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Spearhead from Space (TV story)

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Spearhead from Space
Autons invade
Novelised as: Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion
Doctor: Third Doctor
Companion(s): Liz
Featuring: The Brigadier
Main enemy: Nestene Consciousness, Channing, Autons
Main setting: Oxley Woods, UNIT HQ, Ashbridge Cottage Hospital, Auto Plastics and London
Key crew
Writer: Robert Holmes
Director: Derek Martinus
Producer: Derrick Sherwin
Release details
Story number: 51
Number of episodes: 4
Season/series: Season 7
Premiere broadcast: 3 - 24 January 1970
Premiere network: BBC1
Format: 4x25-minute episodes
Production code: AAA
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Doctor Who television stories
The War Games Doctor Who and the Silurians
Memorable moment
The Doctor in the Shower! - Spearhead from Space - BBC03:08

The Doctor in the Shower! - Spearhead from Space - BBC

Another memorable moment
The Autons Activate - Doctor Who - Spearhead from Space - BBC01:39

The Autons Activate - Doctor Who - Spearhead from Space - BBC

One more memorable moment
The Nestene Attacks the Doctor! - Spearhead from Space - BBC02:20

The Nestene Attacks the Doctor! - Spearhead from Space - BBC

Spearhead from Space was the first story of Season 7 of Doctor Who and was the first to feature Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor. The story introduced a new companion, Caroline John's Liz Shaw. Continuing on from the last part of The War Games, it marked a significant change to the premise of Doctor Who. The Doctor would now serve out his Time Lord-imposed sentence of exile on Earth. It also continued on from The Web of Fear and The Invasion, continuing the story of UNIT, and furthering the Doctor's relationship with Nicholas Courtney's Brigadier. Both would become regular components of this era of the programme.

The story also introduced the Doctor's binary vascular system, which would become an oft-repeated feature of Time Lord physiology thereafter. Moreover, it premiered the Nestene and the Autons, who would reappear in future stories. Russell T Davies would later use this story as a template as he wrote the first episode of the 2005 series. It also had some commonality with Steven Moffat's first story as producer, in that both this story and The Eleventh Hour would introduce a new Doctor and new companion after the departure of those from the previous story, effectively making a "clean break" from the previous era of the show.

It was also the first Doctor Who story to be broadcast in colour. Behind the scenes, it was the last contribution of Derrick Sherwin and Peter Bryant to Doctor Who, as the BBC transferred them both to another programme in the middle of principal photography. The latter stages of the story were actually produced, uncredited, by Barry Letts. On top of this complication, the BBC employees who operated videocameras decided to strike between the time of location filming and studio recording, since they believed they should get more money for operating the technically more sophisticated colour cameras. This required Sherwin to commit the story to 16mm film, since the film cameramen were in a different union, and therefore not on strike. Spearhead from Space thus became not only the first colour Doctor Who story, but also the only story to ever be shot entirely on 16mm film. Over forty years later, Sherwin's decision to switch to film made it possible for Spearhead to easily adapt to new media. It is the first and currently only Doctor Who story of the classic era to be released in the Blu-ray format.

Synopsis Edit

Exiled to Earth in the late 20th century and forbidden to continue travelling by his own people, the Time Lords, the newly regenerated Doctor arrives in Oxley Woods accompanied by a shower of mysterious meteorites. Investigating these unusual occurrences is the newly-formed United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT for short).

Led by Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, UNIT is soon called into action when people and meteorites start going missing.

Most puzzling of all is the attempted kidnapping of a strange hospital patient: a man with two hearts, who insists that he knows the Brigadier.

The new Doctor soon joins forces with his old friend, UNIT and the recently recruited Dr Elizabeth Shaw, but time is running out. 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...

Plot Edit

Episode one Edit

The Third Doctor's First Appearance IN HD - Spearhead From Space - Doctor Who - BBC02:27

The Third Doctor's First Appearance IN HD - Spearhead From Space - Doctor Who - BBC

UNIT observes "meteorites" flying in formation.

It is the late 20th century on Earth and there is a heatwave in England. At a tracking station, a radar technician is scanning the screen and calls for the duty officer. She comes in, and he shows her what looks like a meteor storm - but when they scan close it energes that the meteors appear to be flying in formation.

A local poacher, Sam Seeley, sees the meteors falling to the ground and runs for shelter.

The Technician marks that the meteorites have landed in Oxley Woods, in Epping. He can't get over the fact that they were in formation.

As the poacher emerges from the undergrowth, he finds one of the meteorites pulsing with energy.

The UNIT Officer has called her superior who also doesn't think they were meteorites. The technician wonders what they could be.

The TARDIS also materialises in Oxley Woods, and the newly regenerated Doctor emerges and collapses to the ground.

Meanwhile at UNIT, a car arrives. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart interviews Doctor Elizabeth Shaw of Cambridge University for the position of UNIT scientific advisor. She says she has been approached by the public sector before and isn't interested. The Brigadier says that UNIT isn't quite what she has been approached by before and that they deal with the odd and unexplained on Earth and beyond. She is rather dubious at the prospect. The Brigadier tries to entice her by talking about a thin funnel of super-heated air that has heralded the landing of meteorites at the same place twice in the last six. She is intrigued by this.

