|083 – The Android Invasion|
|Doctor Who serial|
|Directed by||Barry Letts|
|Written by||Terry Nation|
|Script editor||Robert Holmes|
|Produced by||Philip Hinchcliffe|
|Incidental music composer||Dudley Simpson|
|Running time||4 episodes, 25 minutes each|
|First broadcast||22 November – 13 December 1975|
The Android Invasion is the fourth serial of the thirteenth season of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts on BBC1 from 22 November to 13 December 1975.
The serial is set on the planet Oseidon and in England. In the serial, the alien race the Kraals plot to wipe out humanity with a virus to prepare the Earth for their invasion.
The serial was directed by former series producer Barry Letts and written by Terry Nation — his first Doctor Who script for eleven years not to feature his creations, the Daleks. The serial marks the last appearances in the programme of both John Levene in his recurring role as Sergeant Benton, and also of Ian Marter, who makes a guest appearance as previous companion Harry Sullivan.
The TARDIS materialises, apparently in the English countryside, where the Doctor detects an odd energy reading. He and Sarah Jane meet a group of men in white suits and opaque helmets who shoot at them with their index fingers. As they flee, the Doctor and Sarah see a UNIT soldier run over a cliff and fall to his death. The Doctor searches the body, finding a wallet full of freshly-minted coins, all dated the same year. They also spot a casket-shaped pod nearby, which the Doctor finds familiar. Pursued again by the white-suited men, they reach a deserted village, which Sarah recognises as Devesham; it is located near to a Space Defence Station. The Doctor finds the same coins in the register of the empty pub. The white suits enter the village, accompanied by the "dead" soldier. Villagers in a trance-like state arrive. Morgan, the pub landlord, enters along with several others while Sarah and the Doctor hide. The villagers take their seats silently, waiting motionless until the clock strikes, when they suddenly come to life, acting normally.
The Doctor intends to get to the Space Defence Station and contact UNIT. The soldier finds Sarah and questions her; Morgan suggests that Sarah might be part of "the test" and tells her to go. She observes that behind the visors of the white-suits are nothing but plastic and electronics. While examining one of the pods which she has found near to the TARDIS, the time machine dematerialises. Sarah is attacked by a man lying in the pod, but breaks free.
At the defence station, Senior Defence Astronaut Guy Crayford is addressed by the voice of Styggron, who orders him to check for an intruder. The Doctor enters Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart's office, but it is empty. Discovered by Crayford, the Doctor introduces himself as UNIT's scientific advisor, but is placed in detention. Sarah arrives and frees the Doctor from his cell, but is unaware that an alien – a Kraal – is observing them. When the Doctor tells Sarah about Crayford, she reveals that he vanished in deep space, presumed dead, during testing of a craft. The Doctor and Sarah are able to escape despite the efforts of Crayford's men, including their friends Sergeant Benton and Harry Sullivan, and are pursued by tracker dogs. When Sarah twists her ankle, the Doctor hides her in a tree. He is able to throw the dogs off his own trail, but when the soldiers turn back they capture Sarah. Styggron tells Crayford to locate, but not seize, the Doctor; he has other plans for him. In an alien-looking room, Sarah is strapped to a table and scanned by Harry. In the village, the Doctor finds that the telephones are not working. Styggron speaks to another Kraal, Chedaki, to discuss their experiments and plans to conquer Earth and other worlds. Styggron contacts Crayford and tells him to commence the final test.
In the pub, the Doctor finds more oddities, such as a tear-off calendar with only one date on every page, 6 July. He is telephoned by Sarah, who tells him that she was captured but escaped; she asks the Doctor to meet her in the village. Afterwards he finds that the telephone has stopped working again. The Doctor meets Sarah, who explains how she escaped. The Doctor remarks on the providence of her finding the only telephone in the village that worked; he believes they are being tested. Discovering the TARDIS has gone, the Doctor is puzzled, before realising it has continued its journey to Earth; they are not on Earth, and "Sarah" is really an android duplicate, which he realised since it is wearing a copy of the scarf that he took from her earlier. When the Doctor grabs the duplicate and demands to know where the real Sarah is, it breaks free and falls to the ground, its face opening to reveal the electronics underneath. The Doctor retreats as the android Sarah pulls out a pistol and fires at him.
