The Invasion of Time was the sixth and final serial of season 15 of Doctor Who. It made extensive use of the TARDIS interior and added to the mythology of Gallifrey. It featured the final regular appearances of Louise Jameson as Leela as well as the final appearance of K9 Mark I — although it also immediately implied that the Doctor was merely replacing K9 with a new model.
Its script was a last-minute replacement, written quickly by Read and Williams when the original season-ender by David Weir was abandoned. Contemporary viewers of the programme who participated in the Doctor Who Appreciation Society's season 15 poll voted it the best story of the season. (REF: The Fourth Doctor Handbook) Narratively, it established that Sontarans were a major, credible threat to the Time Lords, carrying through on a foreshadowing reference in their first appearance in The Time Warrior. It laid the groundwork for future Sontaran stories, including their pursuit of time travel in The Two Doctors and their knowledge of Gallifrey's demise in The Sontaran Stratagem.
The fact that Leela remains on Gallifrey with K9 Mark I and she appears to intend to marry Andred forms the basis for many Big Finish stories in both The Companion Chronicles and Gallifrey audio series. This story is also the ostensible link between Doctor Who and the Australian K9 series, since the K9 at the beginning of Regeneration appears to be the Mark I, who then "regenerates" into the model seen throughout that programme.
The Doctor returns to Gallifrey, claims his rights and is crowned President. It soon turns out that he has led a group of aliens called Vardans to the planet to eradicate them completely. After they are destroyed, the Sontarans take their opportunity and follow them in their invasion until they are destroyed by the Doctor.
The Fourth Doctor meets a group of aliens in space and returns to Gallifrey, bringing Leela and K9 with him. He is behaving very strangely, and when the Chancellery Guard under their Commander, Andred, arrive at the Panopticon Chamber to interrogate him, the Doctor demands to be taken to Chancellor Borusa, who is now in charge of the Time Lords.
The Doctor claims the vacant Presidency of Gallifrey, having been a candidate. After the demise of Chancellor Goth, he is elected automatically. The aliens watch him keenly, stating that they have chosen well. The Doctor chooses a presidential chamber and asks it be redecorated with lead lining throughout. Shortly afterward, a ceremony is held to swear him in as President of Gallifrey, and he is presented with the trappings of office. However, when the circlet connecting him to the Matrix, repository of all Time Lord knowledge, is placed on his head, the Doctor collapses in pain...
The Doctor is taken to the Chancellery to rest and recover. When he regains consciousness, he reminds the Time Lords that no aliens are allowed on Gallifrey and instructs that Leela be expelled from the Capitol Citadel, where she will have to fend in the wastelands.
She tries to avoid banishment, but the Doctor insists as president. The Doctor retreats to the TARDIS, where he shares a secret plan with K9. He is obviously very concerned about the situation in which he has found himself. Meanwhile, Leela meets Rodan, and they find that a massive warship is moving towards Gallifrey.
The Doctor is planning to aid an invasion of Gallifrey itself. To this end he sets about destroying the transduction barrier that shields the planet from external threat. K9 sets about this task while the Doctor returns to the Panopticon, the great hall of the Time Lords. He laughs cruelly as three alien beings start to materialise...
The invading beings are known as Vardans. They appear as shimmering manifestations who made an alliance with the Doctor some time ago. The Doctor advises the Time Lords, including the stubborn Borusa, to submit to their new and powerful masters. He asks Borusa to meet him in his office, where the Doctor explains he had the lead walls installed to prevent the Vardans entering the room on thought waves and reading his mind. He hadn't told the other Time Lords because their minds are too single-minded, and the Vardans would be able to hear them. He sent Leela away to protect her and can now work with Borusa to defeat the Vardan threat.
A new problem has emerged, however, with the ascendancy of the obsequious and compliant Castellan Kelner. He is being far too co-operative with the Vardan occupation. The toadying yet ambitious Castellan soon has Borusa placed under house arrest and starts expelling trouble-making Time Lords from the safety of the Capitol.