The Doctor is brought into a local hospital. Doctor Henderson says he will take a look at him.

The Brigadier tries to explain the importance of UNIT saying that there are 500 planets that could show life and that Earth needs to be prepared for them. He states that Earth has drawn attention to itself over the years.Liz is openly derisive when the Brigadier claims that Earth has interacted with alien races. The Brigadier mentions a mysterious man known only as "the Doctor" who aided UNIT in the past. Captain Munro telephones the Brigadier from Ashbridge Cottage Hospital. Munro informs him that nothing has been found in the woods but one of his patrols found a man collapsed in the wood next to a police box and brought him to the hospital. The Brigadier tells Munro that he wants the police box to be guarded and that the police are not to be notified on any account.

At the hospital, Dr Henderson looks over his patient's x-ray films and is incensed that someone in the radiography department played a joke by making him appear to have two hearts. En route to voice his anger, he receives a page from Dr. Lomax in the pathology lab. Lomax is similarly furious with Henderson for sending him non-human blood. Henderson assures Lomax that he took the blood sample himself and even if the patient's blood is different, he still has to look after him. Mullins, a porter who overheard Dr. Henderson's end of the conversation, telephones the press in search of a reward, and tells them strange things are happening at the hospital.

Meanwhile in Oxley Woods, Sam Seeley has returned for the meteorite, with a shovel and a burlap sack for poaching. He digs up the meteorite, uncovering an object that is not a clump of rock, but a pulsing, beeping orb. He hoists the orb from its earthy resting place and pockets it in his poaching sack. Suddenly, Seeley hears voices and looks through the trees to see three soldiers before sneaking back to his find.

At the hospital, the Doctor wakes up and leans over the side of his bed, looking for his shoes, but his nurse puts him back into his bed just as Dr Henderson comes in. The nurse tells him the patient tried to get out of bed, but he has fallen asleep again.

A car pulls up outside the hospital, and the Brigadier and Liz Shaw step out of it. Inside the hospital, the lobby is overrun with the press who are asking Captain Munro about the hospital's mysterious patient and what UNIT is doing there. The Brigadier offers them only the cliché explanation, "training exercise," which the press do not believe. The press speculate about the "man from space" or whether a man has been injured by or is hiding one of the meteorites. The Brigadier orders that the guards by the police box need to have live ammunition. The Brigadier and Liz enter the room and introduce themselves to Doctor Henderson. He tells the Brigadier and Liz that his patient has dual hearts and blood that can't be identified. The Brigadier is pleased. This must be the Doctor. He walks over and looks at the Doctor's face. Liz asks the Brigadier if he knows the patient, but, owing to Doctor's changed appearance, the Brigadier doesn't recognise him and asserts that he has never seen the man before in his life. The Doctor awakens and recognises the Brigadier, much to the Brigadier's confusion. He borrows a little mirror from Liz and examines his new visage. He seems initially disappointed before deciding that it is distinctive. Everyone else looks on confused. The Doctor falls unconscious again. The Brigadier tries to wake him but Doctor Henderson stops him. The Brigadier tells Munro that he wants the Doctor taken to UNIT HQ as soon as he is able, although Dr Henderson is not sure when that will be. The Brigadier further directs Munro to look for the meteorites. As soon as he is alone the Doctor opens his eyes.

Journalist Michael Wagstaffe sees Lethbridge-Stewart leaving and tells his colleague Jimmy that the Brigadier must have left from the back door. Jimmy asks Mullins when he and the press can see Doctor Henderson but Mullins tells them they will have to wait. Wagstaffe goes to telephone the office, but then discovers a man in a telephone box. He asks which newspaper he is on, but Jimmy says he does not know. Mullins comes over and says Channing must have come in with them. Wagstaffe kindly asks the man if he could use the telephone box. The man, who has just been standing in the phone box, pushes past them and leaves.

Meanwhile, Sam Seeley is leaving Oxley Woods, but he is stopped by Corporal Forbes. Forbes tells him the woods are restricted and expresses his displeasure with Sam's poaching activities. Forbes asks Seeley if he saw the patrols; Seeley responds that they didn't see him. Forbes declines Seeley's attempt to sell him fresh rabbit, instead telling him to leave and not to come back into the woods until they are de-restricted. Seeley asks Forbes about the "thunderballs" (the meteorites) and asks if there is a reward for finding one of them. Forbes demands to know if Seeley knew where one landed, but Seeley replies that he was just asking. Forbes tells him to push off, and Seeley does so.

