Doomwatch Episode Guide


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Here is the complete episode guide. 38 episodes were made, 14 are lost, so obviously more info is available on the 24 remaining ones which are available on a DVD boxset
1.1 The Plastic Eaters
While on a flight to San Pedro in South America, a passenger airliner crashes after all the plastic on board inexplicably melts. Later, scientist Tobias 'Toby' Wren applies for a job at Doomwatch, the governmental watchdog group run by Doctor Spencer Quist; he is immediately given the job, and promptly sent off to investigate the crash. Meanwhile, Quist's colleague Doctor John Ridge investigates at a laboratory in Beeston, and uncovers events surrounding a new experimental chemical. However, Toby soon finds himself on board another airliner, which has somehow become infected with the same plastic-eating virus—it seems his time at Doomwatch may be briefer than he first expected...

1.2 Friday's Child ( missing episode)
Quist and Doomwatch become embroiled in an enquiry into the heart-transplanting practices of Doctor Patrick. Several uncomfortable questions are raised: what has he been doing to a newborn baby that has been placed in his care, and should genetic engineering be permitted in society?

1.3 Burial At Sea ( missing episode)

When a lifeboat crew discovers a luxury cruiser adrift in the English Channel, they find on board a group of wealthy pop stars and their girlfriends—one of whom is dead. Doomwatch investigates, and discovers that the death was not from drug abuse as was previously suspected; instead they begin to uncover the facts behind the dumping of a deadly chemical warfare compound in a deep sea trench, which seems to be far from dormant...
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1.4 Tomorrow The Rat
Doomwatch are alerted to reports of a number of attacks on humans by rats. Toby and Bradley investigate the house of Mr and Mrs Chambers, victims of a recent attack; the two scientists lay traps in the kitchen, but the rodents display unusual intelligence by jamming the traps open using cutlery found on a worktop, and then viciously attack the men. Meanwhile, Ridge becomes involved with Doctor Mary Bryant, who has been conducting experiments on a group of rats in a room in her flat - but the rats have managed to escape, and have now turned carnivorous...

1.5 Project Sahara
Doomwatch is joined by Doctor Robson, sent to undertake tests on the new 'Sahara' spray which is apparently capable of destroying all plant life on the planet. But when Quist receives a phone call from the ministry, he is given orders to immediately suspend both Robson and Toby without any explanation. Closer investigation leads Quist and his team to discover that a new computerised security system run by Commander Keeping and Barker has become far too powerful, and is making its own decisions about government personnel...

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1.6 Re-Entry Forbidden
The first nuclear-powered rocket, Sunfire One, is sent into space with the first British astronaut, Dick Larch, on board. After the rocket enters Earth orbit, Larch enters an incorrect course alteration, and fails to see the error indicator, which results in Sunfire One splashing down in the sea. Quist is asked by Doctor Goldsworthy to determine whether Larch is suitable for any further missions, as another such mistake could result in the spacecraft becoming a nuclear bomb...

1.7 The Devil's Sweets
While on the way to work, secretary Pat Hunnisett takes a free promotional chocolate from a group of girls on the street. Meanwhile, at the Doomwatch office, Quist and his team are investigating the sudden increase in the country's smokers, and are surprised when Pat arrives and lights up a cigarette for the first time in five years. Quist suspects that there could be a link between the promotional chocolates and 'Checker Board' cigarettes, whose recent sales are doing unexpectedly well. Should subliminal advertising be allowed?

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1.8 The Red Sky
Quist takes a holiday, and stays at the Kent home of his friend Bernard Colley and his daughter Dana. He learns of the death of Captain Gort, who inexplicably threw himself off the nearby cliffs after writing the phrase 'the flames of hell' on the walls of his lighthouse home. Colley visits the lighthouse, and he too sees a vision of the sky turned a fiery red. Quist suspects that these strange events are caused by the testing of a prototype jet plane, and that the noise of the engine is being amplified by the structure of the lighthouse, causing sensory damage to anyone caught within its effects...


1.9 Spectre At The Feast ( Missing Episode)
In order to decide on new proposals for dealing with the dangers of pollution on the environment, Quist assembles a conference amongst the world's top scientists. Several of the delegates soon become ill, apparently from food poisoning. However, Quist becomes suspicious, and suspects that the sickness may have been caused deliberately...
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1.10 Train and De- Train
When the Doomwatch team investigates the mass-destruction of wildlife in Somerset, Toby is dismayed to learn that the person seemingly responsible is his old tutor, Ellis. But closer examination uncovers the fact that Ellis is being slowly forced out of his job by American 'de-training' methods, and soon the finger of suspicion is pointed squarely at the company he works for, and his boss, Mitchell...


