a real world point of view
|Doctor Who and the Silurians|
|Novelised as:||Doctor Who and the Cave-Monsters|
|Main enemy:||The Silurians|
|Main setting:||Earth, 1973|
|Number of episodes:||7|
|Premiere broadcast:||31 January - 14 March 1970|
|Spearhead from Space||The Ambassadors of Death|
Doctor Who and the Silurians was the second story in season seven of Doctor Who. It introduced several important recurring elements to the programme, including Bessie, the Silurians and, behind the scenes, colour videotape recording and colour separation overlay. The story is technically "missing" because those videotape masters were wiped. However, it's still viewable today because it was recorded to several different other formats.
Casting was notable for the first appearance of recurring Doctor Who guest actors Paul Darrow and Geoffrey Palmer, as well as noted actor Fulton Mackay's lone turn on the programme. Silurians also had an unusual number of crew cameos, with Terrance Dicks, Barry Letts and, most prominently, Trevor Ray showing up at the Marylebone station scene.
Due to a miscommunication with the graphics department who created the credits sequences, it was the only Doctor Who television story to have "Doctor Who" in the title.
An experimental nuclear power research centre built into a network of caves in Wenley Moor is experiencing mysterious power drains and a high incidence of mental breakdowns. UNIT are called in to investigate. The Third Doctor and Liz meet Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart there.
One of the workers at the centre was killed while exploring the caves. The dead worker's wounds look like giant claw marks. His companion's mind has been so traumatised that he can only scrawl primitive cave drawings of reptilian creatures on the wall of his ward room.
Lawrence, the director, resents UNIT's presence and feels it will interfere with the working of the plant. They are trying a new process to convert nuclear energy directly into electric power. Off in a corner, Dr Quinn, the deputy director, argues with Miss Dawson, his assistant, when she protests that they should stop "them" from taking the power. Major Baker, the security chief, believes there is a saboteur. The Doctor discovers that the logs of the nuclear reactor's operation have been tampered with. When the Doctor makes his way into the caves, he is attacked by a dinosaur.
The dinosaur is called off by a strange whistling. The Brigadier decides to explore the caves with armed men. Baker fires at a humanoid figure he spots in the caves. He is attacked by the dinosaur-like creature, but it is again called off by the same sound. The Doctor returns to the centre with Baker, taking samples of the blood that was drawn when Baker fired at the humanoid.
Examining the blood, the Doctor finds similarities to the "higher reptiles". In the meantime, the humanoid has reached the surface and stumbles into a barn to hide. Quinn goes into the caves to a hidden base, where he demands the knowledge he was promised. He is told that he must first see to the wounded humanoid and is given a signal device which emits the sound heard earlier.
The humanoid is discovered by a farmer and his wife, and attacks them. The farmer dies of a heart attack, but the wife survives and—while admitted for shock at the local hospital—identifies her attacker to the Doctor. Liz, investigating the barn, turns to see a reptilian biped. She turns around and screams, but the creature knocks her unconscious.
The unseen humanoid flees. When Liz awakes, she tells the Doctor and the Brigadier, and the latter orders a manhunt across the moor, just as Quinn arrives at the barn. Making an excuse, he leaves and summons the humanoid with his device. The Brigadier and the Doctor discover the humanoid's tracks, which end in tire marks.
The Doctor goes to Quinn's cottage, and notes that it is remarkably hot, like a reptile house. Quinn replies that the thermostat is broken. Quinn does not react well to the hints the Doctor is dropping or to his veiled attempts to get him to co-operate, and asks the Doctor to leave. Breaking into Quinn's office, the Doctor finds a globe that depicts the Earth's continents as they were millions of years ago, which the Doctor identifies as during the Silurian epoch.
Back at the cottage, Miss Dawson tries to persuade Quinn to tell the Doctor everything, but Quinn is adamant that he will keep the wounded Silurian captive until he is given the advanced scientific knowledge he wants. Later, when the Doctor goes to the cottage to once again try to reason with Quinn, he finds the scientist dead in his chair. The Doctor retrieves the signal device from Quinn's body and is surprised by the Silurian, who is still there.
The Doctor attempts communication, only for the Silurian to run away. Baker, still convinced that the answer lies in the caves, overpowers the UNIT man guarding the sickbay and enters them by himself. He is soon captured by the Silurians and interrogated as to the capabilities of the humans. The Doctor and Liz explore the caves following Baker's route and open the entrance to the Silurian base with Quinn's signal device, where they find Baker in a locked cage. He tells them that they must warn the surface.
The Doctor and Liz leave undiscovered, but not before they see a Silurian being revived from hibernation by a machine, explaining the energy drains that the reactor has been experiencing. Meanwhile, Masters, the Permanent Under-Secretary in charge of the centre, arrives for a personal inspection, and Lawrence complains to him about UNIT's interference. The Doctor decides to tell them all about the Silurians in the caves, urging a peaceful contact instead of the Brigadier's proposed armed expedition. However, this falls on deaf ears when Miss Dawson reveals that Quinn was killed by the Silurian he held captive.
