The Invasion of Time
The Invasion of Time was the sixth and final story of season 15 of Doctor Who. It made extensive use of the TARDIS interior and added to the mythology of Gallifrey. It featured the final appearances of Leela and K9 Mark I — although it also immediately implied that the Doctor was merely replacing K9 with a new model.
Its script was a last-minute replacement, written quickly by script editor Anthony Read and producer Graham Williams when the original season-ender by David Weir was abandoned. Contemporary viewers of the program who participated in the Doctor Who Appreciation Society’s season 15 poll voted it the best story of the season. Narratively, it established that Sontarans were a major, credible threat to the Time Lords, carrying through on a foreshadowing reference in their first appearance in The Time Warrior. It laid the groundwork for future Sontaran stories, including their pursuit of time travel in The Two Doctors and their knowledge of Gallifrey’s demise in The Sontaran Stratagem.
The fact that Leela remains on Gallifrey with K9 Mark I and she appears to intend to marry Andred forms the basis for many Big Finish stories in bothThe Companion Chronicles and Gallifrey audio series. This story is also the ostensible link between Doctor Who and the Australian K9 series, since the K9 at the beginning of Regeneration appears to be the Mark I, who then “regenerates” into the model seen throughout that program.
The Doctor meets a group of aliens in space and returns to Gallifrey, bringing Leela and K9 with him. He is behaving very strangely and when the Chancellory Guard under their Commander, Andred, arrive at the Panopticon Chamber to interrogate him, the Doctor demands to be taken to Chancellor Borusa, who is now in charge of the Time Lords.
The Doctor claims the vacant Presidency of Gallifrey, having been a candidate. After the demise of Chancellor Goth, he is elected automatically. The aliens watch him keenly, stating that they have chosen well. The Doctor chooses a Presidential chamber and asks it be decorated with lead lining throughout. Shortly afterward a ceremony is held to swear him in as President of Gallifrey and he is presented with the trappings of office. However, when the circlet connecting him to the Matrix, repository of all Time Lord knowledge, is placed on his head, the Doctor collapses in pain.
The Doctor is taken to the Chancellory to rest and recover. When he regains consciousness he reminds the Time Lords that no aliens are allowed on Gallifrey and instructs that Leela be expelled from the Capitol Citadel, where she will have to fend in the wastelands.
She tries to avoid banishment, but the Doctor insists as president. The Doctor retreats to the TARDIS, where he shares a secret plan with K9. He is obviously very concerned about the situation he has found himself in. Meanwhile, Leela meets Rodan, and they find that a massive warship is moving towards Gallifrey.
He is planning to aid an invasion of Gallifrey itself. To this end he sets about destroying the transduction barrier that shields the planet from external threat. K9 sets about this task while the Doctor returns to the Panopticon, the great hall of the Time Lords. He laughs cruelly as three alien beings start to materialize.
The invading beings are known as Vardans. They appear as shimmering manifestations who made an alliance with the Doctor some time ago. The Doctor advises the Time Lords, including the stubborn Borusa, to submit to their new and powerful masters. He asks Borusa to meet him in his office, where the Doctor explains he had the lead walls installed to prevent the Vardans entering the room on thought waves and reading his mind. He hadn’t told the other Time Lords because their minds are too single-minded, and the Vardans would be able to hear them. He sent Leela away to protect her and can now work with Borusa to defeat the Vardan threat.
A new problem has emerged, however, with the ascendancy of the obsequious and compliant Castellan Kelner. He is being far too co-operative with the Vardan occupation. The toadying yet ambitious Castellan soon has Borusa placed under house arrest and starts expelling trouble-making Time Lords from the safety of the Capitol.
Leela has kept her faith in the Doctor. She decides that if he wishes her to leave the Capitol it is with good reason, so she departs for the wastelands. She is accompanied by Rodan, a Time Lady who previously maintained the transduction barrier. They are welcomed warily by a tribe of outsiders who have rejected Time Lord society and live in the wastelands. Their leader, Nesbin, explains some of the background to his tribe. Back in the Capitol, however, things are looking grim for the Doctor when Andred corners him and decides to execute him in the name of liberty.
K9 helps the Doctor overpower Andred. The Doctor explains the danger and abilities of the Vardans to Andred, with his TARDIS providing a shield to his thoughts. The Doctor is hoping to persuade the Vardans to reveal their true form so that he can time loop their planet. Leela has also organised her own resistance movement in the wastelands, comprising Nesbin’s people and the exiled Time Lords, all of whom are drilled into a fighting force which soon launches an assault on the Capitol.
Meanwhile, the aliens and Kelner have decided the Doctor is behaving in an untrustworthy manner. The Doctor reaffirms his loyalty to them by agreeing to dismantle the final force field protecting Gallifrey from attack. He does not fully disable it, but rather places a large hole in it. The Vardans use the hole to properly invade Gallifrey and appear as humanoid warriors. Their manifestation enables K9 to track down their home planet and supply the Doctor with the correct co-ordinates.
He uses this to beam the Vardans back to their home world and then traps it in a time loop. At about the same time Leela and her warriors reach the Panopticon, but celebrations are short-lived when a Sontaran warrior appears in the chamber.
Gallifrey has now been invaded by the Sontarans, led by Commander Stor, who finds Kelner ever ready to pledge support, even if the other Time Lords remain resistant. The Doctor and his party escape to the President’s office. Borusa has placed titanium alloy on the door to reinforce it. The Sontarans are delayed while the Doctor and his party escape through another exit.
The Doctor uses his freedom to try to pressure Borusa into revealing to him the location of the Great Key of Rassilon, a missing item of the Presidential regalia. On the way back to the TARDIS, Nesbin is killed by a Sontaran. The Doctor looks for the Great Key in a large group of keys, and Borusa pulls it out of a drawer keyhole. Meanwhile, the Sontarans have been trying to get Kelner to widen the gap in the force field.
They then regroup at the TARDIS where Rodan is put to work using the TARDIS’ controls to repair the hole in the force field, while the Doctor explains that the Sontarans want domination over all universes and all time. However, Kelner imperils their resistance when he manipulates the stabilizer banks of the Doctor’s TARDIS to try to destroy the resistance force within by hurling them to the heart of a black star….
The Doctor manages to override the threat, so their enemies change tack. The Sontarans, assisted by Castellan Kelner, gain access to the Doctor’s TARDIS. They pursue the President and his friends through the labyrinthine corridors. Stor is after the Great Key too, knowing the Doctor has now persuaded Borusa to yield it to him. The Doctor uses distractions to buy time, while Leela and the outsiders kill the remaining Sontaran troopers. On the Doctor’s instruction, a hypnotized Rodan and K9 construct a special forbidden Time Lord weapon: the de-mat gun. Powered by the Great Key itself, the de-mat gun erases its victims from time itself. The Doctor takes the gun and confronts Stor in the Panopticon. Stor intends to destroy the Eye of Harmony with a bomb, but the blast is cancelled out by the Doctor using the de-mat gun. It obliterates Stor, wipes the Doctor’s mind of recent events, and also destroys itself. Kelner is arrested and Borusa begins the process of rebuilding Gallifrey.
The Doctor is ready to leave, but Leela decides to stay on Gallifrey because she has fallen in love with Commander Andred. K9 decides to stay behind to look after Leela, and they both watch as the TARDIS de-materializes. Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor pushes out a box labelled “K9 MII.” He grins mischievously.