1.11 The Battery People
Doomwatch hears that in south Wales, tough ex-miners have taken to drinking gin instead of their usual beer, and are unresponsive to their wives' sexual advances, instead preferring to attend secret cock-fighting tournaments. After Quist is asked by the minister to look into the situation, as it is happening within his constituency, he and his team trace the cause to the local fish farm, which is using a special chemical to dissolve the bones in the fish. Unfortunately, this has led to the workforce becoming sterile...

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1.12 Hear No Evil (Missing Episode)
In an effort to prevent unofficial strikes by its workforce, a company in the North of England decides to use the latest scientific discovery, and attempts to manipulate both the working and the private lives of its employees by bugging them with listening devices. However, when Quist hears of this underhanded practice he is furious, and decides that the only way to stop the unethical management is to turn their own method against them...
1.13 Survival Code ( missing episode)
A military plane ditches into the sea whilst carrying three nuclear weapons on board. While the RAF mounts a search mission, an unidentified object is washed up on the shore near Byfield pier on the south coast of England. It is found by two men, Geoff Harker and Sam Billings, who decide that it must be a weather-detecting device, and so begin to strip it down for parts. Toby is sent to investigate the device, but he soon finds himself faced with the terrifying prospect of disarming a very live bomb...
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2.1 You Killed Toby Wren
While attempting to defuse the bomb washed up at Byfield Regis pier, Toby Wren was killed. Quist finds himself wracked with guilt, and facing an investigating tribunal. Under pressure from the inquiry, and confronted by a furious Ridge - who holds Quist personally responsible for Toby's death - Quist turns to a psychiatrist for help. Geoff Hardcastle then arrives at the Doomwatch office, bringing with him disturbing news concerning horrific genetic experiments being conducted by Professor Hayland. Ridge decides to investigate, but becomes more involved than he was expecting to...


2.2 Invasion
Whilst exploring in some caves, two boys go missing. Ridge and Hardcastle investigate, but when they visit a local building named Wensdale Grange they are strongly warned off by an army unit, which has taken over the entire area, killing any intruding animals and showing hostility to any human intruders. Doomwatch soon discovers that during the Second World War, Wensdale Grange was used as a base for the development of bacterial warfare, and that the chemical weapons which were stored there have now somehow leaked into the local water supply...

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2.3 The Islanders
When the remote Pacific island of St. Simon begins to suffer from dangerous earth tremors, the British government evacuates the two hundred inhabitants and brings them to the safety of mainland Britain. Forced into the bustle of busy life on the mainland, the vast majority of the islanders soon find themselves unable to cope with the modern world, and become objects of curiosity and the butt of jokes. When one of them dies and others get ill, Quist has strong fears about their lack of resistance to common illness in mainland Britain. However, he later discovers that the food they ate on St. Simon causes early deaths, and the islanders are faced with a decision: should they try and stay in a world they don't understand, or should they face early death by returning to their island home?
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2.4 No Room For Error
Dr Fay Chantry contacts the team at Doomwatch, asking for their urgent assistance. She is extremely concerned about the work that her company has been carrying out on a new 'wonder-drug' known as Stellamycin. Several children have died, and it appears that their deaths are attributable to the new drug - the country could be on the verge of an epidemic....
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2.5 By The Pricking Of My Thumbs
Sixteen-year-old Stephen Franklin stages a prank while in a school science class, but the joke goes wrong, and a classmate suffers horrible facial injuries. When Stephen is then expelled from the comprehensive school, his father, journalist Oscar Franklin, enquires as to why, and how does a scientist named Ensor know of Stephen's genetic past? Stephen suffers from an abnormality of his hands, and he has an obscure genetic defect: an extra Y chromosome. Doomwatch becomes involved when it seems that there may be a genetic explanation for violent and unpredictable behaviour...


2.6 The Iron Doctor
The intensive care unit at Parkway hospital is using a computer to monitor the patients, but the computer inexplicably allows a patient to die. Quist is warned by the hospital's Doctor Carson that the computer is a model 20/90 that has been modified by Doctor Whittaker, and that it is able to think for itself, making decisions based upon its observations. The only problem is the computer is deliberately killing the patients that it decides are beyond reasonable help...

