Auton was the first story in the Auton Trilogy of video dramas produced by BBV Productions in the late 90s. It was a sequel to the first Nestene/Auton story Spearhead from Space. Like most video dramas of this era, the story featured characters and concepts from Doctor Who but did not include any main characters from the series. While Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart was planned to make an appearance, Nicholas Courtney was forced to withdraw from the project due to health concerns.
The United Nations Intelligence Taskforce was set up to tackle human contact with the extraterrestrial and paranormal — especially when that contact proved dangerous. But when the battles were over, when the top-secret "clean ups" were completed, where was all the alien technology taken?
The Warehouse... UNIT's highly classified storage and research establishment. Here lie the dead, forgotten relics of past battles and encounters.
But what happens when one of these relics is reactivated?
UNIT has only one way of dealing with its mistakes. The Containment Team has been summoned... and the outcome is far from certain...
Dr. Sally Arnold is a research scientist working in one of UNIT's forgotten storage facilities. She has put together a communications device to communicate with an unknown artefact part of AAA/RH/2961. She subjects it to UNIT's most powerful deep space satellite. The object, the energy unit receives something from deep space and begins to communicate with it.
Dr. Arnold, realising what she has done; allowing the energy unit to communicate with deep space ends its satellite uplink. The energy unit explodes as the communication link is ended, killing Arnold's assistant in the process.
A UNIT Containment Team is called in to clear up Dr. Arnold's experiment. However, as UNIT's expert Lockwood begins to investigate they discover that the energy unit did not explode, it absorbed energy and changed its state. Shifting between an ooze and a solid state, killing and communicating with other Autons and a duplicate of one of the UNIT archivists Graham Winslet.
Whilst interviewing Dr. Arnold, Lockwood and the UNIT Containment team discover other crates relating to the AAA/RH/2961 and a sectioned-off portion of the UNIT Warehouse that contains items relating to the Nestenes' first invasion attempt.
As Lockwood and Dr. Arnold make their way to the sectioned-off location, Autons are being activated throughout the Warehouse to fight the remaining UNIT personnel.
The sectioned-off area is protected by a retina scan and code, the latter of which Lockwood, at least initially does not know. He is however able to grant them access after a moment's "thought", inside they find several items including a UHF transmitter used against the Autons in their first attempted invasion and another energy unit.
The duplicate Winslet forces Lockwood to allow it access to the sectioned off part of the facility in order to gain access to the remnant of the Nestene body it attempted to create during its first invasion attempt.
Whilst Lockwood is engaged with Winslet, Dr. Arnold utilises Dr John Smith's UHF transmitter created to combat the Autons during their first invasion attempt to fight back against the Autons active inside the warehouse.
Having gained the remnant the energy unit changed shape once more, shifting to a gel-like ooze, escaping through the ventilation systems.
- Lockwood - Michael Wade
- Dr. Sally Arnold - Bryonie Pritchard
- Graham Winslet - George Telfer
- Dr. Daniel Matthews - Reece Shearsmith
- Sergeant Ramsay - Andrew Fettes
- Janice - Verona Chard
- UNIT Soldiers - Roy Hughes, Gabriel Mykaj, Mike Parry, David Ringwood, Richard Smith
- Autons - John Ainsworth, Gareth Baggs, Blaine Coughlan, David Ringwood
- First Assistant Director - Ben Hicklin
- Production Manager - Annalesa Hunt
- Second Assistants - Blaine Coughlan, Samantha Hardman
- Technical Engineer - Rob Belton
- Military Advisor and Visual Effects Supervisor - Gabriel Mykaj
- Military Advisor for Costume Design - Elisabeth Mykaj
- Special Props designed and constructed by - David Brian
- Make-up Designer - Zoë Randall
- Assistant - Cath Rayner
- Music and Sound Design - Alistair Lock
- Editor - Bill Baggs
- Producer - Bill Baggs
- Director - Nicholas Briggs
- UNIT headquarters is in Geneva. UNIT also owns several deep space satellites, one of which is the most powerful such satellite yet developed.
- Lockwood is the head of a UNIT containment team.
- Lockwood uses the call sign Greyhound Leader, which is usually used by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.
- A risk of contamination is afforded a Code 7 categorisation.
- Ramsay uses the call sign Greyhound One when requesting back-up.
- Nicholas Briggs originally planned for this story to feature Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, but Courtney had to drop out at the last minute due to health issues. The character of Lockwood was created to replace the Brigadier.
- The crates containing the other energy unit and the Autons are coded AAA/RH/2961 (AAA is the story code for Spearhead from Space and RH is the initials of Robert Holmes, the creator of the Autons).
- "Dr. John Smith" was the name the Third Doctor gave to the Brigadier at the end of Spearhead from Space, and was used here as, like Reeltime Pictures, BBV Productions were not allowed to refer to the Doctor directly.
- In the credits it states:
- "We gratefully acknowledge the co-operation of Dr M K Thompson and Shirley Thompson"
- "Thanks to Vetrepharm Ltd for their help in this production"
to be added
- The Doctor's UHF transmitter from TV: Spearhead from Space makes an appearance. This story is very much a sequel to Spearhead from Space.
- The Autons first appeared in TV: Spearhead from Space. This story is set thirty years after TV: Terror of the Autons. The Autons appear again in HOMEVID: Auton 2: Sentinel and Auton 3: Awakening. Following this, their next on-screen appearance is in TV: Rose.
DVD and video releases
- This story was released on video in 1997 by BBV Productions.
- It was released on DVD as a double sided DVD for PAL and NTSC formats. DVD authoring was by Merv Station. The DVD release included: