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Dr Who

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From TARDIS Index File, the free Doctor Who reference.

"Whatever that thing is, it's on a collision course and heading straight for Earth!"
―Radar Operator
The Claws of Axos
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Season Number: Season 8
Story Number: 57
Doctor: Third Doctor
Companions: Jo Grant
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
Captain Mike Yates
Sergeant Benton
Setting: Earth; circa 1970s
Writer: Bob Baker and
Dave Martin
Director: Michael Ferguson
Broadcast: 13th March - 3rd April 1971
Format: 4 25-minute Episodes
Previous Story: The Mind of Evil
Following Story: Colony in Space

The Claws of Axos was the third story of Season 8 of Doctor Who. It was the first story written by Bob Baker and Dave Martin, who stayed with the series until the end of the 1970s. These episodes were originally called 'The Vampires From Space' but got changed to the current title because the BBC wanted to avoid the word 'vampire'.



A group of gold-skinned aliens land on Earth and offer wondrous technology in exchange for fuel. The Doctor, however, isn't fooled, uncovering the Axons' true nature and once again facing his arch enemy the Master.



Episode One

The Doctor faces the irascible Chinn

An approaching alien spaceship is detected on monitoring equipment at UNIT HQ, where Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is entertaining two visitors - Chinn, a Conservative MP making a security inspection, and Bill Filer, an American agent sent to discuss the threat of the Master.

The ship lands in England and the UNIT team, joined by Sir George Hardiman and Professor Winser from the nearby Nuton Power Complex, enter the ship and meet its occupants: beautiful golden-skinned humanoids called Axons. Unknown to them, Bill Filer also enters the ship and is held prisoner along with the Master. The Axons inform their guests that they are desperately in need of fuel. They propose to exchange the miracle substance they call Axonite for some much needed energy. Axonite is a "thinking" molecule that can replicate any substance. Despite the Doctor's vocal suspicion, Chinn and the Nuton scientists are transfixed: such a substance would give the UK unlimited food and unlimited power.

Back outside, Sergeant Benton and Captain Yates find a decomposing body next to the ship. The Doctor's companion Jo Grant enters the ship searching for Filer and screams when a hideous monsters appears before her.

Episode Two

The golden face of the Axons

Jo's scream is overheard by the others, who tell her that she was hallucinating, though she adamantly insists that she heard Filer's voice within the Axonite ship. The Doctor succeeds in convincing Hardiman and Winser that despite the potential of Axonite, it should be scientifically analysed before it is distributed. Chinn is one step ahead of him, and is granted special favours by the Ministry to ensure that distribution is left in the hands of the UK. Convinced that the Doctor and UNIT will be a hindrance, he has the regular army put them under security arrest, though he reluctantly grants permission for the Doctor to assist Winser in the laboratory.

Meanwhile, the Axons are not as nice as they seem. They release a duplicate of Bill Filer back to the outside world, and strike a deal with their captive, the Master, offering him his freedom in exchange for his efforts to guarantee worldwide distribution of Axonite. The duplicate Filer attacks the Doctor, but is killed when the real Filer escapes from the Axon ship and shoves the clone into Winser's light accelerator. The Doctor then realises, after an accident involving Winser, that the Axonites are all part of a single parasitic entity brought to Earth by the Master to feed on the planet's energy, though he has little time to relish in this realisation, as he, Jo and Filer are surrounded by the true form of the Axonites in the lab.

Episode Three

The eye of the Axons

The Axons take the Doctor and Jo prisoner in the Axon ship, where the Doctor is interrogated, the Axons, aware that the Doctor is a Time Lord wanting the secret of time travel. They claim to have the power to repair the blocks in the Doctor's memory imposed on him when he was exiled.

Meanwhile, the Master has no intention of helping the Axons. Instead, he makes his way to the Doctor's TARDIS, intending to use it to escape Earth, as his own is being used as a bargaining chip by the Axons. However, he fails to get it to work, though it occurs to him that it could be done using power from the reactor in the power station where the TARDIS is currently situated. When he leaves the TARDIS, he is caught by the Brigadier and several UNIT troops, though he is not finished; since the Axons are controlling the reactor, which has the potential to cause a nuclear explosion, he offers his assistance in exchange for his freedom. The Brigadier agrees. The Master's idea is to turn the power of the Axonite back against the Axons. As he prepares to blow up Axos, the Doctor and Jo have not yet escaped their clutches, and will be killed as well.

Episode Four

Two Time Lords working together

The Master's plan fails, and the Doctor and Jo escape from Axos and return to the complex. The Doctor, realising that Axos is interested in travelling through time to broaden its feeding base, plans to trick it into linking up its drive unit to his TARDIS so that he can send Axos into a perpetual time loop. After tricking the Master into completing the repairs on his TARDIS, the Doctor materialise his TARDIS, with the Master on board, at the centre of Axos. He offers to link the two ships together to make one giant time machine, on condition that Axos in return helps him to take revenge on the Time Lords for exiling him to Earth. They accept, but he has tricked them; this results in every part of Axos dematerialising from Earth, including the Axos automatons and the Axonite. They materialize inside the Doctor's TARDIS and warn him that he shall join them within the "loop of time." However, the Doctor simply boosts a flight circuit and frees himself from the loop.

At the end, with the Master having escaped in his own TARDIS during the confusion aboard Axos, the Doctor returns to Earth, but not of his own volition. Apparently, the Time Lords have programmed the TARDIS to always return to Earth, literally turning the Doctor into "some kind of a galactic yo-yo".


