It was the first in a series of 6 audio stories that begins the second "season" of Eighth Doctor stories.
A month after a mysterious meteorite lit up the skies of New York State, Martian invaders laid waste to the nation. At least, according to soon-to-be infamous Orson Welles they did. But what if some of the panicked listeners to the legendary The War of the Worlds broadcast weren't just imagining things?
Attempting to deliver Charley to her rendezvous in Singapore 1930, the Eighth Doctor overshoots a little, arriving in Manhattan just in time to find a dead private detective. Indulging his gumshoe fantasies, the Doctor is soon embroiled in the hunt for a missing Russian scientist whilst Charley finds herself at the mercy of a very dubious Fifth Columnist.
With some genuinely out of this world "merchandise" at stake, the TARDIS crew are forced into an alliance with a sultry dame called Glory Bee, Orson Welles himself and a mobster with half a nose known as "the Phantom".
And slowly and surely, something is drawing plans against them. Just not very good ones...
In 1938 America, both Ellis and Mouse break into a dime store to steal some “merchandise” from their boss. Detective Halliday later meets up with them and attempts to buy “merchandise”, but Ellis shoots him in retaliation with the “merchandise”.
Later, the Doctor and Charley land in the same alleyway where Halliday was shot. They notice his corpse and decide to loot it. They notice his body was badly burnt. They decide to go visit his office. Glory Bee meets up with them, mistaking the Doctor for Halliday, which the Doctor promptly impersonates. Bee informs them that her uncle has gone missing in New York City while attending a conference, and wants Halliday to investigate. The Doctor, upon hearing her uncle’s field of study decides to investigate.
Don Chaney and his gang are having dinner at Luigi's restaurant. He notes Mouse is missing. He is then interrupted by two hitmen attempting to kill him on behalf of a mysterious benefactor. Chaney then has his men kill the hitmen with radiation pulse guns.
Meanwhile in a recording studio, John Houseman and Orson Welles are rehearsing for the War of the Worlds broadcast. Bix Biro meets up with them when they’re about to leave and threatens to cancel Welles’s contract due the lack of people tuning in to his program.
Cosmo Devine makes a speech in a club and then goes to make a call to Bix Biro, wanting him to send a signal. He later meets Jimmy Winkler, whom he had kidnapped to coerce Bix into doing what he wants.
Mouse is captured by Don Chaney and is interrogated by him; Chaney knows Mouse is going behind his back and working for a mysterious third party. Mouse, afraid of Ellis, does not reveal that they are working together. Chaney believes him, but notes that since he doesn't know anything there is no reason to keep him alive, and feeds him to a Laiderplacker they keep in a basement.
The Doctor is reading through Halliday’s notes, which points the Doctor and Charley to the Excelsior Hotel. They are then interrupted by police knocking on the office door. Charley and the Doctor escape using the fire escape into the street below, but, during the escape, Charley is kidnapped by Ellis. The Doctor notices Charley has gone missing, and while looking for her runs into Glory Bee. Glory notes Charley may have been taken by those who took her uncle. They then travel to the Excelsior Hotel to look for them.
Meanwhile, Ellis meets with Cosmo Devine, his benefactor. Ellis informs that Halliday came to the deal and he shot the detective with the radiation pulse gun. He also reveals that he has kidnapped a young lady for “protective custody”. While he asks where the “merchandise” comes from, the Doctor and Glory enter the hotel lobby and ask for Professor Stepashin.
Charley is banging at the metal door asking to be let out when a voice calls out in the same room as her, startling her. The voice introduces himself as Jimmy Winkler. He informs her that they were kidnapped by Cosmo Devine and that Cosmo is a Nazi sympathiser.
Back at the hotel, the Doctor and Glory have no progress trying to talk to the manager. The Doctor has Glory cause a scene in the lobby as a distraction while he slips in to look at the hotel records. After he’s done, they head up to the 15th floor of the hotel. The Doctor and Glory enter a room and find a man waiting for them.
While Professor Stepashin is doing research, he is interrupted by Ellis and Chaney entering the room. Chaney has the professor create weapons with alien technology to sell to the CIA. The professor is worried the technology will fall into enemy hands, but Chaney assures him that won’t happen. Meanwhile, Charley is being interrogated by Cosmo Devine. They are then brought into a room by Ellis.
The Doctor and Glory manage to break out of their cell and run into Stepashin. The Doctor introduces Glory as his niece, to Stepashin’s confusion, and it is at this moment that Glory reveals herself as a Russian spy and aims a gun at the professor.
