Production Code: AAA
1 - 03/01/1970 17:15
2 - 10/01/1970 17:15
3 - 17/01/1970 17:15
4 - 24/01/1970 17:15
The TARDIS arrives on Earth in the middle of a meteorite shower and the Doctor is found by UNIT troops and taken to a nearby hospital. The Brigadier is faced with having to cope not only with the mysterious meteorites but also with Ransome, an ex-employee of a local plastics factory, who claims he has seen a walking mannequin.
The meteorites turn out to be hollow globes containing the Nestene consciousness, a disembodied alien intelligence with an affinity for plastic. A Nestene agent, Channing, has infiltrated the plastics factory and is using energy from the globes to animate Autons - mannequin-like figures and realistic replicas of senior establishment figures - with the aim of colonising the Earth.
Aided by newly-recruited UNIT scientist Dr Elizabeth Shaw, the Doctor thwarts this scheme by repelling the Nestene consciousness into space and thereby neutralising the Autons and the monstrous tentacled form that it has been creating for itself in a tank within the factory. Channing, revealed to be no more than a sophisticated Auton, is likewise deactivated.
The Doctor has been kidnapped from the hospital by two strange men under the instruction of Channing. He manages to escape in a wheelchair, but then abandons it and tries to return to the TARDIS on foot. A UNIT soldier guarding the police box shoots the Doctor as he crashes through the trees.
Ransome returns to the plastics factory and breaks into his old workshop to find it full of new equipment. As he inspects a strange computer-like device, a plastic shop dummy steps down from a plinth behind him and advances.
The Brigadier telephones his regular army contact General Scobie to ask for support in investigating Auto Plastics. Scobie agrees to meet the Brigadier but hangs up as there is a knock at his front door. Scobie opens the door to reveal an exact duplicate of himself, who advances on him.
The Doctor agrees to continue helping the Brigadier in exchange for facilities to repair the TARDIS and a vintage car similar to one that he appropriated from the hospital. The Brigadier goes to prepare the paperwork and asks the Doctor what his name is. 'Smith,' replies the Doctor. 'Doctor John Smith.'
The Quatermass Experiment.
The Day the Earth Stood Still.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
British SF film Invasion.
Never, Never Say Die.
Adam Adamant Lives! A Vintage Year for Scoundrels (the Doctor in the hospital).
The Richard Gordon 'Doctor' films (Dr Beavis).
Emergency Ward 10 (Dr Lomax).
Thunderball (substitution by plastic surgery).
Invaders from Mars.
Technician : "I suppose they must have been meteorites... mustn't they?"
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart : "We deal with the odd... the unexplained. Anything on Earth... or beyond."
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart : "In the last decade, we've been sending probes deeper and deeper into space. We've drawn attention to ourselves, Miss Shaw."
Liz : "You've got to act quickly, Brigadier, or else it'll be too late."
The Doctor can communicate with his eyebrows in the language of the planet Delphon. He has two hearts (which can beat at 10 beats per minute), an inhuman blood type and cardiovascular system, and can put himself into a coma with no detectable brain electrical activity. He carries (or can use) small explosive charges. His chosen pseudonym is Dr. John Smith (see The Wheel in Space). He has a cobra/dragon tattooed on his right forearm [a Time Lord criminal brand? The tattoo only lasts for this incarnation].
The Time Lords have changed the dematerialization codes on the TARDIS.
Liz Shaw is an expert on meteorites, seconded to UNIT against her will from a research project at Cambridge University. She has degrees in medicine and physics (and, the Brigadier says, a dozen other subjects [Liz's physics specialities]).
UNIT have radar tracking stations, and can use cars carrying diplomatic plates. They have a London HQ, can seal areas off [automatically or after authorization has been sought?], and use live ammunition on the Brigadier's orders. They need authorization from their liaison with the regular army, General Scobie, before they can raid somewhere. There have been two attempted invasions of Earth since UNIT was formed, both involving the Doctor [The Web of Fear, which did not involve UNIT, and The Invasion]. The public were informed of neither. [Though the knowledge seems quite widespread: different reasons were given for the evacuation of London in The Web of Fear.]