At the hospital, the Doctor wakes up and leans over the side of his bed again looking for his shoes, but the nurse tells him he's not going anywhere. Dr Henderson enters again, and the nurse tells him the Doctor's pulse has settled down – to a mere ten beats per minute. Dr Henderson asks the Doctor how he's feeling but the Doctor says only, "Shoes." The nurse tells Dr Henderson that he is worrying about his shoes and presumably thinks someone has stolen them. Dr. Henderson asks where they might be, and the nurse tells him they are probably in his locker. Dr Henderson takes them out and gives them to the Doctor who snatches them out of his hands and hugs them. The nurse remarks that the Doctor has been behaving very oddly, so Dr Henderson tells he will take the Doctor's blood pressure again, worried he may have suffered some brain damage. His caregivers' backs turned, the Doctor looks in his shoes and finds the TARDIS key which he conceals in his mouth. Two men appear and knock out Dr Henderson and put tape over the Doctor's mouth before sitting the latter into a wheelchair and kidnapping him. Dr. Henderson wakes up and discovers the Doctor has gone. As Dr. Henderson chases after him, he is intercepted by Captain Munro who he alerts to the situation. Outside the hospital, the Doctor is being wheeled into the ambulance, but he escapes in his wheelchair. The ambulance drives off in pursuit with the mysterious man at the wheel. Munro orders a soldier to shoot the tyres but they escape. The UNIT soldiers find the Doctor's whellchair abandoned in the woods.

The Doctor reaches Oxley Woods but as he crashes through the trees, he is shot down by a UNIT soldier guarding the TARDIS and startled by the distant sounds of gunshots. The Doctor collapses once again. Corporal Forbes is incensed by the soldier's actions.

Episode two Edit


Doctor Henderson examines the TARDIS key.

Captain Munro, Corporal Forbes, and the private who fired the shot all converge over the unconscious Doctor.

The Doctor is returned to the hospital, and the Brigadier questions Dr. Henderson about the Doctor's condition. The bullet only grazed the scalp, but the Doctor is in a deeper coma than Dr Henderson has ever seen – which Henderson speculates is self-induced. Henderson still states that the Doctor cannot be moved. Before the Brigadier leaves the hospital, Dr Henderson shows him the TARDIS key, and says the unconscious Doctor's hand had to be pried open in order to get it.

The Brigadier tells Captain Munro that he can double the guard at the hospital, as the police box is now en route to UNIT Headquarters. Munro shows him the broken up meteorite and says it was destroyed when it hit the ground. It is light and, potentially, plastic. They discuss why whoever is behind this wants the Doctor. Munro shows the Brigadier a picture of Channing, the lead figure behind the attempted kidnapping of the Doctor. The only other detail that Munro can recall is that there is something odd about their faces.

At Auto Plastics' nearby doll factory, John Ransome visits the manager, George Hibbert, tailed by Channing. Ransome argues with Hibbert over his sudden termination and the cancellation of the production of the new doll which Ransome had designed and sold to an American company. Ransome also demands to know why everything and everybody has changed in the factory and what is going on inside his old workshop which now has an out of bound sign on the door. Hibbert tells him they have developed a new process and have a new policy. John is ordered to go away and to stay away. John wants to know more but Channing appears and Hibbert goes into a trance and sends John away. As he leaves he goes to check out his workshop but Channing appears and John moves on.

Back at Unit HQ, Liz is trying to identify the debris from space. It is not a meteorite and is manufactured as it has signs of heat fusion. She is still sceptical about alien involvement and is even more sceptical about the Brigadier's claims regarding the Doctor.

Channing and Hibbert argue but Channing still has a hold over him. Channing reports that two energy units are still missing. Hibbert speculates that the Doctor may have one but Channing thinks they are more likely embedded in soft earth. To locate them Channing will increase the pulsation signals.

Meanwhile, Sam Seeley, the poacher, removes the meteorite from an old trunk in the garden shed and is taking a look at it.

A mannequin looking human is activated in the woods.

Seeley's wife Meg comes into the garden, and Sam hurriedly pushes the energy unit out of sight into the shed. Meg inspects the trunk to make sure Sam isn't hiding stolen goods in it. After seeing that it contains only an old blanket, she tells Sam she won't have the dirty old trunk in the house. After she goes back in the house, Sam again hides the energy unit in the trunk.

The mannequin is deactivated.

The Brigadier welcomes Major General Scobie, UNIT's liaison with the army. The Brigadier introduces him to Liz. Scobie asks what the police box is doing inside the lab, and with an ironic look, Liz tells him it is a spaceship.

Back at the hospital, Forbes is guarding Dr Beavis' car at his request. Captain Munro orders him into a jeep; they're off to join Section 3 who have turned up an energy unit. The Doctor sneaks into the doctors' locker room in search of clothes.

When Doctors Henderson and Beavis enter, the Doctor takes the opportunity to shower, thus hiding his face from them and avoiding a conversation. Beanies takes of his coat, hat and scarf and leaves them behind the door.

The UNIT soldiers dig up an energy unit.

The Mannequin begins to move.

The Doctor Has dressed himself in a hodge lodge of clothes he has stole and Beavis' hat, cloak and coat. As he escapes the alert is raised. Hurriedly he tries to find a car to steal. He steals Dr Beavis' car, an old jalopy.

At UNIT, the Brigadier is told of the Doctor's escape. He says that he will return to the TARDI. The Brigadier tries to open the TARDIS again, but fails; Liz suggests that he has the wrong key.

Munro orders Corporal Forbes to deliver it to UNIT HQ. On his way, Forbes swerves to avoid the mannequin which emerges from the side of the road. He crashes the jeep into a tree, killing himself. The mannequin takes the meteor.

