Who's London Spearhead From Space (September 1970)
The first Doctor Who story I ever remember watching was Jon Pertwee's first - this delightful tale where plastic objects suddenly spring to life. Just my luck to start watching in time for one of the scariest scenes ever, the one where plastic dummies burst out of shop windows and shoot innocent passing members of the public. One minute people were going about their everyday shopping, the next they were gunned down by lumbering mannequins with firearms concealed within their drop-down wrists. How was a five year old supposed to face shopping in the local high street after that?
Still, at least my local high street wasn't Ealing Broadway where these particular scenes were filmed. I paid my very first visit to Ealing last Saturday afternoon in an attempt to lay my childhood demons to rest. The shop I came to see was John Sanders, a traditional department store from the era before bland corporate retailing. No stranger to disaster, the building had survived a direct hit from a V1 bomb during World War Two 25 years before its glass was again shattered during the Auton Invasion of 1970. But John Sanders couldn't hold out as an independent retailer forever and so its mythical shop window now belongs to Marks and Spencer instead. And there are still dummies in it.
Looks evil, doesn't she? She's one of the three mannequins still keeping watch over the unsuspecting people of Ealing Broadway, staring through faceless eyes out across the pelican crossing towards Christ The Saviour church. Three more dummies lurk just inside the M&S entrance, bedecked in red 'sale' t-shirts, awaiting the signal that will snap them back to life. Because, haven't you heard, the Autons are invading again, tonight at 7pm. This time it's Oxford Street that's going to be attacked, but don't worry because a new Doctor will be on hand to save the day (and to lure one of the shop assistants off to a new life). I'm delighted not just that the show is returning but that script writer RussellTDavies has chosen to relaunch the new series using my very first Doctor Who nightmares. And I really hope that, next Saturday, there'll be small five year old boys walking down Ealing Broadway keeping an especially tight hold on their parent's hand, just in case that nearby shop window shatters and the invasion begins for real.