EEE. Terror Of The Autons

Season Eight - 1971

Script Editor: Terrance Dicks
Writer: Robert Holmes
Produced by: Barry Letts
Director: Barry Letts
Designer: Ian Watson
Incidental Music: Dudley Simpson
Action: Havoc (3-4)
Circus Scenes: Courtesy of Roberts Brothers


The circus is in town. As Luigi Rossini walks around his circus he hears a strange noise, and then sees a horse box appear from nowhere. A man, dressed in black, appears. When Rossini asks the man who he is, the man replies "I am usually referred to as the Master." Rossini looks in the Master's eyes and falls under his influence. The first task the Master has for Rossini is to steal something from the National Space Museum.

In the Doctor's laboratory the Doctor is still trying to repair the de-materialisation circuit from the TARDIS. A young woman enters, and the Doctor tries to dismiss her as the tea-lady. When a flame appears on the de-materialisation circuit the woman grabs a fire extinguisher and puts out the flame, destroying the Doctor's experiment. The woman introduces herself as Josephine Grant, the Doctor's new assistant. Jo hands the Doctor a report of the theft from the National Space Museum - a translucent polyhedron, eight and a half inches in diameter. the Nestene energy unit left over from their attempt to colonise Earth.

At the Beacon Hill Research Establishment Professor Philips goes up to a radio telescope control cabin where Albert Goodge is running routine tests to collect the results. As Philips leaves the Master enters the control room and fires his tissue compression eliminator, and then connects the Nestene energy unit to the controls. In the main control room the changes to the radio telescope are noticed, and Philips goes back to investigate where he finds the Master, and within seconds falls under his influence.

News of the disappearance of two scientists makes it to UNIT, and the Doctor, Jo and the Brigadier meet Captain Yates, who is already dealing with the situation, at the research establishment. Whilst the Brigadier and Jo talk to the director the Doctor heads to the control cabin.

Before the Doctor enters the cabin he is met by another Time Lord. The Time Lord gives the Doctor a warning about the Master, and also about a trap that the Master had set behind the door of the control cabin - a volatiser rigged to fall when the door is opened. There is no way to stop the device from falling, so the Doctor barges in and manages to catch the device as it falls. By the time Yates and the Dirctor arrives the Doctor is in the process of diffusing the bomb. The Doctor notices a half eaten egg, and looking inside a sandwich box he notices the tiny body of Goodge.

In a nearby plastics factory the Master is meeting Rex Farrel about a business proposition. The factory has some spare capacity, and the Master tells Farrel that the people he represents can never have enough plastic. Shortly after the meeting starts the Master puts Farrel under his influence, and the Master links the Nestene energy unit to the factory machinery.

Back at UNIT HQ the Doctor boils away the Master's bomb, and the Brigadier orders Yates to start looking for the energy unit. With no task assigned Jo starts to make a list of plastics factory, and goes off to investigate them. One of them is Farrel's factory. As she ducks down behind some containers she knocks some over, and is discovered by Farrel and the Master. The Master uses his hypnosis on Jo and learns about the Doctor visiting the radio telescope, and about UNIT. He tells Jo to return to UNIT with a negative report, and to not remember the Master. As Jo returns Sergeant Benton reports that they have found Philips' car with a UNIT container in the back which is being brought back.

When the box is brought back Jo says she can open the box. She struggles to open the box, and the Doctor realises the box is a bomb. Jo fights Yates and is determined to open the box. The Doctor manages to throw the box out of a window into a river where it explodes, after which Jo becomes almost catatonic with post-hypnotic alienation. Jo does eventually come around, but cannot remember where she got the instructions to open the box.

At the factory executive James McDermot is not happy when he hear the Master is taking over production. Farrel introduces McDermot to the Master, and the Master shows him a mass of plastic that when dropped on the floor inflates into a chair. When McDermott tests it the chair starts to move around and smothers him. McDermott had called Farrel's father, John, with his concerns, and he is very upset to learn about McDermot's sudden passing. The Master tries to hypnotise Mr. Farrel, but his mind is to strong and stubborn. As Mr. Farrel leaves the Master gives him one of their new lines - an ugly looking doll. When he back home his wife puts the doll on a radiator, and the heat causes it to come alive and attach Mr. Farrel.