Cosmo and Ellis have injected Charley with a truth serum, which causes her to tell them about the Doctor and the TARDIS. Both Cosmo and Ellis are confused by her drugged ramblings and decide to tune in to the radio instead. This is when they hear a spaceship landing. Two Laiderplackers emerge from the spaceship and take note of their surroundings.
Back at Stepashin’s lab, Glory has the Doctor and the professor following her. Professor Stepashin informs the Doctor that he has been using alien technology in his research and he even has a live specimen of the alien in a tank. Glory intends to bring Stepashin and his research back to Russia. They head to her secret hideout under the Brooklyn Bridge.
Back at the recording studio, John Houseman and Orson Welles are busy rehearsing the War of the Worlds broadcast. Unfortunately, the switchboards are jammed and the rehearsal is broadcasted.
Glory lets the Doctor go, but he chooses to stay. Don Chaney suddenly appears and points a radiation gun at them. The Doctor tries to persuade them to give up the weapons but is unsuccessful. One of Chaney’s goons runs up to them telling them the Martians have invaded Earth.
Back at the cell, Cosmo points the gun at Ellis, citing as he doesn’t know anything he is useless to him. Ellis pleads for his life, but Charley then wakes up and wrestles the weapon from his hand and has Ellis hit Cosmo with a chair. During the struggle Jimmy Winkler is hit by a stray shot from the weapon and is killed. Charley and Ellis then escape.
Back at the bridge, the Doctor, Glory and Chaney are stuck in a standoff. Chaney asks the Doctor about the Martians, and the Doctor then realises what year it is. He chuckles to himself as he realises it is all just a radio broadcast, which has caused a big panic in the city.
Meanwhile, Charley and Ellis run into the Laiderplackers. The aliens question them regarding where their weapons are kept and Ellis leads them to Manhattan.
Cosmo meets up with Bix Biro who informs Cosmo he has done what he asked. He also informs Cosmo of Chaney's secret hideout in the Brooklyn Bridge. Bix asks Cosmo if he would let Jimmy go, only for Cosmo to inform him that Jimmy is dead. Cosmo then shoots and kills Bix.
At the bridge, everyone is distracted by a spaceship whizzing through the sky. Glory takes the opportunity to try and take Professor Stepashin away, but Chaney shoots the radiation gun near her, causing her to stumble off the ledge. The Doctor tries to save her, but is unable to and she falls to her death. Everyone enters the bridge hideout, only to run into Cosmo Devine. Cosmo has his men take the various weapons and orders them to kill everyone. He then frees the live specimen in the tank, only for a large swarm of the creatures to spill out and they are now poised to attack them.
The Doctor and company are forced out of the room and leave the Professor trapped inside.
The Laiderplackers land and the Doctor and party encounter Charley and Ellis. Cosmo tries to bargain with them but they aren't interested and they and the Doctor and Cosmo discuss terms of surrender. Welles enters Biro's office only to find him dead.
The Doctor figures out the Laiderplacker's plan and tries to convince them that bigger. badder invaders from Mars are on their way in a gambit to get them to leave. Suddenly they are attacked by the child Laiderplackers. The Doctor and everyone escape but Cosmo sneakily stays behind to try and strike a deal with the Laiderplackers, eventually succeeding. Ellis tries to stop him but he is killed by Cosmo in cold blood.
Orson and company make a plan to make a broadcast over CBS and talk in Biro's office and when Carla enters, after they calm her down from seeing the dead Biro, Orson tells her to contact the CIA. The Laiderplackers prepare to enter orbit to enact their plan to conquer the planet.
The Doctor, Don and Charley arrive at the studio and meet Orson Wells and John Houseman and learn of Biro's death, just as Don returns from asking for the Doctor's TARDIS to be brought to their location. The Doctor brings them up to speed and they plan another broadcast, and commence immediately, despite some protest.
Cosmo helps the Laiderplackers but they pick up the broadcast in their ship and are tricked into believing the planet truly is under attack from an invading species and prepare to leave. However, the Doctor accidentally leaves the broadcast on and their plan is revealed to the Laiderplackers. Meanwhile Professor Stepashin finds Cosmo and shows him a machine he has constructed using the new technology he has found aboard the ship. It is revealed to be an atomic bomb which after hearing Cosmo's plan to help the Laiderplackers destroy the earth, he activates.
