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After the successful reprinting of three novelisations dating back to 1964 and 1965, the Target Books novelisations line began in earnest with Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion, the first original Target novelisation to be published. Despite it being an adaptation of Spearhead from Space, the opening chapter of the book also partially adapts episode 10 of the preceding story, The War Games. With this book, Target continued the practice, introduced with Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks, of using titles substantially different from the original TV serial. This practice would continue off-and-on before being mostly abandoned by the mid-1970s, although the title format Doctor Who and the ... and variations therefore would continue to be used until the early 1980s.

Publisher's summary[]

1974 Target edition[]

In this, the first adventure of his third `incarnation', DOCTOR WHO, Liz Shaw, and the Brigadier grapple with the nightmarish invasion of the AUTONS — living, giant-sized, plastic-modelled `humans' with no hair and sightless eyes; waxwork replicas and tailor's dummies whose murderous behaviour is directed by the NESTENE CONSCIOUSNESS — a malignant, squid-like monster of cosmic proportions and indescribably hideous appearance.

“This DOCTOR WHO adventure (televised as 'Spearhead from Space') wins my vote as the best in the lifetime of this series so far.' Mathew Coady, The Daily Mirror

“DOCTOR WHO, the children's own programme which adults adore...” Gerard Garrett, The Daily Sketch

1982 Hardback edition[]

A mysterious shower of meteorites lands in Essex, and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart of UNIT has reason to believe that they have been deliberately aimed at the Earth's surface.

The Doctor joins forces with the Brigadier and Liz Shaw in a desperate bid to prevent the nightmarish invasion of the sinister Autons. Living models of human beings - like waxwork dummies - their murderous behavior is controlled and directed by the Nestene Consciousness, a malignant, squid-like monster of cosmic proportions and indescribably hideous appearance.

1991 Target edition[]

"You will be exiled to Earth in the Twentieth Century Time Zone. You will remain there for as long as we think proper. And for that time the secret of the TARDIS will be taken from you."

Found guilty by his fellow Time Lords of interference in the affairs of other planets, the Doctor is forced to undergo his second regeneration and is exiled to Earth.

But strange meteorites are landing in Essex and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart of UNIT has reason to believe that they were deliberately aimed at the Earth's surface. In order to avert a possible catastrophie the Doctor joins forces with UNIT and battles with the sinister Autons - creatures whose murderous behaviour is directed by the Nestene Consciousness, a hideous entity of cosmic proportions.

This story was written by Robert Holmes and broadcast under the title The Spearhead from Space (sic.). It was the first programme to feature Jon Pertwee in the role of the Doctor and marks the beginning of his Earth-bound adventures.

Doctor Who - The Spearhead from Space has recently been broadcast on BSB television.

2011 BBC edition[]

"Here at UNIT we deal with the odd-the unexplained. We're prepared to tackle anything on Earth. Or even from beyond the Earth, if necessary."

Put on trial by the Time Lords, and found guilty of interfering in the affairs of other worlds, the Doctor is exiled to Earth in the 20th century, his appearance once again changed. His arrival coincides with a meteorite shower. But these are no ordinary meteorites.

The Nestene Consciousness has began its first attempt to invade Earth using killer Autons and Deadly window shop dummies. Only the Doctor and UNIT can stop the attack. But the Doctor is recovering in hospital, and his old friend the Brigadier doesn't even recognise him. Can the Doctor recover and win UNIT's trust before the invasion begins?

This novel is based on "Spearhead From Space", a Doctor Who story which was originally broadcast from 3 January-24 January 1970.

Featuring the Third Doctor as played by Jon Pertwee, his companion Liz Shaw and the UNIT organisation commanded by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart

Chapter titles[]

  1. Prologue: Exiled to Earth
  2. The Mystery of the Meteorites
  3. The Man from Space
  4. The Faceless Kidnappers
  5. The Hunting Auton
  6. The Doctor Disappears
  7. The Horror in the Factory
  8. The Auton Attacks
  9. The Creatures in the Waxworks
  10. The Final Battle

Deviations from televised story[]

