The Vanishing Earth
Episode Information
Series Original Series
Season # 1
Episode # 3
Number of Parts 4
Original Airdate(s) 9 July 1973 - 30 July 1973
Writer(s) Roger Price, Brian Finch
Director Paul Bernard
Previous The Medusa Strain
Next The Blue and the Green

The Vanishing Earth was the third and final story of Season 1 of The Tomorrow People Original Series.

Plot SummaryEdit

Part 1: 9 July 1973

In the lab, the Tomorrow People view video footage of a series of volcanoes. Tim states that the number of natural disasters recently has been extremely high, especially in areas previously thought safe. John asks how much time they have. Tim says a week at most, and as yet he has no idea what to do about it.

At a seaside resort, Ginger and Lefty ride up to the pier on their motorbikes. Meanwhile, Carol, clad in an AE suit, is conducting scans in an arctic region, while Stephen is doing the same near a volcano. Both are in telepathic contact with John.

Ginger and Lefty are using a shooting range. A dodgy-looking character, Smithers, nods towards the pair and asks his companion, Joy, her opinion of them. He goes into his booth and contacts someone called Spidron, asking if a channel is available. Ginge approaches Joy and tries to charm her. At the lab, Tim is analysing the information Stephen and Carol gathered. The neutrinos they sent out have x-rayed the earth to find out what is causing the disasters.

Ginger directs Joy how to use the rifle at the shooting range. She casually shoots down every target. Kenny wonders where Ginger and Lefty are and Tim explains they went to Clacton-on-Sea. Ginger also tries out the shooting range, while Joy nods to Smithers. John shows everyone scans from a weather satellite. Tim reports a cyclone is forming. John tells him to trace the source.

Joy introduces herself to Ginger, who seems smitten with her. A mysterious character, Steen, watches them through a telescope. Lefty buys three tickets to a haunted house from Smithers. Ginger takes his and Joy's tickets and throws Lefty's away; it falls beneath the pier. Joy runs through the house with Ginger chasing her. Lefty tries to buy another ticket but Smithers says they're closed. Ginger is trapped inside a glass tube. Both Joy and Smithers contact Spidron and the bottom of the tube gives way, sending Ginge down a shaft. Still watched by Steen, Joy tells Lefty that Ginge said two's company and he'll see him back in town.

Tim reports tectonic plate shift. Carol wonders if they should warn the saps but John says no-one would believe them unless they revealed who they were, at which point their lives would be over, and if the earth is about to be destroyed it might be kinder not to tell them. Meanwhile, in a futuristic underground base, two silver-suited figures order Ginge to come with them.

Steen continues to watch Lefty. The voice of Spidron tells the guards to take Ginge to the processing area. They drag him away as an alarm sounds. Steen fades away from the lookout. As a tannoy voice gives out a warning, the base shakes. Ginge grabs a gun from one of the guards and flees. Tim tells the Tomorrow People the centre of the disaster is in Clacton-on-Sea, where Ginge and Lefty are.

Ginge sees something emerging from the rubble and is hit by an energy blast. Lefty leaves on his bike, still watched by Steen. Ginge is placed in a room by the two guards. A robed figure orders him to approach the Spidron. Ginge refuses but screams in agony as a glow surrounds him.

Part 2: 16 July 1973

Ginge recovers consciousness. He now obeys the Spidron's orders, speaking in a zombielike manner. He mentions the Tomorrow People to Spidron, who dubs him No 197. Spidron summons the guard in and orders him to take Ginge to Gallery A. Ginge follows him out. Spidron ponders who the Tomorrow People are. Back at the lab, John and Carol have put on AE suits while Tim gives off the increase in disasters. Carol still wants to tell the saps but Kenny points out they must already know. John and Carol set off to take more readings, leaving Stephen and Kenny to work on the calculations. Tim reports a tornado in an area previously free of them. Lefty arrives and tells them what happened to Ginge. Stephen decides to check it out.

John and Carol have set up another neutrino cannon by a volcano. Stephen and Lefty travel to the Clacton pier by bike. Smithers complains to Joy that he hasn't been paid; Joy tells him he'll get what he deserves. Smithers says he wants to meet Spidron. He is worried about the danger. Joy says they only select people who won't be missed. Smithers is looking for more money. Joy tells him he can leave whenever he likes but Smithers points out he can cause trouble. Lefty identifies Joy to Stephen. Stephen buys a ticket for the haunted house. Smithers asks Joy about him but Joy says his parents would miss him. Steen is watching them again. Stephen enters the haunted house.

