Doctor Who: Season 6, Episode 35

The War Games: Episode One (19 Apr. 1969)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Family
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The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe realise they have arrived in the trenches of the First World War, where the sinister General Smythe accuses them of espionage.


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Episode complete credited cast:
Frazer Hines ...
Wendy Padbury ...
Jane Sherwin ...
John Livesey ...
German Soldier
David Savile ...
Brian Forster ...
Noel Coleman ...
Hubert Rees ...
Esmond Webb ...


The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe realise they have arrived in the trenches of the First World War, where the sinister General Smythe accuses them of espionage.

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Release Date:

19 April 1969 (UK)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Derrick Sherwin only produced two Doctor Who serials: this one (Patrick Troughton's last), and the following one, Doctor Who: Spearhead from Space: Episode 1 (1970) (Jon Pertwee's first). See more »


Just after Major Barrington answers the telephone, Lady Jennifer walks through a boom microphone shadow. See more »


[to the time lords]
The Doctor: All these evils I have fought, while you have done nothing but observe! True, I am guilty of interference. Just as you are guilty of failing to use your great powers to help those in need!'
See more »


Featured in What Lies Beneath (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

A Truly Landmark Story
20 August 2013 | by (Isle Of Bute , Scotland) – See all my reviews

Refers to all ten episodes

Arriving in a desolate wasteland the crew of the Tardis make a shocking discovery that they've landed in No mans land on the Western front in 1917 . Being rescued by a British patrol the crew quickly become suspected of being German spies . Being moved to behind the front line to a military trial headed by General Smythe it starts becoming clear that things aren't what they seem

Okay let's get the one major failing out of the way first . Ten episodes is a little bit too long and could have easily worked better as six , seven or if you're really pushing it eight episodes . Having ten episodes means that the plot effectively stops two thirds of the way through and becomes a runaround till the apocalyptic final episode . I'm afraid pointing out the flaws means this is going to be a very short paragraph . Can I also add the " gimp guards " to pad it out

Regardless of the failings . This is a groundbreaking story in that it explains the origins of the mysterious time traveler known only as The Doctor and sets up the Doctor's exile to Earth in the 20th Century under the guise of the new doctor Jon Pertwee but before we come to this we have a story that at its heart is a mystery . As soon as we're introduced to General Smythe we know there's something strange about this character . In the second episode Jamie is imprisoned and finds his cell mate is a British redcoat . This being a British military prison in France in 1917 and the episode ends with a stunning anachronism

This was an era when OH WHAT A LOVELY WAR was a massive hit on stage and was turned in to a popular film the same year this story was broadcast . It doesn't really hit a profound subtext in to man's inhumanity to man but does touch upon it though perhaps not as greatly as it should but this would possibly contradict the show's ethics of humans good and alien monsters bad . That said when the War Lord finds himself on trial on the TimeLords unnamed home planet the shadow of Nuremberg does hang over it in the same manner as the end justifies the ends and the victors will always judge the vanquished. It's also interesting how The Timelords themselves are portrayed as being mystical almost God like beings

Director David Maloney , one of the greatest directors to have worked for the BBC raises his game . The early couple of episodes would if you switched on the television set not knowing what DOCTOR WHO was would trick you in to thinking you're watching a prestigious drama set during the Great War . The alien base is very effective down to its functional simplicity and though he story seems to have come to a halt at several points on a narrative level with the protagonists constantly getting captured , escaping and getting captured the pace of the direction hides this fact very well

Perhaps the best thing Maloney has done is get the best out of his cast . Edward Brayshaw as the War Chief himself a renegade Time Lord plays his character with a feline magnetism . Okay he's a bit camp almost like how Peter Wyngarde might have played a villain in a James Bond film but he's very good . James Bree is less so as The Security Chief but Philip Madoc is excellent as The War Lord as he stands on trial on the Timelords home world you get the impression he's channeling Herman Goering . The planet itself is composed of minimalist yet surrealist design

And so ends Toughtn's era , the black and white era and the 1960s era . At this point in the show's history viewing figures were falling and the BBC were thinking of scrapping the show and producer Derrick Sherwin took the ailing show and for the debut Pertwee season in 1970 changed the whole format of the show which was now Earth bound with an obviously QUATERMASS inspired dramatic realism which gave the show a whole new lease of life

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