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The Sea Devils (TV story)

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RealWorld
The Sea Devils
Sea Devil and Doctor face to face
Novelised as: Doctor Who and the Sea-Devils
Doctor: Third Doctor
Companion(s): Jo
Main enemy: The Master
Chief Sea Devil
Trenchard, Walker
Main setting: England, the 1970s
Key crew
Writer: Malcolm Hulke
Director: Michael Briant
Producer: Barry Letts
Release details
Story number: 62
Number of episodes: 6
Season/series: Season 9
Premiere broadcast: 26 February - 1 April 1972
Premiere network: BBC1
Format: 6x25-minute episodes
Production code: LLL
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Swordfight with the Master (HQ) - Doctor Who - The Sea Devils - BBC02:00

Swordfight with the Master (HQ) - Doctor Who - The Sea Devils - BBC

You may wish to consult Sea Devil (disambiguation) for other, similarly-named pages.

The Sea Devils was the third story in the ninth season of Doctor Who. It marked the first appearance of the Sea Devils and the reappearance of the Master, now plotting to escape confinement from a maximum security prison.

Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks had decided they wanted a sea-based story and asked Malcolm Hulke to write it. Instead of bringing back the Silurians, Hulke invented an aquatic version called the Sea Silurians. Unlike their counterparts, the Sea Devils were given clothing designed by Maggie Fletcher.

To answer the insistence by fans that the Silurian era could not have spawned man-sized life, Hulke introduced a line in which the Doctor says they should correctly be called Eocenes. However, some [who?] considered it also unlikely that the Eocene period could produce such life.

After appearing in all five stories of season 8, Letts had decided to restrict the Master to a few appearances each year. This story joins him where The Dæmons left off, with his imprisonment. The dialogue implied that the Doctor and the Master were once friends.

Letts had secured the involvement of the Royal Air Force for The Mind of Evil and decided to try to do the same with the Royal Navy. He found the Ministry of Defence eager to take part. Shortly after broadcast, the BBC was visited by officials from the MOD who believed their top-secret submarine had been used in the show. It was in fact a model, adapted to show the features they were secretly testing.

This story saw the only use of "reverse the polarity of the neutron flow", during the Pertwee era. The phrase became associated with the Third Doctor, so he used it again in The Five Doctors, some eleven years later. Pertwee did use a shortened version of the phrase, "reverse the polarity", several times.

Like many of Hulke's stories, it included a moral dimension. The Sea Devils are caught between the Master, the Doctor and the humans. Ultimately, they are betrayed by all three; like their land-based cousins, it is the humans who hurt them the most.

Synopsis Edit

The Doctor and Jo visit the Master in his high-security prison on an island off the south coast of England. The governor, Colonel Trenchard, says ships have been disappearing mysteriously at sea.

Plot Edit

Episode one Edit

Visiting hours

The Doctor and Jo visit the Master in his cell.

The Doctor and Jo visit the Master, now a captive on a small island prison after being captured by UNIT.

The Master is being held indefinitely and is the only prisoner. He is watched by CCTV and the island is patrolled by armed guards – trained to resist the Master's hypnotic powers – and even protected by minefields. He claims to have reformed – but refuses to reveal the location of his TARDIS. As they depart, the old-school, patriotic governor, Colonel Trenchard, tells them that some ships have been disappearing mysteriously. Shortly afterwards, he visits the Master, and it becomes clear that they are in league.

The Doctor cannot resist investigating, so they visit the nearby naval base, HMS Seaspite, run by the efficient Captain John Hart; despite the Doctor's eccentric behaviour - he claims to have known Nelson personally - an alliance forms. The Doctor states that that the linear scorch pattern was caused by a concentrated beam of heat from under the sea. Hart is in charge of the adaptation of the sea fort to a SONAR testing station. The Doctor and Jo make their way to the sea fort. He and Jo are soon attacked by a Silurian lookalike.

Episode two Edit

Sea Devil says hi

A Sea Devil is discovered by the Doctor.

It is not a Sea Devil, but a half-mad crew member ranting about them. The Doctor and Jo decided to calm him down. They find that the radio was ripped out. The Doctor decides to go get a transistor radio in order to turn it into a transmitter. On his way, he encounters a hostile Sea Devil, who fires at him. When it tries to break in, it is hurt and flees. Shortly afterwards, the Doctor finishes his transmitter, and they are rescued.

John Hart decides to find them after they apparently disappear. The Doctor and Jo attempt to get Hart to tell a higher authority. His assistant gets a call from someone ranting about Sea Devils. The Master comes to HMS Seaspite to steal some equipment. Colonel Trenchard follows, providing a distraction. Jo still sees him leaving.

