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The men and women of UNIT have been our first line of defence against alien invasions since the Yeti stalked the London Underground. But these soldiers are far from unique, and have parallels in the most surprising places…

Many years ago, the British Army was sent into the depths of the London Underground to tackle an alien phenomenon of improbable antiquity. Not once, but twice.

Professor Quatermass (Andrew Keir) and Colonel Breen (Julian Glover) in Hammer’s film adaptation of Quatermass and the Pit (1967). Photo © Studiocanal.

Sometime in the early to mid-1970s, Colonel Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart and his men were at Goodge Street station, there to do battle with mechanical monsters that were assisting the passage of a weird fungus through the tunnels of the Tube. He wasn’t to know that a few years before, round about the late 1960s, another Colonel, named Breen, had commandeered the investigation into something no-less-unearthly uncovered at Hobbs End station. Just as Breen and his men initially believed the space capsule disinterred during the digging of a new line to be an unexploded Nazi V-weapon, Lethbridge-Stewart’s squaddies had thought that they, too, were up against the work of a mundane enemy – a “foreign power”, according to the explanation given by Corporal Blake. “Bacteriological warfare, that’s what that stuff is in the tunnels… And them Yeti are some sort of new weapon. Well, a sort of robot army.”

More aliens in the London Underground, as Captain Knight (Ralph Watson), Staff Sergeant Arnold (Jack Woolgar) and Jamie McCrimmon (Frazer Hines) are surrounded by Yeti in The Web of Fear (1968).


In both cases, any such illusions were rapidly dismissed by the scientific minds advising the two Colonels’ forces. Col Lethbridge-Stewart was to discover that in fact, a disembodied alien intelligence was seeking to ensnare its sworn enemy, the Doctor, in the tunnels, perhaps prior to spreading its fungus across England and the Earth. Col Breen, meanwhile, would be presented with evidence that insect-like Martians had arrived in the capsule five million years before, there to colonise the Earth – and that, just as they’d cast a spell over our ape-like ancestors, their influence remained embedded in human minds even now…

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About Doctor Who Magazine

This essential guide celebrates Doctor Who’s most renowned invasion episodes. Interviewees include Anna Barry (Day of the Daleks), Ray Brooks (Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.), Johnny Byrne (Warriors of the Deep), Michael Ferguson (The Seeds of Death), Peter Harness (The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion), Douglas Mackinnon (Flatline), Victor Pemberton (Fury from the Deep), Toby Whithouse (The Vampires of Venice) and Jon Davey (Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel). Plus, there are rare images, a tribute to Nicholas Courtney, Terry Nation’s original storyline for The Dalek Invasion of Earth, details of Jon Pertwee's unmade story The Spare-Part People and much more!