The VC10 traded off a fair degree of economy to achieve its short field capabilities, ruggedness, and generally hot performance -- just as BOAC specified at the time. Yet with the proliferation of 707s and DC-8s, most runways around the world were soon lengthened, making the short-field capabilities of the VC-10 a luxury rather than necessity. There were studies to further stretch the Super VC-10 to take advantage of the high-lift wings and the lengthened runways around the world. Had it flown, it could've given the DC-8-61/63 a run for its money.
As a kid, I remember seeing the VC10 in British Airways (red-tail) colors flying into HKG in the 70's. If memory serves me right, BA flights to HKG in those days tended to be a mixture of 747's, 707's and the occasional VC10. Then, there were also the RAF '10s making their periodic visits. Back in those days when Kai Tak wasn't that busy, the RAF '10s did a fair amount of approach training as well. For an hour or so, a '10 will make numerous checkerboard approaches, then did a touch-and-go or a go-around. I recall seeing some of these RAF VC10s taking off on these training flights (with obviously no payload on board), and I must say that their short field capability was indeed PHENOMENAL.