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|Timeline for 1981|
1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979 • 1980 • 1982 • 1983 • 1984 • 1985 • 1986 • 1987
January - June
On 28 February, the Fourth Doctor and Adric landed the TARDIS by the side of a motorway to gain measurements of a police box. Air hostess Tegan Jovanka stumbled aboard the TARDIS on her way to work at London's Heathrow Airport. (TV: Logopolis)
On 1 March, following a fall from the Pharos Project's dish, the Fourth Doctor regenerated into his fifth incarnation. (TV: Logopolis) The newly regenerated Doctor and his companions Adric, Nyssa and Tegan, escaped in the TARDIS. (TV: Castrovalva)
July - December
On 6 December, Lavinia Smith departed Moreton Harwood for a lecture tour in the United States. Before leaving, she arranged for a mysterious crate addressed to her niece, Sarah Jane Smith, to be left at Moreton Harwood. (TV: A Girl's Best Friend)
On 10 December, Lavinia Smith phoned her ward Brendan Richards to tell him that he would be spending Christmas with Sarah Jane. Brendan waited for Sarah to pick him up at Wellington College for over a week, unaware that she was out of the country. (TV: A Girl's Best Friend)
On 18 December, Sarah Jane met Brendan for the first time. Shortly afterwards, she opened the crate addressed to her in Lavinia's house and activated K9 Mark III, who had been left in her flat in Croydon by the Doctor in 1978. (TV: A Girl's Best Friend)
From 20 December to 21 December, Brendan was kidnapped by the Hecate Cult, who intended to use him as a human sacrifice. However, he was rescued by Sarah Jane Smith and K9 Mark III before this could happen. (TV: A Girl's Best Friend)
Anne Travers became the British Cabinet's chief scientific advisor, succeeding her University of Cambridge lecturer and mentor Professor Rachel Jensen. She served in that position until her death on 31 December 1999. (PROSE: Millennial Rites)
Ellie Ravenwood met her future husband, Dave Oswald, after saving him from being hit by a car. Unbeknownst to them, they were watched by the Eleventh Doctor, who was trying to figure out the history of Clara Oswald. (TV: The Rings of Akhaten).
In some timelines, Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart retired from UNIT and began teaching at Brendon Public School. Just after telling the UN he was retiring, Lethbridge-Stewart was taken from time by the Accord and copied to help stabilise the temporal instability concerning the 1970s and 1980s being melded together. He was returned to his present time and retained no memory of the incident. (PROSE: The Enfolded Time)