The Invasion of Time was the sixth and final story 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 appearances of Leela and K9 Mark I — though 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 script editor Anthony Read and producer Graham 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 inaugurated 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.


Part 1

The 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 Chancellory 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 decorated 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.

Part 2

The Doctor is taken to the Chancellory 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 he has found himself in.

He 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.

Part 3

Just over there

Leela and Rodan explore the wastes.

The invading beings are known as Vardans. They appear as shimmering manifestations who made an alliance with the Doctor some time ago, and the Doctor advises the Time Lords, including the stubborn Borusa, to submit to their new and powerful masters. The Doctor then asks Borusa to meet him in his office, and when this happens the Doctor explains he has had the lead walls installed to prevent the Vardans entering the room on thought waves and reading his mind. He sent Leela away to protect her, he explains, and is now able to work with Borusa to defeat the Vardan threat.

A new problem has emerged, however, with the ascendancy of the obsequious and compliant Castellan Kelner, who is being far too co-operative with the Vardan occupation. The toadying yet ambitious Castellan soon has Borusa placed under house arrest and starts a process of expelling trouble-making Time Lords from the safety of the Capitol.

Leela has meanwhile kept her faith in the Doctor and reasons 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, a Time Lady who previously maintained the transduction barrier. 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.

Part 4


The Doctor consults the Matrix.

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 reveal their true form so that he can time loop their planet. 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.

The aliens and Kelner have meanwhile 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. Their manifestation enables K9 to track down their home planet and supply the Doctor with the correct co-ordinates.

He uses this to beam the Vardans back to their home world and then traps it in a time loop. At about the same time Leela and her warriors reach the Panopticon, but celebrations are short-lived when a Sontaran warrior appears in the chamber.

Part 5

Gallifrey has now been invaded by the Sontarans, led by Commander Stor, who finds Kelner ever ready to pledge support, even if the other Time Lords remain resistant. The Doctor and his party escape. 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. They then regroup at the TARDIS where Rodan is put to work using the TARDIS’ controls to repair the hole in the force field. 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.

Part 6

The One and Only...DEMAT GUN!!

The Doctor presents the de-mat gun.

The Doctor manages to override the threat, so their enemies change tack. The Sontarans, assisted by Castellan Kelner, gain access to the Doctor's TARDIS and try to hunt down the President and his friends, pursuing them through the labyrinthine 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 while Leela and the outsiders kill the remaining Sontaran troopers. 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 Eye of Harmony with a bomb, but the blast is cancelled out by the Doctor with the de-mat gun which 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, leader of the Chancellory Guards. 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 then grins mischievously to the camera.




Gallifreyan artefacts

Gallifreyan culture

  • Those who live outside the Citadel are the Outsiders.

Gallifreyan locations

Gallifreyan weapons


Music from the real world

Planets and timeline

Psychic powers


  • The Vardans can travel along any broadcast wavelength and are telepathic. Their planet has the co-ordinates 3052 alpha 7, 14th span.



  • On entering the TARDIS the Sontaran Commander calls it a pile of obsolete junk. The Castellan says the TARDIS model was retired centuries ago.
  • Rodan suggests trading the TARDIS in for a type 708 which is the latest model. The Doctor disagrees, saying the model lacks character.

Time Lords

Story notes

  • Leela's romance with Andred is undeveloped in the story. 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 DW: The Two Doctors.
  • This story had a working title of The Invaders of Time.[source needed]
  • Stan McGowan (Vardan) is credited as 'Vardan Leader' in Radio Times.
  • Rodan is the first female Gallifreyan to appear on screen since Susan Foreman more than a decade earlier.
  • Other than K9 Mk II, the Doctor is without companions at the end of the story, making the period between this story and the next (The Ribos Operation) one of the few plausible spots during the show's run which allows for placement of any number of additional Doctor Who stories in literature, audio, or comics.
  • 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. (DW: Castrovalva, et al)
  • This story replaced the cancelled Killers of the Dark story.


  • Part 1 - 11.2 million viewers
  • Part 2 - 11.4 million viewers
  • Part 3 - 9.5 million viewers
  • Part 4 - 10.9 million viewers
  • Part 5 - 10.3 million viewers
  • Part 6 - 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.

Filming locations

  • 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

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.
  • 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 hat stand, and not with 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 4 Commander Stor holds his gun between his fingers, but at the start of part 5 his grip is different.



Home video and audio releases

DVD releases

Bonus features:


Boxed set release

This story was 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.

VHS releases

This story was released as Doctor Who: The Invasion of Time


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