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"We left Earth three months ago!"
Invasion of the Dinosaurs
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Season Number: Season 11
Story Number: 71
Doctor: Third Doctor
Companions: Sarah Jane Smith
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
Captain Mike Yates
Sergeant Benton
Setting: Earth, circa 1970s
Writer: Malcolm Hulke
Director: Paddy Russell
Broadcast: 12th January - 16th February 1974
Format: 6 25-minute episodes
Previous Story: The Time Warrior
Following Story: Death to the Daleks



The Doctor and Sarah arrive in 1970s London to find that it has been evacuated, due to the mysterious appearance of dinosaurs. It turns out that the dinosaurs are being brought to London via a time machine in order to further a plan to revert London to a pre-technological level.


The Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith arrive in a deserted London plagued by looters and lawlessness where the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce is assisting with maintaining martial law. The regular army, headed by General Finch, has evacuated the entire city and issues a command that any looters in London will be shot on sight. The Doctor and Sarah Jane are soon arrested on suspicion of being looters themselves but are identified from the photographs by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, who is heading up the UNIT operation, and arranges that the pair are freed to help combat the monsters that have necessitated the evacuation of London. Dinosaurs have started appearing all over the city – but that is not all, as the Doctor comes across a mediaeval peasant too from the days of King John, who disappears in a time eddy. It seems the dinosaurs have been present for several months, but nobody can account for their sudden appearance or the havoc they are causing. The British Government has been relocated to Harrogate during the crisis, and the army has taken charge to ensure an orderly evacuation and to try and maintain some sort of control in the city. The dinosaur appearances are various – pterodactyl, stegosaurus, tyrannosaurus rex – but the creatures seem to vanish as mysteriously as they appear.

The Doctor ventures out around the city with a UNIT escort, hoping to learn more of the curious phenomenon, and they encounter a stegosaurus moments before it disappears. He starts to suspect someone is deliberately bringing the dinosaurs to London – and in a hidden laboratory a pair of scientists, Butler and Professor Whitaker, are shown operating the time technology that is making the situation possible. They are being aided by Captain Mike Yates from UNIT, who feels the Doctor could help them achieve Operation Golden Age, but Whitaker is unconvinced, and tells Mike to sabotage the stun gun which the Doctor is building for use on the dinosaurs. He does this, imperilling the Doctor when he encounters a tyrannosaurus rex, but the situation is saved and the creature is stunned and captured. Hours later, however, General Finch sets it free, evidently part of the conspiracy too.

Sarah Jane has meanwhile set off to gather her own evidence and meets with Sir Charles Grover, an ecologist MP who is acting as Minister with Special Responsibilities in London. She is drugged by him and when she wakes up is astounded to find herself on a vast spaceship. The crew include Mark, Adam and Ruth, all famed British minor celebrities who have adopted new aliases and lives. They tell her they en route for a New Earth where mankind can begin again, closer to nature. They left Earth three months earlier and the ship is one of a fleet that is carrying over two hundred people to a new life. Sarah is committed to the re-education programme to enable her to think like them.

The Doctor now focuses on more searches of London using his new vehicle, the Whomobile, as transport. Under Moorgate Station he finds the base used by Whitaker and Butler, but is scared away when they use a pterodactyl to defend their lair. When he returns with the Brigadier, the signs of occupation have been removed. Operation Golden Age is revealed to be a broad conspiracy containing Whitaker, Butler, Yates, Grover and Finch as its core coordinators. They have emptied London to enable it to revert to a more natural state, after which the people on the spaceships (in reality they are in vast bunkers and not in space at all) will be allowed out and enabled to repopulate a clean and free planet. Whitaker also works out how to reverse time, so that soon none of humanity apart from their own chosen specimens will ever have existed.

Finch tries to frame and discredit the Doctor, whom he knows will not support their plans, and the Doctor soon twigs that an over-zealous Yates is the UNIT mole. Sergeant Benton lets the Doctor escape, for which Finch threatens a court martial. The Doctor uses his freedom to track down more monsters, but when he is recaptured the Brigadier asserts his authority and takes the Doctor into UNIT custody rather than the regular army's.

