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What we have isn't ours to bespoil and pillage. We hold it in trust...not just for our children but for future generations of mankind.'

The episode begins with a vicar, the Reverend Frank Simpson giving a sermon to a half full congregation, one of whom is Dr. Anne Tarrant who begins to notice how the man is starting to ramble, and become incoherent. He looks drunk. He comes from the pulpit and starts to wander around... By the time he collapses, a party of school children are being escorted out by their teacher. Anne asks for an ambulance, watched by the vicar's concerned wife...


The credits role over Quist reading the Sunday papers in Anne's cottage. His is interrupted by Mrs Simpson looking for Dr. Tarrant who is in the garden. Quist has never met Joan Simpson before and she has never seen him in church before. He suspects he is talking to a professional converter! He says she is welcome to try, that is something Anne has never tried to do, convert him from his pagan ways. Anne is told that Frank Simpson suffered from lead poisoning. They are keeping him under observation. Mrs Simpson is trying to get the people back into the church, there were only five there this morning. Even Quist offers to come this evening and they offer her supper afterwards. This is where Dr. Tarrant tells Mrs Simpson that she is Mrs. Quist! 'My wife has just made her supreme sacrifice. She married me on condition that no one would ever call her Mrs. Quist!' After Mrs Simpson has left, Quist calls her a chicken. She didn't want the vicar's wife to think they were living in sin.

Monday sees Quist talking to Bradley about how the Reverend Simpson got lead poisoning. There's no smelting works or manufacturers near by. Petrol fumes or car exhausts is a possibility but Quist doesn't know whether he has a car. He sends Colin down to the vicar's house near Shepperton and tells him to take Barbara with him. All this is overheard by one of Bradley's assistants...

Stafford is being questioned by the Minister. 'I hope that a divided loyalty won't prevent you from reporting anything you might have learned.' The Minister is concerned about the subject of lead in petrol; this is not Quist's concern, there are enough bodies working on the subject. Perhaps there are too many, suggests Stafford, otherwise they might have noticed that something was not quite right at the smelting works in Avonmouth... The Minister tells him not be snide. 'This is a very hot potato, Stafford. Help by cooling it.' Stafford suggests that too many cooks spoil the broth... Having two sources of information from inside Doomwatch which may contradict each other and make it unreliable.

Mrs Simpson is proudly showing off her husband's lucrative hobby – restoring antique cars to Colin Bradley and Barbara Mason, who is having driving lessons at the moment. Mrs Simpson used to drive in rallies when she were younger which is how she met her husband. Bradley takes a look in the garage. He asks if Simpson ever used paraffin, to strip down parts... Also, did he run the engine in the garage? No, because of the carbon monoxide poisoning. He would run the engine outside...

Quist tells Anne over dinner what the findings are: the exhaust fumes would bombard the garage with inorganic lead which would collect in the dust. 'According to Brad, some city dust is like workable lead ore. The kids play in it' And Simpson also used petrol to strip down the engine parts. Anne thinks it's a wonder it doesn't happen more often. 'How do you know it doesn't?' It's an accumulative effect that collects in the brain tissue. The symptoms of less acute poisoning are quite common, a needle in the haystack, and Quist has been warned off by the Minister. Quist says he had lunch with John Ridge at the hospital, which he tries to do once a week. He's restless but improving, and wants to come out. 'He's not a violent psychopath.' He was only charged with theft pending reports, he was unfit to plead. Anne Tarrant agrees to go down and visit Ridge, whom she hasn't seen since he was committed. Quist hopes to get some support for his release.

The Minister is having dinner with the Massinghams, all brandies and dinner jackets. Richard Massingham is in the oil industry. He is in the middle of a war time anecdote when John, the very young Massingham child comes in to interrupt and steal the show... After the wife goes off to put him back to bed, Sir Richard Massingham starts to lobby Sir George Hollroyd, despite it being one of three places in London where he can drink Croft 32 without being lobbied... 'The auto mobile industry is going into Europe with a great soft underbelly.' Hollroyd feels that concessions and subsidies are not the answer, but improving the product. He isn't sympathetic about the dilemma between switching to a new form of engine or the oil industry experimenting with new fuels. The costs would take years to recover for the oil industry. 'Facts of life' says the minister. 'Everybody seems to be jumping onto the anti-pollution bandwagon,' complains Richard Massingham. He read about the clergyman who went bonkers over a mis-use. 'Must we legislate for idiots?' The Minister thinks that the environment should have some concern. It must, counters Richard, but these things must be kept in proportion. 'The Los Angeles smog is unique. There's no need for the rest of the United States to get its knickers in a twist... they're not dropping down in the streets.' He lists two illnesses and says that's all, astonishing the Minister. 'People have a right to clean air. But the common good is not served by panic legislation,' says the industrialist. 'It is my opinion that the American administration has surrendered to ill informed and irresponsible pressure groups.' Sir George isn't prepared to panic. But the government may have to announce a raise in the price of petrol.

