Doctor Who Monsters, Aliens and Villains

The Vardans Arrive (The Invasion of Time)
The Vardans Arrive
(The Invasion of Time)
 Name: Vardans

 Format: Television show, Book and Audio

 Time of Origin: Planet and time of origin unspecified; although they once attempted an invasion of Gallifrey, it was never revealed precisely where and when they came from in relation to the Time Lords, and their later invasion of Earth in the 1970s was aided by the Meddling Monk.

 Appearances: "The First Wave", "The Vardan Invasion of Mirth", "The Locked Room", "The British Invasion", ​"The Sound of Ghosts", "The Invasion of Time", "Wave of Destruction" and "No Future"

 Doctors: First Doctor, Second Doctor, Third Doctor, Fourth Doctor and Seventh Doctor

 Companions: Steven Taylor, Oliver Harper, Jamie McCrimmon, Zoe Heriot, The Brigadier, Sergeant Benton, Jo Grant, Captain Mike Yates, Leela, K9, 2nd Romana, Ace and Bernice Summerfield.

The Vardans (The Invasion of Time)
The Vardans
(The Invasion of Time)
 History: The Vardans were one of The Doctor's most mysterious adversaries. Initially appearing to him as simple energy forms, The Doctor was at first unaware of even the location of their homeworld, although he was aware that they were telepathic, even capable of absorbing information from the minds of others or converting them into Vardans. As time went on, it was also revealed that the Vardans were capable of teleporting themselves along various wavelengths, being capable of 'broadcasting' themselves from place to place and even travel along telephone lines; they could even travel faster-than-light on their own power, although they preferred using spaceships as such a method of travel could be very draining to them. Operating on a strict military policy of 'survival of the fittest', they developed a significant military presence, establishing a military dictatorship on their world and spreading outwards.

Audio - The First Wave
The First Wave
(Simon Guerrier)
This policy brought them into contact with The Doctor in his first incarnation, when they decided to mount an assault on Earth after detecting Earth's old broadcasts and becoming aware of its existence. Arriving on the human mining colony Grace Alone, at some point between the 22nd and 41st centuries, the Vardans destroyed the original miners before the First Doctor arrived with his companions Steven Taylor and Oliver Harper ("The First Wave"), attempting to plant false prison records based on those same records being used to identify them on an earlier trip to the future ("The Cold Equations"). Although Steven and Oliver attempted to escape after a Vardan attack nearly killed The Doctor, they were forced to return to the base to confront the Vardans once they had confirmed that there was nowhere for them to go. Having read of the TARDIS in The Doctor's mind, the Vardans offered to make Steven and Oliver like them if they would allow the Vardans to read their minds and extrapolate how to operate the TARDIS from their subconscious observations. As Oliver rejected the offer, dismissing the Vardans as foolish crackles only able to smash stuff, a Vardan attacked him in an outrage, but it was revealed that The Doctor had simply pretended to be dead so that his companions could 'trick' the Vardans while he used the base's equipment to absorb some of the Vardans' energy, disrupting their waveforms and forcing them to retreat before they were dispersed to a point where they couldn't survive.

Although The Doctor sent a message to Earth on how to prepare their defences against future Vardan invasions, he later admitted that he had actually changed the circumstances of this visit as it had 'originally' resulted in their deaths based on the records, but Steven and Oliver were unable to continue this argument before one last Vardan attacked them, Oliver choosing to sacrifice himself in an attack on this Vardan rather than allow her to destroy all three of them. This attack destroyed the Vardan, but the resulting backlash apparently turned Oliver into an incorporeal spirit, his presence unknown to his former companions as he hung around the TARDIS long enough to witness The Doctor's first regeneration ("The Tenth Planet") before he passed on for good.

Audio - The Vardan Invasion of Mirth
The Vardan Invasion of Mirth
(Paul Morris and Ian Atkins)
Steven would have another confrontation with the Vardans when events led to him being stuck on Earth in 1956 after he was separated from The Doctor and the TARDIS ("The Vardan Invasion of Mirth"). All Steven knew at first was that the TARDIS had materialised somewhere that resembled London but with no atmosphere according to the sensors, Steven stepping out after The Doctor and finding himself in a television studio, walking out of a police box used as a prop for a comedy show. Receiving vague messages over various televisions from The Doctor directing him to comedian Teddy Baxter, Steven learnt that Baxter had discovered an unusual anomaly around Saturn some years ago, which led to the disappearance of his old comedy partner. Accompanied by Baxter, Steven walked through the doors of the police box prop to return to the area where he had been separated from The Doctor, populated by various old comedians.

