‘TERROR OF THE AUTONS’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Autons and the Master with the Third Doctor, Jo and U.N.I.T.
2021 marks 50 years of the Master and Jo Grant in ‘Doctor Who’ with the Season 8 Blu-ray box set!
It’s astonishing how things have changed significantly in 2020 and 2021. When I reviewed the Season 14 Blu-ray box set of ‘Doctor Who’ with Tom Baker back in 2020, it was at a time when the world was in crisis. The Covid-19 pandemic had taken toll on a lot of social activities occurring in the world.
And it also affected a lot of film and TV productions that were meant to happen. Judging by how things went in 2020, I assumed that ‘The Collection’ of classic ‘Doctor Who’ Blu-ray box sets would be put on a hold for a very long while until things had calmed down. Thankfully I wrong about that. 🙂
On the 25th of November 2020, the announcement trailer came on YouTube for the Season 8 Blu-ray box set of ‘Doctor Who’ with Jon Pertwee. The trailer stared Katy Manning back as Jo Jones (née Grant) and Stewart Bevan as her husband Clifford Jones. The two tackled the ‘Return of the Autons’!
I was excited to see the trailer for the upcoming Season 8 Blu-ray box set of ‘Doctor Who’. It even had a preview of Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding in the ‘Behind the Sofa’ items for Season 8. And this was after I saw Sarah for a Zoom chat on the 22nd of November 2020. I couldn’t be happier about it.
There were clearly social distancing measures in place for the making of some of the brand-new bonus materials for the Season 8 Blu-ray box set of ‘Doctor Who’, especially with Sarah and Janet watching the Season 8 stories in ‘Behind the Sofa’, but I’m so glad BBC Studios made all this possible.
The Blu-ray box set of Season 8 of ‘Doctor Who’ is an 8-disc set. There are five stories in the season including ‘Terror of the Autons’ on Disc 1, ‘The Mind of Evil’ on Disc 2, ‘The Claws of Axos’ on Disc 3, ‘Colony In Space’ on Disc 4 with bonus material on Disc 5, and ‘The Dæmons’ on Disc 6 with bonus material on Disc 7. Disc 8 is a bonus disc which contains brand-new material to enjoy on the Blu-ray.
I’ve watched the stories of Season 8 of ‘Doctor Who’ at various points in my life. Not necessarily in the right order as Eric Morecambe would say. I’m glad to be revisiting Season 8 of ‘Doctor Who’ in this Blu-ray box set and watch the stories in chronological order to find out how they each progress.
Season 8 is Jon Pertwee’s second season as the Third Doctor in ‘Doctor Who’. He had already settled into playing the character by this point in the series, having done Season 7. The producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks were on track in making their vision of ‘Doctor Who’ be shown on TV.
The previous season featured relatively earthbound stories and they were more serious than usual compared to what went on in the William Hartnell and the Patrick Troughton eras. Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks were keen to move away from the ‘Quatermass’ element that was set up in Season 7.
They hoped to get the Doctor off Earth and have more adventures in space and time. They would do it gradually as it turned out, but they managed it in the end when it came to Season 10. It’s intriguing how Barry and Terrance did this with getting the Doctor back into his TARDIS and have adventures. 🙂
The earthbound stories for Jon Pertwee’s era of ‘Doctor Who’ had already been established with the set-up of U.N.I.T., Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and Sergeant Benton. There was also a more action-packed element featured in the series, based on action TV shows like ‘The Saint’ and ‘The Avengers’.
I can imagine how long-time ‘Doctor Who’ fans would be frustrated to see the Doctor stuck on Earth and wanting him to be back in time and space travelling in his TARDIS, whilst casual viewers would have accepted this as the norm with the Doctor being stuck on Earth. It’d be a very intriguing comparison.
Despite the limitations found with the Third Doctor era in having to do U.N.I.T. stories for most of Season 7 and 8, there were elements of variety about to occur when Barry and Terrance introduced them in Season 8. This included introducing a new villain and a new companion for the Doctor here.
