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Plot Summary[]

The Alphans encounter a miles-long ark from the planet Daria, where the inhabitants have a very distinctive class separation.


Alpha receives an automated distress signal from the spaceship Daria, telling of a catastrophe that has killed thousands and left hundreds sick and dying. It asks for medical and material aid to save the few remaining survivors. Unable to communicate with the vessel, Koenig, Helena, Victor, Alan, Paul, and Bill Lowery go to investigate. as they fly over the twenty mile long, five mile wide ship, they are unable to locate a point of entry. Suddenly the Eagles control systems are "smothered" and they are pulled into a docking area within the ship. They try to break free, but cannot.

Act One[]

They decide to enter the Daria to look for survivors, and a way to release their Eagle. Inside they find several long passages, in various states of ruin. They split up to look around; Koenig and Bergman one way, Carter and Morrow another, and Russell and Lowery wait by the Eagle.

While the others are gone, Helena discovers a door to another passage covered by wreckage. Lowery manages to unblock the entrance and they enter to take a look. Inside they hear sounds. On further investigation, they see two frightened little people. The two are unable to speak, but appear to be running from something. Helena tries to calm the female, but the male runs down another corridor, when Lowery attempts to follow, he is struck from behind as he passes through the doorway.

Meanwhile, John and Victor are met by two spacesuited figures. While trying to figure out if this is some sort of welcome committee, the two figures pull out their weapons and fire! Elsewhere on the ship, Alan and Paul stopped by wreckage blocking the passage that they were searching and return to the Eagle. Inside they find the small male hiding amongst the seats. They coax him out and try to find out where Helena and Bill went. They convince him to show them where they were taken. Koenig awakens on a bed in a pristine area of the ship and is greeted by the lovely Kara.

Act Two[]

He asks why they were fired upon, when they came in response to the Darians distress call. She explains that the signal was triggered when the all but one of the Daria's nuclear reactors exploded almost nine hundred years ago, and that they unaware strangers were aboard their ship, and that's why they were fired upon. Koenig asks if they have located the rest of their party. She tells him, they have not, but will search for them. Helena, Lowery, and the mute woman are taken to an alter where they are judged for "purity".

The female mute is judged as a mutant and forced into a disintegration chamber. Lowery is examined, and when they find he has one finger that is shorter than it should be, he is judged a mutant and forced into the chamber and disintegrated. Kara introduces Koenig to Neman, the commander of the Daria. They explain that their ship was essentially an "Ark" transporting the survivers of their dying world to a new planet. They offer the Alphans the chance to join them, in exchange for supplies and assistance. Helena is examined, and is determined to be clear of physical imperfections, and is to be offered to the God Neman.

Act Three[]

The "spirits" are summoned to take her to their God, as Alan and Paul are lead to her location by the male mute. The "spirits" arrive and are the same spacesuited figures that stunned Koenig and Bergman. They grab Helena, and Paul and Alan rush from their hiding place to save her. There is a struggle and one of the "spirits" is stunned. The other forces Helena into a passageway behind the portrait of Neman. Paul manages to leap through before the door closes, and follows them. Alan is being held for the murder of the "spirit". When the stun effect wears off, Alan shows his captors that the "spirit" is , in fact, a man, and offers to lead them to expose their false God. While Koenig and Victor check the compatibilty of humans and Darians, they discover that the Darians do not have any stores of the components necessary to sustain life, and they are using living bodies for food! They confront Kara, who explains that they must survive to preserve the DNA of the "pure" Darians in order to ensure the survival of their race.

Act Four[]

Koenig meets up with Paul who is still in pursuit of Helena. He tells Koenig that the Darians have her. They find Kara and force her at gun-point to show them where the bodies are taken. She takes them and they find Helena unconscious. Kara is able to revive her and runs off. Alan leads the survivors to the undamaged portion of the ship. They make their way to room with the gene bank. Neman and Kara enter soon after.

Hadin is dangerously close to the gene bank and Neman runs towards him. Hadin grabs him and tells him that he is no God, then proceeds to toss him through the gene bank. He grabs Kara, and Koenig yells for them to stop. Telling them that the only way they will survive is by working together. Kara asks how they will survive. With the gene bank destroyed,along with the million years of civilization it represents, she asks what future does her people have. Koenig tells her that the survivors are their future, that they must teach them to live and survive in space, and that they will help them.


On the ride back to the base, Helena mourns the loss of Bill Lowery. Kano, finally able to get through, asks what happened. Alan tells him to ask again some time. Alan asks Koenig if Alpha was in the same postition as the Darians, would he choose any differently? Koenig responds by telling him to remind him to tell him some time.


Shooting script 7th January 1975

Shooting schedule dated 9th January 1975

Filmed 10th January- 23rd January 1975

Nick Tate had a back problem during filming. Thrown through the air by the stuntman, he landed awkwardly on his shoulder, with a loud crack, but his back was cured.


Int. Main Mission Int. Eagle Pilot Section Int. Eagle Passenger Section Int. Daria Airlock Int. Daria Corridor 1 Int. Daria Corridor 2 Int. Daria Ship Settlement Area/Undergrowth Area Int. Daria Rest Room Int. Daria Gantry (matte paintings) Int. Daria Corridor Complex Int. Daria Command Centre Int. Daria Transplant Room


The Daria was designed by both Brian Johnson and Martin Bower, and built in sections by Bower. One of the details on the top is a cap from NDA 2 (Breakaway). Many of the sections were used in the Delta spacestation seen in Into Infinity. The dome on top became a Moonbase building (the transference dome in Journey To Where, and in other episodes).