Leela has kept her faith in the Doctor. She decides that if he wishes her to leave the Capitol it is with good reason, so she departs for the wastelands. She is accompanied by Rodan. They are welcomed warily by a tribe of Outsiders who have rejected Time Lord society and live in the wastelands. Their leader, Nesbin, explains some of the background to his tribe. Back in the Capitol, however, things are looking grim for the Doctor when Andred corners him and decides to execute him in the name of liberty...
K9 helps the Doctor overpower Andred. The Doctor explains the danger and abilities of the Vardans to Andred, with his TARDIS providing a shield to his thoughts. The Doctor is hoping to persuade the Vardans to fully materialise so that he can find their planet and time loop it. Leela has also organised her own resistance movement in the wastelands, comprising Nesbin's people and the exiled Time Lords, all of whom are drilled into a fighting force which soon launches an assault on the Capitol.
Meanwhile, the aliens and Kelner have decided the Doctor is behaving in an untrustworthy manner. The Doctor reaffirms his loyalty to them by agreeing to dismantle the final force field protecting Gallifrey from attack. He does not fully disable it, but rather places a large hole in it. The Vardans use the hole to properly invade Gallifrey and appear as humanoid warriors. In space, a ship approaches Gallifrey. Their manifestation enables K9 to track down their home planet and supply the Doctor with the correct co-ordinates.
When the Doctor is giving a celebratory speech to everyone in the Panopticon, everyone but the Doctor becomes silent, while the Doctor looks confused. Looking behind him, he sees three Sontaran soldiers. The leader raises his gun...
Gallifrey has now been invaded by the Sontarans, led by Commander Stor, who reveal that they used the Vardans to open up the force field to let them in and have served their purpose. The Doctor and his party escape to the President's office, while Kelner pledges support to the invaders. Borusa has placed titanium alloy on the door to reinforce it. The Sontarans are delayed while the Doctor and his party escape through another exit.
The Doctor uses his freedom to try to pressure Borusa into revealing to him the location of the Great Key of Rassilon, a missing item of the Presidential regalia. On the way back to the TARDIS, Nesbin is killed by a Sontaran. The Doctor looks for the Great Key in a large group of keys, and Borusa pulls it out of a drawer keyhole. Meanwhile, the Sontarans have been trying to get Kelner to widen the gap in the force field.
They then regroup at the TARDIS where Rodan is put to work using the TARDIS' controls to repair the hole in the force field, while the Doctor explains that the Sontarans want domination over all universes and all time. However, Kelner imperils their resistance when he manipulates the stabiliser banks of the Doctor's TARDIS to try to destroy the resistance force within by hurling them to the heart of a black star...
The Doctor overrides the threat, so their enemies change tactics. Commander Stor and one of his troopers, assisted by Castellan Kelner, gain access to the Doctor's TARDIS. They pursue the Doctor and his friends through the labyrinth of corridors. Stor is after the Great Key too, knowing the Doctor has now persuaded Borusa to yield it to him. The Doctor uses distractions to buy time. On the Doctor's instruction, a hypnotised Rodan and K9 construct a special forbidden Time Lord weapon: the De-mat Gun. Powered by the Great Key itself, the de-mat gun erases its victims from time itself. The Doctor takes the gun and confronts Stor in the Panopticon. Stor intends to destroy the galaxy, and the Time Lords and Sontarans with it, with a grenade, but the blast is cancelled out by the Doctor using the de-mat gun. It obliterates Stor, wipes the Doctor's mind of recent events, and also destroys itself. Kelner is arrested and Borusa begins the process of rebuilding Gallifrey.
The Doctor is ready to leave, but Leela decides to stay on Gallifrey because she has fallen in love with Commander Andred. K9 decides to stay behind to look after Leela, and they both watch as the TARDIS dematerialises. Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor pushes out a box labelled "K9 MII." He grins mischievously.