In Ransome's old workshop, now full of similar looking mannequins, Hibbert tells Channing that General Scobie will soon arrive.

Meanwhile, the Doctor drives into UNIT's vehicle entrance. Before the commissionaire can even ask to see his documents, the Doctor berates him, declares that he hasn't a pass, and demands to see Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart at once.

The commissionaire telephones the Brigadier and is told to send the Doctor up. The Doctor enters the lab. When asked how he knew where UNIT HQ was the Doctor shows the Brigadier his wristwatch which doubles as a TARDIS magnet. The Doctor asks the Brigadier if he has the key. The Brigadier says it isn't working and the Doctor says it won't work for someone that isn't him. The Brigadier has a lot of questions to ask the Doctor, but the Doctor tells him he has lost his memory. The Brigadier asks the Doctor how he is to know the Doctor is not an impostor, but the Doctor tells him that only he himself knows that. The Doctor looks at himself in a mirror and thinks he looks very smart, and opines that his new face would be quite useful on Delphon, whose inhabitants communicate with their eyebrows. The Brigadier introduces the Doctor to Liz Shaw, to whom the Doctor expresses "How do you do," with his eyebrows. The Doctor investigates the broken bits of the meteorite, and finds them rather exciting; given the shape of the fragments, he deduces that they were hollow spheres, carrying something to Earth. The Brigadier asks the Doctor if was going to assist UNIT. The Doctor asks him if he will give him the key to the TARDIS, to which the Brigadier replies, "Possibly". The Doctor then asks him how many meteorites came down and the Brigadier says there were fifty of them. The Doctor then asks him if there were any fragments, and the Brigadier says there was one which caused an accident and disappeared. The answer to the Brigadier's question is obvious to the Doctor: the meteorites had been collected and taken somewhere by the time the soldiers arrived to to look for them, The real question is "Where?"

Ransome returns to the Auto Plastics factory and climbs over a high wall to enter the factory grounds.

In Hibbert's office, Channing and Hibbert are showing General Scobie a plastic dummy before leading him out of the office.

Ransome enters the factory, climbs up the staircase and breaks into his old workshop to find it full of new modern electronic equipment and a line of blue suited mannequins. As he inspects a strange computer-like device, he hears a noise from behind him. He slowly turns around and is horrified to see one of the mannequins step down from a plinth and stop in front of him.

Episode three Edit

The mannequin takes the cover off its hand, showing a small nozzle. It tries to shoot Ransome with an energy bolt, but he gets out of the way. He escapes from his workshop and runs down the fire escape next to the factory with the mannequin chasing him. Outside the factory, the mannequin prepares to shoot Ransome again, but it sees Channing coming accompanied by Hibbert and General Scobie. It re-enters the building. General Scobie bids goodbye to Channing and Hibbert. Channing refuses to shake hands with Scobie. Scobie asks if he can see the model they have been making of him before it is sent to Madame Tussauds. Channing tells Scobie that he can take a look at at the model once before it is shipped out.

Later Channing and Hibbert discuss the fact that Ransome was here. Channing knows because the machines registered his brain pattern. Channing says he will send an Auton. Hibbert protests, saying it will kill him. Channing brainwashes him and convinces him that it is a good thing. He sends an Auton off.

Meanwhile, Ransome runs out into Oxley Woods where he collapses and is rescued by UNIT.

Meg Seeley discusses the local goings on with her husband. She is sure the meteorites are linked into the soldier's activity.

Ransome is shell shocked and can only mutter something about creatures made in the factory. Munro sends him to UNIT HQ.

The Doctor and Liz can get no readings from the energy unit. Liz is frustrated. The Doctor blames the primitive equipment. He says he has a Lateral Molecular Rectifier in the TARDIS that they could use. Liz is dubious. The Doctor assures her that the TARDIS is not just a police box - it is, in fact, dimensionally transcendental. He persuades Liz to try and get the key from the Brigadier.

In a UNIT tent, Captain Munro telephones headquarters and is confident that his cordon will keep whoever took the meteor from getting far. Sam Seeley is brought in after asking about the reward for a "thunderball" and Munro demands to know where he found one. Seeley pleads ignorance.

Channing reports that the Auton has locked track of Ransome. Hibbert is concerned that he may end up at UNIT. Hibbert is also worried that the "swarm leader" meteor is still missing, but – like Munro – Channing is confident that it will be found. He also says that if Ransome returns, the Autons will kill him.

Ransome reports what he has seen at the factory to Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. He describes an army of men with smooth, shiny, plastic faces. Liz interrupts and tries to plead on the Doctor's behalf but is stopped short by the Brigadier. Liz sees the key and takes it. The Brigadier is sceptical of Ransome's story. He notices that the key is gone.

Liz hands the key to the Doctor. She is shocked when it turns in the lock, due to fact that it didn't when the Brigadier tried. The Doctor states it has a metabolism detector. He disappears into the TARDIS. The Brigadier enters and corners Liz. He calls her gullible and says they will never see the Doctor again now. To prove his point the TARDIS starts to make it's dematerialisation noise but suddenly cuts out and begins to smoke. The Doctor emerges, shamefaced. He admits that he can't contemplate a life in one place and time. The Brigadier asks for the key back. The Doctor asks what's the point - he's trapped. The Time Lords have changed the dematerialisation codes. He resigns himself to helping the Brigadier. The Brigadier says he has more evidence for him.