Anne Tarrant visits John Ridge in his hospital room. She assures him that he is doing well. There's a great improvement from the last time she saw him. They're all pleased with him but not enough to recommend a discharge. He is under a lot of pressure trying not to shriek that he is sane! He compares it to speeding on a road with nothing in sight except the speed trap. The subject of cars rises up, and Ridge admits he likes cars and is a compulsive tinkerer. He has a garage underneath the flat...

Stafford and Bradley investigate the garage. Ridge liked high performance cars, five star stuff. The problem is, says Bradley, ridge is a chemist and should know the risks. Joan Sylvester challenges them and finds that they have permission to be here. She looks after the flat when Dr. Ridge is away. She isn't aware that he has been in hospital. Stafford has to explain.

Stafford and Quist explain to the Minister that they think Ridge was affected by lead poisoning when he went berserk. Even the Minister is surprised that this isn't happening all over the place. It might not be the petrol or the exhausts but the welding performed in a confined space. Using red lead.

Colin discusses the matter with Barbara, who is reading the paper. Now that they think they've identified the cause, the cure is quite simple. But Ridge won't be able to return to Doomwatch. 'Pity,' says Barbara. 'He did liven things up a bit.' She comes across a story about a child who has been kidnapped. It is the Massingham child.

His mother, Peggy, is distraught, under sedation. Richard is trying to answer questions from the police. Detective Chief Inspector Logan is in charge of the case and questions Josie Reynolds, a maid, who last saw the boy in the London offices of Massingham. He receives a phone call from Sir George who offers to help. Logan feels the child may have been snatched rather than kidnapped, he may come to no harm.

Bradley explains to Stafford and Barbara about the history of lead in petrol. It was first used in the 1920s as a anti-knock agent when there were only a million cars on the road. The Royal Commission said that there was no hazard to health last year on the data from the previous. That year we used 10,000 tonnes of lead in petrol. Quist wants to know why Brad is still on the subject. Quist is still thinking about Ridge and asks Stafford to go and talk to him, get evidence of his 'messing about' with cars. 'I'm no psychiatrist.' 'Could have fooled me,' says Barbara.

Massingham is trying to get his wife to eat something when she remembered the day of the share holder's meeting. There was a woman in a Rolls Royce who made a great fuss of him. Another woman didn't get out. There might be something in it.

Logan interviews the woman in question, Mrs Duncan-Foster who was indeed quite taken by the sweet little boy, with his exquisite manners. She was with her maid – or companion that day. She is away but her husband, Norman, also works for her. He too remembers the child as he drove the car that day. They are aware of the kidnap. She is not surprised: the boy would have gone with anyone, that polite... But the wife is away in Sheffield to visit her sick mother.

Stafford is visiting Ridge and hardly surprisingly the atmosphere is tense. Stafford explains that he is trying to get him out of here. 'What are you going to do? Stab a few nurses in the back?' Ridge has another visitor brought in by Mike – it is Mr Norman who works for his landlady. Ridge is surprised, how did he know he was here? Stafford remembers meeting the wife. He leaves them alone but listens from outside. Norman has a tale to impart.

Stafford reports to the Minister. It seems that Mr. Norman thinks his wife has kidnapped the Massingham boy. He was too frightened to go to the police which is why he went to see ridge, who told him to go anyway. It may be related to how Stafford and Bradley explained to the woman why they wanted to look over the garage. The Sylvester's had a son who died of lead poisoning at Stephen Massingham's age. And Norman thinks the wife snatched the child for revenge.