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2.7 Flight Into Yesterday
Quist flies to Los Angeles in order to address an important ecological conference, but at the last minute, he is recalled by the Minister. After the long flight home, he suffers from extreme jet-lag, but this is misinterpreted as drunkenness. Believing Quist to be unable to fulfil his obligations, the Minister orders him to be replaced by Ridge, and the Minister decides to accompany Ridge to the conference. But then the Minister too falls victim to the rigours of excessive jet-lag in a scheme by rival businesses...

2.8 Web Of Fear
What appears to be a yellow fever epidemic breaks out at an exclusive health clinic on one of the Isles Of Scilly. After the island is sealed off from visitors and any possible mosquitoes exterminated, Doomwatch is granted permission to investigate, but Quist's team soon discovers that the illness is actually a mutated new virus. It seems that an experiment into vaccines has gone wildly out of control, and hundreds of spiders are now carrying a deadly new disease...

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2.9 In The Dark
An Irishman named O'Mullin dies from the effects of mustard gas after swimming off the south coast of Ireland. Ridge discovers that the mustard gas originates from February 1946, when a Royal Navy escort vessel sank under the command of Lyon McArthur, a former colleague of Quist at Oxford. Quist learns that McArthur is now increasingly being kept alive purely by machines, and soon he will lose all physical sensations, existing purely as a mind kept alive by mechanical means...


2.10 The Human Time Bomb
At a tower block constructed by the Ampleforth Development Corporation, Fay is working on an environmental report into the conditions there. Property millionaire Sir Billy Langly foresees that by the year 2000 there will be eighty million people living in the country, which will result in a demand for new kinds of housing. He believes that tower blocks are the way forward, but this 'battery' idea of living can result in a particularly depressing urban neurosis - something that Fay is forced to experience firsthand...

2.11 The Inquest
In the town of Sileby, a schoolgirl named Marion Duffy dies of rabies, but no-one is able to identify the source. The inquest into her death is highly controversial, but even more shocking is Colin Bradley's recommendation that every dog within a five-mile radius be destroyed...

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2.12 The Logicians
Thieves break into Beresford Pharmaceuticals in Hampshire and steal vital papers. The company's managing director, Jack Priestland is understandably concerned, particularly when the police are unable to find any clues as to how the culprits were able to penetrate the sophisticated electronic security system at the plant. But no-one has considered that Priestland's son Malcolm, a mathematical genius who has been taught by computers, may be the true perpetrator...


2.13 Public Enemy
When a boy named Jimmy tries to retrieve his football from the roof of the Carlingham Alloys factory, he collapses and later dies in hospital. An inquest reveals that his lungs burnt out as a result of beryllium poisoning. The highly unusual circumstances of Jimmy's death leads to Doomwatch investigating the factory, where a new alloy process is being developed. Then one of the workers named Nicholls dies from a high fall after also getting beryllium poisoning. Quist then starts making health and safety recommendations for the factory costing many thousands of pounds, causing the International company to shut their Carlingham factory down and move production to their Leicester factory, much to the locals' disagreement and anger. Both management and the workforce become increasingly angry about the Doomwatch investigation, which they see as a threat to their profits, ambitions, expansion plans and jobs...
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Sadly most of series 3 doesn't exist anymore, only 3 episodes survive, so there's very little pictorial record left. The three episodes I've seen suggests that series 3 was the weakest by far, so swings and roundabouts.
3.1.Fire and Brimstone ( Missing Episode)
John Ridge apparently suffers a breakdown from the pressure, and decides that, due to the excessive threat of pollution on the environment, drastic steps should be taken. He steals some phials of the deadly bacteria anthrax, and holds the government to ransom: unless his anti-pollution terms are met, he will destroy humanity by releasing the virus in a number of major cities. A race against time begins - can Ridge be tracked down before it is too late...
3.2 High Mountain (missing episode)
An inquiry into Doomwatch is begun following the events surrounding Ridge's breakdown. Meanwhile, Quist is summoned to a large country estate in Scotland, where he finds himself offered a new position with both power and wealth in the private sector, but only if he will curtail his investigations into a new drug called disocyanate. Back in London, the Minister decides that it is time to place his own man within Doomwatch, and so despatches Commander Neil Stafford to join the team...