- Doctor Who - Tom Baker
- Leela - Louise Jameson
- Vardans - Stan McGowan, Tom Kelly
- Andred - Christopher Tranchell
- Kelner - Milton Johns
- Borusa - John Arnatt
- Lord Gomer - Dennis Edwards
- Lord Savar - Reginald Jessup
- Gold Usher - Charles Morgan
- Voice of K9 - John Leeson
- Guard - Christopher Christou
- Rodan - Hilary Ryan
- Ablif - Ray Callaghan
- Jasko - Michael Mundell
- Bodyguard - Michael Harley
- Nesbin - Max Faulkner
- Presta - Gai Smith
- Castellan Guard - Eric Danot
- Stor - Derek Deadman
- Sontaran - Stuart Fell
- Writer - David Agnew
- Incidental Music - Dudley Simpson
- Production Assistant - Colin Dudley
- Production Unit Manager - John Nathan-Turner
- Studio Lighting - Mike Jefferies
- Studio Sound - Anthony Philpot
- O.B. Lighting - John Sterling
- O. B. Sound - Ian Leiper
- Visual Effects Designers - Colin Mapson, Richard Conway
- Special Sound - Dick Mills
- Costume Designer - Dee Kelly
- Make-up Artist - Maureen Winslade
- Script Editor - Anthony Read
- Designer - Barbara Gosnold
- Producer - Graham Williams
- Director - Gerald Blake
- Film Cameraman - Ken Westbury
- Film Recordist - Graham Hare
- Film Editor - Chris Wimble
- Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop
- Title Sequence - Bernard Lodge
- Costume Assistants - Dennis Brack, Terrance Parker, Richard Winter (INFO: The Invasion of Time)
- Graphics - Elizabeth Freeman (INFO: The Invasion of Time)
- Design Assistant - Bob Steer (INFO: The Invasion of Time)
- Dressers - Sheila Parkinson, Mervin Bezar, Michael Chard, Steve Cornish, Mark Creed, Tony Mannings (INFO: The Invasion of Time)
- Grams Operator - Jerry Borrows (INFO: The Invasion of Time)
- Floor Assistants - Renny Tasker, Sue Williams (INFO: The Invasion of Time)
- Technical Manager - Errol Ryan (INFO: The Invasion of Time)
- O.B. Lighting - Tommy Thomas (INFO: The Invasion of Time)
- Film Camera Assistant - John Sennett (INFO: The Invasion of Time)
- Electronic Effects - Dave Chapman (INFO: The Invasion of Time)
- Vision Mixer - Shirley Coward (INFO: The Invasion of Time)
- Props Buyer - Brenda Barker (INFO: The Invasion of Time)
- Film Operations Manager - Ian Brindle (INFO: The Invasion of Time)
- Film Operatives - John Francis, Alan Twine (INFO: The Invasion of Time)
- Grips - Roy Caney (INFO: The Invasion of Time)
- Engineering Co-Ordinators - Trevor Gibbs, Bob Newton (INFO: The Invasion of Time)
- OB Engineering Manager - Bob Wade (INFO: The Invasion of Time)
- Make-Up Assistants - Norma Hill, Vicky Pocock, Vanessa Poulton, Karen Sherrie-Morton (INFO: The Invasion of Time)
- Effects Assistant - Chris Lawson (INFO: The Invasion of Time)
- Senior Cameraman - Jim Atkinson (INFO: The Invasion of Time)
- OB Cameramen - David Goutier, Alan Hayward (INFO: The Invasion of Time)
- Film Sound Assistant - Patrick Quirke (INFO: The Invasion of Time)
- Director's Assistant - Joy Sinclair (INFO: The Invasion of Time)
- The Sash of Rassilon, the Rod of Rassilon, the Great Key and the Crown of Rassilon are all Artefacts of Rassilon given to a Gallifreyan President when he is elected.
- Iridium alloy is used in the construction of the de-mat gun.