Some may argue that certain elements in Season 8 were repetitive, especially in terms of the new villain being introduced. Are these arguments correct? Did I find Season 8 to be repetitive in terms of the villain and the U.N.I.T. stories being told? Let’s find out and see if Season 8 impressed me or not!
The season begins with the four-part story ‘Terror of the Autons’ by Robert Holmes. This story was originally released on DVD in 2011 as part of the ‘Mannequin Mania’ DVD box set. I first saw this story with some friends in England when invited to their house and we watched the story on VHS. 😀
I enjoyed watching ‘Terror of the Autons’ when I first saw it on VHS with friends back in 2010 and eventually on DVD when it I owned it in 2011. The Autons as ‘Doctor Who’ monsters meant a great deal to me, especially since they had appeared in the new TV show’s very first episode called ‘Rose’.
The writer of this story Robert Holmes previously wrote ‘Spearhead From Space’, which was the first story of Season 7. It introduced Jon Pertwee’s Doctor on TV as well as the Autons and the Nestenes. Because ‘Spearhead From Space’ was so successful, the Autons and Nestenes were brought back. 😀
Robert Holmes was becoming a favourite ‘Doctor Who’ writer with script editor Terrance Dicks. Holmes’ first ‘Doctor Who’ story was ‘The Krotons’ with Patrick Troughton before he wrote ‘The Space Pirates’. He would go on to pen more exciting classic ‘Doctor Who’ stories in the 1970s and 1980s. 🙂
He would also be the script editor of ‘Doctor Who’ during Tom Baker’s era in the show. Robert Holmes as a writer has a reputation for scaring the kiddies that watch ‘Doctor Who’ on TV. It’s clearly demonstrated in ‘Terror of the Autons’ as he makes the Autons frightening than ever before.
It’s clear that ‘Terror of the Autons’ is a really colourful adventure as it’s both funny and scary at the same time. That might also account for the re-mastering of the story on DVD and Blu-ray over the years as well as the latest CGI effects that replace some of the dodgy CSO effects featured in it here.
This story features the debut of Roger Delgado as the evil Master in the TV series. As we speak, we’re celebrating 50 years of the Master in ‘Doctor Who’ as ‘Terror of the Autons’ was shown in 1971. The Master has become one of the most popular, recurring ‘Doctor Who’ villains in the series.
This is especially the case in the Jon Pertwee era as he would keep returning for various stories in Seasons 8, 9 and 10. The inspiration for the Master came as Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks examined the Doctor and the Brigadier’s relationship, saying they were like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. 🙂
So, a Moriarty character had to be created. This Moriarty character would eventually be called the Master by Terrance Dicks and Barry Letts chose Roger Delgado to play him. It was a perfect combination of creating character and choosing actor as Roger Delgado plays the Master really well.
At first, we don’t know much about the Master as a character. He’s revealed to be a renegade Time Lord from the Doctor’s home planet of the Time Lords. He also appears stoic when we meet him and has the ability to hypnotise people, making them obey his commands and he uses them as his tools.
It’s almost similar to the Hood from ‘Thunderbirds’ when he hypnotised people or knocked them out with his yellow glowing eyes. In many ways, the Master is like the Doctor since they’re both Time Lords. The difference of course is that the Master is sinisterly evil whilst the Doctor fights for good. 🙂
It’s an intriguing relationship to see Jon Pertwee’s Doctor and Roger Delgado’s Master together. They both talk like charming, pleasant gentlemen. Yet the Master can do something unexpected such as killing people, whether it’s pushing them off a radio telescope or miniaturising them to size.
The Master has his tissue compression eliminator and he seeks out to conquer the universe when he works with the Autons in this. The Doctor doesn’t seek the Master’s desires and is frustrated when he shows up on Earth, calling him ‘an unimaginative plodder’. They’re both meant to be friends too.
