A Rift in Time
John, Elizabeth and Gaius
Episode Information
Series Original Series
Season # 2
Episode # 2
Number of Parts 4
Original Airdate(s) 11 March 1974 - 1 April 1974
Writer(s) Roger Price
Director Darrol Blake
Previous The Blue and the Green
Next The Doomsday Men

"A Rift in Time" is the second episode of Season 2 of The Tomorrow People Original Series.

Peter is trapped in ancient Rome by the time traveler Gaius, and appeals to the Tomorrow People for help. Due to Gaius's introduction of the steam engine, an alternate timeline is created in which the Roman Empire never fell, and extended into outer space. The Tomorrow People rescue Peter and restore the timeline.

Plot Summary Edit

Part 1: Vase of Mystery - (11 March 1974)

Stephen has a dream with Peter running through a forest and calls John for help. After Stephen answers his questions, he says that he had the same dream.

Part 2: Turn of the Thumb - (18 March 1974)

Stephen is imprisoned in a clear tube. Back at the lab, John asks TIM what happened. TIM says the device worked as planned but Chris and Elizabeth wonder why it didn't work for them. John says it should have been him and asks TIM to help him make another one. Chris suggests that Peter wouldn't have given them anything harmful.

Stephen is approached by an old man, Zenon, who accuses him of unauthorised time travel and says he is caught in the time trap. Stephen says he comes from 20th century Earth but Zenon doesn't believe him and says he will be confined for the rest of his natural life. However, his mood changes when Stephen mentions Peter. In the arena, Gaius has spared Peter and instructs Guthrun to train him better. He suspects Guthrun thinks him a fool but says Peter is not a normal boy. Guthrun obsequiously agrees but Gaius knows he doesn't understand.

Stephen explains to Zenon that they were trying to help Peter. On hearing his name, Zenon recognises him as one of the Tomorrow People and frees him. Stephen explains about the dreams and the vase, producing the disc. Zenon says it is a makeshift time disc but he is lucky it worked, since it could have thrown him off into eternity, and they should make no more. Of course, at that moment John is trying to do just that.

Zenon tells Stephen they never have contact with one of their agents but he suspects Peter is in trouble. He says they can send Stephen back to his own time but their rules preclude them from aiding another Time Guardian. However, there is nothing to stop the Tomorrow People doing so, and since Peter is his grandson he hopes they will. Back at the lab, John has finished the time disc. He is also fully equipped with an AE suit. Following the same process as before, he has first Chris and then Elizabeth take the disc, then tells Elizabeth to hand it to him. Before she can do so, Stephen appears and smashes the disc under his foot, explaining it wasn't safe. The Time Guardians have provided them with five proper discs, including ones for Peter and Chris. They know Peter is back in the Roman Empire but they're not sure where, just that he went back to the 1st century and is probably still on Earth. Elizabeth wonders if there is a clue on the vase.

Cawston hands Garner the vase lid and tells her Stephen brought it back. Stephen apologises for taking it. Cawston asks Garner to forget what happened. Stephen asks what the vase was and Garner enthusiastically starts a lecture. Later, TIM delivers a precise to the Tomorrow People: The vase refers to a gladiator school at Cincester, once a prominent Roman town which trained British boys as gladiators. Elizabeth asks how the boys were chosen and Stephen says that Gaius bought them as slaves. John suggests selling Stephen to him.

Guthrun is fighting in the arena with another gladiator, Lothar, while the students look on. Guthrun then tells the boys to pair up and do the same. Gaius expresses dissatisfaction with two boys and Guthrun whips them. Meanwhile, everyone including Chris has changed into AE suits. Chris wonders about the language barrier. John says telepaths can understand them, although that won't work for Chris. They add that they can use the chameleon spectra shift of their suits to look different. Chris asks if they're trying to make a monkey out of him, so they use the spectra shift to do just that.

