Spearhead from Space was the first serial of season 7 of Doctor Who. It was written by Robert Holmes, directed by Derek Martinus and introduced Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor, Caroline John as Liz Shaw and upgraded Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart to a regular role.
Continuing from the final episode of The War Games, it marked a significant change in the format of Doctor Who. The Doctor was from now on serving his Time Lord-imposed sentence of exile on Earth. It also continued some elements from The Web of Fear and The Invasion in depicting a renewal of the Doctor's association with UNIT and re-introducing Nicholas Courtney's Brigadier as head of its British branch. Both would be regular features of this era of the programme.
The story also introduced the Doctor's binary cardio-vascular system, which became an oft-repeated feature of Time Lord physiology thereafter. Moreover, it introduced both the Nestenes and the Autons, who reappeared in future stories. Russell T Davies used this story as a template as he wrote the first episode of the 2005 series. It also had some common features with Steven Moffat's first story as producer, in that both this story and The Eleventh Hour introduced a new Doctor and new companion after the departure of all those from the previous story, effectively making a "clean break" from the previous era of the show.
It was also the first Doctor Who serial in colour. Behind the scenes, it was the last contribution of producer Derrick Sherwin, after he was convinced by his Doctor Who predecessor Peter Bryant to join him on the BBC's crisis-hit detective drama, Paul Temple, in the middle of principal photography. The latter stages of the serial were actually produced, uncredited, by incoming producer Barry Letts.[source needed] On top of this complication, all the BBC's studio cameramen walked out on strike between the time of location filming and the first studio recording date, demanding more money for operating the technically more sophisticated new electronic 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 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 only Doctor Who story of the classic era (discounting the 1996 telemovie) to be released in the Blu-ray format, and the only Classic story to receive an HD remaster specifically for the format.
Forbidden to continue travelling the universe by his own people, the Time Lords, and exiled to Earth in the late 20th century, the newly regenerated Doctor arrives in Oxley Woods accompanied by a shower of mysterious meteorites. Investigating the occurrence is the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT for short), an organisation which had previously been associated with the Doctor during the Cybermen's invasion.
Led as before by Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, UNIT is soon in action when people and meteorites start going missing. Most puzzling 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, with UNIT, and with 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 landed a spearhead force and plan to conquer the country by substituting plastic Auton replicas for men and women in key government and military posts.
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 closer, it emerges that the meteors are flying in formation.
A local poacher, Sam Seeley, hears the meteors falling to the ground and runs for shelter. As he emerges from the undergrowth, he finds one of the meteorites, which is pulsing with energy.
The radar technician remarks that the meteorites have landed in Oxley Woods, in Epping. He can't get over the fact that they were in formation. The UNIT officer has phoned her superior, who also doesn't think they were meteorites. The technician wonders what else they could be.
Meanwhile at UNIT headquarters, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart interviews Doctor Elizabeth Shaw of Cambridge University for the position of UNIT's scientific advisor. She says she has been approached by the security services before and isn't interested. The Brigadier says that UNIT aren't exactly spies, that they deal with the odd and unexplained — on Earth and even 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 months. 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 known to be capable of supporting life, and that Earth needs to be prepared, adding 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 has aided UNIT in the past.
Captain Munro telephones the Brigadier from Ashbridge Cottage Hospital. Munro informs him that nothing has been found of the meteorites, but that one of his patrols found a man collapsed in the woods next to a police box and have brought him to the hospital. The Brigadier tells Munro that he wants the police box to be guarded, but that the police are not to be notified.
At the hospital, Dr Henderson looks over his patient's x-rays and is incensed that someone in the radiography department has played a joke, 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 that even if the patient's blood is different, he still has to look after him. Mullins, a porter, overhears Dr Henderson's end of the conversation and telephones the press in hope of a reward, telling them of the strange things happening at the hospital.
