Terror of the Autons


‘Who the heck are you?’

‘I am usually referred to as the Master’

‘Oh, is that so? ‘


Rossini and the Master

2nd – 23rd January 1971

The 500 Year Diary

13th August 1973 am

Got a new assistant today. It’s been a while since Liz returned to Cambridge. Didn’t really want one, particularly as this Jo Grant is hardly a scientist (she failed science at A level) but as the Brigadier pointed out, Liz often said I needed someone to pass me test tubes and say how brilliant I am. Good point, I suppose. Plus the Brigadier wanted me to tell her ‘no’; despite my fighting alien menaces over many years, I couldn’t really be that cruel.

Quite settled now in the new laboratory overlooking the river. Think the Brigadier prefers the new uniforms too. However, he’s still a buffoon as he loaned the Nestene sphere to a museum and now it’s been stolen! There then follows news on missing scientists at Beacon Hill radio telescope.

On investigating, I’m warned by a Time Lord in a bowler hat and pinstripe suit that one of my old acquaintances is on Earth. The Master! That Jackanapes! It was pointed out that his cosmic science degree was a higher class than mine, but as I pointed out I was a late developer. The Master … what does he want. Trouble. And he’s already started by booby trapping the door. Luckily, managed to prevent it exploding AND destroy the thing before UNIT get hold of it. It appears the Master also has a new weapon of destruct that can shrink people.

The Master must be in league with the Nestenes… a list of plastic factories is required. They find a box with UNIT on it in one of the radio telescope scientist’s abandoned car. It’s brought to the laboratory, where Jo starts to open it. But stop! It’s a bomb!


14th August 1973 pm

Manage to chuck the bomb out the window before it explodes. My new assistant has already been hypnotised and goes into post hypnotic alienation… schizoid disassociation is the current jargon. Despite my best efforts, can’t seem to break the hold the Master had on her. She remembers nothing.

Benton worked out that there was a circus where they found that car. Could be significant. It’s moved to Tarminster and so I go to investigate (not knowing at the time that Jo had sneaked into the back of Bessie). Turns out the Master’s TARDIS is there, disguised as a horse box. Then captured by the owner Rossini and his strongman, until Jo intervenes.  Then Professor Peters, the radio telescope scientist, tries to blow us all up with a grenade, but he has a change of heart… at the cost of his own life.

Quickly sneak into the Master’s TARDIS to help myself to his dematerialisation circuit before we’re confronted by a mob.  Thankfully the police arrive and we’re taken away… but to a quarry. Are these policemen? No, they’re Autons!


16th August 1973 am

Manage to escape and with the Brigadier and Captain Yates’ help, we escape only to be subjected to an interminable briefing by the Brigadier.

Try the Master’s materialisation circuit in my TARDIS. It doesn’t work – it’s a mark two. Have a little sulk. Jo accuses me of being childish. What’s wrong with being childish? I like being childish.

Despite constant monitoring there’s nothing to report. Another civil servant, Brownrose, turns up and is rather dismissive. Tell him I know old Tubby Rowlands, that shuts him up. He brings news on unconnected asphyxiation deaths across the Home Counties… well one connection, a Farrel and a MCDermott who worked at the same plasdtics factory. We talk to Farrell’s widow … he didn’t like the new man in charge… Colonel Masters…. I knew it!

She gives us an odd looking troll doll that was given to her husband. Despite dissecting it, can find nothing inside it. The Brigadier and I go to investigate the plastics factory, but they’ve cleared out apart from one persistent Auton in a safe!

When we return, Captain Yates and Jo were using my Bunsen burner to make cocoa which caused the doll to attack, but that serendipitous act helps us to discover heat is a trigger for the doll. And then there’s this plastic daffodil….

I get a phone call. It’s him. The Master. What does he want? Simply to say goodbye… the phone wire starts to strangle me.


16th August 1973 pm

The Brigadier comes in and cuts the connection.

It turns out there’s a promotional tour. Weird masked men are handing out plastic daffodils. The Brigadier decides to blow it up… typical military mind. As Jo and I investigate the daffodil, she is attacked by one as it sprays out plastic to cover her mouth. Lucky I was there or she would have been unconscious in 2 minutes, dead in 10. But why has no-one found any evidence… because the covering is dissolved by carbon dioxide.

The Master is here… but he won’t kill me because I have his dematerialisation circuit. Instead, after Jo blurts out the coach will be destroyed in an air strike, he decides to take us hostage and have us killed there. Why he doesn’t just kill me there and then, it would save a lot of bother. He’s already tried about 5 times. Once in the coach, manage to use my Morse code trick using the brake pedals to get the Brigadier to abort the air strike.