Production Crew


  • The Master's TARDIS was captured by Axos at some point prior to this story.
  • The Doctor puts Axos in a time loop.
  • Winser's particle light accelerator cyclotron is a primitive electromagnetic tachyon field.

Story Notes

  • Working titles for this story included Doctor Who and the Gift, The Friendly Invasion, The Axons, and The Vampire from Space. The last title was used through the production of the first two episodes, and was only changed by the time filming began on the third. The DVD release contains unused footage and cuts from the story that are packaged with the original title sequence – naming the story as The Vampire from Space. The Vampire from Space was envisaged to be a seven-parter, but the concept of the storylines changed as production progressed.
  • The line “freak weather conditions” is in the script to explain the shifts in weather between filming (which goes from snowy to sunny from take to take).
  • For reasons unexplained, the opening titles for this serial use the Second Doctor's version of the Doctor Who theme music as opposed to the Third Doctor's, as do The Mind of Evil and Terror of the Autons. After this serial however, the theme reverts to the Jon Pertwee standard.
  • It is never stated exactly who Bill Filer works for (only that he is American).
  • The 'blue CSO cloth' behind Benton when he is driving the jeep (with the Axon behind him), is the sky and not CSO as it was on film and there was no CSO film work performed in the 1970s.
  • UNIT mobile HQ is a BBC Outside Broadcast van.
  • With the Master's help, the TARDIS can and does leave earth, having been previously disabled by the Time Lords. However, it is programmed to always return to Earth.


  • Episode One - 7.3 million viewers
  • Episode Two - 8.0 million viewers
  • Episode Three - 6.4 million viewers
  • Episode Four - 7.8 million viewers


  • A common myth about this story is that the colour-separation overlay (CSO) background was accidentally placed in some of the car interior scenes, meaning a blank blue void is seen behind the characters. In reality, the scenes were shot on location (and on 16mm film, making CSO extremely tricky), and clouds can be seen. The differing shades of blue compared to the exterior shots is due to the scenes being filmed at different parts of the day.

Filming Locations

  • Dengemarsh Road, Lydd, Kent
  • Dungeness Road, Dungeness, Kent (Where Axos lands and half buries itself)
  • Dungeness Power Station, Dungeness, Kent (Location for the Nuton Power Complex)
  • Dungeness Beach, Dungeness, Kent
  • St. Martin's Plains Camp, Shorncliffe, Kent
  • BBC Television Centre (Studio 7, 3 and 4), Shepherd's Bush, London

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • In episode 4, after the TARDIS dematerialises from the Nuton lab, it is still there during the UNIT gun battle which follows. However, this is still during the time of the Doctor's exile, which means his knowledge of dematerialization and all that good stuff is gone or shaky at best, so he could have had trouble piloting it and accidentally, albeit briefly, rematerialized in the lab.
  • As the Brigadier and his men leave the room where they've been held captive in episode 2, the wall shakes.
  • Why is a replica of Filer made? Possibly to gain the Doctor's confidence and make it easier to capture him, whereas sending a regular ol' Axon would have gotten the Doctor's guard up, and Jo wasn't available for them to replicate.
  • The Nuton complex powers half the UK, but explodes without loss of life (Characters return to it only seconds after it has blown up).
  • There is the famous shot of a certain young lady's underwear in Episode 3 when she escapes from the Axons.
  • Why do the Axons need the Doctor to divulge the secret of time travel? Surely the Master is just as smart, and working for them to boot? Probably because the Axons cannot exercise any leverage over the Master, whereas they can over the Doctor (Jo).
  • How do the four Axons gain entry to Prof. Winser's lab just after he's been killed, without arousing any alarms?


  • This is the first time the interior of the Doctor's TARDIS is seen since DW: The War Games.
  • In DW: Last of the Time Lords both the Doctor and the Master mention the Axons.
  • The Doctor recalls that the Time Lords wiped sections of his memory.

DVD, Video and Other Releases

DVD Releases

Released as Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos.



  • Commentary by Barry Letts, Katy Manning and Richard Franklin
  • Behind the Scenes - A 25-minute selection of studio material from the making of this story, including footage that was cut from the finished programme, with optional information subtitles.
  • Now and Then - A look back at the Dungeness locations used for this story, contrasting them with how they appear today.
  • Reverse Standards Conversion - The Axon Legacy - A 10-minute documentary which looks at the restoration of this story for DVD.
  • Directing Who - Michael Ferguson talks about his work on The Claws of Axos.
  • Photo Gallery
  • Production Subtitles



Main article: Doctor Who and the Claws of Axos

External Links

  • Official BBC Episode Guide for The Claws of Axos
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide: Detailed Synopsis - The Claws of Axos
  • A Brief History of Time (Travel) Guide to The Claws of Axos
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who - The Claws of Axos
Season 8
Terror of the Autons  • The Mind of Evil  • The Claws of Axos  • Colony in Space  • The Dæmons
The Master - TV Stories
Terror of the Autons  • The Mind of Evil  • The Claws of Axos  • Colony in Space  • The Dæmons  • The Sea Devils  • The Time Monster  • Frontier in Space  • The Deadly Assassin  • The Keeper of Traken  • Logopolis  • Castrovalva  • Time-Flight  • The King's Demons  • The Five Doctors  • Planet of Fire  • The Mark of the Rani  • The Ultimate Foe  • Survival  • Doctor Who: The TV Movie  •
Utopia/ The Sound of Drums/ Last of the Time LordsThe End of Time

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


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