3.3 Say Knife, Fat Man ( missing episode)
Many years ago, Quist worked on the Manhattan Project, which was instrumental in the designing of the atomic bomb codenamed 'Fat Man', used to obliterate the port of Nagasaki during the Second World War. This involvement has continued to weigh heavily on Quist's conscience ever since. Hearing the phrase "Say knife", he recognises a potential threat—one that is tied into a break-in at a plutonium base. A group of young student activists have stolen several radioactive fuel rods, and are planning to construct their very own atomic device...
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3.4 Waiting For A Knighthood
Ridge begins to recover from his breakdown, but it is felt that he should not return to duty at Doomwatch. When tins of paint are found stored in his garage, Bradley suspects that toxic fumes from the lead in the paint may have affected Ridge's mind, and therefore been responsible for his erratic behaviour. A debate into the effects of dangerous chemical processes begins, and oil baron Richard Massingham finds himself personally involved when his son Stephen is kidnapped by someone displaying similar symptoms of poisoning...

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3.5 Without The Bomb ( missing episode)
A revolutionary new lipstick goes on sale, containing pheromones designed to act as an aphrodisiac in order to make the wearer more attractive and desirable to men. This prompts Quist and Bradley to begin an investigation into the effects that pheromones have on people, and how they can alter the illusion of free will...
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3.6 Hair Trigger
Doomwatch's attention falls on the Weatheroak Hall Medical Research Unit, where mentally ill patients are being given computer treatments as a way of improving their conditions. When Anne Tarrant investigates, she discovers that there are side effects to the process, and that an apparently well-balanced patient can respond violently to a single phrase, and soon a manhunt for a 'rehabilitated' multiple murderer begins...

3.7 Deadly Dangerous Tomorrow ( missing episode)
Ridge continues his ecological crusade by warning against the dangerous side-effects upon the world's developing countries of the chemical insecticide known as DDT. He stages a publicity stunt by flying in an Indian family and setting them up in a tent in the middle of London's St. James's Park. However, the prank backfires when it is discovered that one of them is suffering from malaria...
3.8 Enquiry ( missing episode)
Doomwatch is alerted to a laboratory where a new toxic gas is being developed for military use, available in a 'handy' aerosol can for easy application during conflict. But Quist and Anne's enquiry soon leads them to doubt that the scientists' safety measures concerning the storage of the gas may not be as secure as they think...
3.9 Flood (missing episode)
Quist is concerned by the fact that, approximately every one hundred years, certain extreme weather conditions arise which lead to an increase in the water level of the River Thames —and just one inch higher would result in the whole of London flooding. Even more disturbing is the fact that this increase is imminent...

3.10 Cause Of Death ( missing episode)
Doomwatch is alerted to a laboratory where a new toxic gas is being developed for military use, available in a 'handy' aerosol can for easy application during conflict. But Quist and Anne's enquiry soon leads them to doubt that the scientists' safety measures concerning the storage of the gas may not be as secure as they think.
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3.11 The Killer Dolphins ( missing episode)
Dolphins have long been established as highly intelligent creatures, and the United States Navy has now begun using them in their new program. They are training the dolphins to act as underwater saboteurs, able to attach magnetic explosive devices to the undersides of enemy ships. Quist investigates the matter, and discovers that these apparently docile creatures are capable of becoming deadly killers - something that he experiences firsthand...

3.12 SEX AND VIOLENCE- this episode originally due to be transmitted 5th but was pulled by the BBC. This episode has never been aired and ironically does still exist and is included in the dvd boxset. Two possible reasons for its non transmission, 1) graphic Nigerian executions from newsreel shown, 2) two of the characters are thinly disguised versions of real people, Mary Whitehouse and Cliff Richard, who prior to this series were involved in a watchdog Committee looking into the morals of TV, which is what this episode deals with. The characters here, a foppish pop star and a middle aged battleaxe resembled Whitehouse and Richard perhaps too well.

Conservative housewives across the country are united in calling for a return to 'decency', rallying against the sex and violence inherent in society's media. When a commission headed by Lord Purvis is set up to decide if the current laws concerning these matters need tightening up, the minister appoints Anne as one of the members of the enquiry. However, when she attends a performance of the controversial new play 'Do It' as part of her research, Anne is attacked by an angry mob. Just what motivates the people who are so consumed by hostile attitudes towards sex and violence in society's culture, and why is multimillionaire Arthur Ballantyne funding them?

