Through the Ages

Through the Ages

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

The Moffat Years: 2010 – 2017

From the eras of the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors:

The Power of Three

UNIT’s first appearance in the Moffat era is in “The Power of Three”, where they turn up unannounced at Amy and Rory’s house; a scene that introduces us to the character of Kate Stewart, the daughter of Sir Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart.

The UNIT soldiers themselves look a little more ‘heavy duty’ than they did in the RTD era. They still wear black jumpsuits and tactical vests, but in addition to the armoured gauntlets they also wear armour on their legs and protection on their shoulders/upper arms.

The UNIT logo is still on the right breast of the vests, but it is no longer worn on the sleeves of the jumpsuits (or, if it is, it is no longer visible due to the shoulder pads). The UNIT ID cards, previously worn on the right breasts, are also now absent.

The red UNIT beret has been replaced by a black helmet and protective goggles. In this serial, they actually wear the goggles too (unlike their later appearances when they are just worn on the helmet).

The Bells of Saint John

UNIT soldiers made a very brief appearance at the end of “The Bells of Saint John”. Their appearance was consistent with their look in “The Power of Three”.

The Day of the Doctor

In the 50th Anniversary Doctor Who Special, UNIT troops again appear in their ‘heavy duty’ SWAT gear, but the goggles are now pushed up on to their helmets rather than being worn over the eyes.

This would also mark the last appearance of the winged UNIT globe, worn on the left breast of the tactical vests.

At the end of this episode we get a glimpse of a new UNIT logo in the Black Archive. It consists of a globe with stylised wings that point upwards, rather than outwards.

Death in Heaven

For their appearance in this story UNIT are now emblazoned with the new logo seen briefly in the Black Archive in “The Day of the Doctor”. It appears to have completely replaced the winged globe used since “The Christmas Invasion”, and appears on uniforms and hardware.

UNIT troops again wear black jumpsuits, with tactical vests, armour and helmets, but the patch on their left breast is now the new logo.

For the first time in the Moffat era we get to see some UNIT officers in this episode, aboard Boat One (the UNIT aircraft), in the form of Colonel Ahmed, and two other officers (a male and a female). Similar to the uniform worn by Captain Magambo, the officers are clad in black Service Dress-style jacket and trousers over shirt and tie. Medal ribbons are worn, but there are no insignia on the lapels; nor is there a UNIT patch on the breast or any sign of the white lanyard. Rank is displayed on the epaulettes.

Something to note is that the buttons and rank insignia on these uniforms are silver, not gold. This suggests that the costume department used police uniforms rather than army uniforms when assembling the costumes.

The uniforms are worn with a leather belt and pistol holster.

This story also witnesses the return of the red beret, worn by one of the officers as they board the plane. However, it is too far away to see what cap badge they are wearing.

The Magician’s Apprentice

UNIT have a brief cameo in the Series 9 opener, focussing mostly on the scientists (such as Kate and Jac). However, a number of UNIT troops are briefly glimpsed in both the Tower of London and when Clara meets Missy. Their uniforms remain the same as those worn in “Death in Heaven”.

There are also UNIT Agents who appear to be close protection bodyguards. They are dressed in the style of the so-called ‘Men In Black’, with dark suits and dark glasses.

On a slightly unrelated note, this was the episode of Doctor Who that I appeared in playing a Dalek. My own Dalek, as it happens. To read about my experiences please check out my other blog:

That's me, in my Dalek (left) exterminating Missy

The Zygon Invasion” / “The Zygon Inversion

This two-part serial tweaked UNIT’s look slightly to keep up with the times and make it a little more modern. The tactical vests, which have been worn by soldiers since NuWho returned, have now been updated to a newer style.

The new UNIT logo is now worn on the right breast instead of the left.

They continue to wear the helmets, gauntlets and leg protection that they have worn throughout the Moffat era.

UNIT troops now no longer appear to wear the jumpsuits under their armour. Instead, they wear black trousers and a black roll-neck (similar to the roll-necks they used to wear under the jumpsuits).

When on Boat One, the UNIT soldiers substitute their helmets for the red UNIT beret. However, despite the updated UNIT logo being displayed prominently on clothing and hardware, the beret cap badge is still the old style of the winged globe.

Officers, such as Walsh and Hitchley, when taking part in military operations, now don the same tactical vests and combat armour that the UNIT ORs do. However, officers wear military-style jumpers over their roll-necks.

Behind the scenes photo showing UNIT officers wearing jumpers under their tactical vests

Colonel Walsh wears what appears to be a police jumper rather than a military jumper. It is V-necked and has a pocket patch on the left sleeve. It is also made from thinner wool than the military equivalent. Her rank is displayed on the epaulettes.

The character of Hitchley is only referred to in the episode as “Johnny” Hitchley, but we can see that he wears crowns on his epaulettes, which identify him as being an officer holding the rank of Major.

Under his tactical vest, Major Hitchley wears a standard black military V-neck pullover.

Colonel Walsh also wears her Service Dress in this story, which again is shown to be the black jacket over shirt and tie. Unlike previous female officers, Walsh wears trousers instead of a skirt (Note that Walsh’s uniform only has a three-button fastening up the front, unlike Captain Magambo who had four buttons).