The Doctor and Jo confront Trenchard, and he tries to dissuade them by showing that the Master is "still" in his cell. The Master knocks out a guard and grabs his knife. Trenchard then gets the Doctor to go see the Master, who attempts to kill him, first with gun and then with sword. The Doctor and the Master engage in a swordfight. The Master then throws the dagger at the back of the Doctor's head....

Episode three Edit

The Master and Trenchard

The Master working in his cell.

The Master misses and the Doctor is unharmed. Trenchard decides to lock the Doctor in the prison and attempts to capture Jo. The evil Time Lord tells him that he intends to use the reptiles as an army to conquer the planet. It is revealed that the reason Trenchard is helping the Master because he believes they are fighting enemy agents. Meanwhile, Jo comes and frees the Doctor. He begins by using the machine to summon Sea Devils from the ocean. The Doctor and Jo are trapped between them, the Master, and the minefield!

Episode four Edit

Sea Devil strike

The Sea Devils attack the submarine.

The Doctor is forced to employ his sonic screwdriver to repel the Sea Devils by exploding mines on the beach. While the Doctor and Jo navigate through a mine field, a Sea Devil attacks another submarine. The Doctor and Jo flee to HMS Seaspite, where Hart tells them another naval submarine has disappeared.

Meanwhile, the Master returns to his cell to begin work on a new device. He activates it and it calls the Sea Devils to him. They attack the prison, killing the guards and Trenchard. A battle for the prison rages. Trenchard, who believed he was aiding his country against enemy agents, is killed.

HMS Seaspite heads out to investigate a section of seabed. The Doctor goes down in a diving bell. When they offer to pull him up, he refuses; however, his communication system fails, and Captain Hart orders the crew to pull up the diving bell. When it reaches the ship, it is empty....

Episode five Edit

Alliance

The Master and Sea Devils converse.

The Sea Devils take the Doctor to their leader. The Doctor enters the Sea Devils' base and tries to encourage peaceful negotiation, recalling how he had failed to broker an agreement between mankind and the Silurians. The Master arrives to incite matters by trying to provoke war.

Walker arrives to "solve" the sinking ship problem by dropping depth charges. Meanwhile, the Doctor has gained the upper side of the argument--the Sea Devils agree to consider diplomatic relations. The depth charges disrupt the negotiations. The Master convinces the Sea Devils to take the Doctor away and kill him. He also convinces them to attack one of the naval bases.

In the confusion caused by the depth charges, the Doctor escapes, gets a Silurian gun from a fallen Sea Devil, and uses it to melt a door and rescue two of the submarine crew. They rescue the others still in the submarine. The leader of the submarine crew kills one of the Sea Devils with the gun that the Doctor picked up; it is implied that others were killed on the upper level of the sub. They try to leave, but the Sea Devils hold them back with a force field. They fire torpedoes to provide thrust and escape.

The Doctor confronts Walker about his depth charges, which have just made the Sea Devils angry. The Sea Devils rise and attack the HMS Seaspite. As the Doctor attempts to go down to negotiate again, a Sea Devil raises its gun at them....

Episode six Edit

The Doctor fights the Sea Devil off with Venusian karate, but another captures him. The rest of the Sea Devils capture the rest of the people at the base. Jo, Captain Hart, and Mr. Walker are held in one of the offices at the base. The Master tells the Doctor that he needs help to complete his machine so he can revive the colonies all over the world.

Meanwhile, Jo and escapes through a ventilation shaft. Jo reaches the Doctor and he tells her that he will deal with the guards; he sends her back to retrieve Captain Hart and Mr. Walker. The Doctor makes the machine emit a shrill noise which puts the Sea Devils in agony. Captain Hart escapes with Jo, but Mr. Walker retreats into the office and shuts himself back in when faced with a Sea Devil, even though the creature is incapacitated by the noise from the machine. The Master shuts off the machine, and the Doctor apologises for the "mistake" that caused the noise. The Sea Devils, the Doctor, and the Master head back to the Sea Devil base.

The prisoners retake the base. A soldier arrives and the Doctor orders him to keep watch over the Master, but the Master hypnotises him and escapes. The Doctor chases after the Master, and they reach the base, where multiple Sea Devils capture them. Meanwhile, Walter orders a nuclear strike. The Doctor sabotages the machine, and the Time Lords are imprisoned. The Doctor reveals that he reversed the polarity of neutron flow, which will cause a massive explosion. The Time Lords escape by using the Doctor's sonic screwdriver to get out of their cell; they find diving suits and exit the base. They rise to the surface and are rescued just before the base explodes, and the Sea Devils are destroyed.

The rescuers call an ambulance for the Master, who seems to be very ill; however, when the ambulance arrives, they realise that the man is not really the master, but someone else wearing a disguise--the Master has hypnotised him and forced him to impersonate the Master. They realise that the Master is escaping in a hovercraft.