Styggron tells Chedaki that the village and the Doctor will be destroyed by a matter-dissolving bomb. The real Sarah is being kept alive so Styggron can test the virus he intends to use on Earth. She subsequently escapes to the village and frees the Doctor, who has been captured by Styggron and tied up with the bomb at his feet. With seconds to spare, they run into the base and shut the door as the village dissolves into a wasteland, only to be captured by androids. The Doctor explains that the radiation levels he picked up earlier were those of Oseidon, the Kraal planet. The levels are increasing and the planet will soon be uninhabitable, hence the invasion of Earth. The duplicated village was an android training ground. Crayford enters and explains that he is helping the Kraals because they rescued him and reconstructed his body, while Earth left him for dead. He has contacted Earth with a cover story explaining his survival and with his return providing a distraction, the androids will also land on Earth, paving the way for the main invasion fleet. Although the Kraals have promised Crayford no humans will be harmed as long as they obey, Styggron subsequently reveals that he does intend to wipe out humanity using the androids to distribute the virus. Styggron leaves the Doctor to die strapped to the Kraal analysis table, but he is rescued by Sarah and they escape aboard Crayford's rocket. They eject from the rocket aboard pods and travel to Earth to warn the real defence station, but aboard another pod is an android Doctor. Meanwhile, having found the TARDIS in the woods near Devesham, the real Benton and Harry have been searching for the Doctor and Sarah.
Station commander Colonel Faraday welcomes Crayford home on the radio, but the signal is broken up by the "meteor shower" of pods which slow down as they enter the atmosphere. The Doctor and Sarah land separately on Earth in their pods, and Sarah finds the TARDIS in the woods. As she looks around, the Doctor taps her on the shoulder. However, this Doctor is an android, and behind it a pod opens to reveal another Sarah replica. The real Sarah runs for it. When Crayford's rocket lands, Harry and Faraday head there, not knowing that Styggron is there with Crayford. The real Doctor enters the Station and meets Benton, who tells him where Harry and Faraday are. The Doctor contacts them by radio and urges them not to enter the rocket.
The Doctor tries to jam electronic equipment in the area using the Station's radar dish, and explains the Kraal invasion to Faraday. However, the Doctor is too late: Harry and Faraday have been replaced, and the android Doctor is pointing a gun at him. He escapes and meets Sarah, telling her their only chance is to stop the androids before they take over the complex. He runs back toward the scanner room, bluffing his way past "Benton" by posing as his duplicate. Sarah climbs up the rocket towards the real Harry and Faraday. The android Doctor is about to shoot the original when Crayford enters, saying that Styggron promised no killing. The android Doctor calls him a fool and tells him about the virus. Crayford cannot believe this, but the real Doctor tells him that his rocket was actually hijacked by the Kraal, and they did not reconstruct him but merely brainwashed him. Realising the truth, Crayford rushes out, distracting the android long enough for the Doctor to make his move. In the struggle, the Doctor manages to activate the power to the radar, jamming all the androids in mid-step. In the rocket, Sarah unties Harry and Faraday. Styggron enters, holding a ray gun on them, but Crayford appears and attacks him. The two grapple, and Styggron shoots Crayford. The Doctor makes his own entrance, punching the Kraal, who falls face first onto the vial of virus, cracking it open. Styggron shoots the Doctor before he dies. Sarah is horrified, but the real Doctor appears, revealing he had reprogrammed his duplicate to distract Styggron.
The story was influenced by the film Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), and would be the last Terry Nation script for Doctor Who for four years until his final script for the series, Destiny of the Daleks (1979). This was the first script by Nation since The Keys of Marinus (1964) that did not feature the Daleks.