Meanwhile in Oxley Woods, Sam Seeley has returned for the meteorite, with a shovel — and a burlap sack normally used for poaching. He digs up the meteorite, uncovering an object that is not a clump of rock, but a pulsing, trilling plastic orb. He hoists it from its earthy resting place and stows it in his poacher's sack. Suddenly, Seeley hears voices, and through the trees sees 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 a nurse puts him back into bed. Dr Henderson comes in. The nurse tells him the patient tried to get out of bed but 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 reporters speculate about a "man from space" — and whether the man has been injured by, or is hiding, one of the meteorites.
The furious Brigadier orders that the guards at the police box are to be issued live ammunition. The Brigadier and Liz then enter the ward and introduce themselves to Doctor Henderson. He tells them that his patient has two hearts and blood that can't be identified. The Brigadier is pleased. This must be the Doctor. He walks over and looks at the man's face. Liz asks the Brigadier if he knows the patient, but, owing to the 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 latter'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 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. They all leave. As soon as he is alone again, the Doctor opens his eyes.
Journalist Michael Wagstaffe sees Lethbridge-Stewart leaving by car and tells his colleague Jimmy that the UNIT group must have left by 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 his newspaper but discovers that a strange man (later identified as Channing) is using the only phone. He asks which newspaper he is on, but Jimmy says he does not know. Mullins comes over and tells them that Channing must have come in with them. Wagstaffe politely asks the man if he could use the telephone. The man, who has just been standing in the phone booth, like a waxwork, not actually telephoning, pushes past them and leaves.
Meanwhile, Sam Seeley is found lurking in Oxley Woods by Munroe's subordinate, 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 freshly poached rabbits, instead telling him to leave and not to come back into the woods until they're de-restricted. Seeley asks Forbes about the "thunderballs" (meaning the meteorites) and asks if there is a reward for finding one. Forbes demands to know if Seeley knew where one landed, but Seeley evades the question and Forbes just ends up telling him to push off.
At the cottage hospital, the Doctor wakes up and leans out of bed again, still looking for his shoes, but the nurse tells him he's not going anywhere. Dr Henderson enters, 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 her he will take the Doctor's blood pressure again, worried he may have suffered brain damage. Behind their backs, the Doctor looks in his shoes and finds the TARDIS key — which he conceals in his mouth instead.
Two burly men appear and knock out Dr Henderson, then put tape over the Doctor's mouth, before sitting him in a wheelchair and kidnapping him. Dr Henderson wakes up and discovers the Doctor has gone. As Henderson chases after him, he is intercepted by Captain Munro, whom he alerts to the situation. Outside the hospital, the Doctor is being pushed to an ambulance, but he escapes in his wheelchair. The ambulance drives off at speed in pursuit, with the mystery man Channing at the wheel. Munro orders a soldier to shoot out the tyres, but the ambulance escapes. The UNIT soldiers find the wheelchair abandoned in the woods.
The Doctor reaches Oxley Woods, but as he crashes through the trees, he is shot by a nervous UNIT soldier guarding the TARDIS, who has been startled by the distant sounds of gunfire. The Doctor collapses. Corporal Forbes is incensed by the soldier's action.
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 his condition. The bullet only grazed his 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 to double the guard at the hospital, as the police box is now en route to UNIT Headquarters. Munro shows him a broken up meteorite and says it was destroyed when it hit the ground. It is lightweight and appears to be made of 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. The only other detail that Munro can recall is that there was something odd about the kidnappers' faces.
At the nearby Auto Plastics factory, salesman John Ransome visits the production manager, George Hibbert, tailed by the mysterious Channing. Ransome argues with Hibbert over his sudden sacking and the cancellation of production of the new toy 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 asks what is going on inside his old workshop — which now has an "out of bounds" sign on the door. Hibbert tells him they have developed a new process and have a new policy. Ransome is ordered to go away and to stay away. He wants to know more, but Channing appears and Hibbert seems to go into a trance. As he leaves, Ransome tries to investigate his workshop, but Channing again appears.
Back at Unit HQ, Liz is trying to identify the debris from space. It is definitely not a meteorite; it shows signs of having been manufactured. 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 has a firm hold over Hibbert. 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 their pulsation signals.
