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"Funny way to invade, putting the world on red alert."
Mickey Smith
Aliens Of London
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Series Number: Series 1
Story Number: 160a
Doctor: Ninth Doctor
Companions: Rose Tyler
Setting: London; March 2006
Writer: Russell T Davies
Director: Keith Boak
Producer: Phil Collinson
Broadcast: 16th April 2005
Format: 1 45-minute Episode
Prod. Code: Series 1, Episode 4
Previous Story: The Unquiet Dead
Following Story: World War Three



The Doctor takes Rose back to 21st century London one year late, just in time to witness a spaceship crashing into the River Thames. The crash triggering a worldwide state of alert and the closing off of the city. As the Doctor investigates the survivor of the crash, Rose finds problems closer to home.


The TARDIS materialises on a street in Rose's council estate. The Doctor has taken Rose back home, some twelve hours after she first left with him, by his estimate. However, when Rose goes to see her mother, Jackie stares at her in shock, as they have in fact been gone for twelve months. In the interim, Rose was declared missing, her mother organised a search campaign with posters and her boyfriend Mickey was suspected of murder. Jackie does not understand why Rose cannot seem to tell her where she has been all this time; she blames the Doctor, accusing him of taking her daughter for immoral purposes and slaps him.

Rose and the Doctor talk on the roof of her tower block, where she expresses her frustration at not being able to tell her mother because she would not understand. Nobody else on Earth knows that there are aliens and spaceships and things… just as a massive cruiser-like spaceship roars overhead, trailing black smoke. The craft zooms through Central London, its wing cutting into the side of the Clock Tower that holds Big Ben, ringing the bell before it finally careens and splashes down into the River Thames. The river is cordoned off by soldiers from the Parachute Regiment, and the Doctor and Rose have to watch the events unfold on the television in Jackie's flat. The world is being put on red alert, divers have apparently recovered an alien body from the wreckage of the craft, but there is still no word from the Prime Minister. The body is placed under military supervision under the command of General Asquith and brought to the nearby Albion Hospital. The general examines the body and asks Dr Sato, the pathologist, whether the creature is a fake. She tells him that X-rays of the skull show wiring she has never seen before — no one could have made it up.

MP Joseph Green, a large, flatulent man and a minor member of government, is escorted to 10 Downing Street, and is met by Indra Ganesh, a Junior Secretary with the Ministry of Defence. Ganesh tells Green that with the Prime Minister missing and the Cabinet trapped outside London due to the gridlock, Green is now Acting Prime Minister. Ganesh hands Green a red box containing Emergency Protocols to deal with extraterrestrial incidents, and Green is met by Margaret Blaine of MI5 and Oliver Charles, Transport Liaison, both as rotund as Green is. Blaine reports that she escorted the Prime Minister this morning to his car, but according to Charles, the car has disappeared. The three government officials leave Ganesh and enter the Cabinet Rooms. Once inside, they look at each other and start laughing.

The evening settles on Rose's estate, and people are holding alien-welcoming parties. The Doctor leaves Rose's flat, saying that he is not good with people. Rose thinks he is going to investigate the crash, but the Doctor tells her that he is not going to interfere with humanity's first contact with extraterrestrial life. To assure her he is not going to disappear, he gives her a TARDIS key. However, once downstairs, he enters the TARDIS and starts it up. Mickey spots the Doctor from his own flat and rushes down, too late as the TARDIS dematerialises.

The Doctor lands the TARDIS in a storage cupboard in Albion Hospital, and opens the door only to run into a group of soldiers, who level their rifles at him. At that moment, they hear a scream, and the Doctor immediately takes charge, barking out orders to lock down the perimeter. The Doctor finds Dr Sato cowering in the corner of an operating room. The supposedly dead alien had come back to life. The Doctor spots the alien, which looks like a pig in a spacesuit, and the creature flees in terror, only to be shot by a soldier. He angrily berates the soldier for killing the creature, protesting that it was only frightened. Examining the body with Dr Sato, the Doctor tells her that it is a real pig, its brain augmented by alien technology. Something else alien wanted to fake an alien crash landing, but for what reason? By the time Dr Sato asks the question, the Doctor is gone, to the echo of a dematerialising TARDIS.

