91 – Terror of the Autons

Terror of the Autons is a perfectly respectable four-part story, whose only crime is to pale in comparison to the first story to feature the Autons, Spearhead from Space. It is memorable for a whole series of first appearances, not least of which is the mercurial Roger Delgado as the original (and best) Master. From the very first Delgado is mesmerising – not only in terms of his hypnotic prowess, but his calm command of any situation he finds himself in (Steven Moffat take note!)

It is also the first serial to feature Jo Grant, who is probably the main character associated with Jon Pertwee’s Doctor – and while she is still somewhat prone to the “damsel in distress” scream at the monster syndrome, I would say that Jo is the true forerunner of Sarah-Jane Smith – feisty, independent and capable – albeit with a rather endearing clumsiness that frequently lands her in trouble! Honorable mentions also go Richard Franklin’s first appearance as Captain Mike Yates, and to Michael Wisher who made the first of many Doctor Who appearances in this serial as Reg Farrell – although his most famous appearance would not come for another four seasons …

The story itself is a very simple alien invasion of earth plot – the Master decides (seemingly on a whim) to help the Nestenes invade earth by distributing plastic flowers that spray plastic solution over the nose and mouth making it impossible for the victim to breathe. Rather bizarrely however, the invasion is repulsed by the Doctor persuading the Master that once the Nestenes take over he would be killed as superfluous, and so the two Timelords stave off the attack – before the Master engineers his escape. In that regard, the story is not that different to the later story The Claws of Axos – the show suffering from the problem that if bound to earth there are not a huge number of story types you can use. Which is rather why the story is not higher on the list – it’s a good example of the UNIT era, and as with anything featuring Delgado he is utterly excellent, not least in any scene featuring both he and Pertwee. A classic however, it is not.



4 thoughts on “91 – Terror of the Autons

  1. Pingback: The Weekly Review | Dan talks Doctor Who

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