At Brook Cottage, Meg Seeley snoops around the shed.

The Brigadier questions Ransome about the other man at the factory. Ransome says he is called Channing and appears to have a mental hold on Hibbert. The Doctor suggests they visit the plastic factory.

Seeley wants to leave. Munro says he can only go when he has handed over the information. Seeley, again, asks about a reward. Munro is more forceful.

Meg opens the trunk in the shed and discovers the swarm leader.

This registers with Hibbert and Channing.

An Auton is also activated by the energy unit.

Hibbert and Channing watch the progress of the Auton towards the cottage.

The Auton approaches the building.

Seeley tells the truth just as the Brigadier, the Doctor and Liz arrive. Munro informs them of the latest developments. They go to investigate.

Meg puts the energy unit back in the trunk. Suddenly, she hears a strange noise coming from inside the house. She enters the house and encounters an Auton that has broken in and is knocking things over in its search for the swarm leader. Meg runs outside into the garden and gets Sam's shotgun out of the shed. When the creature emerges into the garden, Meg loads the gun, aims it and warns the Auton that if it doesn't leave, "I'll blow a hole in you!" The Auton ignores the warning, and keeps advancing. Meg opens fire, but the blast has no effect on the Auton. It continues to approach.

Hibbert and Channing watch all this.

Meg has been knocked unconscious. The Auton is checking the house. It begins to look in the shed. When UNIT arrive at the cottage, they enter the living room looking for Meg. They run out into the garden and find the Auton standing over the trunk. The soldiers and the Brigadier shoot at the Auton. The Brigadier calls for a platoon.

Channing recalls the Auton. He is terrified.

The Auton escapes, but is forced to leave the swarm leader behind.

Channing tells Hibbert the swarm leader has been taken by some UNIT soldiers. Hibbert asks why the Auton didn't kill the soldiers and Channing tells him he recalled it because it is too early for a major confrontation. He then tells Hibbert that UNIT must be delayed. He also notices Ransome's brain pattern back in the area and sends an Auton to kill him.

Liz puts a blanket over Meg Seeley while the Brigadier goes to telephone for an ambulance. The Doctor investigates the meteorite and tells Liz the signal for it must have been muffled by the metal from the trunk it was in. Liz tells him to be careful with it as it might explode, but the Doctor tells her it will be alright as long as they treat it gently. Liz is worried that the Auton will return for it.

The Auton discovers Ransome in the UNIT tent.

Channing orders total destruction.

There is a flash of light as the Auton obliterates Ransome's body without a trace remaining.

Munro reports that the soldiers have lost track of the Auton. The Brigadier orders a cordon around the plastics factory. The Doctor urges caution.

When he discovers Ransome's disappearance, the Brigadier is infuriated with the the sergeant whom he had left in charge. The sergeant had posted a guard at the front of the tent, but left the back exposed, allowing what appears to have been Ransome's abduction. The Doctor presumes Ransome has been taken to the plastics factory, and off they go to investigate.

The Doctor, Brigadier, and Liz meet Hibbert in his office. Channing overlooks their entrance.

The Brigadier tells him about Ransome's story, omitting that they too had encountered the Auton. Hibbert denies everything and insists that Ransome was making up stories to discredit Auto Plastics after being let go for his supposedly impractical ideas to produce electronic dolls. The Doctor asks what they make at the factory. Hibbert states dolls and, more recently, mannequins.

At UNIT HQ, the Brigadier says he recognises Channing from the photograph at the hospital. He is to ask General Scobie to launch a raid on the factory. The Doctor uses an electroencephalogramme and finds the the swarm leader is emitting brain waves and wonders if it could be communicated with. Major General Scobie telephones the Brigadier. The Brigadier asks for authority to raid the factory. Scobie agrees to meet the Brigadier and offers any support needed. He hangs up to attend to the knock at his front door. He opens the door to reveal an exact replica of himself, which enters and advances towards Scobie.

Episode four Edit

At UNIT, the Doctor and Liz are investigating the meteorite. The Doctor says that inside it is part of a brain that makes up a larger consciousness. He speculates that it is sending signals to the other globes. Just then the buzzer sounds and the Brigadier picks up the telephone. It is General Scobie's replica. He tells the Brigadier the factory is off limits and that there is to be no raid. Before the Brigadier can argue with him, he hangs up. The Brigadier crossly puts the phone down. He tells the Doctor he will go over Scobie's head to the Home Secretary or Geneva. He tells the Doctor the replica of General Scobie made by Auto Plastics probably flattered him.

Later, the Doctor and Liz visit Madame Tussauds, and discover hundreds of dummy replicas of important government officials. The Doctor discovers that all the replicas are made of plastic. He investigates a model of General Scobie and discovers a watch on his wrist! wound and still at the right time. He considers this odd. The Doctor telephones the Brigadier, but Captain Munro tells him he is not in. The Doctor tells Liz they are going to hide away until closing tim.