Harriet Jones, a backbench MP, approaches Green, Charles and Blaine, wanting a report to be placed on the next Cabinet agenda, but is brushed off. She enters the empty Cabinet Rooms and opens the Emergency Protocols box to place her report there, but is intrigued enough to start reading. Later, she hears General Asquith complaining to Green, Blaine and Charles about their inaction, and hides in a side room. In the Cabinet Rooms, the three government officials seem to find Asquith's complaints amusing, and they all start to break wind, laughing. When Asquith threatens to relieve Green of his role as Acting Prime Minister and place the country under martial law, the three unzip the tops of their heads, a bright blue light shining through. As Harriet watches terrified through a crack in the door, General Asquith screams.

Meanwhile, Mickey confronts Rose about where she has been with the Doctor, and smugly tells her about the TARDIS disappearing, telling Rose that the Doctor has abandoned her. When Mickey, Jackie and Rose go to where the TARDIS was formerly parked, Rose's key starts to glow, followed by the TARDIS materialising before their eyes. Rose proceeds inside with Mickey, but Jackie is too overwhelmed by what she has seen, and exits the ship to run back to her flat. The Doctor confesses that he suspected the crash was a fake — it was too perfect a set-up. Mickey notes that it is an odd way to invade a planet by putting it on red alert. Mickey (whom the Doctor insists on calling "Ricky") and the Doctor exchange barbs, but the Doctor has more important things to do. While Mickey and Rose catch up, the Doctor modifies the TARDIS scanner to track the spacecraft back twelve hours before the crash and discovers that it was launched from Earth. Whoever these aliens are, they have been here for a while.

Jackie sees a news report calling for anyone who has seen any evidence of the existence of aliens and calls the Emergency Alien Hotline to report that she has seen one — the Doctor, in a blue box he calls the TARDIS. This combination of key words triggers a Code 9 alert, and Ganesh rushes to tell General Asquith. Inside the Cabinet Office, the alien that was Oliver Charles puts on the general's skin, while Blaine remarks that they have do something about the "gas exchange" that is causing their flatulence. Ganesh tells Asquith about that the Doctor has been spotted, and when Blaine asks who this "doctor" is; Ganesh explains that the Doctor is the expert on aliens, one they desperately need. In the meantime, other alien experts from around the world, including the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, are being summoned to Downing Street.

A Slitheen in its true form.

When the Doctor, Rose and Mickey exit the TARDIS, they are immediately surrounded by armed soldiers, vehicles and a helicopter. Mickey runs away and escapes, but the Doctor and Rose are put into a limousine and escorted to 10 Downing Street. The police escort Jackie up to her flat and a full-figured, gassy police inspector assures Jackie that Rose is in a position to help her country, and asks Jackie how she made contact with the Doctor.

At Downing Street, Ganesh, who has gathered all of the experts together, meets the Doctor and Rose. Ganesh tells them that their ID cards must be worn at all times, and ushers them into a room. Rose, however, is not cleared and thus not allowed in. Harriet Jones, who managed to sneak out of the Cabinet Rooms unseen, comes along at this point and offers to take care of Rose. She takes Rose to the Rooms and shows her Oliver Charles's empty skin. When they search the room for alien technology, they find the body of the Prime Minister stuffed in a cupboard. Ganesh enters at this point, and is aghast when he sees the Prime Minister's body.

At the briefing headed by Asquith and Green, the Doctor reads the reports and notices that three days before, a satellite picked up a blip of radiation under the North Sea. However, before anyone could investigate, the crash happened. The Doctor realises, however, that the reason someone would fake an alien invasion is so they can gather those who have experience and knowledge in fighting off aliens together in one place. The crash is not a diversion — it's a trap.

In the Cabinet Rooms, Blaine enters, closing the door behind her. Ganesh states that it's impossible for the Prime Minister to be dead, as he was driven away from Downing Street that morning. Blaine smugly explains that the only reason that he thinks that is because she told him that earlier, and begins to unzip her head before a horrified Ganesh, Rose and Harriet. In Jackie's flat, the police inspector does the same, and in the briefing room so does General Asquith. The enormous, greenish aliens wriggle out of their skins, the one inhabiting Blaine attacking Ganesh and the one that used to be the inspector cornering Jackie in her kitchen. In the briefing room, the unmasked Asquith identifies himself and his cohorts as the Slitheen. With that introduction, Green activates a hand-held device that sends a deadly dose of electricity jolting through the experts' ID cards, including the Doctor's…



to be added


  • UNIT the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, is mentioned as being among the experts on aliens, The Doctor mentions having worked with them in the past, but that they wouldn't recognize him now, alluding to regeneration. This is the first reference to UNIT in the series revival (in a later episode, The Sontaran Strategem, it is revealed that UNIT's name has, for some reason, been changed to Unified Intelligence Taskforce). Since no UNIT personnel are heard uttering the full name, only the Doctor, it is not known if the name has actually been changed by this point, and the Doctor may not be aware of it.
  • Elton Pope is one of the many who witnesses the spaceship crash landing (and doesn't dismiss it as a hoax). This is not shown on screen until Love & Monsters.
  • Mickey Smith makes his first reappearance.
  • A boy spray paints the words "BAD WOLF" on the side of the TARDIS while it is parked on the Powell Estate.

