Doctor Who A to Z: U is for UNIT

Inspired by a series of Facebook posts that I saw, we are going to run through an alphabetical series of Doctor Who-related themes. Today we continue this with the letter U…

(Daily Doctor Who #338)

UNIT

Or the Unified Intelligence Taskforce. Or if you want to go more classical, the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (up until the real United Nations made it known they didn’t want to be part of a silly old TV show.

Specifically, the question is what is my favorite UNIT story, and who is my favorite UNIT member?

Well, when it comes to story, there are a lot I have not seen for a long time, and so don’t remember all that well. But of the ones that I do, I’m going for…

The Green Death

This six part story by Robert Sloman (and an uncredited Barry Letts) deals with issues of ecology and giant maggots, and is in many ways the grand finale of the “classic UNIT era.” After this, Jo would be gone, and shortly after Yates would betray the team, and by the end of the next year the Third Doctor would be regenerating his way out of the show all together. Basically, the family went their separate ways.

But with The Green Death, it was still the glory days. All the regulars–the Brigadier, Captain Yates, Sgt. Benton–had plenty to do, and there was plenty of military action and a taste of espionage. We even got to see our friends socializing.

Basically, the story is a great one for UNIT fans, even if it does include a giant fake-looking dragonfly.

I was also asked who my favorite UNIT character is, which is tricky because really I like them all. In the old days, when I was still a young sapling, I’d have picked Captain Mike Yates as played by Richard Franklin…

Probably because he was young and a bit of an action hero.

That’s why when I shelled out a few bucks at a convention for an “official” UNIT pass, I ranked myself as a Captain.

But as the years have gone on I have grown to appreciate all of the classic UNIT people. John Levene’s Sgt. Benton…

Ian Marter’s Harry Sullivan

Of course I’ve always liked Katy Manning’s Jo Grant, who was as a character part of UNIT, but we don’t tend to lump her in there because of her more prominent “companion” role…

the same goes or Caroline John’s Liz Shaw, although I’m not as connected to that character

And of course, there’s Nicholas Courtney’s Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, who is obviously the epitome of a UNIT character. He was often made to be a bit of obnoxious or to be the butt of the Third Doctor’s condescension, but he still managed to retain his dignity as a character.

It was fun to see him come back repeatedly, especially in Battlefield where we got a taste of her personal life.

So if I now have to pick one character, I’d go with the Brigadier, but really there are lots of contenders.

One thought on “Doctor Who A to Z: U is for UNIT

  1. Inferno and Terror Of The Zygons would both in retrospect be my two favourite UNIT stories. Because they’re atmospherically adventurous which is what I always enjoy British sci-fi and horror TV shows for.

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