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Invasion of the Dinosaurs (TV story)

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Invasion of the Dinosaurs
Invasion of the dinosaurs main
Novelised as: Doctor Who and the Dinosaur Invasion
Doctor: Third Doctor
Companion(s): Sarah
Featuring: The Brig, Mike Yates, Benton
Main enemy: General Finch
Professor Whitaker
Sir Charles Grover
Main setting: London, the 1970s
Key crew
Writer: Malcolm Hulke
Director: Paddy Russell
Producer: Barry Letts
Release details
Story number: 71
Number of episodes: 6
Season/series: Season 11
Premiere broadcast: 12 January - 16 February 1974
Premiere network: BBC1
Format: 6x25-minute episodes
Production code: WWW
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The Time Warrior Death to the Daleks
Memorable moment
Snapping a T-Rex - Doctor Who Invasion of the Dinosaurs - BBC04:06

Snapping a T-Rex - Doctor Who Invasion of the Dinosaurs - BBC

Another memorable moment
The Truth About the New Earth - Doctor Who Invasion of the Dinosaurs - BBC03:44

The Truth About the New Earth - Doctor Who Invasion of the Dinosaurs - BBC

One more memorable moment
Confronting the Controllers - Doctor Who Invasion of the Dinosaurs - BBC03:23

Confronting the Controllers - Doctor Who Invasion of the Dinosaurs - BBC

Behind the scenes video
Special DVD Feature Dinosaur FX in Invasion of the Dinosaurs - Doctor Who - BBC02:56

Special DVD Feature Dinosaur FX in Invasion of the Dinosaurs - Doctor Who - BBC

More behind the scenes stuff
Special DVD Feature Paddy Russell - filming in deserted London - Invasion of the Dinosaurs02:17

Special DVD Feature Paddy Russell - filming in deserted London - Invasion of the Dinosaurs

Invasion of the Dinosaurs was the second story in Season 11 of Doctor Who. This story marked a significant plot twist: Captain Mike Yates betrayed UNIT as a result of his traumatic experience in TV: The Green Death. As punishment, he would be dismissed from UNIT, but Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart was sympathetic and arranged for the lessening of his punishment. Yates was made to go on an extended sick leave and make a quiet resignation, granting him the mercy of a graceful departure in exchange for his past service as a loyal officer. Following this event, it would be Richard Franklin's last regular appearance before returning to do a sendoff performance for his character in TV: Planet of the Spiders, the Third Doctor's regeneration story.

It also saw the debut of the Third Doctor's second and noticeably more advanced car, the Whomobile. The commissioning of this car was the result of Jon Pertwee's love for gadgetry and the spy culture in general. However, it would be used only once more during his tenure, with Bessie remaining the Doctor's chief road vehicle of choice.

Synopsis Edit

The Third Doctor and Sarah arrive in 1970s London to find it has been evacuated because dinosaurs have appeared mysteriously. It turns out the dinosaurs are being brought to London via a time machine to further a plan to revert London to a pre-technological level.

Plot Edit

Invasion part one Edit

Deserted London - Doctor Who Invasion of the Dinosaurs - BBC03:33

Deserted London - Doctor Who Invasion of the Dinosaurs - BBC

Where is everyone?

The Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith arrive in a deserted London plagued by looters and lawlessness. The United Nations Intelligence Taskforce is helping maintain martial law. The regular army, headed by General Finch, has evacuated the city and issued orders to shoot looters on sight. The Doctor and Sarah encounter several looters and, surprisingly, a pterodactyl. The two are then arrested on suspicion of being looters.

Outside, a tyrannosaurus rex destroys a building and traps some soldiers. They manage to drive it off. At UNIT HQ, the Brigadier and Benton discuss the interference problems with their communications and look at the latest pictures of looters, which include the Doctor and Sarah.

The Doctor and Sarah escape but are caught by soldiers. They are loaded into the back of a jeep to be taken to the detention center. The jeep encounters a tyrannosaurus rex.

