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The Claws of Axos was the third story of season 8 of Doctor Who. It was the first story written by Bob Baker and Dave Martin, who stayed with the series until the end of the 1970s and created K9.

The Claws of Axos was the third story in the season long "Master arc". It saw the introduction of Axos. Despite its popularity, Axos did not again appear in the Doctor Who universe until the Doctor Who Magazine comic story The Golden Ones in 2010. Thus far it has not appeared in any other television stories, although it was mentioned on screen occasionally.

This story's events led the Doctor to strike a deal with the Master, who was unusually placed in a position of distress. With his help, the Doctor was able to restore his TARDIS back to working order, only to discover the High Council of Time Lords had programmed it to always return to Earth no matter how many times he could attempt to leave. He also revealed that the Time Lords had blocked his knowledge of dematerialisation theory.

Synopsis Edit

A group of gold-skinned aliens land on Earth and offer wondrous technology in exchange for fuel. The Doctor, however, isn't fooled, uncovering the Axons' true nature and once again facing his arch enemy, the Master...

Plot Edit

Episode one Edit

An approaching alien spaceship is detected by monitoring equipment at UNIT HQ, where Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is entertaining two visitors — Horatio Chinn, a Conservative MP making a security inspection, and Bill Filer, an American agent sent to discuss the threat of the Master.

The ship lands in England, and the UNIT team, joined by Sir George Hardiman and Professor Winser from the nearby Nuton Power Complex, enter the ship and meet its occupants: beautiful golden-skinned humanoids called Axons. Unknown to them, Bill Filer also enters the ship after Pigbin Josh was analysed[statement unclear] then forcibly kicked out and is held prisoner, as is the Master. The Axons inform their guests that they are in desperate need of fuel.

They propose to exchange the miracle substance they call Axonite for much needed energy. Axonite is a "thinking" molecule that can replicate any substance. Despite the Doctor's vocal suspicion, Chinn and the Nuton scientists are transfixed: such a substance would give the UK unlimited food and power.

Back outside, Sergeant Benton and Captain Yates find a decomposing body next to the ship. The Doctor's companion Jo Grant enters the ship, searching for Filer, when she hears him crying for help through the walls and screams when a hideous monster appears before her.

Episode two Edit

Jo's scream is heard by the others, who tell her that she was hallucinating, though she adamantly insists she heard Filer's voice in the Axon ship. The Doctor convinces Hardiman and Winser that, despite the potential of Axonite, it should be scientifically analysed before it is distributed. Chinn is given the Axonite by the Axon woman who then melts into the wall under Axos' commands as soon as his back is turned. Convinced the Doctor and UNIT will be hindrances, he has the regular army put them under security arrest, though he reluctantly grants permission for the Doctor to assist Winser in the laboratory.

Meanwhile, the Axons are not as nice as they seem. They release a duplicate of Bill Filer to the outside world (after receiving his commands from the Eye of Axos) and strike a deal with their captive, the Master, offering him his freedom in exchange for his efforts to guarantee worldwide distribution of Axonite. The duplicate Filer attacks the Doctor but is killed when the real Filer escapes from the Axon ship and shoves the clone into Winser's light accelerator. The Doctor realises, after an accident involving Winser aggravates Axos, that the Axonites are all part of a singular parasitic entity brought to Earth by the Master to feed on the planet's energy. He has little time to relish this insight as Jo, Filer and he are surrounded by the Axons in their true forms.

Episode three Edit

The Axons take the unconscious Doctor and Jo prisoner in the Axon ship. The Doctor is interrogated; the Axons, aware that the Doctor is a Time Lord, want the secret of time travel. They claim to be able to repair the blocks in the Doctor's memory imposed on him when he was exiled. The Axons almost age Jo to death until the Doctor agrees to co-operate.

Meanwhile, the Master has no intention of helping the Axons. Instead, he makes his way to the Doctor's TARDIS, intending to use it to escape Earth, as his own is being used as a bargaining chip by the Axons. He fails to get it to work, though it occurs to him that it could be done using power from the reactor in the power station where the TARDIS is currently situated. When he leaves the TARDIS, he is caught by the Brigadier and UNIT troops, though he is not finished, since the Axons control the reactor, which has the potential to cause a nuclear explosion. He offers his assistance in exchange for his freedom. The Brigadier agrees. The Master's idea is to turn the power of the Axonite against the Axons. As he prepares to blow up Axos, the Doctor and Jo have not yet escaped their clutches. They will be killed as well.

Episode four Edit

Clawsofaxos ep4

Two Time Lords working together.

The Master's plan fails. The Doctor and Jo escape from Axos and return to the complex. The Doctor, realising that Axos is interested in travelling through time to broaden its feeding base, plans to trick it into linking up its drive unit to his TARDIS so he can send Axos into a perpetual time loop. After tricking the Master into completing the repairs, the Doctor materialises his TARDIS, with the Master on board, at the centre of Axos. He offers to link the two ships together to make one giant time machine, on condition that Axos helps him take revenge on the Time Lords for exiling him to Earth. They accept, but he has tricked them. Every part of Axos dematerialises from Earth, including the Axos automatons and the Axonite. They materialise inside the Doctor's TARDIS and warn him that he shall join them within the "loop of time." The Doctor simply boosts a flight circuit and frees himself from the loop.

At the end, with the Master having escaped in his own TARDIS during the confusion aboard Axos, the Doctor returns to Earth, but not of his own volition. Apparently, the Time Lords have programmed the TARDIS to always return to Earth, turning the Doctor into "some kind of a galactic yo-yo".

