along, with a small boy (Terence Dudley’s son - Stephen Dudley) in a pushchair and leaves him outside a house at the bottom of a flight of steps for a moment whilst she goes inside. The toddler sees the rat and stretches out an inquisitive hand and says "Pussy". Then the viewer hears the child's cries and the mother's chilling screams. Nothing is needed to be shown graphically.
The plot concerns a group of rats with artificially increased intelligence in the care of Dr Mary Bryant, a doctor who, working at home, has solved the problem of a rodent infested area of London for 18 months. But now the rats are attacking the old and small children. Reports flood into DOOMWATCH, including one of a boy who saw ten rats attack his pet dog, and then begin to eat it. Brad and Wren set traps in the kitchen of the Chambers family, whose son Alan is in hospital after being attacked. Waiting outside they hear a noise, and burst in to find the meat from the traps removed, the wire cages jammed open with cutlery. Moments later, Wren and Brad are attacked by rats in a room where earlier the hymn "All Things Bright and Beautiful" had been heard. Dr Bryant is certain it cannot be her rats, since she has weight-measuring apparatus to detect which trays the rats take food from, and they never touch flesh. Venturing into the rat room of her lab, Ridge finds the rats have jammed the weight registers and eaten all the meat. In the sewers, evidence is found that the rats are breeding mice as cattle for slaughtering. As the rats emerge to attack drivers in cars, swarm up lavatories and out of cupboards, the government acts to exterminate them in batches, but Quist knows the process will be a long one. When Alan Chambers dies, the parents seek out Mary Bryant and attack her with a knife, cutting her arm open. Realising she is responsible, she heads towards the rat room. By the time Ridge arrives for a dinner date he has with her that evening, there is only a half-eaten corpse left in the rat room. 

Writer Terence Dudley was keen to investigate the moral dilemma of when powerful poisons and toxins should be deployed against vermin.
Tomorrow the Rat caused quite an extreme reaction, and questions were allegedly asked in Parliament regarding the horror of the programme.

Tomorrow, the Rat, one of the most notorious episodes of Doomwatch, began life as an additional storyline provided to the BBC by series devisers Dr Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis on Friday 21st February 1969; at this point it was entitled Rattus Sapiens? The idea behind this particular instalment combined the fact that rodents and vermin were developing a resistance to certain forms of poison which had previously been effective in controlling them, and also the controversial area of genetic engineering, where the work done by some scientists in ‘improving’ mankind but dropping ‘undesirable’ chromosomic elements was being labelled as inhuman, and akin to experiments undertaken by the Third Reich under Hitler with the aim of producing a ‘perfect’ Master Race.

The script developed from Pedler and Davis’s idea was crafted into a script by Terence Dudley, the series producer. Dudley had been appointed to Doomwatch in November 1968, and had been a BBC producer/writer/director for several years, notably with the 1962 ecological thriller The River Flows East; he had then produced series such as Cluff, The Mask of Janus and The First Lady, on which he had worked with Davis. In addition to the issues of genetic experimentation, Dudley was keen to investigate the moral dilemma of when powerful poisons and toxins should be deployed against vermin; the Animals (Cruel Poisons) Regulations of 1963 had restricted the use of some chemicals which were considered unnecessarily cruel, but Dudley wanted to develop a scenario where the government authorities actually found themselves effectively at war with dangerous, flesh-eating rodents.
In his script, Dudley described his main protagonist, Dr Mary Bryant as ‘thirty-two years old and no bluestocking. She is sexually very attractive, but is female rather than feminine.’ Her employer, Dr Hugh Preston, was described as ‘fifty years old with a forceful personality, but the degree of contumely in it makes him unlikeable’. The mother of the child attacked by the rats was originally called Vera Chambers rather than Joyce Chambers, and was envisaged by Dudley as ‘a faded twenty-five with the timidity of the untutored’; her husband was merely referred to as a ‘nondescript man’.
Dudley arranged that he should direct his own script, and that this would be one of the first episodes both to be made and broadcast. As the main guest star he cast actress/ director Penelope Lee in the role of Dr Mary Bryant; in 1972, he would cast Lee again as Mary Mitcheson, one of the regulars in the period drama series The Regiment. Robert Sansom, a veteran actor who had worked on TV since the war, was Dr Preston with Hamilton Dyce cast a the Minister, a role which would recur in the final episode of the season, Survival Code. As Joyce Chambers, Dudley selected Eileen Helsby, whom he cast as Charmian Wentworth in his next telefantasy series, Survivors, a few years later.