Part two Edit

While the soldiers fight the tyrannosaurus, the Doctor and Sarah escape and hide in a garage. A medieval peasant from the days of King John appears, then disappears in a time eddy. Soldiers enter the garage, accompanied by the Brigadier.

Back at UNIT HQ the Brigadier explains the situation to the Doctor. Dinosaurs appear and disappear, the city has been evacuated, and looters run rampant. The Doctor is introduced to Finch, who is in charge of the operation. Finch doesn't think the Doctor will be much help. Sarah talks with Mike Yates, who needed some time off after the experience with the giant maggots.

A stegosaurus has been trapped, and the Doctor wants it taken alive. However, it disappears in a time eddy that makes time run backwards. The people affected would not remember it happening. The Doctor suspects someone is deliberately bringing the dinosaurs to London — and in a hidden laboratory a pair of scientists, Butler and Professor Whitaker, are operating the time technology causing the situation.

They are aided by Mike Yates, who feels the Doctor could help them achieve Operation Golden Age, but Whitaker is unconvinced. He tells Mike to sabotage the stun gun the Doctor is building to use on the dinosaurs.

The Doctor believes the dinosaurs are a distraction by someone who needs London evacuated. When a brontosaurus appears, he heads out to capture it. Mike sabotages his stun gun, and it doesn't work on the brontosaurus. The Time eddy takes away the brontosaurus, and a tyrannosaurus appears behind the Doctor.

Part three Edit

SJSScaredIOD

Sarah trapped in a locked room as the T-rex awakens.

The Doctor falls, dropping the gun which Yates picks up and fires at the tyrannosaurus. The tyrannosaurus is captured and brought back to a hangar.

Yates is angry at Butler and Whitaker. They want him to sabotage the Doctor's equipment.

Sarah has been doing some research into time travel, and mentions Whitaker. The Brigadier remembers the name and the Doctor wants to check up on him.

He does this, endangering the Doctor when he encounters a tyrannosaurus rex, but the situation is saved and the creature is stunned and captured. Hours later, however, General Finch sets it free, evidently part of the conspiracy too.  Sarah Jane has set off to gather her own evidence. She meets with Sir Charles Grover, an ecologist MP who is acting Minister with Special Responsibilities in London. He drugs her. When she wakes up she is astounded to find herself on a vast spaceship.

Part four Edit

Sarah meets the Elders - Invasion of the Dinosaurs - BBC02:30

Sarah meets the Elders - Invasion of the Dinosaurs - BBC

Sarah meets the Elders

The crew of the ship includes Mark, Adam and Ruth, minor British celebrities who have adopted new aliases and lives. They tell her they are en route to a New Earth where mankind can begin again, closer to nature. They left Earth three months earlier; the ship is one of a fleet carrying over two hundred people to a new life. Sarah is committed to the re-education programme to enable her to think like them. The Doctor searches London in his new vehicle, the Whomobile. Under Moorgate Station he finds the base used by Whitaker and Butler, but is scared away when they use a pterodactyl to defend it. He returns with the Brigadier, but all signs of occupation have been removed. Operation Golden Age is revealed to be a broad conspiracy including Whitaker, Butler, Yates, Grover and Finch as its core coordinators. They have emptied London to let it to revert to a more natural state, after which the people on the spaceships — in reality in vast bunkers — will be allowed out to repopulate a clean and free planet. Whitaker also works out how to reverse time, so soon humanity, apart from their own chosen specimens, will never have existed.

Finch tries to frame the Doctor, who he knows will not support their plans. He brings the Brigadier to the Doctor, catching him in the act as a new time eddy starts up.

Part five Edit

InvasionoftheDinosaurs - pt 5

Benton plans the Doctor's escape.