In the factory workshop, Channing shows Hibbert a tank containing a body of an alien. He tells Hibbert that the meteorites have created a body for the creature. Hibbert asks what it will look like and Channing says he doesn't know. Channing says he needs the swarm leader back and that they have the help of General Scobie's replica to do so. He says the facsimiles created are far more sophisticated compared to the Autons. They have the same brain cells and memory traces. He also says that tonight, the facsimiles will be activated.

In the Doctor's lab, General Scobie's has arrived and has ordered to give him the last meteorite. Munro is reluctant but Scobie says he will,arrest him if he doesn't.

Meanwhile at the waxworks, the owner turns off the lights and leaves the room. The Doctor enters the dark room with a torch. Liz is frightened, but the Doctor tells her there is nothing to be scared of. Liz asks if he thinks the model of Scobie is the real Scobid - he says that is what he suspects. Just then, the Doctor and Liz hide behind a curtain as Channing and Hibbert enter the room. Channing senses an alien life form. Hibbert asks if it could be Scobie. From behind the curtain, the Doctor and Liz watch as the facsimiles are activated and leave the room. Channing tells Hibbert they are going to take their places and start their work. The Doctor and Liz hears the door close and emerges only to meet Hibbert. The Doctor tells him about the Auton that killed Ransome. Hibbert tells the Doctor he had to kill Ransome because Channing told him to, but the Doctor convinces him to realise that Channing is controlling his mind and that he is Hibbert's enemy. Hibbert says that Channing is his partner. The Doctor tells Hibbert he has to escape from Channing and asks him to come to UNIT so he can help him. Just then, Channing enters the room again, the Doctor and Liz hiding just in time. Channing orders him to come with him.

Later, the Doctor and Liz tell the Brigadier about the waxworks, and tell him he has to move against the factory quickly.

In Channing's workshop, General Scobie's replica tells Channing that if the Doctor and UNIT move against him, he will stop them. Scobie also says that Hibbert can be disposed with as he has served his purpose. Channing takes the meteorite and puts it under a pipe. It sucks the meteorite into the body. Channing tells Scobie's replica that in the morning, the Autons will be activated.

In the lab, the Doctor is building a device to destroy the Autons.

At dawn the Autons are activated. They break out of a shopping centre and kill many people.

Back in the lab, the Brigadier tells the Doctor that the invasion of the Autons has started. They are seizing police stations, barracks and communication centres. The Doctor shows him the weapon that will destroy the Autons. The Brigadier tells the Doctor his headquarter staff can help the Doctor access the factory.

In Channing's workshop, Hibbert, who is now free of Channing's control, uses a metal pipe to open the tank containing the creature, but breaks a small button on the tank. Channing enters and stops Hibbert and tells him he should not have left the factory grounds but Hibbert tells him that he has been controlling his mind. Channing tells him that he is part of the alien species called the Nestenes. He explains they have been colonising other planets for a thousand million years, and now they will colonise Earth. He promises that they will spare him.

Meanwhile, the Doctor and the soldiers leave UNIT and head for the factory.

Channing tells Hibbert there is nothing he can do. Hibbert attempts to kill Channing and the Autons by hitting the tank with the pipe, but an Auton sees what he is doing so it shoots him with an energy bolt and he dies. Channing gives his orders to the Auton: "Destroy! Total destruction!" and Hibbert explodes.
Nestene attack

The Doctor is attacked by a Nestene.

The Doctor and the soldiers reach the plastics factory. The Doctor opens the door, and everyone enters the factory grounds.

Hibbert is alerted to the intruders.

Just then, General Scobie's replica arrives with UNIT forces and tells the Brigadier that he and his men are under arrest. The Doctor points his device at General Scobie's replica and the replica falls. A soldier accuses the Doctor of having killed General Scobie, but the Doctor tells him he was never really alive. He turns the body of Scobie around to reveal the face of a mannequin.

Meanwhile, the real General Scobie awakes.

The Brigadier explains the situation to the UNIT forces whilst the Doctor and Liz sneak away. They enter the factory and the Doctor uses his device on a passing Auton.

An army of Autons enter the grounds. The soldiers attack them but they discover the creatures can not be destroyed by gunfire. The Doctor and Liz enter Channing's workshop.

The Doctor sneaks up on Channing. Channing tells him that the Doctor is too late. Channing explains that the Nestene are a collective and killing just one of them will not work. The Doctor says that means there must be a way of destroying them collectively. Channing says they are indestructible.

The Autons are slaughtering UNIT soldiers outside.

The Doctor tells Channing that with his device, he can destroy him and the Autons, but Channing says that "No one can destroy the Nestenes!" and turns up the tank to full power. The Doctor finds his weapon is not working. The Doctor goes over to the machine and discovers that the Nestene Consciousness has created a monstrous tentacled body for itself. The creature roars in anger, and wraps its tentacles around his mouth. As the Doctor struggles with the creature's tentacles, Liz finds the trouble: a loose connection. She repairs it and uses the Doctor's machine to shut the Nestene Consciousness down.

Without the motive power of the Consciousness, the Autons have no more power and they collapse.