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Member: Rank 8
More about the above episode and its non transmission, from

There’s a clear irony in the fact that Sex & Violence, a story which concerned itself with the question of censorship, was pulled from the schedules and was never transmitted. Given the very depleted nature of season three Doomwatch episodes it’s odd, but welcome nonetheless, that an episode which didn’t even make it to the screen somehow managed to survive the archive purges (logic would have suggested it would have been the first to go).

One suggestion for the reason why the BBC got cold feet concerns the use of real-life Nigerian executions. It’s certainly shocking – but this footage had already been transmitted on several occasions prior to this, so it’s reasonable to assume that for viewers at the time the shock value wouldn’t have been too great. And had this really been a cause of concern it would have been easy to excise the section without damaging the narrative flow too greatly (we could have cut away from the clip before the shooting and simply shown the reaction of the watching committee).

It seems much more likely that the episode was pulled since several characters were thinly disguised caricatures of real people. Both Mrs Catchpole (June Brown) and Mrs Cressy (Noel Dyson) have more than a touch of Mary Whitehouse about them. This is made very obvious in the pre-credits sequence, which sees Mrs Catchpole holding forth at a public meeting – held in a church – and railing about the filth thrown at people like her (her audience is comprised of middle-aged, middle-class women) by the intellectual media elite.

Unlike Mrs Whitehouse, Mrs Catchpole isn’t a national figure, therefore she tends to exist around the fringes of the plot. So Mrs Cressy also acts as a Whitehouse substitute – she’s less of a rabble-rouser, but is equally vehement about stamping out sex and violence. Mrs Cressy is a member of the Purvis sub-committee, who have been charged with investigating all aspects of pornography and violence in the media. Quist is also asked to look into the same question, which he’s less than keen about.

Pollution in the air or the sea he can understand, but moral pollution? It’s not his thing at all. But as we’ve seen several times before, Quist starts off doubtful but eventually gets more interested as the story progresses. It’s just a pity that yet again he’s operating on the periphery of the plot. Dr Tarrant is seconded to the sub-committee, which means she’s as an active participant, leaving Quist as a fairly passive onlooker.

The other members are Professor Fairbairn (Brian Wilde) and Steven Grainger (Bernard Horsfall) who tend to lean towards the permissive end of the spectrum. Mrs Cressy and the Rev Charles Garrison (Llewellyn Reees) take the opposing view, which means that Dick Burns (Christopher Chittell) is a valuable floating voter, since he holds no firm opinions either way. Burns, a pop star, is another clear analogue to a real public figure (at the time Cliff Richard had been asked to sit on a very similar committee). Although Burns is a much less straight-laced figure than Richard, the parallel seems clear.

Sex & Violence is a dense, talky episode – a great deal of it revolves around the committee’s debates – which really comes alive thanks to the first-rate guest cast. Brian Wilde and Bernard Horsfall are always a pleasure to watch, whilst June Brown (a decade or more away from achieving national fame in EastEnders) has some sharply written comic scenes. It’s fair to say that Mrs Catchpole isn’t a subtle character though, and it’s no doubt this less than veiled attack on Mrs Whitehouse which sealed the story’s fate. The Doctor Who fan in me was quietly delighted to see Llewellyn Rees and Bernard Horsfall in the same scene (a few years later they’d both appear in The Deadly Assassin).

There’s no stunning revelations here. For example, Anne is attacked by Mrs Hastings (Angela Crow) as she attempts to buy a ticket for an Oh Calcutta type play. Although Anne’s hurt and bruised, she’s much more interested why a law-abiding person like Mrs Hastings would be incited to violence. The answer seems to be that she’s always been fairly repressed about sex (since her parents didn’t talk about it at all) which it probably didn’t take a psychiatrist to work out! It’s also worth mentioning the décor of Mrs Hastings’ flat, which has the most garish early seventies wallpaper you could possibly imagine.

When Quist later wonders exactly why Doomwatch is involved, it’s easy to agree with him. It’s an interesting enough story, but it’s also yet another example of how far the series changed from the early Pedler/Davis ecological tub-thumping.

Possibly the most interesting part of the plot revolves around the character of Arthur Ballantyne (Nicholas Selby). He’s a political figure who’s made considerable capital out of the sex and violence debate (he’s revealed to have financed a number of pressure groups, including Mrs Catchpole’s). It’s easy enough to look around today and find politicians who have risen to prominence on the coat-tails of controversial debates – which is a final demonstration that Doomwatch, even forty years later, can continue to hold a mirror up to our society.