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24 September 2014

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The Invasion

Production Code: VV

First Transmitted

1 - 02/11/1968 17:15

2 - 09/11/1968 17:15

3 - 16/11/1968 17:15

4 - 23/11/1968 17:15

5 - 30/11/1968 17:15

6 - 07/12/1968 17:15

7 - 14/12/1968 17:15

8 - 21/12/1968 17:15


The TARDIS materialises in England in the 1970s and the time travellers meet a girl named Isobel whose uncle, computer scientist Professor Watkins, has recently gone missing. The Doctor offers to help track him down, starting at the place where he last worked - the London HQ of International Electromatics, the world's major supplier of electronic equipment.

His initial suspicions about IE's managing director, Tobias Vaughn, are confirmed after he becomes reacquainted with Lethbridge-Stewart, now promoted to Brigadier and in charge of the British branch of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT), and learns that there have been other disappearances at IE premises.

He discovers that Vaughn is in league with the Cybermen in a plan to invade Earth, but is also plotting against them with the aim of seizing power for himself. Watkins is being forced by Vaughn to develop the cerebration mentor, a machine designed to generate emotional impulses as a weapon against the Cybermen.

The Cybermen immobilise most of Earth's population - sending a hypnotic signal through special circuits incorporated in all IE equipment - and launch their invasion. The Doctor has managed to protect himself and his friends from the signal and - with help from an embittered Vaughn, who is killed during the fighting - the invasion is eventually defeated.

Episode Endings

Tobias Vaughn crosses to the wall of his office and activates a switch on a control panel. The wall pivots upwards to reveal a strange, alien-looking device within a hidden compartment.

The Doctor and Jamie see guards placing an unconscious Zoe and Isobel into crates ready for transportation to the IE factory. Jamie attacks Vaughn's sadistic security chief, Packer, but the guards are alerted by the sounds of their struggle. The Doctor tells his companion to run, but they are both caught and brought before Packer at gunpoint.

To avoid capture by guards, the Doctor and Jamie each hide inside a crate loaded aboard the IE train. Jamie finds himself lying next to some sort of a cocoon. To his horror, something inside the cocoon starts to move...

The Doctor and Jamie watch from hiding as technicians attach cables to one of the cocoons and activate the device to which they are connected. The cocoon is split open from inside and a Cyberman emerges.

Jamie, Zoe and Isobel are trapped in a London sewer as Cybermen converge on them from both directions. Suddenly a rogue Cyberman that Vaughn earlier sent mad using the cerebration mentor appears and lurches toward them...

The Cybermen emerge from the sewers and march through the streets of London as the invasion begins.

The Cyber Director tells Vaughn that the Cybermen no longer need him; they intend to deliver a Cyber megatron bomb that will destroy all life on Earth. The Doctor asks Vaughn if this is what he wanted - to be the ruler of a dead world.

The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe enter the TARDIS, watched with bemusement by Isobel and UNIT's Captain Turner. The ship dematerialises.


The Third Man.

The Ipcress File.

The Power Game.

Quatermass II.

James Bond.

Richard III (the scene where Vaughn dares Watkins to shoot him).

The Brigadier's reference to UFO sightings gives an indication of B-movie origins of The Invasion (e.g. Earth vs. The Flying Saucers).

Dialogue Triumphs

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart : "You still making a nonsense of it, Doctor, in your... what's it called? TARDIS?"

The Doctor : "Yes, we're still travelling, yes."

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart : "Yes, Miss Travers told me all about it. It's... um... well, it's to say the least an unbelievable machine."

The Doctor : "Any more unbelievable than the Yetis, hm?"

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart : "No, true. I'm not quite so much a sceptic as I was before that little escapade!"

Tobias Vaughn : "My body may be cybernetic but my mind stays human!"

Professor Watkins : "You're an evil man, Vaughn. You're sadistic. You're a megalomaniac. You're insane. I pity you. But if I get half a chance, I'll kill you."

Tobias Vaughn : "The world is weak, vulnerable, a mess of uncoordinated and impossible ideals. It needs a strong, single mind, a leader."

Dialogue Disasters

Lethbridge Stewart : [Acts as if he's auditioning for Scooby Doo.] "I think those crazy kids have gone off to the sewers to get photographs of the Cybermen."


On arriving on Earth, the Doctor removes the TARDIS' faulty visual stabiliser circuit. This renders the TARDIS invisible.