The Doctor prepares another plan but miraculously the Laiderplacker's ship inexplicably blows up in the atmosphere. In the aftermath, events are wrapped up thanks to Orson's friends and the CIA. Don Chaney offers the Doctor a job but the Doctor politely declines, and he and Charley depart in the TARDIS, its dematerialisation amusing Don Chaney as they leave him in their wake.
- The Doctor - Paul McGann
- Charley Pollard - India Fisher
- Mouse / Winkler / Luigi / Heavy - Ian Hallard
- Ellis - Mark Benton
- John Houseman / Thug / Streath - Jonathan Rigby
- Orson Welles / Professor Stepashin / Halliday - David Benson
- Bix Biro / Noriam / Man - Paul Putner
- Don Chaney / Actor - Simon Pegg
- Glory Bee / Carla / Women - Jessica Stevenson
- Cosmo Devine / Hotel Clerk - John Arthur
- Reception Guest - Katy Manning
- Radio Announcer - Mark Gatiss
- Thug 2 / Toastmaster - Alistair Lock
- H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds is mentioned.
- Orson Welles' radio series is sponsored by Campbell Soup.
- The Doctor says that sometimes he treats himself to a complete makeover.
- The Doctor was trying to take Charley to Singapore.
- Don Chaney owns a lamborghini that used to belong to Al Capone.
- This story introduces a new variation of David Arnold's theme arrangement, which doesn't open with the traditional sting and features a few more sound effects. The closing theme also opens with a newly revised sting, with the theme itself being slightly altered.
- The first episode was specially released as a bonus on the original CD of The Ratings War.
- The title references the 1953 science fiction film Invaders from Mars.
- One of Houseman's lines — "George, what are you doing with those keys?" — is aimed at George Coulouris, who appeared in Welles' broadcast as well as Citizen Kane and later starred as Arbitan in TV: The Keys of Marinus.
- Although never stated, the "Invaders from Mars" mentioned to try and trick the Laiderplackers into leaving are strongly implied to be the Ice Warriors.
- The Doctor is astonished that Orson Welles is ignorant of William Shakespeare's identity. Welles was, in reality, well-known for his love of Shakespeare and his Shakespearean work, even in the 1930s.
- The headline on the Invaders from Mars cover is from a real newspaper reporting the War of the Worlds panic. The imitation poster on the CD booklet was drawn by Mark Gatiss.
- This audio drama was recorded on 16 and 17 January 2001 in Bristol.
- This story was originally released on CD. It is now available as a download, as well as to stream on Spotify.
- Though this is the opener to the second "season" of Eighth Doctor stories, in fact The Chimes of Midnight was supposed to be the opener of the season, but Robert Shearman invested more into the Charley arc than he was supposed to, meaning his story was pushed back, and Invaders was moved forward as more befitting "the calm before the storm".
- The Doctor tells Charley that, in the 11th century, an "amoral Time Lord" altered history by providing King Cnut with technology which allowed him to turn back the tide and gain greater influence over Saxon England than he would have done otherwise. (TV: The Time Meddler)
- The Sixth Doctor previously met H. G. Wells, the author of The War of the Worlds, in Scotland during the summer of 1885 and subsequently took him on a trip to the planet Karfel. (TV: Timelash) Many years later in his personal timeline, the Tenth Doctor would meet Wells once again in 1889. He intimated that they would have a third encounter later in Wells' personal timeline which occurred earlier in his own. (COMIC: The Time Machination)
- The Doctor once again speed reads a book in a matter of seconds. (TV: City of Death, Rose, The Time of Angels)
- The reason for Welles' ignorance of Shakespeare is revealed in AUDIO: The Time of the Daleks.
- In AUDIO: Neverland, it is revealed why there are forty-nine states in the USA (instead of forty-eight in 1938) and how the CIA, which was actually founded in 1947, can exist in 1938.
- The Celestial Toymaker would later refer to Orson Welles in a riddle while Charley was playing his games in the Celestial Toyroom. (AUDIO: Solitaire)
- Later during his eighth incarnation, the Doctor and his companion Tamsin Drew would become embroiled in the events surrounding an actual Martian invasion in the 23rd century, though not of Earth but Mars itself. (AUDIO: Deimos / The Resurrection of Mars)
- Official Invaders from Mars page at bigfinish.com; note that it is out of print and is available as download only.
- Invaders from Mars Transcript
- DisContinuity for Invaders from Mars at Tetrapyriarbus - The DisContinuity Guide