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Black Hunger was the fifteenth episode of K9. It was written by Chris Roache, directed by James Bogle and featured John Leeson as K9 Mark 2, Keegan Joyce as Starkey, Philippa Coulthard as Jorjie Turner, Daniel Webber as Darius Pike and Robert Moloney as Alistair Gryffen.

Drake departed and was replaced by Thorne, who was introduced in Liberation.


The Department is using an alien device which literally eats rubbish. Darius sees an opportunity to make some money and snatches the device. However the alien virus inside escapes and threatens to devour everything it touches.


In the sewers, two men in hazmat suits are looking through rubbish. One of them uses a device which sprays microbes on the rubbish. Darius walks in and hides as he takes a look. The microbes consume all the rubbish, which interests Darius. He makes a noise which alerts the men to his presence, but runs away before they can catch him. As one of the men grabs an empty can of cola, the nanoforms eat at his hand while the other man sucks the nanoforms back into the device. At the mansion, Gryffen and Starkey fail an experiment due to a hygiene crisis. Gryffen tells Starkey he has traced the contamination in the chess room. The source is pepperoni pizza. Starkey and K9 look through the chess room as Darius wades through the sewer and snatches the device.

At Department HQ, June asks the survivor about the accident. He says he suspects it's alien. A mishap like this hasn't occurred before. June suggests it could have been a malfunction but he says the microbes, as harmless as yeast, have turned into "bloodthirsty flesh-eaters". Darius brings the device to the house and uses it on the rubbish, amazed at its efficiency. The worker shows June the scene of the accident. They find the device gone. She scans the empty hazmat suit and detects a possible alien trace. Drake arrives and asks what June is doing. She asks him the same question as this is only a city sanitation issue. He tells her disappearance of state property is a very serious problem. He is "eternally vigilant".

In the chess room, Darius wakes from his nap as the microbes clean his mess. He does not know he is being followed by microbes, but uses the device to recapture them. Jorjie arrives, angry she has been sent to help clean up. K9 and Starkey thank her for her assistance. When they arrive in the chess room, they find it spotless. Darius says he cleaned it and shows Starkey his cleaned clothes. Starkey and Jorjie ask what the thing under the red sheet is and Darius reveals the device. K9 detects an unstable cross species, ordinary yeast cells spliced with something "more sinister". Darius compares it to a vacuum. K9 strongly advises he remove the object from the house, but Darius tells the others this could make him a fortune and dismisses K9 as a "panic artist". K9 scans the room and discovers there is not one living thing left in it, not even an ant, a spider, or a moth. When Starkey asks him where he bought it, Darius smiles.

At Department HQ, Drake tells the worker not to talk to anybody, especially June. Meanwhile, Jorjie demands Darius take the device back where he found it, but he says he has a window of opportunity. The device could become a household appliance and he would be rich. K9 complains he isn't listening and whatever is inside the device is an unstoppable life-form that could get out of control. Darius insists, "Finders keepers", and says he is simply a "businessman trying to make some creds". Darius tells K9 he found it in the tunnels of Sector NE12. Gryffen walks in, shocked at the "miracle" of the chess room. K9 asks Gryffen to use his atomic spectrometer to analyse what's been at work here. Gryffen confirms that whatever it is, it's too good to be true.

Gryffen has never seen anything like it. On Starkey's shirt, the smaller microbes have been consumed. When Darius thinks of the million creds he could earn, Gryffen warns him that in the wrong hands this could be lethal. Someone has been tampering with the microbe's gene coding. It has been crossed with microbes from another planet, possibly the vicious omnivores from Pluto, the most voracious bacteria in the known universe. These microbes' dormancy gene has been turned off; they are always hungry and could literally eat the world.

At Department HQ, June tells Drake she has received an analysis of the microbes in the imploder. She knows his project with the microbes, Black Hunger, closed down because it was too unstable. Drake tells her he's solved it with the imploder, an electromagnetic containment device which stores and transports the Hunger. June's analysis tells her he removed its self-limiting and dormancy characteristics. Drake tells her it's to make it more efficient and he refuses to believe it could get out of control.

