1977 was the first year in a new era for UNIT. The frequent activity of the previous six years was clearly now a thing of the past. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart had retired from UNIT at the end of the previous year and been replaced by Colonel Crichton. UNIT no longer had a permanent scientific advisor and the Doctor Agents began working on their own, rather than in conjunction with UNIT. UNIT activity was low-key, and there were few of the unusual incidents that UNIT had investigated in the past.
In early 1977, there were press reports about a programmer working for the US Navy who put a trapdoor [sic.] into a computer program. This backdoor would have allowed him complete access to any navy machines running the software. The reports said that his plans had been foiled by two "hackers" - a Robert Salmon and someone going by the name of "the Doctor". Although we are almost certain that this Doctor was one of the Doctor Agents, we have been unable to determine with any certainty which of them it was.
Early in 1977, the last of the original series of Mars Probes finished its mission. Mars Probe 13 had been crewed by Alexander Christian, Albert Fitzwilliam, and Madeline Goodfellow. However, shortly after leaving Mars, Christian attacked his fellow astronauts with an axe, broadcasting messages to Earth. Upon his return to Earth, he was arrested by UNIT troops and, at an in camera trial, sentenced to life imprisonment.
This incident illustrates the new role that Crichton's UNIT was to play for the rest of the seventies and into the eighties, that of a low-key intervention and clear-up agency. UNIT were involved in arrangements concerning the trial of Christian, but played very little role in the proceedings.
In April 1977, there was a near meltdown at the Nunton Nuclear Power Complex. UNIT was not directly involved, but eyewitness reports state that the Bohemian Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith were present. One eyewitness reported that the near meltdown happened when Miss Smith entered the reactor room. It is unclear how Miss Smith gained access to the reactor room, but the more important question is why? What could she hope to gain from entering a nuclear reactor and almost causing a catastrophic meltdown?
We will probably never discover the answer to this, but we do know that a UNIT clear-up squad arrived after the incident, and that there was no evidence of any radiation leak.
The Fetch Priory Implosion
In late July 1977, the Bohemian Doctor was involved in an incident at a place called Fetch Priory. A Doctor Fendelman had been conducting classified experiments at the priory. There had been a couple of unexplained deaths in the area when this Doctor turned up, and soon afterwards the Priory was destroyed in an implosion, killing Doctor Fendelman and many of his colleagues. The cause of the implosion is not known.