Through the Ages

Through the Ages

Thursday, 12 November 2015

The Early Years: 1968 - 1970

From the eras of the Second and Third Doctors:

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.

The Invasion

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. 

UNIT Officer

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

Red lanyard

 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.

Sergeant Walters
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

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
Note that the rank insignia has a red outline to match the lanyard

Captain Turner

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

UNIT Sergeant

UNIT Private
US Army 'Ike' 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
Private Hawkins in his ORs webbing belt

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.
Captain Turner wearing the golden brown tie of an officer

The green tie worn by ORs
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
Office-based UNIT personnel
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

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (left) and the Doctor (right)

Captain Hawkins

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”.  

Sergeant Hart
Private Robins (right); he is also wearing a hardhat due to being underground

Corporal Nutting
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.
UNIT soldier
"The Ambassadors of Death"
Sergeant Benton (right) in the new 'futuristic'-style UNIT ORs uniform

A UNIT private in the new uniform

UNIT Sergeant

Private Johnson

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”. 

Denison smock
The Doctor (left) with Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (right); Sergeant Benton (centre) is wearing the Denison smock

Private Latimer

Private Wyatt
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)

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