History From the real world
- The Doctor tells Borusa that he had "nothing to do with" the sinking of the Titanic.
- Whilst in the TARDIS, the Doctor offers K9 a ball bearing.
Literature from the real world
Music from the real world
- The Doctor whistles the Colonel Bogey March.
Planets and timeline
- The Doctor discusses Quasar Five, Riga, Simian Empire second dynasty and Earth 073 period architecture with Kelner.
- A Thessorian Empire is mentioned.
- Borusa taught the Doctor advanced techniques of telepathy.
- The Vardans and the Sontarans approach Gallifrey in a Sontaran assault ship.
- Leela's romance with Andred is undeveloped in the story. Louise Jameson was invited to continue her role. She was unsure whether she would stay until the end of recording, so a plot device had to be ready to allow her to stay on Gallifrey.
- The Sontarans return in this story, making it their third appearance on TV and their last (save flashbacks) until The Two Doctors.
- Stan McGowan (Vardan) is credited as "Vardan Leader" in Radio Times.
- Christopher Tranchell (Andred) has his first name is billed as "Christopher" on-screen for parts one and two; and as "Chris" on-screen for parts three to six, and in Radio Times for all episodes.
- Rodan is the first female Gallifreyan to appear on screen since Susan Foreman more than a decade earlier.
- According to Into the Unknown, a featurette on the DVD release of the preceding story, Underworld, the budget on that story was so tight consideration was given to cancelling it and allotting the story's budget to The Invasion of Time.
- This story provides one of the most extensive views of the interior of the TARDIS ever provided on television. As in The Masque of Mandragora, the deep TARDIS interior is shown to be an eclectic combination of rooms with highly variable designs, such as an indoor swimming pool and an industrial building. The interior TARDIS became much more homogenised after this. In the John Nathan-Turner era, the TARDIS interior greatly resembled the console room, with white, roundeled walls throughout. (TV: Castrovalva, et al.) Such an extensive exploration of the TARDIS interior would not be undertaken again until the 2013 television story Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS.
- This story replaced the cancelled Killers of the Dark story.
- Working titles for this story included The Invaders of Time.
- Leela was supposed to be killed off in this episode, dying defending the Doctor against the Sontarans. Ultimately, the creators felt that this would traumatise children. Louise Jameson would have much preferred this exit, as she was unhappy with the one she got.
- Robert Holmes was supposed to write this story, but he declined, not wanting to return to the series having just left his post as script editor. He did suggest that the first four episodes focus on Gallifrey and the last two feature the Sontarans.
- Initially, it was revealed that the Time Lords were not native Gallifreyans, but rather had been permitted to construct their Citadel there in return for ensuring that the planet's populace lived in total comfort and security. It was these indigenous Gallifreyans that Leela met following her banishment.
- The Doctor's actions as President originally threw the Time Lords into open civil war, and part two ended with several rebellious Time Lords threatening to execute the Doctor (much as Andred does in the part three cliffhanger of the finished serial).
- The Vardans were originally going to betray the Doctor, ordering his annihilation at the close of episode three.
- John Arnatt was unable to reprise his role as Borusa from The Deadly Assassin, so Angus MacKay took over.
- Graham Williams loved the Sontarans, hence their re-appearance.
- Gerald Blake had previously directed The Abominable Snowmen. He recalled chastising a typically badly behaved Tom Baker by saying, "I remember when you were Patrick Troughton".
- Following the troubled shoot, Graham Williams sent a memo to his superiors that in future, all directors would take the show seriously.
- The closing credits of parts three, four, and six feature the return of the section of the Doctor Who theme commonly called the "Middle Eight", this sequence not having been heard since the early Jon Pertwee era.
- Part one - 11.2 million viewers
- Part two - 11.4 million viewers
- Part three - 9.5 million viewers
- Part four - 10.9 million viewers
- Part five - 10.3 million viewers
- Part six - 9.8 million viewers
- Rodan was the prototype for Romana I. Related rumours include actress Hilary Ryan being unavailable for the following season, which resulted in Romana being created as a replacement for Rodan.