The Doctor soon twigs that an over-zealous Yates is the UNIT mole. Sergeant Benton lets the Doctor escape, for which Finch threatens a court martial. The Doctor uses his freedom to track down more monsters, but when he is recaptured, the Brigadier asserts his authority and takes the Doctor into UNIT custody rather than the regular army's.

Meanwhile, Sarah has escaped from the fake spaceship. She has learnt its true nature. She is caught by Finch, who returns her to Whitaker's custody. While she is away, Mark works out that the ship is a fake and tells the other passengers, but he is not believed. When Sarah is returned to the ship, Mark and she use the fake airlock to convince Ruth and the others of the deception.

The Doctor encounters another time eddy and is faced by more dinosaurs.

Part six Edit

Mike betrays unit

Mike Yates reveals himself as part of the conspiracy.

The dinosaurs start fighting each other. Finch arrives and tries to take the Doctor, but Benton and the Brigadier arrive as well and take the Doctor away.

Shortly afterward, Yates arrives and holds the Doctor, Benton and the Brigadier at gunpoint. He reveals the nature of their plans. Yates is distracted when Private Bryson enters with a tea tray and offers the Captain a cup, giving Benton the opportunity to disarm Yates.

They confront Grover and Whitaker. The duped environmentalists from the fake spaceship also appear, along with Sarah. They demand an explanation. In the ensuing fight Whitaker and Grover are transported back through the time machine to the "Golden Age" they sought to bring to modern Earth.

Back at UNIT HQ, the Brigadier confirms that the crisis is over, but there are still human casualties to deal with. Finch will be court-martialed. Yates is offered the chance to resign and given extended sick leave. The Doctor reflects that people like Grover may have had good motivations in wanting to fight pollution and environmental degradation, but they took their schemes too far and endangered all mankind and its civilisation. He decides it is time for a holiday and offers to take Sarah Jane to the holiday planet of Florana.

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

References Edit

Great Britain Edit

Individuals Edit

Foods and beverages Edit

  • The Doctor makes tea when he and Sarah arrive at UNIT HQ.
  • The Doctor takes at least four sugars in his coffee.
  • The Brigadier and Charles Grover offer Sarah tea.

Planets Edit

  • The Doctor offers to take Sarah to Florana.

Time travel Edit

Story notes Edit

DVD Special Feature - Politics in 'Invasion of the Dinosaurs' - BBC02:31

DVD Special Feature - Politics in 'Invasion of the Dinosaurs' - BBC

Matthew Sweet takes a look at the real-world politics evident in Invasion of the Dinosaurs.

