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Invasion of the Dinosaurs was the second serial of season 11 of Doctor Who. It was the final story to be written by Malcolm Hulke.

This story marked a significant plot twist: Captain Mike Yates betrayed UNIT as a result of his traumatic experience in The Green Death. As punishment, he was dismissed from UNIT, but Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart was sympathetic and arranged for the lessening of his punishment. Yates was made to go on an extended sick leave and given the opportunity to make a quiet resignation, granting him the mercy of a graceful departure in exchange for his past service as a loyal officer. Following this event, it was Richard Franklin's last regular appearance before returning to do a sendoff performance for his character in Planet of the Spiders, the Third Doctor's regeneration story.

This story also saw the debut of the Third Doctor's second and noticeably more advanced car, the Whomobile. The commissioning of this car was the result of Jon Pertwee's love for gadgetry and the spy culture in general. However, it was used only once more during his tenure, with Bessie remaining the Doctor's chief road vehicle of choice.

Barry Letts was keen to capitalise on the success of the Drashig puppets employed in Carnival of Monsters. Whereas the Drashigs had been built by the BBC Visual Effects Department, the unit had ultimately determined that its resources were insufficient to build the dinosaurs required for the model work. Instead, it was suggested that the Doctor Who production team outsource the work to Cliff Culley and his firm, Westbury Design and Optical, who had recently worked on Planet of the Daleks. However, the dinosaurs exceeded Culley's capacity, and so he subcontracted the models to Rodney Fuller. Letts was very disappointed with the results, which were far less maneuverable and convincing than the Drashigs had been. Because the dinosaurs were such an important element of the story, however, their flaws could not be minimised on-screen, leaving Paddy Russell and her team to make do with what they had. Fuller's company apparently went out of business soon thereafter.

Note: Part one of this six-part story bears the on-screen title Invasion, while parts two to six are Invasion of the Dinosaurs.


The Third Doctor and Sarah arrive in 1970s London to find it has been evacuated because dinosaurs have appeared mysteriously. As the line between friends and enemies wavers, the Doctor soon discovers the dinosaurs are being brought to London via a time machine to further a plan to revert Earth back to a pre-technological "Golden Age"...


Invasion part one[]

The Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith arrive in a deserted London plagued by looters and lawlessness. UNIT is helping maintain martial law. The regular army, headed by General Finch, has evacuated the city and issued orders to shoot looters on sight. the Brigadier disagrees, since it means shooting civilians. The Doctor and Sarah encounter several looters and, surprisingly, a pterodactyl. The two are then arrested on suspicion of being looters. The Doctor is designated as Prisoner 177781 and Sarah Jane Smith is designated as Prisoner 177782 and are sentenced to be incarcerated in a detention centre.

Outside, a tyrannosaurus rex destroys a building and traps some soldiers. They manage to drive it off. At the school serving as UNIT HQ, the Brigadier and Benton discuss the interference problems with their communications and look at the latest pictures of looters, which include the Doctor and Sarah.

The Doctor and Sarah escape but are caught by soldiers. They are loaded into the back of a Land Rover to be taken to the detention centre. The Land Rover encounters a tyrannosaurus rex.

Part two[]

While the soldiers fight the tyrannosaurus, the Doctor and Sarah escape and hide in a garage. They find a medieval peasant from the days of King John already there who, believing the Doctor to be a wizard who has put a spell on him, attacks the Time Lord with a knife before disappearing in a time eddy. Soldiers search the area and the Brigadier enters the garage.

Back at UNIT HQ, the Brigadier explains the situation to the Doctor. Dinosaurs appear and disappear, the city has been evacuated, and looters run rampant. The Doctor is introduced to Finch, who is in charge of the operation. Finch doesn't think the Doctor will be much help, but rather finds his ideas unrealistic. Sarah talks with Mike Yates, who needed some time off after the experience with the giant maggots.

A stegosaurus has been trapped, and the Doctor wants it taken alive. However, it disappears in a time eddy that makes time run backwards. The people affected would not remember it happening. The Doctor suspects someone is deliberately bringing the dinosaurs to London — and in a hidden laboratory a pair of scientists, Butler and Professor Whitaker, are operating the time technology causing the situation.

