The Fourth Dimension
Spearhead from Space
ACTION IN EXILE
Following on from the events of The War Games which concluded the previous season, the Doctor is sent to Earth by the Time Lords. Despite the Doctor’s efforts, the TARDIS no longer functions and by the story’s end, the Doctor has agreed to work for the Brigadier in return for the resources to try to repair his ship.
A NEW BODY
Jon Pertwee is the third actor to play the part of the Doctor. Known mainly as a comedy actor, Pertwee surprised everyone by playing a far more serious Doctor than his predecessor, Patrick Troughton.
From 1967 the BBC began to phase in colour programmes – first on BBC2 and then later on BBC1. Spearhead from Space, broadcast in January 1970, was the first Doctor Who to be made and shown in colour. However, many people were still viewing in black-and-white as colour television sets were very expensive.
ENTER THE AUTONS
The Autons and the Nestene make their first appearance in the series. They’d be back the following season in Terror of the Autons and then again, much later, in Rose and The Pandorica Opens with a cameo appearance in Love & Monsters.
UNIT – DEFENDERS OF THE EARTH
The Brigadier and UNIT are back, and this time on a permanent basis. Last seen in The Invasion fighting the Cybermen, UNIT would now be the ally of the Doctor during his exile on Earth.
ALL ON FILM
The Third Doctor’s debut looked particularly impressive as the entire story was made on film rather than the normal combination of studio video recordings with filmed inserts. It had been intended to make Spearhead from Space in the usual way but a scene-shifters’ strike at the Television Centre studios meant studio recording for the story couldn’t go ahead as planned. The answer was to film everything on location.
At the start of the story, the Brigadier recruits Cambridge scientist, Dr Elizabeth Shaw, to become UNIT’s scientific adviser. However, when the Doctor arrives on the scene, she quickly becomes his assistant. The introduction of Liz can be seen as the start of a tradition whereby the Doctor is accompanied by one female companion.
THROUGH THE TIME TUNNEL
A new colour title sequence was used from this story onwards. A variation of the rippling patterns used in the previous two versions of the titles, the sequence included a new Doctor Who logo and Jon Pertwee’s face. For the first time the end credits were also played over a the swirling patterns rather than scrolling over black as they had done previously.
For the first time, we are told that the Doctor (and presumably therefore, all Time Lords) has two hearts.
Spearhead from Space is available on DVD. As well as the restored and remastered versions of all four episodes, the single disc releases features a commentary by actors Nicholas Courtney (the Brigadier) and Caroline John (Liz Shaw); and a UNIT Recruitment Film.