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24 September 2014

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The Faceless Ones

Production Code: KK

First Transmitted

1 - 08/04/1967 17:50

2 - 15/04/1967 17:50

3 - 22/04/1967 17:50

4 - 29/04/1967 17:50

5 - 06/05/1967 17:50

6 - 13/05/1967 17:50


The TARDIS arrives on Earth in 1966 - on a runway at Gatwick airport. Polly witnesses a murder in a nearby hangar and is then kidnapped by the perpetrator, Spencer of Chameleon Tours. Subsequently Ben also vanishes. The Doctor and Jamie are left to try to convince the sceptical airport Commandant that there has been foul play.

It transpires that a great many other young people have also vanished, all of them while on Chameleon Tours holidays. With the help of Samantha Briggs, the sister of one of the missing youths, the Doctor and Jamie uncover a plot by the alien Chameleons to kidnap human youngsters in order to take their identities - for the Chameleons have lost their own in an accident on their home planet.

The Doctor offers to help the Chameleons find another solution to their problem and the kidnapped humans are released.

Episode Endings

Spencer and Chameleon Tours' Captain Blade help a figure swathed in heavy clothing through the airport terminal buildings to the medical centre. There they sit the figure on a table and remove its hat and coat. Although seen only from behind, the features thus revealed appear distinctly alien.

Investigating the Chameleon Tours hangar, the Doctor becomes trapped in a secret room that starts rapidly to fill with freezing gas.

Detective Inspector Crossland, investigating the disappearances of Sam Briggs' brother Brian and of his own colleague Gascoigne (the man seen murdered by Polly), is kidnapped by Blade on a Chameleon Tours plane and taken to the flight deck, which is bedecked with alien equipment. He is horrified to see on a screen that all the passengers on board have apparently vanished.

The wings of the Chameleon Tours plane fold back and the craft becomes a rocket which shoots into space and docks with a large space station.

Having arrived on the Chameleon space station, the Doctor and Nurse Pinto are captured by Blade and a group of Chameleons.

The Doctor and Jamie say their farewells to Ben and Polly who have decided to stay on Earth as they have learned that this is the same day on which they first left to travel with the Doctor. When they have gone, the Doctor tells Jamie that the TARDIS is not where they left it.


The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

I Married a Monster from Outer Space.

The Avengers.

Goldfinger (attack by laser).

So Long at the Fair.

Danger Man's Colony 3.

Dialogue Triumphs

Jamie : [About an aeroplane] "It's a flying beastie!"

Blade : "We could eliminate a whole squadron of their toy planes, and they'd never get on to us. Their minds can't cope with an operation like this. Remember the teaching of our Director - the intelligence of Earth people is comparable only to that of animals on our planet."


The Chameleons are a generation of aliens made faceless by an accidental [nuclear] explosion. They are a dying race, but they claim to be the most intelligent beings in the Universe (although they later admit that the Doctor's knowledge is even greater than their own). Their leader is known as the Director. The scientists on their home planet have developed a way for them to assume the form of kidnapped humans (it seems that it works best with young people). Almost uniquely, the Doctor does not 'punish' them for their abductions, but instead suggests a chemical solution to their problems.

Polly's double is named as Michelle Leuppi (not Lopez, and this seems to have nothing to do with her real name), from Zurich.


Gatwick airport and the Chameleons' space station, [19 and] 20 July 1966 (the same day as Polly and Ben left Earth in The War Machines).


Ben and Polly do not appear in Episodes 3 to 5, and appear only in a pre-filmed insert in Episode 6.

Frazer Hines speaks without his normal Scots burr in Episodes 5 and 6 as the Chameleon copy of Jamie.

Popular actress Pauline Collins appears in an early role as Sam Briggs.


The only surviving copy of Episode 1 is a print edited by the censors in Australia. (The copy of this episode in the BBC's archives is complete and unedited.)

The Faceless Ones was, by a strange coincidence, the first story to feature the Doctor's face in the opening title sequence. (It wasn't. The first story to feature the new title sequence was The Macra Terror.)


The Doctor uses Jamie's term 'ray gun' throughout.

Cast & Crew


The Doctor - Patrick Troughton

Ben Jackson - Michael Craze

Jamie - Frazer Hines

Polly - Anneke Wills

Ann Davidson - Gilly Fraser

Announcer - Brigit Paul

Blade - Donald Pickering

Commandant - Colin Gordon

Crossland - Bernard Kay

Heslington - Barry Wilsher

Inspector Gascoigne - Peter Whitaker

Jean Rock - Wanda Ventham

Jenkins - Christopher Tranchell

Meadows - George Selway

Nurse Pinto - Madalena Nicol

Policeman - James Appleby

R.A.F. Pilot - Michael Ladkin

Samantha Briggs - Pauline Collins

Spencer - Victor Windind

Supt. Reynolds - Leonard Trolley


Director - Gerry Mill

Assistant Floor Manager - Sue Marlborough

Associate Producer - Peter Bryant for the first three episodes only

Costumes - Daphne Dare

Costumes - Sandra Reid

Designer - Geoffrey Kirkland

Film Cameraman - Tony Imi

Film Editor - Chris Hayden

Incidental Music - stock

Make-Up - Gillian James

Producer - Innes Lloyd

Production Assistant - Richard Brooks

Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson

Story Editor - Gerry Davis

Studio Lighting - Howard King

Studio Sound - Gordon Mackie

Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Delia Derbyshire

Writer - David Ellis

Writer - Malcolm Hulke

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

'You must have a double.' Doctor Who's second attempt to return its narrative to the 1960s. As with The War Machines, the realistic backdrop works very well, and the script is well constructed, augmented by the terrifying appearance of the aliens.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