It’s intriguing to watch Roger Delgado’s Master in ‘Doctor Who’ having seen and heard other versions of the character played by actors like Geoffrey Beevers, Anthony Ainley and John Simm. In many ways, Roger Delgado is the definitive article of how the Master should be played in the series.
As well as this story being the Master’s debut, ‘Terror of the Autons’ is also the debut for Katy Manning as Jo Grant, the Doctor’s new companion. Previously, the Doctor had Caroline John as Liz Shaw in Season 7, but she was written out of the show in order to be replaced by Katy Manning’s Jo.
The problem with Liz Shaw was that she was too intelligent and not really an audience-identifier when people watched her on TV. That’s how Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks saw it and they felt that a younger person who wasn’t so bright would be good for the audience to identify with when watching her on TV. 🙂
Katy Manning as Jo filled that aspect of the new companion character superbly. I love Jo Grant’s first appearance in ‘Doctor Who’. She comes across as a lovely, plucky and clumsy character in the series. I have had the pleasure of seeing Katy Manning at various ‘Doctor Who’ conventions over the years.
It was funny to see how Jo Grant was introduced in ‘Doctor Who’ as she bundles on her first day at work when she meets the Doctor. She ruins one of his experiments when it catches fire and she puts the fire out with a fire extinguisher. Rather than pleasing the Doctor, he is far from happy about it. 😐
He calls her a ‘ham-fisted bun vendor’ for ruining his experiment. I agree with Sarah and Janet from ‘Behind the Sofa’, what kind of a phrase is that? I think the Doctor is being a bit unfair to Jo when he first meets her, especially when he initially assumed she was the tea lady and not her new assistant.
Thankfully as the story progresses, the Doctor grows to like Jo, despite her bumbling and not passing her science exams. Jo even gets hypnotised by the Master and nearly blew up U.N.I.T. when she opened a box where a bomb was about to go off. Jo also becomes resourceful in wanting to help out. 🙂
This is demonstrated when Jo ignores the Doctor’s instructions to stay behind at U.N.I.T. HQ and she goes out to rescue him from the circus where she’s being held hostage by John Baskcomb as Rossini the circus owner and Roy Stewart as Tony the strongman (who might be Toberman’s ancestor here).
As time goes on, the Doctor and Jo grow comfortable in their relationship together. The Doctor also looks out for Jo, especially when she gets attacked by a plastic daffodil sealing her mouth with plastic. They also share danger when with the Master and the Autons in a bus at the tale’s conclusion. 🙂
I enjoyed Jon Pertwee’s Doctor in this story. There are times when the Doctor can be quite arrogant and childish, despite being elegant and heroic. This is in contrast to the Master who can be polite and charismatic when getting his way at times. The Doctor isn’t exactly the ‘angel’ figure in this tale.
I enjoyed it when the two Time Lords met each other in ‘Episode Four’ when the Master was about to kill him before Jo came in. It took a while for the Doctor and the Master to find meet each other, especially when ‘Episode Three’ ended with the Doctor being attacked by a phone line from the Master.
The Doctor and the Master are clearly opposites of each other in this story, especially when they’re both duelling foes and being very gentlemanly. I’m sure this is how the Sherlock Holmes/Moriarty relationship should be played out, when reading them in books or seeing them on TV and in films. 😐
I like how Jon Pertwee’s Doctor worked things out, especially concerning how the Autons conduct their attack and how they kill people with various forms of plastic. It’s interesting how the Doctor worked out the plastic daffodils were killing people and it’s not caused by heat but by radio waves. 😐
Nicholas Courtney stars as the ‘Doctor Who’ version of Dr. Watson ( 😀 ) – Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. I greatly enjoyed the Brigadier in this story. I wish I could have met him at a convention before he sadly died in 2011. The chemistry he has with Jon Pertwee’s Doctor is so entertaining in this story.
I liked it when he interacted with Jon’s Doctor and Katy’s Jo whilst trying to save the world. The Brig of course is guns first before using the non-military approach like the Doctor prefers to use. I liked it when the Doctor told the Brig, “The weapons that you have on Earth are quite nasty enough as it is.”