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

References Edit

Science Edit

Temporal theory Edit

Story notes Edit

  • Working titles for this story included Doctor Who and the Gift, The Friendly Invasion, The Axons, and The Vampire from Space. The last title was used through the production of the first two episodes. It was changed only by the time filming began on the third as the BBC wanted to avoid the word "vampire". The DVD release contains unused footage and cuts from the story packaged with the original title sequence — naming the story as The Vampire from Space. The Vampire from Space was envisaged as a seven-parter, but the concept of the storylines changed as production progressed.
  • The line "freak weather conditions" is in the script to explain the shifts in weather between filming (which goes from snowy to sunny from take to take).
  • For reasons unexplained, the opening titles for this serial use the Second Doctor's version of the Doctor Who theme music as opposed to the Third Doctor's, as do The Mind of Evil and Terror of the Autons. After this serial, the theme reverts to the Jon Pertwee standard.
  • For the scene in episode three where Axos accelerates Jo's ageing process — as seen on a large video screen — in order to force the Doctor to co-operate, another actress, Mildred Brown, who was uncredited both on-screen and in Radio Times, was used for the shots of Jo as an old woman.[source needed]
  • The Radio Times programme listing for episode one was accompanied by a black and white full-length photograph labelled "DOCTOR WHO in The Claws of Axos" showing the Doctor and Jo, with an inset of the pair escaping from Axos, with the accompanying caption "A new adventure for Dr. Who and Jo: 5.15".
  • Bernard Holley (Axon Man) also provided the Voice of Axos, but was uncredited on-screen.
  • Donald Hewlett (Hardiman) is credited as "Sir George Hardiman" in Radio Times.
  • Paul Grist is credited as "Filer" on-screen, and as "Bill Filer" in Radio Times.
  • Patricia Gordino (Axon Woman) is credited on-screen for episodes one and two, but not in Radio Times.
  • John Hicks (Axon Boy) and Debbie Lee London (Axon Girl) are credited on-screen for episode one, but not in Radio Times.
  • Michael Walker (1st Radar Operator) and David G. March (2nd Radar Operator) are credited collectively as "Radar Operators" in Radio Times for episode one.
  • UNIT's mobile HQ is portrayed by a BBC Outside Broadcast van, with the BBC logos obscured.
  • The original script called for the Axons to land in Hyde Park, with their ship shaped like a human skull. The script was spectacular in other respects also. The production team loved the story, but had it scaled down on account of impracticality and budget.
  • One of the Axon costumes was later adapted (in other words, repainted green) for the humanoid stage of the Krynoid in The Seeds of Doom.
  • Nicholas Briggs jokingly said on the David Tennant video diaries that if they didn't finish the ending of Rise of the Cybermen and the beginning of The Age of Steel, they would have to do a Claws of Axos rewrite.

Ratings Edit

  • Episode one - 7.3 million viewers
  • Episode two - 8.0 million viewers
  • Episode three - 6.4 million viewers
  • Episode four - 7.8 million viewers

Myths Edit

  • A common myth about this story is that the colour separation overlay (CSO) background was accidentally placed in some of the car interior scenes, meaning a blank blue void is seen behind the characters. In reality, the scenes were shot on location (and on 16mm film, making CSO extremely tricky), and clouds can be seen. The differing shades of blue compared to the exterior shots is due to the scenes being filmed at different parts of the day.

Filming locations Edit

  • Dengemarsh Road, Lydd, Kent
  • Dungeness Road, Dungeness, Kent (Where Axos lands and half buries itself)
  • Dungeness Power Station, Dungeness, Kent (Location for the Nuton Power Complex)
  • Dungeness Beach, Dungeness, Kent
  • St. Martin's Plains Camp, Shorncliffe, Kent
  • BBC Television Centre (Studio 7, 3 and 4), Shepherd's Bush, London

Production errors Edit

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • In episode four, after the TARDIS dematerialises from the Nuton lab, it is still there during the UNIT gun battle which follows.
  • In episode two, during the "absorption" scene, the Axon Woman's mask fails to inflate due to the stuntwoman not fitting the size of the mask making it appear to deflate and the mouth was where the mask's nose was when the stunt double is breathing in. This is even commented on in the production notes.
  • In episode three, when Jo Grant is being aged, the eyes of Katy Manning and Mildred Brown do not match properly.
  • As the Brigadier and his men leave the room where they've been held captive in episode two, the wall shakes.
  • The Axon on the bonnet of the car explodes before the grenade that supposedly destroyed it.
  • When the Master kills the UNIT guard outside Axos, the guard's beret flies off. However, as the Master moves off, the beret is back on the guard's head.
  • The model shot of the TARDIS exterior in part four shows a St John Ambulance sticker, unlike the actual prop itself seen in this episode. It would seem that the production crew were using a model from the 1960s, when the TARDIS did bear the sticker. Although an obvious production error, it's interesting as one of the only colour examples of the St John's cross prior to its reintroduction in The Eleventh Hour.
  • The CSO has many notable errors, most obvious is the frog shown in episode one, which is missing many areas that should be there yet has a flickering shadow.

Continuity Edit

Home video and audio releases Edit

DVD releases Edit

This story was released as Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos.




DVD special edition Edit

As with numerous serials released on DVD prior to 2007, The Claws of Axos was ultimately chosen for a special edition. This DVD was released on 22 October 2012.

Doctor Who DVD Files Edit

It was released as issue 97 of Doctor Who DVD Files.

Digital releases Edit

This story is available:

  • in non-continental iTunes stores (Australia, Canada, UK and US) as a stand-alone season of Doctor Who: The Classic Series;
  • in BBC Store (UK) as a standalone story or as part of Doctor Who bundle The Classic Series: Series 8;
  • on Amazon Video (UK) as Season 57 of Doctor Who (Classic) series;
  • for streaming through BritBox (US) as part of Season 8 of Classic Doctor Who.

Video releases Edit

External links Edit

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