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The Time Warrior
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Season Number: Season 11
Story Number: 70
Doctor: Third Doctor
Companions: Sarah Jane Smith (introduction)
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
Setting: England, 1970s
England, 13th century
Writer: Robert Holmes
Director: Alan Bromly
Broadcast: 15th December 1973 - 5th January 1974
Format: 4 25-minute episodes
Previous Story: The Green Death
Following Story: Invasion of the Dinosaurs
"The Stars are falling!"

The Time Warrior was the first story of Season 11 of Doctor Who. New monsters the Sontarans made their debut in this story, along with Elisabeth Sladen as companion Sarah Jane Smith. The story also finally revealed the name of the Doctor's home planet, Gallifrey.



Journalist Sarah Jane Smith is impersonating her aunt, virologist Lavinia Smith, in order to gain access to a research centre where top scientists are being held in protective custody while UNIT investigates the disappearance of a number of their colleagues. The missing scientists have been kidnapped by a Sontaran, Linx, and taken back to medieval England, where they are working under hypnosis to repair his crashed spaceship.



Part 1

The star warrior arrives

In the Middle Ages, the bandit Irongron and his aide Bloodaxe together with their rabble of criminals find the crashed spaceship of a Sontaran warrior named Linx. The alien claims Earth for his Empire then sets about repairing his ship, offering Irongron "magic weapons" that will make him a king in return for shelter. They strike a bargain, though Irongron remains suspicious.

The Doctor and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart are investigating the disappearance of several scientists from a top secret scientific research complex. They do not know Linx has used an Osmic Projector to send himself forward seven hundred years and has kidnapped the scientists then hypnotized them into making repairs on his ship. The Projector only lets him appear in another time for a brief period. While the Doctor investigates he meets an eccentric scientist called Rubeish and a young journalist called Sarah Jane Smith, who has infiltrated the complex by masquerading as her aunt. Later that evening Rubeish disappears and the Doctor uses the data he has gathered to pilot the TARDIS back to the Middle Ages.- not realising new companion Sarah has stowed away on board.

Irongron is a robber baron who has stolen his castle from an absent nobleman, and relations with his neighbours are appalling. Indeed, the mild Lord Edward of Wessex has been provoked into building an alliance against him and, when this is slow in developing, sends his archer Hal on an unsuccessful mission to kill Irongron. When Sarah follows the Doctor to Irongron's castle, she is seized by one of his guards, while the Doctor witnesses Linx removing his helmet.

Part 2

Irongron tests Linx's weapon

Irongron is in a foul mood when a captured Sarah is brought before him. His mood improves when Linx presents him with a robot knight which is then put to the test on a captured Hal. The archer is only saved when the Doctor intervenes from afar, shooting the robot control box from Irongron's hands. The ensuing confusion lets both Hal and Sarah flee, and they head for Wessex Castle. There, Sarah concocts a plan to kidnap the Doctor, who she thinks is working for Irongron rather than against him.

Meanwhile the Doctor has realised both that Sarah is in the time period and has been captured. He finds Linx's lab, where the kidnapped scientists have been hypnotised except for Rubeish. He is caught by Linx, who restrains him using a head device, but Rubeish frees him when Linx leaves. The Doctor then leaves to search for Sarah, but is chased by Irongron and his men. When the Doctor stumbles, Irongron raises his axe...

Part 3

Irongron's army attacks Edward's castle

Hal shoots the axe out of Irongron's hand, allowing him to escape. The Doctor is able to convince Sarah and Edward that he was trying to stop Linx, and agrees to help construct a defence against an attack on Wessex Castle by Irongron's men.

The next morning, the robber baron and his troops assault the castle using rifles supplied by Linx, scarcely fooled by dummies the Doctor has made to make it appear as though the castle has more soldiers than they do. As they march on forward, the Doctor unleashes smoke bombs, which scares them away. The failure further sours the relationship between Linx and Irongron, which has deteriorated since the robot knight fiasco and the point at which the robber saw the Sontaran's true visage beneath his helmet.

The Doctor now decides to lead an attack on Irongron's castle, and he and Sarah enter dressed as friars. He offers to help Linx if he sends the scientists back home, but Linx refuses and zaps the Doctor.

Part 4

The new TARDIS team

The Doctor isn't harmed, and Linx is rendered immobile when a lucky strike from Rubeish hits his probic vent – a Sontaran refuelling point on the back of their necks which is also their main weakness. Rubeish and the Doctor use the Osmic Projector to send the scientists back to the twentieth century. Sarah now inveigles herself into Irongron's kitchen, using the opportunity to drug the food, thereby knocking out Irongron's men.

A recovered Linx now determines his ship is repaired enough to effect a departure. Once more he encounters the Doctor, and they wrestle in combat. A crazed and half drugged Irongron arrives and accuses Linx of betraying him: the Sontaran responds by killing him. As Linx enters his spherical vessel Hal arrives and shoots him in the probic vent, and the Sontaran warrior falls dead over his controls, triggering the launch mechanism. Knowing the place is about to explode when the shuttle takes off, the Doctor hurries the last of his allies out of the castle. It explodes moments before the Doctor and Sarah depart in the TARDIS.


Production Crew


  • The Doctor (for the first time) mentions his home planet by name: Gallifrey.
  • The Sontarans feed on raw energy via an energy exchanger.
  • They obtain this energy through their probic vent which is also their weak spot.

Story Notes

  • Working titles for this story included The Fugitive, The Time Fugitive and The Time Survivor.
  • The original outline for the serial was submitted to the production office in the form of a "Field report from Sontaran Field Marshal Hol Mes, to Terran Cedicks".
  • This story features the debut of a new opening and closing title sequence designed by Bernard Lodge and realised using a process known as 'slit scan'. The opening title sequence features for the first time the distinctive diamond-shaped logo for the series.
  • Beginning with this story, individual episodes are listed as Part One, Two, etc. This replaced the previous system of calling them Episode One, Two, etc. established in 1966 with The Savages.
  • Bob Hoskins was offered the role of Irongron.