Story Notes

  • This episode had the working title "Aliens of London Part One" ("World War Three" being "Part Two").
  • The episode ends on a cliffhanger, the first since episode two of DW: Survival. The story continues in World War Three. This is also the first occasion since Invasion of the Dinosaurs in which the first episode of a serial does not share its title with the second.
  • A poster announcing Rose's disappearance states that she has not been seen since 6 March, 2005. However, the BBC-produced "official" UNIT website indicates that the climactic events of Rose happened on 26 March. The same site also dates this episode at either 26 May or 28 June 2006. If the June date is accepted, Boom Town (and also The Parting of the Ways) would have to take place in late December 2006 — the same week as The Christmas Invasion (dated to 2006 by the Guinevere One website). On the other hand, if only on-screen evidence is accepted, Aliens of London would take place in March 2006, Boom Town in September, and The Parting of the Ways later in the autumn or early winter.
  • The official police poster is the first reference to the Powell Estate on the television series. Rose is described as, "19 years old, 5 feet 4 inches in height, slim build with shoulder-length blonde hair." The photograph used is one of Billie Piper herself, rather than one of Piper playing Rose. Several other, home-made posters are seen on Jackie's table, including one with a banner headline saying "WHERE IS ROSE?".
  • When the Doctor complains of being slapped by Rose's mother, Rose laughingly remarks, "You're so gay!" This remark has caused some controversy in fan circles, some seeing it as an anti-homosexual slur. Davies, who is gay, wrote in an e-mail response that it was the way people talked, and claimed that he was trying to provoke discussion by using the phrase.
  • A running joke involving the Slitheens suffering from flatulence while in their human disguises was also slightly controversial in fan circles, with some critics disapproving of the style of humour. It did, however, give rise to one of the most quoted lines uttered by the Doctor during the season: "Would you mind not farting while I'm trying to save the world?"
  • The scene where the pig-like "alien" is breaking thought the metal door with Dr Sato watching in shock is reminiscent of an almost identical moment in the 1996 Doctor Who television movie, in which the newly-regenerated Eighth Doctor breaks through the metal door of the morgue, terrifying a hospital worker.
  • The production team had intended to suggest that the murdered Prime Minister in this episode was current real-life incumbent Tony Blair. On the DVD commentary for the following episode, producer Phil Collinson explained that they had hired an actor to play the dead body on the understanding that the man was a Tony Blair lookalike. When the resemblance proved disappointing, they decided to avoid showing the body clearly. The suggestion that the body is Blair's remains in Harriet's line "I'm hardly one of the babes", a reference to the large number of female Labour Party MPs who entered the House of Commons in Labour's 1997 general election victory, who were dubbed "Blair's Babes" by the British media. That Tony Blair was elected in the Doctor Who universe was confirmed in Rise of the Cybermen.
  • The armoured personnel carrier seen outside Number 10 is a Saxon, possibly foreshadowing future events.
  • According to Russell T Davies in Doctor Who Magazine, as well as Doctor Who Confidential, the decision to establish the Bad Wolf meme in the series did not occur until after the spur-of-the-moment decision to have the words "bad wolf" graffiti-painted on the TARDIS; subsequently Bad Wolf references were added to the scripts for most of the other Series 1 episodes, and notwithstanding a few minor or inferred references in the interim, returned in force in the Series 4 episodes Turn Left and Journey's End. With the origin of the meme established, the mystery that remains is exactly why the words "bad wolf" were chosen to be spray-painted on the TARDIS in the first place (as opposed to any other phrase).
  • Although not clearly seen on screen, one of the UNIT officers killed by the Slitheen at the end is wearing the name tag "Frost" (the tag is seen more clearly in publicity stills). This may have been a reference to the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip character Muriel Frost, who worked for UNIT.
  • The TARDIS key began as an ordinary-looking Yale key, then changed during the Third Doctor's last season into a more alien looking one, which was also used for the first two seasons of the Fourth Doctor's tenure. It then reverted back to the Yale key for the rest of the run of the original series. The alien key made one last appearance in the Doctor Who television movie. It has now returned to looking like an ordinary key, except that it starts to glow when the TARDIS is arriving.


