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Jon Pertwee
Spearhead From Space
Third Doctor Logo


Synopsis


An Auton
An Auton
 Exiled to Earth in the late 20th century by his own people - the Time Lords - the newly regenerated Doctor arrives in Oxley Woods alongside a shower of mysterious meteorites. Investigating these unusual occurrences is the newly-formed United Nations Intelligence Taskforce - UNIT for short. Lead by Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, UNIT are soon called into action when people and meteorites start going missing. Most puzzling of all is the attempted kidnap of a strange hospital patient - a man with two hearts, who insists that he recognises the Brigadier…

 Irregular things are happening at a nearby plastics factory, while faceless creatures lurk in the woods. The Nestenes have arrived, and want to conquer the Earth.

 The new doctor soon joins forces with his old friend, UNIT, and the recently recruited Dr Liz Shaw, but time is running out…

Source: BBC DVD


General Information

Season: Seven
Production Code: AAA
Story Number: 51
Episode Numbers:254 - 257
Number of Episodes: 4
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Alternative Titles:"The Auton Invasion"
Working Titles:"Facsimile"
Production Dates: September - November 1969
Broadcast Started: 03 January 1970
Broadcast Finished: 24 January 1970
Colour Status: Colour and B&W
Studio: BBC's Engineering Training Centre (Wood Norton), Ealing Television Film Studios and Van Arden Studios (Ealing)
Location: Favourite Doll Factory (Holloway, London), St Pancras Station & Madame Tussauds (London), Broadway & TCC Condensers (Ealing), RHS Wisley and Hatchford Park School (Surrey), Wheelbarrow Castle Cottage (Radford, Worcestershire) and Mansion House Hotel (Evesham).
Writer:Robert Holmes
Director:Derek Martinus
Producer:Derrick Sherwin
Script Editor:Terrance Dicks
Editors:Adam Dawson and William Symon
Production Assistant:Peter Grimwade
Assistant Floor Manager:Liam Foster
Designer:Paul Allen
Costume Designer:Christine Rawlins
Make-Up Designer:Cynthia Goodwin
Cameramen:Robert McDonnell and Stan Speel
Incidental Music:Dudley Simpson
Special Sounds (SFX Editor):Brian Hodgson
Studio Sounds:Derek Medus
Visual Effects:John Horton
Title Sequence:Bernard Lodge and Ben Palmer
Title Music:Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Arranged by Delia Derbyshire
Number of Doctors: 1
The Doctor: Jon Pertwee (The Third Doctor) (Newly Regenerated)
Number of Companions: 2The Companions: Nicholas Courtney (The Brigadier) (Rejoins) and Caroline John (Liz Shaw) (Joins) Additional Cast: Hugh Burden (Channing), Neil Wilson (Seeley), Talfryn Thomas (Mullins), John Breslin (Captain Munro), Antony Webb (Dr. Henderson), Helen Dorward (Nurse), George Lee (Corporal Forbes), Tessa Shaw (UNIT Officer), Ellis Jones (Technician), Allan Mitchell (Wagstaffe), Prentis Hancock (2nd Reporter), Hamilton Dyce (Major General Scobie), Henry McCarthy (Dr. Beavis), John Woodnutt (Hibbert), Derek Smee (Ransome), Betty Bowden (Meg), Clifford Cox (Sergeant), Attendant (Edmund Bailey)Setting: Oxley Woods, Ashbridge Cottage Hospital, Auto Plastics Factory and London (1970s) Villain: Autons

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
(UK)
Duration Viewers
(Millions)
In Archive
254Episode 103 January 197023'38"8.416mm colour film and 16mm B&W film prints
255Episode 210 January 197024'21"8.116mm colour film and 16mm B&W film prints
256Episode 317 January 197024'16"8.316mm colour film and 16mm B&W film prints
257Episode 424 January 197024'38"8.116mm colour film and 16mm B&W film prints

Total Duration 1 Hour 37 Minutes


Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 8.2
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (1998)80.92%  (Position = 15 out of 159)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2003)508 Points (Position = 29 out of 159)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2009)80.56% Lower (Position = 36 out of 200)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2014)83.78% Higher (Position = 28 out of 241)


Archives


 All four episodes exist as 16mm colour film and 16mm Black and White film prints.



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Notes


This story is renowned for opening Season Seven, introducing Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor and the first to be produced in colour. "Spearhead From Space" is the birth of a new era for Doctor Who.

