Moments later, the TARDIS materialises on the hard shoulder of the motorway. Lucie rebukes the Doctor for his parking skills and says they’re lucky the roads aren’t too busy. The Doctor agrees that anyone would be mad to go out in this weather, but he’s delighted when he sees the lights of a proper, old-style motorway service station through the snow. He tells Lucie that they’re in 1974, and he can’t wait to show her the ketchup things in the shape of tomatoes; but this is before she was born and all she knows about the period is what she’s seen on the TV. She seems to remember it looking a bit rubbish and tacky, more like the Dark Ages. The Doctor admits that he was trying to reach her time, but this is as close as he’s been allowed to get. He tries to engage her with stories of Glam Rock, Bowie, Bolan and Eno, and says that electronic music is in its infancy at the moment. His attempts at encouragement are brought to a sudden stop when they come across the dead body of the strange man. Lucie is shocked, not only by the savage wounds on his body, but also by the glittery top hat, tinsel feather boa, stack-heeled boots and silver eye-shadow that he’s wearing! The Doctor asks her to show more respect as the man has clearly been torn to pieces, but at least the clothing proves that he’s right about the year being 1974. This place must be Nadir Services, just outside Bramlington…and it’s going to be a long night!
Inside the café, a leather-clad woman called Pat apologises to the waitress for crying, but Flo doesn’t mind as this isn’t the first time she’s seen this happen. In any case, it’s nice that someone wants to speak to her like a real person instead of treating her like a machine, as most people who come in here just want egg and chips. Flo is a good listener, but she gets starved of company working here at night and the place is only ever full of musicians. Pat is surprised at herself for shedding real tears over someone like Bendy Roger. He was the man who just stormed out after breaking up his band, Methylated Spirits. Pat accepts that the split was inevitable after they lost their singer and their drummer, and in fact she’s been kicked out of so many bands, she’s starting to get used to it. Flo tells her she’s seen a lot of dreams crash and burn while she’s been serving dinner in the middle of the night. She remembers meeting Hendrix, Lulu and the Wombles, but personally she doesn’t think having dreams is a good idea. For every star she sees, there’s a lot of darkness and obscurity all around them. Suddenly the café is plunged into darkness due to yet another power cut, but fortunately the lights come back on a few seconds later. Pat realises she has no transport and worries she might be trapped out here with no lights and no heating, but Flo reassures Pat that she has her own car outside and will be finishing her shift soon.
More customers arrive and Pat is upset to see Arnold Korns among them. She explains that he came to see her band once, but he hated them and Bendy Roger almost belted him! Arnold asks Flo if they’re still open as he saw the lights go out and thought they might be closing down for the night, but she tells him they’re always open. He orders food for himself and his two passengers, then tells the youngsters to look around as this place is legendary. Trisha is disappointed there are only a few old roadies here, but Flo thinks that’s just because it’s such a stormy night. Suddenly the waitress recognises the two youngsters as the Tomorrow Twins (although she calls them the Tomorrow People) and Arnold proudly introduces her to the rising young hopefuls from the pop world. He’s pleased that they’re finally starting to get recognised in public and when Flo asks if they’re hoping to get in the Charts this Sunday, he reveals that they’re actually on their way to record their very first appearance on Top of the Pops. Flo is delighted for them and offers them an extra banger. Trisha is disappointed that Tommy doesn’t seem to care very much, but he says he’s starting to wonder who he really is. Arnold interrupts their argument and takes them over to a table near the radiator.
The door opens again and a frozen Doctor and Lucie enter, looking for whoever’s in charge. They’re still not sure what killed the man outside, but the Doctor is certain it was caused by something large and thinks the wounds are claw marks. Lucie suggests it might be an escaped animal, but is it a human animal, a monster animal or just an animal animal? The Doctor suggests they get a cup of tea and ask the waitress who they can speak to. As they approach the counter, Lucie comments on the lack of cleanliness, believing the place would be shut down in her day. The Doctor tries to introduce himself to Flo, but she tells him it’s the end of her shift and she’s shutting up shop for now, so they’ll have to wait until ’Dirty Linda’ opens up again at 10.00pm, assuming she makes it here through the snow. She calls for Pat and they leave without giving the Doctor a chance to explain any further. He doesn’t mind as the tea in these places is never quite right anyway. Lucie tries to use the public telephones to call the police, but none of them are working. Arnold has overheard their conversation, and he introduces himself to the Doctor; they both claim to work in the ‘star’ business. Arnold wonders why they want to call the police and the Doctor tells him there’s a corpse out in the car park -- the savaged body of a dead glam rocker. Arnold is absolutely horrified, but Trisha thinks they’re playing some sort of joke. Lucie assures her it’s true and that the body has been ripped apart!
As Pat and Flo head for the car, Pat wonders what the new arrival wanted, but Flo thinks he looked like an old hippy. She tells her new friend that she’s grateful for the company as she didn’t fancy driving in this weather on her own, but suddenly they stop as they can hear something strange through the wind. It sounds like a roar, and they race to the car in a panic. In her haste, Flo drops the car keys as the roaring sound gets closer. Pat sees huge monsters coming straight towards them and, realising they won’t have time to get away, they decide to go back to the service station through the nearby back entrance. As the creatures begin to demolish the car, Flo and Pat race through the door and slam it shut behind them. They can hear one of the monsters right outside and they wonder if it can smell them. They decide to re-join the others and tell them what’s happened, but first they slide a heavy freezer against the door to stop anything getting in.
In the café, the Doctor gathers everyone around and tells them they need to make some plans. Trisha sides up to Lucie and compliments her on her ‘bloke,’ whom she thinks has a very commanding presence, but Arnold is angry that the Doctor seems to be taking over. The Doctor tells everyone they’re in a situation of extreme danger and that they should pool their resources, as it looks as though they’re going to be trapped here for a while. Suddenly the inner door bursts open and a terrified Flo and Pat race in and claim to have seen creatures in the snow like huge bears, but with scales, fangs and tails. As the back of the building is already secure, the Doctor suggests they move all the tables to form a barricade around the doors. He asks Lucie to scout around to see if there are any other ways to get in, and Flo tells her there’s a glass walkway to a second café on the other side of the motorway, so they’ll have to block that off somehow too. Pat is amazed that the Doctor believed their story without laughing or questioning it, but he tells her she wouldn’t believe half the things he’s seen before! Alone in the corner, Tommy starts playing music on his Stylophone, but Trish tells him to help her and Lucie check on the glass walkway.
Lucie and Trisha arrive at a stairway that leads up to the bridge, but Tommy is lagging behind and Lucie doesn’t want to wait around for him in case the creatures have got in already. Lucie wonders how they’re going to barricade a whole glass tunnel and it slowly dawns on Trisha how casually her new acquaintance is handling all this. Lucie can’t shake the feeling that the leather-clad Pat seems familiar somehow, but Trisha is sure she’d recognise her if she was famous, so she’s probably no one special. Tommy joins them and announces that they’re all no one, just little specks on this tiny world. Trisha hates it when he starts talking like this; she’s had enough of him being all cosmic and spooky. She tells Lucie her brother changed ever since he started playing with the Stylophone. He uses it to write all their songs and is planning to write one big hit so they can retire and take their mum to live in Barbados. When she reveals that Tommy claims that his songs come to him from space, he suddenly stops playing the Stylophone and announces “they’ll be here very soon”…
The Doctor supervises the building of the barricade, instructing Ron the roadie to make sure it’s at least as tall as the doorway. Arnold is boring everyone with tales about the eccentric stars he’s known over the years -- including Nancy Babcock, who claimed her cat wrote all her lyrics. He thinks that Tommy, for all his genius, has finally gone off the deep end, but the Doctor suggests the boy is probably just caught up in his daydreams. Arnold is convinced the Doctor is in show business because of “the costume and the wig”, but he’s concerned that if they get jammed in here all night, they’ll miss their appointment on Top of the Pops tomorrow. The Doctor warns him if he tries to leave the building the only thing he’ll be on is the News.
