The War Machines (TV story)

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The War Machines was the tenth and final serial of season 3 of Doctor Who. It saw the final appearance of Jackie Lane as Dodo Chaplet; it also introduced Anneke Wills and Michael Craze as Polly and Ben, the Doctor's new companions.


The TARDIS arrives in London in 1966 and the First Doctor and Dodo visit the Post Office Tower. There they meet Professor Brett, whose revolutionary new computer WOTAN (Will Operating Thought ANalogue) can actually think for itself and is shortly to be linked up to other major computers around the world — a project overseen by civil servant Sir Charles Summer.

It transpires, however, that WOTAN considers humans to be inferior and believes they should be ruled by machines. Exerting a hypnotic influence, it arranges the construction of War Machines — heavily-armed, self-contained mobile computers — with which to take over the world.

These prove more than a match for troops, but by establishing a magnetic force field the Doctor is able to capture one of them, which he then reprograms to destroy WOTAN. Dodo, now back in her own time, decides to remain on Earth. The Doctor enters the TARDIS alone, but Brett's secretary Polly and her merchant seaman friend Ben Jackson follow him inside just before it dematerialises.


Episode 1[[edit]]

The Doctor and Dodo arrive back in modern-day London, the Doctor taking care to hang an "OUT OF ORDER" sign on the TARDIS door to keep away any unwanted police. The ploy works: when a policeman approaches the TARDIS, believing it to be a genuine police box, he sees the sign and hurries away. However, Dodo points out to the Doctor that even the police could not open the door. Immediately the Doctor senses something isn't quite right about the newly completed Post Office Tower, comparing it to a feeling he previously had around the Daleks, whom Dodo has never heard of. He takes Dodo to investigate.

The Doctor, posing as a computer specialist, is escorted to the top of the tower by Major Green, where he meets Professor Brett and the professor's life's work, WOTAN. Also in the room is Professor Brett's secretary, Polly. The Professor proceeds to explain how WOTAN is the most advanced computer ever made and how it will soon be linked to other computers around the world to create a central intelligence. The Doctor challenges WOTAN to give him the square root of a large number, which it does flawlessly. Dodo, hoping to stump the computer, asks it what the word TARDIS means which it also answers correctly, much to the Doctor's consternation. Dodo then becomes seemingly mesmerised by the machine. When brought back into the conversation, she complains about a slight buzzing in the ears. Polly, looking after Dodo, invites her to go to a dance club called the Inferno.

Arriving at the club, Kitty, the bartender and Polly's friend, tells them that a sailor that Polly met the previous week has come into the bar every night since and sat at the end of the bar drinking and depressed. Just then, the sailor enters, and Kitty asks Polly to try to cheer him up. Polly and Dodo make a valiant attempt but finally decide to leave him to himself. Shortly after, when Polly is being harassed by another patron calling himself Flash, the sailor jumps to her defence, starting and quickly ending a minor bar fight. Dodo is then able to get the sailor's name, Ben Jackson.

Sir Charles at the press conference about WOTAN.

A taxi pulls up to the Royal Scientific Club, the location of a press conference about WOTAN. The assembled reporters learn that on the following Monday, 16 July, all other computers around the world will come under the control of WOTAN in an event called Computer Day or C-Day. After a number of questions from reporters, Sir Charles Summer, head of the Royal Scientific Club, tells those gathered that WOTAN actually thinks and has no political allegiances or any reason to lie or hide the truth. Professor Brett, who is oddly absent, is sent for by Sir Charles.

Professor Brett, caught on the phone in his office, finally prepares to leave for the press conference when he calls in Major Green. The Professor informs the major that he's had the feeling all day that someone has been watching and listening to the goings on in the area. The major assures the professor that the building, and especially the area WOTAN is in, is secure. After Major Green leaves, Professor Brett prepares to go but hears a strange buzzing coming from WOTAN. Stopping momentarily, he is overcome by the buzzing, and though he attempts to fight off the sound, he quickly comes under the mental control of WOTAN.

Back at the Inferno, Dodo tells Polly and Ben that she has a bit of a headache but tells them that she is really fine. When they go off to dance, though, Dodo's face shows that something isn't right.

Just as Sir Charles prepares to dismiss the gathered reporters, Professor Brett finally arrives, claiming to have been unavoidably detained, but he does not seem himself at all. While he refuses to make any comment to the media (even though they haven't asked any questions), he takes Professor Krimpton aside on urgent business. Sir Charles introduces himself to the Doctor, who inquires about Professor Krimpton. Sir Charles, remarking that Krimpton is their foremost electronics expert, begins to worry that something is wrong with WOTAN and leaves to find out. The Doctor seems to have other ideas.

