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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.

Autons attacking.

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.




Story notes[]

  • The story was originally commissioned for Reeltime Pictures as a follow-up to Downtime, and feature Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Beverley Cressman as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, and Miles Richardson as Douglas Cavendish. When Reeltime couldn't produce it, they had Nicholas Briggs take the project over to BBV. The project almost collapsed when Courtney had to drop out at the last minute due to a bout of cyclical depression, but Bill Baggs encouraged Briggs to find a way out and so he created the character of Lockwood as a replacement. With the Brigadier out, Kate and Cavendish were written out as well. This caused a brief falling out between Richardson, Cressman and Briggs; years later, Briggs was relieved to learn from interviewer Dylan Rees that Cressman no longer remembered it.[1]
  • 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"

Filming locations[]

to be added


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:
    • The Making of AUTON, produced by Keith Barnfather
    • Music Soundtrack by Alistair Lock
    • Picture Gallery
    • US Trailer
    • Cyberhunt, a BBV audio starring Nicholas Briggs

External links[]

  1. Downtime: The Lost Years of Doctor Who by Dylan Rees, chapter 16