Lucie thinks the story of men from space talking to Tommy is a great gimmick, but he tells her it’s all true. The three of them reach the glass walkway and get a beautiful view of the motorway at night, all covered in snow. There’s no traffic now; just them, the blizzard and the monsters down in the car park. Tommy decides this is the best place to call “them” and starts to play the Stylophone again. Trish tries to stop him, but Lucie notices a strange look on the boy’s face and he tells the girls “they” are communicating with him. They’re called the Only Ones and they’ve told him they’re going to make it through this time. The Stylophone starts going haywire and as Trisha tries to grab it off him, Lucie realises she can hear voices coming out of it. Tommy says he wanted the Universe to open up for him and now it has! Lucie is worried when he calls this an “incursion,” and decides it’s time they got the Doctor.
Pat confirms that all the doors are secure and Flo says the creatures have returned to the edge of the car park. Arnold looks out the window and sees the monsters for the first time, and is horrified to see them rip his Bentley to pieces. The Doctor thinks they’re magnificent, but recommends everyone step back from the doors just in case -- and moments later they hear banging as the creatures try to break in. The Doctor describes them as prehistoric mammals, but not from this world. He wonders what they’re doing here, but as he peers through the window, Arnold becomes concerned that he’s just making the monsters madder. Fortunately, they start to retreat -- but for how long? Arnold is determined to go outside to check on his car, but the Doctor tells him there’s no point as it’s clearly in pieces. When Arnold starts to object, Pat orders him to listen to someone else, just once in his life. Arnold is indignant and demands to know who she thinks she is, talking to him like that, and she reveals that she’s Patricia Ryder, the drummer from Methylated Spirits. She reminds him of the time he came to see them at a gig and then laughed in their faces. He remembers and says they were absolutely dreadful, but she thinks they were just ahead of their time. Unfortunately they’ll never know now as the band has disbanded. The argument escalates until the Doctor intervenes, saying it’s typical of human beings that if they’re put in the middle of a dire situation they’ll end up squabbling about pop music! Flo asks him why he referred to human beings like that, so he changes the subject and asks her to make some tea for everyone. Pat suggests that if they’ve run out of food they could try eating Arnold instead. The Doctor is suddenly reminded that they haven’t heard back from Lucie and the Tomorrow Twins yet, so he goes to investigate…
On the way to Lucie, the Doctor rebukes himself for leaving her at risk. He manages to track down the three youngsters on the glass walkway and tells Tommy and Trisha that their manager is on the warpath. Tommy identifies the Doctor by name, which he finds interesting as Lucie never mentioned it. Lucie explains that they haven’t been able to secure the door on the other side as Tommy refused to leave the bridge or stop playing with his Stylophone. The Doctor is delighted as he’s always wanted to own one himself, but Lucie warns him to keep away as there were voices coming out of this one. Instead, he tries to work out a way of blocking the bridge, but Tommy tries to stop him as “they” have to come through. The Doctor decides to take everyone back to the café with a promise that the Twins can see what the monsters have done to their manager’s car.
Pat and Flo catch Ron the roadie removing the barricades from one of the doors. He thinks the creatures have gone round the back of the building and he’s determined to get to his van to go and get help. Pat tries to stop him, but it’s too late and he rushes out, promising to come back later. Arnold is happy to let him go -- until they hear the roadie scream as the creatures rip him to shreds. The women are horrified when Arnold seems to care more about the damage to his car than Ron‘s death, but when the beasts start to move back towards the building, everyone rushes to build up the barricade again. The Doctor and the others join them and when he finds out what happened, he’s angry with them for not doing more to stop Ron going outside. Arnold disagrees and says they should look after themselves. The Doctor thinks this is a shameful philosophy, but although Lucie suggests Arnold deserves a smack, he doesn’t think that will help matters.
Later, the group in the café finish a feast prepared by Flo. Lucie is surprised to realise how hungry she was, despite seeing people being gobbled up by monsters. The Doctor thinks the creatures are some sort of advance guard. Lucie realises he’s used to this kind of trouble, but he assures her that he doesn’t go looking for it, yet trouble always seems to find him somehow. Lucie feels the same, so they make a great pair and she’s glad they met. He tells her he wants to get a closer look at Tommy’s Stylophone, but she doesn’t think it’s likely he’ll give it up that easily.
Trisha is becoming frustrated with Arnold and tells him to sit down. When he starts to sulk, she threatens to go and sit with Lucie instead, but he refuses to let her out of his sight. He thinks they should wait until the storm calms and then leave. Trisha is concerned that he treats her as if he owns her, but he tells her that if she checks her contract again, she’ll find that he does. Arnold also tells her that he doesn’t like the Doctor, and they’re both surprised when Tommy stops playing his Stylophone and reveals that the Only Ones have told him that the Doctor is bad and they shouldn’t trust him.