  • Working titles for this story were Bridgehead from Space and Timescoop.
  • Part one had the story title shortened to Invasion to conceal the central plot device. However, this was undermined by the BBC listings magazine Radio Times, which used black and white comic strip-style illustrations by Peter Brookes to accompany the programme listing for Invasion part one, showing: the Doctor being attacked in the warehouse by the pterodactyl; the flying creature breaking through the driver's window of the Land Rover to attack the Doctor (complete with a speech balloon for the Doctor reading "GET OUT!! GET OUT!!"); and the Land Rover — strangely depicted bearing a UNIT logo — smashing its way out through the warehouse doors. The accompanying caption read: 'Great to be back? The Doctor and Sarah return to London from medieval England. But swinging London has been invaded by something from even further back in time — prehistoric monsters! 5.30'. Malcolm Hulke protested the title Invasion of the Dinosaurs, preferring the original working title of Timescoop, and also felt the contraction for the first episode was silly. In a response letter after transmission, script editor Terrance Dicks pointed out that all the titles used for the project had originated in the Doctor Who production office. He agreed that the contraction of the story title to Invasion for part one was a decision he now regretted, but noted that "Radio Times are a law unto themselves".
  • Invasion part one is the first episode to bear an individual title since "The O.K. Corral", the final episode of the four-part story The Gunfighters (1966), which was the last Doctor Who adventure to have individual episode titles.
  • Radio Times credits Elisabeth Sladen as 'Sarah Jane' and Nicholas Courtney as 'Brigadier' for part four.
  • The 625 line PAL colour transmission master videotapes for the serial were scheduled to be wiped and reused, but only that for Invasion part one was erased. The serial remained incomplete in the BBC Archives until 1983, when a 16mm black & white film telerecording of Invasion part one was found and returned. Broadcast in January 1974, Invasion part one was one of the latest Doctor Who episode to have been junked by the BBC (followed only by part one of Death to the Daleks, which aired a few months later).
  • The surviving 16mm black & white film telerecording of Invasion part one is the only telerecording of a Season 11 episode that exists.
  • This is the first story to feature the Doctor's car colloquially known as the Whomobile, though it was never actually named on-screen.
  • Like other classic series stories, Invasion of the Dinosaurs was broadcast in the United States by PBS as episodes or in an omnibus format with the episodes combined into a movie-length show. Before Invasion part one was recovered, both formats used the extant episodes with the story joined in progress at the start of part two. For episodic broadcasts, the episodes' opening titles were re-numbered as parts one to five. Later broadcasts in either format incorporated the 16mm black & white film telerecording of Invasion part one.
  • A brief clip from this story was used in the BBC4 documentary, "Dinosaurs, Myths and Monsters".
  • This was the first Doctor Who story to be directed by a woman since TV: The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve in 1966. Both stories were directed by the same female director, Paddy Russell.
  • At one point, Sarah states she is twenty-three. This would make the date of this story 1974, based on her date of birth given in the The Sarah Jane Adventures episode Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?.
  • From one point of view, Sarah is not really the Doctor's companion until the end of the story. She was merely on her way back to present day London after she stowed away in the TARDIS on its previous voyage. Indeed, she at least feigns discomfort at the idea of travelling in the TARDIS again. The Doctor's offer to take Sarah to Florana leads into the next story TV: Death to the Daleks. This invitation, which included a long and vivid description of the wonders of Florana, prefigures a penchant of his ninth and tenth selves to describe a wonder of the universe in glorious detail to encourage a companion to stick around. (TV: World War Three, TV: Last of the Time Lords, TV: The Sontaran Stratagem)
  • The BBC Classic Who website's Party Politics states that Operation Golden Age caused the collapse of the Jeremy Thorpe government. [1]

Ratings Edit

  • Invasion part one - 11.0 million viewers
  • Part two - 10.1 million viewers
  • Part three - 11.0 million viewers
  • Part four - 9.0 million viewers
  • Part five - 9.0 million viewers
  • Part six - 7.5 million viewers

Myths Edit

  • Robert Holmes, who on this story made his uncredited debut as a script editor, accepted the post only reluctantly and after some persuasion.
He actually telephoned the production office to put himself forward as a candidate for the post, and was delighted to find that he was already under consideration for it.
  • The master tape of the first episode of this story was mistakenly wiped when it was confused with episode one of Season 6's The Invasion.
There is no evidence to suggest that this is why the tape was wiped; all the tapes for The Invasion were wiped in 1972, more than two years before Invasion of the Dinosaurs was transmitted. In addition, the procedure for disposing of older episodes would have made such a mix-up highly unlikely. That said, it is not known why only Invasion part one was wiped, and not the others.