- Beachfields Quarry, Cormongers Lane, Redhill, Surrey
- St Anne's Hospital, Redstone Hill, Redhill, Surrey
- British Oxygen, Blacks Road, Hammersmith
- Bray Studios, Slough
- BBC Television Centre (TC8), Shepherd's Bush, London
- When the Doctor hops down the corridor in part two, he knocks the camera as he goes past.
- When the Doctor is on the spaceship at the beginning of the story, he has his hat and scarf with him but when he enters the TARDIS, they are on the hatstand, and not being worn by the Doctor.
- In one scene there is a dirt mark one side of the Doctor's face, but in the next scene it is on the other side of his face.
- In the end scene of part four Commander Stor holds his gun between his fingers, but at the start of part five his grip is different.
- In part five, when Commander Stor is attempting to get Kelner to widen the gap in the Citadel's force field, the mesh in his helmet's eye holes is missing, leaving his actual eyes clearly visible.
- When K9 blasts the guard protecting the transduction barrier equipment, the guard drops his staser as he falls, and the gun breaks apart as it hits the floor.
- The Sontaran costumes were cumbersome and limited the field of vision of the actors wearing them, so much so that they are often seen tripping through and over props. At one point, a Sontaran (played by Stuart Fell) nearly takes a fall after missing a short jump and landing on a pool chair. As the aliens originate on a planet of notably high gravity, however, their clumsiness is easily explained.
- The Doctor assuming the Presidency is a direct consequence of putting himself up for the position as a ploy during a previous trip to Gallifrey. (TV: The Deadly Assassin)
- The Doctor brings Leela to Gallifrey, although he had previously shown reluctance to bring an outsider there. (TV: The Hand of Fear)
- Leela complains about the lack of her janis thorns. (TV: The Face of Evil et al.)
Home video and audio releases
- Commentary: Louise Jameson, John Leeson, Anthony Read and Mat Irvine
- Out of Time: the making of this story.
- CGI effects: new CGI effects to accompany this story.
- The Elusive David Agnew: a feature on the writer (who is, in fact, a house pseudonym used by several Doctor Who writers)
- The Rise and Fall of Gallifrey: a feature on the planet of the Time Lords.
- Deleted Scenes: scenes removed from the final edit of this story.
- Continuity Compilation: continuity announcements from the BBC.
- Radio Times billings: artwork and articles for this story from the Radio Times.
- Photo Gallery: a selection of rare production photos from this story.
- Coming Soon: a preview of the K9 Tales Box set.
- Easter Egg: Visual Effects Designer Colin Mapson discusses the Crown of Rassilon. To access this hidden feature, press left at 'Radio Times Listings' on the bonus disc.
- Editing for the DVD release was completed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team.
Boxed set release
This story was re-released in the Bred for War DVD boxset on 5 May alongside all the classic series Sontaran stories (The Time Warrior, The Sontaran Experiment, The Invasion of Time and The Two Doctors). The DVD is the same as the one sold separately. It was released 8 July in Australia.
This story was released as Doctor Who: The Invasion of Time.
- UK March 2000 (Double tape set)
- Australia August 2000 (Single tape set)
- US August 2000 (Same as UK edition)
- The Invasion of Time at the BBC's official site (with video clips)
- The Invasion of Time at RadioTimes
- The Invasion of Time at BroaDWcast
- The Invasion of Time at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- The Invasion of Time at The Locations Guide
- The TARDIS Library (Doctor Who books, DVDs, videos & audios) - Video release information for: The Invasion of Time
- The TARDIS Library (Doctor Who books, DVDs, videos & audios) - Novelisation release information for: The Invasion of Time
- The TARDIS Library (Doctor Who books, DVDs, videos & audios) - DVD release information for: The Invasion of Time