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From TARDIS Index File, the free Doctor Who reference.

"What are you looking at?!"
―The Doctor
The Invasion of Time
Series: Doctor Who - TV Stories
Season Number: Season 15
Story Number: 97
Doctor: Fourth Doctor
Companions: Leela (departure)
K-9 Mark I (departure)
K-9 Mark II (introduction)
Enemy: The Vardans
The Sontarans
Setting: Gallifrey
Writer: David Agnew (pseudonym for Anthony Read and Graham Williams)
Director: Gerald Blake
Broadcast: 4th February - 11th March 1978
Format: 6 25-minute Episodes
Previous Story: Underworld
Following Story: The Ribos Operation

The Invasion of Time was the sixth and final story of Season 15. It marked the final appearances of Leela and K-9 Mark I.



The Doctor returns to Gallifrey but is arrested after bringing the Vardans to the planet, this breaks out into a bit of a battle until the Sontaran invasion force arrives and attempts to take over Gallifrey.


After a meeting in space with a group of unseen aliens the Doctor returns to Gallifrey and claims the presidency of the Time Lords. Leela meanwhile tries to work out why he is behaving out of character. At his induction, the Doctor is 'crowned' with a device giving him access to the Matrix. He then arranges for the transduction barriers around Gallifrey to be put out of action by K9. When this is done, his alien 'friends' materialise. They are telepathic invaders called Vardans.

The Doctor links K9 to the Matrix in order to determine their point of origin. His plan is to place a time loop around their home planet, but he must avoid arousing their suspicions - hence his erratic behaviour. He banishes Leela to the wastelands of outer Gallifrey for fear that she might unintentionally jeopardise his plans. There she meets a group of Gallifreyan outsiders, and together they organise an attack on the Capitol to fight off the invaders.

The Doctor finally springs his trap and the Vardans are banished. Then, however, Gallifrey is invaded by Sontarans who, unknown to the Doctor, were using the Vardans to enable them to conquer the Time Lords. The Doctor uses knowledge extracted from the Matrix by K9 to construct a forbidden de-mat gun, activated by the Great Key of Rassilon. He then uses this to kill the Sontarans, although his memory of recent events is wiped in the process.

Leela announces that she wishes to stay behind with Andred, one of the Chancellery guards, with whom she has fallen in love. K9 elects to remain with her. Inside the TARDIS, The Doctor constructs another robot dog-K9 II/ The Doctor smiles as the adventure ends.




Story Notes

  • Leela remains on Gallifrey in the conclusion of this story. This was Louise Jameson's final ongoing onscreen appearance; she reprised the role in Dimensions in Time and later in the Big Finish productions Gallifrey series of audio dramas.
  • Leela's romance with Andred is undeveloped in the story. Jameson was invited to continue her role. She was unsure whether she would stay until the end of recording, so a plot device had to be ready to allow her to stay on Gallifrey.
  • The Sontarans return in this story making it their third appearance on TV.
  • This story had a working title of The Invaders of Time.
  • Rodan is the first female Gallifreyan to appear on screen since Susan Foreman more than a decade earlier.
  • The Doctor Breaks the 4th wall at the end of Part 6, By looking directly at the Camera and Smiling to the audience


  • Part 1 - 11.2 million viewers
  • Part 2 - 11.4 million viewers
  • Part 3 - 9.5 million viewers
  • Part 4 - 10.9 million viewers
  • Part 5 - 10.3 million viewers
  • Part 6 - 9.8 million viewers

Myths and rumours

  • Rodan was the prototype for Romana. Related rumours include actress Hilary Ryan being unavailable for the following season, which resulted in Romana being created as a replacement for Rodan.