Back with WOTAN, Major Green enters the room on his rounds and quickly comes under the control of the machine. He then calls the Inferno and places WOTAN on the phone. It takes control of Dodo through the phone, and she then leaves. Shortly after, Professor Brett returns to WOTAN with Professor Krimpton and explains to him that WOTAN has come to the conclusion that humans cannot develop the world any further and that it will take control and humans will be the servants. When Professor Krimpton attempts to leave, he is stopped by Major Green and becomes the fourth to fall under WOTAN's control.

At the Inferno, Polly and Ben are looking for Dodo when the Doctor arrives. Polly tells the Doctor that Dodo had received a call about half an hour before and then seems to have left. Dodo then arrives in Professor Brett's office and is instructed to bring the Doctor so that he can be brought under the control of WOTAN.

Episode 2[[edit]]

As Dodo leaves to find the Doctor, WOTAN issues his directions to Professor Brett, Major Green, and Professor Krimpton. WOTAN will decide who lives and who dies. London will be taken over first, followed by Washington and Moscow. A skilled labour force, obtained through telephone-based thought control, will be gathered in a number of points in London to construct "the machines", mobile computers. Green will determine the locations, Brett will oversee construction, and Krimpton will prepare their programming. Prior to programming preparation, though, Krimpton is instructed to assist with obtaining "Doctor Who".

The Doctor and Dodo waiting for a taxi outside the Inferno.

The Doctor remains at the Inferno until closing time. Polly prepares to call hospitals, but Dodo walks back in, claiming that the call was from some old friends and that she was just around the corner with them. As the four leave the club, Ben and Polly go to flag down a taxi for the Doctor and Dodo. Dodo, seeing fellow conspirators waiting in the shadows to grab the Doctor, begins to guide him a little way down the street when Ben and Polly arrive with the taxi. Polly decides to tag along with the Doctor and Dodo to Sir Charles's house where the Doctor is staying. As she leaves, Polly arranges to meet Ben tomorrow at the Post Office Tower for lunch. A homeless man, who had gotten out of the cab, stops Ben to ask for a little money for food, mentioning that he is planning on sleeping in an empty warehouse nearby.

In that warehouse, now no longer empty, is Professor Brett, handing out blueprints for the machines that the labourers are constructing. The homeless man, upon entering the warehouse, sees the activity and overhears Professor Brett's directions. Quickly an alarm comes from a nearby computer, and Brett sends a number of the labourers to find the intruder. The homeless man attempts to leave, saying he'll find somewhere else to sleep, but he is surrounded by the men and quickly killed.

The next morning, the Doctor is visiting with Sir Charles and looking at the paper when he sees the picture of the homeless man in an article about his murder. While Sir Charles is only mildly interested, he brings to the Doctor an issue of two well-respected scientists who work for the Royal Scientific Club who both sent letters of resignation that morning and since cannot seem to be found. Shortly thereafter, Polly enters informing Sir Charles that Major Green had called her and sent her to assist Sir Charles since Professor Brett did not need her for the day and because Sir Charles's secretary was ill. Sir Charles, surprised that Professor Brett knew of his secretary's absence, accepts Polly's assistance for the day. As Polly is about to head out of the room, Dodo walks in. Polly then asks Dodo how she is, but she answers in a very rude manner to which Polly replies "Pardon me for asking!" and she leaves. When Dodo hears Sir Charles's concern about the resignation of two of his computer scientists, she presses the Doctor to call Professor Brett on the phone. The Doctor agrees.

Professors Brett and Krimpton are working in the office when the phone rings. Picking it up, Brett realises it is the Doctor, and Krimpton patches the phone through to WOTAN.

The Doctor doubles over in pain, but manages to fling the receiver aside before he can be affected. Dodo and Sir Charles assist the weakened Doctor to a nearby chair, and Sir Charles leaves to get some water. Dodo believes that the Doctor is now under WOTAN's control, and begins to give him WOTAN's instructions. The Doctor quickly shakes off the effect of the call, but he is still confused as to what happened. As Polly and Sir Charles return with water, Dodo remarks that the Doctor did not receive any instructions. When Polly asks what happened, the Doctor realises that the problem was not with the phone, but with something in Professor Brett's office. The Doctor orders Dodo to stop as she heads for the door, which she does, and then realises that she has been hypnotised. The Doctor uses this power, along with his blue-stoned signet ring, to send her to sleep. The Doctor informs Sir Charles and Polly that Dodo will sleep for about 48 hours and afterwards, will need quiet and rest. Sir Charles agrees to have Dodo taken to his country estate where his wife will care for her and turns to ask Polly to make arrangements, but she has already left the room. The Doctor then begins to wonder what the "strategic points in London" that Dodo mentioned might be.

