The Android Invasion

Region 1

Region 2
U.N.I.T. Files
Box Set
VHS Video
(Doctor Who Story No. 83, starring Tom Baker)
  • written by Terry Nation
  • directed by Barry Letts
  • produced by Philip Hinchcliffe
  • music by Dudley Simpson
  • 4 episodes @ 25 minutes each
Story: The TARDIS abandons the Doctor and Sarah in a silent empty English village, suddenly filled with people who switch on and off like clockwork, and guarded by blank-faced androids. Who is pulling the strings of this secret project from behind the scenes? Can their old friends Harry Sullivan and Sgt. Benton still be trusted? And how does a famous returned astronaut fit into the puzzle?

DVD Extras include:

  • Audio commentary by producer Philip Hinchcliffe, actors Milton Johns (Crayford) and Martin Friend (Styggron), and
    production assistant Marion McDougall. Moderated by Toby Hadoke.
  • "The Village That Came to Life" making-of featurette (31 min.) with Hinchcliffe, Johns, Friend, and director Barry Letts.
  • "Life After Who" Philip Hinchcliffe career retrospective featurette (30 min.)
  • Photo Gallery
  • Pop-up Production Note Subtitles
  • Easter Egg

Buyers' Guide Review

by Martin Izsak

(A more in-depth analysis, containing "SPOILERS" and intended for those who have already seen the program, can be accessed here.)

This somewhat obscure story contains some ironies for the production crew. Producer Philip Hinchcliffe has stated how keen he always was to move away from Earth-based UNIT stories and get back into outer space, yet one of the reasons I prefer the later Graham Williams era is that Hinchcliffe did too many stories stuck on present day Earth, with situations that attempt to involve UNIT and can't pull it off in a satisfying manner, instead of making a good clean break. You have to wonder why Holmes threaded so many stories together by having Sarah always asking to go home (often not seriously wanting to), and the Doctor always promising to take her. Even when we are enjoying a good space adventure, our desire to return to the UNIT gang is thus rekindled, putting a monkey-wrench into Hinchcliffe's plans.

And poor Terry Nation, a writer who has proved his talent on classic Dalek stories and in his Blake's 7 series, makes his first attempt at writing for UNIT only to have Nicholas Courtney refuse to do the Brigadier. Even the presence of UNIT era producer Barry Letts coming back to direct this story isn't enough to give it the right UNIT feel.

What the story does give us is a lot of formulaic sci-fi and horror elements: people being replaced by zombies, gullible souls being used by ruthless beings, radiation apocalypses, capture and escape routines being used too often in one script, arguments over whether or not to kill the protagonists, and unbelievably overcomplicated ways of going about it. If Terry Nation hasn't used a particular element many times before, Robert Holmes has between himself and the writers he as script editor employs, and these elements are usually done better elsewhere.

Dudley Simpson does an adequate and enjoyable job on the score, weaving in his relatively new Fourth Doctor's Theme as usual. The music remains a typical example of his good quality work without standing out as anything too special this time around. The police box makes a solid showing, with an extra movement near the beginning of the story; the TARDIS interior is ignored as usual. There are a few laser shots fired in the story; the effect disappointingly lacks superimposed visual beams again, although it is better than the blobs used in "The Sontaran Experiment" (story no. 77) and the lighter artillery in "The Ark in Space" (story no. 76). Tom Baker gets yet another brand new coat for this story, even though his previous one had only appeared in one story. The speckled grey coat is nice for variety, but is my least favourite in Tom's Doctor's wardrobe.

This story is also paced quite slowly, and it shows most near the beginning of the story. Simpson leaves many of these sequences silent, which is what the story calls for, but in the wake of similar dynamics from "Pyramids of Mars" (story no. 82), it encourages me to sleep. It takes too long for the Doctor and Sarah to figure out what's going on, but at least the Doctor apologizes several times for not being on the ball. Further discussion of the story's beats and pacing will have to be saved for the In-depth Analysis version of this review - check it out after you've watched the story.

A suite of music from Parts 3 & 4 of this story (6:32)
is available on:
Audio CD - Doctor Who:
The 50th Anniversary Collection
4-disc version (2013)

More info & buying options

A longer music suite from Parts 3 & 4 (9:04)
was released on:
Audio CD - Doctor Who:
The 50th Anniversary Collection
11-disc version (2014)

More info

At least Harry and Benton are in this story.... barely. The UNIT atmosphere begins to gel, but only for about half an episode. The story does finally move well near the end, and the crisis is concluded satisfactorily. Perhaps because I don't remember this story in as much detail as many others, it retains the ability to surprise me. The location filming is particularly enjoyable throughout. I also like Max Faulkner's new UNIT character, Corporal Adams, who gets excellent exposure in this story.

"The Android Invasion" is a fairly solid Doctor Who adventure of minor importance in the grand scheme of things, and not my particular cup of tea. I still rank it second last in the season, without placing the season itself on too high a pedestal either.

This story is available on DVD and VHS video.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the location nearest you for pricing and availability:

DVD NTSC Region 1
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
U.N.I.T. Files Box Set
for the U.K.
VHS Video

Comments on this article are welcome. You may contact the author from this page:

Contact page


Read the Buyers' Guide Review for the next story: "The Brain of Morbius"

Home Page Site Map Star Trek Sliders Doctor Who Tom Baker Era Episode Guide Catalogue