Meanwhile, Sam Seeley, the poacher, removes the meteorite he found from an old metal trunk in his garden shed and takes a closer look at it. As he does so, a mannequin that looks superficially human, at least from a distance, comes to life in the woods.
Seeley's wife Meg comes into the garden, and he hurriedly pushes the energy unit out of sight into the shed. Meg inspects the trunk to make sure he 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 solid metal trunk, muffling the trilling effect. In the woods, the hunting mannequin loses the signal and deactivates.
The Brigadier welcomes Major General Scobie, UNIT's liaison with the regular army, and introduces him to Liz. Scobie asks what a police box is doing in the lab, and, with an ironic look, thinking her remark is merely a joke, Liz tells him it's actually 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 another of the meteorites. Meanwhile, the Doctor — clad only in a hospital gown — sneaks into the staff locker room in search of some clothes.
When Doctors Henderson and Beavis enter, the Doctor jumps into the shower, thus hiding his face from them and avoiding being recognised. Beavis takes off his coat, hat and scarf and leaves them behind the door.
As the UNIT soldiers dig up a pulsating, trilling meteorite, the Auton standing silently in the woods begins to move again, swinging from side to side like a radar scanner, until it locks on to the signal.
The Doctor has dressed himself in a hodgepodge of clothes he has "borrowed", and adds Beavis' hat, cloak and overcoat. As he escapes, an alert is raised. Hurriedly he tries to find a car to steal, settling on Dr Beavis' antique jalopy.
At UNIT HQ, the Brigadier is told of the Doctor's escape. He says that the Doctor will home in on the TARDIS. The Brigadier again tries to open the TARDIS, but fails; Liz suggests he has the wrong key.
Munro orders Corporal Forbes to deliver the meteorite to UNIT HQ. But on the way, Forbes swerves to avoid the hunting Auton, which emerges without warning from the woods beside the road. He crashes the jeep into a tree, killing himself. The Auton takes the meteorite.
In Ransome's old workshop, which is 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 got a pass, and demands to see Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart at once.
The commissionaire telephones the Brigadier and is told to allow the Doctor entry. The Doctor enters the lab. When asked how he knew where to find UNIT HQ, he shows the Brigadier his wristwatch, which doubles as a TARDIS magnet.
The Doctor asks if the Brigadier has the key. The Brigadier says it doesn't fit, but the Doctor tells him it won't work for anyone but himself. The Brigadier has a lot of questions, but the Doctor explains that he has lost his memory. The Brigadier asks how is he to know that the Doctor isn't an impostor; but the Doctor replies that only he knows that. The Doctor studies his new appearance in a mirror and thinks he looks very smart, opining that his new face would be quite useful on Delphon, whose inhabitants communicate with their eyebrows. The Brigadier introduces him to Liz Shaw, to whom he says, "How do you do", in Delphon — using his eyebrows!
The Doctor examines the broken bits of the meteorite and finds them rather interesting: given the shape of the fragments, he deduces that they were hollow spheres, transporting something to Earth. The Brigadier asks the Doctor to assist UNIT with the investigation, and the Doctor asks for the key to the TARDIS in return, to which the Brigadier replies, "Possibly". The Doctor asks him how many meteorites came down, and the Brigadier says there were fifty of them. The Doctor then asks how many have been found, and the Brigadier says only one — and even that has 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 look for them. The question is: where?
Ransome returns to the Auto Plastics factory, climbing over a high wall to enter the grounds.
In Hibbert's office, Channing and Hibbert are showing General Scobie a plastic facsimilie dummy, rather like a waxwork, before showing him to his car.
Ransome enters the factory, climbs the staircase, and breaks into his old workshop, finding 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 halt in front of him.