This story also marks Richard Franklin’s TV debut as Captain Mike Yates in ‘Doctor Who’. So 2021 is Jo Grant and Mike Yates’ 50th anniversaries in ‘Doctor Who’, isn’t it? 😀 Mike Yates’ first met the Third Doctor in the story ‘Vengeance of the Stones’, which was made 42 years after this adventure. 🙂
Mike comes across as very friendly and very dependable chap who relays everything that’s happening in this story to the Doctor and the Brigadier. Mike was meant to be a potential love interest for Jo which quite didn’t go the way it intended. I’ve also met Richard Franklin at conventions.
And of course there’s John Levene who plays Sergeant Benton in the story. Benton is punctual and loyal as ever in the established U.N.I.T. for ‘Doctor Who’ during Jon Pertwee’s era. I don’t think Benton gets many standout moments in this story compared to Mike Yates who is being introduced.
Benton previously appeared in the TV series in stories like ‘The Invasion’, ‘The Ambassadors of Death’ and ‘Inferno’. I did like the moment when Benton informed the Brigadier about the Doctor and Jo not being taken by police in a police car since the police car isn’t registered with the police at all.
The Autons are chillingly scary in this TV adventure compared to when they appeared in ‘Spearhead From Space’ and subsequently in ‘Rose’. Barry Letts and Terrence Dicks got into a lot of trouble with the violent, scary imagery featured in the tale concerning the Autons and how they made attacks. 😐
That’s more down to Robert Holmes’ writing and Barry Letts and Terrence Dicks toned the violent levels down afterwards when they were making the TV series. It wouldn’t stop Robert Holmes years later when he became script editor of the show with producer Philip Hinchcliffe during the Tom Baker era.
In the story, the Autons use various horrific methods to kill humans. As well as using plastic dummies to walk about and fire people with guns in their hands, there’s also a plastic chair that suffocates Harry Towb as Mr. McDermott with the Master and Michael Wisher as Rex Farrel watching close by.
That is pretty horrifying to watch. Even for a family show, that would be considered unacceptable even by today’s standards. My Mum commented on how horrifying ‘Terror of the Autons’ is with that kind of imagery. It’s slightly amusing whilst also being terrifying at the same time in the TV tale.
Incidentally, Harry Towb who plays McDermott previously appeared in the story ‘The Seeds of Death’ and got killed off by an Ice Warrior in that. 😀 Michael Wisher would later go on to play Davros in ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ as well as doing Dalek voices for stories like ‘Planet of the Daleks’. 🙂
Another method that the Autons use to kill people as well as plastic daffodils is an ugly troll doll that comes to life and kills people. It killed Rex Farrel’s father, Stephen Jack as Farrel Snr., when he brought it home after seeing his son and the Master at their plastic factory, which is very horrible. 😐
Again, the story is put into question on how suitable is for children especially when a scary-looking ugly troll doll is used by the Master and the Autons to do their dirty work and kill people. It’s just as bad as losing confidence in the police who actually turn out to be Autons that could want to kill you.
The story also features Barbara Leake as Mrs. Farrel who screams once she sees her husband dead on the floor. I like the scene where the Doctor and Jo visit Mrs. Farrel in mourning in order to investigate her husband’s death before they take the ugly scary-looking troll doll back to U.N.I.T. HQ.
The story does feel rushed in terms of its climax. This is especially when the Master is easily persuaded by the Doctor to stop the Autons and the Nestenes once he realises they’ll kill him just as much as they’ll kill everyone else. The Master also gets to escape, using Rex Farrel as a distraction. 😐
So this means that the Master is still out there for the Doctor, Jo and U.N.I.T. to deal with. The Master can’t escape Earth though since the Doctor stole his TARDIS’ dematerialisation circuit. The Doctor isn’t disappointed the Master got away since he’s ‘looking forward’ to confronting him again.
