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Points of Trivia: Terror of the Autons

By Paul Scoones

The Passage of Time

There is very little to indicate the passing of days in this story - with the exception of a sequence in Episode Three. Following shots of the Autons on their daffodil tour there is a scene with the Doctor in his laboratory reading from a report on UNIT's surveillance of the plastic factories. He refers to 'days of exhaustive investigation'. This line, and also considering the time it would have taken for the small bus-load of Autons to distribute 450,000 daffodils very definitely indicates that a week or more may have passed between scenes.

The Master

In The Gallifrey Chronicles John Peel states that the Master had escaped from prison on Gallifrey and came to Earth, but no indication of this is given in this story.

The Time Lord who comes to Earth to warn the Doctor says that the Master has learnt a great deal since they last met - meaning that it was probably some considerable time ago, though it is likely to have been since the Master cut himself off from the Time Lords as the Doctor refers to him as a renegade when his name is first mentioned by the Time Lord.

When the Master telephones the Doctor - their first verbal contact in the story - the Doctor does not recognise the Master's voice; which might suggest that the last time they met, the Master was in an earlier incarnation.

Jo Grant

According to the Brigadier, Jo got her position in UNIT through the influence of 'relations in high places.' Only in a later story do we discover that the particular relation who achieved this was her uncle.

Liz Shaw

As a substitute for a leaving scene, Liz is mentioned near the beginning of the story, when the Brigadier says to the Doctor, 'You've been agitating for a new assistant ever since Miss Shaw went back to Cambridge.' The Doctor seems to have been without an assistant for quite some time.

Mike Yates

Even though this story is his first appearance, Captain Mike Yates has been a member of UNIT at least since the events of Spearhead from Space; the Doctor says that Yates '...had the job of clearing up the mess last time', referring to the first Nestene invasion.

Gallifrey and the Time Lords

The Time Lord whom the Doctor meets on the radio telescope tower arrives and departs apparently without the aid of a TARDIS, although the materialisation/dematerialisation noise of a TARDIS is heard as he arrives and departs.

An indicator of the distance from Earth to Gallifrey comes when the Time Lord says that he has travelled 29,000 light years - although it is never stated that his point of departure was Gallifrey.

A clue to a difference in Time Lord biology comes when the Master says that 'the human body has a basic weakness which I will exploit' - he is referring to the fact that covering the nose and mouth causes suffocation, and the implication of his words is that the Time Lords do not share this 'weakness'.

Dematerialisation Circuits

The Doctor's TARDIS dematerialisation circuit is a 'Mark 1' whereas the Master's is a 'Mark 2'. This distinction appears to apply to the circuits themselves, not necessarily the TARDISes. The circuits are so similar in appearance that the Master mistakes the Doctor's circuit for his own.

The Doctor has spent 'three months of delicate work' on his dematerialisation circuit prior to the story. It is apparently unheard of for a Time Lord to have a spare, as the Doctor is absolutely convinced that the Master will be stranded on Earth once he has taken his circuit.

Cosmic Science

We learn that the Master's degree in Cosmic Science '...was of a higher class' than the Doctor's from the Time Lord in Episode One. The Doctor replies in his defense that he was 'a late developer'. (A similar revelation concerning the Doctor's poor academic results occurs in The Ribos Operation).

The Doctor's Club

When the Doctor confronts Mr Brownrose, the man 'from the Ministry', the following exchange takes place:

The Doctor: Who's in charge of you pen-pushers these days? Old Tubby Rollands, isn't it?
Brownrose: Lord Rollands is head of our department.
The Doctor: Yes, I was saying to him in the club only the other day, "wrong sort of chap that's creeping into your lot, Tubby," I said.

The Doctor either does in fact know Lord Rollands, and frequents a gentlemen's club, which is somewhat uncharacteristic, or he is pulling off a very convincing bluff to unnerve Brownrose.

Further Observations

The Doctor says at one point 'I haven't been to a circus for years'. In fact, when have we seen him visit a circus prior to this story?

When the Doctor and the Brigadier search Farrell's office, the Doctor consults the date on the desk calendar, but it is never seen on screen and he doesn't read it out.

This item appeared in TSV 29 (July 1992).

Index nodes: Terror of the Autons