As K9, Jorjie and Starkey move the imploder through the tunnels, a CCPC spots them. K9 says he's taking them for a walk. When Starkey and Jorjie start barking and growling, the CCPC leaves. At Department HQ, Drake says the planet is constantly threatened from within by dissidents, anti-social undesirables and juveniles. June believes people aren't the problem. The planet is surrounded by alien menaces which need to be defeated. Drake believes they need to use alien technology to deal with the human problem first. He plans to use Black Hunger to take the hijacked fallen angel technology to control society; future generations will thank him. June tells him the reason she has stayed in the Department is to make sure he doesn't succeed. She doesn't want her daughter growing up in his world. Drake is determined to see her leave before he does and she tells him to bring it on.

As the team go through the tunnels they spot a CCPC. Jorjie suggests they just drop the imploder, but K9 says they should put it where Darius found it. K9 distracts one CCPC, who chases after him. As Starkey and Jorjie move on, another CCPC comes and chases them, but they hide behind some rubbish. As they continue on, their way is blocked by debris. Starkey decides to use the imploder to do some "spring-cleaning" and remove the debris. The CCPCs report to Drake at Department HQ that intruders have been sighted: two juveniles and a robotic dog in Sector NW12. Drake orders a Department officer to set the imploder to self-destruct. When he asks about the CCPCs and the two juveniles, Drake angrily orders him to proceed. As the team move the imploder, K9 suggests containing the swarm but a CCPC arrives and they move on. With two minutes to go, June arrives. When she asks who gave the order to secure the tunnels, Drake tells her he has found the imploder and needs to make sure it is neutralised. The explosion will sterilise the area and take the people who stole the imploder with it. With one minute left, K9 detects the imploder will detonate. Jorjie and Starkey put it on the floor and run. K9 tells them they have to defuse it. With thirty seconds to go, Starkey presses the buttons hoping it will deactivate. With fifteen seconds left, Jorjie deactivates it by bashing it with a piece of rubbish.

June asks the officer the status of the swarm. He tells her it's still at large. She asks where the tunnel leads, and he tells her it leads into the River Thames. At Gryffen's house, Gryffen tells Darius that after the swarm reaches the Thames, the Earth will be devoid of all life in a week. K9, Starkey and Jorjie make their way out of the tunnels as the swarm spreads. They find an exit protected by bars with the Thames on the other side. Starkey tells K9 to blast through but he cannot let the swarm escape. K9 lets the swarm attack him, and then fires a beam, which swallows the swarm. The Department officer reports swarm activity has ceased and they have been completely neutralised. June tells Drake he almost killed everyone. He says calculated risks must be taken to protect society, but June tells that he almost destroyed society and will point this out in her report. Drake has gone too far this time, and June is going to take him down.

Later, June reports to Lomax that Operation Black Hunger had been closed down because it was too dangerous, and Drake restarted it without clearance. June confirms the situation has been resolved and they must be thankful for K9's help. Otherwise it would have ended disastrously. Although Drake has been with the Department for many years, this is not Drake's first breach of orders and is his most serious to date. Lomax decides Drake will be moved to other duties. June thanks him for hearing her out and asks if she is taking over from Drake. Lomax tells her Drake will be replaced by Inspector Thorne, who appears on the monitor and tells June he looks forward to working with her.

Back at the house, Gryffen congratulates K9 on his "stroke of genius" in reversing his fuel cells to stop the swarm. He explains the imploder is basically an electromagnetic compressor. By overheating his fuel cells and reversing the polarity, he did the same. K9 has the entire swarm in his stomach, sucking them all up like "slurping a milkshake", as Jorjie puts it. Gryffen expects Darius to apologise, but Darius thinks that he K9 can go into business together. K9 tells him not to push his luck. Gryffen asks K9 what he's going to do to the swarm. K9 will evacuate his fuel cells the next time he is on Atrios.


Support Cast[]

Robert Moloney, Keegan Joyce, Philippa Coulthard, Daniel Webber and John Leeson are all credited in the opening of the episode and not the closing credits. With the exception of Leeson's credit, they are credited only by their name and not with their respective character's name attached.



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Story notes[]

  • This is the first K9 episode to feature the death of a human.


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Filming locations[]

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Production errors[]

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.

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Home video releases[]

This episode is featured in the following DVD sets:

  • Series One complete box set, released in Australia on 29 September 2010. [1]
  • K9: Series 1: Volume 2, containing episodes 13–26, released in the UK and US on 18 April 2011. [2], [3]
  • K9: Ultimate Collectors Edition, containing the full first series, was released in the UK on 11 June 2012. [4]

External links[]