With these leads to go on, Richard Masingham tries to reassure his wife. She feels guilty over how little they saw of their son. But according to the papers, Mrs Norman had taken toys of their child when she vanished, it may be alright, that she might not harm their son. 'They'll find him.'

The boy is indeed playing with toys, watched by a distant and detached Mrs Sylvester...

Stafford is talking to Mr Norman who describes his wife, how she reacted to their son's death, and he wants to know what will they do to her? He remembers a time when she nearly killed a dog with a stick that had bit Simon, there was some blood on her son, but she did it coldly without losing her temper. She let her husband take the stick. Stafford is searching the boy's room, for toys, metal soldiers. Lead ones. Which the wife has taken and we see that she will let him play with them tomorrow...

The Minister visits the Massinghams. It is clear from the wife that she wants her husband make him do something... Alone, the two men talk. 'Make an announcement... say that lead in petrol isn't a health hazard.' 'Tell this unhappy woman that you didn't kill her child?' He can't do that, the whole thing is still under investigation. But Massingham feels that this whole business has been blown up out of all proportion by cranks and malcontents. The industry does many tests, but the Minister says that there must be independent tests. 'What's independent about government advisers? They report what they think is expected of them, they keep their noses clean while waiting for a knighthood.' The Minister can tell him that a press release is issued about the case: the Sylvester child was a victim of piker, children discover that flakes of old lead based paint taste sweet.

'Not the point, is it?' says Bradley. Toy soldiers, you have a choice. Spew lead in the air and you're poisoning a basic necessity for everyone. The Russians and Germans have got rid of it and the Americans are phasing it out, what are we waiting for? The answer is because of moral midgets; you, me, the public, with their status symbol and comfortable alternative to public transport. And Barbara wants a car, a small sports car. Take the lead out of the petrol and she might not be able to afford a car and she too will become a moral midget.

The boy begins to play with his lead soldiers as the police step up their search for the rich kid.

Stafford explains that he just thinks the boy died from piker poisoning and agrees that it is a smoke screen for the real issue. Stafford doesn't think the boy is going to come out of this alive, but Barbara thinks if she does, wouldn't she come out and say so? Stafford agrees. Colin learns that Ridge is being discharged, Stafford hopes it was on his recommendation. He also suggests getting rid of a lab assistant. 'Unless, of course our revered boss with two of his staff with direct access to the minister is an advantage.'

Mrs Sylvester begins to cry, as the boy asks her why is she is so unhappy... Probably the first time ever. When her son died, she just sat there.

Stafford drives Ridge home to his flat, feeling that a member of Doomwatch ought to. Ridge thanks him and goes inside his flat: where he finds Mrs Sylvester playing with the soldiers and the child... 'Boom boom.'

The very relieved Massinghams entertain Sir George Holyroyd and the wife is quite merciful, despite of her thinking... The husband had brought the soldiers apparently. 'Over my dead body,' says Richard.

Quist and Anne are relaxing in the evening. Quist is reading the paper, and sees an article about reducing lead by 25% but increase the price of petrol by tuppence. But the figures are fiddling. They can actually make a 25% reduction and put in a nothing three quarters of a gramme than they are at the moment! 'I call that a really adventurous step to improving the environment.' 'I know what John Ridge would say,' says Anne. 'Boom boom.'


The issue at heart of this episode isn't whether lead is dangerous or not – of course it is – but why, if it is poisonous, is it not simply banned, especially in petrol? Other countries have taken steps we learn. Why not Britain? This episode is rare for third season Doomwatch as it deals with an issue we can all relate to everytime we pass a car belching out exhaust fumes. I used to like the smell of petrol and exhaust fumes as a kid. Perhaps I was acclimatising.

The arguments (and no conclusion) seen in the episode are basically to remove lead from petrol, will increase the price of a commodity affecting your status symbol and life style. The moral midgets, as Bradley describe them, won't wear it; the government won't consider it especially with a general election looming, and the oil companies, represented by Richard Massingham don't want to pay for a long term solution that will take years to pay off. Massingham is the oil man and probably has control of petrol refineries as well as pumping up the black stuff in the first place.