  • 7.6 million viewers


  • It has been speculated that the male prime minister shown killed by the Slitheen was supposed to be Tony Blair, who was in office at the time the episode was broadcast. In fact no indication is given as to his name, and the series has established that political leaders in the Whoniverse do not always coincide with those in the real world (examples of this disparity can be found in serials such as Terror of the Zygons, Battlefield, The Sound of Drums, etc.) (There was an election in 2005 so it could be a new prime minister.)

Filming Locations

  • The Cardiff Royal Infirmary provided the setting for the fictional London Albion Hospital.
  • The entrance to the Prime Minister's residence was a redress of a similar-looking door in Central London.
  • Cardiff Royal Infirmary, Newport Road, Cardiff
  • Westminster Bridge, Westminster, London (New report on the crash)
  • Tower Bridge, London (seen as the Slitheen's ship flies over it)
  • The Queens Walk, Westminster, London (seen when the Slitheen's ship crashes into the Thames)
  • Hensol Castle, Glamorgan, Wales (Interior of Downing Street)
  • Bute Street, Cardiff (when Rose are taken to Downing street in the limo)
  • John Adam Street, Westminster, London (Exterior of Downing street)
  • Belvedere Road, London
  • Whitehall / Parliament Street, Westminster, London (seen as the Slitheen ship flies over the top)
  • Brandon Estate, Kennington, London (Long shot exterior of Powell Estate)
  • Channel View Flats, Cardiff (Closer shots of Powell Estate)
  • Unit Q2, Imperial Park, Imperial Way, Newport
  • BBC Television Centre (Studio TC4), Shepherd's Bush, London
  • HTV Wales Studios (Studio 1), Culvershouse Cross, Cardiff
  • BBC (Kendal Avenue), Kendal Avenue, Acton

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • When the ship crashes into the clock tower, both the numbers on the clock face and the text beneath are backwards. (According to the DVD commentary, director Keith Boak altered his shots of the crash sequence but this was not related to the visual effects team, who had prepared according to the storyboarded version. As a result, the sequence was electronically flipped to make it conform to the spaceship's final descent pattern.)
  • The clock also appears to keep working after the incident: the time reads roughly 10:55 when the spaceship strikes it, but reads roughly 6:10 when the clock is later seen on a news broadcast. (The shot is flipped)
  • For the first time the Doctor states that he is 900 years old, contradicting the last on-screen reference to his age, 953, in Time and the Rani. Although initially rationalized as the Doctor lying about his age, or "rounding down" or perhaps only counting his years of travelling in the TARDIS, the later Voyage of the Damned muddies the waters by having the Doctor give an exact number - 903 - which tallies with the number of seasons/years since this episode. (Other suggested rationales are that the Doctor is counting time differently than done on Earth, or that for some reason as yet unchronicled (perhaps due to the Time War) he has forgotten some years of his life.) The Ribos Operation, among others, also established that the Doctor was not adverse to lying about his age.
  • Dr. Sato seems to be reluctant about the concept of aliens, and scared of the "Pig". However, by this point, she is supposedly already working for Torchwood, therefore something like that should be a common occurrence for her. Also, in the later series she is not a doctor. (Exit Wounds explains that she was covering for Dr. Owen Harper and working undercover, hence the disguise as a doctor. As for her attitude regarding aliens, at this point Torchwood was a more secret organization than later established and knowledge of alien life forms by the general populace had yet to be established; she was likely just playing dumb. Additionally, seeing anything come back to life and burst out of a morgue can certainly be frightening, even if you've been working at Torchwood for a short time.)
  • It's stretching belief a little that no higher minister than Jospeh Green can be found to be acting Prime Minister. (Downing Street was panicking and maybe they just grabbed the first MP they could. Remember the Slitheen had been planning this for a while so they would have people everywhere who would be pushing for a rushed descision involving Joseph Green.)
  • When the TARDIS doors are wide open, even though it is night, only darkness can be seen outside, despite the fact that the TARDIS lights and the street lights would probably highlight the outside area.
  • The Doctor is excited about the concept of being on Earth for first contact, and says that he did not know first contact was going to happen that day. The Doctor, whose "history is perfect" would know that this is not first contact. Furthermore, he recognizes first contact in 1986 during DW: The Tenth Planet.
  • The Slitheen have only three appendages on each hand, yet when they are inside their human skinsuits, they are able to manipulate all five of the hand's appendages.