The Brigadier does not have any leads on the Master, but Yates has learned a tenuous lead: the field where the found Philip's car is where Luigi's circus had been. The Doctor learns the circus is now in Tarminster and decides he should go and investigate, not immediately realising that this is a trap set by the Master. As the Doctor starts to ask around about Philips he doesn't see Jo looking out from the back of his car.

The Doctor is spotted by a strong man and reported to Luigi, who takes the Doctor into his tent where he is questioned. Jo reports the Doctor's capture to the Brigadier, and then notices Philips going into a horse box that the Doctor had been curious about, and when she sees Luigi leave the Doctor alone she is able to free the Doctor. The Doctor heads towards the horsebox and goes inside, and soon afterwards returns with something from inside. As he leaves a group of circus people, led by Luigi start to attack. The Doctor and Jo are rescued from the mob when a police car pulls up and they are bundled inside. The car drives away moments before the Brigadier arrives.

After a while Jo is curious to know where they are being taken. When the Doctor asks one of the policemen for a warrant card he notices something odd, and pulls off the skin to reveal an Auton underneath. The car stops in a quarry, and the Doctor and Jo run from the Autons that are firing at them. They are rescued by the Brigadier a few minutes later. Back at his laboratory the Doctor shows Jo a de-materialisation circuit that he "borrowed" from the Master's TARDIS. the Doctor tries it in his TARDIS, but it doesn't work. The Master's circuit is a mark two whereas the Doctor's TARDIS uses a mark one. On the plus side it does now mean the Master's TARDIS will no longer work.

The Master has developed a new product at the plastics factory, a yellow plastic daffodil. He has also laid on a coach, and Autons, disguised with novelty giant heads, are being driven round to different distribution points handing out the flowers.

At UNIT the Doctor learns from Mr. Brownrose, from the ministry, of a series of heart failures caused by asphyxiation. The deaths are unrelated apart from two - McDermot and Farrel. The Doctor asks Mrs. Farrel about the death, and she tells the Doctor about what she knew about what was happening at the plastics factory. She also lets the Doctor have the doll that Mr. Farrel had brought home, which she had found under the curtains as thought it was trying to get out.

When the Doctor returns to UNIT he examines the doll, but it appears to be solid plastic. The Doctor needs more equipment, and as this is going to take time to arrive he and the Brigadier decide to leave for Farrel's plastics factory. Whilst he is away Yates and Jo use the Doctor's bunsen burner to make cocoa. The heat activates the doll, and it attacks Jo.

The plastics factory seems deserted. In the office the Doctor finds a plastic daffodil, and an Auton hidden inside a safe which the Doctor finds when he cracks the safe. The Doctor, learning that heat activated the doll, tries it on the plastic daffodil, to no avail. Yates tells the Doctor about the promotional tour giving out plastic flowers. The Brigadier then tells the Doctor that the coach has been found in the same quarry the Autons took the Doctor to, and that he has ordered an air strike to destroy the coach.

The Doctor asks Jo to radio the Brigadier and ask him to hold the air strike. The daffodil is activated by the radio, and it fires plastic film over Jo's mouth and noise, suffocating her. The Doctor frees the film. It disappears when he breathes on it. The last dying breath dissolves the plastic.

With Jo out of the room the Master manages to sneak up on the Doctor. The Master tells the Doctor that 450,000 daffodils have been distributed. As the Master is about to fire Jo enters the room. Jo lets slip about the air strike on the quarry, and the Master decides to take them as hostages instead. When the Brigadier sees the Doctor and Jo being led on to the coach he tries to stop the air strike, and the order is given just in time and the jets fly overhead. The Doctor and Jo are tied up, but the Doctor is able to reach the coach's brake pedals, and is able to send Morse code to the Brigadier to warn him about daffodils, and the Master sending a signal using the radio telescope.

