Reimagining Doctor Who

Mission: Unknown

Episode notes

The first-ever ‘Doctor-lite’ (i.e., Doctor-absent) story, this needs a lot of rework. 

Firstly, the scale of it needs to be a lot grander, such that it isn’t just two guys and a broken down spaceship.  Instead, introduce what the audience think of when you say sci-fi – basically, the Enterprise of Star Trek or the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars flying around in space with aliens and laser fights. Put together a crew of engaging individuals, flesh them out, given them a purpose – and then doom them. Similar to the Telos Novella, The Dalek Factor, throw them into a truly impossible, inhospitable situation, picking them off one by one through different means, each of which are foreshadowed – landing in a giant nest of Varga plants (only to then rise from within and kill one or two of the others), pulled into the swamp by enormous tentacled but otherwise-invisible monsters, exterminated off-screen, then on-screen, then hunted down by the revealed Daleks mere moments before getting onboard, and finally exterminated by a waiting Dalek aboard their ship before it is blown up  – but leaving the fragment of the ‘black box’ of their ship flung into the jungle to be discovered by the Doctor much later.

We cut then to the hidden, giant city overlooking the wild jungle and zoom into its heart where the delegates are convening after landing an impressive series of spaceships, flanked by colourful retinues, marching into a low-lit chamber in which we see the waiting Daleks: “Now we can begin the conquest of the universe!”.

So here we see the Daleks win (and bringing to life, for one episode at least, Nation’s dreams of a big-budget American Dalek serial), clearly and eagerly setting up the story after the next.  It also paints a picture that shows that the Doctor isn’t always there to save the day, and even when humanity has its best soldiers and its best technology, it isn’t enough against the true horrors of the universe – and, in fact, that guns don’t solve the problem in Doctor Who narratives at all.

A note on the title; make them snappy! There is no need for “to the” here and this can be cut, in a world where language is shortening and every word counts and must punch its full weight (see also the next two stories’ revised title).

Act One


Open on an enormous space battle through the point of view of a ship with a human crew, which blows up a pursuing Dalek craft.


The human crew (including one blue-skinned human) have just escaped from a Dalek mothership above the planet Spiridon with crucial information that provides the secret location of a Dalek base on the outer reaches of the Milky Way and on the very edges of the Earth empire’s control.

The human crew, led by Commander Marc Cory, are now their way to track the Daleks to their secret base on the planet Kembel, making landfall on the remote planet after activating their shrouding shield. Scanning the surface, they determine that there is a Dalek fleet hidden in the shadows of a great, inhospitable jungle terrain, which they must now trek towards on foot as they would otherwise be detected.

Cory and his party make their way across the surface of Kembel, armed with anti-Dalek guns, scanners, and heat shielding technology to keep them invisible to the Daleks. Along the way, they are menaced by the various indigenous fauna before coming across the first sign of Dalek occupation; the Varga plants. One of their number, Jeff Garvey, accidentally falls into one when landing on it from a height – something he doesn’t let on to the rest of the party.

Arriving at a water hole that extends deep beneath the planet’s surface, the human party take precautions and make preparations to rest for the night; the water is safe to consume, and they throw up a shrouding shield to ensure that they are not observed while they take it in turns to watch over the others. Garvey begins to experience fever dreams involving Daleks exterminating them while his body temperature burns up. Eventually, he is awoken by a comrade, the blue-skinned Gordon Lowery, to take his turn at vigil.

First turning point

The exhausted Garvey has fallen asleep on the job – but they are all awoken by the most horrific cries; both of a roaring tentacled monster that reaches out to them from through the depths of the water hole and by the screams of one of their party, who is crunched by the obscene tentacle and plunged into the water’s depths immediately afterwards. The soldiers attempt to fire on the creature, but it is impervious to their assault. It’s clear to the party’s leader that the monster was a Slyther, a squid-like native of the mercury lakes on Skaro – the Daleks are most certainly present on Kembel.


Act Two

Rising action

As the party continue on their way to the Dalek fleet, Garvey becomes visibly sicker until he eventually succumbs and begins to turn on his comrades. Garvey succeeds in killing one but when their dying screams alerts the others, they regretfully kill him. (Perhaps another of the party is his partner?).

