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Countdown to TV Action was the fifth short story in the Short Trips anthology Short Trips and Side Steps. It was written by Gary Russell. It featured the Third Doctor under the name of "Dr. Who".


Dr. Who has been contacted by the Minister of Defence, Oswald Holland. He asks the Doctor to go to Haylock-on-Sea in Devon, where a film crew has vanished while filming archaeologists.

Dr. Who arrives at the village, and comes across many people behaving strangely. Sometimes they ignore him, sometimes they repeat their actions and words, and sometimes they refer to sheets of paper they are carrying.

He finds a young boy, Timmy Drake, whose father is a local celebrity and is acting strangely along with the others. Timmy tells Dr. Who that TV scientist Jeremiah Scratch is in charge of the dig. Timmy saw him carrying a strange glass globe containing a kind of moss inside.

Dr. Who confronts Scratch, who wants to destroy the evil force of television and is working for aliens, specifically a Klepton parasite. Dr. Who convinces Scratch that the moss lied to him, and he helps Dr Who free the villagers from hypnotism. Dr. Who neutralises the polarity of the Klepton's machine, and it is reduced to dust.




  • The story's title references TV Action, a weekly magazine that hosted a long-running Doctor Who comic strip in the 1970s. At one point, the magazine was titled Countdown.
  • The Klepton Parasites first appeared in the first Doctor Who story printed within TV Comic, entitled The Klepton Parasites.
  • In this story, the Doctor is called "Dr. Who"; Bessie is called "Betsy".


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