They are aided by Mike Yates, who feels the Doctor could help them achieve Operation Golden Age, but Whitaker is unconvinced. He tells Mike to sabotage the stun gun the Doctor is building to use on the dinosaurs.

The Doctor believes the dinosaurs are a distraction by someone who needs London evacuated. When an Apatosaurus appears, he heads out to capture it. Mike sabotages his stun gun, and it doesn't work on the Apatosaurus. The time eddy takes away the Apatosaurus and a tyrannosaurus appears behind the Doctor.

Part three[]

Sarah trapped in a locked room as the T-rex awakens.

The Doctor falls, dropping the gun, which Yates picks up. He undoes his sabotage and fires at the tyrannosaurus. The creature is captured and brought back to a hangar.

Yates is angry at Butler and Whitaker for trying to kill the Doctor but agrees to perform further acts of sabotage — specifically against the machinery being used to record from where the dinosaur appearances are controlled.

Sarah has been doing some research into time travel and mentions Whitaker. The Brigadier remembers the name, and the Doctor wants to check up on him.

The tyrannosaurus is freed by Finch, who breaks its chains. Sarah is attempting to take pictures of it when it awakes and moves to attack her. She finds the door has been locked from the outside. Before the dinosaur can get to Sarah, the Doctor finds and rescues her, though she is slightly injured.  She then sets off to gather her own evidence. Sarah meets with Sir Charles Grover, an ecologist MP who is acting Minister with Special Responsibilities in London. He drugs her. When she wakes up, she is astounded to find herself on a vast spaceship.

Part four[]

The crew of the ship includes Mark, Adam and Ruth, minor British celebrities who have adopted new aliases and lives. They tell her they are en route to a New Earth where mankind can begin again, closer to nature. They left Earth three months earlier; the ship is one of a fleet carrying over two hundred people to a new life. Sarah is committed to the re-education programme to enable her to think like them.

The Doctor searches London in his new vehicle, the Whomobile. Under Moorgate Station, he finds the base used by Whitaker and Butler but is scared away when they use a pterodactyl to defend it. He returns with the Brigadier, but all signs of occupation have been removed. Operation Golden Age is revealed to be a broad conspiracy including Whitaker, Butler, Yates, Grover and Finch as its core coordinators. They have emptied London to revert it to a more natural state, after which the people on the spaceships — which are actually vast bunkers — will be allowed out to repopulate a clean and free planet. Whitaker also works out how to reverse time, so soon humanity, apart from their own chosen specimens, will never have existed.

Finch tries to frame the Doctor, who he knows will not support their plans. He brings the Brigadier to the Doctor, catching him in the act as a new time eddy starts up.

Part five[]

Benton plans the Doctor's escape.

The Doctor soon twigs that an over-zealous Yates is the UNIT mole. Sergeant Benton lets the Doctor escape, for which Finch threatens a court martial. The Doctor uses his freedom to track down more monsters, but when he is recaptured, the Brigadier asserts his authority and takes the Doctor into UNIT custody rather than the regular army's.

Meanwhile, Sarah has escaped from the fake spaceship. She has learnt its true nature. She is caught by Finch, who returns her to Whitaker's custody. While she is away, Mark works out that the ship is a fake and tells the other passengers, but he is not believed. When Sarah is returned to the ship, Mark and she use the fake airlock to convince Ruth and the others of the deception.

The Doctor encounters another time eddy and is faced by more dinosaurs.

Part six[]

Mike Yates reveals himself as part of the conspiracy.

The dinosaurs start fighting each other. Finch arrives and tries to take the Doctor, but Benton and the Brigadier arrive as well and take the Doctor away.

The Brigadier decides to contact UNIT H.Q. in Geneva to ask them to put pressure on the government, and Benton begins to arrange the call. However, shortly afterward, Yates arrives and holds the Doctor, Benton and the Brigadier at gunpoint. After Yates cancels the call to Geneva, he reveals the nature of Operation Golden Age's plans. Fortunately, Yates is distracted when Private Bryson enters with a tea tray and offers the Captain a cup, giving Benton the opportunity to overpower and disarm Yates.

