Serial VV:
The Invasion


With the help of the newly-formed United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT), led by their old friend Lethbridge-Stewart -- newly promoted to Brigadier -- the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe discover that businessman Tobias Vaughn has been conspiring with the Cybermen. Partially cybernised himself, Vaughn plans to give the Earth over to the Cybermen unless the Doctor can stop him... but the Cybermen have already arrived.


In early 1968, while The Wheel In Space was still in pre-production, Doctor Who producer Peter Bryant asked Cyberman cocreator Kit Pedler for a new storyline featuring the metal monsters. Pedler duly conceived a six-part adventure, apparently under the title “Return Of The Cybermen”. As with all of Pedler's ideas, it was agreed that another writer would be brought in to turn the storyline into full scripts. This time, that task fell to story editor Derrick Sherwin, who was commissioned to write them as The Invasion on May 6th; the new title was intended to keep the appearance of the Cybermen a secret. Permission for the staff contribution came retroactively on July 8th.

In this instance, Bryant felt that there was not a lot of usable content in Pedler's storyline. He suggested that Sherwin pare The Invasion down to four episodes, and make only casual use of Pedler's concepts. However, problems were quickly becoming evident on other forthcoming serials -- including Paul Wheeler's “The Dreamspinner”, which was intended to follow The Invasion into production -- and so the decision was made to expand the Cyberman story to eight episodes, making it the longest Doctor Who adventure since the twelve-part The Daleks' Master Plan two and a half years earlier. The Invasion was scheduled as Serial VV, leading off Doctor Who's sixth recording block. It would only be the third story of Season Six, however, following both The Dominators and The Mind Robber, which were being held over from the previous block.

The Invasion would pilot a new focus on adventures set on Earth in the modern day or the near future

With the success of The Web Of Fear, Bryant and Sherwin both felt that Doctor Who would be better served if its focus was directed away from stories set in the far future or on alien worlds, and was instead concentrated on adventures which took place on Earth, in the modern day or the near future. The production team thought that The Invasion could be used as a pilot of sorts for this new vision; should it be successful, Doctor Who could then be retooled for its seventh season with these ideas in mind. To this end, Douglas Camfield, who had directed The Web Of Fear, was brought on board to helm Serial VV.

Initially, it was thought that The Invasion might see the return of Professor Travers and Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, both of whom had appeared in The Web Of Fear. In early May, Camfield approached the characters' creators, Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln, to secure permission for their use. By the end of the month, however, it was determined that the role for Travers was not significant enough to merit the expense of hiring Jack Watling to reprise his role, and the character of Professor Watkins was duly created as a replacement. (Similarly, Isobel may have been a substitute for Travers' daughter, Anne.)

Given that the elements established in The Invasion might be reused in later stories, Bryant also considered the possibility of replacing Lethbridge-Stewart with a character which would be wholly BBC-owned. However, assistant head of copyright John Henderson noted that such a character would still be the property of Haisman and Lincoln. Meanwhile, it was decided that Lethbridge-Stewart should be promoted to Brigadier for The Invasion, and that the character would now be the head of an investigative military organisation. It appears that it was Camfield who coined the name for this group: UNIT, the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce. Meanwhile, it seems that the Cybermats -- the rodent-like cyborgs which had appeared in both The Tomb Of The Cybermen and The Wheel In Space -- were written out of The Invasion.

Lethbridge-Stewart, promoted to Brigadier, would now be the head of an investigative military organisation: UNIT

With Sherwin busy writing Serial VV -- and, with increasing frequency, sharing the producer's duties with Bryant -- his assistant, Terrance Dicks, took over as script editor (the new name for the story editor post) in July after Bryant himself had briefly filled in during June. While working as a copywriter, Dicks had started making extra money by writing for the radio. He soon switched to radio full-time and then moved to television, earning credits on series such as The Avengers and Crossroads.

Meanwhile, on April 30th, Frazer Hines had been contracted for Serials VV and WW; with the abandonment of “The Dreamspinner” on April 9th, the latter was now intended to be Dick Sharples' “The Amazons”. Hines informed Bryant that he intended to leave Doctor Who after these two stories, as he and his agent felt that it was time for Hines to take advantage of the popularity he had garnered during his two years on the programme. Hines' departure was announced to the press on September 5th.

