Jan 3, 2012
The Doctor and Sarah arrive in 1970s London to find that it has been evacuated, due to the mysterious appearance of dinosaurs. It turns out that the dinosaurs are being brought to London via a time machine in order to further a plan to revert London to a pre-technological level.
The Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith arrive in a deserted London plagued by looters and lawlessness where UNIT is assisting with maintaining martial law. The regular army, headed by General Finch, has evacuated the entire city and issues a command that any looters in London will be shot on sight. The Doctor and Sarah are soon arrested on suspicion of being looters themselves but are identified from the photographs by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, who is heading up the UNIT operation, and arranges that the pair are freed to help combat the monsters that have necessitated the evacuation of London. Dinosaurs have started appearing all over the city – but that is not all, as the Doctor comes across a medieval peasant from the days of King Richard, who disappears in a time eddy. It seems the dinosaurs have been present for several months, but nobody can account for their sudden appearance or the havoc they are causing. The British Government has been relocated to Harrogate during the crisis, and the army has taken charge to ensure an orderly evacuation and to try and maintain some sort of control in the city. The dinosaur appearances are various – pterodactyls, Stegosaurus, Tyrannosaurus Rex – but the creatures seem to vanish as mysteriously as they appear.
The Doctor ventures out around the city with a UNIT escort, hoping to learn more of the curious phenomenon, and they encounter a Stegosaurus moments before it disappears. He starts to suspect someone is deliberately bringing the dinosaurs to London – and in a hidden laboratory a pair of scientists, Butler and Professor Whitaker, are shown operating the Timescoop technology that is making the situation possible. They are being aided by Captain Mike Yates from UNIT, who is revealed to be recovering from a nervous breakdown caused by the events depicted in The Green Death. Mike feels the Doctor could help them achieve Operation Golden Age, but Whitaker is unconvinced, and tells Mike to sabotage the stun gun, which the Doctor is building for use on the dinosaurs. He does this, imperilling the Doctor when he encounters a Tyrannosaurus Rex, but the situation is saved and the creature is stunned and captured. Hours later, however, General Finch sets it free, evidently part of the conspiracy too.
Sarah Jane has meanwhile set off to gather her own evidence and meets with Sir Charles Grover, an ecologist MP who is acting as Minister with Special Responsibilities in London. She is drugged by him and when she wakes up is astounded to find herself on a vast spaceship. The crew include Mark, Adam and Ruth, all famed British minor celebrities who have adopted new aliases and lives. They tell her they en route for a New Earth where mankind can begin again, closer to nature. They left Earth three months earlier and the ship is one of a fleet that is carrying over two hundred people to a new life. Sarah is committed to the re-education programme to enable her to think like them.
The Doctor now focuses on more searches of London using his new vehicle, the Whomobile, as transport. Under Trafalgar Square tube station he finds the base used by Whitaker and Butler, but is scared away when they use a pterodactyl to defend their lair. When he returns with the Brigadier, the signs of occupation have been removed. Operation Golden Age is revealed to be a broad conspiracy containing Whitaker, Butler, Yates, Grover and Finch as its core co-ordinators. They have emptied London to enable it to revert to a more natural state, after which the people on the spaceships (in reality they are in vast bunkers and not in space at all) will be allowed out and enabled to repopulate a clean and free planet. Whitaker also works out how to reverse time, so that soon none of humanity apart from their own chosen specimens will ever have existed.
Finch tries to frame and discredit the Doctor, whom he knows will not support their plans, and the Doctor soon twigs that an over-zealous Yates is the UNIT mole. Sergeant Benton lets the Doctor escape, for which Finch threatens a court martial. The Doctor uses his freedom to track down more monsters, but when he is recaptured the Brigadier asserts his authority and takes the Doctor into UNIT custody rather than the regular army’s.
Sarah has meanwhile escaped from the fake spaceship having learnt its true nature, but is apprehended by Finch, who tracks her down and returns her to Whitaker’s custody. While she is away Mark works out that the ship is a fake too and exposes this to the other passengers, but he is not believed. When Sarah is returned to the ship she and Mark use the fake airlock to convince Ruth and the others of the depth of the deception
Shortly afterward Finch and Yates reveal their hands to the Doctor, Benton and the Brigadier, and reveal the nature of their plans. The Doctor and the Brigadier get away once more and head back to the base, evading dinosaurs en route, where they confront Grover and Whitaker. The duped environmentalists from the fake spaceship also appear, along with Sarah, and demand an explanation. In the ensuing fight Whitaker and Grover are transported back through the Timescoop to the Golden Age they sought to bring to modern Britain.
Back at UNIT HQ, the Brigadier confirms to the Doctor that the crisis is over, but there are still some human casualties to deal with. Finch will face a court martial while Yates is being offered the chance to resign and given extended sick leave. The Doctor reflects that people like Grover may have had good motivations in wanting to fight pollution and environmental degradation, but they took their schemes too far and endangered all mankind and its civilisation. He decides it is time for a holiday and offers to take Sarah Jane to the holiday planet of Florana.
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|Episode||Broadcast date||Run time||Viewership
|"Part One"||12 January 1974||25:29||11.0||16mm black and white engineering print|
|"Part Two"||19 January 1974||24:43||10.1||PAL 2" colour videotape|
|"Part Three"||26 January 1974||23:26||11.0||PAL 2" colour videotape|
|"Part Four"||2 February 1974||23:33||9.0||PAL 2" colour videotape|
|"Part Five"||9 February 1974||24:30||9.0||PAL 2" colour videotape|
|"Part Six"||16 February 1974||25:34||7.5||PAL 2" colour videotape|
Doctor Who: The Television Companion (by Howe and Walker, BBC Publishing, 1998) quotes a contemporary review (from a fanzine) that describes the dinosaur special effects thus: "After escaping they [the Doctor and Sarah] came up against the first dinosaur and, oh dear, shades of Basil Brush! A glove puppet nervously skiing about London streets didn't exactly fill me with fright..."
A novelisation of this serial, written by Malcolm Hulke, was published by Target Books in February 1976 as Doctor Who and the Dinosaur Invasion. In 1993 it was reprinted with the title Doctor Who - Invasion of the Dinosaurs. The novelisation features a prologue about the dinosaurs and ends with the Doctor consulting the Book of Ezekiel to determine the final fate of the Golden Age time travellers. An unabridged reading of the novelisation by actor Martin Jarvis was released on CD in November 2007 by BBC Audiobooks.
|Doctor Who book|
|Doctor Who and the Dinosaur Invasion|
|Cover artist||Chris Achilleos|
|Release date||19 February 1976|
The story is to be released on DVD in the UK on 9 January 2012 alongside the 1975 Tom Baker story The Android Invasion, together forming the U.N.I.T Files box set. The DVD will feature a restored black-and-white version of Episode 1 as the default and also a 'best-endeavours' attempt at colour recovery of this episode as a branched-extra feature.
In contrast to other wiped colour episodes from the Pertwee era where the missing colour information had been inadvertently recorded on the surviving black and white film copies as a sequence of visual artifacts/dots or chroma dots, in the case of Episode 1 of this story this information was found to be incomplete, and only the red and green colour signal information was recoverable, requiring the missing blue signal information to be obtained via other means.
The new colour version of Episode 1 featured on the DVD thus employs approximated blue colour information, and although the outcome is not up to normal DVD quality, it gives an impression of what the episode would have looked like when originally broadcast.