The uniform buttons and rank insignia are once again gold, unlike the silver ones the officers wore in “Death in Heaven”. Also, the ‘grenade’ insignia on the lapels has returned. Oddly, Walsh wears these lapel badges despite being a full Colonel and entitled to scarlet gorget patches.

A bonze-looking badge displaying the UNIT logo is now pinned to the right breast of the uniform jacket.

The uniform is topped off by the red UNIT beret.

Another UNIT uniform is worn by the personnel at Colonel Walsh’s command post in Turmezistan. It consists of black trousers and a long-sleeved black shirt with the sleeves rolled up. The bronze UNIT badge is worn on the right breast.

It appears, from this blurry image of a background character, that the old UNIT logo of the winged globe is worn as a patch on the shirt’s left sleeve.

The Return of Doctor Mysterio

UNIT made a brief appearance in the 2016 Christmas special, where they were represented by a squad of American UNIT soldiers. The uniforms they wore were the same as those worn by the British contingent in their previous appearance in “The Zygon Invasion” and “The Zygon Inversion”. Clearly the slight modification to the UNIT uniforms that we saw in series 9 was a UNIT-wide change for all divisions around the globe, and not just limited to the UK branch.

And that bring us up-to-date with the uniforms worn by UNIT in stories thus far appearing in Doctor Who. We have one more series under Moffat's tenure, and if UNIT appear I will update this post accordingly. After that, we will be on to the Chibnell years...


The Pyramid at the End of the World

UNIT do not appear in this episode, but the United Nations does, and since UNIT is (or was) part of the UN, I thought I would include these UN troops as an addendum.

The first soldiers we see are in Bill’s flat in London, accompanying the United Nations Secretary General (and interesting change since previously in the show, it was said the UN was commanded by a “Commander General” See: “The Stolen Earth”). They are dressed in Combat Soldier 95 camouflage uniforms, which are actually now years out of date. This DMP pattern has since been superseded by a uniforms known as PCS-CU that was introduced in 2011! Having said that, the UNIT soldiers of the 1970s also wore combat uniforms that were out of date. In truth I suspect these older uniforms were easier to acquire by the production team.

The UN soldiers wear UN blue berets with the wreathed United Nations badge, as well as blue United Nations patches on the sleeves.


The officer in charge is simply credited as “the commander”, but since he wears a crown on his rank epaulette, he would actually be a Major. Two observations I’d make about him are that 1) the badge on his beret is metal, whereas British officers, including UN ones, wear cloth beret badges, and 2) his rank insignia is a cloth crown sewn onto his uniform, which is a practice that is decades out of date. Rank these days is printed onto slides.

Having said that, he may not be a Major after all. The size of the rank crown is actually too large to be that of a Major, and is actually the crown of a Warrant Officer Class 2 (a rank usually given the position of Sergeant Major). So if he is a Warrant Officer and not an commissioned officer, this would explain the metal cap badge too.

What it doesn’t explain is why his right ear is tucked under his beret!

When we arrive in Turmezistan (the fictional country that we last saw in “The Zygon Inversion”), we see further UN soldiers. They are dressed in UN blue helmets and body armour, as well as desert combat uniforms that, like the Combat 95 uniform, is also out of date. In 2017, they too should be in PCS-CU.

I feel I should also point out the character of Don Brabbit. He was not a member of the United Nations forces, and was actually the commander of the US troops. He was addressed numerous times as ‘Colonel’, yet the rank insignia on both his chest and beret clearly show that he is in fact a four star General! Which leads one to wonder whether it was the script writer or the costume department who was at fault.

It pains me to say it, but Doctor Who these days shows a complete disregard for showing the military accurately on screen. Whether it is down to sheer laziness, or lack of resources, or bad research, I’m not sure; but it just seems to be a case of stick any old uniform on a character and the audience will believe he’s in the army. Alas, the more mistakes I see, the more it draws me out of an otherwise fantastic programme. I don’t blame Moffat for this, but it is certainly under his tenure that this trend has reached its nadir.


  1. Well, here's an excellent resource for those looking to cosplay the hapless UNIT squaddies... :)

    1. Thank you. Hopefully it will come in useful to people.

  2. Hi Dave.
    Glad someone else notice Kadiri had the wrong rank insginia (I think they ran out of room for full Colonel). Also metal rank on CQBG? I don't think so. Having some exposure to a military environement the details the show gets wrong (ie Saluting civillians, crap berets) is a source of constant annoyance. I would appreciate your thoughts. Feel free to contact me.

    1. Hi, Stuart
      Thanks for taking the time to look at my blog!
      To be fair, even 1970s UNIT suffered from certain inaccuracies, but New 'Who' takes it to extremes! I put it down to the fact that most people who were involved with 'Doctor Who' in the 70s would have had military experience, either in World War II or through National Service, whereas I doubt anyone on the modern production team has any in-depth knowledge or experience, and certainly no military advisers!
      I remember an episode of 'Sherlock' (the Hound of the Baskerville one) where the British Army major sported a full beard!!
      Unfortunately for me, little things like that drag me right out of the narrative to the detriment of enjoying the story, alas.
      I must confess, as much as I like Kate Stewart, I'm not that fussed on having UNIT become a civilian-run organisation. I always loved the fact that it was military one (which provided a wonderful contrast to the Doctor himself). It'll be interesting to see what direction Chibnell will take then in (if he even chooses to utilise them).