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TME > Video > Commercial Releases

The Ark in Space

Many thousands of years in the future, Earth becomes uninhabitable. Aboard space station Nerva, the remaining survivors of the human race drift amongst the stars in suspended animation.
The Doctor, Sarah and Harry arrive to find vital systems have been sabotaged. As mankind begins to awake from its enforced deep sleep, the Doctor discovers that they are not alone...
The Wirrn are an insect race that inhabit the cold depths of space. But they too have found the Ark and its sleeping occupants. Can the Doctor prevent the last of the human race from becoming the Wirrn's new source of food?

-- from the DVD release, 2002

The classic Tom Baker story was an early candidate for both VHS and DVD release, appearing alongside some of the first fourth Doctor stories to be released in either format, and was one of the few to receive a laserdisc release...

Episode timings on DVD: 25'47", 24'50", 24'05", 24'39"
Episode timings on PasB: 24'58", 24'49", 24'05", 24'37"


VHS releases

01/01/1989: Aus/NZ - PolyGram Video - BBCDW12
05/06/1989: UK - BBC Worldwide - BBCV4424
??/??/1991: US - Playhouse - 5420 [renumbered to E1362 by Warner Home Video in 2000]
14/02/1994: UK - BBC Worldwide -  BBCV5218

The Australian release of this was early, and as such had a different cover design to the UK/US versions, and a non-standard code (at this time Polygram usually added a '2' onto the end of the UK BBCV code). Original releases were omnibus versions, but the 1994 release restored the credits sequences in the UK only.

Laserdisc release

??/??/1996: UK - Encore Entertainment - EE1158 [front and back shown]

Cover art by Pete Wallbank.

DVD releases

10/05/2004: UK - BBC Worldwide - BBCDVD1142
09/10/2004: Aus/NZ - Roadshow Entertainment - Cat# Unknown
01/05/2005: US - Warner Home Video - E2156

Cover art by Clayton Hickman (his second for the range, after Tomb of the Cybermen) for UK/Aus.

The DVD cover was the second by Clayton Hickman. An early version of this art (far left) was used in BBC promotional catalogues for retailers, and accidentally made its way online. Following harsh criticism from some fans at the Restoration Team and Outpost Gallifrey forums, Clayton made an unprecedented appearance to defend himself, claiming that this was created in "half an hour" and that the final cover would be "substantially different". The final cover (near left) featured a different picture of The Doctor, more lighting effects on the vortex and beacon, and a Wirrn with more erect mandibles, but was otherwise essentially the same. One final tweak would change the certification from a PG to a U (see final UK image above) and change the shade of green.

Although by this point the idea of sticking to the original generic photos for the 'circular' Doctor picture on the spine and front had unofficially been abandoned, this release was the first to make the point clear, as it made Tom the first Doctor to have two proper releases in the range (alongside Robots of Death).


DVD Bonus features

New CGI Model Sequences (2'25"-worth)
Using seamless branching, the story can be watched with all the effects shots replaced with the computer-generated models, composited by Ian Simpson at BBC Resources 3D. This idea was only proposed after work was complete on the schematics bonus. Also available as a compilation (1'32").
While promoting this feature at the Restoration Team's website, Steve Roberts hastily composed a test image, using the Ark model on a generic space background (right).
3D Modelling and Animation: Nick Sainton-Clark, Mike Tucker, Visual Effects BBC Resources
Digital Compositing: Ian Simpson, 3D & Digital Effects BBC Resources

Unused Title Sequence (0'42")
Prepared, but unused, for this, Tom Baker's first season. Similar to the previous season 11's unique credits, but with Baker replacing Pertwee.
Original Model Effects (7'08")
Taken from the original (silent) 16mm camera negative of all the modelwork done for this story, including that which appeared on computer monitors, and some alternate takes. A generic space soundtrack was compiled for use by Mark Ayres.

Trailer for Episode 1

Tom Baker Interview

Photo Gallery

31 b/w and colour photos. Following dissatisfaction from the discs' producers, this was to be the last time photos were submitted directly to the authoring house - instead short videos would be made up with the images included.

Information Text

By Richard Molesworth.

Roger Murray-Leach Interview (10'25")
Designer Roger Murray-Leach in a newly shot interview. He talks briefly about 'The Sontaran Experiment' (Tom Baker breaking his collar bone), 'The Ark in Space' (working on a shoestring, and the fun of the futuristic designs, using bubble wrap, having to light brightly), 'The Sontaran Experiment' again (his relationship with Tom), 'The Deadly Assassin' (confusing actors by writing in Gallifreyan), 'Planet of Evil' (making trees), 'The Talons of Weng-Chiang' (location shooting and hiding cars)
Roger Murray-Leach was interviewed by Peter Finklestone
Videotape Editor: Adam Trotman
Producer: Paul Vanezis
BBC Worldwide (C) MMII

Audio Commentary
Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen and Philip Hinchcliffe, recorded during 2001.
Space Station Schematics (1'06")
A computer-generated tour around the Nerva Beacon created by Mike Tucker (who had worked on special effects for Doctor Who during the 80s) and Nick Sainton-Clark at BBC Visual Effects using Lightwave. ...including Sainton-Clark and Tucker themselves, Ian Simpson (who worked on the replaced effects), Sue Cowley (writer of the linking scripts for many Missing Stories CDs, and also the partner of disc producer Steve Roberts)

TARDIS-Cam (1'23")
The first in a series of newly created model sequences of the TARDIS filmed in 2001 for BBCi (BBC Online at the time). Although the versions seen online were recorded on a DV camera, the copies originating here and for other 2002 DVD releases are from a super-16 film camera presented in 16:9 anamorphic.
Visual Effects Supervisor: Mike Tucker
Lighting Cameraman: Peter Tyler
Gaffer: Alan Graham
For BBC Fictionlab:
Editor: Jamie Cason
Commissioning Editor: Martin Trickey
Producer: James Goss
Executive Producer: Richard Fell
(C) BBC Fictionlab 2002
Easter Egg: Episode 2 count-in (0'30")
The original VT clock used to cue transmission. On the Episode Selection screen, highlight Part One, then move up to highlight the logo and click.
Easter Eggs: Clips from Blackpool Exhibition promo video (0'15"/0'13")
Taken from the video played to visitors at the Blackpool exhibition. Highlight 'Tom Baker Interview' on the special features menu, move left and then click on the newly appeared Doctor Who logo. Also, play through to the end of Part Four and leave the disc running. The second clip appears straight after the end credits..

Da Silva Intros

As on the US release of The Robots of Death, the original introductions by Howard da Silva.

Restoration Notes

Dropouts were repaired by Jonathan Wood, with the help of James Insell. The region one release of this story has a number of faults present when subtitles are selected, with the screen noticeably dimming for several moments on various occasions. This is not present on the PAL (regions two and four) versions.


05/05/1989 - Passed as 'U' by the BBFC  for the UK.
29/06/1989 - Passed as 'G' by the OFLC for Aus/NZ.
02/09/1994 - Unedited version passed as 'U' by the BBFC for the UK.
12/11/2001 - 'Tom Baker Teaser' passed as 'U' by the BBFC  for the UK.
23/11/2001 - All other extras passed as 'U' by the BBFC  for the UK.
08/04/2002 - Passed as 'G" by the OFLC for Aus/NZ.
(due to concerns over Murray-Leach's use of the word "shit", one of the preview covers featured a 'PG' certificate, although in the event this turned out to be unnecessary)

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