Filming locations Edit

  • Albert Embankment (Lambeth Pier), London
  • Covent Garden Market, London
  • Margaret Street, London
  • Westminster Bridge, Westminster, London
  • Trafalgar Square, London
  • Lindsey Street, London
  • Moorfields, Moorgate, London
  • Northfields School (now known as Clementine Close), West Ealing, London
  • The Straight, Southall
  • Wimbledon Common, Wimbledon, London
  • Palmer Crescent, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • Wilmer Close, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • Canbury Gardens, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • South Lane, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • Riverside Drive, Ham, Middlesex
  • Old Billingsgate Market, Lower Thames Street, London
  • Haymarket, London
  • Outer Circle, Regent's Park, London
  • Whitehall, Westminster, London
  • Long Lane, London
  • New Union Street, Moorgate, London
  • Chamberlain Road, West Ealing, London
  • Pickfords Depositories (now known as West London Islamic Centre), Brownlow Road, West Ealing, London
  • White Street, Southall, Middlesex
  • GPO Sorting Office, Orchard Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • Parkfields Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • Kingston Meat Market (now known as The Bittoms), Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • Lower Ham Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • Burford Road, Brentford, London
  • Electricity Substation, Elderberry Road, Ealing, London
  • BBC Television Centre (TC4, TC6, TC8), Shepherd's Bush, London

Production errors Edit

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.
  • Elisabeth Sladen cut her hair extremely short for a fashion magazine photo-shoot in the three month gap between filming The Time Warrior and Invasion of the Dinosaurs. The production team were unhappy with her, because it created a continuity error. Narratively, Invasion of the Dinosaurs was meant to immediately follow The Time Warrior — without a gap for Sarah to have had her hair cut. (INFO: Invasion of the Dinosaurs) This narrative intention was overwritten by the release of the audio story The Paradise of Death in 1993- a story that takes place in between these television stories. By incorporating it into the series continuity, these two serials no longer stand back-to-back, which reconciles the continuity error and feasibly allows enough time for Sladen's character to have received a haircut before Invasion.
  • The serial is replete with CSO errors in which the dinosaur models don't perfectly mesh with the backgrounds.
  • This is one of the few Doctor Who serials that actually has wobbly sets. They are particularly noticeable in part four, when the Doctor is skulking around the secret base. As the automatic doors close quickly behind the Doctor, the walls visibly shudder when the doors hit the floor.
  • Sarah is told by Mark at the cliffhanger of part three that the ship left Earth three months ago. He says this after Sarah looks out of the window into 'space'. Then, in the reprise of part four, he says that the ship left Earth three months ago and then Sarah looks out of the window.
  • When the pterodactyl flies into the garage during part one, one of the puppet strings on its tail end is visible.
    • The same issue resurfaces in part four with another pterodactyl puppet. One of its strings is reflected off to the left of an underground archway as the Doctor backs away from the provoked creature.
  • At the end of part 1, the giant dinosaur's marionette strings that controls its jaw keeps reflecting light, exposing the "dinosaur" as a puppet.
  • In part six, the Doctor is driving a Land Rover with the Brigadier in the passenger seat. The next time we see them, the Brigadier is behind the wheel.

Continuity Edit

  • Mike Yates has recently returned from leave after his brainwashing by BOSS. (TV: The Green Death)
  • Sarah is later contacted by Mike Yates later for help after his dismissal from UNIT. (TV: Planet of the Spiders)
  • Sarah and the Doctor are returning from their trip to Medieval times tracing missing scientists. (TV: The Time Warrior)
  • Sarah Jane Smith refers to the events of this episode in a conversation with Rose Tyler . (TV: School Reunion)
  • The Doctor refers to these events immediately following his regeneration, coinciding with the first appearance of (and perhaps provides foreshadowing the intelligence of) Harry Sullivan. (TV: Robot)


Home video and audio releases Edit

DVD release Edit

  • Invasion of the Dinosaurs was released on DVD on 9th January 2012 in the U.N.I.T Files Box Set with The Android Invasion. Invasion part one remains in black and white (although heavily restored). However, as a DVD extra, an attempt at colourising Invasion part one was also included. While it is not up to the usual DVD standard (due to the inability of fully colourising the episode), it was included as a "best attempt" at showing what the episode would have looked like on initial broadcast.

Contents Edit

VHS release Edit

  • This was the final complete story to be released by BBC Worldwide on VHS, in 2003. Invasion part one was included in its then sole surviving black and white format.

External links Edit


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