Sarah is able to convince the occupants of the fake spaceship that they have been duped by opening the airlock. They confront Whitaker and Grover and demand an explanation. Grover attempts to placate them, but the Doctor and the Brigadier arrive. Whitaker breaks free of his captor and pulls the lever, activating the reversal process. A Time Lord immunity allows the Doctor to resist this and stop the machine. He then reverses the polarity, but Grover does not recognise this and pulls the switch himself. Whitaker tries to stop him, and they and the machine vanish — transported back in time to their "Golden Age", wherever and whenever that is. The Doctor says he hopes they'll be happy there.

Back at UNIT H.Q., the Brigadier confirms that the crisis is over, but there are still human casualties to deal with. Finch will be court-martialed. Yates is offered the chance to resign and given extended sick leave. The Doctor reflects that people like Grover may have had good motivations in wanting to fight pollution and environmental degradation, but they took their schemes too far and endangered all mankind and its civilisation. He decides it is time for a holiday and offers to take Sarah Jane to the beautiful planet of Florana.


Uncredited cast[]


Uncredited crew[]


  • The helicopter's code name is Tango One.
  • The Doctor claims that the Vandals were "decent chaps".

Great Britain[]


The Doctor[]

  • Sergeant Benton suggests that the Doctor use Venusian aikido on him in order to escape.

Foods and beverages[]

  • The Doctor takes at least four sugars in his coffee.

Time travel[]


  • There is a poster of a blue balloon that says Blue Peter on a wall at the school serving as UNIT's temporary headquarters.


  • The Doctor references the famous closing line from the movie, Casablanca when the Brigadier says, "Maybe General Finch took [Sarah] out to dinner,' to which the Doctor replies, "Didn't look like the beginnings of a beautiful friendship to me."

Story notes[]


DVD Special Feature - Politics in 'Invasion of the Dinosaurs' - BBC

Matthew Sweet takes a look at the real-world politics evident in Invasion of the Dinosaurs.