Smithers is doing a salesman's patter with a megaphone and sells tickets. Stephen asks to go through again but Smithers says the trip is full. Stephen tells Lefty there is electronic equipment below the hall of mirrors. Smithers points them out to Joy and realises they're investigating Ginge's disappearance. John and Carol jaunt back to the lab. Kenny tells them what Stephen and Lefty are doing. They contact Stephen telepathically. Stephen has just found an open door at the rear of the haunted house. He explains the situation.

Smithers sees Stephen and Lefty in the house on the monitor. Joy has now changed her mind and decides she wants them. Smithers contacts Spidron and tells him to open a channel. A glass tube surrounds Lefty but Stephen smashes it and they flee. Joy gives Smithers a gun and tells him to shoot them. Tim senses Stephen is in trouble and the other Tomorrow People contact him. John and Carol decide to join him, reminding Kenny one of them has to stay behind to ensure the survival of their species.

Joy is searching the haunted house, as is Smithers, while Stephen and Lefty hide. Stephen tells Lefty to go out through the same door while he has a look around. Steen sees Lefty emerge. At the lab, Tim reassures Kenny. Stephen checks out the shaft underneath the remains of the tube. Smithers sees him but Stephen jaunts away. Smithers fires wildly, bringing Joy running. Stephen re-appears and Joy paralyses him with a futuristic weapon. She seems to have her own idea about who Stephen is, saying he'll get a galactic citation for death in the line of duty.

John and Carol are up on the pier and are unable to contact Stephen. Tim offers to trace his life force but gets no reading. Stephen is dumped in the sea, still paralysed. Smithers asks Joy what is going on. Joy tells him he's outlived his usefulness. Smithers announces he wants out. John and Carol see Lefty. Joy contacts Spidron and tells him to open a channel. Smithers thinks he's taking her to Spidron but instead she goes herself, saying ladies first is a custom of "your world". John and Carol jaunt in and ask what he's done to Stephen.

Steen sees Stephen in the water. Smithers threatens to call the police on John and Carol but they return the threat. Smithers gives in and tells them what Joy did to Stephen. They rush to the lookout and see Steen lift Stephen out of the sea. They jaunt to the beach, only to watch in astonishment as Steen disappears with Stephen.

Part 3: 23 July 1973

A group of helmeted and visored humans, including Ginge, are working in mines. A tannoy voice announces a rest period. At the lab, Stephen and Kenny are calmly playing a game when John and Carol jaunt in. Stephen has no idea how he got there and can't remember Steen or being in the sea. Kenny and Tim have no idea what happened either. Carol jogs Stephen's memory of Lefty and the haunted house. Carol realises Steen wiped their memories and that he jaunted.

Joy has joined Spidron and changed into an outfit matching the futuristic area they are in. She tells Spidron Stephen was a telepath and believes he was from the galactic police, although she did not check. They have been on the run from them for four Earth years. Joy thinks they should leave with what they have already mined but Spidron refuses. Since Earth is a closed world, the galactic police have no authority there. By the time they get permission from the Federation, Earth will be gone. Joy seems slightly bothered by this.

John speculates that Steen is an adult Tomorrow Person, from another world or time, but still isn't sure he trusts him after his evasiveness. Tim knows he must have advanced knowledge to erase his memories. Meanwhile, Steen is visiting Smithers. When Smithers refuses to answer the door, he jaunts inside. Down below, Joy continues to ponder Stephen's identity with Spidron. She recalls Stephen was looking for Ginge and wonders if he infiltrated them.

The control voice orders Ginge to the processing area. Spidron tells Joy he intends to probe his mind. Joy points out that could kill him. Spidron tells her no-one is indispensable and calls her Sandor. Ginge arrives and Spidron notes he will need to release him from control in order to question him. Meanwhile, Steen is telling Smithers he is working for galactic criminals. Smithers gives away the fact he knows Spidron.

Tim jaunts John, Carol and Stephen to the haunted house. Steen is inspecting the shaft but disappears when he hears them approaching. John realises the shaft contains a matter transmitter. Meanwhile, Joy has imprisoned Ginge and reversed his condition. Spidron decides to use the probe. Harry Steen introduces himself to the Tomorrow People. He tells them he's been tracking Sandor and the Spidron. They smuggle magnamite mined from primitive worlds, using slave labour. The substance holds a planet's crust together, so removing it destroys the planet.