The Cybermen's spaceship is hidden on the dark side of the moon. The 'death rays' from the Cybermen's chest units produce the standard negative flash. Their hand held weapons (seen only in the last episode) produce a flame thrower effect.

The headquarters of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce is a Hercules transport plane (by Spearhead from Space they have become Earthbound). The Brigadier says that UNIT cannot arrest people. The Brigadier uses a Browning 9mm automatic pistol in this and most subsequent stories.

Captain Turner tells Isobel 'no one believed in the Yeti until they saw them', which indicates that knowledge of the attempted invasion was more widespread than the Doctor suggests in Remembrance of the Daleks. [UNIT at this point have no policy on public secrecy: see Spearhead from Space.]


Dating the UNIT Stories

UNIT Call-Signs

Cyber History


London, [Spring 1969]


The Doctor travels to see Professor Travers, but finds he has gone to America with Anne, loaning his home to Professor Watkins and his niece Isobel. Lethbridge-Stewart reappears, now promoted to Brigadier. UNIT was created in Geneva, with the Brigadier in charge of British forces [dialogue in Spearhead from Space would seem to indicate that UNIT was already in existence at this time, Lethbridge-Stewart joining later].


The Cyber Director tells Vaughn that the Doctor and Jamie have been recognised 'from Planet 14' [an untelevised adventure, as all of the second Doctor's other meetings with the Cybermen take place, chronologically, after this date, and the Cybermen as yet show no time travel ability]


Peter Halliday also provided, uncredited, the voices of the Cybermen and of the Cyber Director hidden in a concealed compartment in Vaughn's office.

On the closing credits of Episode Five Ralph Carrigan's surname was misspelt 'Carrigon'.

The TARDIS becomes invisible for the first time after materialising.

There is a cameo appearance by director Douglas Camfield, who plays a car driver in the first episode.

John Levene makes his debut appearance as future regular Benton. In Episode Eight he replaced James Thornhill, who was originally planned to have appeared as Sergeant Walters.

Douglas Camfield's wife Sheila Dunn provides voice-overs as a phone operator.

Zoe makes no appearance in Episode Four of the story as Wendy Padbury was on holiday during the week when it was recorded. Similarly Jamie appears only in a pre-filmed insert in Episode Eight as Frazer Hines was due for a break.

There is some excellent and highly distinctive incidental music (albeit only about four minutes in total) by jazz musician Don Harper.

Stock footage of radar dishes, missiles etc is employed extensively.

There is an appearance by the 2nd Battalion of Coldstream Guards as UNIT troops in the battle scenes in Episode Eight.


Gregory states narrow bandwidth transducers should make 'transmission more directional'. Zoe disables the IE computer, giving it an insoluble Algol equation: 'Realsum positive, delete square... print out Y to the minusvariable X one.'


In episode five, the panel concealing the Cyber Director struggles to close.

The Cyberman falling from the roof of an IE building in episode eight is clearly an empty costume.

Zoe's and Isobel's knickers are frequently revealed.

Why does Vaughn continue to delegate tasks to Packer, who is obviously incompetent?

In episode six, Gregory's sudden low-budget announcement of the off-screen recapture of Professor Watkins by UNIT is followed by his low budget on-screen death as an extra who looks nothing like him is shot by a Cyberman in the sewer.

Fashion Victim

Zoe in a feather boa.

Cast & Crew


The Doctor - Patrick Troughton

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart - Nicholas Courtney

Jamie - Frazer Hines

Zoe - Wendy Padbury

Benton - John Levene Also appeared in film sequences in Episode Five, but uncredited

