1976 was the definitive end to the Big Bug era of UNIT's history. In addition to Lethbridge-Stewart's creation of a new intelligence division, known as Broadsword, there were a number of major changes to the focus of UNIT in this year of transition. With the marked decline in unusual incidents compared to the previous few years, the UK government attempted to transfer UNIT UK's resources into a rather different area - the fight against terrorism.
Although there were a few incidents of the old style in the early months of the year, the growing threat from Black Star anarchists made this UNIT's primary focus by the summer months. Amidst all this terrorist worry, UNIT lost its leading officer, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, who claimed that he was dissatisfied with the increased paperwork and liaison time in Geneva that his job was now demanding. Under Lethbridge-Stewart's long-standing successor, Colonel Crichton, UNIT would become a very different organisation.
Summer 1976 was a time of anarchy. The main cause of this problem was a terrorist group called Black Star. Black Star began as a group of anarchistic artists, mostly from the punk scene, but became terrorists during December 1975. Major bombs were planted in all sorts of places including Harrods, Hamleys, the Albert Hall, the Science Museum and - most famously - Big Ben. Black Star activists were also responsible for an assassination attempt on the Queen. During this chaos, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, RSM Benton, and the American Captain Pike disappeared with a UNIT prisoner, which we think was probably The Scottish Doctor, over Salisbury plain. The Prime Minister, Shirley Williams, is known to have declared them rogue agents.
The rogue UNIT agents - including the special UNIT team codenamed "Broadsword" - appear to have linked up with a renegade faction of Black Star. Details of their activities are unknown. However, we do know that they did appear at a global "peace concert" in June 1976. This was organised by Robert Bertram, head of Priory Records, inventor of the earliest Compact Disc, and new scientific advisor to UNIT UK. Whilst the charity extravaganza was being broadcast, Broadsword sedated Paul McCartney and Wings, replacing their scheduled performance with a Punk band called Plasticine. During this, there was a battle between these rogue UNIT troops and the regular ones, and the rogues won. All this was broadcast live on TV, but the footage was subsequently impounded.
Shortly after this, the rogue UNIT troops were restored to normal status. According to press reports, Bertram had set the whole thing up as a scam. The Peace Foundation he was collecting money for turned out to be a private Swiss bank account, and it was claimed that British Intelligence and the BBC had prevented the biggest fraud attempt in history. Bertram vanished, and the Black Star attacks stopped. Although the link was never made, it seems likely that Bertram was funding Black Star's activities, although we don't know why. It is possible that Lethbridge-Stewart managed to destroy Black Star's command structure , however, this is uncertain. What is certain, however, is that UNIT lost a lot of men in the course of the actions against Black Star and Bertram. Their numbers were greatly reduced, and it took a while to build up strength again.
In 1974, the Astronaut Guy Crayford had lost contact with Earth whilst travelling to Jupiter in the experimental XK5 Space Freighter. His reappearance at the Devesham Space Centre in early July 1976 was, therefore, something of a surprise to the UNIT troops stationed there - especially as the Bohemian Doctor was also there, apparently warning of a great danger to the entire planet. The details of what happened there are more than a little sketchy, but some reports claim that there was an attack by android replicas of UNIT troops.
In autumn 1976, the World Ecology Bureau (a UN agency), discovered two unusual seed pods in the Antarctic. According to their records, they called in UNIT's scientific advisor, the Bohemian Doctor. He advised that the pods were a biohazard. However, before anyone could act on his recommendations, one of the pods was destroyed and the other stolen by the famous plant collector Harrison Chase. The pod was taken to Chase Mansion, his grand UK residence. However, aware of the hazard, UNIT arranged for the RAF to bomb the mansion in order to destroy the pod.
The reports of this incident raise a number of questions. Where did the pods come from? It is unlikely that they were intended as a weapon by a government or a terrorist group, as there would be no reason to leave them unguarded in the Antarctic. For them to be extra-terrestrial material would also seem unlikely, as they surely would have burnt up in the atmosphere. If they were a known species, why would they be so dangerous as to justify an air strike? If they were a long-extinct species, how would the Bohemian Doctor know that they were that dangerous? Also, how was Harrison Chase able to steal the pods? If UNIT's Scientific Advisor had been called in, then surely UNIT would have provided at least a basic level of security. Perhaps they were still in bad shape after the events of the summer.
At some point in 1976 (our information has only the year and no date on it), UNIT US was involved in what they believed to be an investigation into Vampires. Whether these were the real mythical creatures or merely something else similar is unclear. However, they tracked down a case of an apparent vampire attack in San Francisco. UNIT records we have seen suggest that one of the Doctor Agents was involved. However, as UNIT's role was entirely investigating after the event, we have no way of knowing which Doctor agent. This event may be linked to a similar one in 1997.