In the mean time, lead is being spewed out into the atmosphere out of the exhaust pipe. Terence Dudley's script simply oozes with research and he gives us three examples of lead related illness, one of which lead to death. We see the Vicar at the top of the programme giving a very long winded sermon (after a secular gap in Say Knife, Fat Man, religion returns!) before collapsing; the Sylvester child died from eating flakes from lead toy soldiers and, of course, Ridge, oxyacetylene welding in a confined space, addled his brain. Twice in the episode, Quist asks how do we know that more of this isn't happening now, just mis-diagnosed?

But, as Richard Massingham resplendent in that bloody dinner jacket, polluting his dining room with cigars reasonably points out, these are mis-uses and accidents. Must they legislate for idiots? The episode draws attention to the problems down in a smelting works near Bristol (it's land is still contaminated to this day), and the Los Angeles smog (still a problem). Massingham accepts we have the right to clean air but argues that no one is simply dropping down dead in the streets. He doesn't mind the odd spot of bronchitis. The kidnapping of his child leads him to hate even more those 'malcontents' who dare demand clean air and despise the muck his industry produces, regardless of whether we are dependent on it, or could learn to live without it.

A few years later Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis wrote their second Doomwatch inspired novel, Brainrack, where by an air pollutant is starting to affect the human brain, causing colour blindness and a lack of judgement leading to a massive and beautifully described nuclear meltdown in the Scottish isles. The hero of the book, a Doctor Mawn helps to discover the cause to be petrol. It's not the lead, but the product of burning petrol. 'Self-induced idiocy from the motor car.' Perhaps the creators might have done something similar for the television – it's certainly a Season One idea. Terence Dudley turns the debate into a child kidnapping, no symbolism or anything, just one lady blaming the death of her child on the oil companies – and being proven wrong in the end.

Coincidence is stretched to breaking point in this script. By The Pricking of My Thumbs had coincidence enough but here...! Dr. Anne Tarrant (finally outed as Quist's new wife) watches the Reverend Simpson go crazy during a sermon and collapse and learns this is through lead poisoning which the Doomwatch team discover. This is seen in the newspapers by the still grieving Mrs Sylvester, whose employer is Dr. Ridge's landlady, and takes the kidnapped Massingham child to his flat. Massingham is a friend of the Minister whose department is apparently investigating lead poisoning.

The Minister comes out of this episode rather well. In an earlier episode, Quist might have been a friend or simply being lobbied by Massingham. Sir George Hollroyd thus gets to express surprise at Massingham's pragmatic attitude towards pollution – along the same lines as the industrialist in Spectre At The Feast or High Mountain. He is only concerned that Quist is not investigating lead in petrol simply because everybody else seems to be! He is in no way on the side of the industrialists. He might have wanted to clip Quist's wings earlier, and he is a party political animal but he sees the importance and value of Doomwatch – there is no cover up in this episode as has been suggested in other publications. Despite initials indications, the Minister is starting to become cuddly!

Another reason for Dudley to write this episode (and of the first four episodes, there are only two writers) is to give Stafford conversion it's final push, a process started in High Mountain and is completed here, although he can't shift that sinister air and still enjoys unsettling Bradley and Barbara Mason. He sees to it that the Minister's second spy is removed, either as an act of loyalty or to protect his own interests we don't know. He 'rescues' John Ridge from hospital, probably an act of conscience since he pushed the man to the point of suicide, and now knows the chemist was himself poisoned at the time.

Barbara Mason is the voice of the young generation again, innocently hoping to buy a small sports car after she passes her tests and hears the prognosis for cleaner air from Colin might lead to her not being able to afford to buy it after all. Last week, she spoke up for students. Next week she'll speak up for the liberated sexual woman. Poor Pat. All she was allowed to do was giggle and collapse once in a while.

The removal of Quist as the important central figure continues. He is told things by Stafford, is brow beaten by the Minister, gets help for Ridge, discusses diarrhoea over the dinner table with his wife, has relaxing weekends in his cottage and, er, that's about it.

Waiting For A Knighthood is the closest to a relevant Doomwatch this season will manage, and is all the better for it. It is remarkable that this episode survives in the archives to give us this taste of what it should really be about. It is also excellent for a concern that we no longer face – lead in petrol. We just choke on the rest of the poisons spewing out.

