The concept behind UNIT was that it would be a United Nations-run military organisation who the Doctor would work with when he became exiled to Earth. The original premise was that the UNIT stories would be set slightly in the future (a rule that was adhered to intermittently and has caused decades of debate over what has become known as the 'UNIT Dating Controversy'). However, in line with this premise, the UNIT uniforms from this early era were custom-made in order to appear slightly futuristic.
In their first ever appearance, UNIT are shown wearing a uniform that consists of a beige-coloured bomber jacket, with pleat-less breast pockets, and notched lapels, worn with matching beige trousers.
|Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart dressed in his UNIT uniform|
These images from The Prop Gallery website show detailed images of the jacket:
|Uniform jacket and trousers|
|Here you can see the button fastening on the waistband|
|The breast pockets are fastened with a button, and two poppers to keep the flap down at the sides|
|Button fastening on the cuff|
|This flap would be fastened to a corresponding button on the trousers to stop the jacket riding up|
An oval insignia with the word “UNIT” embroidered on it is worn on the upper left arm, and a red lanyard is worn around the right arm/shoulder.
|A UNIT patch is worn on the left sleeve of the uniform jacket|
Officers, such as the Brigadier and Captain Turner, wear their rank insignia on their shoulder epaulettes. They also wear brown leather belts, with matching pistol holsters.
|Lethbridge-Stewart wears three pips and a crown to denote the rank of Brigadier|
Note the red UNIT lanyard
|Turner wears the three pips of a Captain, and the UNIT lanyard|
This uniform is also worn by senior NCOs, such as Sergeant Walters. His rank chevrons are displayed on his upper right arm.
UNIT soldiers ranked at Private, Lance Corporal and Corporal (such as Corporal Benton) all wear an open-necked khaki shirt and trousers, sometimes worn with webbing.
|Corporal Benton in his UNIT beret and open-necked shirt|
|Here you can see the UNIT patch on Benton's left sleeve|
|Private Perkins in an ORs uniform|
|UNIT Privates (left) wear khaki webbing, whereas officers (right) wear brown leather belts|
Unlike officers, ORs do not wear the red lanyard.
|Sergeant Walters (front left) does not wear a red lanyard, unlike Captain Turner (front right)|
Behind them are Corporal Benton and Private Perkins in OR uniforms
All ranks wear a sand-coloured beret, similar to the one worn by the SAS. The cap badge is a round UNIT globe.
|Sand-coloured beret (sans cap badge), like those worn by the SAS|
|Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart wears his UNIT beret|
|UNIT's first logo|
“Spearhead from Space”
UNIT’s next appearance was in colour, in the Third Doctor’s debut story, “Spearhead from Space”, and their uniforms remained mostly unchanged.
|Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (left) and Captain Turner (right)|
The Brigadier is not wearing his belt or pistol, unlike Turner
Note that the rank insignia has a red outline to match the lanyard
|Dr Elizabeth Shaw (left) and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (right)|
The obvious difference being that all ranks are now wearing the beige jacket and trouser combo (rather than the khaki shirt that the junior ranks wore in “The Invasion”). There is, however, some variation in the cut of the jacket between officers and ORs. The standard jacket, as worn by officers, has notched lapels and no pleating on the breast pockets. However, the jacket worn by the ORs, such as the Sergeant, Corporal Forbes, and the UNIT Privates, has peaked lapels and has pleating on the pocket. In fact, it appears to be based on the American ‘Ike’ jacket that was popularised by US troops in World War II.
|Corporal Forbes in the ORs uniform jacket|
However, no doubt due to the available wardrobe stock in the costume department, there is one instance when a private (the soldier who shoots the Doctor in Episode One) wears an officer’s-cut uniform.
|Corporal Forbes (left) in the OR-style jacket, and a UNIT private (right) incorrectly attired in the officer-style jacket|
Unlike the brown leather belts worn by the officers, the ORs wear khaki coloured '37-pattern webbing belts.
|The two officers in the foreground wear brown leather belts; the ORs behind them wear khaki webbing belts|
There is also a difference in the colours of the neckties. Officer’s ties are silky in appearance and are a golden brown colour, whereas OR’s ties are green.
There also appears to be a uniform for office-based UNIT staff, consisting of a shirt and tie combo (though feasibly, this could just be the standard uniform with the jackets removed).
|UNIT office staff|
“Doctor Who and the Silurians”
The Third Doctor’s second adventure took him and UNIT to Wenley Moor to face off against the Silurians. The uniforms worn by UNIT officers in this adventure remains unchanged.
|Dr Shaw, the Doctor, and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart|
This is a behind-the-scenes photo and you can see Nicholas Courtney (the Brigadier) holding his script
|Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (left) and the Doctor (right)|
|The Head of Security at Wenley Moor (left) faces off against Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (right)|
The ORs continue to wear the ‘Ike’ jacket seen in “Spearhead from Space”.
|Private Robins (right); he is also wearing a hardhat due to being underground|
“The Ambassadors of Death”
For “The Ambassadors of Death” the costume designer wanted a more ‘futuristic’ look, so all UNIT troops were outfitted in zip-up jackets without lapels, worn over a roll-neck jumper, and black leather belts.
|Sergeant Benton (right) in the new 'futuristic'-style UNIT ORs uniform|
|A UNIT private in the new uniform|
|UNIT soldiers prepare to fire; Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is stood with them|
The Brigadier retained his beige bomber jacket uniform, with the addition of brown leather officer's gloves.
|Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (right) discharges his firearm; a UNIT soldier is beside him (left)|
|The Doctor (left) and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (right)|
|Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart talks over his radio|
Note his brown leather gloves
|The Doctor in a spacesuit (left) shakes hands with Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart|
You can see the Brigadier's swagger stick under his arm
In “Inferno” the UNIT troop uniforms were changed again. This time they all wore Denison smock jackets, which were camouflage jackets issued to British Special Forces (such as the parachute regiment) during World War II. They also appear to have reverted to wearing the khaki trousers first worn by Privates and Corporals in “The Invasion”.
|The Doctor (left) with Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (right); Sergeant Benton (centre) is wearing the Denison smock|
Again, the Brigadier wore the same uniform we’d seen him in since “The Invasion”, but it would be for the last time.
|Dr Shaw (left) and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (right)|
|The Doctor (left) and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart|
|Dr Shaw (rear left), the Doctor (front left) and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (right)|