Smithers tries to call the police but stops when they ask for his number. Instead, he contacts Spidron and tells them he was visited by the galactic police. Spidron says he's opening a gate for him. Smithers enters the haunted house but sees the Tomorrow People and Steen. Steen explains he doesn't have the authority to arrest Spidron on a closed planet but the Tomorrow People's presence changes things. Smithers goes back to the booth and alerts Spidron, saying to give him his money and he'll go. After quizzing him about Steen, Spidron sends out a charge, killing Smithers.

John, Carol, Stephen and Steen use the matter transmitter, setting off Spidron's alarm. Spidron and Sandor monitor them and recognise Steen. Spidron determines to settle with him. He releases the slaves from his control and tells Sandor to get ready to use the emergency transmitter. The magnamite has already been transferred to stores. He tells Sandor to open the lava ducts, which will wipe out the workforce. The control voice sends out an alert as the tunnels start shaking. Sandor says the telepaths will just jaunt out but Spidron says the Tomorrow People will not leave the slaves to die. The lava begins to fill the tunnels, sending everyone into a panic.

Part 4: 30 July 1973

Steen tries to calm the freed slaves. John contacts Kenny and Tim but says they can't leave Ginge and the other slaves. Kenny tries to jaunt to join them but Tim refuses. Steen tells the slaves they have to locate Spidron. Spidron disappears but Ginge grabs Sandor. Carol finds the door to the control area and Steen blows it open in time to see Sandor reaching the matter transmitter, having overpowered Ginge. He has already closed the lava ducts again. Carol suggests they use the matter transmitter to evacuate the saps. Steen worries it is booby trapped. Before anyone can stop him, Stephen runs inside and pronounces it safe. Spidron reappears and taunts them about being stranded on Earth when it's doomed. He then disappears again. Steen tells them Spidron can't jaunt: his presence was merely a holographic projection. He says once they've got the slaves away, they will use Tim to look for a clue to Spidron's whereabouts.

Tim reels off a list of disasters to John, Stephen, Carol, Kenny and Steen at the lab. Steen says they need to find Spidron's control point. There is no magnamite that can be imported and it would take too long to evacuate everyone. Neither can they ask for reinforcements, given the size of the Federation and insignificance of Earth. Stephen asks about Sandor and Steen confirms her Joy persona was her natural form.

Sandor walks by a canal to a concealed vault. Spidron is waiting there. Sandor asks why they aren't leaving. Spidron wants to deal with Steen. At the lab, John asks how Spidron travels between worlds. Steen says he uses what they call a UFO. John asks Tim of records of UFOs and Tim says there was one sighted just before Steen and Sandor arrived. It crashed into a lock near the Thames.

Ginge and Lefty help the Tomorrow People and Spidron load a boat full of equipment to track the Spidron, then find themselves left behind. Sandor tells Spidron they are coming. While the boat searches the river, Sandor levels a gun at Ginge and Lefty from the other side of the river. Steen realises the ship is under the river and Spidron must have an underground base nearby. Spidron triggers the self-destruct on the ship but Steen detects the surge and they jaunt to safety. They realise Ginge and Lefty are missing, then spot a sewer entrance.

John, Carol, Stephen, Kenny and Steen enter the sewers. There they run into Ginge and Lefty, who are now under Spidron's control. Steen knocks them both to the ground, breaking the temporary trance. Spidron tells Sandor there isn't time for both of them to leave: He has sabotaged the matter transmitter in order to cheat her out of her share of the magnamite. He liquefies and flows away. Sandor laughs as Steen and the others arrive. She tells Steen to arrest her and take her away but Steen realises that will mean she will survive Earth's destruction while the inhabitants don't. He says they will wait there and tells the Tomorrow People to jaunt off planet. Ginge and Lefty also encourage them to go but they refuse. Steen walks away from Sandor, saying he has no authority to arrest her so she's free to go. Sandor gives in.

Back at the lab, Steen explains to John, Carol, Stephen, Kenny, Ginge and Lefty that he'd guessed why Sandor was laughing. She had substituted the magnamite for mercury, which was all Spidron left with. Sandor helped Steen reinject the magnamite into the earth's core in return for being released. However, he planted a microphone on her and is hoping to catch Sandor and Spidron. He tells them there'll soon be more Tomorrow People to deal with alien visitors to Earth, a prospect that Ginge and Lefty aren't entirely happy about.

Guest Cast Edit