Lucie decides to ask the leather-clad woman whether they’ve ever met before, but Pat says she doesn’t think so. But Lucie realises the truth when she learns the woman’s name: Pat is really Patricia Ryder, Lucie’s own Auntie. Lucie is delighted, but Pat is completely baffled and doesn’t think Lucie’s making any sense. Lucie remembers hearing that her Auntie Pat used to be the drummer in a band called Methylated Spirits; she has a sister called Mary who in 1974 was working in a shoe shop. Pat confirms this is all true and suspects Lucie is a mind reader, but Lucie decides to tell her the whole truth -- she’s a time traveller from the future. Flo has been listening and thinks this explains a lot. Lucie excitedly adds that she and the Doctor can go anywhere in time and space, and she remembers her Auntie Pat telling her to get out and see the world before she became withered and bored. Unfortunately Lucie gets a bit carried away and lets slip that Pat will never have any children of her own. Pat demands to know what she’s going to be like in the future and Lucie is forced to admit that she’ll be nothing out of the ordinary -- not a drummer or a star, just plain old Auntie Pat.
The Doctor tells Trish and Tommy that he’ll do everything in his power to get them all out safely, but Arnold orders him to let the kids alone as they’re under an exclusive contract with him. The Doctor wants to know more about what’s happening and he thinks Tommy can help. Tommy reveals that the voices sing to him with music like no one else on Earth has heard. Arnold interrupts, refusing to let the twins bad-mouth him to the Doctor, and when the Doctor suggests he sit back down, the manager starts becoming hostile. He grabs Trisha violently by the wrist and drags her and Tommy away, insisting that nothing will interfere with their appointment with stardom. He tries to force them into the kitchen, ignoring Trisha’s cries of pain and telling her she only needs to mime to the track tomorrow so it doesn’t matter how much her wrist hurts. Trish has had enough and tells Arnold that he’s fired, but he laughs it off and reminds her that she and Tommy were rubbish until he came along. As he drags them past Lucie, Pat and Flo in the kitchen area, he stops to pick up a knife. Flo warns him to put it back down in case someone gets hurt, and just then, the Doctor arrives and tells everyone to stand back from Arnold. The manager insists they won’t stay here any longer and he refuses to listen to anyone else. He orders Tommy to shift the heavy fridge aside and then he opens the door and drags the kids towards the car park. The Doctor runs outside after them and calls to Arnold -- but then suddenly from out of nowhere one of the monsters appears and charges towards them. It grabs Trisha and violently kills her…
The voices in Tommy’s head assure him that nothing that happens here is important, as it’s only planet Earth and his sister was just a human. The Doctor grabs Arnold and Tommy and drags them back to the kitchen, then seals the door behind them. Tommy has withdrawn into himself and Pat is upset that they’ve left Trisha’s body behind, but the Doctor turns on Arnold and tells him he’s a stupid man. He blames Arnold directly for Trisha’s death and he’s even tempted to throw the man outside to face the monsters alone. The manager starts to mumble about how he was only thinking of the kids as they wanted stardom so much, and the Doctor has to hold Pat back, pointing out that Arnold now has to live with himself and what he’s done.
Suddenly Tommy cries out and runs from the room. Lucie chases after him and catches up to him by the glass walkway, where he is crying over the loss of his sister. She’s sorry for him and suggests he go back to the kitchen to talk to the Doctor, but he doesn’t want to do that as the Only Ones have told him the Doctor is bad. Tommy blames the Doctor for Trisha’s death and ignores Lucie’s assurances that he was actually trying to save her. He reveals that everything he’s done has been for his sister as she wanted to see the aliens and leave Earth just as much as he did. He insists upon going up onto the bridge with the Stylophone, believing that the aliens have special powers and may be able to bring Trisha back.
