The Time Warrior

The Time Warrior is a serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts from December 15, 1973 to January 5, 1974. This serial introduced Elisabeth Sladen as new companion Sarah Jane Smith. It also marked the debut of the Sontarans.


A Sontaran named Linx, trapped in the Middle Ages, uses crude time travel technology to kidnap scientists from the 20th Century to help repair his spacecraft.


In the Middle Ages, the bandit Irongron and his aide Bloodaxe together with their rabble of criminals find the crashed spaceship of a Sontaran warrior named Linx. The alien claims Earth for his Empire then sets about repairing his ship, offering Irongron “magic weapons” that will make him a king in return for shelter. They strike a bargain, though Irongron remains suspicious.

The Doctor and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart are investigating the disappearance of several scientists from a top secret scientific research complex. They do not know Linx has used an Osmic Projector to send himself forward eight hundred years and has kidnapped the scientists then hypnotized them into making repairs on his ship. The Projector only lets him appear in another time for a brief period. While the Doctor investigates he meets an eccentric scientist called Rubeish and a young journalist called Sarah Jane Smith, who has infiltrated the complex by masquerading as her aunt. Later that evening Rubeish disappears and the Doctor uses the data he has gathered to pilot the TARDIS back to the Middle Ages, not realising new companion Sarah has stowed away on board.

Irongron is a robber baron who has stolen his castle from an absent nobleman, and relations with his neighbours are appalling. Indeed, the mild Lord Edward of Wessex has been provoked into building an alliance against him and, when this is slow in developing, sends his archer Hal on an unsuccessful mission to kill Irongron. The robber baron is in a foul mood when a captured Sarah is brought before him. His mood improves when Linx presents him with a robot knight which is then put to the test on a captured Hal. The archer is only saved when the Doctor intervenes from afar, shooting the robot control box from Irongron’s hands. The ensuing confusion lets both Hal and Sarah flee, and they head for Wessex Castle.

Meanwhile the Doctor has realised both that Sarah is in the time period and has been captured, and also that she previously supposed him to be in league with Irongron. The next morning the robber baron and his troops assault the castle using rifles supplied by Linx but the attack is repelled by the Doctor’s cunning. The failure further sours the relationship between Linx and Irongron, which has deteriorated since the robot knight fiasco and the point at which the robber saw the Sontaran’s true visage beneath his helmet.

The Doctor now decides to lead an attack on Irongron’s castle, and he and Sarah enter dressed as friars. He makes contact with Rubeish and finds the human scientists in a state of extreme exhaustion. Linx catches the Doctor in the laboratory once more, but this time is rendered immobile when a lucky strike from Rubeish hits his probic vent – a Sontaran refuelling point on the back of their necks which is also their main weakness. Rubeish and the Doctor use the Osmic Projector to send the scientists back to the twentieth century. Sarah now invites herself into Irongron’s kitchen, using the opportunity to drug the food, thereby knocking out Irongron’s men.

A recovered Linx now determines his ship is repaired enough to effect a departure. Once more he encounters the Doctor, and they wrestle in combat. A crazed and half drugged Irongron arrives and accuses Linx of betraying him: the Sontaran responds by killing him. As Linx enters his spherical vessel Hal arrives and shoots him in the probic vent, and the Sontaran warrior falls dead over his controls, triggering the launch mechanism. Knowing the place is about to explode when the shuttle takes off, Bloodaxe awakes and rises the remaining men and tells them to flee, while the Doctor hurries the last of his allies out of the castle. It explodes moments before the Doctor and Sarah depart in the TARDIS.



In print

A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in June 1978. Robert Holmes was initially commissioned to novelise his own story, but wrote only the book's prologue, sending it to Dicks with a note telling him to finish the rest himself. Holmes was not credited for his contribution.


  • Working titles for this story included The Time Fugitive and The Time Survivor.
  • This story introduced a new opening sequence which included a slit-scan "time tunnel" effect. It also introduced a new, diamond-shaped logo which, like the time tunnel sequence, would remain in use until 1980.
  • The original outline for the serial was humorously submitted to the production office in the form of a "Field report from Sontaran Field Marshal Hol Mes, to Terran Cedicks".
  • Beginning with this story, individual episodes are listed as Part One, Two etc. This replaced the previous system of calling them Episode One, Two etc. as established in 1966 with The Savages.
  • Location shooting of both Wessex Castle and Irongron's castle was done at Peckforton Castle, utilising different views.

Broadcast and VHS/DVD release

  • This story came out on VHS in an omnibus format in 1989. This version omits a key piece of dialogue. At the end of episode one, the Doctor sees Linx take off his helmet. He nods and notes that his suspicions were confirmed that a Sontaran was involved. Due to the splicing in the omnibus, the Doctor nods but says nothing.
  • This story was one of three stories released on VHS as a compilation that never had an episodic VHS re-release, the other two being The Seeds of Death and The Talons of Weng-Chiang.
  • The Time Warrior was released on region 2 DVD on 3 September, 2007, commercially available in its original episodic format for the first time. Among the special features on the disc is the option to view the serial with CGI effects replacing the originals, for example the descent of 'Irongron's Star' (Lynx's ship) seen through a window, and an entirely new shot of the big explosion of the castle at the end.
  • The DVD commentary is provided by script editor Terrance Dicks, producer Barry Letts, and actress Elisabeth Sladen.
  • The Time Warrior DVD is available as part of the Bred for War boxset along stories The Sontaran Experiment, The Invasion of Time and The Two Doctors (all previously or subsequently released separately, too)
  • Along with a few other selected serials of the Second and Third Doctor's runs, this serial has been offered for sale on the iTunes Store as of August 2008.


External links


Target novelisation

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