Around the middle of August, however, Patrick Troughton also decided that Season Six would be his last on Doctor Who and told Bryant that he would remain on the show until the following spring. He was now finding the Doctor Who production schedule to be extraordinarily gruelling, and was worried that he would become typecast as the Doctor. Troughton then asked Hines to stay on Doctor Who for the same length of time so that the two actors could depart together. Hines' father had recently passed away as well, and consequently Hines was now more reticent to give up his Doctor Who salary. Although his agent still wanted Hines to leave the show as planned, the actor agreed to Troughton's request.

Pre-production on The Invasion continued throughout the summer. A significant contribution was made by costume designer Bobi Bartlett, who opted to introduce a new appearance for the Cybermen. The most substantial change was to the creatures' helmets, with Bartlett building up the left and right sides in a sort of “earmuff” motif. Camfield, meanwhile, was successful in securing considerable involvement from the Ministry of Defence, who appreciated that Sherwin's script portrayed the military in a positive light. The Ministry promised the use of facilities, vehicles, equipment and troops for the serial.

The performer originally cast as Corporal Benton was dismissed for chronic tardiness

Amongst the cast selected by Camfield was John Levene, who was intended to play a Cyberman, as he had done on The Moonbase. The actor's resume also included several other walk-on parts, including Z Cars, Adam Adamant Lives!, and a Yeti for Camfield on The Web Of Fear. For The Invasion, however, Levene -- whose real surname was Woods -- found himself given the opportunity to tackle a somewhat meatier role when the performer originally cast as Corporal Benton was dismissed for chronic tardiness. Camfield reallocated the part to Levene. Camfield also cast his wife, Sheila Dunn, as both the International Electromatics computer voice and the telephone operator.

Filming began on August 31st, with model work at the Ealing Television Film Studios. An unprecedented location shoot lasting nearly two weeks followed, during which Camfield himself made an on-camera appearance as the car driver. The first three days were all spent at venues in Gloucestershire. Things got off to a faltering start on September 3rd when the helicopter intended for use at RAF Fairford proved unavailable due to insurance problems. The same day, cast and crew moved to Williamstrip Farm at Coln St Aldwyns. The scenes in the field where the TARDIS lands were filmed there and on nearby Hatherop Road on the 3rd and 4th. September 5th was spent at Kingston Minerals in Kempsford, which served as the IE compound.

For the scenes on the roof of the IE offices, the Associated British Malsters' Guinness factory in Wallingford, Oxfordshire was used on the 6th. For the offices themselves, Millbank Tower in London filled in, with filming there occurring on the 7th. A number of London locations were employed on September 8th and 11th for the Cybermen's invasion of the city and UNIT's battle against them. The scenes at Watkins' house were also filmed on the latter day, at St James' Gardens in Kensington, as was more IE compound material at the Guinness Brewery in London. In between, on the 9th and 10th, and afterward on the 12th, a number of other IE compound sequences were shot at TCC Condensers in Ealing. Finally, the scene of the Doctor and Jamie in the canoe was filmed on September 13th at Lisson Grove before the lift shaft material was enacted at Ealing Studios. On an unknown date, the helicopter scenes which had been abandoned at RAF Fairford were remounted at the Denham Aerodrome in Buckinghamshire.

Douglas Camfield had hoped to film the Cybermen marching near Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament and Hyde Park

Unfortunately, despite the length of the location shoot, things had not gone to plan. Time had been lost on a number of sequences, particularly the various street scenes which were hampered by passers-by. This meant that Camfield was unable to shoot at several London landmarks in addition to St Paul's Cathedral; he had hoped to film the Cybermen marching near Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament and Hyde Park. Camfield was also forced to omit the action scene in which UNIT recaptures Professor Watkins in episode six. The script was rewritten to have Packer report the events verbally to Vaughn. A scene in which Gregory is killed by the Cybermen in the sewers also had to be inserted into the same episode, because the character was originally shot by Benton during the battle.

Although many of the latter episodes of the fifth production block had enjoyed recording at the BBC's Television Centre, the new block saw Doctor Who return to Lime Grove Studio D. All eight episodes of The Invasion were recorded there, on consecutive Fridays from September 20th. Two weeks later, on October 4th, Wendy Padbury enjoyed a week's holidays as Zoe did not appear in part three. Unusually, episodes five and eight were recorded largely out of sequence, with Camfield opting to record all the scenes on a given set before moving on to the next; the same approach was used to a lesser extent for episode seven. For part eight, taped on November 8th, it was Hines' turn to get a week off -- Jamie only appeared in the final scene, which had been filmed on location.