Arnold is in great pain from an injury sustained during the attack outside, and although Pat thinks he’s probably just trying to deflect their attention, Flo realises his leg has genuinely been cut up. She’s unsympathetic and suggests amputation, but the Doctor suggests giving him some medicine from Lucie’s handbag just to shut him up. While rummaging around in the bag, Pat also finds a strange device called an MP3 player, which she realises is from the future. The truth hits the two and they start to suspect the Doctor came here deliberately because he knew something was going to happen. Arnold starts to complain again and Pat threatens to zap him with the “empty three player”, which starts to give the Doctor a glimmer of an idea… He needs Pat and Flo to help him, but most of all he’s going to need the Stylophone, which fortunately he managed to get off Tommy when they came back indoors. He asks Flo to stay here with Arnold while Pat goes to check that the kids are alright.
Tommy tells Lucie that the Only Ones promised to take him and Trisha away to explore the Universe. Lucie wonders why they’re called the Only Ones, and he explains that it’s because the cosmos is a lonely place, all but devoid of life; there’s only the sad human race on this rock, choking themselves to death with greed and hatred, and then there are the others. Lucie is surprised that they claim to be the only other race, and she tells him it’s not true. She’s fairly new to this game, but even she knows that there are millions and billions of lifeforms out there and the Universe is teeming with life. Tommy is shocked and refuses to believe it, but it’s now obvious the aliens have been lying to him.
The Doctor is experimenting with Tommy’s Stylophone and discovers it’s been tuned in to some pretty freaky frequencies. He asks Flo to get him a metal funnel and a radio so that he can reverse its whatsit and make it a thingy. He’s trying to lash something up, but is having difficulty tuning it the way Tommy normally has it. Arnold reveals that the boy always used to play the same tune over and over again, so the Doctor asks him to sing it. Flo is struggling with the idea that Tommy summoned the aliens here with a tune, but the Doctor says it’s extraordinary how potent cheap music can be. She’s quite glad there’s someone who knows about things out there in space. Years ago, her generation thought they knew everything, but these days she realises they don’t know anything.
Tommy is horrified to discover his Stylophone is missing and realises the Doctor must have stolen it. Just then, Pat arrives and says they need to get away from here. Tommy refuses and grabs Pat, threatening to hurt her unless the Doctor gives him back his machine. Lucie runs off to get help…
The Doctor finishes adjusting the Stylophone using the tune Arnold sang and then slowly, the faint alien voice of the Only Ones starts coming through. The voice promises to take them away, saying 1974 and Bramlington City are no good, and inviting them to come with them into space. Lucie arrives to tell them Tommy is strangling Pat, and then she notices the horrible noise and hears the alien voice asking to be let in. Suddenly all the windows to the café explode as the monsters start to smash their way in, and the Doctor realises his attempts to recreate the tune may have been a bit too successful. Arnold offers to hold them off while the others escape, and although the Doctor points out that he’ll be torn to shreds, he says it’s no more than the critics have been doing to him for years anyway. The truth is, he knows his leg is so badly injured he’ll never be able to escape with them, so he might as well bow out gracefully. The Doctor acknowledges that he misjudged the man and leads the others out to the bridge. Alone at last, Arnold turns to face the hairy beasts with as much courage as he can muster…
As the Doctor and the others run through the building, they can hear Arnold’s screams in the distance. Flo is worried about the remaining roadies still in the café, but the Doctor is confident they’ll be safe as it’s the Stylophone the monsters are after. They reach the bridge at the top of the stairs, where Tommy is still holding Pat by the throat. The Doctor orders him to let her go, but the youngster will only agree to exchange her for the Stylophone. The Doctor agrees, and once Tommy has his Stylophone back he starts to play his favourite tune again. The bridge starts to get colder and they hear the voice of the Only Ones as they finally arrive on Earth. Tommy welcomes the aliens to his world and Lucie is surprised to see that they’re beautiful, even though the Doctor regards them as merely average. They appear as androgynous wraith-like super-beings, just what you might expect from alien visitors if you’ve seen it before in the movies. The Only Ones greet the Doctor with disdain as they know him by repute, and Tommy is angry when the Doctor mocks them. The boy argues that they’ve come in peace and are bringing love to the planet, but the Doctor argues that in order to make it worthwhile for them, the aliens must want something in return. He doesn’t believe they’re as benign as they claim, but the Only Ones assure Tommy they came here because they love him… but also for another reason. They claim to have no interest in this shabby dump of a planet, but they do want the food they can get here. Something high in polyunsaturates with a good source of fibre and bursting with adrenalin. Something that kicks and squirms as it goes down. They want Tommy’s teenage fans -- and they finally reveal that the creatures outside are actually the Only Ones’ corporeal bodies! Earth will merely be a stop-off point for them to get a bite to eat, much like the motorway service station itself. They salivate at the thought of all those lovely young bodies in a state of frenzy. Tommy asks whether his sister meant anything to them, but they just laugh with contempt. It was he who created the music and only he who is vital to their plans. Everyone else is simply fodder. Horrified, Tommy argues that they were the Tomorrow Twins and the aliens can’t have one without the other, and then he faints to the floor.
