Autons - Plastic Menace

Spinning off from our TV Club’s discussion of Rose, I though it might be fun to discuss people’s opinions on Doctor Who’s favourite plastic population - the Autons.

First appearing in Spearhead from Space, the Autons - and their progenitor the Nestene Consciousness - launched a new Doctor not only on to our TV screens but also in colour! Only four stories later, they were back - new and improved - to open Season 8.

Fast forward to 2005 and the Autons were chosen to launch another new Doctor and an entirely new iteration of the show.

Since then we’ve even had poor, luckless Rory turned into an Auton - and a Roman version to boot.

With Autons featuring in the fabled lost Season 23 story - Yellow Fever - and a clutch of novels, comic strips and audios featuring them, they are clearly a popular Doctor Who monster.

Anyone else still a little wary around shop window dummies? No? Just me? Don’t say I didn’t warn you…


When Rose first came out I was pretty young and I definitely became scared of mannequins after watching it. Now the autons are one of my favorite doctor who villains and part of the reason why Spearhead from Space is my favorite classic episode.


Spearhead is a favourite of mine too. I actually have a phobia of waxworks so that bit in Madame Tussauds is my worst nightmare.

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The Autons have always been interesting. One thing I always liked about the Nestene Consciousness was them being a hive mind, landing in several parts in Spearhead and only being intelligent when all the parts were communicating.

Both Spearhead and Terror were great, too, especially since Terror gave us the Master as well (and a Timelord in a bowler hat that I’m not sure we ever saw again…).

We also got such fun bits as the Doctor fighting with a phone cable thanks to them…


If you like autons, don’t miss the BBV Auton videos from the 1990s ( Auton Trilogy ). Sometimes the production quality can be a bit camcorder-y, but they are great fun.

Autons work surprisingly well on audio, too. I won’t mention which Big Finish stories include our plastic pals, as sometimes their presence is part of a story twist, but it’s great to see that they can evolve what was originally just a visual jump-scare into a nuanced part of a story.


Just thought I’d mention looking up the Timelord in a bowler hat (Adelphi, as it turns out) makes me interested in Doctor Who magazine 100, since he’s apparently in a story in that issue called “The Legacy of Gallifrey”. May have to skip ahead a little and look at that one.

(He was apparently one of the Timelords in the War Games, too.)

Edit: the history of Gallifrey involves far more cats then I would have expected…


I remember wondering how Autons would work on audio but all you need is that iconic gun sound effect and/or the humming and you’re sorted.

And yes, the AUTON trilogy is great and one of the better Wilderness Years efforts. I remember how ‘advanced’ the CGI was touted as being in the Auton 3. I mean, it wasn’t great but at the time it was still a little impressive.


I always wished I’d owned a copy of this version of the novelisation of Spearhead from Space - it used to haunt me!


This is a fun article about the Autons:

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I actually had a nightmare about the Autons last night :flushed: I blame this thread lol


You’re very welcome :wink:

Moved this to cross-media discussion so we can also chat about the comics, books and even audios featuring the plastic peril of the Autons.

I just listened to Black Friday from The Diary of River Song and autons were the main villain. It managed to keep the creepiness of the autons without being able to show them visually and of course the humming sound effects helped in the audio format.

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That’s such a fun story! River Song on a Shopping mall planet taken over by Autons.


oh man. that is a primo piece of 70s japanese horror art lol. had to go see if i could find any more of these and the one for Doctor Who and the Cave-Monsters is absolutely gonna be my new wallpaper. this is sublime

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I don’t think I’ve seen that one before! That one makes less sense than the Auton one!

Has anyone read the Auton novels, Synthespians and Autonomy? Both sitting on my too-read pile. I have read Business Unusual which also features them along with Strangers in the Outland which is part of the Tales of Trenzalore quartet of stories set during the Doctor’s extended stay defending Christmas from various alien invasions.

There are few short stories too in Tales of Terror, Short Trips: The Muses and The Wintertime Paradox.

must cover art make sense with its respective story? is it not enough for it to merely rule severely… something i wonder frequently

It might be good if the cover suggested the main character was a man with an ever-increasingly bouffanty bouffant.

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