Original Doctor Who was always ambitious with its storytelling. It was sadly an ambition that its special effects couldn’t hope to keep up with. That said the stories were mostly fun.
The biggest difference from new Who was probably the serial format used at the time which allowed for regular cliff hangers meaning danger was omnipresent.
The video above is from The Ribos Operation, a Tom Baker serial from 1978. It concerns Binro, an outcast that theorises that the little lights in Ribos’ night sky are not ice crystals as they are told but in fact distant suns and that the two seasons of icetime and suntime were due to variations in the distance of Ribos from its sun.
His discoveries were in direct opposition to the Ribosian religious doctrine, which claimed that the change of seasons was due to an eternal battle between sun gods and ice gods. Consequently Binro was branded a heretic and jailed, later being tortured in order to get him to recant.
The beauty in this story comes from Binro’s meeting with Unstoffe. Through this encounter he learns that Unstoffe is not from Ribos and that his theory is indeed correct, they are suns! Unstoffe touchingly adds that some day the people of Ribos would recognise that he had been right all along.
Binro’s joy at getting this confirmation is heartbreaking. He repays Unstoffe’s kindness by helping him escape the Graff Vynda-K and for his troubles gets himself killed.
The acting in this scene has a light touch and is genuinely moving (especially compared to Iain Cuthbertson’s, shall we say theatrical, performances elsewhere). It’s these sort of affectionate relationships we need to see more of in new Who and less of a reliance on overwrought romantic love for emotional drive.