  • Part 1 - 8.7 million viewers
  • Part 2 - 7.0 million viewers
  • Part 3 - 6.6 million viewers
  • Part 4 - 10.6 million viewers


  • There was another actress cast before Elisabeth Sladen. (There was another companion, played by a different actress, originally intended to appear in this story. Sarah was a completely fresh character, and Sladen the first choice to play her, after the production team had second thoughts. This myth was believed by Sladen herself, according to an interview in DWMS Holiday 1992.)
  • Potatoes were unknown in England until Sir Francis Drake brought them back from the Americas in the 16th Century but they are referred to in this story. (This is a common mis-conception, no potatoes featured in this story, they are however referenced in the novelisation of this story).

Filming Locations

  • Location shooting of Wessex castle and Irongron's castle was done at Peckforton Castle.
  • BBC Television Centre (TC1 and TC6), Shepherd's Bush, London

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Error

  • Irongron's gun goes off before he fires it. Itchy trigger finger, and Irongron probably doesn't know how to work the gun that well.
  • Surely Irongron would notice that his Robot has a fleshy neck? Irongron knows nothing at all about robots; he may assume they all have necks like that .
  • Wessex after the Norman conquest is an anachronism.
  • Why doesn't Linx just hypnotize Irongron and his men?
  • Linx refers to himself as 'just a lowly commander' but in (DW: The Sontaran Stratagem) Commander Skorr ranks directly below General Staal. In the case of The Sontaran Startagem, Skorr could have been Staal's second officer, so we have to assume there are other ranks between Commander and General, (as stated on the Sontaran Page)
  • Why, when his ship landed the previous night does Linx wait hours until morning, to emerge from his sphere to stake his flag? What has he been doing in the interim? It was only one hour until dawn. Presumably he was inspecting his ship for damages.
  • Linx demonstrates a crude but highly effective degree of temporal engineering know-how in this story - i.e. being able to kidnap multiple scientist from the future, with only the equipment he crash landed with. Yet this know-how seems to be lacking from all other Sontarans encountered in the series, despite this story apparently taking place hundreds and even thousands of years before the others were meant to take place. The Sontarans may have lost their time-travelling knowledge (the Time Lords took it from them?).Or perhaps Linx's vessel was experimental, and when it was destroyed, the technology could not be recreated. Alternately, the Sontarans may never have found time travel particularly useful. After all, their interest is in combat in the here and now. In The Sontaran Stratagem Starr says that they wanted to join the Time War but were not allowed. This may indicate that they had knowledge of time travel. Perhaps they also acquired some knowledge of time travel during their brief occupation of Gallifrey (The Invasion of Time)


  • Linx is mentioned in MA: Lords of the Storm.
  • The Third Doctor's knowledge of the Sontarans and the Rutan/Sontaran war does not come from meeting Linx. He has fairly intimate knowledge of the species already.
  • Similarly, Linx has prior knowledge of both Gallifrey and the Time Lords. In fact his opinion of the Time Lords — "a race of great technical achievement, but lacking the morale to withstand a determined assault" — makes the Third Doctor invite him to "put that theory to the test". This would seem to prefigure the eventual Sontaran invasion of Gallifrey.
  • The Third Doctor is shown here to quite enjoy alcohol. After initially turning down a fresh glass of wine, he reconsiders and goes for another round. Other incarnations in similar situations have generally opted for non-alcoholic beverages — as, for example, the Seventh Doctor in DW: Battlefield or the Tenth Doctor in DW: The Unicorn and the Wasp. However, the Ninth Doctor took what was likely sherry or port with Harriet Jones and Rose Tyler in the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street (DW: World War Three). He didn't seem to enjoy it nearly as much as the Third Doctor liked his wine in this episode, though.
  • In the first episode, the Doctor is shown to use his newly-constructed rhondium sensor as both practical scientific apparatus and a kind of alarm clock. The Tenth Doctor later used a redesigned rhondium sensor in DW: Planet of the Dead

DVD, Video and Other Releases

  • DVD Releases

Released as Doctor Who: The Time Warrior. Released: Region 2 3rd September 2007 and Region 4 3rd October 2007


    • Commentary by Elisabeth Sladen, Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks
    • Beginning the End - The cast and crew of The Time Warrior look back on the making of this story, in this newly produced documentary. Featuring Elisabeth Sladen, Donald Pelmear, Jeremy Bulloch, Barry Letts, Terrance Dicks and Keith Cheatham.
    • CGI Effects - Choose to watch the story with some of the original effects replaced by 16 new CGI sequences.
    • Continuity Compilation - A selection of off-air continuity announcements for the original BBC transmissions of The Time Warrior.
    • Doctor Who Annual 1974 (DVD-ROM PC/Mac)
    • Radio Times Billings - Original listings from Radio Times (DVD-ROM PC/Mac)
    • Photo Gallery
    • Production Subtitles

The DVD Release was also the first time the serial was available complete and uncut.


  • 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 separately. Released 8th July in Australia.


Main article: Doctor Who and the Time Warrior

External Links

  • BBC Episode Guide for The Time Warrior
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide: Detailed Synopsis - The Time Warrior
  • A Brief History of Time (Travel) Guide to The Time Warrior
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who - The Time Warrior
Season 11
The Time Warrior  • Invasion of the Dinosaurs  • Death to the Daleks  • The Monster of Peladon  • Planet of the Spiders
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 Time Warrior" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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