Liz is glad to see the Doctor is alright, but then she discovers Channing. He has been revealed to be nothing more than a sophisticated Auton, and has likewise been deactivated.

At UNIT HQ, the Doctor and Loz explain that the machine was a simple Electrical Compulsion device. The Brigadier asks if they might attack again. The Doctor says they are telepathic so it is possible. The Brigadier floats the offer to the Doctor to let him work on a means to repair the TARDIS, while also helping UNIT stop future alien invasions. The Doctor, with misgivings, agrees - once the Brigadier agrees to help him find a car similar to the one he stole at the hospital, a laboratory, equipment and the services of Liz. The Brigadier goes to prepare the paperwork, but stops, realising that he doesn't know the Doctor's name. "Smith", says the Doctor, with a smile. "Doctor John Smith".

Cast Edit

Uncredited cast Edit

Crew Edit

Uncredited crew Edit

References Edit

The Doctor Edit

  • The Doctor can communicate with his eyebrows in the language of the planet Delphon.
  • The Doctor uses the name John Smith.

Species Edit


  • The key to the TARDIS is provided with a metabolism detector that lets the Doctor use it and prevents the Brigadier (and, supposedly, other strangers) from doing the same.
  • The Time Lords have changed the dematerialisation codes for the TARDIS.

Time Lords Edit

Story notes Edit

  • This is the first story featuring Jon Pertwee as the Doctor, as well as the first appearance of companion Liz Shaw. It is also the first appearance of the villain known as the Nestene Consciousness and its servants the Autons.
  • There is a new title sequence designed by Bernard Lodge (who designed the previous title sequence).
  • Though the title sequence that debuted in this story remained the same over the next few years, it was only in this story that the title of the story zoomed towards the screen; this was only repeated for The Ambassadors of Death. (However unlike this story, only part of the story's title-"The Ambassadors"-zoomed towards the screen while the other words-"of Death"-appeared in full size when a 'sting' sound was heard.)
  • There are scenes featuring real waxworks shot at Madame Tussaud's in London.
  • This story had the working title of Facsimile.
  • Due to a scene-shifters' strike, this story is completely shot on film and almost completely on location. Discounting the 1996 TV movie, it is the only Doctor Who story in franchise history to be shot completely on film; the 2005-present revival is actually shot on videotape, which is digitally remastered to look like film.
  • The Radio Times programme listing for episode one in certain regions was accompanied by a black and white head-and-shoulders publicity shot of the Doctor and the Brigadier in potholers' helmets from the following adventure, Doctor Who and the Silurians, with the accompanying caption "Dr. Who? Or is it? Find out at 5.15".
  • Radio Times credits Ellis Jones (Technician) as 'UNIT Technician', Prentis Hancock (2nd Reporter) as 'Reporter', Betty Bowden (Meg) as 'Meg Seeley', Clifford Cox (Sergeant) as 'UNIT Sergeant' and Edmund Bailey (Attendant) as 'Waxworks Attendant'.
  • The actor playing the Doctor is credited for the first time as 'Doctor Who' in the closing credits as opposed to 'Dr. Who' which had been the norm since 1963. This form of credit would continue until the end of the Tom Baker era in 1981, after which the character would be more appropriately credited as 'The Doctor'.
  • Among the props seen on the Doctor's workbench is the Morok freezing machine from The Space Museum (which was recycled previously as an x-ray laser in The Wheel in Space), and a control panel from one of Tobias Vaughn's machines, from The Invasion, in addition to which one of the original studio models of the Cyber Ship from The Invasion would later appear as a large piece of lab equipment in this story.
  • This was the first of two times that a new incarnation fought the Autons; also, this was the first of three times the Autons appeared in a season opener (along with the following season's Terror of the Autons and the first season of the 2005 revival's Rose). The Daleks are the only other adversary to have started at least three seasons/series.
  • This serial first establishes that the Doctor has two hearts.
  • Despite its 1970 airdate, this story and the one immediately following it were the final ones to be filmed during the 1960's (having began filming in September of 1969), and by extension, the only stories of the sort to have been filmed in full colour. [1]
  • The story was chosen by BBC America to represent the Jon Pertwee era during their 50th anniversary programming. Edited into an omnibus format, it was aired by BBCA on 31 March 2013, after the debut of their homegrown special called The Doctors Revisited - The Third Doctor. It also aired in the United Kingdom later in the year on 19 October, along with the Revisited special, on the Watch channel.
  • Stan Speel is credited as "Film Cameraman" for episodes 1-3, while he's credited with Robert McDonnell as "Film Camera Team" for episode 4.

