No TV show does a base under siege better than Doctor Who! If you’re looking to get your alien invasion fix, read on: these are some of the very finest ‘base under siege’ Doctor Who episodes…
The Ice Warriors (1967)
How could we ressssssssist the debut adventure of one of Doctor Who‘s most iconic baddies? These Doctor Who episodes are set on Earth in the not-too-distant future, where Brittanicus Base is desperately trying to avert a new Ice Age using an ionisation machine. Unfortunately, one of the base’s team members is something of an amateur archaeologist and, after uncovering the remains of a preserved man in a block of ice, he decides to bring the body back to Brittanicus for further study. Alas, as the temperature rises, so does the corpse – and it’s an Ice Warrior, native of the planet Mars.
Before long, other Ice Warriors are being rescued from the ice, along with their perfectly-preserved spaceship. And the aliens have their sights set on Brittanicus and its ioniser so that they can use it to power their spaceship and return to Mars – and, unfortunately, the humans are only getting in their way.
In many ways, these Doctor Who episodes represent the quintessential ‘base under siege’ experience, and are well worth your time (even if two of the episodes are, sadly, missing from the archives.)
Horror of Fang Rock (1977)
Does a lighthouse count as a base? Technically, it is. In any case, these atmospheric Doctor Who episodes date back to 1977 and mark the beginning of Graham Williams‘ time as Doctor Who‘s producer. The entire story is set at night, as the crew of a remote lighthouse (and the survivors of a crashed boat) try to stay alive as a shape-shifting alien menace known as a Rutan stalks the dimly-lit passageways. Oh, and the lighthouse just so happens to be encased in a cloud of heavy fog.
Naturally, it’s up to the Fourth Doctor and Leela to keep their wits about them as each of the lighthouse’s occupants gets picked off, one by one. In short, these Doctor Who episodes represent some of the finest work from experienced Doctor Who writer Terrance Dicks; they’re like Agatha Christie meets Stephen King, and make for perfect Hallowe’en viewing.
Things are hotting up for the next entry on our list. These Doctor Who episodes concluded Jon Pertwee’s first season as the eponymous Time Lord and, despite there being seven episodes in all, ‘Inferno’ doesn’t let up for a second. It also has the unfortunate accolade of being one of the bleaker Doctor Who stories, as it features the literal end of the world, and there is nothing the Doctor can do to stop it. (It will make sense when you see it.)
But who are the baddies sieging this particular base? Well, in a novel twist, the villains in these Doctor Who episodes are in fact the humans themselves. First, there’s the deranged Professor Stahlman, who is prepared to use the Inferno Project to drill beneath the Earth’s crust regardless of the risk. And then there are the Primords – creatures who were once human, but became infected by the mysterious, primordial substance which is leaking out from under the planet’s surface. And anyone they touch becomes just like them – hairy, and vicious.
There is, of course, a notable twist which justifies ‘Inferno’s epic episode count, but if you haven’t seen this Doctor Who story, we won’t spoil the surprise. Suffice it to say, this twist is something of a first for the Whoniverse, and certainly makes these Doctor Who episodes all-the-more gripping.
Arguably, these Doctor Who episodes from 1966 represent the very first ‘base under siege’ adventure in Doctor Who history. ‘The Tenth Planet‘ is also notable for being the first to feature the iconic Cybermen, as well as the last to star William Hartnell as our favourite Time Lord.
In these Doctor Who episodes, a tracking station at the South Pole is invaded by an army of cybernetic creatures – residents of the tenth planet Mondas, which has suddenly found its way back into our solar system. Monas is slowly draining Earth’s energy, and very soon the planet will become a shrivelled heap. The Cybermen, of course, have the perfect answer to this problem; they will transport the humans back to Mondas, and give them the ultimate upgrade.
Sadly, as with ‘The Ice Warriors,’ this is an incomplete adventure as its final part is currently missing from the BBC archives – including the all-important regeneration scene at the story’s conclusion. But episode four has been animated to accompany the original soundtracks, and if you want a truly ‘enhanced’ experience, you can watch the 2017 adventure ‘Twice Upon a Time‘ in conjunction with this one, as it’s a crossover story.
Interestingly, these Doctor Who episodes came straight after ‘The Tenth Planet,’ and saw Patrick Troughton’s debut as the eponymous Time Lord. Alas, the whole of this story is currently missing from the BBC archives, but it has been lovingly animated; there is even the choice to watch it in colour, if you’re bored of monochromatic polybcarbide.
In these Doctor Who episodes, the newly-regenerated Doctor and his friends Ben and Polly arrive on the planet Vulcan in the far future, where a colony of humans has settled. Unfortunately for them, their base is right on top of a crashed Dalek spaceship, with its occupants seemingly dormant – that is until the obsessive scientist Lesterson starts experimenting, and sets in motion a chain of events which threatens to destroy everyone in the colony. What does it take to make Lesterson listen?!
Undoubtedly, ‘The Power of the Daleks’ is an all-time classic Doctor Who adventure, and a firm fan favourite; indeed, many fans consider these Doctor Who episodes to be among the finest of the Patrick Troughton era. Does that mean that ‘The Power of the Daleks’ is the ultimate ‘base under siege’ story? That’s a matter of opinion, but it certainly ticks all of the boxes – a deranged scientist, an isolated facility, a relentless baddie… These Doctor Who episodes will keep you firmly planted behind the sofa.
But over to you, reader. Which do you think are the best ‘best under siege’ Doctor Who episodes? And which is your favourite story from this list? Let me know in the comments below.