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The Quarter Finalists

We asked six writers to look at the serials that made the quarter finals. What gives these stories the edge over most of the Third Doctor’s other adventures?

Spearhead from Space

Caroline John as Dr Liz Shaw and Jon Pertwee as the Doctor in a publicity shot for Spearhead from Space (1970).

There’s an ambitious set of challenges that come with introducing a new Doctor, and they were never greater than with Jon Pertwee’s first story. Spearhead from Space had to introduce both a new regular cast and a new format for the series, which saw the Doctor exiled to Earth. And, of course, it gave viewers something they’d never seen before: Doctor Who in colour.

Deftly directed by Derek Martinus, Spearhead has a unique look and feel due to being shot, not just in colour, but entirely on film and almost entirely on location. Pertwee throws himself into the role of a more action-oriented incarnation of the Doctor, while his assistant for the season, Dr Liz Shaw (played by Caroline John), is charismatic, mature and intelligent. Spearhead also boasts sterling performances from its supporting cast.

By turns innovative, shocking and charming, the story, by Robert Holmes, is the first to feature the Autons, ‘living’ plastic humanoids with guns embedded in their hands. They’re simple in concept and superbly realised – shop-window dummies that become nightmarish monsters, massacring terrified civilians in a mundane high-street setting. It’s easy to see why Russell T Davies decided to pay homage to this sequence in Rose, the first episode of his reinvention of the series in 2005.

Spearhead from Space took Doctor Who into the 1970s with style. It was a perfect beginning to one of Doctor Who’s most memorable eras.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE CELEBRATES JON PERTWEE’S CENTENARY WITH 30 PAGES DEVOTED TO THE THIRD DOCTOR! This issue includes: • The World Cup of the Third Doctor. How did your favourite story fare in our epic Twitter tournament? • Lost for more than 40 years – a candid interview with Jon Pertwee from the very first Doctor Who convention in 1977. • An exclusive interview with Jon’s son, actor Sean Pertwee. • A previously unpublished interview with Barry Letts, who produced most of the Third Doctor’s stories and co-wrote classics like The Dæmons and The Green Death. • An exclusive update on the production of Series 12 from showrunner Chris Chibnall. • Katy Manning, who played the Third Doctor’s companion Jo Grant, visits the Time Team. • The second part of an interview with costume designer Howard Burden, who created outfits for the Twelfth Doctor, Clara and Missy. • The Fact of Fiction explores the Twelfth Doctor story Time Heist. • DWM’s review of the Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 10 Blu-ray box set. • The Legacy of Time – DWM talks exclusively to the cast and crew behind one of the most ambitious Doctor Who adventures ever, which features no fewer than six Doctors. • Part One of Power of the Mobox, a new comic strip adventure featuring the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends. • The Blogs of Doom, audio reviews, news, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!