  • Working titles for this story were Bridgehead from Space and Timescoop.
  • Part one had the story title shortened to Invasion to conceal the central plot device. However, this was undermined by Radio Times, which used black-and-white comic strip-style illustrations by Peter Brookes to accompany the programme listing for Invasion part one, showing the Doctor being attacked in the warehouse by the pterodactyl; the flying creature breaking through the driver's window of the Land Rover to attack the Doctor (complete with a speech balloon for the Doctor reading "GET OUT!! GET OUT!!"); and the Land Rover — strangely depicted bearing a UNIT logo — smashing its way out through the warehouse doors. The accompanying caption read, "Great to be back? The Doctor and Sarah return to London from medieval England. But swinging London has been invaded by something from even further back in time — prehistoric monsters! 5.30". Malcolm Hulke protested the title Invasion of the Dinosaurs, preferring the original working title of Timescoop, and also felt the Invasion contraction for part one was silly. In a response letter after transmission, script editor Terrance Dicks pointed out that all the titles used for the project had originated in the Doctor Who production office. He agreed that the contraction of the story title to Invasion for part one was a decision he now regretted, but noted that "Radio Times are a law unto themselves".
  • Invasion part one is the first episode to bear an individual title since "The O.K. Corral", the final episode of the four-parter The Gunfighters (1966), which was the last Doctor Who story to feature individual episode titles. The next few stories to do as such would be a string of one-parters (which, for obvious reasons, are logically incapable of such), before this became a regular occurrence for multi-parters as well from Aliens of London, with rare deviations.
  • Radio Times credits Elisabeth Sladen as "Sarah Jane" and Nicholas Courtney as "Brigadier" for part four.
  • The 625 line PAL colour transmission master videotapes for the serial were scheduled to be wiped and reused, but only that for Invasion part one was erased. The serial remained incomplete in the BBC Archives until 1983, when a 16mm black-and-white film telerecording of Invasion part one was found and returned. Broadcast in January 1974, Invasion part one was one of the latest Doctor Who episode to have been junked by the BBC (followed only by part one of Death to the Daleks, which aired roughly a month later).
  • The surviving 16mm black-and-white film telerecording of Invasion part one is the only telerecording of a Season 11 episode that exists.
    • It is also the only black-and-white telerecording from the Third Doctor's era which has yet to be re-colourised.
  • This is the first story to feature the Doctor's car colloquially known as the Whomobile, though it was never actually named on-screen.
  • Like other classic series stories, Invasion of the Dinosaurs was broadcast in the United States by PBS as episodes or in an omnibus format with the episodes combined into a movie-length show. Before Invasion part one was recovered, both formats used the extant episodes with the story joined in progress at the start of part two. For episodic broadcasts, the episodes' opening titles were re-numbered as parts one to five. Later broadcasts in either format incorporated the 16mm black-and-white film telerecording of Invasion part one.
  • A brief clip from this story was used in the BBC Four documentary, Dinosaurs, Myths and Monsters.
  • At one point in Invasion part one, Sarah states she is twenty-three. This would make the date of this story 1974, based on her date of birth given in the The Sarah Jane Adventures episode Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?.
  • From a certain point of view, Sarah is not really the Doctor's companion until the end of the story. She was merely on her way back to present day London after she stowed away in the TARDIS on its previous voyage. Indeed, she at least feigns discomfort at the idea of travelling in the TARDIS again. The Doctor's offer to take Sarah to Florana leads into the next story Death to the Daleks. This invitation, which included a long and vivid description of the wonders of Florana, prefigures a penchant of his ninth and tenth selves to describe a wonder of the universe in glorious detail to encourage a companion to stick around. (TV: World War Three, Last of the Time Lords, The Sontaran Stratagem)
  • The BBC Classic Who website's Party Politics states that Operation Golden Age caused the collapse of the Jeremy Thorpe government.[1]
  • The original script had the Doctor using a military motorcycle instead of the Whomobile.
  • The original outline concerned the Doctor returning to the present day to discover that aliens had invaded and ordered the evacuation of London, claiming provocation by humanity. A supplicant government remained in the city, in the manner of the Vichy government which nominally ruled France during the Second World War but was, in effect, a puppet regime controlled by Nazi Germany. The aliens planned to demand larger and larger swathes of territory to satisfy their needs; again, this paralleled the events of World War II, and specifically Adolf Hitler's policy of Lebensraum. Humanity would eventually be limited to Australia, which the aliens then intended to destroy.
  • Terrance Dicks thought that Yates might be killed off during the story's events, but Barry Letts felt they might revisit the character in a forthcoming serial.
  • Elisabeth Sladen vexed the production team by having her hair cut short during the summer, contradicting the notion that this was following on directly from the narrative of The Time Warrior. Sladen would grow her hair back out during the making of this serial but this, in turn, would create further continuity issues.
  • Private Bryson, as played by Colin Bell, was added to parts five and six when George Bryson, who appeared as Private Ogden in Invasion part one and Invasion of the Dinosaurs part two was unavailable for the studio recording. The new character was given Bryson's name as an in-joke.
  • Nicholas Courtney and John Bennett had previously appeared in The Saint episode "The Contract".
  • Malcolm Hulke named this as his favourite script: "I decide what I wanted to do, and came up with a lovely idea of the Golden Age with all these people behind it who just didn’t fit in. There were lots of rather sad people always living in the past, and who wanted to turn back the clock. I think they were totally wrong in their thinking, but I liked the story — it’s easily my favourite — because I felt that it was the way a lot of people feel, left out and left behind by things changing".


  • Invasion part one - 11.0 million viewers
  • Part two - 10.1 million viewers
  • Part three - 11.0 million viewers
  • Part four - 9.0 million viewers
  • Part five - 9.0 million viewers
  • Part six - 7.5 million viewers


  • Robert Holmes, who on this story made his uncredited debut as a script editor, accepted the post only reluctantly and after some persuasion. (He actually telephoned the production office to put himself forward as a candidate for the post, and was delighted to find that he was already under consideration for it.)
  • The master 625 line PAL colour videotape of Invasion part one was mistakenly wiped when it was confused with episode one of season 6's The Invasion. (There is no evidence to suggest that this is why the tape was wiped; all the tapes for The Invasion were wiped in 1972, more than two years before Invasion of the Dinosaurs was transmitted. In addition, the procedure for disposing of older episodes would have made such a mix-up highly unlikely. That said, it is not known why only Invasion part one was wiped, and not the others.)