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

References Edit

Foods and beverages Edit

  • The Doctor consumes several sandwiches at the naval base, and whilst visiting the Master.
  • Hickman is seen drinking Old Oak Light Ale.

Species Edit

The Doctor Edit

  • The Doctor is a trained diver and accomplished golfer.

The Doctor's items Edit

Vehicles Edit

Story notes Edit

  • This story had the working title The Sea Silurians.
  • The scene involving the Master watching Clangers was a last-minute addition, added because episode one was running ninety seconds short.
  • This is one of two stories where the Third Doctor utters the full line, "I reversed the polarity of the neutron flow". The other is in TV: The Five Doctors.
  • The Sea Devils are never named as such (except the fort survivor rambling about sea devils).
  • The Doctor remarks that he was a personal friend of Horatio Nelson.
  • This serial's director, Michael Briant, provided the voice of the radio DJ in episode two.
  • Originally, episode one was to include the Doctor water-skiing, which was to be used as the excuse for Jo and him being late to the Master's prison. Increasingly inclement weather made the shoot impossible.
  • The Radio Times programme listing for the 90-minute compilation repeat of the story on Wednesday 27 December 1972, billed as Dr. Who and the Sea Devils, was accompanied by a black and white illustration by Frank Bellamy depicting a Sea Devil, the Master and the Doctor, along with a comic strip-style caption "THE WHOLE PLACE WILL GO UP IN APPROXIMATELY TEN MINUTES / ENJOY YOUR REVENGE!", with the accompanying caption "Time-warp time — the Doc takes on the Master and the Sea Devils: 3.5". The compilation also received an unscheduled showing at 11:15 a.m. on Monday 27 May 1974 as a replacement for the rained-off Yorkshire -v- Lancashire cricket match.
  • Along with Mission to the Unknown, Doctor Who and the Silurians, The Mind of Evil, The Dæmons, The Sontaran Experiment, Genesis of the Daleks, and Midnight, this is one of only eight televised stories in the history of Doctor Who not to feature the TARDIS (The Ambassadors of Death, Inferno and Day of the Daleks feature the central console, but not the TARDIS itself).

Ratings Edit

  • Episode one - 6.4 million viewers
  • Episode two - 9.7 million viewers
  • Episode three - 8.3 million viewers
  • Episode four - 7.8 million viewers
  • Episode five - 8.3 million viewers
  • Episode six - 8.5 million viewers

Myths Edit

  • Roger Delgado was afraid of the water and it took great courage for him to film the scene in which the Master and the Doctor are rescued from the sea by the Navy. (This was frequently recalled by Jon Pertwee in later interviews, but according to Delgado's widow, Kismet, it is untrue. Delgado was actually worried about getting his costume wet, as there was no spare available.) (Delgado's fear of water is also recalled during the DVD commentary of The Sea Devils by Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks.) Delgado also looks very uncomfortable during his scenes in the water.

Filming locations Edit

  • The exterior of the Master's prison was in fact Norris Castle, East Cowes, Isle of Wight. The Sea Fort was an actual sea defence fort built in the 1860s in the river Solent, off the South Hampshire coast, in anticipation of a feared French invasion which never came to pass. Abandoned at the time of the story's filming, it has since been a hotel resort. In July of 2007 the fort came up for sale after the company owning the hotel collapsed and its owner was jailed.
  • Fraser Gunnery Range, HMS St George, Portsmouth
  • Royal Navy ship HMS Reclaim
  • No Man's Land Sea Fort, Solent
  • Whitecliff Bay, Isle of Wight
  • Bembridge Harbour, Isle of Wight
  • Norris Castle, East Cowes, Isle of Wight
  • Red Cliff, Sandown, Isle of Wight
  • Bembridge Sailing Club, Bembridge, Isle of Wight
  • Priory Bay, Isle of Wight
  • BBC Television Centre (Studio 8), Shepherd's Bush, London
  • The set for Trenchard's office is the same one heavily used for the Doctor's laboratory in the previous season.

Production errors Edit

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • The clock in the Master's prison runs backwards.
  • The Master knocks out a prison guard who enters his cell in episode two. The guard then subsequently disappears, never to be seen again.
  • When the Doctor and Jo are going though the minefield, a mic can be seen.

Continuity Edit

Home video and audio releases Edit

Editing for both the VHS and DVD releases was completed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team.

VHS Releases Edit

This was released on video in episodic format.

DVD releases Edit

This story was released on DVD as part of the Beneath the Surface collection along with Doctor Who and the Silurians and Warriors of the Deep.

Beneath the Surface Edit

Audio releases Edit

A soundtrack CD of the programme was released in January 2008. It was also included in the Monsters on Earth box set along with Doctor Who and the Silurians and Warriors of the Deep.

External links Edit


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