Cory and the remaining five of his party continue their trek further into Dalek territory, narrowly escaping from an increasingly thicker thicket of Vargas.

Eventually, they come to the ridge on the other side of which is the centre of Dalek activity. They have built a citadel that looms high over the jungle landscape of Kembel, and on this structure there appear to be the alien crafts of other species that are not Daleks. They watch on as another craft – this time recognisably human – screams in almost immediately overhead the ridge upon which they have hid themselves, before it too takes its place next to the display of different designs on the citadel landing strip. Through enlarged imaging (which we do not see) they are shocked to clearly recognise who it is. Observing the Dalek operations on the ground below and employing their scanners on the Daleks working below, a report begins to be built that the pounding, deafening heavy machinery is being used to assembling a weapon of mass destruction, its fuel not present and therefore unable to be known, and that they are amassing a coalition of species against the Earth. Having found out what they set out to learn on this reconnaissance mission, Cory prepares his team to return to their ship.

Second turning point

On their way back, they avoid tripping off a Dalek alert system when one of their team deactivates it – unknowingly for him but clear to the more experienced commander only to then fall for the trick of the redundancy switching back on almost immediately after. This has two effects; firstly, it sets off an automated Dalek extermination ray, which kills the one in the group who deactivated it and who still stands at that sensor, and; secondly, it alerts the Daleks to their presence and exact whereabouts.

Rising action (continued)

Cory orders they split into two pairs and attempt to return to their ship in order to escape and, failing that, deactivate the shroud shield and raise the alarm, even if it means revealing their location to the Daleks as well as to the Earth authorities.

At that point, they hear the Daleks approaching. We follow Cory and Lowery, who dart off into the jungle to one side while the other pair dive into the opposite side. Cut to the other pair, who have run into a dead end. Unknowingly, to their backs, a Dalek casts a shadow over them before the lights on its dome light up the scene and draw the attention of the pair to turn around: “Exterminate!”.  Cut back to the Cory and Lowery, who hear the battle cry of the Dalek and the following sound of their death ray.

Cory and Lowery manage to escape. After some time, they appear to have fled from the Daleks; their shrouded ship in the valley below them. Scanning for any Daleks, traps, or any other threats, they conclude that it is safe to traverse the clearing. They will attempt take-off and intend to discard their shroud shield when in open space, at which time their analysis of the Dalek operations on Kembel and accompanying warning to the Earth authorities can be transmitted – and when they will again have to attempt to outrun the Daleks, as they did above Spiridon.

Crisis point

Cory leads the way but just as they are about to enter their ship, they are spotted and we see a Dalek as it exterminates Lowery in full view – they have been found!


Act Three


Cory barely escapes into the relative safety of the ship. Inside, he begins to boot the systems back up while he records his brief warning message to the Earth and its fleets to prepare for the Dalek Master Plan. He knows that he will need to transmit the message and therefore unshroud his ship before he is clear of Kembel, but as long as the message is uploaded whatever happens to him isn’t important now. The ship is ready for launch and just as he is about to throw the engines into life and unshroud his ship, Cory is exterminated by a Dalek that has hidden itself on board.


The camera cuts to the outside of the ship as Cory’s face erupts into slow-mo agony when it is lit up by the Daleks’ extermination ray. We then pan across the surface of Kembel, back to the Dalek fleet and the giant citadel overlooking the wild jungle. We zoom into the heart of the newly-built citadel and the screen bleeds into what appears to be a conference room with high windows looking out onto the planet, and where a bizarre array of delegates, flanked by colourful retinues, are convening after landing an impressive series of spaceships. The delegates march into a low-lit chamber in which we see the waiting Daleks: “Now we can begin the conquest of the universe!” rings out while we pan around the room to take in the other delegates, each of whom elicit their agreement and excitement in any number of odd, alien ways, before we zoom on the coldly sneering face of a blue-skinned humanoid…


Cut back to the human ship being blown up by the Daleks who killed the commander and his comrade. Amidst the conflagration in the ruins of the ship, the messaging device the used to upload his message and accompany report glows feebly.

Remember to share your thoughts in the comments section below, please.

(Available 23 October 2023)


(Previous episode: The Dalek Invasion of Earth)

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