Incidentally, ‘Terror of the Autons’ was directed by producer Barry Letts. Barry Letts would often find opportunities to work on ‘Doctor Who’ in terms of being a writer and a director as well as a producer. He directs ‘Terror of the Autons’ pretty well with such an action-packed and visual pace. 🙂
The original DVD special features were as follows. There was the making-of documentary called ‘Life on Earth’, featuring behind-the-scenes cast and crew interviews. There was also ‘The Doctor’s Moriarty’ featurette and the ‘Plastic Fantastic’ featurette. There was also a photo gallery of the story; a mono sound audio mix option for the story; a DVD audio commentary with Katy Manning, Nicholas Courtney and producer/director Barry Letts; and an info-text commentary option to enjoy. There were PDF materials, including a ‘Radio Times Listing’ of the story, the 1971 ‘Kellogg’s Sugar Smacks’ promotional material, and the ‘Doctor Who Fights Masterplan Q’ Nestlé chocolate wrappers. There was also a ‘coming soon’ DVD trailer for ‘Frontios’ with Peter Davison, Janet Fielding and Mark Strickson.
On Disc 1 of the ‘Doctor Who – The Collection – Season 8’ Blu-ray, the ‘Life on Earth’ making-of documentary; ‘The Doctor’s Moriarty’, ‘Plastic Fantastic’, the mono sound audio mix option, the DVD audio commentary and the ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF can be found on there. The photo gallery and the info-text commentary option for ‘Terror of the Autons’ have been updated for 2021 on the Blu-ray.
The new special features on Blu-ray include the ‘Behind the Sofa’ feature on ‘Terror of the Autons’ with Katy Manning (Jo Grant) and Stewart Bevan (Clifford Jones) as well as Sarah Sutton (Nyssa) and Janet Fielding (Tegan) as well as Anjli Mohindra (Queen Skithra from ‘Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror’ and Rani Chandra in ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’) and Sacha Dhawan (The Master). There are BBC trailers and continuity announcements for the story; clean opening and closing titles of the Jon Pertwee era; a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘The Mind of Evil’ with Jon Pertwee, Katy Manning, Nicholas Courtney, Roger Delgado, Richard Franklin and John Levene (taken from the ‘Inferno’ 2-disc Special Edition DVD); and a new updated CGI effects option for the story. There’s also a brand-new 5.1 surround sound audio mix option for the story to enjoy.
On the PDF front, as well as the ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story, there are production documents, Ken Trew’s costume designs and scripts for the story. You need a special Blu-ray computer drive for that. The 1971 ‘Kellogg’s Sugar Smacks’ promotional material and the ‘Doctor Who Fights Masterplan Q’ Nestlé chocolate wrappers PDFs are available on Disc 8 of the Season 8 Blu-ray box set of ‘Doctor Who’. Disc 8 also contains the ‘Doctor Who and the Terror of the Autons’ Target audiobook by Terrance Dicks, read by Geoffrey Beevers.
‘Terror of the Autons’ is a great opening story to Season 8 of ‘Doctor Who’ and it’s a great follow-up to ‘Spearhead From Space’. It’s a very colourful adventure featuring Jon Pertwee’s Doctor where he gets to meet Jo Grant for the first time as well as deal with his greatest enemy ever, the evil Master.
I’m glad I saw the story with my friends in England when we watched it on VHS back in 2010. I’m happy to have seen it on DVD in the ‘Mannequin Mania’ DVD box set of ‘Doctor Who’ and even happier to have seen it again on Blu-ray in the Season 8 Blu-ray box set. It’s a really gripping TV yarn.
The first two Auton TV adventures are two great ‘Doctor Who’ stories by Robert Holmes. It’s easy to see why the Autons became very popular as Holmes created some memorable monsters in the ‘Doctor Who’ TV series. It’s even easy to see why they returned in the new TV series with ‘Rose’.