In a customs shed near the airport and in a large factory, parts for WOTAN's War Machines are being unloaded and constructed. Back in the warehouse, one of the machines is powered on, and Major Green arrives to test its destructive capabilities on one of the labourers, who is immediately killed.

At the Post Office Tower in Professor Brett's office, WOTAN inquires to the location of "Doctor Who". When it is suggested that Dodo may have failed in her attempt to procure the Doctor, WOTAN says that he must be found. Moments later Polly enters to make sure that Professor Brett is all right, but quickly she realises something is very wrong.

At Sir Charles's office, Ben arrives looking for Polly, who stood him up for their lunch date and was informed she would be here. When Ben says he can't find Polly, the Doctor is concerned about her. Mentioning the homeless man in the paper, the Doctor asks Ben to investigate the area around the club to see if they can find any information about what is going on.

Ben, looking around the area outside the Inferno, overhears Major Green's testing of WOTAN's machine and heads inside to find out what's going on. Ben watches the War Machine destroy a table with good results, look around the room with some problems, and then move around a room and destroy some crates that are in its way. As it comes around another corner, Ben is caught directly in the machine's line of sight.

Episode 3[[edit]]

Ben, backed up against a wall of boxes, ducks behind another nearby box and makes his way to a door with the War Machine sounding an alert. Major Green calls the labourers to search for the unknown trespasser just as Ben ducks through the door and finds Polly in the entryway. Ben warns Polly to get away and tells her he must inform the Doctor what he's seen. Polly asks him what he saw in the monotone voice of those hypnotised by WOTAN. As he moves toward the door to leave, Polly locks him in, and he is captured.

Four hours later at Sir Charles's office, the Doctor has grown worried about Ben. Sir Charles tells the Doctor that rumours shouldn't postpone C-Day and that they should allow the police to look into them, but the Doctor fears that the police might only drive the threat further underground.

In the warehouse, Major Green tells Ben of the coming "mechanised evolution" and prepares to have him destroyed. Polly enters with directions from WOTAN that more labour is needed and that Ben is to be kept alive as long as he is useful. When Ben goes to thank Polly, thinking it all a ruse, she tells him he must work towards the victory of the War Machines.

Major Green in the warehouse.

In Professor Brett's office, he and Professor Krimpton take note of the completion time of noon on the following day. The purpose and function of the War Machines are also detailed.

The War Machine in the warehouse has almost completed all tests; the labourers are preparing armaments for the War Machines, but they are tiring — some carted away unconscious. Ben, working in a back room of the warehouse, attempts to talk Polly into resting when he notices that the guard on the door is gone. He goes to investigate, but as he prepares to run, he locks eyes with Polly. Instead of sounding an alarm, Polly simply goes back to moving crates. After prying the locks from the entryway door, Ben finally escapes the warehouse.

As the Doctor prepares to go in search of Ben, Sir Charles's doorbell rings and Ben stumbles in. He reports that Polly is in a warehouse and being controlled and that there is a killer machine there as well.

Major Green confronts Polly concerning Ben's whereabouts. She informs Green that Ben has escaped, but she cannot answer why she didn't raise an alarm and then becomes confused — saying Ben was her friend. When Major Green informs Polly that those under WOTAN have no friends, she seems to remember her affiliation with Ben. As the control over her breaks down, Major Green informs the labourers that Polly must be sent back to WOTAN to be punished.

Sir Charles refuses to believe Ben's story, while Ben is anxious to get moving and take action against the machine. As Sir Charles prepares to contact the police to raid the warehouse, the Doctor points out that something bigger is going on and that, from what Ben has told him, it sounds as if there are more machines being built around London. When the Doctor recommends striking at WOTAN, Sir Charles refuses and says that there is nothing to connect this machine to Professor Brett, even though Polly is one of those under control. The Doctor and Ben, knowing they have riled Sir Charles, depart, and Sir Charles contacts the Ministry of Defence, which will send in the army. Sir Charles decides to head toward the warehouse himself.

Soldiers are mobilised to the neighbourhood around the warehouse. They find considerable electrical and radio-activity coming from the warehouse and surround it. Sir Charles informs the commanding officer of what he knows, and Orange Patrol is sent to enter the warehouse. Interference in the radio signals tips off Major Green that something is happening and he alerts the labourers. As Orange Patrol confronts the War Machine, Green gives the order to attack, and the labourers and the War Machine assault the patrol. Orange Patrol quickly finds that its weapons are useless against the War Machine. The soldiers' guns jam and grenades roll uselessly on the ground, failing to explode — all having somehow been neutralised by the machine and thus the troops must retreat.