Filming locations[]

  • Albert Embankment (Lambeth Pier), London
  • Covent Garden Market, London
  • Margaret Street, London
  • Westminster Bridge, Westminster, London
  • Trafalgar Square, London
  • Lindsey Street, London
  • Moorfields, Moorgate, London
  • Northfields School (now known as Clementine Close), West Ealing, London
  • The Straight, Southall
  • Wimbledon Common, Wimbledon, London
  • Palmer Crescent, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • Wilmer Close, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • Canbury Gardens, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • South Lane, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • Riverside Drive, Ham, Middlesex
  • Old Billingsgate Market, Lower Thames Street, London
  • Haymarket, London
  • Outer Circle, Regent's Park, London
  • Whitehall, Westminster, London
  • Long Lane, London
  • New Union Street, Moorgate, London
  • Chamberlain Road, West Ealing, London
  • Pickfords Depositories (now known as West London Islamic Centre), Brownlow Road, West Ealing, London
  • White Street, Southall, Middlesex
  • GPO Sorting Office, Orchard Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • Parkfields Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • Kingston Meat Market (now known as The Bittoms), Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • Lower Ham Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • Burford Road, Brentford, London
  • Electricity Substation, Elderberry Road, Ealing, London
  • BBC Television Centre (TC4, TC6, TC8), Shepherd's Bush, London

Production errors[]

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • The serial is replete with CSO errors in which the dinosaur models don't perfectly mesh with the backgrounds.
  • This is one of the few Doctor Who serials that actually has wobbly sets. They are particularly noticeable in part four, when the Doctor is skulking around the secret base. As the automatic doors close quickly behind the Doctor, the walls visibly shudder when the doors hit the floor.
  • Sarah is told by Mark at the cliffhanger of part three that the ship left Earth three months ago. He says this after Sarah looks out of the window into "space". Then, in the reprise of part four, he says that the ship left Earth three months ago and then Sarah looks out of the window.
  • At the beginning of part two, one of the soldiers shoots to the far left of the set, although the dinosaur is on the right, so he completely misses the dinosaur. Additionally, the Doctor and Sarah look out the back of the vehicle and see the dinosaur, yet the next instant shows the soldiers firing at the dinosaur which is in front of the Land Rover.
  • When the pterodactyl flies into the garage during part one, one of the puppet strings on its tail end is visible.
    • The same issue resurfaces in part four with another pterodactyl puppet. One of its strings is reflected off to the left of an underground tube station archway as the Doctor backs away from the provoked creature.
  • At the end of Invasion part one, the giant dinosaur's marionette strings that control its jaw keeps reflecting light, exposing the "dinosaur" as a puppet.
  • In part three, the cut on Sarah's forehead appears on the opposite side to which she falls on, after being hit in the back of the head by a falling beam.
  • In part six, the Doctor is driving a Land Rover with the Brigadier in the passenger seat. The next time we see them, the Brigadier is behind the wheel.


Home video and audio releases[]

DVD release[]

  • Invasion of the Dinosaurs was released on DVD on 9 January 2012 in the U.N.I.T Files Box Set with The Android Invasion. Invasion part one remains in black-and-white, although heavily restored. However, as a DVD extra, an attempt at colourising Invasion part one using the chromadot colourisation recovery technique was also included. While it was included as a "best attempt" at showing what the episode would have looked like on initial broadcast, it is not up to the usual DVD standard due to the inability of fully colourising the episode.


  • Commentary
  • People, Power and Puppetry
  • Billy Smart's Circus
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Now and Then
  • Photo Gallery
  • Easter Egg - to access this feature press left at the Now and Then option on Disc Two
  • Coming Soon Trailer - The Sensorites
  • Production information subtitles
  • PDF Material - Radio Times listings

Digital releases[]

  • This story is available:for streaming through BritBox (US) as part of Season 11 of Classic Doctor Who.

VHS release[]

  • This was the final complete story to be released by BBC Worldwide on VHS, in 2003. Invasion part one was included in its then sole surviving black-and-white format.

External links[]