Doctor Who: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About U.N.I.T.

U.N.I.T. has continued to be a vital part of the Doctor Who series, as the organization recently made its return to screen. It has appeared as an ally to The Doctor in most of their regenerations and is Earth’s last line of defense against extra-terrestrial attacks. But with such a long history, it’s no surprise that there’s almost too much to know about the group.

From their leadership to some of their most controversial actions. From their period of silence to the powers they have at their fingertips. There’s a great deal of information out there regarding the timeline of U.N.I.T. themselves and the impact they have had on the safety of Earth itself.


Surveillance Pigeons

U.N.I.T. keeps careful watch over everything happening and utilizes state-of-the-art technology in order to ensure continued surveillance on potential alien risks. Throughout London, and perhaps even further abroad, the group actually has pigeons to do a lot of the work.

Kate Stewart ordered her team to try and improve the pigeons around the British capital after she noticed they were looking a little slow. Controlling these birds is a genius move as it means that there are eyes everywhere, in the most unlikely of places.

Keeping The T.A.R.D.I.S.

U.N.I.T. is one of the few groups on Earth that The Doctor actually trusts to look after the T.A.R.D.I.S. They have taken hold of the time machine on numerous occasions, even picking up the contraption while The Doctor was actually still inside.

The group monitors every time the blue box shows up again and ensures it’s secure for their ally’s latest arrival. They actually held on to one iteration of the T.A.R.D.I.S. for decades, but have been called to a number of false sightings as well, thanks to lookalikes across the UK.

Going Dark

For a number of years, U.N.I.T. actually went dark to avoid further infiltration, which will be covered more later. This period of time meant that Earth was largely left undefended though, opening the door to further alien threats from across the cosmos.

The Doctor was well aware that the group had gone silent, and was therefore left without her allies for that period of time. Of course, considering U.N.I.T. operates throughout the timeline, it was only on the present-day Earth that anything was really affected; The Doctor could travel to other periods where they were still very much active.

Family Heritage

Kate Stewart is the current leader of U.N.I.T. and one of its most respected agents. She has driven the group away from its military roots towards science and innovation. Surveillance and research have become critical tools in the fight against alien threats.

Back when the organization first found its feet though, it was actually Kate’s father, Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, or the Brigadier who was in control of U.N.I.T. As a military man, his tactics are slightly outdated now, but his moral integrity was unmatched.


In regards to U.N.I.T. going off the grid, especially Kate Stewart, this was prompted by the infiltration of the organization by the villain known as The Grand Serpent. The alien dictator had spread himself across the group’s timeline, ensuring his influence was felt in every period.

His power was almost unmatched, as he held a senior role within U.N.I.T. and got many others to do his bidding. When that failed then force was used; a violent series of outbursts that led to the group losing some of their best. The danger that The Grand Serpent posed essentially shut U.N.I.T down.

Zygon Invasion

One of the most dangerous moments in U.N.I.T’s history occurred during the Zygon invasion of Earth. Some of the group’s brightest and best were replaced by Zygon warriors. There’s no telling how many people were actually swapped out for these alien counterparts.

Thanks to alien technology that forces people to lose their memories, no one knew who was Zygon and who wasn’t. It’s plausible that some of these aliens still remain within the organization and simply haven’t been removed or can’t remember who they are.

The Doctor’s Job

During his third incarnation, The Doctor found himself on the payroll of U.N.I.T. after being confined to Earth. Originally his role was as a scientific researcher, but over the years the character’s job description has evolved greatly.

At the very least the Time Lord continues to operate as an advisor to the intelligence agency, which is a vital role considering The Doctor knows more than anyone else on Earth about the state of the galaxy. He was even given his own desk for a time!

U.N.I.T. And Torchwood

While U.N.I.T. is one of the biggest groups when it comes to surveillance of the supernatural, Torchwood also holds a similar job description. But there are a number of differences between the two. For starters, Torchwood, which gained its own spin-off show, is purely for the defense of the UK.

While the UN founded U.N.I.T. it was strangely Queen Victoria who created Torchwood. What’s more, the budget and scale of U.N.I.T. are far larger than Torchwood could ever hope to receive. The Doctor works alongside both groups, but Torchwood has been known to be a little more violent in their pursuits than their rival.

President Of Earth

There’s one role that The Doctor has held on behalf of U.N.I.T. that showcases how badass the Time Lord truly is. There’s actually a President of Earth position up for offer which the Doctor stepped into after representing the planet for hundreds of decades.

The President is hugely supervised by the organization and usually works for them in some capacity but has the power to make any declaration as long as it benefits humanity. These privileges are seen as emergency powers and U.N.I.T. does not grant them lightly.

The Organization’s Survival

It’s been rumored that U.N.I.T. doesn’t survive past a certain point. The Doctor has actually mentioned that Torchwood and U.N.I.T. are gone in the far future. But these realities are all subject to change; it’s possible the timeline could shift once more.

U.N.I.T. already appears to be emerging after the Flux event. Some expanded materials from Doctor Who such as Big Finish productions suggest that the group continues to operate for years to come. What actually happens remains to be seen, but U.N.I.T’s fate isn’t sealed and fans of the show will almost certainly see them again.

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George Chrysostomou (1152 Articles Published)

Politics graduate, freelance writer and all around film geek. If George isn’t lecturing someone on the history of the MCU, he’s probably ranting about the political consequences of Boris Johnson’s latest hairstyle.

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