Doctor Who (1963–1989)
6 user 3 critic

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.


Barry Letts (uncredited)


Robert Holmes (by)

On Disc

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Episode complete credited cast:
Jon Pertwee ... Doctor Who
Nicholas Courtney ... Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart
Roger Delgado ... The Master
Katy Manning ... Jo Grant
Richard Franklin ... Captain Mike Yates
John Levene ... Sergeant Benton
Michael Wisher ... Rex Farrel
Harry Towb ... McDermott
David Garth ... Time Lord
Frank Mills ... Radio Telescope Director
Christopher Burgess Christopher Burgess ... Professor Philips
Andrew Staines Andrew Staines ... Goodge
John Baskcomb John Baskcomb ... Rossini
Dave Carter ... 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) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Black and White | Color (original broadcast)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


3 years earlier in the 1968 Patrick Troughton story "The Mind Robber", The 2nd Doctor learns that the man in charge of The Land of Fiction is called The Master. This was a foreshadowing of The Master in Series 8. However, The 2nd Doctor may had thought that The Master whom was in charge of The Land Fiction was the evil Time Lord himself. The 2nd Doctor's reaction when he is told about The Master hinted at this. See more »


[the lab apparatus the Doctor is working on catches fire, so Jo puts it out with a fire extinguisher]
Doctor Who: You've ruined it!
Jo Grant: But your bench was on fire.
Doctor Who: Three months delicate work and now look at it, you ham-fisted bun vendor!
See more »


Featured in The Rise and Fall of Gallifrey (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

Master of Thrills
25 September 2014 | by A_Kind_Of_CineMagicSee 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

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