Eventually making contact with The Doctor, Steven learned that they were in a Vardan mediasphere, created by the Vardans as part of an experiment in harnessing the power of comedy to ‘infect’ humanity and turn most of them into Vardans, using human laughter as a conversion wave. Baxter had become a focus of their experiments as he had discovered the mediasphere and his old partner had unwittingly disrupted the wave-form when he was drawn into the sphere, which forced the Vardans to partially withdraw from the sphere as they tried to purge it of the ‘contamination’. Although the Vardans attempted to kill Baxter, this triggered a temporal paradox as Baxter had witnessed his future as a stand-up comedian on TV when the mediasphere took a sample of his biodata; having witnessed his future, that future now had to happen, which meant that the Vardans couldn’t kill Baxter before he appeared on TV. Unable to kill Baxter, the Vardans were instead destroyed when Baxter was able to call on the essence of his old partner, infecting and destroying the mediasphere once and for all while The Doctor, Steven and Baxter escaped in the TARDIS (The Doctor using the Vardan link to Earth to return Baxter to his own time).

Audio - The Locked Room
The Locked Room
(Simon Guerrier)
After he left The Doctor ("The Savages"), Steven learned that the last Vardan on Grace Alone had managed to survive despite Oliver’s sacrifice by retreating into The Doctor and Steven’s subconscious minds, the Vardan drawing on Steven's strength until she could manifest as an independent entity once again. After Steven went to live in exile in the mountains following a coup, the Vardan manipulated Steven into creating an advanced radio telescope that allowed him to make contact with The Doctor as he was on the verge of regenerating back on Earth ("The Tenth Planet"). This connection caused The Doctor’s consciousness to manifest on Steven’s planet as a projection of himself, but the Vardan also manifested by following The Doctor and merging with the part of itself in Steven. Despite this turn of events, the Vardan was defeated when Steven and his granddaughter Sida used the Vardan's link to Steven and The Doctor to trap her in a copy of The Doctor's mind that had been created on his original visit to the planet. This transfer converted the Vardan into a string of digital information that could then be deleted, allowing Steven to send The Doctor’s consciousness back to his real body ("The Locked Room").

Audio - The British Invasion
The British Invasion
(Ian Potter)
While visiting the Festival of Britain in 1951, the Second Doctor became intrigued at a project by scientist Isobel Patton to create an early radio telescope that would theoretically be capable of sending and receiving transmissions to and from the Moon ("The British Invasion"). Deciding to help Patton complete her experiment despite this being a minor intervention more significant than his usual approach, The Doctor gave Jamie some equipment that should be installed on the roof of the Skylon tower to boost the signal while he and Zoe modified the transmission equipment itself. However, as they were about to complete the procedure, Patton revealed that she was actually a Vardan advance scout, sent down to Earth with the goal of arranging an alliance with the British that would enable the Vardans to spread further across the universe using British propaganda to encourage submission (Patton also revealing that she had been subtly nudging The Doctor along to ensure that his actions would help her own plan). It appeared that Zoe had been won to Patton's perspective, but when she activated Patton's equipment, The Doctor revealed that he had realised Patton's true nature early on, and had thus given Jamie equipment designed to earth Patton's transmission and trap her energy in the structure of the Skylon, where it would dissipate before the Skylon was dismantled (He also used this to explain why he had given Jamie the more technical job in this plan, as Zoe would have known enough about engineering to realise that The Doctor's instructions were flawed).

Audio - The Third Doctor Adventures - The Sound of Ghosts
The Third Doctor Adventures - The Sound of Ghosts
(Guy Adams)
During his subsequent exile on Earth ("Spearhead From Space"), the Third Doctor realised that recent disappearances brought to his attention by a contact of Sergeant Benton were actually the result of a group of Vardans which had become trapped among Earth's existing radio signals while trying to transmit themselves onto Earth ("The Sound of Ghosts"). With the Vardans abducting humans to gain the energy to transmit themselves to Earth en masse, The Doctor attempted to find a way to cancel out their presence, but an attempt to disrupt the signal they were using to operate on Earth already was immediately ruled out as this would have destroyed the humans they had already taken as 'hostages'. The Doctor, The Brigadier, and most of UNIT were subsequently captured by the Vardans, but fortunately Jo Grant was left alone long enough for her to finish a machine The Doctor had started assembling earlier that would disrupt the Vardan signal at their source. After tricking the Vardans into capturing Jo with The Doctor's invention, they used the machine to disrupt the Vardans at their source, forcing them to withdraw or be destroyed.

The Doctor next encountered the Vardans in his fourth incarnation, when they sought the assistance of a renegade Time Lord to aid in their planned conquest of Gallifrey; they had attempted to probe The Doctor's mind for its location in their first encounter, but had only gained the first few coordinates and taken a long time to find its exact location. To stop another, less scrupulous Time Lord from doing it themselves, The Doctor pretended to help the Vardans by returning to Gallifrey and accepting the position of Lord President - having become the only remaining candidate after the events of his last visit to Gallifrey and his subsequent defeat of The Master - thus granting him full access to the transduction barriers that protected Gallifrey from external attacks.

