The Time Warrior

The Time Warrior
070 – The Time Warrior
Doctor Who serial
Time Warrior.jpg
Sarah Jane Smith discovers that attitudes in the Middle Ages were somewhat different
Writer Robert Holmes
Director Alan Bromly
Script editor Terrance Dicks
Producer Barry Letts
Executive producer(s) None
Production code UUU
Series Season 11
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Originally broadcast December 15, 1973–January 5, 1974
← Preceded by Followed by →
The Green Death Invasion of the Dinosaurs

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. This serial also introduces the name of the Doctor's home planet, Gallifrey.



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 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 rouses 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.


  • This serial marks a number of firsts: the first appearance of both Sarah Jane Smith and the Sontarans; the first mention of the name Gallifrey, in reference to the Doctor's home planet. It also marks the first appearance of a new opening credits sequence and a new diamond-shaped logo.
  • The events of this serial and The Sontaran Experiment are referenced in the The Sarah Jane Adventures serial, Eye of the Gorgon and more explicitly in the Fifth Doctor audio story Castle of Fear.


Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewership
(in millions)
"Part One" 15 December 1973 (1973-12-15) 24:15 8.7 PAL 2" colour videotape
"Part Two" 22 December 1973 (1973-12-22) 24:10 7.0 PAL 2" colour videotape
"Part Three" 29 December 1973 (1973-12-29) 23:30 6.6 PAL 2" colour videotape
"Part Four" 5 January 1974 (1974-01-05) 24:57 10.6 PAL 2" colour videotape
  • Working titles for this story included The Time Fugitive and The Time Survivor.
  • 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".
  • Location shooting of both Wessex Castle and Irongron's castle was done at Peckforton Castle, in Cheshire, utilising different views.
  • This story introduces a new opening sequence that includes a slit-scan "time tunnel" effect. It also introduces a new, diamond-shaped logo. These remained in use until 1980.

In print

A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in June 1978.

In the Target novelization of The Time Warrior, a prologue written by Robert Holmes involving Linx at war with a group of Rutan Fighters. He is given the first name of Jingo. The Sontaran home planet is named Sontara. It also suggests that the Earth had never been surveyed, which would eventually happen in the following Sontaran story The Sontaran Experiment.

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. An un-abridged reading of the Target novel was released by BBC audio on CD in February 2009. It is read by Jeremy Bulloch who played Hal the archer in the TV story.[4][5]

Doctor Who book
Book cover
Doctor Who and the Time Warrior
Series Target novelisations
Release number 65
Writer Terrance Dicks and Robert Holmes (uncredited)
Publisher Target Books
Cover artist Roy Knipe
ISBN 0-426-20023-3
Release date 29 June 1978
Preceded by '
Followed by '

VHS and DVD releases

  • In 1989, the story was released in an omnibus format on VHS. This version omits a slightly extended scene of Sarah's capture from the beginning of episode two.
  • The Time Warrior was released on region 2 DVD on 3 September 2007, commercially available in its original episodic format for the first time.[6]
  • The Time Warrior was also released as part of the Bred for War DVD boxset along stories The Sontaran Experiment, The Invasion of Time and The Two Doctors.
  • 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.


  1. ^ Shaun Lyon et al. (2007-03-31). "The Time Warrior". Outpost Gallifrey. Retrieved 2008-08-30. [dead link]
  2. ^ "The Time Warrior". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  3. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (2007-08-07). "The Time Warrior". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  4. ^ Molesworth, Richard (Producer), Broster, Steve (Producer and Director) (9 October 2006). The Sontaran Experiment ("Made for War" documentary) (DVD). London, England: BBC Video/2 entertain. Event occurs at 8:05–9:35. Retrieved 2007-03-29. 
  5. ^ Neal, Tim. "Doctor Who and the Time Warrior". On Target. University of Leeds. Retrieved 2007-03-29. 
  6. ^ "DVD News". BBC. Retrieved 2007-08-22. 

External links

Fan reviews
Target novelisation

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