The Nestenes have been colonising worlds for 1000 million years. Their energy units are manufactured spheres made of non-thermoplastic, non-thermosetting plastic with no polymer chains, estimated at 3000cc capacity. They contain part of a collective intelligence and have no individual identity (the Swarm Leader is a vital part) or physical form, existing as energy. They fly in a formation of 50 or so, and five or six landed six months before. [They travel thus all the way from their home, or last conquered, world.]
Autons can see brain prints of humans, and locate them thus within a certain range. They can sense life, and bullets can't harm them. Auton facsimiles contain brain cells and memory traces of the original, and can hypnotically control humans, so much so as to put them into a deathlike trance. Cruder Autons fire bolts of energy from guns hidden inside their middle three fingers. These guns can, on another setting, dissolve matter. The tips of the fingers are sharp enough to cut canvas. However, a tentacled form has been chosen to 'conquer' Earth. Bursts of electrical energy of the kind used in ECT therapy can disrupt the Nestenes.
There is an Institute of Space Studies in Baltimore (who state that there are 500 nearby planets capable of supporting life), and a Royal Geophysical Laboratory. The Daily Chronicle is mentioned. Nearly all the cars seen are E or F registration [aiding the contemporary UNIT theory].
London Ashbridge, in the Epping area, and other Essex locations, [late Spring 1969]. (According to Planet of the Spiders, this is set 'months' after the events of The Invasion).
There is a new opening title sequence - designed, like the previous ones, by Bernard Lodge - accompanied by a slightly rearranged version of the familiar theme music; and, for the first time in the series' history, a matching closing title sequence (whereas previously the closing credits had generally been shown against a black background.)
The title sequences for Spearhead from Space have two unique features: first, the camera zooms in on the story title caption in the opening credits so that it appears to rush toward the viewer; secondly, the music accompanying the closing credits fades down part way through (at a different point in each of the four episodes) and simultaneously fades up at a different point, the net result being a rather disjointed-sounding edit.
The Doctor is credited for the first time as 'Doctor Who' in the closing credits as opposed to 'Dr. Who'.
Spearhead from Space is the first of only two Doctor Who stories to be originated entirely on film as opposed to videotape; this was an emergency measure necessitated by the unavailability of studios due to industrial action at the BBC.
The establishing shots of the plastics factory in operation are accompanied by an extract from Fleetwood Mac's popular contemporary single 'Oh Well - Part 1'.
There are scenes featuring real waxworks shot at Madame Tussaud's in London.
Robert Holmes's scripts for this story were based in part on a storyline that he had provided for a Merton Park feature film production entitled Invasion, released in 1965, which involved two humanoid aliens crash-landing on Earth outside a country hospital.
Why don't the Nestenes kill the general, once duplicated, instead of leaving him comatose in a wax museum?
The Doctor is gurning as he's attacked by tentacles.
At the start of episode two the Doctor clutches his head before being shot.
The Doctor discards his trilby, thank goodness.
Cast & Crew
The Doctor - Jon Pertwee
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart - Nicholas Courtney
Liz Shaw - Caroline John
2nd Reporter - Prentis Hancock
Attendant - Edmund Bailey
Captain Munro - John Breslin
Channing - Hugh Burden
Corporal Forbes - George Lee
Dr. Beavis - Henry McCarthy
Dr. Henderson - Antony Webb
Hibbert - John Woodnutt
Major General Scobie - Hamilton Dyce
Meg - Betty Bowden
Mullins - Talfryn Thomas
Nurse - Helen Dorward
Ransome - Derek Smee
Seeley - Neil Wilson
Sergeant - Clifford Cox
Technician - Ellis Jones
UNIT Officer - Tessa Shaw
Wagstaffe - Alan Mitchell
Director - Derek Martinus
Jenna Coleman -- Who Not Who!