This story debuted with either the Second or Third Doctor, then was reprinted with the Fourth Doctor. It may have had different companions in the reprint, as well. From an in-universe point of view, it's unclear which Doctor lived through these events.
It was notable for its unusual presentation on its original publication. Unlike the normal two-page strips that usually ran in the pages of Polystyle publications, Who is the Stranger was the featured story of TV Action #104 and was printed in its entirety over seven pages.
At the time of release, it was the second ever Doctor Who story to take place during World War II, preceded by Timebenders earlier in the TV Action run. The two covered the same area of the war, pitting the Third Doctor against the Nazis in occupied France.
The Doctor fiddles with the TARDIS console, replacing an element he apparently has previously removed. The act launches the TARDIS. Soon he's at a Parisian museum. Outside, he finds it's a Nazi-controlled Paris. The Gestapo soon descend upon him. As he is without proper papers, they take him away to be questioned by a local pro-Nazi scientist, Professor Schmidt. Schmidt is developing a truth serum with which he hopes to curry Nazi favour by breaking the local Reynard French Resistance cell. He has even higher hopes that it will prove useful in the coming invasion of England.
He tries to use it on the Doctor, slipping it into a glass of champagne, but the Time Lord is too quick for him. The Doctor switches glasses with Schmidt. Soon the Nazi scientist is spilling the plans the Gestapo have for Reynard and his friends. Specifically, Schmidt admits that they have placed a spy amongst Reynard's men.
The Doctor searches for Reynard. The Frenchman and his Resistance fighters are at first dubious of the Doctor's identity. They initially believe him a Nazi spy. He wins them over after a brief fight in which he handles himself impressively. (In the Third Doctor version of the story, the Doctor is drawn to suggest that he's employing Venusian aikido.)
The Doctor proposes that they be captured by the Gestapo. This, he intimates, will flush out the spy amongst them. The leaders of Reynard's group, along with the Doctor, are taken to the Gestapo base, where they are brought before Professor Schmidt. What neither Schmidt nor Reynard's men know, however, is that the Doctor knows precisely how to escape the building, having been there before. The Doctor easily escapes confinement. Soon Reynard's men and he have captured Schmidt. They have Schmidt place a telephone call. He tells his colonel that the invasion of England can proceed. Unbeknownst to the Germans, they've given the plans of this invasion to the British military. Britain will be ready for whatever the Germans can throw at them. Closer to home, Reynard's men firebomb the Gestapo headquarters in Paris — and make sure that Schmidt and his valuable truth serum are sent to London for British and not German use.
Reynard is unable to adequately express his gratitude to the Doctor. All the Time Lord wants in return is a trip back to the Paris museum where his TARDIS awaits . . .
- The Doctor claims to be working directly for Adolf Hitler and that he has come to inspect the Parisian Gestapo and Professor Schmidt's work in particular.
- The Doctor uses "a touch of psychokinesis" to scatter Schmidt's papers, distracting the scientist long enough for the Doctor to switch around the champagne glasses.
- Schmidt has developed a truth serum.
- Schmidt wears a monocle.
- It is sometimes claimed that this is the story in which the comic Third Doctor — which is to say the Polystyle Third Doctor — regains his full use of the TARDIS. However, this claim traces its origins only to the first panel of the strip, in which the narration caption says, "The Doctor has just replaced the element in his TARDIS when . . . " The strip gives no indication what "the element" is. Nor is "the element" defined in the previous week's strip. He simply replaces a mysterious element to which the readers have never been introduced. In any case, the Doctor has had very good control over his TARDIS for quite some time in Countdown/TV Action, dating back at least as far as the magazine's third story. Given that this story also has a Fourth Doctor version, it's placement in the Doctor's personal timestream would be debatable to say the least.
- David Leach was the colourist on the DWCC 19 reprint.