Just as the remaining members of Orange Patrol exit the warehouse, the Doctor and Ben join Sir Charles and inquire about what is happening. As Orange Patrol rounds the corner toward the main army forces, the War Machine exits the warehouse in pursuit. The leader of Orange Patrol reports that the machine nearly wiped them out as it comes around the corner into view. Sir Charles, assuming someone is inside the tank-like machine, attempts to call the operator to stand down. As the army realises that their guns are somehow being jammed, the commanding officer informs Sir Charles that the area will have to be evacuated. As everyone retreats, the Doctor stands his ground as the light from the War Machine's "eye" falls across his face.

Episode 4[[edit]]

As the War Machine approaches, Ben attempts to pull the Doctor to safety, but the Doctor stands his ground. The War Machine moves around him and comes to a halt with its top mount radar dish ceasing to function.

On a television set in a local pub, the news reports that the War Machine has been put out of action but that further attacks of a similar nature can be expected over the next day.

The Doctor, examining the War Machine, finds that the programming and test had not been completed and that the computer has failed. Sir Charles notes to the Minister of Defence that if the programming and test had been completed, it would have been nearly unstoppable. The Minister remarks that the other War Machines must be found and destroyed before they are operational.

Elsewhere in London, construction of the second War Machine has been completed and testing begins.

The Doctor is investigating the inoperable War Machine when Ben arrives, having been unable to find Polly. When the Doctor hands his cloak to Ben, a TARDIS key falls from the pocket and Ben picks it up. As he goes to hand the key back to the Doctor, the Minister of Defence approaches, asking for a status report from the Doctor. The Doctor has decoded the machine and determined that there are eleven more units in the twenty to thirty miles around London, all set to begin an attack at noon.

Testing of the second War Machine continues, but as the tester walks in front of the machine he is accidentally killed by a blast from its weaponry.

At the Tower, Professor Brett notes that contact with the second War Machine has broken down, implying the machine has gone rogue. Professor Krimpton goes to correct the programming that is at fault.

Outside the Covent Garden warehouse, one of the survivors is brought in for questioning. As he passes, the Doctor realises it is Major Green and follows so that he may ask a few questions of the man. Major Green, disorientated and confused, doesn't recognise the Doctor or the War Machine that he built. He is led away by soldiers for medical assistance. While Sir Charles wants to raid the Post Office Tower and retrieve Professor Brett, the Doctor berates Sir Charles's "strong-arm" methods and the Minister seems to agree as he turns to the Doctor for guidance.

Meanwhile, a man in a telephone booth contacts the police to report that another of the War Machines is on the streets of London. While on the phone, the War Machine spots him and kills him. Over the radio, a warning goes out to the citizens of London to stay off the streets and not confront the machines.

Ben is still worried about Polly's whereabouts. The Doctor tells Ben that if all he worries about is one person then nothing shall ever get done, but Ben feels he owes it to Polly since she saved his life.

As the second War Machine approaches the Battersea Power Station, Sir Charles goes to the Doctor and the Minister to find out if they have any other ideas. The Doctor wants to capture the functional machine by using electromagnets to paralyse it and therefore use the captured machine to their advantage.

Back in Professor Brett's office, Polly enters and requests to be judged by WOTAN for allowing Ben to escape. Professor Brett informs her that she will be judged later because her assistance is currently needed.

Sir Charles assists the Doctor in obtaining the necessary equipment for the Doctor's magnetic field, and the Minister of Defence assists in closing off roads to funnel the War Machine to the optimal location to spring the trap. Sir Charles, Ben, and the Doctor discuss the Doctor's plan, which requires moving behind the War Machine to connect a final cable to spring the trap. While the Doctor plans to do it himself, Ben feels that a younger man should take the risk.

The captured War Machine in a magnetic field.

As the machine approaches, Ben takes up his position, preparing to run and connect the cable. After hesitating, the War Machine moves into the trap area, Ben connects the cable, and the switch is thrown. While the War Machine isn't shut down by the magnetic field, it does allow the Doctor to get close enough to shut the machine down manually and examine a complete machine.

Elsewhere, questions are going out around the world wondering if the attacks are limited to London or if the whole world is at risk.