During recording, Bryant approached Courtney about returning to Doctor Who on a regular basis the following year; the actor agreed without hesitation. Already, Bryant and Sherwin were formulating plans for a very different Season Seven -- one in which the Brigadier and the UNIT organisation would feature very heavily.

The Invasion was the final Doctor Who serial to feature the contributions of Kit Pedler. Pedler went on to develop the ecological thriller Doomwatch with former Doctor Who story editor and Cyberman cocreator Gerry Davis. In the early Eighties, he conceived Mind Over Matter for Thames Television. Shortly thereafter, Pedler suffered a heart attack and passed away on May 27th, 1981.

  • Doctor Who: The Handbook: The Second Doctor by David J Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker (1997), Virgin Publishing, ISBN 0 426 20516 2.
  • Doctor Who: The Sixties by David J Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker (1992), Virgin Publishing, ISBN 1 85227 420 4.
  • Doctor Who Magazine #189, 5th August 1992, “Archive: The Invasion” by Andrew Pixley, Marvel Comics UK Ltd.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #4, 4th June 2003, “Paradise Lost” by Andrew Pixley, Panini Publishing Ltd.

Original Transmission
Episode 1
Date 2nd Nov 1968
Time 5.15pm
Duration 24'32"
Viewers (more) 7.3m (55th)
· BBC1 7.3m
Appreciation 55%
Episode 2
Date 9th Nov 1968
Time 5.15pm
Duration 24'26"
Viewers (more) 7.1m (55th)
· BBC1 7.1m
Appreciation 53%
Episode 3
Date 16th Nov 1968
Time 5.15pm
Duration 23'44"
Viewers (more) 7.1m (66th)
· BBC1 7.1m
Appreciation 54%
Episode 4
Date 23rd Nov 1968
Time 5.15pm
Duration 24'18"
Viewers (more) 6.4m (73rd)
· BBC1 6.4m
Appreciation 51%
Episode 5
Date 30th Nov 1968
Time 5.15pm
Duration 23'25"
Viewers (more) 6.7m (67th)
· BBC1 6.7m
Appreciation 52%
Episode 6
Date 7th Dec 1968
Time 5.15pm
Duration 23'20"
Viewers (more) 6.5m (72nd)
· BBC1 6.5m
Appreciation 56%
Episode 7
Date 14th Dec 1968
Time 5.15pm
Duration 24'46"
Viewers (more) 7.2m (51st)
· BBC1 7.2m
Appreciation 55%
Episode 8
Date 21st Dec 1968
Time 5.15pm
Duration 25'03"
Viewers (more) 7.0m (80th)
· BBC1 7.0m
Appreciation 53%

Dr Who
Patrick Troughton
Frazer Hines
Wendy Padbury
Sally Faulkner
Tobias Vaughn
Kevin Stoney
Peter Halliday
Lorry Driver
Murray Evans
John Levene
Geoffrey Cheshire
Walter Randall
Ian Fairbairn
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
Nicholas Courtney
Sergeant Walters
James Thornhill
Captain Turner
Robert Sidaway
Professor Watkins
Edward Burnham
Phone Operator
Sheila Dunn
Major General Rutlidge
Edward Dentith
Pat Gorman
Charles Finch
Derek Chaffer
John Spradbury
Terence Denville
Ralph Carrigan
Richard King
Peter Thornton
Peter Thompson
Dominic Allan
Private Perkins
Stacy Davies
Major Branwell
Clifford Earl
Sergeant Peters
Norman Hartley

Written by
Derrick Sherwin
from a story by
Kit Pedler
Directed by
Douglas Camfield
Produced by
Peter Bryant

Title Music by
Ron Grainer and
the BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Special Sound
Brian Hodgson
Incidental Music by
Don Harper
Visual Effects designed by
Bill King
Trading Post
Costumes by
Bobi Bartlett
Make Up
Sylvia James
Robbie Robinson
Alan Edmonds
Bryan Forgham
Film Cameraman
Alan Jonas
Film Sound Recordist
Bill Chesneau
Film Editor
Martyn Day
Script Editor
Terrance Dicks
Richard Hunt

Archive Holdings
Episodes Missing
Episodes 1, 4
Clips Extant
Telesnaps Surviving

Working Titles
Return Of The Cybermen

Updated 1st January 2013