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Orbit was the eleventh episode of Series D it was first broadcast 7 December 1981.


From the VHS release:

Egrorian, famed genius and scientist, has created the lethal tachyon funnel, a weapon powerful enough to blast the Federation out of the galaxy and he's willing to do a deal with Avon and the crew. It would be a simple exchange: the ultimate weapon for the ultimate computer - Orac...


Scorpio has travelled to Malodar in response to a message from Egrorian, a brilliant scientist who fled from the Federation ten years previous. Avon intends to teleport Tarrant and Dayna to the surface to meet with Egrorian but Egrorian insists that Avon come personally and uses a shuttle that he sends. On hearing that Egrorian has his assistant with him, Avon insists on bringing his own assistant: Vila.

Avon and Vila travel down to the surface; Egrorian has weapons scanners in his base but Avon manages to hide a gun in the shuttle. They meet with Egrorian and his aged and partly senile assistant Pinder, who addresses Avon as "ma'am". Egrorian reveals he has completed his work on a tachyon funnel that can destroy whole stars and will give it to the Scorpio crew to use against the Federation but wants Orac in exchange. Tarrant notes the presence of another landing pad at the base and wonders if there is already a ship on it. As Avon and Vila return to Scorpio, Avon wonders if Pinder was taught to address another guest as "madam": Servalan.

The crew's suspicions are correct: Servalan's ship is located at the second pad and she and Egrorian are planning to gain Orac and destroy Scorpio before using the tachyon funnel to regain control of the Federation. Avon and Vila tell the rest of the crew what happened; Tarrant tells them that Pinder was a child prodigy who disappeared with Egrorian and should only be 28.

Avon and Vila return to the surface with Orac. Egrorian tells them that Pinder was aged by exposure to Hofel's radiation. After testing Orac, Egrorian allows Avon and Vila to load the tachyon funnel aboard the shuttle and take off. Avon reveals that the Orac he gave Egrorian was a fake, acting on a remote relay from the real Orac hidden aboard the shuttle. Servalan and Egrorian make the same discovery but Egrorian is unconcerned: The shuttle will still crash as they planned and both Orac and the tachyon funnel will survive intact. Pinder overhears Servalan and Egrorian planning to leave him behind when they depart in Servalan's two-man ship.

Orac reveals the shuttle is too heavy to reach escape velocity: It will continue to orbit Malodar until the fuel gives out and it crashes. Avon and Vila begin jettisoning everything non-essential, including the tachyon funnel. The Scorpio crew see what is going on but all Soolin can do is move the ship into a closer orbit. With Avon still needing to get rid of another 70 kilos, Orac points out ejecting Vila would suffice. Avon grabs the gun and hunts Vila through the corridors but then stumbles across a speck of neutron matter, which Egrorian planted aboard. With Vila discounting his calls for help as a ploy, Avon only just manages to get the speck out of the airlock in time for the shuttle to dock with Scorpio. Furious, Servalan leaves Egrorian alone to contemplate what might have been. The betrayed Pinder then floods the laboratory with Hofel's radiation, causing both himself and Egrorian to age to death.



  • Production Manager - Jacinta Peel
  • Production Associate - Frank Pendlebury
  • Production Assistant - Ian Willson
  • Assistant Floor Manager - Nigel Taylor
  • Film Editor - Sheila S. Tomlinson
  • Videotape Editor - Sam Upton
  • Visual Effects Designer - Jim Francis, Mike Kelt
  • Video Effects - Robin Lobb
  • Graphic Designer - Dick Bailey
  • Properties Buyer - Francis Smith
  • Technical Manager - Terry Brett
  • Senior Cameraman - Dave White
  • Vision Mixer - Nigel Finnis
  • Studio Lighting - Warwick Fielding
  • Studio Sound - Trevor Webster
  • Special Sound - Elizabeth Parker
  • Costume Designer - Nicholas Rocker
  • Make Up Artist - Suzanne Jansen
  • Music By - Dudley Simpson
  • Series Created By - Terry Nation

Story notes[]

  • This is the last of four episodes written by Robert Holmes, making him the show's fourth most prolific writer after Terry Nation, Chris Boucher and Allan Prior.
  • This is the only episode to be recorded entirely on videotape except for the model shots.
  • John Savident, who plays Egrorian, previously appeared as Samor in Trial.
  • When Avon looks for Vila to throw from the airlock, Michael Keating was filmed hiding, shaking and in tears. These few seconds were not broadcast because Brian Lighthill considered the scene "...too real". Following this episode, Vila becomes very wary of Avon's motives.
  • Exposition was cut from the script explaining why they could see the moon being destroyed when it was seventeen light years away, and another scene involving Egrorian locking the Tachyon Funnel onto Scorpio so Orac could verify its existence.
  • The working title was "A Few Kilos More".



Filming locations[]

To be added.

Production errors[]

To be added.


  • Avon recounts the official line that Servalan is dead and Egrorian claims to have heard "rumours" she had assumed a new identity, as established in Traitor.


Avon: There is a big difference between you and Egrorian. He has a brain.

Vila: It might have occurred to you that this could be a Federation trap.
Avon: Well of course it's occurred to me. Why do you think I'm sending Tarrant?

Pinder: I pleased to make your acquaintance, ma'am.
Vila: (To Avon) I think he's talking to you.

Vila: I'll personally nail them to the posts and send you the pictures.

Egrorian: Pinder?
Vila: He's gone for a lie down. All that walking exhausted him.

Home video releases[]

Series 4 DVD

DVD cover

  • Original BBC video release (Volume 25) in 1993.
  • Fabulous Films video reissue (Volume 25) on 4 October 1999.
  • DVD release as part of the Series 4 box set on 24 April 2006.

External links[]