This story also introduces Caroline John as The Doctor's new assistant, Liz Shaw and the first to feature UNIT as a regular part of the show's format which includes the return of Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (aka The Brigadier) officially becoming a member of the regular cast.

"Spearhead From Space" includes the first of two appearances of the menacing plastic Autons and the sinister force behind them, the Nestene Consciousness. This story is also known as "The Auton Invasion" – the title used for the Target novelisation.

The Autons would return in the 1971 story "Terror of the Autons" and again in the 2005 story "Rose". Interestingly each of these are the first story for a new companion, namely, Jo Grant and Rose Tyler, respectively, while "Spearhead From Space "was Liz Shaw's first story. The Autons also have cameo appearance in a specially shot flashback scene in the 2006 story "Love & Monsters" (which briefly revisits the events of "Rose"). The latter two stories contain scenes that deliberately echo the shop window dummy scenes in this story.

"Spearhead From Space" is the first of only two Doctor Who stories to be recorded entirely on film as opposed to videotape. While cast and crew were carrying out the location filming there was a threat of industrial action at the BBC. With recording dates at Television Centre threatened, Producer Derrick Sherwin was aware that this story might have to be abandoned altogether. To prevent this Derrick Sherwin was allowed to complete this story entirely on film. "Spearhead From Space" would be the first and only story from the original run of the show to be shot entirely on film, as opposed to the usual mix of electronic video cameras for studio material and film for location work (or all-video in later seasons).

This story was based on a story that Robert Holmes wrote for the 1965 film "Invasion", which featured an alien crashing in the woods near a rural hospital, where a medical examination reveals his alien nature. The hospital is later visited by other aliens, seeking a fugitive criminal.

With the change of the actor playing The Doctor and the move to colour, it was decided that a new title sequence was needed for the show. The services of Bernard Lodge were again used. He decided to film shifting diamond patterns in black-and-white, then tint them with colour gels using an optical printer. Jon Pertwee's head and a new Doctor Who logo were then added to the mix.

Unlike the logos used for the First Doctor and Second Doctor eras (which used a generic typeface) the new logo, that was introduced for this story, was an attempt at being more stylized, particularly in the presentation of the initial ‘D’ in ‘DOCTOR’ and the ‘H’ in ‘WHO’. This logo would be used until the final episode of the 1973 story "The Green Death".

The opening titles also feature the camera zooming in on the words so that they appear to rush towards the viewer and, for the first time in the show's history, a matching closing title sequence (previously the closing credits had generally been shown against a black background). The new opening and closing sequence are also accompanied by a rearranged version of the theme music.

This story is directed by Derek Martinus, who had last worked on "The Ice Warriors" two years earlier. This would be Derek Martinus' last involvement with Doctor Who. He left the BBC to go freelance in the mid-Seventies, during which time he directed episodes of series such as Blake's 7 and Into the Labyrinth.

In the middle of filming both Peter Bryant (Doctor Who’s previous Producer) and current Producer Derrick Sherwin left the show to work on to a troubled German coproduction thriller series called Paul Temple. At first Douglas Camfield (whose most recent Doctor Who directorial assignment was "The Invasion") was offered to become the new producer. When he declined the post was offered to and accepted by Barry Letts. Barry Letts had directed "The Enemy of the World" during Season Five and at that time he had voiced a number of ideas on how the show should be made, some of which Peter Bryant and Derrick Sherwin had since implemented. "Spearhead From Space" was consequently the last Doctor Who story on which Derrick Sherwin received a credit. After finishing up on Paul Temple, Sherwin left the BBC to form an independent production company.

Nearly all the cars seen in the story are E or F registration so aiding the contemporary UNIT theory.

This is the first time in the history of the show that it is revealed that Time Lords have two hearts and a heartbeat that can be lower to as little as 10 beats per minute. In addition, The Doctor is revealed to have an inhuman blood type and cardiovascular system, and can put himself into a coma with no detectable brain electrical activity.

The Doctor is heard to tell The Brigadier that his name is ‘Doctor John Smith’, an alias first used in "The Wheel in Space".

There are scenes featuring real waxworks shot at Madame Tussaud's in London.

In the first episode Producer Derrick can be seen as the UNIT commissionaire.

The Doctor is credited for the first time as 'Doctor Who' in the closing credits as opposed to 'Dr. Who'.

The Doctor's exile would last until "The Three Doctors", although the Time Lords would move the TARDIS through space and use The Doctor as their agent in "Colony in Space", "The Curse of Peladon", "The Mutants" and "The Time Monster".

