Doctor Who (1963–1989)
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Spearhead from Space: Episode 1 

As the newly-regenerated Doctor arrives on Earth, so does the Nestene too.




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Episode complete credited cast:
Hugh Burden ...
Neil Wilson ...
Talfryn Thomas ...
Antony Webb ...
Helen Dorward ...
George Lee ...
Tessa Shaw ...
Unit Officer
Ellis Jones ...
Allan Mitchell ...
2nd Reporter


As strange meteorites are crashing down, an unconscious Doctor is found lying just outside the TARDIS. The United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT) commanded by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is already onto the issue of the meteorites and when he learns that a man has been found unconscious in the woods lying next to blue police box, he's certain that his old friend the Doctor has returned. He visits him at the nearby hospital but doesn't recognize him, not realizing that he Doctor has regenerated. The Doctor foils an attempt to kidnap him and he's soon back in hospital having been shot by the soldiers guarding the TARDIS. Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

3 January 1970 (UK)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This serial was advertised with a Radio Times front cover photograph of Jon Pertwee and an interview. See more »


When the hand-held camera quickly pans around during the press conference, the main camera can be seen in the background. Standing next to the camera is a crew member holding a copy of the script. See more »


Lethbridge-Stewart: In the last decade, we've been sending probes deeper and deeper into space. We've drawn attention to ourselves, Miss Shaw.
See more »


References The Avengers (1961) See more »


Oh Well, Part 1
Composed by Peter Green
Performed by Fleetwood Mac
See more »

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User Reviews

A Yarn That Nightmares Are Made Of
10 November 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

(Note: This is a review of all four episodes of the story.)

January 1970 found the start of a new era of Doctor Who and the stage was set for a new beginning. Spearhead From Space, the first story of the 1970 season, proved to be just that and more. It was a story of many firsts from the first appearance of the third Doctor (played by Jon Pertwee), to the first episodes made in color to the first appearance of the Autons, Spearhead From Space set the standard for which the Pertwee era would be judged.

The story finds the Doctor exiled to late twentieth century Earth (it's hard to get much more specific but we fans do try) by his own race as punishment for interfering in the affairs of others (the final Patrick Troughton story The War Games) in the midst of a meteor shower. With the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT) investigating, the newly regenerated Doctor comes back into contact with its leader Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and the newly recruited scientist Liz Shaw. Together they investigate the meteors, the strange orbs they left behind, and their apparent connection to a factor making plastic mannequins. It all leads to an invasion by the collective mind of the Nestene.

Jon Pertwee slips in the role of the Doctor with so much ease that, like Tom Baker in 1974's Robot, it is sometimes hard to believe this is his first story. All the hallmarks of his Doctor are here from the classic combination of shirts and capes to gadgetry and classic cars. Backing him is the ever impressive Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier for the third time (having played the role in the Troughton story's The Web Of Fear and The Invasion) and Caroline John as Liz Shaw. John plays Liz well and makes a very believable scientist and it's a shame she was only in the four stories of this season. The supporting cast of Hugh Burden and John Woodnut as the men who run the factory plus Hamilton Dyce as General Scobie and Neil Wilson as a trapper make for as fine a cast as the show ever had. Robert Holmes' script plus the direction of Derek Martinus and the music of Dudley Simpson helps to create a taught and suspenseful opening for the Pertwee era. The Autons are one of the series' best creations one of the worst nightmares come true: shop window mannequins that come not just to life but kill you as well. While their controller, the Nestene creature, looks very unconvincing, the Autons and the other elements of this story make it one of the very best stories of the series.

With strong performances from the cast backed by Robert Holmes' script, the direction of Derek Martinus and the music of Dudley Simpson, Spearhead From Space is more then just Jon Pertwee's debut story. It is a taught and suspenseful science fiction yarn that nightmares are made of.

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