Sarah has meanwhile escaped from the fake spaceship having learnt its true nature, but is apprehended by Finch, who tracks her down and returns her to Whitaker's custody. While she is away Mark works out that the ship is a fake too and exposes this to the other passengers, but he is not believed. When Sarah is returned to the ship she and Mark use the fake airlock to convince Ruth and the others of the depth of the deception.

Shortly afterward Finch and Yates reveal their hands to the Doctor, Benton and the Brigadier, and reveal the nature of their plans. The Doctor and the Brigadier get away once more and head to Moorgate, evading dinosaurs en route, where they confront Grover and Whitaker. The duped environmentalists from the fake spaceship also appear, along with Sarah, and demand an explanation. In the ensuing fight Whitaker and Grover are transported back through the time machine to the "Golden Age" they sought to bring to modern Earth.

Back at UNIT HQ, the Brigadier confirms to the Doctor that the crisis is over, but there are still some human casualties to deal with. Finch will be court-martialed while Yates is being offered the chance to resign and given extended sick leave. The Doctor reflects that people like Grover may have had good motivations in wanting to fight pollution and environmental degradation, but they took their schemes too far and endangered all mankind and its civilisation. He decides it is time for a holiday and offers to take Sarah Jane to the holiday planet of Florana.




Story Notes

  • Working titles for this story included Bridgehead from Space and Timescoop.
  • The first episode has the story title contracted to Invasion in an attempt to conceal the central plot device. However this was undermined by the BBC listings magazine Radio Times who gave the full story title. Malcolm Hulke protested against the use of the title Invasion of the Dinosaurs, preferring the original working title of Timescoop, and felt the contraction for the first episode was silly, especially because the Radio Times listing used the full title. In a response letter after transmission script editor Terrance Dicks pointed out that all the titles used for the project had originated in the Doctor Who production office. He agreed that the contraction to Invasion was a decision he now regretted but noted that "Radio Times are a law unto themselves".
  • The 625-line colour PAL transmission master videotapes for the serial were scheduled to be wiped and reused, but only Episode 1 was erased. The serial remained incomplete in the BBC Archives until 1983, when a monochrome print of Episode 1 was found and returned. All Pertwee episodes of Doctor Who now exist in the Archives, albeit some only in black and white. Episode 1, broadcast in January 1974, was one of the latest Doctor Who episode to have ever been junked by the BBC (surpassed only by Episode 1 of Death to the Daleks, which aired a few months later).
  • The surviving film recording of Episode 1 is the only telerecording of a Season 11 episode that exists.
  • This is the first story to feature the Doctor's car colloquially known as the Whomobile (though never actually named on screen).
  • Like other Pertwee-era stories, Invasion of the Dinosaurs was broadcast in the United States by PBS in an omnibus format that edited together the episodes into a movie-length installment. Prior to the recovery of episode 1, PBS chose to still broadcast an omnibus edition of Invasion of the Dinosaurs using the extant episodes, with the story joined in progress at the start of Episode 2. A later omnibus incorporated the first episode.


  • Episode 1 - 11.0 million viewers
  • Episode 2 - 10.1 million viewers
  • Episode 3 - 11.0 million viewers
  • Episode 4 - 9.0 million viewers
  • Episode 5 - 9.0 million viewers
  • Episode 6 - 7.5 million viewers


  • Robert Holmes, who on this story made his uncredited debut as a script editor, accepted the post only reluctantly and after some persuasion. He actually telephoned the production office to put himself forward as a candidate for the post, and was delighted to find that he was already under consideration for it.
  • The master tape of the first episode of this story was mistakenly wiped when it was confused with season six's The Invasion. There is no evidence to suggest that this is why the tape was wiped; all the tapes for The Invasion were wiped in 1972, more than two years before Invasion of the Dinosaurs was transmitted. In addition, the procedure for disposing of older episodes would have made such a mix-up highly unlikely. That said, it is not known why only Episode 1 was deleted, and not the others.

