Terror of the Autons

Doctor WhoAs the Doctor begins investigating the theft of the last remaining Nestene energy sphere (left behind in the previous Auton invasion) and the disappearance of a radio astronomer, a Time Lord appears and warns him that the Master – the Doctor’s arch rival Time Lord – has come to Earth. The Doctor deduces that the Master’s plan is to reawaken the Nestene Consciousness, giving it the opportunity to invade Earth once more. The Master has already set up production of the lethal plastic Autons at a nearby plastic factory – and knows exactly how he wants to rid the universe of the human race…and the Doctor.

Season 8 Regular Cast: Jon Pertwee (The Doctor), Roger Delgado (The Master), Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart)

written by Robert Holmes
directed by Barry Letts
music by Dudley Simpson

Guest Cast: John Levene (Sergeant Benton), Richard Franklin (Captain Yates), John Baskcomb (Rossini), Dave Carter (Museum Attendant), Christopher Burgess (Professor Phillips), Andrew Staine (Goodge), Frank Mills (Radiotelescope Director), David Garth (Time Lord), Michael Wisher (Rex Farrel), Harry Towb (McDermott), Barbara Leake (Mrs. Farrel), Stephen Jack (Rex Farrel Sr.), Roy Stewart (Strong Man), Terry Walsh, Pat Gorman (Autons), Haydn Jones (Auton voice), Dermot Tuohy (Brownrose), Norman Stanley (Telephone Man)

Broadcast from January 2 through January 23, 1971

LogBook entry & review by Earl Green

Review: This story’s chief claim to fame is the introduction of the Master, an evil Time Lord with equal powers and an equal intellect. Roger Delgado made a tremendous impact in the part, and despite later actors such as Tony Ainley and Eric Roberts having a go, they never quite matched Delgado’s air of calculated ruthlessness. Katy Manning also debuts here as the Doctor’s new assistant for the next three years, Jo Grant, a bubbly (and occasionally bubble-headed) young lady with a knack for getting into trouble. Jo proves to be resourceful as well as clumsy in this story, more or less establishing the entirety of her character in one shot. Richard Franklin also makes his first appearance as Captain Mike Yates of UNIT, and would serve as the Brigadier’s right-hand man through the end of the Pertwee era.

Chances are that if you taped this particular installment of Doctor Who from your local PBS outlet, your copy is in black and white. A colorized – or, to be technical, re-colorized – version is available on VHS. Thanks to the purge of a BBC film storage facility circa 1972, many 1960’s episodes were lost forever, and several Jon Pertwee stories were eliminated, only to be recovered through the discovery of black and white copies sold to other countries in Europe and the eastern hemisphere prior to the brief flashpoint of interest in Doctor Who in the U.S. during the 80’s. Terror Of The Autons is one of the Pertwee adventures which exists only in black and white, though colorized video versions of Terror and Doctor Who and the Silurians were created from color reference material.