The Doctor claims to be conversant in the eyebrow-twitching language of the planet Delphon. This language also features in the Big Finish Productions audio story "...ish", when the Sixth Doctor says a word in Delphon while reflecting on words of the same pronunciation and spelling with different meanings.

This story was repeated on BBC One on consecutive Fridays in July 1971. It was repeated again on BBC Two in 1999 in an episodic form and then on BBC Four in 2006 as two compilation episodes as part of the Science Fiction Britannia season.

A novelisation of this story, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in January 1974, entitled "Doctor Who and The Auton Invasion". This was the first novelisation commissioned by Target following the successful republishing of three books originally published in the mid-1960s; the Target Books novelisation series would run for the next twenty years and see all but a half-dozen Doctor Who stories adapted. The Third Doctor era would become the first to be completely novelised with the release of the adaptation of "The Ambassadors of Death" in 1987. "Doctor Who and The Auton Invasion" was translated into Finnish, in the seventies, as "Tohtori KUKA ja autonien hyökkäys", although the show never appeared on Finnish television until 2005 when the revived show was was sold to the country. "Doctor Who and The Auton Invasion" was also translated into Dutch, Turkish, Japanese and Portuguese.

Episode 1 of this story was released on DVD in 2006, as a promotional item in a cardboard case with The Sun newspaper.



First and Last

The Firsts:

 Jon Pertwee's first credited appearance as the Third Doctor.

 The introduction of new companion Liz Shaw played by Caroline John.

 Nicholas Courtney's first full story as official companion, Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart.

 The first story of Season Seven

 The first appearance of the Autons.

 The first story where the term 'dimensionally transcendental' is used to explain the TARDIS being bigger on the inside thab the outside.

 The first story to be recorded in colour.

 The first story to be recorded entirely on location and on film as opposed to videotape.

 The first time it is revealed that Time Lords have two hearts and an inhuman blood type.

 The first story to have a matching closing title sequence rather than the usual black screen.

 The first time The Doctor is credited as 'Doctor Who' in the closing credits as opposed to 'Dr. Who'

 Christine Rawlins' first involvement in the show as Costume Designer.

 The first story to have a novelisation commissioned by Target Books.


The Lasts (Subject to Future Stories):

 Derrick Sherwin's last involvement in the show as Producer.

 The last Doctor Who story to be directed by Derek Martinus.


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The Plot

WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
The Doctor Leaving the TARDIS
The Doctor Leaving the TARDIS

The TARDIS materialises, in a clearing in a wood. The Doctor, having been forced to regenerate by the Time Lords (see "The War Games"), has been exiled to Earth. As the TARDIS doors open a lone figure collapses onto the ground. He is soon found by UNIT troops and taken to a nearby hospital where his unusual anatomy, including having inhuman blood, confounds the medical doctors. An unscrupulous hospital porter informs the press who then descend on the hospital. As well as the press a very strange looking man also has an interest in these events.

Meanwhile the head of the UK branch of UNIT, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (AKA The Brigadier), is faced with having to deal with not only an unusual meteorite shower but also the report of this strange patient and the sighting of a blue police telephone box in the wood – could this stranger be The Doctor?

The Brigadier decides that a visit to the hospital is required. He is accompanied by newly-recruited UNIT scientist Liz Shaw who has degrees in medicine and physics – as well being an expert in meteorites. The Brigadier though is disappointed to discover that this stranger looks nothing like The Doctor he once knew. However, although the man looks totally different, when he temporarily regains consciousness, he recognises The Brigadier.

The Newly Regenerated Doctor
The Newly Regenerated Doctor

As The Brigadier leaves the hospital he is unaware that an attempt is made to kidnap The Doctor. The Doctor though manages to escape in a wheelchair, which he then abandons. As he approaches the TARDIS he is shot by a UNIT soldier guarding the time machine. The Doctor is returned to the hospital but it seems that the bullet that hit him was fatal as the medical doctor is unable to detect any brain activity.

The Brigadier returns his concentration back to the meteorites that continue to fall in the area and then mysteriously disappear. He is also approached by an ex-employee of a local plastics factory, who claims he has seen a walking mannequin. Deep within the nearby factory the meteorites are being collected. The meteorites are in fact hollow globes containing the Nestene consciousness, a disembodied alien intelligence with an affinity for plastic. A Nestene agent, Channing, has infiltrated the plastics factory and is using energy from the globes to animate Autons - mannequin-like figures – with the plan to replace key government and public figures with Auton duplicates which will then take over the planet.

