The Android Invasion: Part Four
First Broadcast December 13th, 1975 @ 5.55pm (11.4m viewers)
‘The Android Invasion’ is a notable story for many reasons. This is Terry Nation’s first non-Dalek script since ‘The Keys of Marinus’ a decade earlier. It also sees the final onscreen appearances of Ian Marter as Harry Sullivan and John Levene as Benton. Much of the story is sadly clouded by those absent, namely Nicholas Courtney. Although intended to feature Courtney was sadly unavailable and Colonel Faraday was created to fill the void. As a result, this UNIT reunion falls flat, with Marter and Levene both later admitting it was not an enjoyable experience. Both actors, however, remained faithful to their characters and rightly deserve recognition for their time with the show and a fitting swansong.
Sadly Ian Marter passed away in October 1986 but his impact on Doctor Who was significant. Having originally auditioned for the role of Captain Yates he was forced to decline the part due to other commitments. Marter would, however, appear in the 1973 story ‘Carnival of Monsters’ before being cast as Harry Sullivan. With doubt over who would become the Fourth Doctor, the character was anticipated to fill the more physical demands of the stories in the same way Ian Chesterton had done opposite William Hartnell’s First Doctor. Tom Baker’s exuberance proved this unnecessary and Harry departed the TARDIS in ‘Terror of the Zygons’. After his final appearance in this story, Marter would also contribute to the Target novelisations range, with nine books plus an original spin-off ‘Harry Sullivan’s War’.
John Levene started on Doctor Who as a Cyberman in ‘The Moonbase’ and a Yeti in ‘The Web of Fear’. In 1968 however, he debuted as Corporal Benton of UNIT. The character would later receive a number of promotions but is commonly known as Sergeant Benton. Utterly loyal, his faith in The Doctor never wavered, allowing himself to be rendered unconscious in order for the Time Lord to escape on one notable occasion. Both characters made their final onscreen appearances in this episode but left sizeable imprints on the world of Doctor Who. They demonstrate that although The Doctor and his companion are quite rightly the stars of the show, those around them have always been solid, well-rounded characters brilliantly brought to the screen by wonderfully likeable actors.
Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)
‘The Android Invasion’ is memorable for many reasons. The creepily deserted yet picturesque English village. Ginger pop. The peculiar looking yet surgically skilful Kraals. The shocking moment where Sarah is revealed to be an android. As I child, however, I was equally shocked at the moment during the final episode when Crayford removes his eye patch. *Gasp* The Kraals had betrayed him! It was a major revelation. As an adult, I ask the obvious question, how could he not tell? In all that time he’d never been a little bit curious enough to remove his eye patch? Similarly, the confusion over The Doctor’s supposed demise doesn’t add up with all the androids switched off.
Despite these flaws in the storytelling ‘The Android Invasion’ remains something of an underrated story. Yes, it would’ve been nice if the Brigadier was there too but it still has plenty of positive elements. Not least the perfect combination of Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen to steal the show.
Tom Baker – The Doctor
Elisabeth Sladen -Sarah Jane Smith
Ian Marter — Harry Sullivan
John Levene — RSM Benton
Milton Johns — Guy Crayford
Martin Friend — Styggron
Roy Skelton — Chedaki
Stuart Fell — Kraal
Peter Welch — Morgan
Max Faulkner — Corporal Adams
Dave Carter — Grierson
Patrick Newell — Colonel Faraday
Hugh Lund — Matthews
Heather Emmanuel — Tessa
Directed – Barry Letts
Written – Terry Nation
Produced by Philip Hinchcliffe
Also First Aired On This Day…
- State of Decay: Part Four