Review by Michael Seely


On the 10th August 1971. Terence Dudley is commissioned to write a 50' script.
Reasons for use of a Staff Contribution. “His specialised knowledge of the series and the subject of the script in particular, coupled with the fact that the script is a sequel to one already received and accepted from this author, and the fact that he created three of the leading characters in the new series.” The document is signed by Andrew Osborne the next day.

On the 25th August 1971, Terence Dudley is offered a fee of £625 for his 50' television script for the DOOMWATCH series. “Please let us know if this is acceptable to you so that authorisation of the payment could be made. - BRIAN HEAD Senior Personal Assistant, Programmes, Television (I)”

From Terence Dudley, 31. 08. 1971 'Thank you for the offer of £625 for the DOOMWATCH script “Waiting for a Knighthood.” The fee is acceptable.

From Assistant Head of copyright. Date. 30. 09. 1971 To Terence Dudley, Terms have been agreed as follows: Author: Terence Dudley. Title: Untitled. Basic Free: £625

In the Programme As Broadcast sheet, for this episode, the copyright is given to a Dr. K. Lucas and the Lord Kennet! Made a hereditary peer by Prime Minister Harold Wilson in 1964, Wayland Young was Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Oil Pollution of the Sea 1970-74. His obituary in The Guardian (for whom he was the first person to write the word 'fuck' in an article), mentioned his interests included ecology and bio-ethics. He also wrote a book called 'Eros Denied' about 'the history of Western society's hysterical fear of human sexuality' and its impact on the arts/ Some of his themes find echoes in Sex And Violence.

Dudley was still working on the script on the 30th November when he tells Parkes that he had been to a meeting with the Public Relatons Officer of the firm that puts lead into petrol, and had written notes down on the back of Parkes's script!

Interestingly, the final script clarifies the relationship between Quist and Tarrant as married. This wasn't the original intention. As Dudley wrote to Roger Parkes concerning his script, 'It's essential that they are never seen in an overtly sexual context. The odd peck but nothing more... They're living together without benefit of clergy – we don't want to push it. During the series we're bound to get letters enquiring about this relationship. We ought to be able to reply, without embarrassment that they are consenting adults who don't give exhibitions.'


In a classic interview, director Morris Barry probably familiar to most Doctor Who fans as the director of "Tomb of the Cybermen" (1967) and "The Dominators" (1968) touches upon his memories of Dr. Kit Pedler.

"Kit Pedler was another delightful man and very outgoing. He was fascinating; in his garage he kept vintage racing cars which he used to do up."

Well, Waiting For a Knighthood written by Terence Dudley begins with a vicar going mad, rambling and collapsing, suffering from lead poisoning.  And what was his hobby?  Vintage racing cars... Was Mr Dudley having a bit of a pop at everybody's favourite scientific preacher too?...

Terence Dudley sought help from Eldon Griffiths, the Deputy Secretary of State in 1972, who stated categorically that there was no danger in leaded petrol. In real life on the 16 June 1971 the Secretary of State for the Environment asked Mr Eldon Griffiths told the what he estimated would be the extra cost to the consumer in terms of new pence per gallon of introducing unleaded petrol in the United Kingdom. Mr. Eldon Griffiths replied that he had been advised that lead-free petrol would cost about one new penny more per gallon for low octane ratings and substantially more for higher ratings. In the episode the Minister is trying to suppress the truth while he is on office “Waiting for a Knighthood”. In real life in later years, the truth about leaded petrol was finally revealed and the interviewee was no other than Sir Eldon Griffiths. The issue of lead in Petrol was still discussed in Parliament for and not resolved for another 24 years. Although the central issue in this story was legally finally resolved in January 1, 1996 in the UK by the Clean Air Act banning the sale of leaded fuel for use in on-road vehicles,this story still remains very interesting.
You can’t help but to wonder even now how it took so long for the issue of lead in petrol to be resolved. Doctor John Ridge makes a brief but welcome Series 3 appearance and his charm and one liner's always brighten up the episodes he is in. It still confuses as to why Norman Sylvester is at the end of the story, despite the kidnapping and also knowing the lead toy soldiers he has poisoned and killed his son, why offer them to tyhe Massingham’s after his wife has been caught? The producer’s son Stephen Dudley alsomakes his second appearance in Doomwatch after briefly appearing in Tomorrow the Rat.