The Brigadier Being Watched
The Brigadier Being Watched

Back at the hospital The Doctor recovers and, when the medical staff are pre-occupied, he escapes, stealing the clothes and the car of a visiting consultant, who has just arrived at the hospital to take a look at the strange patient. The Doctor arrives at the UNIT HQ where he manages to convince The Brigadier that, despite his change in appearance, he is the same man who aided him before to defeat the Yeti and then the Cybermen. The Brigadier is finally convinced and so tells The Doctor all about the meteorites. The Doctor agrees to help. However, he is secretly only interested in retrieving the TARDIS key which The Brigadier has custody of. The Doctor persuades Liz to get the key for him but he soon discovers, when he tries to depart in the TARDIS that has been brought to UNIT HQ, that he can no longer operate his time machine and so is trapped on Earth. He therefore has no choice but to continue to help The Brigadier.

Meanwhile, UNIT troops have found one of the meteorites but, while en-route with it to the UNIT HQ they are intercepted by an Auton causing them to crash, it is stolen. Despite this setback another meteorite – containing the swarm leader - has been found by a poacher and is being kept in a metal trunk at his home. When UNIT discovers this they arrive at his house – but they are not alone as an Auton is also searching for the globe. A battle commences but the Auton is unaffected by the bullets fired at it. Instead the Auton reveals a gun nozzle within its hand and starts to shoot at them. Luckily for the UNIT troops the Auton is suddenly and unexpectedly recalled.

With the ability to finally investigate a whole intact meteorite The Doctor realises that there is some form of intelligence in the globe, and, with information from the distraught Ransome about the moving mannequins, he starts to piece together what is happening. However, it is not long before Major-General Scobie, who is in charge of the regular Army, is replaced by an Auton which then gains access to the UNIT HQ so as to retrieve the final energy unit. With all the energy units now collected, by the Nestene consciousness, other Autons, who have been distributed all over the country, come alive. To the horror of passes by shop dummies start to move and burst from department store windows, killing anyone who gets in their way.

An Auton
An Auton

Back at the UNIT HQ The Doctor, with the help of Liz, manages to create a device that he believes will disable the Autons. And so when UNIT attacks the plastics factory The Doctor and Liz make their way inside. There they encounter an octopus-like creature inside a glass tank that the Nestenes have created that will be used to conquer the Earth. The Doctor's weapon though does not work. However, while The Doctor struggles with the creature, Liz discovers the problem, fixes it and so destroys the Nestene Intelligence. This results in neutralising all the Autons as they are all part of the Nestene consciousness.

Despite there being no current threat from the Autons The Brigadier is concerned that they may return and so The Doctor agrees to stay and help UNIT in exchange for facilities to help him repair the TARDIS and a car like the sporty antique roadster he commandeered when he made his escape from the hospital. He also requests that Liz stays on as his assistant.

 
Auton Pod
Auton Pod
An Auton's Hand Weapon
An Auton's Hand Weapon
Liz Shaw
Liz Shaw
The Brigadier
The Brigadier
 
The Autons Come Alive
The Autons Come Alive
The Autons Attack
The Autons Attack
An Auton
An Auton
The Doctor is Attacked by the Nestene
The Doctor is Attacked by the Nestene




Quote of the Story


 'We deal with the odd... The unexplained. Anything on Earth... Or beyond.'

The Brigadier



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Release Information

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)Code NumberCover ArtRemarks
Audio
CD
30 Years at the Radiophonic Workshop1993BBC CD 871Photo-montageSound effects
Video
VHS
Spearhead From SpaceFebruary 1988BBCV 4107Photo-montageOmnibus format
Video
VHS
Spearhead From SpaceFebruary 1995BBCV 5509Photo-montageRemastered episodic format
Video
DVD
Spearhead From SpaceJanuary 2001BBCDVD 1033Photo-montage
Video
DVD
Spearhead From SpaceJuly 2007BBCDVD 2470Photo-montageRe-released with a special "O-ring" slipcover
Video
DVD
Spearhead From SpaceNovember 2006BBCDVD 1033Photo-montagePart of "The Third Doctor" box set (BBCDVD 2262) Exclusive to Amazon
Video
DVD
Spearhead From SpaceMay 2011BBCDVD 3135APhoto-montagePart of the "Mannequin Mania" Box Set (BBCDVD 3135) Released along with "Terror of the Autons"
Video
Blu-Ray
Spearhead From SpaceJuly 2013BBCBD 0230Photo-montageRestored High-Definition Special Edition
Video
Blu-Ray
Spearhead From Space (Limited Edition Steelbook)March 2016BBCBD 0344Photo-montageLimited Edition Blu-Ray Steelbook