The Minister and Sir Charles are concerned about the length of time it is taking for the Doctor to examine the machine. Finally, the Doctor returns to the Minister and Sir Charles to let them know that he has reprogrammed the machine and that he is ready to send it to complete its new orders. As Ben flips a switch, the War Machine hums to life and moves out of the army operating headquarters, heading to the Post Office Tower. Ben, still concerned about Polly and fearing that she returned to the Tower, rushes off in hopes of arriving before the War Machine and rescuing Polly. The Doctor does not approve of this action.

In the Minister's car, the Doctor explains that should everything go as planned with his reprogrammed War Machine, WOTAN should be deactivated and all those under hypnosis should be released.

In Professor Brett's office, he and Krimpton are preparing to release the ten remaining War Machines. As the War Machine arrives at the base of the Tower, Ben arrives in the hall outside Professor Brett's office and sees Polly working at the computer. He rushes in, pushing past Professor Brett, grabs Polly and drags her out of the office and down the hall just as the War Machine exits the elevator. Krimpton attempts to get close enough to the War Machine to shut it down but is tragically killed in the process. The War Machine fires repeatedly into WOTAN and finally destroys it. Professor Brett, grabbing his head in pain, finally comes to his senses, though he has no memory of what happened. As the Doctor, Sir Charles and the Minister exit the elevator, they find the office filled with smoke and a charred WOTAN. As Professor Brett asks what happened, Sir Charles directs him to ask the Doctor, who is no longer there.

Later, the Doctor is standing outside the TARDIS, with the "OUT OF ORDER" sign still on the door, waiting. As he begins to turn and enter the ship, Polly and Ben run across the street to greet him. The Doctor is thrilled to see Polly is now back to her old self and informs them he is waiting for Dodo. Polly tells him that Dodo feels much better, but she wants to stay in London and sends her love. The Doctor, surprised and rather hurt, thanks Polly and Ben for their help and sends them on their way. Down the street, they watch as the Doctor unlocks the police box and enters. When Polly mentions the key, Ben remembers that he still needs to return the one he picked up when it fell from the Doctor's cloak. They run back to return the key and, when the Doctor doesn't answer when they call out, Polly uses it to unlock the door. She and Ben enter, and the TARDIS dematerialises.


Uncredited cast[[edit]]


Uncredited crew[[edit]]



  • WOTAN refers to the Doctor as "Doctor Who" and refers to the Doctor's brain as a "human brain" it needs.
  • Sir Charles Summer speaks by phone with a Minister of Defence.
  • The Doctor and WOTAN use hypnosis on Dodo.
  • Ben admits to being no "deb's delight" and Polly agrees.



  • Kitty says that the Doctor "looks like that disc jockey".

Story notes[[edit]]