Video - The Invasion of Time
The Invasion of Time
Despite the Vardans' telepathic nature, The Doctor was able to prevent them from reading his thoughts by taking advantage of his traditionally chaotic thought patterns, thus making it impossible for them to ever determine his true plan as he was always thinking about something else. As a result, even when he lowered the transduction barriers to allow the Vardans onto Gallifrey itself, they failed to realise that he was planning to deceive them until it was too late, although only K9 - whose mechanical nature naturally prevented his mind being read - and Borusa - who remained in a lead-lined room The Doctor had created to prevent the Vardans sensing anyone within it - knew the truth about The Doctor's agenda; The Doctor was even forced to temporarily banish Leela to the Gallifreyian wastelands as her faith in him was so strong she would have unintentionally tipped the Vardans off that The Doctor was up to something. Having determined the location of the Vardan homeworld, The Doctor was able to trap the Vardan planet in a time loop, ending the threat of their invasion once and for all (Although he was then forced to deal with the Sontarans, who had been manipulating the Vardans simply to gain access to Gallifrey) ("The Invasion of Time").

Audio - Wave of Destruction
Wave of Destruction
(Justin Richards)

The Fourth Doctor faced the Vardans again while he and Romana were taking a holiday in 1964, only for K9 to be temporarily shut down by a strange local waveform ("Wave of Destruction"). Tracking the waveform to its source, The Doctor discovered that Professor Lanchester, a scientist working for MI5 to improve Britain’s long-range tracking systems, had tested his latest design by broadcasting a signal into space, only for the signal to draw two Vardans to Earth. With one of the Vardans infiltrating society by joining the pirate radio station run by Lanchester’s nephew, they were able to create a subliminal signal in the radio station’s jingle that would subtly weaken humanity’s subconscious defence to the wider Vardan fleet. However, The Doctor was able to defeat the Vardans as K9 had taken a reading of the singal that had disabled him, allowing The Doctor to adapt Lanchester’s equipment to send a counter-frequency from the pirate radio ship that destroyed the approaching Vardans.

Eventually, however, the Vardans were freed from the time loop by the First Doctor's old enemy the Meddling Monk, who had recently captured a Chronovore called Artemis and now sought to gain his revenge on The Doctor. Recruiting the Vardans as his allies, The Monk convinced them to conquer Earth as the perfect means of revenge against The Doctor and the Sontarans, due to The Doctor's fondness for the planet and its strategic value to the Sontarans' campaign against the Rutans. With the aid of The Monk, who set up an identity as the wealthy Robert Bertram to supply UNIT with VR training equipment that would brainwash them to regard The Doctor as the enemy and side with him, the Vardans were able to establish themselves as aliens in the simulation, simultaneously creating a presence as subliminal messages in various media formats to influence the general population. Although these signals were discovered by some people, the discovery actually worked to the Vardans' benefit as they resulted in the formation of the terrorist group Black Star, who were convinced that UNIT were using the subliminal messages to keep threats secret from the public for their own purposes.

Book - No Future
No Future
(Paul Cornell)
Although The Monk attempted to eliminate The Doctor and prevent his interference by using Artemis to arrange for the Third Doctor to be killed by the Silurians in his first encounter with them, this action only resulted in the creation of an alternate timeline ("Blood Heat") rather than The Doctor's permanent death, forcing The Monk to subtly change history in the real universe, such as by saving the Land of Fiction from its destruction at the hands of the Second Doctor ("Conundrum") or ensuring the creation of a creature called the Garvond ("The Dimension Riders") from the Dark Matrix ("Matrix") to keep his enemy occupied. Despite the failure of these plans to prevent The Doctor from tracking The Monk - The Doctor discovering information in the Land of Fiction regarding an alien invasion being thwarted by punk band Plasticine in the 1970s - The Monk scored a crucial victory when he apparently managed to win The Doctor's companion Ace over to his side, taking advantage of the recent hostility between the two of them while promising Ace that he would save her dead lover Jan ("Love and War") once his plans had succeeded.

However, despite The Monk's attempts to deprive The Doctor of the information left by his future self to help The Doctor solve the crisis by introducing the CD ten years early - thus allowing The Monk to edit out the information that The Doctor would have discovered on the LP version of Plasticine's debut and used to save the world. Thanks to Danny Pain - the band's lead singer - having bootlegged a taped copy for himself, The Doctor was able to overhear a Vardan mentioning to The Monk that the music was similar to sonic weapons used in the Vardan civil war. As the Vardans prepared to transfer themselves into the minds of humanity - weakened by the subliminal messages that had been planted in the media earlier - during the debut concert, Plasticine instead played the chords The Doctor had given them, The Doctor subsequently using the TARDIS to create a standing wave between the BBC transmitter and the satellites, trapping the Vardan army within the carrier signal. Having released Artemis - who had taken The Monk with her to make him pay for her imprisonment - The Doctor sent the Vardans back to their homeworld, the journey taking so long that, by the time they arrived, the Vardan soldiers discovered that their people had abandoned military conquest after a government revolution. The Doctor has since never encountered the Vardans.
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Parts of this article were compiled with the assistance of David Spence who can be contacted by e-mail at
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