Filming Locations

  • Albert Embankment (Lambeth Pier), London
  • Covent Garden Market, London
  • Margaret Street, London
  • Westminster Bridge, Westminster, London
  • Trafalgar Square, London
  • Lindsey Street, London
  • Moorfields, Moorgate, London
  • Northfields School (now known as Clementine Close), West Ealing, London
  • The Straight, Southall
  • Wimbledon Common, Wimbledon, London
  • Palmer Crescent, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • Wilmer Close, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • Canbury Gardens, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • South Lane, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • Riverside Drive, Ham, Middlesex
  • Old Billingsgate Market, Lower Thames Street, London
  • Haymarket, London
  • Outer Circle, Regent's Park, London
  • Whitehall, Westminster, London
  • Long Lane, London
  • New Union Street, Moorgate, London
  • Chamberlain Road, West Ealing, London
  • Pickfords Depositories (now known as West London Islamic Centre), Brownlow Road, West Ealing, London
  • White Street, Southall, Middlesex
  • GPO Sorting Office, Orchard Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • Parkfields Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • Kingston Meat Market (now known as The Bittoms), Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • Lower Ham Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
  • Burford Road, Brentford, London
  • Electricity Substation, Elderberry Road, Ealing, London
  • BBC Television Centre (TC4, TC6, TC8), Shepherd's Bush, London

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • The dinosaurs don't 'roar' they just say "roar!". Since no human has in reality ever heard a dinosaur roar, it would be difficult to say what they truly did or did not sound like.
  • If a t-rex did fall over like in episode 3, it would never be able to get back up, and when it does it seems to float. Strong abdominal and side muscles could hypothetically account for the movement. Also, this was before it was known that T-Rex didn't stand upright with its tail dragging.
  • Why send all the dinosaurs when the other humans on board the spaceship are going to a time afterwards? The dinosaurs were to get people out of London so that they would not be protected from the time change.
  • London has been evacuated effectively for sometime before the Doctor and Sarah arrive. What is taking Whitaker so long to begin the final phase of his operation? It takes time for the energy/equipment to build itself up for such a huge time-field to be generated.
  • Also, how would they generate a time-field big enough for the Earth and even if they did, they would have to alter the whole universe as well.


  • Mike Yates has recently returned from leave after the events of DW: The Green Death.
  • Mike Yates returns in DW: Planet of the Spiders.
  • From one point of view, Sarah is not really the Doctor's companion until the end of the story. She was merely on her way back to present day London after she stowed away in the TARDIS on its previous voyage. Indeed, she at least feigns discomfort at the idea of traveling in the TARDIS again. The Doctor's offer to take Sarah to Florana leads into the next story DW: Death to the Daleks. This invitation, which included a long and vivid description of the wonders of Florana, prefigures a penchant of his ninth and tenth selves to describe a wonder of the universe in glorious detail in order to encourage a companion to stick around (DW: World War Three, DW: Last of the Time Lords, DW: The Sontaran Strategem).
  • Sarah Jane Smith refers to the events of this episode in a conversation with Rose Tyler during DW: School Reunion.
  • The Doctor's reference to the events of this episode immediately following his regeneration at the beginning of DW: Robot coincides with the first appearance of (and perhaps provides foreshadowing to the intelligence of) Harry Sullivan.
  • The BBC Classic Who website's Party Politics states that Operation Golden Age caused the collapse of the Jeremy Thorpe government. [1]

DVD, Video and Other Releases

VHS release

DVD release

  • Episode 1 of this story is currently unavailable in colour but in March 2008 the BBC announced it was investigating technology to return this episode to colour.It is now also going to be released onto DVD in 2010.


Main article: Doctor Who and the Dinosaur Invasion

External Links

  • BBC Episode Guide for Invasion of the Dinosaurs
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide: Detailed Synopsis - Invasion of the Dinosaurs
  • A Brief History of Time (Travel) Guide to Invasion of the Dinosaurs
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who - Invasion of the Dinosaurs
Season 11
The Time Warrior  • Invasion of the Dinosaurs  • Death to the Daleks  • The Monster of Peladon  • Planet of the Spiders
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Invasion_of_the_Dinosaurs. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the TARDIS Index File, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported) (CC-BY-SA).

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


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