  • This story had the working titles of Doctor Who and the Computers (also sometimes referred to as simply The Computers) and Doctor Who and the War of the Machines (also sometimes referred to as simply The War of the Machines).[1]
  • Jackie Lane only appears in episodes one and two of the serial and her character departs the Doctor's company off-screen, as her contract expired midway through production. Innes Lloyd later sent her a letter apologising for her departure, saying that she was "a victim of circumstances".
  • This episode is one of the few First Doctor stories to primarily take place in the modern day.
  • The idea for this story came about when Kit Pedler was being interviewed for a position as science adviser to the series. The producers asked all of the interviewees what would happen if the recently built Post Office Tower was somehow taken over. Pedler suggested that it would be the work of a rogue computer that communicated with the outside world by means of the telephone system. The producers liked this suggestion and not only offered Pedler the job but developed the idea into a script (one of the few to feature a "Story Idea by" credit). Pat Dunlop was then hired to write a full set of teleplays from Pedler's idea but quit after becoming busy with other work, and the teleplays were subsequently done by Ian Stuart Black, who had also written the previous serial, The Savages.
  • This is the first time that two consecutive stories had the same writer.
  • This is the first season finale to not be written by Dennis Spooner.
  • William Mervyn is credited as "Sir Charles" in Radio Times for episode four.
  • Gerald Taylor is credited as "Machine Operator" for episodes two and three, as both "Machine Operator" and "The Voice of WOTAN" (separate on-screen captions) for episode four and only as "Machine Operator" in Radio Times for episode four. He also provided "The Voice of WOTAN" for episodes one and two, but was uncredited for this on-screen.
  • WOTAN is given its own billing, "...and WOTAN", on the closing credits of episodes one to three and in Radio Times; although billed in Radio Times for episode four, it is not credited on-screen. This is the only time in the series' history that a fictional creation receives a cast credit.
  • The "Based on an idea by..." credit for Kit Pedler appears only on the closing credits and in the Radio Times programme listings for all four episodes, where his surname is misspelled as "Pedlar" in both cases. The on-screen writer's name caption seen during the opening computer-style lettering credit graphics (see below) bills only Ian Stuart Black.
  • Although Polly was never given an on-screen surname, "Wright" was used in an audition piece for the character at the time. This has since been adopted into various spin-off novels.
  • This story is also the first time we hear Ben call Polly by the nickname "Duchess".
  • Many of the characters pronounce WOTAN as "Votan", as in the Germanic name for the Norse god Odin.
  • This is the Doctor's first return to 20th century London since a brief interlude at the end of "Bell of Doom".
  • The Doctor is particularly ruthless in this story, sending a War Machine to destroy WOTAN when he knows that Brett and Krimpton (and most likely Polly too) are with WOTAN and are very likely to get killed (as Krimpton does). He does this despite the fact that all three are not acting for themselves, but are under WOTAN's control, so they have no choice about being there, nor any impulse to escape. Indeed, more than once, the Doctor dismisses Ben's pleas to find Polly citing the need to think of saving the many rather than one individual.
  • Only one War Machine prop was actually constructed; the production team changed the numbers, to represent the different machines. Michael Ferguson stated on the DVD commentary that he initially wanted to have ten War Machines built, but this proved to be far too expensive.
  • Michael Craze provided the voice of a policeman heard over a police car's public address system in episode four.
  • In the original script, those under WOTAN's thrall were originally intended to be discernible because their hands would take on a skeletal aspect (forcing characters like Dodo and Professor Brett to wear gloves to hide this mark) — an idea reinstated by Ian Stuart Black for his novelisation of the story.
  • Sir Charles Summer's first name was initially Robert, while journalist Roy Stone's surname had been Pails.
  • This is the only time during the First or Second Doctor's era when the TARDIS crew is completely replaced, leaving no continuing character other than the Doctor.
  • As was common in the mid-late 1960s Doctor Who, this serial employs interstitial titling for the story title, writer's name and episode number captions, which are in computer-style lettering. For episodes two and three, the titling is unusually placed at the end of a short teaser sequence. For the first and last episodes, the sequence occupies a more usual position immediately after the main titles.
  • Due to budgetary constraints, this story had no original incidental music. (BBC DVD: The War Machines)
  • This is the story in which the Doctor is infamously referred to as "Doctor Who" by WOTAN. This is the only time on television that the Doctor is directly called this until the 2017 story World Enough and Time when Missy claims it was the Doctor's first alias.
  • BBC newsreader Kenneth Kendall plays himself in episode four, announcing the destruction of the first War Machine. He would make another appearance as himself for dramatic purposes two months later, this time in an episode of the offbeat fantasy adventure series Adam Adamant Lives! (1966-67), produced by original Doctor Who producer Verity Lambert: "The Doomsday Plan" (originally transmitted 1 September 1966), in which the unfortunate newsreader is kidnapped from the BBC Television Centre after the evening news as part of the dastardly plot of so-called prophet Doctor Mort, who predicts the world will end.
  • Prior to the studio recording, the original TARDIS prop was refurbished; it is clearly obvious in episode one after the TARDIS arrives and episode four prior to the TARDIS leaving, as there are cuts between the pre-recorded outside broadcasting filming and the studio. After the outside filming the TARDIS prop was subsequently repainted prior to the studio recordings, whereby, the original white window frames were painted blue, the Yale-type lock was relocated to the right-hand side door (sitting flush rather than previously protruding) and the St John's Ambulance badge adjacent to the instruction plate was painted over. This is very noticeable between the cuts from outside filming and studio, during the scenes with Dodo and the Doctor arriving in episode one; with Ben and Polly catching up with the Doctor prior to them all leaving in the TARDIS in episode four. Naturally, the production team was unable to remount the filmed sequences prior to transmission due to tight budget constraints. A structural refurbishment to the prop also resulted in the walls forming a rectangular cross-section which no longer fitted the square-based roof. The roof had to be delicately balanced on top for the next ten years, until it finally fell in while Tom Baker and Elizabeth Sladen were inside during the location filming of The Seeds of Doom; and the prop was subsequently retired.
  • This was the first story to show the Doctor helping to defeat a menace in modern-day England with the aid of the military, a premise which would be revisited during the Second Doctor's run before becoming the main theme of the series throughout most Third Doctor's tenure and some of the Fourth Doctor's.
  • This is the only Doctor Who story Kit Pedler contributed to that does not feature the Cybermen.
  • Barring the special case of TV: Mission to the Unknown, this is the first TV story to not feature any scenes inside the TARDIS.
  • This is currently the only serial featuring Polly and Ben which is not missing any episodes. It is also the only serial Ian Stuart Black wrote that is not completely missing from the BBC Archive.
  • Rare for a story featuring a man-made threat, this story has no true evil human antagonists. All of the humans, including Professor Brett, serving WOTAN were brainwashed into doing so. Thus no one was at fault for their actions. Additionally, Brett and Green, despite being the lead players in WOTAN's plan, both survive to the end of the story, albeit with no memory of their actions; another rarity in Doctor Who, even with characters who were not responsible for their actions.
  • The tramp killed in the warehouse was originally an Australian tourist.
  • In the original script, Ben's role was filled by a new companion called Richard (or Rich). He and Dodo meet at the Inferno nightclub, where they were hostile and then flirtatious towards each other. When the Doctor discovers that Dodo had been hypnotised by WOTAN, she flees and returns to the computer. Later, Rich finds her working in a warehouse to build War Machines, and she facilitates his escape. Rich then stows away aboard the TARDIS at the end of the adventure, joining the Doctor and Dodo in their travels. It was decided to write Dodo out and have Polly become the new companion.
  • Before Kit Pedler was hired as scientific adviser, Gerry Davis interviewed gerontologist Dr Alex Comfort (later the author of The Joy of Sex), electrical engineer Eric Laithwaite of Imperial College and Sir Patrick Moore for the position. He asked all of them to imagine what might happen if the Post Office Tower took over, but they all gave unimaginitive responses.
  • BBC staff writer Pat Dunlop was originally tasked with writing the script. After writing a draft of the first episode, he asked to be removed from the assignment so that he could take up the post of script consultant on Dixon of Dock Green.
  • While the Post Office Tower features heavily in the serial, no filming took place there. It was hoped that a small production crew of six people would be able to film inside the Post Office Tower in order to get a high angle shot of the TARDIS materialising and an establishing shot from the exterior. Permission was denied, as the Post Office feared that the filming would interfere with the public opening.
  • The TARDIS prop underwent its first major refurbishment. This work included a paint job, for which the St John Ambulance badge on the door, which had become increasingly obscured, was removed and never replaced. It would not return to the police box exterior until 2010.
  • Prior to the response from the Post Office Tower enquiry, Michael Ferguson worked closely with a Mr. Pascoe of ICT Ltd, and also visited IBM in Hammersmith, to obtain a better understanding of computers and artificial intelligence. (DWMSE 7)