Pre-filming on Tomorrow, the Rat took place in London during the third week of production on Doomwatch (after filming in Bishops Stortford for The Plastic Eaters and at Plymouth for Burial at Sea). 16mm film was used for this material which included montage shots of the rat attacks, the dismembered pony in the stables, Alan Clements being returned home by ambulance and rats in the sewers. Only two of the regular cast members were required for filming; Simon Oates performed the scene of Dr John Ridge arriving outside Mary Bryant’s home on the evening of Tuesday 18th November 1969, while the following day John Paul shot the sequence of Dr Spencer Quist fending off the press and descending into the sewers (originally, it had been proposed to have a female extra double for the actress cast as Dr Bryant, but this idea was abandoned); the banter between Quist and the Fleet Street reporters was a late addition. For the pre-credit sequence of the toddler being attacked in the pushchair, Dudley cast his wife Hilde as the mother and his own son, Stephen, as the child; Stephen later featured regularly as John in Survivors.
Tomorrow, the Rat was the third episode of Doomwatch to be recorded; at this point, it was also believed that it would be the third in broadcast order although the transmission date was not known. Camera rehearsals took place in Studio 3 at BBC Television Centre on Friday 19th December 1969, prior to the actual recording on Saturday 20th. Dudley opted to record the programme in sequence between 7.3Opm and 10.00pm, stopping only for costume changes and special effects. For the scene where Toby Wren and Colin Bradley were attacked by the rats in the kitchen, a recording break was scheduled and stuffed rats were attached to the trouser legs of actors Robert Powell and Joby Blanshard, who then proceeded to attack the ‘animals’; the props were then removed in another break. Shots of the real rats — such as the one scuttling around the Chambers’s kitchen at night — were usually done as cutaway shots at the end of scenes. For the close-ups in which the caged rat leapt at Wren’s bleeding finger, John Holmes, who had trained and supervised the rats used in the episode, doubled for Powell in a cut-away shot. Several fake newspapers were assembled for the show; a copy of The Guardian with the headline ‘Rats Roam London’ and The Daily Mirror with ‘Woman Breeds Man-Eating Rats’ (as specified in Dudley’s script).

SEVERAL BANDS of library music were played into studio during recording of the show. 
For the longer sequence of the rats being poisoned, A Touch of Brass played by Harry Howard was used. During the scene in the Chambers’s kitchen, Dudley’s script had specified that the hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful should he heard being sung — ironically — in the background; a Music for Pleasure recording from the Salvation Army Sunbury Junior Singers was used. 

Editing of the episode took place on Monday 22nd December between 10.30am and 1.30am, with the final running time being 50 minutes and 1 second. When the series was introduced to the new audience via an article in the Radio Times on Thursday 5th February 1970, Tomorrow, the Rat was heralded by one of the scientific facts in the opening section of Elizabeth Cowley’s piece: ‘Fact: In Asia there are seven rats to every Asian, in Europe one to every European. Rats are used in advanced experiments in genetics. An experiment which ‘went wrong’ could produce a breed of killer rats.’ Tomorrow, the Rat was transmitted fourth on Monday 2nd March 1970 to an audience of 10.7 million; the shock effect of the instalment invoked a similar (although not as extreme) reaction as with the depiction of the rats which Winston Smith was exposed to in Room 101 in the BBC’s 1954 production of Nineteen Eighty-Four, and questions were allegedly asked in Parliament regarding the horror of the programme.

Some weeks later in the issue of Thursday 19th March, viewer John L Jennings criticized the episode for not having the source of the mutation treated, although admitting that its shock effect was powerful. Dudley replied that the source of the mutation was Dr Bryant’s lab, and its destruction would not have solved the problem; he re-iterated that the purpose of Doomwatch was to show ‘the biter being bit’. Another letter in the Thursday 19th April issue from Leonard F Clark accused the series of being anti-feminist, pointing out that Dr Mary Bryant’s breeding of the rats was placed alongside the secretary Miss Wills who spread the plastic eating enzyme in The Plastic Eaters and the female scientist Dr Robson who was the security risk in Project Sahara.
Although the BBC wiped the original 625 line colour videotape as being of no further use, a 525 line copy of the episode was returned from Canada in the 1980s; this was released by BBC Video in May 1991 and on DVD in October 2000, and has been shown on UK Gold.

TV Zone Issue 147 in 2002


Project Number: 02249/4081
Commissioned on the 25th of June 1969. Storyline by Kit Pedler.
To Gerry Davis. Terms have been agreed as follows:- Terence Dudley – STAFF basic fee £550
“Rattus Sapiens.”

13th November SIMON OATES


Friday 19th December 1969
2.00 - 6.30 Camera rehearsal (with TK-37)
6.30 - 7.30 SUPPER
7.30 - 10.00 Camera rehearsal (without TK)

Saturday 20th December 1969 
11.00 - 12.30 Camera rehearsal (without TK)
12.30 - 1.30 LUNCH
1.30 - 6.00 Camera rehearsal with TK-37 from 2.00)
6.00 - 7.00 SUPPER
7.30 - 10.00 TELERECORD: VTC/6HT/55618
The episode over-ran in the studio.

Monday 22nd December - 10.30 to 1.30 with TR90

Doomwatch composite: office/lab/Quist's office
Chambers composite: hall/kitchen
Preston's office
Pub (section)
Mary's composite: sitting-room/lab/observation room
Sewer (section) & rat nest
Minister's office (section)


Dr. Spencer Quist

Dr. John Ridge

Tobias Wren

Colin Bradley

Pat Hunnisett

Dr. Mary Bryant

The Minister

Dr. Hugh Preston

Joyce Chambers

Fred Chambers

Small boy



Ambulance driver


19th & 20th:

20th only:





Costume Supervisor

Make-up Supervisor

Vision Mixer

Floor Assistant



Grams. Operator

Series devised by

Rats trained by


Film Cameraman

Sound Recordist

Film Editor

Visual Effects (Special Effects)

Studio Lighting

Studio Sound (Sound Supervisor)

Script Editor

Assistant to Producer


Produced and Directed by

Uncredited Roles




Bar Customers

Stable girl

Alan Chambers


2ND MARCH 1970
9.20PM - 10.10PM  

Working title

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

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