The Faceless Ones sees Doctor Who approaching the end of a period of transition. It still has something of the feel of a first Doctor story about it and yet shows the series casting off just about the last of its direct links to that era with the departure of Polly and Ben. The way in which the two companions are written out is actually rather abrupt and offhand, as was noted by Chris Marton in Wheel in Space No. 9, dated May 1980: 'It was sad that the retiring companions' appearances were so sparse, and one suspects that contractual hassles were the main reason; a pity, as this would have been an excellent story to remember them by. Their love/hate interplay, with the Doctor as amiable mediator, set the style of the soon-to-be-developed platonic (?) friendships Jamie enjoyed with Victoria and Zoe.' Actors Anneke Wills and Michael Craze had in fact been contracted to appear right through to the second episode of the following story, but were paid off at this stage as a decision had been taken - apparently by Head of Serials Shaun Sutton - to write them out earlier than originally intended.

The fact that The Faceless Ones takes place on (and above) contemporary Earth now seems unremarkable, given the numerous uses of that setting in subsequent years. It should be borne in mind however that this was actually only the second story of its type to be seen in the series (the first having been The War Machines). As Marton commented: 'Fans have been so inundated with 20th Century invasions of Earth set in England that the original novelty value of it being [Patrick Troughton's] premier appearance in this setting has long worn off.'

The Faceless Ones also provides a welcome contrast to the monster-filled tales of the earlier part of the season, making use of the convenient plot device of having the aliens take on the appearance of humans for much of the story. Not only does this save the production team the expense of creating elaborate monster costumes, it also means that the story has to rely for its excitement more on effective dialogue and action than on the shock appearance of an alien being. The Chameleon creatures, when they do eventually appear, are nevertheless suitably gruesome: 'The first appearance of the face of a Chameleon is a behind-the-sofa Doctor Who gem,' enthused Marton. 'The hideously veined face with its similarities to delegate Malpha in The Daleks' Master Plan was a make-up classic.'

'It was a pity that the Chameleons themselves were a bit unbelievable,' wrote Robert Shearman in Cloister Bell 6/7 in 1983. 'They lacked any chill that the Macra may have had and... weren't as clever as they imagined themselves to be. The cliched idea of a race being able to assume human features (overtly plagiarised from Invasion of the Body-Snatchers) was touched on again after The Faceless Ones... but was dealt with in this story far better than [in] any other... [As they were] forced to remain in the identity they [had] stolen, or they [would] die, you could feel their fear as the Doctor threatened to remove the armbands which held their identity together.'

The Chameleons aside, the story's special effects tend to be rather lacklustre. More significantly, the scripts by David Ellis and Malcolm Hulke contain far too much talk and not enough action to maintain the viewer's interest over the full six episodes, making this a rather unmemorable adventure. It does, however, have its good points. 'The plot was full of mystery and excitement, such as... at the end of Episode 3 when we find that somehow the passengers on the Chameleon flight have vanished in mid flight,' wrote Gordon Roxburgh in Matrix Issue 4, dated November 1979. 'There was also the suspense [factor] that you didn't know who was a Chameleon [and who wasn't]...'

'The plot is not going to win an award,' commented Tim Munro in Star Begotten Volume 3 Number 4, dated autumn 1989. 'The Chameleon kidnappings raise the question of why nobody (other than Samantha Briggs) notices that their holidaying relatives never seem to come back. Generally, though, The Faceless Ones is carried off with such skill that one ignores the holes in it... Above all, there is excellent handling of Patrick Troughton's Doctor, capturing perfectly the schizoid blend of childlike playfulness and unquestionable authority.'

Overall, the positive aspects of the story probably just about outweigh the negative. 'Somewhat out of place in a season still deeply-rooted in the Hartnell era,' concluded Tim Robins in Doctor Who - An Adventure in Space and Time in 1983, '[it is a] bizarre, often camp action-adventure; a trendy, yet successful attempt to drag Doctor Who into the second half of the '60s [and] a blueprint for the future.'

< The Macra TerrorSecond DoctorThe Evil of the Daleks >

This episode guide is made up of the text of The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping, and Doctor Who: The Television Companion by David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker.

The Discontinuity Guide © Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping 1995.
Doctor Who: The Television Companion © David J Howe and Stephen James Walker 1998, 2003.

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