  • Episode one - 5.4 million viewers
  • Episode two - 4.7 million viewers
  • Episode three - 5.3 million viewers
  • Episode four - 5.5 million viewers


  • A fan myth alleges that Pat Dunlop contributed to the writing of the televised version of the story. In fact, though Dunlop was the writer originally commissioned to turn Kit Pedler's story idea into script form, he had to pull out due to a clash of commitments with another BBC series, the football drama United! (1965-67). Ian Stuart Black used none of Dunlop's work when he took over.

Filming locations[[edit]]

  • Bedford Square, London (TARDIS lands, Number 41 is the "Science Society")
  • Conway Street, London (Doctor walks towards Post Office Tower)
  • Covent Garden Market, London (Ben walks along finding the warehouse)
  • Royal Opera House, Bow Street (Ben walks along finding the warehouse)
  • Great Queen Street, London (Deserted London)
  • Greese Steet, London (War Machine crashes through bins) (DEMOLISHED)
  • Charlotte Place, Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia (War Machine menaces a phone box and shops)
  • Berners Mews, Fitzrovia (People flee machine through an archway)
  • Cornwall Gardens Walk, London (Doctor and Sir Charles capture a War Machine)
  • Maple Street, Fitzrovia (War Machine goes past the Post Office Tower)
  • Tottenham Court Road, London (Stock footage projected behind War Machine menacing London)
  • Ealing Television Film Studios
  • Riverside Studio 1, Hammersmith, 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.
  • In episode two, the War Machine that is ordered to kill the worker misses him completely, but the man obligingly drops dead anyway.
  • The test War Machine's number changes from 9 to 3 during its movement test in episodes two and three.
  • The sounds heard during the War Machine's movement test in episode three are different to those heard during the test in episode two.
  • The footage of Ben backing away from the oncoming War Machine at the beginning of episode three is different to what was seen at the end of episode two.
  • At one point in episode four, WOTAN pronounces its own name with a 'w' sound, rather than the soft 'v' used by others.
  • Whilst examining the captured War Machine, the Doctor stands up and whacks his head against it; however, William Hartnell carries on with the scene as if nothing had happened.
  • Kit Pedler's surname is misspelled in the ending credits as "Pedlar".
  • In episode one, when the TARDIS lands, a man reaching into a nearby car fades away due to a cut between 2 shots.