What did he say? Doomwatch: The Science and other interesting bits
Tetra-ethyl lead  
Tetra-ethyl is an organometallic compound with the formula (CH3CH2)4Pb. Once a common antiknock additive to petrol, It was largely discontinued because of the toxicity of lead and its deleterious effect on catalytic converters. It is still used as an additive in aviation fuel for piston engine powered aircraft.

Avonmouth Poisoning  
This was a reference to the 1972 enquiry over cased of lead poisoning at the RTZ Smelter at Avonmouth. Between 1968 and 1972 there was a gradually increasing concern about the health of the workers on the site and about the possible pollution of the environment outside the site. Despite the companies efforts to improve the performance of the plant, while at the same time meeting the minimum standards of hygiene in the environment. Events were brought to a head by the death of a worker from an unrelated disease. The diagnosis at the local hospital of lead poisoning in a worker certified as fit for employment by the company. Requests by the workers to examine the health register were refused and eventually a meeting of all parties, Factory Department, Medical Services, TUC Medical Adviser, works doctor, and company management, agreed to an early date for extensive modifications to be made to the plant by advancing the date for the annual overhaul programme. The hazard to the health of the worker in this process arises from inhalation of lead dust and to a lesser extent from ingestion. This happened due to the maintenance and cleaning operations particularly during periods of unplanned shutdowns because of the failure of the plant.

Antiknock Agent  
An antiknock agent is a gasoline additive used to reduce engine knocking and increase the fuel's octane rating. The mixture known as gasoline, when used in high compression internal combustion engines, has a tendency to ignite early (pre-ignition or detonation) causing a damaging "engine knocking" also called "pinging" or "pinking" noise. The discovery that lead additives modified this behaviour led to the widespread adoption of the practice in the 1920’s and therefore more powerful higher compression engines. The most popular additive was tetra-ethyl lead. However, with the discovery of the environmental and health damage caused by the lead, and the incompatibility of lead with catalytic converters found on virtually all US automobiles since 1975, this practice began to wane in the 1980s. Most countries are phasing out leaded fuel, different additives have replaced the lead compounds.
The most popular additives include aromatichydrocarbons, ethers and alcohol, usually ethanol or methanol.

Red Lead
When inhaled, lead tetroxide (Red Lead) irritates lungs. In case of high dose, the victim experiences a metallic taste, chest pain, and abdominal pain. When ingested, it gets dissolved in the gastric acid and gets absorbed, leading to lead poisoning. High concentrations can be absorbed through skin as well, and it is important to follow safety precautions when working with lead-based paint. Long-term contact with lead tetroxide may lead to accumulation of lead compounds in organisms, with development of symptoms of acute lead poisoning. Chronic poisoning displays as agitation, irritability, vision disorders, hypertension, and also a grayish facial hue.  Lead tetroxide was shown to be carcinogenic for laboratory animals. Its carcinogenicity for humans was not proven. Lead in humans poses a serious health risk. In increased quantities blood lead levels there is evidence of a decreasing IQ. Biological effects can also occur depending on the level and duration of the exposure of lead.

Pennant Roberts - Director (speaking in the BBC 4 Documentary series Cult Of...)
"We were putting a case that you should have some call for unleaded petrol, now this met with huge resistance from the oil companies that we were talking purely off the top of our heads and you could never have unleaded petrol because the two work together like hand in glove and of course they then got the backing of the government who in turn tried to warn us away from this issue....
I think that the different relationship between the BBC and the government of the day and I think the BBC took its responsibilities quite seriously, it would therefore would not have been deflected by the fact that under secretaries of state were trying to interfere with the making of the programme, in fact it probably would have indicated they must have been on the right track...
It’s quite good to look back and think, well maybe we did our little bit then in establishing unleaded petrol, not only in the UK but probably around the world...

With thanks to John Archbold for the Radio Times listing. 

Audience Research Report
It is estimated that the audience for this broadcast was 10.2% of the United Kingdom population. Programmes on BBC2 and ITV at the time were seen by 2.9% and 24% average. 56% rated the episode as having an excellent plot.

