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Marshalling THE TROOPS

Director Douglas Mackinnon has overseen some of the most memorable invasion stories of recent years.
Director Douglas Mackinnon, pictured in 2007.

Douglas Mackinnon is one of the series’ most prolific directors, having put the last three Doctors through their paces across eight different episodes between 2008 and Christmas 2015.

Of those eight episodes, half feature some element of an invasion plot – 2008’s The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky, The Power of Three from 2012, and the more recent Flatline, which formed part of Peter Capaldi’s début series as the Doctor in 2014. Three adventures, three invasions, yet all wildly different.

Commander Skorr the Bloodbringer (Dan Starkey) readies his attack squad in The Poison Sky.

“I think that’s the amazing thing about the format of Doctor Who,” says Douglas, speaking less than a week after winning an Emmy award for directing the Sherlock special The Abominable Bride. “The way it introduces new worlds and creatures

– I don’t like to call them monsters – every couple of weeks at least, if not every week. I think the joy of the show is that there’s this infinite realm of possibilities for the format to go to.”


Alien invasions have formed part of Doctor Who’s repertoire since its earliest days. Does that make it tricky to make each new approach to an invasion storyline stand out? “There’s a challenge in making it distinctive,” he says. “There’s a fundamental science-fiction problem, which is that our imagination is limited to the human experience. Therefore, to actually create a race of creatures that are surprising to a human audience – and that feels alien – is hard to do, especially when it’s relentless like on Doctor Who.”

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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!