The Invasion of Time (TV story)

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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.


Part one[[edit]]

"I never sign anything before I've read it."

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...

Part two[[edit]]

The Doctor falling during his coronation as President.

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...

Part three[[edit]]

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. 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...

Part four[[edit]]

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 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.

A spaceship approaches Gallifrey.

He uses this to beam the Vardans back to their home world and then traps it in a time loop at the same time Leela and her warriors reach the Panopticon.

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...

Part five[[edit]]

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...

Part six[[edit]]

The Doctor presents the de-mat gun.

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.


Uncredited cast[[edit]]


Uncredited crew[[edit]]


Gallifreyan artefacts[[edit]]

Gallifreyan weapons[[edit]]

History From the real world[[edit]]

  • The Doctor tells Borusa that he had "nothing to do with" the sinking of the Titanic. However, several of his later incarnations would indeed find themselves on the ship, including Ninth Doctor who apparently "ended up clinging to [the] iceberg", commentating that "it wasn't half cold." (TV: The End of the World)


Literature from the real world[[edit]]

Music from the real world[[edit]]

Planets and timeline[[edit]]

Psychic powers[[edit]]

  • Borusa taught the Doctor advanced techniques of telepathy.


Story notes[[edit]]

  • Even though Louise Jameson was adamant that this would be her last story and a new companion had been developed, Graham Williams remained optimistic that he could persuade her to stay. As such, he gave little thought to Leela's departure because he was anticipating a last-minute rewrite to retain her. He tried to persuade right up to the studio recording, until it turned out that she'd accepted a stage role (Portia in a production of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice), meaning that she couldn't appear in Season 16 anyway. This resulted in Leela's exit being abrupt, much to Jameson's displeasure.
  • 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 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.[1]
  • Leela was supposed to be killed off in this episode, dying defending the Doctor against the Sontarans. Ultimately, Graham Williams and Anthony Read 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 part three.
  • Angus MacKay was unable to reprise his role as Borusa from The Deadly Assassin, so John Arnatt took over. The character’s two subsequent appearances would also see different actors in the role: Leonard Sachs (Arc of Infinity) and Philip Latham (The Five Doctors).
  • Graham Williams loved the Sontarans, hence their reappearance.
  • 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.
  • The production team considered writing K9 out of the show altogether at the end of the serial due to the technical problems caused by the prop.
  • In rehearsals, Louise Jameson and Christopher Tranchell tried to introduce additional moments of tenderness between Leela and Andred in order to make Leela's exit more credible.
  • Roger Murray-Leach was supposed to work as production designer in order to maintain continuity with The Deadly Assassin, but he was unavailable. Barbara Gosnold took his place.
  • Graham Williams was unhappy with Derek Deadman's choice of accent for Commander Stor, and the actor refused to heed the producer's request to modify it.
  • The giant plant which consumed the Sontaran trooper inspired Tom Baker to suggest that his next companion should be a talking cabbage, to whom he could explain the plot as it perched on the Doctor's shoulder.
  • Graham Williams suggested the alias “Richard Thomas”, after his young son, but Head of Serials Graeme MacDonald requested that “David Agnew” receive the credit. This was a nom de plume used on a variety of BBC programmes dating back to 1971, and would be used again for the Douglas Adams/Graham Williams rewrite of David Fisher’s The Gamble With Time, which was broadcast under the title City of Death.
  • Graham Williams had planned for Season 16 to explore more of the TARDIS interior. He used that idea in this serial.


  • 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.

Filming locations[[edit]]

  • 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[[edit]]

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 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.


  • Andred uses the term "Relative Time", which previously appeared in TV: Genesis of the Daleks [+]Loading...["Genesis of the Daleks (TV story)"].
  • 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[[edit]]

DVD releases[[edit]]

Special features[[edit]]


Boxed set release[[edit]]

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.

VHS releases[[edit]]

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)

Note: For all VHS releases, the video sleeve credited Louise Jameson as well as Tom Baker.

External links[[edit]]