‘Terror of the Autons’ will be well-remembered for featuring the debut of Roger Delgado’s Master and Katy Manning’s Jo Grant. It’s amazing to rediscover the story after 50 years since it was transmitted on TV in 1971. Seeing it again on Blu-ray is a great way to commemorate its anniversary.
‘Terror of the Autons’ rating – 9/10
‘DOCTOR WHO AND THE TERROR OF THE AUTONS’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Autons and the Master But No Brownrose
For Terrance Dicks
Terrance Dicks does it again with another exciting ‘Doctor Who’ Target novelization!
I’ve enjoyed ‘Doctor Who and the Terror of the Autons’ based on the TV story that was the season opener for Season 8. I read both the Target novelization and the audiobook at the same time. I seem to be really getting into these ‘Doctor Who’ Target novelizations/audiobooks nowadays, which is fun.
I like to purchase the audiobooks for these ‘Doctor Who’ Target novelizations as downloads via Audible nowadays. There are occasions when I would purchase tangible CD sets of ‘Doctor Who’ Target audiobooks, but it’s for ones that really matter to me. These would be ones that Nyssa is in! 😀
The actual Target novelizations themselves would be purchased via Amazon.co.uk as paperbacks when ones are available. I have got into the habit of purchasing ‘Doctor Who’ books via Kindle, but that is in its early stages at present. I currently have the ‘Terror of the Autons’ book as a paperback.
This isn’t the first time I’ve read and listened to a ‘Doctor Who’ Target novelization/audiobook that featured Autons in it. Oh no! The first time was when I read and heard the Target novelization/audiobook of ‘Rose’ in 2018. It’s interesting that I’m reading/hearing the Target novelizations/audiobooks of Auton stories backwards.
‘Terror of the Autons’ as a novelization was first published in the year 1975. That’s four years after the story was transmitted on TV in 1971. I received the 1979 paperback edition of the ‘Terror of the Autons’ novelization in the post. That has a pretty horrifying image compared to the 1975 paperback.
The audiobook itself was originally released as a 4-disc set in 2010, though I purchased it as a download from Audible of course. The audiobook is read by Geoffrey Beevers, who played the Master in ‘The Keeper of Traken’. How come he reads these ‘Doctor Who’ novelization/audiobooks?
I get that he played a really good interpretation of the Master in ‘The Keeper of Traken’ as well as in the Big Finish audios, but aside from that and being the wife of Caroline John, Geoffrey Beevers doesn’t have much of a connection to ‘Terror of the Autons’. He does read the tale very well though.
He provides very good voices for the Third Doctor, Jo, the Brigadier, Mike Yates and Benton in the story as well as the Master of course. I’m convinced that Geoffrey Beever is doing his version of the Master, not Roger Delgado’s here. I think the Auton voices by Geoffrey should have been electronic though.
For the most part, Terrance Dicks has done a very good novelization of the TV story, based on the original scripts by Robert Holmes. Terrance also enhances the story with some additional scenes as well as improving some of the weaker aspects of the tale that were clearly evident on the TV screen.
The story is divided into 12 chapters throughout the book. That’s a typical Terrance Dicks chapter listing structure. However, not each set of three chapters to make one episode out of the four in the original TV story matches exactly to that. The first two sets of three chapters achieve that really fine.
But when we get to the end of Chapter 9 for the ‘Episode Three’ cliff-hanger moments, it’s not the Doctor being strangled by a plastic telephone wire for that. The cliff-hanger moment for the end of Chapter 9 is when Jo is being attacked by the plastic daffodil and she’s beginning to suffocate from it.
It’s interesting that Terrance Dicks decided not to end the ‘Episode Three’ segment of the story with the Doctor being strangled by the plastic telephone wire at the Master’s control in the novelization. That might have to do with Terrance omitting Brownrose from the novelization, but we’ll get to that.
Also, Chapter 11 feels a longer chapter in the book compared to Chapter 12 which is just three pages and is the last scene in the Doctor’s laboratory. Chapter 11 has a lot of the U.N.I.T. battle with the Autons going on before the Doctor and the Master try to defeat the Autons at the radio telescope.
