Doctor Who (1963–1989)
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Terror of the Autons: Episode One 

When a Nestene Energy Unit is stolen and a radio telescope sabotaged, the Doctor is contacted by a Time Lord who tells him his old rival the Master is responsible.





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Episode complete credited cast:
David Garth ...
Radio Telescope Director
Christopher Burgess ...
Professor Philips
Andrew Staines ...
John Baskcomb ...
Museum Attendant


When a Nestene Energy Unit is stolen and a radio telescope sabotaged, the Doctor is contacted by a Time Lord who tells him his old rival the Master is responsible.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

2 January 1971 (UK)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


| (original broadcast)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The color master tapes of this four-part serial were wiped by the BBC in the 1970s and the BBC only held 16mm black and white telerecordings. The serial remained only in black in white until the 1990s, when the color signal from a domestic NTSC recording was used with the black and white telerecordings to create new color masters on D3 digital tape. See more »


Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart: This, er, this device of his, is it very powerful?
Doctor Who: Oh, I should say roughly equal to a 15 megaton bomb.
Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart: Really? Well, the research boys'll be glad to get their hands on this.
Doctor Who: Too late, Brigadier, I've boiled out the contents. The weapons that you have on Earth are quite nasty enough as it is.
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Featured in Doctor Who Live: The Afterparty (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

Master of Thrills
25 September 2014 | by (South Wales, UK) – See all my reviews

Review of all 4 episodes:

The most notable aspect of this story is the arrival of The Master as an arch nemesis for The Doctor. This fellow renegade Time Lord is like Moriarty is to Sherlock Holmes, an equally brilliant, intelligent regular adversary who is a bit like 'the other side of the same coin' with The Doctor. The idea of this character and the performance by Roger Delgado is absolutely fantastic. The Master and his plan to bring back to Nestenes, with their ability to turn plastic items into deadly living plastic Autons to attack humanity, provides terrific entertainment.

There is a level of terror and horror in this adventure, similar to its predecessor featuring the Nestenes, Spearhead From Space. Attacks by an inflatable chair, a telephone wire, plastic daffodils and especially a creepy child's doll are sinister and thrilling, creating some very memorable 'hide behind the sofa' moments that have lived in the minds of viewers ever since. Also the Auton dummies disguised as people have some great moments. In particular there is a great, spectacular stunt when an Auton is knocked down and falls dramatically, careering down a huge slope, apparently to its death, only to just get straight back up.

Jon Pertwee remains on top form along with an excellent guest cast and all the regulars do well although it is sad that the character of The Doctor's 'assistant' Liz Shaw is replaced. Her replacement character Jo Grant goes on to be a very endearing character but Liz Shaw was the better companion for The Doctor in my opinion with a strong intellect as well as bravery. The addition of Captain Mike Yates is great but perhaps they transferred the strength and intelligence of Liz Shaw onto Yates and passed the glamour and warmth of Liz onto Jo Grant. That is an unfortunate decision for gender equality. I liked having all those aspects combined within the one female companion. In saying that I do really like Katy Manning as Jo.

The story is not necessarily perfect, if you nitpick you can find a few minor faults in a scene here and there but even then it still stands up against any TV show of any era. The great new villain added to top class thrills, excellent acting, cracking dialogue and good amounts of action make this a classic. Written by Doctor Who legend Robert Holmes and well directed by admirable showrunner/producer Barry Letts, this is a must watch for all fans.

My Ratings: All 4 episodes - 10/10

4 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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