For the majority of viewers this had been quite an entertaining episode in the present Doomwatch series, containing a certain amount of ‘food for thought’. Based on the topical theme of pollution. This ingenious tale – conveying the strange effects of lead poisoning on people – was thought to have been all too credible. However, the story had been of moderate appeal only to a sizeable minority with, here and there, complaints that it was ‘rather weak’ when compared with episodes in the previous series. And, in the opinion of one viewer ‘a good theme was spoilt’ as it had been used ‘simply as a vehicle (a) to bring back Ridge, and (b) to announce that Quist was married to Dr. Tarrant’. In fact, according to one or two, Doomwatch no longer seemed to have ‘anything realistic’ to say. ‘This highly improbable plot fell short of the standards previously set’. Nevertheless, as indicacted by the figures, there was general agreement that a worthwhile subject had proved both interesting and enlightening.

Marked enthusiasm was registered for first-class acting from the entire cast, the excellence of which, it was claimed, ‘never varied’. Any adverse criticism was certainly isolated, one or two asserting that the cast were sometimes guilty of ‘overacting’, adding, however, that they may have been ‘hampered by a week script’ and were ‘doing the best they could considering the material’.

A smooth and convincing production, continuing to maintain the usual high standard already set, contributed greatly towards viewers’ enjoyment, and the attractive settings and expert camera work also received special mention.

Replying to a specific question as to which of the regular characters in Doomwatch were found most interesting, Dr. Quist far and away headed the list as being most consistently good and completely believable. He is followed in popularity by Dr. John Ridge, and quite a number of viewers expressed their pleasure at his return to the series, and hoped there would be a permanent place for him in the future. The Minister, closely followed by Cmdr. Neil Stafford, were next in line, with Dr. Anne Tarrant (who ‘seems to bring the rest down to earth’) and Barbara Mason (of whom it is said ‘appears to have more to her than at first meets the eye’) at the lower end of the scale. The young boy Mike was the favourite of a few, whilst there were several in the sample who thought all the characters were convincing and interesting in their different ways, and that it was, therefore, difficult to select any ones as being more interesting than the rest. About half-a-dozen viewers in the entire sample were quite unimpressed with any of the characters so far in the present series, claiming that they seemed to be ‘just a group of ordinary civil servants who had no go’. For most, they have become very real people.

92% viewed the whole broadcast, 2 came in in the middle, 5 tried a bit and 5 switched off before the end.

This Report was dated 17th July 1972


Expenditure Ref: 2240/4592
It appears that this episode was recorded as No.12 and transmitted as episode 4.



Monday 12th June 1972
Camera Rehearsal: 2.00pm - 7.00pm (with TK 34)
SUPPER: 7.00 - 8.00pm
Camera Rehearsal: 8.00 - (with TK 34)

Tuesday 13th June 1972
Sound & Vision Line-up: 10.30 - 11.00am
Camera Rehearsal & Pre-record VTC/6HT/79244A:11.00am - 12.00pm
Camera Rehearsal:12.00 - 1.00pm (with TK 34)
LUNCH: 1.00 - 2.00pm
Camera Rehearsal: 2.00pm - 6.00pm (with TK 34)
SUPPER: 6.00 - 7.00pm
Sound & Vision Line-up: 7.00pm - 7.30pm
Telerecord: 7.30pm - 10.30pm onto VTC/6HT/79244B

Editing at TV1, Windmill Street - 2.30 to 11.30pm on Thursday 15th June 1972


Anne's sitting room
Doomwatch lab
Minister;s office
Ridge;s hospital room
Unidentified (Ridge's) room

Massingham dining room
Mrs. Duncan-Foster's room
Norman Sylvester's room


The Rev Frank Simpson*

Dr Anne Tarrant

Mrs Simpson

Dr Spencer Quist

Colin Bradley

The Minister - Sir George Holroyd

Cmdr Neil Stafford

Barbara Mason

Richard Massingham

Peggy Massingham

Stephen Massingham

Josie Reynolds

Dr John Ridge

Joan Sylvester

Det-Chief Insp Logan

Mrs Duncan-Foster

Norman Sylvester


*appears on film only

Uncredited Cast - Non-speaking


Detective Sergeant


Minister's secretary

Lab technicians


Script consultant


Sound Supervisor




Uncredited Crew

Assistant to Producer

Secretary to Producer




Costume Supervisor

Make-up Supervisor

Vision Mixer

Floor Assistant



Grams Operator

Film Editor


Monday 26th June - 9.20 pm

With thanks to John Archbold for the Radio Times cover.

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