The foursome appear in a wood, looking like they are dressed as locals. They see the students being taken for a run by their trainers. John wonders if Peter was one of them. He ties up Stephen, reminding him he can get himself loose with telekinesis. Outside the school, Guthrun examines Stephen and Chris. He eventually buys Stephen but rejects Chris. John and Elizabeth attempt to contact Stephen telepathically without success and also realise their other powers have gone. However, they can still communicate with the Ancient Britons.

Stephen is placed in a cell by Guthrun. Peter is in the next cell and recognises him. He says he was hoping the Tomorrow People wouldn't get his message, explaining they can't use their powers. Stephen confirms it by trying to contact John. Peter says someone around them isn't from Earth and is transmitting a radiation that affects their powers. Gaius enters and examines Stephen. He tells Guthrun to whip him and Stephen kicks him away. Gaius takes Stephen to the arena.

John tells a slave girl they need to speak with Gaius. Gaius is watching Stephen and Guthrun fight when the slave brings the message. John asks to buy Stephen back saying Elizabeth, who he calls his wife, is fond of him. Gaius says Stephen is being tested: If he passes, he'll be trained, if not, he'll pay the price. Elizabeth tells John and Chris she thinks Gaius knows what they are.

Gaius tells Lothar to give Stephen a sword and warns him of the penalty for cowardice. Stephen fights Guthrun again and manages to cut the slavemaster's leg but Guthrun soon has him disarmed on the floor. Guthrun asks Gaius if he should finish him.

Part 3: From Little Acorns... - (25 March 1974)

Gaius shakes his head and Guthrun sheathes his sword. Gaius says one day Stephen will make them proud. He tells Guthrun to secure him. Meanwhile, John, Elizabeth and Chris have retired to a tavern. Chris thinks they could easily rescue Stephen and Peter with their stun guns. John agrees but is worried about affecting anything native to that timeline. He points to a fly on the table and says it could land on a nearby Roman centurion's food and cause him to die of food poisoning. If Chris kills it, he could survive and go on to become a famous general, win a battle for the Empire so it never falls and is still around in their time. As a result, the Tomorrow People, Chris and Ginge might never exist.

Peter is looking after Stephen, who has been chained up. Stephen explains John, Liz and Chris are there. Peter says Chris' strength might be their best asset. At the tavern, John says they only use stun guns on anyone not native to that time. Stephen notices another boy, Cotus, chained up. Cotus says he hasn't fit their standards, so he will be sent into the arena to be killed by the other gladiators unless his parents can buy him back from Gaius. Stephen suggests organising a mass break-out but Cotus says most of the boys were not born free and a life as a gladiator is the best they can expect. Peter has told Cotus something of the future.

John tells Chris they'll be relying on him with no powers or stun guns and have to leave everything as it was. In the cells, Peter is feeding Stephen and Cotus, despite Cotus protesting he'll be dead soon anyway. Meanwhile, John, Liz and Chris climb over the wall. John says they can only get Stephen. Liz hears a clicking noise. Stephen and Peter also hear it and Cotus says it's a steam engine. Stephen is shocked, and Peter says they weren't invented until 1690. Gaius is responsible for the time warp, and trained Cotus to use the engine when he was his favourite.

Chris overpowers Guthrun and Lothar, but Gaius fires a disintegrator gun at them. John realises he isn't from that time. Gaius thinks they've come for him. John says they just want their friends back. Realising who they've referring to, Gaius sends Guthrun and Lothar to kill them. Guthrun approaches Stephen and Peter with a spear. Cotus grabs him around the neck with his legs, causing him to drop the spear. Peter picks up the spear but is unable to use it, allowing Guthrun to retrieve it. Chris enters and stuns him. Stephen explains his cuffs are riveted on so Chris uses a laser pencil to cut him free. John and Elizabeth also enter. Stephen wants to bring Cotus with them and Peter agrees, helping free him while the others go on ahead.

Cotus points them towards the machine. Gaius is in a cubicle. Peter tries to arrest him but Gaius says the time path is taking him away. Peter says when it does the whole place will blow up so they work to free the slaves and evacuate them to the woods. The gladiator school implodes. Later, Chris is freeing the boys from their chains while Elizabeth frees them. Peter says it was all right to save them since the time warp implosion was not a natural occurrence. The boys who have families like Clotus will go back to them, the others will join bands, although Peter is worried about the amount of future knowledge Clotus has been exposed to. Most of the boys leave and Clotus says goodbye to John and the others. The five prepare to use their time discs to return to the lab.