The Doctor decides it’s time to break up the band, and warns the aliens that what he’s about to do might tingle a little. He plans to use his lashed-up equipment to change the Only Ones back into sound. They arrived here surfing a wave of sound and that wave can easily be transformed into a series of troughs by inverting the output frequency and reversing the sequence of notes. It’s a trick he learnt from Eno; the upshot is that they’ll be sucked down his funnel like a Genie into a lamp. Unfortunately he soon discovers that in the panic, Flo forgot to bring the funnel with her -- which is a shame as it was rather vital to his entire alien-defeating scheme. The Only Ones laugh and look forward to devouring the Doctor. Just then, they hear the sound of something clambering up the stairs. Nervously, the group prepare for the worst… until the exhausted figure of Arnold appears behind them. He explains that he fought off the monsters with a splash of hot chip fat, and struggled up here to return the funnel which was left behind. He throws it over to the Doctor, who prepares to suck the aliens into Lucie’s MP3 player! Arnold sees the creatures coming up the stairs behind him, and Lucie spots them at the other end of the bridge too, leaving their group completely trapped. The Doctor urges the Only Ones to hold their creatures back, but they refuse. They’re hungry and they plan to finish the group off, then merge with Tommy and get stuck into his fan base as well. The Doctor finishes his work and shouts to Flo to switch the device on. It works immediately and both the Only Ones and their hairy creatures start to fade. The aliens scream for a few seconds and then completely vanish from view. The Doctor explains that they’re now trapped forever on the shuffle mode of Lucie’s MP3 machine. Isn’t technology amazing! Lucie’s not too keen on carrying the monsters around with her, but the Doctor thinks it might come in handy so long as she doesn’t play that track. Ever.
Pat asks Lucie whether she does this sort of thing all the time and she says that she does. Tommy starts to wake up and wonders what’s happened to his dreams, but Arnold offers to look after him as he knows all about disillusioned youths. Tommy asks why the aliens left him and what’s going to happen now, and Arnold considers that these are not bad lyrics for a song. The Doctor says he’s heard worse and Arnold admits that he’s released worse! Flo realises everyone’s going to want something hot to drink after their experiences and Pat goes to help her arrange things. The Doctor also decides it’s time he and Lucie left. Outside, they’re relieved to discover the storm has lifted. The Doctor is starting to be a bit more understanding about Tommy and thinks his desire to see the Universe was a good one. He asks Lucie if she would turn her nose up if someone offered that to her, and she thinks it would be OK. The Doctor suspects all the damage will be attributed to Hell’s Angels, and as he and Lucie return to the TARDIS, he reveals that he almost joined them once, or their Martian chapter at any rate. Of course, it was all an elaborate ruse…
In the café, Flo tells Pat that she always gets hungry whenever there’s a crisis, so she starts preparing bacon sandwiches all round. They look out the window and see dawn is arriving, giving them the beautiful view of perfect snow on the empty motorway. Pat realises the Doctor and Lucie have gone, which is a shame as she wanted to ask her niece all sorts of things, but Flo thinks it’s probably for the best. Just then there’s a knock at the door, and they open it thinking it’ll be the police -- but it’s a mysterious woman asking for Miss Lucie Miller. She says she’s not at liberty to say who she is, so Flo tells them Lucie’s gone and they don’t know where. The woman -- who previously identified herself as the Headhunter -- says it’s vital she gets to her, but Pat says they won’t see her again for years. Lucie and her funny friend have gone off travelling again and God only knows where they’ll be by now.