Captain Turner - Robert Sidaway

Cyberman - Pat Gorman

Cyberman - Ralph Carrigan

Cyberman - Charles Finch

Cyberman - John Spadbury

Cyberman - Derek Chaffer

Cyberman - Terence Denville

Cyberman - Peter Thornton

Cyberman - Richard King

Gregory - Ian Fairbairn

Isobel - Sally Faulkner

Lorry Driver - Murray Evans

Major Branwell - Clifford Earl

Major-General Rutlidge - Edward Dentith

Packer - Peter Halliday

Patrolman - Walter Randall

Phone Operator - Sheila Dunn

Policeman - Dominic Allan

Private Perkins - Stacy Davies

Professor Watkins - Edward Burnham

Sergeant Peters - Norman Hartley

Sergeant Walters - James Thornhill

Tobias Vaughn - Kevin Stoney

Tracy - Geoffrey Cheshire

Workman - Peter Thompson


Director - Douglas Camfield

Assistant Floor Manager - Sue Willis

Costumes - Bobi Bartlett

Designer - Richard Hunt

Film Cameraman - Alan Jonas

Film Editor - Martyn Day

Incidental Music - Don Harper

Make-Up - Sylvia James

Producer - Peter Bryant

Production Assistant - Chris D'Oyly John

Script Editor - Terrance Dicks

Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson

Studio Lighting - Robbie Robinson

Studio Sound - Alan Edmonds

Studio Sound - Bryan Forgham

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

Visual Effects - Bill King

Visual Effects - Trading Post

Writer - Derrick Sherwin from a story by Kit Pedler

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

'You're an evil man, Vaughn. You're sadistic; you're a megalomaniac!' The pilot for early 70s Doctor Who, The Invasion, like its blood brother The Web of Fear, shows the advantages of recognisable Earth settings. A comparatively large budget leads to an all action romp (although even with these bonuses an assault by 'at least thirty' UNIT troops to recapture Professor Watkins happens off screen). The sign of things to come.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

The Invasion, originally conceived as a sequel of sorts to The Web of Fear (although in the end Professor Travers and his daughter Anne became Professor Watkins and his niece Isobel), is one of the very best stories to feature the Cybermen. That this should be the case is actually quite ironic, given that the silver giants are kept firmly in the background throughout and don't really constitute characters in their own right - indeed, they don't even appear until Episode Four and have only a couple of brief lines of dialogue in the entire story. They are instead represented by the Cyber Director (presumably, like the Cyber Planner in The Wheel in Space, a kind of super-evolved Cyberman) and more particularly by the part-converted human entrepreneur Tobias Vaughn - a character wonderfully portrayed by Kevin Stoney (who had already endeared himself to the series' fans with his fine performance as Mavic Chen in the third season story The Daleks' Master Plan).

'It is [Vaughn's] battle with the Doctor that gives substance and form to the plot,' wrote Anthony Clark in DWB No. 114, dated June 1993. 'In the end, this conflict plays out so well that the Cybermen are almost an irrelevance at times... Doctor Who has never had a better written and acted villain, and all his scenes are a tour de force of character portrayal... By the end of the story you really feel that you have come to know Vaughn's motives so well that he becomes almost sympathetic, if not likeable.'

While this may not be a 'standard' Cyberman story, the idea of the Earth being attacked through its electronic equipment is perfectly in tune with the concepts underlying the creatures, and the influence of their creator Kit Pedler can be discerned here. The Cybermen also look very good on screen, due partly to the superb new costumes designed for them by Bobi Bartlett but perhaps more particularly to Douglas Camfield's excellent direction. 'Although the new Cybermen are more in line with conventionally styled robots,' commented Philip Packer in Star Begotten Vol. 3 No. 1/2, dated June 1989, 'they can look stunning in some of Camfield's shots, notably those in the sewers, where they gleam menacingly, and especially in one of the most perfectly executed and celebrated invasion sequences ever made for Doctor Who, or any other telefantasy series... the moment at the end of Episode [Six] when the Cybermen climb out of the sewers and march down the steps of St Paul's...'

Sherwin's creation (as an addition to Pedler's original storyline) of the UNIT organisation - headed by Lethbridge-Stewart from The Web of Fear - is inspired; and in retrospect the story can be considered even more significant than it seemed at the time of its original transmission, given that it was in effect a 'dummy run' for the early part of the third Doctor's era.

'The Invasion was careful to portray a vision of the future' noted Mark Jones in Matrix Issue 49, dated spring 1994. 'Treated by the production team and publicity alike as being set in 1975, [it] presented a frightening but believable view of the world of [that time]... The Earth is closer towards unity, with UNIT operating as an effective multinational force: the Brigadier in Episode Seven is able to pick up a file containing the scheduled launch times of Russian rockets and is equally able to launch those [rockets] at the incoming invasion fleet...'

'The Invasion is a totally successful blend of good characterisation... and taut plotting,' enthused Trevor Wayne in Doctor Who - An Adventure in Space and Time in 1984. 'Despite [its] prodigious length... there are no dull patches and little let-up in the pace and excitement; for once the defeat of the invasion and the downfall of the aliens are not reserved for the last ten minutes of the final episode. Excellent use of film and locations and the proliferation of soldiers, guns, missiles, helicopters and other military hardware once again prove that Douglas Camfield's forté was the strong action-packed adventure.'

The consensus of opinion certainly demonstrates that The Invasion is, in short, a very strong Doctor Who story and one of the highlights of the sixth season.

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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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