They materialise instead in a futuristic tunnel. Peter says it's the exact same time and place: 1974 AD. Meanwhile, Clotus goes back to the gladiator school and starts disassembling the steam engine. John suggests to Chris that they're in a parallel dimension. Gaius brought the steam engine back to the 1st century, letting the Romans skip 1600 years of development. A lift descends, containing two ape-like creatures that Peter identifies as Trystans. John says they've arrived at a time when Earth has been conquered from outer space.

Part 4: Rise of the Roman Empire - (1 April 1974)

Peter protests that Earth has never been conquered by people from outer space and Trystans are a simple peaceful race. A human guard appears and prods one of the Trystans with a pain-giving stick. Elizabeth realises they are slaves and Peter says humans never kept other races as slaves either. The Trystans stumble across them and call them "masters". They say many races are slaves in the Empire, from planet Rome. Peter says there has been a massive rift in time. He and John deduce Cotus gave the Romans the secret of steam power; they need to go back and erase his memory. The guards, who have been monitoring them, appear and the quintet disappear with the time discs. The guards' leader, Gaius, tells them to feed the information into the computer.

Back in the 1st century, John deduces they were being spied on. Back at the tavern, Peter recalls rumours of silver guards haunting the place, who he suspect were from the alternate future. He says there only hope is that the people from the Roman timeline can't risk changing anything. John suddenly realises someone has given them drugged wine. They pretend to drink, throwing the wine away, then feign passing out. The Roman soldiers who gave them the wine turn out to be Gaius and his men. As they are about to kill them, Chris stuns them in place and the Tomorrow People jaunt away, with Chris following them. Gaius sets to let them go and get something that can prevent teleporting from their own time.

The Tomorrow People and their allies return to the gladiator school, knowing Clotus would need to examine the steam engine. John goes to disintegrate it and finds the parts missing. They deduce Clotus has been their already. John sets a disintegrator gun to destroy the remainder. He and Peter take first watch while the others sleep. That night, Clotus sees Gaius and his men return. Gaius has with him a device that will stop the Tomorrow People teleporting. He reminds them anyone they see might be their ancestor.

John wakes Stephen and Chris and tells them to take over on watch. Stephen tells Chris he can use his AE suit to keep warm and also to levitate off the ground for a smoother sleep. They hear a noise from the cells and Chris goes to investigate, thinking they may have left a boy. It's Clotus, who manages to overpower Chris and lock him up. Hearing his shouts, Stephen jaunts and helps him. He sees Clotus, who runs off.

Gaius and his men come across the sleeping John, Liz and Peter and set up their dampener. One of the Romans catches Clotus but Gaius recognises him as a native and says to let him go. Stephen and Chris realise they left the others unguarded and Stephen realises his powers are gone. They rush into the arena to be captured with the others. Gaius knows they come from a different timeline and wonders what happened to the Roman Empire there, saying that in his timeline they reached the moon in the 4th century. John tells him about the Dark Ages. Peter says they are on the verge of joining the Galactic Federation but Gaius says they rule half the galaxy and soon the Federation will also succumb. Stephen points out they still keep slaves. Gaius says slaves are necessary in order for others to rule but Liz argues that no-one can rule wisely without first learning to serve. Gaius dismisses the argument and orders his men to kill them. Clotus rushes forward and a soldier grabs him. Gaius has the soldier strike Clotus on the head, but then Gaius and the others vanish. Liz says Clotus must have been killed by the blow on the head and cries over him. Clotus suddenly recovers: The blow merely caused him to lose his memory. As a result, time must be back to normal. Liz says before they go back they should make sure Peter gets home.

Later, back in their own time, Peter manages to throw Chris in a judo bout. John and Stephen joke that he should pretend he's a Roman gladiator. Chris sourly tells him to pick on someone his own size.

Guest Cast Edit