The Fourth Dimension

Terror of the Autons

The Fourth Dimension


The Doctor’s arch foe, the Master, makes his first appearance in this adventure, played by Roger Delgado. It is clear from the start that the Doctor and the Master are fellow Time Lords and know each other of old. The Master would feature in every story of this season and would return occasionally in the following seasons.


Like the Doctor, the Master possesses a TARDIS which presumably he also stole from the Time Lord home world. Unlike the Doctor’s TARDIS though, the Master’s is fully functional, including the chameleon circuit that enables the ship to disguise itself to blend in with its surroundings. In this story, the Master’s ship takes on the appearance of a horse box.


With Liz Shaw said to have returned to Cambridge, the Brigadier employs the young Jo Grant to be the Doctor’s new assistant. The Doctor is reluctant to take on the rather clumsy and inexperienced Jo but finds himself unable to dismiss her and soon grows fond of her. She remains with the Time Lord until The Green Death but later met up with the Eleventh Doctor in a story from The Sarah Jane Adventures


The Brigadier and the rest of the UNIT rank and file get a change of uniform from this story onwards. Previously they had usually worn beige, one piece, United Nations style outfits but have now adopted a look which reflects the more standard green British army uniforms.


Captain Yates joins the UNIT team and would make occasional appearances in future Earth based adventures. Played by Richard Franklin, Yates would often be on the receiving end of the Brigadier’s wrath when things didn’t go according to plan. We learn that it was Yates who was given the job of cleaning up after the previous Auton invasion that we saw in Spearhead from Space.


The Master kills Goodge, the radio telescope operator, by shrinking him with a weapon called a tissue compression eliminator. This weapon and its distinctive way of killing people would become one of the Master’s trademarks in future stories.


Roger Delgado (1918 – 1973) was born Roger Caesar Marius Bernard de Delgado Torres Castillo Roberto and was cast as the Master by Barry Letts, at the time Doctor Who’s producer. Letts, who also directed this story had previously been an actor himself and had starred in a production where he and Delgado had acted out a sword fight.


This was the second adventure to feature the Autons and they would be back again in Rose, the first adventure for the Ninth Doctor, and again in The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang.


In the hope of repairing his own TARDIS, the Doctor steals the Master’s dematerialisation circuit to replace his own. Unfortunately it proves incompatible with his own time machine. However, it does mean that, for the moment, the Master is stranded on Earth and at the close of the story, the Doctor suggests that it won’t be long before he turns up again…


All four episodes of Terror of the Autons are held in the BBC archives. Although for some time the BBC only had black and white film copies of the story, a restored colour version was created by combining the film copes with colour recordings from America.

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