With Jo’s escapology skills, we escape the coach. I confront the Master in the radio telescope control room where he is giving the final signal top the Nestenes, who he is in alliance with. Manage to persuade him that perhaps they won’t be the most trustworthy allies and that’s he expendable. After not much convincing, he agrees and helps me to reverse the signal and send them back into space. He really didn’t think THAT through. Anyway, he’s a slippery devil as he disappears once more apparently onto the bus.

He comes out with his hands up. I’m not so sure. He then attacks and is shot. But it’s not him. It’s a mask. It’s young Mr. Farrell. A shame, but the terror of the Autons is over.

Jo reckons the Master has left Earth, but he can’t as I have his dematerialisation circuit. He’s stranded here like me. He’ll turn up again… I’m sure. In fact, I’m rather looking forward to it.


The Time Space Visualiser

A very colourful title sequence and the theme tune mix is almost back to the original. This is followed by circus shots. Then a caravan appears to an almost TARDIS like sound. What was that all about? Could the Monk be back? We find out quite quickly that it is some bloke called the Master. His TARDIS can still change its shape and he emerges from a horsebox. Jo appears and we realise that Liz has been unceremoniously dumped in Cambridge without so much as a by your leave. How irritating she seems at first after the confidence and intelligence of Liz. She failed all her exams. She can open safes though.

It is not long before we realise the Autons are back and become only the fifth returning villains in the shows history to date. For all the Doctor’s anti-establishment protestation, he seems very comfortably part of the establishment as he is part of Tubby Roland’s circuit. The Doctor clears everyone from the lab at the end of part 3 for his first conversation with the Master and to provide a cliffhanger. Michael Wisher is back, although does not last long and becomes one of many people to be killed in the story although it is Mike Yates who kills him as he is used as a Master decoy, disguised by the Master as the Master. If you follow my drift.

Despite the slightly bizarre plot in terms of what is the Master actually up to this is a captivating story. There is a bit of gurning, some wonderful interplay between the regulars and some frightening moments. It just seems a bit strange that following the death and destruction, the Doctor is already looking forward to his next encounter with the Master. He will not have long to wait.


Cliché Counter

A megalomaniac villain who wants to rule the world or universe but obviously will be foiled by the hero who of course cannot be killed by the villain no matter what he tries.

This introductory story tells you everything you need to know about the Master. He is the Doctor’s old school pal. He is fiendishly evil and has a multitude of ways in which he can kill people including shrinking them and the use of Karate. However, he cannot seem to bring himself to successfully dispatch the Doctor, although he tries on at least four occasions in just this story. The most important thing, though, is the ridiculous schemes he develops that clearly take forever to set  up and have little in the way of understandable outcomes.

Why is he a successful character? Roger Delgado. Despite using every villainous cliché in the box, Delgado’s performance is a triumph and he creates a wonderful foil for the Doctor so well, the character keeps returning over forty years on.

Notable Firsts

This story sees the completion of the ‘UNIT’ family with three of the major players making their first appearance. Jo Grant, the first Doctor Who Companion I remember. Roger Delgado as the original and best Master. Richard Franklin also makes his debut as Captain Mike Yates. He was the posh totty.

Is that the first look at the dematerialisation circuit?

It is the first time I have heard the call sign ‘Hello greyhound, this is trap one.’ And it is Jo that gets to say it.

Innuendo Bingo

Episode One 3:32

The Doctor: Now look at it, you ham fisted bun vendor!

Episode Three 17:51

Jo: I don’t think the Doctor would approve of that.

Mike: What?

Jo: Making free with his Bunson burner!

Amazing Guess of the Week

At the end of episode one, under hypnosis, Jo brings the Doctor a bomb. The Doctor manages to work out she is hypnotised and therefore must be carrying a bomb. Is this just to provide a cliffhanger? Maybe bomb recognition is a Time Lord power. Possibly his hearing is more acute and he could hear it ticking.

Fascinating Facts

Tony Hart off of Vision On, and later Take Hart, made the prop for the little monster that starts moving when it heats up by adding a couple of extra bits of plasticine to his lovable creation, Morph.

Vital Statistics

282/827 episodes watched. If all of televised Doctor Who to date were a 75 cl bottle of wine I would have drunk 25.5 cl so far.  


 Five Word Lords

Gruesome deaths. Colour separation overload.



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