Here’s an intriguing note regarding the publication of this story! Apparently, ‘Terror of the Autons’ was published after ‘Doctor Who and the Doomsday Weapon’, the Target novelization of ‘Colony In Space’, was published in 1974. That’s a year before ‘Terror of the Autons’ got published in 1975. 😐
Now you might think me strange to say that considering ‘Terror of the Autons’ was transmitted before ‘Colony In Space’ in the TV series. But it gets even stranger as it turns out Jo Grant and the Master were introduced first in ‘The Doomsday Weapon’ book before the ‘Terror of the Autons’ book.
The point I’m trying to make here is that Terrance Dicks completely ignored Malcolm Hulke introducing Jo Grant and the Master first in ‘The Doomsday Weapon’ before he introduced them again in ‘Terror of the Autons’. What’s with the ‘Doctor Who’ Target novelizations getting confused?
First there was the mix-up of the Master doing things in ‘The King’s Demons’ before ‘Black Orchid’ in the ‘Black Orchid’ novelization; then it was a mix-up of the Master using Ogrons and Sea Devils in both ‘The Sea-Devils’ and ‘The Space War’ novelizations. Now there’s this mix-up of introductions! 😀
Incidentally, the book illustrations by Alan Willow are pretty good in the Target novelization. I especially like it when seeing scenes recreated from the TV story including the Doctor and Jo being inside a police car driven by Auton policemen as well as the Nestene creature appearing at the end.
In the book, there’s more background given to Luigi Rossini, the owner of the circus featured in the story. There’s also a change of name for Rossini’s circus as it gets changed from International Circus as in the TV story to Circus Rossini. Rossini’s real name is revealed as Lew Ross instead of Lew Russell.
When the Doctor meets the Time Lord messenger who warns him about the Master on Earth, it gets revealed that the messenger was present at the Doctor’s trial during ‘The War Games’. This was interesting to discover and it explains why there was tension between the two characters in their scene.
In the ‘Terror of the Autons’ novelization, we have the name of the Nestene planet given to us by Terrance Dicks! Wow! And it turns out to be called Polymos! I’m surprised this name for the Autons’ planet hasn’t come up again in the TV series. How come the Autons’ planet isn’t mentioned on TV?!
In the book, the Brigadier accompanies the Doctor and Jo to see Mrs. Farrel about her dead husband as well as acquiring ‘the killer doll’ as Terrance described it. Very nice to have the Brig come along for the ride, but it does reduce Jo’s role in terms of most of her lines being given to the Brigadier instead.
There’s a weapon that the scientist George Philips uses against the Doctor in the story and that happens to be a Sontaran fragmentation grenade. Now considering ‘Terror of the Autons’ was made before ‘The Time Warrior’, it’s interesting Terrance had a Sontaran weapon used in this novelization.
Also in the Target novelization, Philips dresses up as a crown whilst he’s at the circus at the Master’s command. A bit odd to read that in the novelization, considering Philips didn’t dress up as a clown in the TV version. It’s very intriguing how Terrance uses that approach in the novelization compared to TV.
There’s a statement made by the Doctor in the novelization that if the Time Lords ever caught the Master, they would reverse his timeline so that he would never have existed. This is quite disturbing to think about, as it reflects on the Time Lords in ‘The War Games’ before they changed right up to ‘The Five Doctors’.
I like how Jo gets caught by the Master when investigating Rex Farrel’s plastic factory in the novelization. In the TV story, she accidentally knocked things over and sheepishly comes out for the Master to hypnotise her. In the novelization, Jo actually tries to run away after making her accident.
Just as Jo runs away; the Master calls out to her to stop. She then turns around at his hypnotic command. That is pretty effective and terrifying to read in the novelization compared to the TV story. Jo’s attempts to run away and ultimately fail could have been so effective to watch in the TV version.