The mannequin's hinged hand drops away, revealing a small nozzle. It discharges a powerful energy bolt at Ransome, but he evades it. Fleeing the workshop, he escapes down the fire escape with the mannequin in rapid pursuit. In the factory, the mannequin is on the point of blasting Ransome down, until it sees that Channing and Hibbert are accompanied by General Scobie. It conceals itself until Scobie has gone. In the car park, as the General bids them goodbye, Channing refuses to shake his hand: it would be too obvious that he was not human. Scobie asks if he can see the waxwork they are making of him before it is sent to Madame Tussauds. Channing tells Scobie that they will arrange that.
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 to 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 lost 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 its 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 fires, but the shotgun 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 and blasts him down with an energy bolt. Channing orders total destruction. There is a flash of light as the Auton obliterates Ransome's body, which explodes 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.
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 wristwatch, 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 time.
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 replica has arrived, along with two military policemen, and orders Munro to hand over the last meteorite. Munro is reluctant, but Scobie says he will have him arrested if he doesn't.
Meanwhile at the waxworks, an attendant 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 Scobie — 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 hear the door close and emerge 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 is killed when an Auton shoots him with an energy bolt. Channing orders the Auton, "Destroy! Total destruction!" and, like Ransome before him, Hibbert's body explodes into nothingness.
The Doctor and the soldiers reach the plastics factory. The Doctor opens the door, and everyone enters the factory grounds.
Channing 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, in Madame Tussauds, the real General Scobie suddenly awakes, and there are gasps of surprise from visitors.
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 cannot be destroyed by gunfire. The Doctor and Liz enter Channing's workshop.
The Doctor sneaks up on Channing, who 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 all right, 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 Liz 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."
- Doctor Who - Jon Pertwee
- Liz Shaw - Caroline John
- Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart - Nicholas Courtney
- Channing - Hugh Burden
- Seeley - Neil Wilson
- Mullins - Talfryn Thomas
- Captain Munro - John Breslin
- Dr. Henderson - Antony Webb
- Nurse - Helen Dorward
- Corporal Forbes - George Lee
- Unit Officer - Tessa Shaw
- Technician - Ellis Jones
- Wagstaffe - Allan Mitchell
- 2nd reporter - Prentis Hancock
- Major General Scobie - Hamilton Dyce
- Dr. Beavis - Henry McCarthy
- Hibbert - John Woodnutt
- Ransome - Derek Smee
- Meg - Betty Bowden
- Sergeant - Clifford Cox
- Attendant - Edmund Bailey
- UNIT Soldier - Iain Smith (uncredited on-screen for episodes one and two but credited in Radio Times)
- UNIT commissionaire - Derrick Sherwin (DOC: Down to Earth)
- Auton Scout - Robin Squire (DOC: Down to Earth)
- UNIT driver - Robin Squire (REF: Life and Times of a Doctor Who Dummy)
- Voice of Dr Lomax - Ellis Jones (DWM 181)
- Factory Secretary - Constance Carling (DWM 181)
- UNIT Soldiers - Antonio Dimaggio, Dave Mobley, Patrick Milner, Roy Brent (DWM 181)
- Writer - Robert Holmes
- Title Music - Ron Grainer & the BBC Radiophonic Workshop
- Incidental Music - Dudley Simpson
- Special Sound - Brian Hodgson & the BBC Radiophonic Workshop
- Special Effects designed by John Horton
- Costumes - Christine Rawlins
- Make-up - Cynthia Goodwin
- Film Cameraman - Stan Speel
- Sound Recordist - Derek Medus
- Film Editors - William Symon, Adam Dawson
- Script Editor - Terrance Dicks
- Designer - Paul Allen
- Producer - Derrick Sherwin
- Director - Derek Martinus
- Film Camera Team - Stan Speel, Robert McDonnell
- Theme Arrangement - Delia Derbyshire (Source: Wikipedia)
- Assistant Script Editor - Robin Squire (DOC: Down to Earth)
- Production Assistant - Peter Grimwade (DOC: Down to Earth)
- This story had the working title Facsimile.
- This was the debut performance for Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor. His first line in the role was: "Shoes. Must find my shoes."
