Doctor Who: exclusive Radio Times photos of Jon Pertwee’s 1970s dinosaur encounter

Dinosaurs on a Spaceship isn't the first time the Doctor has come face to face with these giant reptilians


Thought Dinosaurs on a Spaceship was the first time the Doctor had been united with the kings of the Jurassic period? Well, think again – way back in 1974 then-Doctor Jon Pertwee encountered a significantly smaller nemesis…


In these exclusive Radio Times photographs, the Third Doctor and his companion Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) film series eleven’s Invasion of the Dinosaurs (read the full review here).

The Tardis returns Sarah and the Doctor to modern-day England, where dinosaurs roam the near-deserted streets of London. The pair are reunited with the Brigadier who explains that the Army has evacuated the city. The Doctor learns that time-travel scientists are scooping the monsters from prehistory. And with a government minister’s help, they are duping an elite group of people into believing they are on a spaceship approaching a new planet, while in fact they are using their time device to return Earth to a pre-pollution Golden Age…  

In the words of Radio Times reviewer, Mark Braxton, “The rubbery, over-lit antecedent to Jurassic Park and Primeval is in many ways pioneering and stuffed with decent ideas. But the excitement conjured by the title quickly turns to sniggering disbelief. 

“The dinosaurs are all visibly models, and friendly-faced ones at that, but the production team can’t be held to account for this entirely…

“A freelance effects man had convinced them that he could give them realistic-looking model dinosaurs, and thus was the story commissioned. But despite being set in some impressive urban dioramas, the mini-beasts look eactly like what they are. Dawdling camerawork and liberal use of CSO merely compound the problem.”

But, if you’re considering giving this classic episode a miss then think again – aside from the obvious visual flaws, the 70s offering compensates with in more areas than one (see more than one impassioned face to the left):

“The other plot elements – the abuse of a scientific breakthrough, London under martial law, a traitor in Unit’s midst, the enforcement of a new world order – are adventurous and meaty,” says Braxton. “In short, it’s a roaringly good script from Mac Hulke. 

“The eerie street scenes are efficiently handled by Paddy Russell, and chases involving Land Rovers, a helicopter and (for the first time) the Doctor’s fin-tastic Whomobile are all exciting if extraneous fare.”

Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) is unlikely to use any tool of this variety to fend of his foes in tonight’s episode…

Oops, spot the cigarette… The Doctor poses with cutting edge machinary during his fag break.


Dinosaurs on a Spaceship is on tonight at 7:35pm on BBC1