Location filming for the Kraal-replicated village of Devesham took place in East Hagbourne, Oxfordshire, a few miles from Didcot. Scenes outside the Space Defence Station were filmed at the National Radiological Protection Board at nearby Harwell.
Nicholas Courtney was unavailable to play Lethbridge-Stewart, so his character was re-written as Colonel Faraday. Ian Marter would continue his acting career and go on to write several Doctor Who novelisations, an original novel featuring Harry and an unused screenplay, Doctor Who Meets Scratchman, the last with Tom Baker. He died in 1986 from diabetes-related health complications.
Only three Kraals are seen throughout the story. Styggron was played by Martin Friend. Marshal Chedaki was played by Roy Skelton. The silent Kraal underling that appears in one scene was played by the series' long time stuntman Stuart Fell. Milton Johns had appeared as Benik in The Enemy of the World (1967–68). His next appearance in Doctor Who would be as Castellan Kelner in The Invasion of Time (1978).
|Episode||Title||Run time||Original air date||UK viewers|
|1||"Part One"||24:21||22 November 1975||11.9|
|2||"Part Two"||24:30||29 November 1975||11.3|
|3||"Part Three"||24:50||6 December 1975||12.1|
|4||"Part Four"||24:30||13 December 1975||11.4|
Kenneth Williams briefly mentioned viewing episode two of this story in his diaries, writing on 29 November 1975 "Doctor Who gets more and more silly." Paul Cornell, Martin Day, and Keith Topping gave the serial a negative review in The Discontinuity Guide (1995), writing that it was "stupid, tiresome and very irritating". In The Television Companion (1998), David J Howe and Stephen James Walker reported that the serial had a mixed reception. They wrote that the Kraals were "somewhat unoriginal but otherwise reasonable addition", with average effects and the actors making the most of it. They also praised the direction, but wrote that the plot was too far-fetched. In 2010, Mark Braxton of Radio Times awarded it two stars out of five, writing that The Android Invasion was the weak link in the season. He criticised the plotting and use of UNIT, but was more positive towards the way the story played around with the android duplicates of characters. DVD Talk's Ian Jane gave the serial three-and-a-half out of five stars, saying that it "may not be the deepest or for that matter the most original of stories told in the series but it's a fun tale that breezes by at a good pace". He praised the location work and the androids and white robots. SFX reviewer Ian Berriman also criticised the far-fetched plot, but said that it was "as enjoyable as it is unlikely".
The Android Invasion was reviewed favourably by John Kenneth Muir, who described it as "an atmosphere-laden suspense thriller", despite finding some deficiencies in the storyline, which he referred to as an idiot plot. Muir praised the conceit of frightening, android duplicates of familiar people, and he traced influences from the films Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and The Stepford Wives (1975). He also notes the similarity of the depiction of androids in Doctor Who to the Fembots that appeared the following year in The Bionic Woman television series ("Kill Oscar", 1976), with "faces filled with circuitry and round, lifeless orbs for eyes". Another familiar science-fiction device used in The Android Invasion is that of artificial duplicate settings; Muir considered that the "fake" village of Devesham imitated scenarios seen in earlier television series such as Star Trek ("The Mark of Gideon", 1969), UFO ("Reflections in the Water", 1971) and Space: 1999 ("One Moment of Humanity").
|Cover artist||Roy Knipe|
|Series||Doctor Who book:|
|(Assigned 2, but never used)|
|16 November 1978|
A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in November 1978. The novelisation was later designated number 2 when Target opted to number the first seventy-three novelisations alphabetically; however no edition using the number was ever released.
The Android Invasion was released on VHS in March 1995. The serial was released on DVD in the US on 9 January 2012 as a stand-alone, and again on 9 January 2012 alongside Invasion of the Dinosaurs, coupled as the "UNIT Files" box set in the UK. This serial was released as part of the Doctor Who DVD Files in Issue 126 on 30 October 2013.
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