The Time Warrior was the first story in the eleventh season of Doctor Who. It marked the first appearance of the Sontarans, along with Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, the Third Doctor's new companion. The story also finally revealed the name of the Doctor's home planet as Gallifrey.

Script editor Terrance Dicks gave Robert Holmes the task of writing a story set in a medieval castle, which was believed to be a difficult task. Holmes would reverse the roles in giving Dicks the setting of a lighthouse for Horror of Fang Rock in 1977. (DOC: Beginning the End)


When scientists start to go missing in the 20th century, the Doctor is called in by the Brigadier to investigate. His investigations lead him to deduce that they are being kidnapped through time and he sets off in pursuit, unknowingly kidnapping journalist Sarah Jane Smith in the process.

Arriving in the middle ages, the Doctor and Sarah find themselves caught up in the machinations of the robber baron Irongron and his man from the stars. The alien, a Sontaran named Linx, is arming him with modern weapons in return for helping him repair his damaged ship, and it's up to the Doctor and Sarah to stop him from ruining the Earth's timeline.


Part 1

In the Middle Ages, the bandit Irongron and his aide Bloodaxe together with their rabble of criminals find the crashed spaceship of a Sontaran warrior named Linx. The alien claims Earth for his empire then sets about repairing his ship, offering Irongron "magic weapons" that will make him a king in return for shelter. They strike a bargain, though Irongron remains suspicious.

The Third Doctor and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart are investigating the disappearance of several scientists from a top secret scientific research complex. They do not know Linx has used an osmic projector to send himself forward seven hundred years and has kidnapped the scientists then hypnotised them into making repairs on his ship. The projector only lets him appear in another time for a brief period. While the Doctor investigates he meets an eccentric scientist called Rubeish and a young journalist called Sarah Jane Smith, who has infiltrated the complex by masquerading as her aunt. Later that evening Rubeish disappears and the Doctor uses the data he has gathered to pilot the TARDIS back to the Middle Ages, not realising new companion Sarah has stowed away on board.

Irongron is a robber baron who has stolen his castle from an absent nobleman, and relations with his neighbours are appalling. Indeed, the mild Lord Edward of Wessex has been provoked into building an alliance against him and, when this is slow in developing, sends his archer Hal on an unsuccessful mission to kill Irongron. When Sarah follows the Doctor to Irongron's castle, she is seized by one of his guards, while the Doctor witnesses Linx removing his helmet.

Part 2

Irongron is in a foul mood when a captured Sarah is brought before him. His mood improves when Linx presents him with a Robot Knight which is then put to the test on a captured Hal. The archer is only saved when the Doctor intervenes from afar, shooting the robot control box from Irongron's hands. The ensuing confusion lets both Hal and Sarah flee, and they head for Wessex Castle. There, Sarah concocts a plan to kidnap the Doctor, who she thinks is working for Irongron rather than against him.

Meanwhile the Doctor has realised that Sarah is in the time period and has been captured. He finds Linx's lab, where the kidnapped scientists have been hypnotised except for Rubeish. He is caught by Linx, who restrains him using a head device, but Rubeish frees him when Linx leaves. The Doctor then leaves to search for Sarah, but is chased by Irongron and his men. When the Doctor stumbles, Irongron raises his axe...

Part 3

Sarah Jane Smith quizzes the Doctor - The Time Warrior - BBC

Sarah Jane Smith quizzes the Doctor - The Time Warrior - BBC

Sarah quizzes the Doctor.

Hal shoots the axe out of Irongron's hand, allowing the Doctor to escape. The Doctor is able to convince Sarah and Edward that he was trying to stop Linx, and agrees to help construct a defence against an attack on Wessex Castle by Irongron's men.

The next morning, the robber baron and his troops assault the castle using rifles supplied by Linx, scarcely fooled by dummies the Doctor has made to make it appear as though the castle has more soldiers than they do. As they march forward, the Doctor unleashes smoke bombs, which scare them away. The failure further sours the relationship between Linx and Irongron, which has deteriorated since the robot knight fiasco and the point at which the robber saw the Sontaran's true visage beneath his helmet.

The Doctor now decides to lead an attack on Irongron's castle, and he and Sarah enter dressed as friars. He offers to help Linx if he sends the scientists back home, but Linx refuses and shoots the Doctor...

Part 4

Timewarrior ep4

The new TARDIS team.

The Doctor isn't harmed, and Linx is rendered immobile when Rubeish, acting on a hint from the Doctor, hits his probic vent (a Sontaran refuelling point on the back of their necks which is also their main weakness). Rubeish and the Doctor use the osmic projector to send the scientists back to the twentieth century. Sarah now inveigles herself into Irongron's kitchen, using the opportunity to drug the food, thereby knocking out Irongron's men.

A recovered Linx now determines his ship is repaired enough to effect a departure. Once more he encounters the Doctor, and they wrestle in combat. A crazed and half drugged Irongron arrives and accuses Linx of betraying him; the Sontaran responds by killing him. As Linx enters his spherical vessel Hal arrives and shoots him in the probic vent, and the Sontaran warrior falls dead over his controls, triggering the launch mechanism. Knowing the place is about to explode when the shuttle takes off, the Doctor hurries the last of his allies out of the castle. It explodes moments before the Doctor and Sarah depart in the TARDIS.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Accidentally uncredited on-screen for part one on DVD release.