Ratings Edit

  • Episode 1 - 8.4 million viewers
  • Episode 2 - 8.1 million viewers
  • Episode 3 - 8.3 million viewers
  • Episode 4 - 8.1 million viewers

Filming locations Edit

  • Location filming took place at the BBC facility of Wood Norton near Evesham and in the nearby pub in Radford.
  • Madame Tussauds in London
  • Kings Cross Station (Underground Car Park shots)
  • Ealing, London (specifically Ealing High Street, Ealing Broadway, and Lancaster Road - the Auton attack starts in the Shop window of John Sanders' Department Store in Ealing Broadway: a Marks & Spencers Store now stands on the site)
  • Favourite Dolls Factory, Holloway, London (Auto Plastics Factory)
  • Royal Horticultural Society Gardens, Wisley, Surrey (where the TARDIS first materialises)
  • Hatchford Park, Hatchford, Surrey ("Ashbridge Cottage Hospital")

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.
  • The freshly regenerated Doctor has a visible tattoo on one arm (which can be seen during the shower sequence). PROSE: Christmas on a Rational Planet retroactively suggests that this mark was left by the Time Lords to indicate the Doctor as an exile or criminal.
  • The TARDIS materialisation in episode one has a disjointed cut from model footage to location footage.
  • In the beginning of episode one, the Doctor almost pulls the TARDIS' doors off when he faints.
  • While a chest x-ray would show at least the shadow of the heart, the image used appears to be a graphic of the skeleton within a regular human torso and not an x-ray - there is no soft tissue or soft tissue shadow of the heart or diaphragm. So, when the hospital doctor and nurse point out two hearts, there are actually no hearts in the picture.
  • At the start of episode two, the Doctor clutches his head before being shot.
  • In episode three, when Meg Seeley walks into the cottage to find an Auton, it cuts to the Auton and then back to Meg when she screams. Then to an extreme close up of the Auton. Look carefully and you can see that its right eye blinks.
  • When Mrs Seeley shoots the Auton, she does so without cocking the gun and without bracing the stock against her body. She also does not react to the gun recoil she would have felt when shooting an unbraced firearm.
  • One of the wax work models opens her eyes, in episode 4, before the wax works actually come to life.

Continuity Edit

Home video and audio releases Edit

Blu-ray release Edit

Spearhead From Space was released as a Blu-ray Special Edition in July 2013. The back cover states, "This classic Doctor Who story is the first to be upgraded into stunning HD". The blu-ray was released in 1080i (or 1080p in Region A) full HD with DTS-HD Master Audio.

Intended as a companion piece to the 2011 Special Edition DVD, the Blu-Ray release carries none of the extras from the previous releases of this story, but does feature several newly commissioned special features, mastered in HD. The UK release features a reversible cover, matching the standard Classic Series DVD template.


  • A Dandy and a Clown - exclusive documentary looking at the life and career of Jon Pertwee, with contributions from actors Katy Manning, Judy Cornwell, David Jacobs, Geoffrey Bayldon and Kenneth Earle, Doctor Who writer and script editor Terrence Dicks, and long-time friend Stuart Money.
  • Carry On: the life of Caroline John – a tribute to the actress who played the Third Doctor’s companion Liz Shaw.
  • Title sequence raw material - raw, mute test and build-up material produced during creation of the Jon Pertwee title sequence.
  • Restoration comparison - This release was mastered in 2K from the original 16mm camera negatives and interpositive prints for the best possible quality. This short feature compares the results against previous versions and looks at some of the problems encountered during the remastering.[2]
  • Coming Soon Trailer: The Green Death - a trailer for the Special Edition DVD of The Green Death. The Coming Soon trailer is in Standard Definition Video.

DVD release Edit

Released as Doctor Who: Spearhead from Space, this release was slipped into the DVD schedule by BBC Worldwide so that a second DVD could be released in 2000. In the event, the DVD was delayed till the following year.


NTSC - Warner Video E1120


  • UNIT Recruitment Film
  • Trailer
  • Photo Gallery
  • Production Subtitles
  • Easter Egg (Test Footage for the titles sequence.)
  • Commentary: Nicholas Courtney and Caroline John

Rear Credits:


Special Edition DVD release Edit

Released as Doctor Who: Spearhead from Space: Special Edition




  • This was also released as part of a boxset called Mannequin Mania, which includes the first DVD release of Terror of the Autons. The Fleetwood Mac song "Oh Well Part One" appeared on the DVD, having been removed from the previous releases of the story (except the 1995 VHS release).[3]

Digital releases Edit

  • Released in standard definition in non-continental iTunes stores (Australia, Canada, UK and US) as a collection of Doctor Who: The Classic Series.
  • On 4 November 2013, this story was released in standard definition in iTunes stores (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, UK and US) as part of the Doctor Who: The Classic Series collection Doctor Who: The Best of The Third Doctor, which additionally includes The Three Doctors, The Green Death and Planet of the Spiders.
  • This story was released in BBC Store, opened for UK residents on 5 November 2015.
  • Was available for streaming in the US through Netflix until 31 January 2016 and through Hulu Plus until early 2016.

VHS releases Edit

Released as Doctor Who: Spearhead from Space.


NTSC - Warner Video E1163

Notes: Released in an edited movie-format, with the Fleetwood Mac song "Oh Well - Part One" removed and replaced by factory machinery sound effects.

  • Second Release:
PAL - BBC Video BBCV5509

Notes: Released unedited. However, the Fleetwood Mac song "Oh Well - Part One" was included by mistake.

External links Edit

Footnotes Edit

  1. Spearhead from Space DVD production subtitles, 2011
  3. Marcus (18 January, 2011). Fleetwood Mac included on Spearhead. Doctor Who News. Retrieved on 7 April 2015.

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