Filming Locations

  • Beachfields Quarry, Cormongers Lane, Redhill, Surrey
  • St Anne's Hospital, Redstone Hill, Redhill, Surrey
  • British Oxygen, Blacks Road, Hammersmith
  • Bray Studios, Slough
  • BBC Television Centre (TC8), Shepherd's Bush, London

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • It is painfully obvious that the Vardans in their dematerialised form are sheets of cellophane. Even their material forms are hardly impressive and almost comical. They do not convey a sense of the great power they are meant to possess. A version was produced which substituted CGI human-like images.
  • There are gaps around the collar of Stor's armour.
  • Stor also has a cockney accent. If, as the Ninth Doctor says, "lots of planets have a north" then it's quite conceivable that many planets, including the home of the Sontarans, can have different accents.
  • The Doctor forgets his induction, though in later Gallifrey stories such as Arc of Infinity and The Five Doctors, he seems to remember the events very well. He was faking forgetfullness to get out of it. Alternatively, Leela, Andred, or K-9 could have explained what happened between the scene in which the Doctor returns to the warehouse after having stopped Stor and the scene in which the Doctor prepares to leave.
  • What happens to the Sontarans waiting to invade Gallifrey? They are trapped outside Gallifrey when the transduction barrier goes back up.
  • Why don't the Sontaran ships just come in one at a time? The first one got through alright. The Transduction Barrier went back up.
  • After taking ages wandering round the TARDIS, they find their way out rather quickly.
  • Just after the Doctor takes something similar to fit when the Crown of Rassilon is placed on his head Borusa said "This is unearthly" Even though they are Gallifreyan Unearthly could be a phrase in many cultures
  • If the Doctor has lost all memory of becoming President after he uses the disintegrator, why does he return to Leela and the others who are waiting for him in the TARDIS workshop?
  • Why did the Doctor contact the Vardans in the first place? If the Transduction Barrier prevented their invading, why take it down? Even as a ruse to trap them, it makes no sense, for Gallifrey was impenetrable. He felt they were so dangerous that they needed to be preemptively stopped; thus, he used the pretext of serving them to identify their homeworld and trap it. This, of course, raises a host of moral issues the story fails to deal with.
  • The final two episodes of this story are blatantly 'tacked-on' to the end to make it up to a six-parter. Why would aliens as powerful as the Vardans require to ally themselves to the Sontarans?
  • The Doctor tells Borusa that the Vardans have 'more power than you could possibly imagine'. If so, why do they want the Great Key? Again, the Doctor may just be using the Vardans' inflated egos to manipulate them, and for it to work, he may need the others to believe the Vardans are as powerful as they themselves believe.
  • It is not explained why the Matrix attacked the Doctor. (He was involved in an attempt to invade Gallifrey, albeit somewhat unwillingly.)



DVD, Video and Other Releases

DVD releases


Bonus features:

    • Commentary:Louise Jameson, John Leeson, Anthony Read and Mat Irvine
    • Out of Time: the making of this story.
    • CGI effects: new CGI effects to accompany this story.
    • The elusive David Agnew: a feature on the writer (who is, in fact, a house pseudonym used by several Doctor Who writers)
    • The Rise and fall of Gallifrey: a feature on the planet of the Time Lords.
    • Deleted Scenes: scenes removed from this story.
    • Continuity Compilation: continuity announcements from the BBC.
    • Radio Times billings: artwork and articles for this story from the Radio Times.
    • Photo Gallery: a selection of rare production photos from this story.
    • Coming Soon: a preview of the K-9 Tales Box set.


Boxset release This story was released in the Bred for War DVD boxset on the 5th May alongside all the classic series Sontaran stories. The DVD is the same as the one sold seperately. Released 8th July in Australia.

Video Releases

Released as Doctor Who: The Invasion of Time



Main article: Doctor Who and the Invasion of Time

Novelised as Doctor Who and the Invasion of Time by Terrance Dicks in 1980.

See also

Concerning Gallifrey being invaded or destroyed

External Links

  • BBC Episode Guide for The Invasion of Time, with video clips
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide: Detailed Synopsis - The Invasion of Time
  • A Brief History of Time (Travel): The Invasion of Time
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who - The Invasion of Time
  • The Tardis Library: Video release information for The Invasion of Time
  • The Tardis Library: Target book release information for The Invasion of Time
Season 15
Horror of Fang Rock  • The Invisible Enemy  • Image of the Fendahl  • The Sun Makers  • Underworld  • The Invasion of Time
Sontaran Television Stories
Doctor Who: The Time Warrior  • The Sontaran Experiment  • The Invasion of Time  • The Two Doctors  • The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky
The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Last Sontaran  • Enemy of the Bane
Minor Appearances: Logopolis  • The End of Time
Other: A Fix with Sontarans  • Shakedown: Return of the Sontarans

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

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