Kate Lethbridge-Stewart makes shock Doctor Who return – but is UNIT back?

Jemma Redgrave’s fan-favourite character will return in the next episode, but it’s unclear if UNIT has been revived.

Doctor Who

It’s been a tough few years for UNIT. The Unified Intelligence Taskforce set up to protect Earth from extra-terrestrial threats has been infiltrated by Zygons, outwitted by small black cubes and attacked by Cybermen in recent memory, besting them all only to be the victim of budget cuts and closed down by the time of Doctor Who‘s 2019 New Year’s special Resolution.


But now, it seems like UNIT might be back. In the Next Time trailer for Doctor Who: Flux’s upcoming fifth episode, Survivors of the Flux, longstanding Who character and UNIT boss Kate Lethbridge-Stewart (Jemma Redgrave) makes a surprise appearance – and it seems she might facing off with Craig Parkinson’s nasty Grand Serpent, who now appears to be on Earth. To quote one or more Doctors: What??

The daughter of the classic series’ fan-favourite Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney), Redgrave’s character has appeared in Doctor Who several times in recent years, beginning in the era of Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor (circa 2012) and continuing through the 2013 anniversary special and four episodes starring Peter Capaldi’s Doctor.

Now, after six years off-screen it looks like Kate is back – and she could be bringing UNIT back with her. Months ago, leaked photos from the Doctor Who set appeared to show a building dressed as UNIT headquarters, exciting many fans who’d been disappointed or upset by its offhand dismissal in 2019.

It could also mean that fan-favourite UNIT scientist Osgood (Ingrid Oliver) will return as well, with a potential for both women to assist their third Doctor in a row. Though of course, that all depends on what happens in the next episode.

Perhaps Survivors of the Flux shows how Kate brought UNIT back to life – or at least how she’s trying to, potentially stopped by Parkinson’s villainous character.

Craig Parkinson in Doctor Who
Craig Parkinson in Doctor Who

“How you expect to protect this pitiful race I do not know,” he appears to say to Kate, while standing in front of the Doctor’s abandoned TARDIS. Perhaps the Grand Serpent, with his own planet destroyed, has snuck onto Earth (one of the few worlds protected from the Flux) and intends to rise to power once more – interestingly he appears to have a pseudonym, with Parkinson credited as Prentis/Grand Serpent in the episode cast list.

Still, whatever he’s up to it’s hard to imagine Kate Stewart taking things lying down. One way or another, we’re saying UNIT is back – and given how angry a lot of fans were about it closing down off-screen, we can see this being a popular decision.

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