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City at the Edge of the World was the sixth episode of Series C it was first broadcast 11 February 1980. It notably featured Colin Baker as Bayban the Butcher, and four years after this story was broadcast he would play the Sixth Doctor in Doctor Who.


From the VHS release:

Bayban the Butcher is the Federation's second most wanted man after Blake - much to his chagrin - and he's holding Vila captive. All Vila has to do is open one door - and step through the gateway into another existence...


Tarrant has traded Vila's services to the population of the planet Keezarn, who have promised to provide crystals needed to maintain the Liberator's weapons. Vila reluctantly teleports down as agreed but when Cally follows him down to collect the crystals, she finds Vila's teleport bracelet and a bomb.

In fact, Keezarn has been taken over by the space pirate Bayban, one of the most wanted men in the Federation. One of his mercenaries, Kerril, takes Vila to Bayban and his lieutenant Sherm. Bayban forces the Keezarn leader Norl to tell Vila that a hatch contains "this world and the next": Bayban believes it contains everything of value on the planet but is unable to break into it and gives Vila one hour. Vila tells Kerril the hatch is a force field which can be deactivated by slowly pushing a probe into it. He also realises Norl intends to keep whatever is inside the hatch from Bayban.

Vila and Kerril enter the hatch (which seals behind them) and are transported to a spaceship. A recorded message tells them the Keezarns predicted their race would eventually fall back into primitivism so sent the ship to find a new planet, with other worlds they will be able to colonise, so they can begin again. Believing the ship is still en route and their air supply is limited, Vila and Kerrill make love. Vila then realises the ship has already landed and deactivates the force field hiding the exit, revealing the new planet.

Avon and Cally teleport down and find Bayban's people holding the Keezarns in stockades. The Liberator crew launch an attack on the city where the hatch is located, where Bayban is preparing to try and blast through it with a laser cannon. Bayban's men are overcome, with Cally killing Sherm, and Bayban is taken prisoner. Norl reveals Vila and Kerril are inside the hatch. Bayban gets away from Dayna in the confusion but the Keezarns have already defeated his men, ready for their exodus. Vila discovers the crystals the Liberator needed on the planet and he and Kerril return to Keezarn.

With all his people gone, Norl offers Vila and Kerril the chance to come with them. The rest of the crew return to the Liberator. Vila is reluctant to settle on the planet but also reluctant to leave Kerril. They are interrupted by Bayban, who Vila keeps at bay while Norl and Kerril pass through the hatch and seal it. Vila teleports clear as Bayban fires the cannon, triggering an explosion that destroys the city and kills Bayban. Back on the Liberator, Vila takes comfort from Orac's prediction that he will make many more mistakes like Kerril.



Story notes[]

  • Zen does not appear in this episode, meaning Peter Tuddenham voices only Orac. However, he is still credited as "Zen".
  • Paul Darrow felt undermined by Colin Baker's bombastic acting in this episode. When they acted opposite each other in the Doctor Who serial "Timelash", Darrow retaliated by purposefully exaggerating his performance.
  • This is Michael Keating's favourite episode.
  • In an interview with Tony Atwood, Michael Keating said that he was watching the series with his daughter when she said, "Daddy, you're stupid!" Keating related this to Chris Boucher, inspiring the latter to write this episode, in which Vila becomes a hero.
  • Vere Lorrimer had thought Babyan the Butcher was the villain's villain and had directed The Brothers, in which Colin Baker's character was the antagonist. He rang Baker and offered Baker the role of Bayban the Butcher. Baker agreed to take the role.



Filming locations[]

Reservoir near Ripon.

Production errors[]

To be added.


  • Vila mentions the fact that he was onboard the Liberator with Blake, before Tarrant joined the crew.
  • This is the first episode in which Cally is shown to personally kill someone, although she previously shot down a Terra Nostra gunship in Shadow.


Avon: (Holding out a tablet) Take this.
Vila: What is it, slow-acting poison?

Vila: (As the Keezarns remain silent) Too much walking's bad for you, you know. Makes you go deaf. Look what it's done for you.

Bayban: You must be Vila. It's an honour, sir.
Vila: The honour's mine.
Bayban: That's what I meant.

Sherm: You've 25 minutes left.
Vila: Who told you that?
Sherm: Captain Bayban.
Vila: I didn't think you could've worked it out for yourself.

Tarrant: Hello, Bayban, I heard a rumour you were dead. Funny that, turns out to be true.

Cally: Vila, we thought we'd lost you!
Avon: But every silver lining has a cloud.

Kerril: You saw that place, it's beautiful.
Vila: But there's nothing there worth stealing!

Home video releases[]

Series 3 DVD

DVD cover

  • Original BBC video release (Volume 16) in 1992.
  • Fabulous Films video reissue (Volume 16) on 1 March 1999.
  • DVD release as part of the Series 3 box set on 20 June 2005.

External links[]