At the end of Chapter 3 of the story, Jo brings in the bomb in the ammunition box herself for the Doctor to open it in his lab rather than have it be found in Philip’s car as in the TV story. The reveal that it is a bomb before Jo frantically tries to open it under the Master’s control is effective in the book.
Apparently, it’s the Brigadier and Yates who enter to stop Jo setting off the bomb in the novelization rather than Yates and Benton entering in the TV version. It transpires the Doctor identifies the bomb as a Saturnian Solar Bomb. I supposed Terrance decided to name it in the novelization to make it alien. 😀
I enjoyed the stuff in the novelization where Albert Goodge is thinking about his lunch and how he reacts to having boiled eggs during his working day. 😀 It was also interesting to read Rex Farrel’s father as a character, since he seems fiercely firm in his doubts about his son in charge of his factory.
It turns out McDermott founded Farrel Plastics with Rex Farrel’s father. There’s also a change when Rex Farrel forgets McDermott was murdered by a plastic sofa. He tells his father that McDermott is away on business. This is because the Master removed the murder incident from Rex’s memory.
In the book, it’s several circus men who try to capture the Doctor at the circus when he’s trying to get into the Master’s TARDIS disguised as a horsebox. In the TV version, it was just Tony the strongman who knocks him out. Rossini also persuades the circus men that the Doctor is stealing their takings.
A significant omission from the TV story in the novelization is the removal of Brownrose, the civil servant in the British Ministry under Lord Rowland. Quite frankly, I’m glad Brownrose wasn’t included in the novelization. He didn’t serve the tale at all as his role is given to the Brigadier instead.
There are small additions given in the novelization by Terrance Dicks compared to the TV version. These include the Doctor riding a roundabout whilst at the circus looking for Professor Philips. There’s also more detail given regarding the distribution of the daffodils by the Autons to the public.
In the novelization, the Brigadier makes the suggestion of mass producing the machine the Doctor used to destroy the Autons in their first invasion of Earth. The Doctor points out to the Brigadier that the Autons may have evolved a defence since then. I did like how the Doctor explained it in the book.
During the U.N.I.T. and Auton battle, it takes place in a field near the research centre in the novelization rather than on the research centre grounds in the TV story. The Master also disguises himself as an Auton when getting to the research centre. His killing of a technician at the end is omitted.
Like I said, the Nestene creature arrives on Earth and appears in the form of a tentacle creature similar to the one in ‘Spearhead From Space’ as illustrated by Alan Willow. This is different in the original TV version as it never appeared in corporal form due to the special effect deemed as unconvincing to see.
There’s a change in the climax of the story where the Master helps the Doctor and the Brigadier to stop the Autons. Instead of changing sides and being persuaded by the Doctor very quickly, it’s revealed that the Master is afraid of both the Auton High Council for causing a failure in their plans.
There’s also the Master being threatened at gunpoint by the Brigadier in the scene. The Master becomes convinced by both the Auton High Council’s disposal of him and the Brigadier having him at gunpoint to change his mind. I think this works better in the novelization compared to the TV story.
The novelization closes with the Doctor tinkering with the Master’s dematerialisation circuit before the Brigadier and eventually Jo leave him in his lab. The final scene doesn’t have the Doctor say he’s looking forward to seeing the Master again. In fact, the Doctor states that he ‘can’t stand the fellow’.
‘Doctor Who and the Terror of the Autons’ is a pretty good novelization by Terrance Dicks. There are considerable changes made in the story from TV into novelization. But these are changes made to improve upon the weaker aspects of the story, including Brownrose as well as the tale’s conclusion.
I enjoyed reading and hearing the Target novelization of this ‘Doctor Who’ story, especially with Geoffrey Beevers narrating the story in the background. Terrance Dicks does well novelizing these ‘Doctor Who’ stories into book form and he does remain true to the spirit of Robert Holmes’ scriptwriting in this one.
‘Doctor Who and the Terror of the Autons’ rating – 8/10
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