  • The War Machines make a cameo in PROSE: EarthWorld: knowing they came from the Post Office Tower but little else, New Jupiter's historians thought the machines were used to deliver the post.
  • Dodo's life following this story is explored in PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy, which also explains how the events in this story appeared from the perspective of the general public.
  • The Doctor's actions altered history. In the original timeline, WOTAN managed to conquer Earth prior to its destruction in 1969. (PROSE: The Time Travellers)
  • After defeating WOTAN, the Doctor checked to see if the Hand of Omega had been buried in Shoreditch Cemetery as per his instructions in November 1963, only to discover that it had been removed. (PROSE: The Rag & Bone Man's Story) He determined that his future self would arrive at an earlier point in order to deal with it. (TV: Remembrance of the Daleks)
  • Following WOTAN's destruction, its processing banks were recovered from the Post Office Tower by Daniel Prestaigne, who used them to create the Apocalypse Clock. Like WOTAN, the Clock stated that "Doctor Who is required." Upon inspecting the Apocalypse Clock, the Third Doctor recognised the components salvaged from WOTAN. (AUDIO: The Last Post)
  • While in the Post Office Tower, Ben proposed to Polly. This was witnessed by the Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler. (COMIC: The Love Invasion)
  • The Second Doctor later returned Ben and Polly to London on 20 July 1966, the same day that they left. (TV: The Faceless Ones)
    • Early after arriving in London, the Doctor remarks to Dodo that he has a feeling he previously experienced when he encountered the Daleks. (TV: The Daleks, et al.) His next incarnation would later vindicate his predecessor's sensation by uncovering a Dalek operation within London a short while later. (TV: The Evil of the Daleks)
  • In his investigation of reports of a series of agents provocateur known as "the Doctor" who had been involved in numerous unusual incidents, the journalist James Stevens collected information about the C-Day fiasco. He noted that, in his memoirs, Sir Charles Summer claimed that the public failed to realise the magnitude of the disaster which had been averted. He attributed the successful resolution of the crisis to "an aged but spritely scientist he knew only as 'the Doctor'." Sir Charles described the Doctor as an English gentleman in his early sixties with "imperious white hair swept back from his face and reaching almost to collar length, with haughty features and piercing eyes that burned with intelligence and wit." Furthermore, he noted that the Doctor simply disappeared after the crisis had ended. Stevens found it bizarre that on the same day as the C-Day fiasco, namely 20 July 1966, another man who called himself "the Doctor" was involved in the investigation of a case of holiday fraud involving Chameleon Tours at Gatwick Airport. (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy)
  • The TARDIS previously materialised in Leicester Square in the summer of 1762. (AUDIO: The Founding Fathers)
  • The Doctor hangs an "OUT OF ORDER" sign on the TARDIS doors. He still has it by the time of his twelfth incarnation. (TV: The Pilot)
  • 'Law Machines' are built by Torchwood One for the Mayor of London, based on technology retrieved from the Brett Archive. They are sleeker versions of the War Machines and at their unveiling are quickly taken over by WOTAN again. (AUDIO: Machines)
  • In 1967, UNIT was embarrassed to have missed "the whole thing at the Post Office Tower" by the War Machines and brought in Corporal Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart to prevent it from happening in the future. (TV: Survivors of the Flux)

Home video and audio releases[[edit]]

DVD releases[[edit]]


Special Features[[edit]]

Rear Credits:


Digital releases[[edit]]

This story is available:

  • for streaming through BritBox (US) as part of Season 3 of Classic Doctor Who.

VHS releases[[edit]]

  • The Doctor Who Restoration Team did very extensive work on this story for the VHS release. In addition to lots of film and video cleanups, and patching in censor clips in for those scenes missing from the master copy, this included the creation of short sections of new footage from stills and off-cuts to cover sequences where off-air audio existed but visual material did not. Despite this, it still has a small amount of missing material where no video could be found to match the complete audio recording. The audio release is complete. (TV broadcasts prior to the video release usually used the unimproved, substantially cut, and very, very dirty master.) This VHS release contained a Blue Peter 1966 featurette about the War Machine and a 1960s BBC One globe ident before the story begins.


  1. This is the title given on a rehearsal script for episode two owned by Richard Bignell. Collectivity: "Scripts" by Jamie Lenman, DWM Issue 581 (September 2022)

External links[[edit]]