Production crew



The Doctor

  • The Doctor uses his Venusian aikido on Irongron and Bloodaxe when he escapes Linx's lab.
  • The Doctor proves himself good at fencing, while fighting in disguise against Ironside.
  • The Doctor states that he would like to study art under Rembrandt.

Foods and beverages



  • The Doctor (for the first time) mentions his home planet by name: Gallifrey.

References to popular culture

  • The Doctor use the metaphor of dancing polka while de-hypnotising the scientists with a rhytmic pulsing light; professor Rubeish follows his example.


  • The Doctor refers to the Time Lords as "galactic ticket inspectors".




  • The Doctor uses his newly-constructed rhondium sensor as both practical scientific apparatus and a kind of alarm clock.
  • Linx builds a robot knight for Irongron.


Story notes

  • Working titles for this story included The Fugitive, The Time Fugitive and The Time Survivor.
  • This story features the debut of a new opening and closing title sequence designed by Bernard Lodge and realised using a process known as 'slit scan'. The opening title sequence features for the first time the distinctive diamond-shaped logo for the series.
  • Beginning with this story, individual episodes are listed as Part One, Two etc. This replaced the previous system of calling them Episode One, Two and so forth, established in 1966 with The Savages. The naming structure introduced in this serial would be used from now on, with the single exception of Destiny of the Daleks.
  • Elisabeth Sladen is credited as 'Sarah Jane' in Radio Times for parts one to three.
  • The Radio Times programme listing for part one was accompanied by a black and white illustration by Peter Brookes depicting Linx using his gun to shoot an axe from a hand, and the Brigadier, Sarah and the Doctor in front of Irongron's castle, with the accompanying caption "Into the past — to find the future. The redoubtable Dr. Who returns with a new assistant, journalist Sarah Jane Smith, and Lethbridge Stewart to fight The Time Warrior in not-so-merrie England: 5.10".
  • Bob Hoskins was offered the role of Irongron but did not accept. However, he recommended David Daker for the role.
  • Gallifrey was originally scripted as Galfrey.
  • This episode is set shortly after Jo has left, as in Death of the Doctor, Sarah Jane told Jo that she arrived "just after" her departure.
  • The special edition release of this serial includes new effects through computer-generated imagery, including energy rays from Linx's handheld laser and a rendered CGI explosion that shows Irongron's castle being blown up as opposed to a practical effect where the explosion is seen from afar and rocks are dislodged, merely implying the destruction of the castle.


  • Part one - 8.7 million viewers
  • Part two - 7.0 million viewers
  • Part three - 6.6 million viewers
  • Part four - 10.6 million viewers


  • Potatoes were unknown in England until Sir Walter Raleigh brought them back from the Americas in the 16th century, but they are referred to in this story. (This is a common misconception — no potatoes featured in this story, but they are referenced in the novelisation of this story.)

Filming locations

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.
  • Irongron's gun goes off before he fires it.
  • When looking at the robot, the actor's eyes can be clearly seen through the eyeholes.
  • In part four, just before the Doctor, Sarah, and Hal enter Linx's workshop, a stagehand can be heard for a moment shouting a verbal cue off screen.


Home video and audio releases

DVD releases

This story was released as Doctor Who: The Time Warrior.

Released: Region 2 3 September 2007, Region 4 3 October 2007 and Region 1 April 2008.


  • Commentary by Elisabeth Sladen, Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks
  • Beginning the End - The cast and crew of The Time Warrior look back on the making of this story, in this newly produced documentary. Featuring Elisabeth Sladen, Donald Pelmear, Jeremy Bulloch, Barry Letts, Terrance Dicks and Keith Cheetham.
  • CGI effects - Choose to watch the story with some of the original effects replaced by 16 new CGI sequences.
  • Continuity compilation - A selection of off-air continuity announcements for the original BBC transmissions of The Time Warrior.
  • Doctor Who annual 1974 (DVD-ROM PC/Mac)
  • Radio Times billings - Original listings from Radio Times (DVD-ROM PC/Mac)
  • Photo gallery
  • Production subtitles
  • Easter Eggs - Short featurette detailing various "firsts" introduced by this serial, including the first appearance of Sarah Jane, first appearance of a Sontaran, first use of the slit-scan title sequence, and others. To access this hidden feature, select the Doctor Who logo in the upper left corner of the main menu.

Also, go to page two and press left from the back button to see Terrance Dicks talking about his relationship with Barry Letts.


  • Editing for the DVD release was completed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team. Unfortunately, during re-mastering, on-screen credits for David Daker (Irongron) and John J. Carney (Bloodaxe) were omitted from the closing titles of part one by mistake.
  • The DVD Release was also the first time the serial was available complete and uncut.

Box set release: This story was released in the Bred for War DVD box set on 5 May 2008 along with the other classic series Sontaran stories. The DVD is the same as the one sold separately. It was later released in Australia on 8 July.

It was released as issue 53 of Doctor Who DVD Files.

VHS releases

  • This story was released in compilation form as The Time Warrior in the PAL format in 1989, and was released in Australia several months prior to the UK release.

Digital releases

  • The story is available for streaming in the US through Hulu Plus or Amazon Instant Video in the UK.

External links

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