An Auton drives the coach to the radio telescope where UNIT are waiting. As the coach slows down the Doctor and Jo free themselves and jump from the coach. The Master makes it off the coach and heads up to the radio telescope and UNIT starts to fire at the Autons. The Doctor follows the Master to the control cabin where the Master is opening a channel to the Nestenes. The Doctor convinces the Master that once the Nestene makes it to Earth they will not distinguish between humans and Time Lord, and they would all be killed. Together the Doctor and the Master fling the Nestenes back into space.

The Master is able to evade UNIT and escape in the coach, but the Doctor still has his de-materialisation circuit, meaning the Master is also stuck on Earth.

Regular Cast

  • Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart: Nicholas Courtney
  • Sergeant Benton: John Levene
  • Jo Grant: Katy Manning
  • Captain Yates: Richard Franklin

Guest Cast

  • The Master: Roger Delgado
  • Rex Farrel: Michael Wisher
  • Luigi Rossini (Lew Russell): John Baskcomb (1-2)
  • Professor George Philips: Christopher Burgess (1-2)
  • James McDermot: Harry Towb (1-2)
  • Time Lord: David Garth (1)
  • Radio Telescope Director: Frank Mills (1)
  • Albert Goodge: Andrew Staines (1)
  • Museum Attendant: Dave Carter (1)
  • Mary Farrel: Barbara Leake (2-3)
  • John Farrel: Stephen Jack (2)
  • Tony: Roy Stewart (2)
  • Auton Leader: Pat Gorman (3-4)
  • Auton Voice: Haydn Jones (3-4)
  • Brownrose: Dermot Tuohy
  • Telephone Mechanic: Norman Stanley (3)
  • Policeman: Bill McGuirk (3 - credited but does not appear)
  • Auton Policeman: Terry Walsh (3)
  • Auton Doll: Tommy Reynolds (2-3)
  • Autons: Bob Blaine, Les Clark, Ian Eliott, Nick Hobbs, Tom O'Leary, Charles Pickless, Mike Stevens
  • Soldier: Les Conrad (3)
  • Extras: Eve Aubrey, Mike Austin, Max Diamond, Duke Dupree, Brian Gough, Stuart Harwood, Gordon Howes, Sylvia Lane, Mario, Jack Murray, Gregory Powell, Sheila Power, Bobby Roberts, Mac Russell, Steve Sullivan, E Turner, Edward Vaughn, Paul Warren
  • Stuntmen: Marc Boyle, Alan Chuntz, Stuart Fell, Brian Gilmanm, Stan Hollingsworth, Bill Horrigan, Dinny Powell, Roy Scammell, Mike Stevens, Roy Street, Derek Ware, Terry Walsh

Original broadcast on the BBC

Channel Title Date Viewers Rating
BBC 1 279. Episode One Saturday, January 2, 1971 5:15 PM - 5:40 PM 7.3M
BBC 1 280. Episode Two Saturday, January 9, 1971 5:15 PM - 5:40 PM 8.0M
BBC 1 281. Episode Three Saturday, January 16, 1971 5:15 PM - 5:40 PM 8.1M
BBC 1 282. Episode Four Saturday, January 23, 1971 5:15 PM - 5:40 PM 8.4M


  • Television Centre Studio 6
  • Television Centre Studio 8

Outside Locations

  • Black Park Cottage, Fulmer, Bucks
  • Dunstable, Bedfordshire
  • Hodgmore Wood, Bucks
  • Robert Brothers Circus, Edmonton


Part 1: The scene where the Auton is knocked down the cliff wasn't meant to happen. Stuart Fell (the stuntman) had it planned so that the car would stop short, and he'd take a few steps down the hill. The car stopped too late and he goes flying down the hill at breakneck speed (though he wasn't hurt). The camera keeps switching angles because none of the cameramen were expecting it.

Part 1: When the Master hypnotises Jo in Farrel's office, he asks her who went to the radio telescope. Jo replies "Myself, the Brigadier and the Doctor". So what happened to Mike Yates?

Working Titles

The Spray of Death


This story carries no producer credit.

The story now exists in a UK transmittable colour format, obtained using the same method as for Doctor Who and the Silurians.