  • TW: Exit Wounds establishes that she was working undercover for Torchwood during this incident and in fact her colleague Owen Harper was originally to have done the autopsy. This retroactively makes this the first appearance of Torchwood in the series (unless one counts Jack's possible appearance as the Face of Boe), although the name wouldn't be established until Bad Wolf later in the season and the current nature of Torchwood not until the end of Series 2. The Exit Wounds reference also confirmed that the Dr. Sato who appears in Aliens of London is, indeed, the same person as the Torchwood operative.
  • UNIT makes its first appearance on screen since DW: Battlefield. The Doctor spells out the acronym -- United Nations Intelligence Taskforce. This would be the final on-screen use of this name, as by the time the full name of the organization was uttered again in DW: The Sontaran Strategem, it has been changed to Unified Intelligence Taskforce. (Apparently the UN objected to the use of its name in the fictional organization, even though it had been used as such since at least 1968).
  • Mickey notes that he found out on the Internet that the Doctor had worked before for UNIT, among other things. A notation at WEB: implies that Mickey is the one who has been updating Clive Finch's website since the latter's death in DW: Rose.
  • The TARDIS was previously defaced with chalk scribblings in DW: The Time Warrior and The Leisure Hive, graffiti in Paradise Towers and was painted pink in The Happiness Patrol.
  • The Doctor revisits Albion Hospital in 1941 during DW: The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances.
  • In DW: Love & Monsters the crash sequences (and the events that follow) are seen from an entirely different point of view.
  • The Doctor tells Rose he is 900 years old, however in DW: Time and the Rani he was 953, in NA: Set Piece he was 1000 and in EDA: Vampire Science he was 1,012, the Doctor spend 100 years on Earth (EDA: The Burning to Escape Velocity) which makes him at least 1,112 (this isn't counting all the intervening time during adventures either). The given age of 900 has been the baseline for all future references to the Doctor's age (such as 903, given in DW: Voyage of the Damned). The discrepancy with the earlier stated age during the Sylvester McCoy era has yet to be addressed on screen, though numerous fan-generated theories exist.
  • The Doctor offers Mickey a chance to travel with him, which he declines; in DW: School Reunion Mickey invites himself to travel with the Doctor and Rose.
  • This is the first episode in franchise history to chronicle the impact the departure of a companion with the Doctor can have on those left behind. In this case her family believed her to have been murdered, and her boyfriend, Mickey, had become a suspect. The impact of a companion's travels with the Doctor on family and friends back on Earth becomes a recurring theme throughout the Russell T. Davies era.
  • Beginning with this episode, most "modern day" Earth stories are said to take place approximately one year after the year in which they were broadcast; i.e. this episode and its second chapter take place in 2006, but were first broadcast in 2005. As noted above, this has not been applied consistently. This displacement also applies to the later Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures spinoff series, and has been applied fairly consistently, although some discrepancies have been noted.


DVD and Other Releases

Series 1 Volume 2 DVD Cover
  • Aliens of London together with World War Three and Dalek were the first Doctor Who stories released on the Universal Media Disc format for the PlayStation Portable.
  • This was also relesaed as a vanilla release along with the next two episodes.
  • It was also released as part of th Series 1 DVD boxset.
  • This was also released with Issue 2 of the Doctor Who DVD Files.

See also

External Links

  • Official BBC Website - Episode Guide for Aliens of London
  • The Doctor Who Reference Guide detailed synopsis of Aliens of London
  • A Brief History of Time (Travel): Aliens of London
  • The Whoniverse Discontinuity Guide to Aliens of London
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who - Aliens of London
  • Five-Minute Aliens of London — Parody version

External Links - Online media

  • Doctor Who Confidential - Episode 4: I Get a Side-Kick Out of You
  • Official BBC Next Time Trailer
  • Mock report from BBC News 24 (used in Aliens of London)
Series 1
Rose  • The End of the World  • The Unquiet Dead  • Aliens of London  • World War Three  • Dalek  • The Long Game  • Father's Day  • The Empty Child  • The Doctor Dances  • Boom Town  • Bad Wolf  • The Parting of the Ways
Slitheen Television Stories
Doctor Who
Aliens of London  • World War Three  • Boom Town

The Sarah Jane Adventures
Revenge of the Slitheen  • The Lost Boy  • From Raxacoricofallapatorius With Love

Attack of the Graske  • The Gift  • The End of Time

Blathereen Television stories
The Gift

This article uses material from the "Aliens of London" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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