In Print

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)PublisherAuthorCover ArtRemarks
Novel
Novel
Doctor Who and the Auton InvasionJanuary 1974Target No. 6Terrance DicksChris AchilleosISBN: 0-426-10313-0
(1st Edition Target Cover)
Novel
Novel
Doctor Who and the Auton InvasionAugust 1978Target No. 6Terrance DicksChris AchilleosISBN: 0-426-11295-4
(Green Logo Cover)
Novel
Novel
Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion1982Target No. 6Terrance DicksAndrew SkilleterNew cover reprint.
ISBN: 0-426-11295-4
Novel
Novel
The Auton InvasionMarch 1991Target No. 6Terrance DicksAlister PearsonVirgin new cover reprint.
ISBN: 0-426-11295-4
CD
CD
Doctor Who and the Auton InvasionJune 2008Target No. 6Terrance DicksChris AchilleosAudio version of the Target Novel read by Caroline John (Liz Shaw)
Novel
Novel
Doctor Who and the Auton InvasionJuly 2011Target No. 6Terrance DicksChris AchilleosBBC reprint with introduction by Russell T Davies. ISBN: 978-1-84990-193-2
CD
CD
Doctor Who and the Auton InvasionOctober 2012Target No. 6Terrance DicksChris AchilleosAudio version of the Target Novel read by Caroline John (Liz Shaw). Part of the 'Invasion Earth!' Box Set.
Novel
Novel
The Essential Terrance Dicks Volume 1August 2021BBC BooksTerrance DicksHardback with a forward by Frank Cottrell-Boyce
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (An Adventure in Space and Time)Issue 51
Doctor Who Monthly - ArchiveIssue 76 (Released: May 1983)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArchiveIssue 181 (Released: December 1991)
Doctor Who Magazine - Time TeamIssue 322 (Released: October 2002)
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of FictionIssue 354 (Released: March 2005)
Doctor Who DVD FilesVolume 35 (Released: May 2010)

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Photo Gallery


The Doctor and Companions

 
Jon Pertwee
The Third Doctor

   

Nicholas Courtney
The Brigadier
 
Caroline John
Liz Shaw
   




On Release

Sound Effects CD Cover
Sound Effects CD Cover

BBC
AUDIO
Original VHS Video Cover
Original VHS Video Cover

BBC
VIDEO
Remastered VHS Video Cover
Remastered VHS Video Cover

BBC
VIDEO
   
DVD Cover
DVD Cover

BBC
VIDEO
DVD
DVD "O-ring" Cover

BBC
VIDEO
Third Doctor DVD Box Set
Third Doctor DVD Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
   
Mannequin Mania DVD Cover
Mannequin Mania DVD Cover

BBC
VIDEO
Blu-Ray Cover
Blu-Ray Cover

BBC
VIDEO
Limited Edition Blu-Ray Steelbook
Limited Edition Blu-Ray Steelbook

BBC
VIDEO
   


In Print

Original Target Book Cover
Original Target Book Cover

Target
NOVEL
Original Target Book Cover (Green Logo)
Original Target Book Cover (Green Logo)

Target
NOVEL
First Reprinted Target Book Cover
First Reprinted Target Book Cover

Target
NOVEL
Reprinted Virgin Book Cover
Reprinted Virgin Book Cover

Virgin
NOVEL
   
Target Audio CD Cover
Target Audio CD Cover

BBC
CD
Reprinted BBC Book Cover
Reprinted BBC Book Cover

BBC
NOVEL
Invasion Earth! Box Set Cover
Invasion Earth! Box Set Cover

BBC
CD
The Essential Terrance Dicks Volume 1 Book Cover
The Essential Terrance Dicks Volume 1 Book Cover

BBC
NOVEL
   



Magazines

Doctor Who CMS Magazine (An Adventure in Space and Time): Issue 51
Doctor Who CMS Magazine (An Adventure in Space and Time): Issue 51

CMS
Doctor Who Monthly - Archive: Issue 76
Doctor Who Monthly - Archive: Issue 76

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 181
Doctor Who Magazine - Archive: Issue 181

Marvel Comics
   
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 322
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 322

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 354
Doctor Who Magazine - The Fact of Fiction: Issue 354

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 35
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 35

GE Fabbri
   

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