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"Black Thursday", as it was later known, was declared by the British government as a major terrorist attack, however this was the cover story (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy) for the first attempted invasion of Earth by the Nestene Consciousness. (TV: Spearhead from Space)

Based on conflicting accounts and inconsistencies, the invasion occurred in October (PROSE: Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion) of either 1969 (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy) or 1973. (PROSE: Blood Heat) From the Brigadier's perspective, it came some months following the Cyberman invasion. (TV: Planet of the Spiders)


Build Up[]

Six months prior to the event, the Nestenes arrived on Earth in energy units mistaken for a shower of meteorites. Co-ordinated by the Swarm Leader Channing, Auto Plastics was taken over and manufactured Autons, which were distributed across London and every major city in Britain disguised as shop-window mannequins. Additionally, various government officials were replaced with Auton Replicas, including General Scobie (TV: Spearhead from Space) and a Minister in Whitehall. (PROSE: Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion)

A minor skirmish broke out between UNIT and an Auton sent to recover the final energy unit, but Channing called the Auton off as it was too early for confrontation. (TV: Spearhead from Space, PROSE: Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion)

Day of Activation[]

At dawn on "Black Thursday," the Autons were activated and broke out of their shop window displays, entering the streets and gunning down bystanders. (TV: Spearhead from Space)

Police received thousands of calls, but their arms were powerless against the Autons. The Government declared martial law and called out the Army, Navy, and Air Force, but most available troops were absent on manoeuvres away from the big towns; recall orders either failed to arrive or were misinterpreted, troops told to stay put or sent to the wrong place, unable to get clear orders. Replicas were detected only after they had spread chaos and confusion everywhere. (PROSE: Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion)

Power supplies were cut to much of Central London, with police stations and army barracks attacked. Radio and television networks were partially disabled; (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy) BBC and ITV issued warnings to stay indoors, and commando squads of Autons began to attack communications centres, severing telephone exchanges, radio and TV transmitters, and underground power cables. With all communications silent, groups of soldiers, policemen, and Government officials became completely cut off from each other, desperately trying to make sense of the situation as they fought the Autons with bazookas, trench-mortars, and anti-tank guns. Some tanks prowled the streets and shot down or crushed Autons in their path, and a group of quarrymen were able to destroy several Autons using blasting charges. UNIT HQ came under siege, with Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart's calls for help unanswered due to the panic and confusion. (PROSE: Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion)

In an assault on the Auto Plastics factory, the Brigadier led a firefight against defending Autons as the Third Doctor and Liz Shaw confronted Channing and the creature housing the Nestene Consciousness in its environment tank. Using a modified UHF transmitter that essentially worked the same as an ECT machine, the Doctor was able to fuse the creature and destroy it. Channing and every Auton across the country were deactivated and become inert. (TV: Spearhead from Space)

Aftermath and Legacy[]

The bodies of the Autons, some energy units, and the Doctor's UHF transmitter were collected by UNIT and placed in a storage facility under the code "AAA/RH/2961." (HOMEVID: Auton) Having felt under-prepared, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart ordered that soldiers were to be issued grenades, which aided them in repelling the Second Nestene invasion of Earth that followed in early summer. (TV: Terror of the Autons, PROSE: Doctor Who and the Terror of the Autons)

Dozens of London citizens were killed or injured in what the British government stated to be a series of dawn raids by terrorists across Southern England, the perpetrators operating through lightning-fast attacks. Because of the sweeping nature of the raids and the blackout of all communications, only very sketchy details were available. Headlines of the event included "BLACK THURSDAY BRINGS MASS HYSTERIA," and reports of shop window dummies killing people were dismissed as part of a group hallucination brought about by stress. Authorities quietly leaked that the Irish Republican Army might be responsible. (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy)

As recorded by Kadiatu Lethbridge-Stewart, the Doctor's exile on Earth lasted for five straight years, (PROSE: Transit) ending with the First Omega Crisis. During this event, the Brigadier met the Second Doctor again and recounted that he had changed just before the "trouble with the Autons", only for the younger Doctor to explain that that had not happened for him yet. (TV: The Three Doctors)

Though they would go on to be involved in the Last Great Time War, (PROSE: Decoy) the Nestene Consciousness would abandon its warlike ways and develop a rapport with the Embodiment of Gris on Nestenia only to be caught in the edge of the Time War, which ruined the planet. From "an old campaign", the Nestene recognised the planet Earth among those which had been duplicated and used as weapons against it. Reeling from its wounds, the Nestene deliberately chose that "ridiculous" planet as a target for invasion to compensate for the loss of its protein planets. The Nestene barely survived its confrontation with the Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler (PROSE: Revenge of the Nestene, TV: Rose) on 5 March 2005. Incidentally, this invasion would covered up in the same way, having been blamed on terrorists, as the first Nestene incursion. (AUDIO: One Rule)

Behind the scenes[]

Information from invalid sources[]

One name for the Auton invasion on 25 January 1970 was "Project Waxwork". Thirty-five years later, to the day, the anniversary of UNIT's involvement was commemorated with a memorial service at UNIT HQ, attended by over fifty members accompanied by their family members, and £568 was raised, and was donated to the Veteran Serviceman's Union. This was reported on on the UNIT website. (NOTVALID: UNIT News)