- There is a new title sequence, the first colour sequence, designed by Bernard Lodge (who also designed the 1967 Troughton title sequence). It is also the first to include an accompanying closing title sequence, rather than showing the credits over a black background.
- Although the title sequence which debuted in this story remained the same over the next four years, this story is the only one for which the title of the serial zooms toward the screen, apart from The Ambassadors of Death (where only part of the story's title — "The Ambassadors" — zooms toward the screen, while the other words — "of Death" — appeared in full size when a sting sound effect is heard.)
- Due to a technicians' strike at the BBC Television Centre, this story was entirely shot on film and on location. Other than the 1996 TV movie, it is the only Doctor Who story to be shot completely on film; the 2005 revival is 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".
- There are scenes featuring real waxworks, shot at Madame Tussauds in London.
- 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" (though the Revival Series would switch back to the "Doctor Who" credit for its first season, only switching to "The Doctor" again from Series 2-onwards at the request of David Tennant).
- 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, one of the original studio models of the Cyber Ship from The Invasion appears as a large piece of lab equipment in this story.
- This was the first of two occasions that a new incarnation fought the Autons; and this was the first of three occasions 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 (Day of the Daleks for Season 9, Destiny of the Daleks for Season 17, Remembrance of the Daleks for Season 25, and arguably Asylum of the Daleks for Series 7 and The Magician's Apprentice/The Witch's Familiar for Series 9 should The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe and Last Christmas be counted as being separate from the start of the "regular" series).
- This serial is the first time it is established that the Doctor has two hearts.
- Despite its 1970 airdate, this serial and the one immediately following were the final ones filmed during the 1960s (filming of Season 7 having begun in September of 1969), and, by extension, are the only stories made in the 1960s that were shot in colour.
- This 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 documentary entitled 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.
- Since the introduction of overall story titles with 1966's The Savages, this was the first not to use the word "the".
- Stan Speel is credited as "Film Cameraman" for episodes one to three, and co-credited with Robert McDonnell as "Film Camera Team" for episode four.
- Producer Derrick Sherwin makes an uncredited cameo appearance as a UNIT commissionaire, making him the only person involved in the series as both producer and actor, as well as the second of five people (the others being Victor Pemberton, Glyn Jones, Mark Gatiss, and Toby Whithouse) involved as both writer and actor.
- Episode 1 - 8.4 million viewers
- Episode 2 - 8.1 million viewers
- Episode 3 - 8.3 million viewers
- Episode 4 - 8.1 million viewers
Location filming took place at -
- The BBC's engineering training centre at Wood Norton near Evesham, Worcestershire and in a nearby pub in Radford.
- Madame Tussauds in London
- King's Cross Station, London (Underground Car Park shots)
- Ealing, London (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 & Spencer's 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)
- The TARDIS materialisation in episode one has a disjointed cut from model footage to location footage. The model appears to have the St. John Ambulance badge, while it had been removed from the full-size prop in 1966, and would not appear on it again until 2010.
- At the beginning of episode one, the Doctor almost pulls the TARDIS's doors off when he faints.
- In episode three, when the Doctor fails to dematerialise in the TARDIS, an arm (likely belonging to a crew member) can be seen retracting just before the smoke wafts from behind the TARDIS prop. Their knee can still be seen for the remainder of the shot, and the person is clearly crouching behind the TARDIS for much of the scene; it is only when the camera pans away after the Doctor emerges from the TARDIS that they completely disappear from view (before then, a small amount of white - likely a knuckle or finger - can still be seen).
- In episode three, when Meg Seeley walks into the cottage and finds an Auton there, the camera cuts to the Auton, then cuts back to Meg when she screams. There is then a further cut to an extreme close up of the Auton. Look carefully, and you can see that its right eye blinks.
- In episode four, when the Autons begin to attack, just after they kill a group of people at the bus stop, one corpse can be seen to be moving their arm slightly.
- These events appear to continue on immediately after the Doctor's forced regeneration. (TV: The War Games, COMIC: The Night Walkers)
- The Autons and the Nestenes encounter the Doctor again. (TV: Terror of the Autons, PROSE: Synthespians™, PROSE: Business Unusual, TV: Rose, TV: The Pandorica Opens, TV: The Big Bang)
- UNIT have encountered the Doctor before. (TV: The Invasion)
- The Doctor's exile lasts until he saves the Time Lords from Omega. (TV: The Three Doctors)
- 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 suggests that this convict tattoo was applied to the Doctor by the Time Lords to mark him as an exile or criminal.
- When asked by Liz what discipline he is a doctor of, the Doctor replies, "Practically everything." He again states that he is a doctor of "everything" in his fifth incarnation (TV: Four to Doomsday) and reportedly gives a similar response during his tenth incarnation. (TV: Utopia)
- The Doctor mentions the Delphon language, which only uses eyebrow movement. This language is mentioned again by the Tenth Doctor. (TV: Planet of the Dead)
- The Doctor is revealed for the first time as having two hearts, as is later often noted. (TV: Robot, Genesis of the Daleks, Dalek, The Christmas Invasion, etc)
- Under the pseudonym "Victor Magister," the Master was charged with having caused the Auton attack, among other incidents, after being captured at Devil's End. Stevens notes that his terrorist activities were little remembered by most British people in 1996. (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy)
- In a parallel universe, the Doctor's exile on Earth did not begin until 1997. Consequently, he was unable to act as UNIT's scientific advisor, meaning that UNIT were forced to fend for themselves in the numerous alien incursions of the 1970s. In this instance, the Autons were defeated through the "plastic purges," which had a severe effect on the British economy. (AUDIO: Sympathy for the Devil)
Home video and audio releases
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.
- 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.
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.
- PAL - BBC DVD BBCDVD1033
- NTSC - Warner Video E1120
- UNIT Recruitment Film
- Photo Gallery
- Production Subtitles
- Easter Egg (Test Footage for the titles sequence) - to access this feature, press left at the "Play All" selection on the main menu.
- Commentary: Nicholas Courtney and Caroline John
- Starring Jon Pertwee
- By Robert Holmes
- Produced by Derrick Sherwin
- Directed by Derek Martinus
- Incidental Music composed by Dudley Simpson
- The Fleetwood Mac song "Oh Well - Part One" was removed from the 2001 DVD release due to music licensing issues — becoming the first of several stories (others including The Chase and Remembrance of the Daleks) to require re-editing to remove certain pieces of music.
- Editing for DVD release completed by Doctor Who Restoration Team.
Special Edition DVD release
Released as Doctor Who: Spearhead from Space: Special Edition
- Commentary by Derrick Sherwin and Terrance Dicks.
- Down to Earth documentary
- Regenerations: From Black and White to Colour documentary
- Radio Times Listings - PDF
- All previous special features
- 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).
- The Region 4 cover has a design mistake. At at the very top of the art, there is a small yellow line in between the TARDIS roundels and the art. The yellow shows the template for which the art goes on, and the picture was not properly fitted over the top (not evident in picture below).
This story is available:
- 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 stories The Three Doctors, The Green Death and Planet of the Spiders;
- in non-continental iTunes stores (Australia, Canada, UK and US) as a collection of Doctor Who: The Classic Series;
- on Amazon Video (US) as part of Season 7 of Doctor Who: The 50th Anniversary Collection;
- for streaming through BritBox (US) as part of Season 7 of Classic Doctor Who.
Released as Doctor Who: Spearhead from Space.
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.
- Spearhead from Space at the BBC's official site
- Spearhead from Space at BroaDWcast
- Spearhead from Space at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- Spearhead from Space at The Locations Guide
- ↑ Spearhead from Space DVD production subtitles, 2011
- ↑ http://www.doctorwho.tv/whats-new/article/spearhead-from-space-blu-ray-contents-and-cover-revealed/
- ↑ Marcus (18 January, 2011). Fleetwood Mac included on Spearhead. Doctor Who News. Retrieved on 7 April 2015.