  • The novel opens at the end of The War Games with the Second Doctor being judged and pronounced guilty by a Council of Time Lords, led by a President of the Court. Eventually, and after rejecting the offered regeneration forms, the Doctor is grasped by a force-field and is sent on his exile to the 20th century on Earth.
  • The scenes featuring the radar technician and UNIT officer are removed.
  • The initial scene in Oxley Woods is set during night rather than in daylight.
  • When the Third Doctor stumbles out of the TARDIS in the episode, he is still wearing the Second Doctor's clothes. However, the illustration of the scene below shows him wearing the Second Doctor's trousers, but the First Doctor's coat, waistcoat and cravat.
  • After discovering the sphere, Seeley witnesses the arrival of the TARDIS and witnesses the Doctor collapse.
  • Additionally, the Doctor locks the TARDIS door before collapsing.
  • Liz Shaw refers to UNIT as "a silly James Bond outfit."
  • John Ransome is renamed Harry Ransome.
  • More detail is given to the hospital staff, including a rivalry between Henderson and Lomax and the medical staff's views on Beavis.
  • Beavis plans to cut the Doctor open.
  • Beavis witnesses the Doctor stealing his car.
  • In the televised version, Corporal Forbes is one of the sentries at the TARDIS and is later killed when an Auton causes his jeep to crash. In the novelisation, Forbes is not at the TARDIS and his patrol discovers the Doctor's body after the sentry shoots him. Forbes' jeep is later driven off the road by the Auton, but he is not killed in the jeep crash. Instead, he gets out and tries to shoot the Auton. The Auton then kills Forbes by breaking his neck.
  • Sam Seeley's encounter with Forbes at the TARDIS in the televised version is replaced by a near encounter with the sentry at the TARDIS.
  • The doll Ransome invented is called the Walkie Talkie, and Ransome demonstrates it to Hibbert. The doll is not named on-screen.
  • Captain Munro is given the first name of Jimmy.
  • Wagstaffe introduces himself to the Brigadier as being the defence correspondent for the Daily Post.
  • Mullins swears never to call the press again.
  • Channing is present when the facsimile of Scobie goes to Scobie's house.
  • Two Autons accompany Channing and Hibbert to the waxworks.
  • Hibbert shows the Doctor, Liz and the Brigadier the factory store rooms. He also tells them that their mannequins are called Autons, after the company's name, Auto Plastics.
  • Seeley accompanies the Doctor, Liz, the Brigadier and Munro to his cottage to find the meteorite. He later travels with his wife to the hospital. On-screen, he is kept at the UNIT camp.
  • An extra scene is added featuring the Doctor, the Brigadier and Liz in the car heading from the factory.
  • "Scobie" is accompanied by two military policemen when he goes to take the meteorite from UNIT HQ. On-screen, a single officer accompanies him.
  • The waxworks attendant is given more lines.
  • Nobody is present in the waxworks when the Doctor and Liz visit it. On-screen, several other visitors are present.
  • More detail is given into the effects of the invasion.
  • An extra scene is added featuring Ransome, the Doctor and Liz in the UNIT car heading towards the woods.
  • The battle between the UNIT troops and the Autons takes place in the factory, instead of outside it as in the televised version.
  • On-screen, all of the Nestene is not seen, but in the novelisation, it comes out of the tank to attack the Doctor. It is described on page 160:

"Standing towering over them was the most nightmarish creature Liz had ever seen. A huge, many tentacled monster something between spider, crab and octopus. The nutrient fluids from the tank were still streaming downs its sides. At the front of its glistening body a single huge eye glared at them, blazing with alien intelligence and hatred."

  • Jimmy, one of the reporters, is not in the novelisation.
  • A flashback sequence features Jamie and Zoe saying goodbye to the Doctor.
  • The Nestene spheres are green.
  • Hibbert is given more backstory.

Writing and publishing notes[]

  • Terrance Dicks' first novelisation for the Doctor Who series was among the first commissioned new titles and arrived one week late. Dicks, who at the time was a member of the TV series production team, would be the most prolific author of the Target Novelisation line, writing dozens of works that would be published between 1974 and the publication of The Space Pirates in 1990, after which Dicks would write original novels for virtually every continuation series of original fiction. He would also write two more novelisations: Shakedown, based upon an independent spin-off film, and the premiere episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures, Invasion of the Bane.
  • The first edition cover includes the face of Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, making him the first recurring character other than the Doctor to appear on the cover of a Target novelisation.
  • The novel was republished in July 2011 by BBC Books. For this edition, an introduction by producer Russell T Davies was added and the title of the book reverted to Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion.
  • This novelisation was later released as part of The UNIT Collection.


British publication history[]

First publication:

  • Hardback
Initial hardcover release in 1974 was for libraries only; mass-market hardcover issued in 1981.
W.H. Allen & Co. Ltd. UK
  • Paperback


30p (UK)
1982 Target Books with a new cover by Andrew Skilleter
1991 Virgin Publishing with a new cover by Alistair Pearson priced £2.50 (UK)

Editions published outside Britain[]

  • Published in Turkey by Remzi Kitabevi in 1975 as a paperback edition, translated by Reha Pinar and published as Doktor Kim ve Otonlar, it was one of six Turkish novelisations.
  • Published in the Netherlands by Unieboek/De Gooise in about 1975/76 as a paperback edition, translated by FF van den Hulst-Brander and published as Doctor Who en de Invasie van de Autonen, it was one of eight Dutch novelisations; despite the broadcaster TROS showing Seasons 12 and 13 at this time the cover still depicts the Third Doctor, however Chris Achilleos' image of the Fourth Doctor from The Doctor Who Monster Book does appear on the back cover.[1]
  • Published in Finland by Weilin + Goos in 1976 as a hardback edition, translator unknown and published as Tohtori Kuka Ja Autonien Hyokkays, it was one of two Finnish novelisations.
  • Published in Japan by Hayakawa Bunko in 1980 as a paperback edition, translated by Yukio Sekiguchi and published as Outon gundan no shuurai, it was one of five Japanese novelisations.
  • Published in Portugal by Editorial Presença in 1983 as a paperback edition, translated by Conceição Fardim and published as Doutor Who e a Invasão dos Autones, it was one of ten Portuguese novelisations.


This Target Book was released as an audiobook on 4 June 2008 complete and unabridged by BBC Audio and read by Caroline John. Andrew Lawrence produced the reading with Michael Stevens as executive producer.

The cover blurb and thumbnail illustrations were retained in the accompanying booklet with sleeve notes by David J. Howe and music and sound effects by Simon Power.

It was later reissued as an MP3-CD alongside action figures of the Eleventh Doctor and Roman Auton as part of Character Options' Panodrica wave.

The audiobook was reissued on 5 April 2018 as part of The UNIT Collection.

External links[]