The larger section with which the Eagle docks is surrounded by borders seen as the interior of the Atherian shuttle in Collision Course.

There are 3 matte shots (2 of the gantry over the civilised part of the ship, 1 of the jungle).


Library tracks: "Experiments In Space- Vega" composed by Robert Farnon (Chappell Recorded Music Library). Track from Stingray "Ghost Of The Sea" by Barry Gray. "The White Mountain" (introduction) composed by Frank Cordell (Chappell Recorded Music Library)


Transplant surgery: The first organ transplant was a kidney in 1954; now there are routine procedures for kidneys, bone marrow, skin grafts, cornea, lungs, livers and hearts. There are still problems with tissue rejection as the immune system identifies foreign cells, and the vulnerability to infection caused by the drugs that suppress the immune system. Already demand exceeds supply, and many countries (for instance, India) allow healthy people to sell their organs commercially. There have been numerous stories since the 1970s of healthy people being kidnapped or murdered for organ harvesting, especially in third world countries. Small grafts can rejuvenate the brain and central nervous system (fetal tissue is one controversial area of research). The technology, and ethical issues, are thus soundly based.

The double helix of DNA was discovered by Watson and Crick in 1953. DNA is a long molecule consisting of four bases (like the letters in a computer program). Two complementary strands of DNA are wrapped around each other, with each of the nucleotide bases being paired (Adenosine to Thymine, Guanosine to Cytosine). The base pairing of the structure is the key to its stability and the ability to make perfect copies (when the strands are unwound, the unpaired bases are templates for DNA polymerase enzymes to create new strands). The ability to replicate identical copies is how genetic inheritance works. There are other structures. Bacteria cells (prokaryotes) have a single circular DNA molecule. Viruses can have DNA or RNA, double or single stranded, circular or linear.



Alpha Personnel: 1 fatality, Lowry.

Alpha Technology:

Eagles: Eagle 1 with passenger module

Planets: None. We learn about planet Daria.

Aliens: Darians. Neman, Kara, Hadin. Humanoid.

Props: The large alien probe (studio prop) from The Last Sunset is seen as a Darian fire

The Darian radiation suits are spacesuits from the Catherine Schell film Moon Zero Two (1969).


"Is it not true that your own planet, Earth, may also no longer exist?" asks Neman and Koenig agrees. This possibly contradicts Another Time, Another Place (which was a possible future Earth).

The Daria is 20 miles long by 5 miles wide- a 100 square miles. When they are flying along the length of the ship, Koenig says "there's fifty miles of ship... Keep trying." Thanks to Elliot.

  1. Lowry has a habit of holding his commlock on his belt- so that the five intact fingers of his hand are sometimes visible. When the Priest holds up his hand, it is a body double whose finger was amputated at the second joint. The next shot shows a finger that stops at the first joint - probably Paul Antrim's real hand, with the top of his finger taped back.


The story is reportedly based on how survivors of a plane crash in the Andes eat dead bodies. The book, Alive by Pier Paul Read, was published in 1975 and made into a film in 1993. It told how in October 1972 the plane carrying 45 people including the Montevideo Old Christians Rugby team crashed. 31 survived the crash, but it was ten weeks before the survivors were located, by which time just 16 were alive.

The name Darian recalls the Dorian invaders who overthrew the Mycenean civilization about 1000 BC and established classical Grecian civilisation based on militaristic city states. The Grecian-inspired togas and hairstyles emphasise this.

Hadin is named after Skarp-Hedin, a son of Njal, hero of the 13th century Icelandic Njal's saga. The Viking elite wore clothes that also resembled the Darian fashions.

Another source was Brian Aldiss's book Nonstop (also called Starship), a 1968 book which was in turn inspired by Robert Heinlein's Universe (1941). "Generation starships" were first proposed by Russian scientist Konstantin Tsielkovsky in 1928 and became a science fiction staple after Don Wilcox's 1940 book The Voyage That Lasted 600 Years.

How do mutants like the dwarfs grow to maturity? Wouldn't they be killed as children or are they kept alive deliberately?

If the Darians lack essential components- how does the ending give them the trace elements and enzyme variants?

The tune that Lowry whistles is "A Wandering Minstrel" by Gilbert and Sullivan (thanks to Matt Butts)

In the Level 7 set, pieces of furniture that appeared in The Infernal Machine (in red) appear: the Pastilli chair (two black ones either side of the Spirit doors, three others in the camp) and the Ditzel barstool (immediately in front of the doors).

Ray Austin: "The only time I had trouble with Barbara Bain. The first morning Joan Collins came on the set, her skirt was shorter than Barbara's... and she went mad off camera. She went to see Gerry and Sylvia, said "I'm not going to have it." She wanted her skirt shorter than Joan Collins - Joan Collins' skirt had to be lengthened. She (Collins) was a fantastic woman, that's why we employed her. But 'Barbara Pain' as the crew used to call her, she wanted wardrobe to change Joan Collins' skirt but Gerry said no, that's why we've got her, we're not going to hide her legs. That's why that outfit was designed." (Anderson #13, Feb 2012, p12)"[1]]


Season 1
Breakaway I Earthbound I Black Sun I Missing Link I Voyager's Return I Matter of Life and Death I Ring Around the Moon I The Last Sunset I Alpha Child I Death's Other Dominion I Force of Life I Guardian of Piri I The Troubled Spirit I The Last Enemy I Collision Course I Dragon's Domain I The Full Circle I Mission of the Darians I End of Eternity I War Games I The Infernal Machine I Another Time, Another Place I Space Brain I The Testament of Arkadia
Episodes are listed in the order suggested by Andrew Kearley.