The Doctor goes to warn and reason with the Silurians, but they put him in a cage as well. An older Silurian seems to be willing to listen to the Doctor, but a younger one wants to destroy the humans and retake the planet. The UNIT troops soon find themselves trapped, with stone walls inexplicably appearing to block off their passage. The younger Silurian attacks the Doctor psychically with a glowing third eye.
The older Silurian sees what is going on and stops the younger Silurian. He tells the Doctor how their race retreated underground when they saw the Moon approaching Earth millions of years before. The hibernation mechanism malfunctioned, and they did not revive until a new power source—the nuclear reactor—was discovered.
The Doctor manages to persuade the older Silurian to release the Brigadier and his men, but the younger Silurian orders Baker infected with a virus before he is released. When the older Silurian discovers this, he releases the Doctor, giving him a canister of the virus so he can discover a cure. The younger Silurian kills the older one for this act.
At the centre, the Doctor warns everyone to stay away from Baker, who collapses with the virus. Masters, however, decides to return to London, unaware that he has also been infected. Baker is taken to a local hospital without the Doctor's knowledge and dies there. "The first one", the Doctor grimly notes.
The Brigadier holds Baker's doctor and nurse at gunpoint to prevent them from leaving and spreading the virus while the Doctor returns to the centre to work on the cure. The Brigadier and Liz try to warn London, while all of the centre's staff are inoculated with a stopgap vaccine.
All, that is, except for Lawrence, who refuses. Masters, in the meantime, has reached London and eludes the search parties desperately looking for him. The virus begins to spread and the deaths begin, the infection even reaching France. Lawrence eventually dies from the virus, complaining in his last moments that the affair has ruined his career.
The young Silurian decides the Doctor must be killed before he finds a cure. The Doctor has indeed found one, and as he writes down the formula, the Silurians attack the centre and stun him with their third eyes and take him away.
Liz, however, discovers the formula and it is soon being mass produced and distributed. The Silurians have a back-up plan, however. They intend to use a weapon to destroy the Van Allen Belt and make the Earth's environment hostile to humankind, and will force the Doctor to connect the reactor to provide power to the weapon.
UNIT troops are lured into the caves and commence a battle with the Silurians while the younger Silurian takes the Doctor to the reactor control room along with Liz and the Brigadier. The Doctor, however, overloads the reactor and tells the younger Silurian that the area will be irradiated for at least 25 years. The Silurians disengage from the battle with UNIT and reenter the caves to hibernate until the danger has passed. Since the mechanism is faulty, the younger Silurian will stay awake to operate it and sacrifice his life. The Doctor and Liz, meanwhile, repair the reactor, and go to the underground base, where the younger Silurian realises he has been duped into sending his race back to sleep. He attacks the Doctor in a rage, but is killed by the Brigadier.
Later, on Wenley Moor, the Doctor tells Liz that he proposes to revive the Silurians one by one and try to reach a peaceful compromise between them and humanity. However, the Brigadier has other orders, and the Silurian base is blown up. The Doctor is horrified at this act of genocide, but Liz tells him that the Silurians would never have agreed to come to terms. The Doctor, still disgusted, drives away.
- The Doctor - Jon Pertwee
- Liz Shaw - Caroline John
- Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart - Nicholas Courtney
- Dr. Quinn - Fulton Mackay
- Major Baker - Norman Jones
- Dr. Lawrence - Peter Miles
- Miss Dawson - Thomasine Heiner
- Dr. Meredith - Ian Cunningham
- Roberts - Roy Branigan
- Spencer - John Newman
- Davis - Bill Matthews
- Captain Hawkins - Paul Darrow
- Doris Squire - Nancie Jackson
- Squire - Gordon Richardson
- Silurians - Pat Gorman, Paul Barton, Simon Cain, John Churchill, Dave Carter
- Silurian Voices - Peter Halliday
- Masters - Geoffrey Palmer
- Sergeant Hart - Richard Steele
- Travis - Ian Talbot
- Old Silurian - Dave Carter
- Young Silurian - Nigel Johns
- Private Robins - Harry Swift
- Silurian Scientist - Pat Gorman
- Corporal Nutting - Alan Mason
- Private Wright - Derek Pollitt
- Hospital Doctor - Brendan Barry
- Assistant Floor Manager - Sue Hedden
- Costumes - Christine Rawlins
- Designer - Barry Newbury
- Film Cameraman - Fred Hamilton
- Film Editor - Bill Huthbert
- Incidental Music - Carey Blyton
- Make-Up - Marion Richards, Teresa Wright
- Producer - Barry Letts
- Production Assistant - Chris D'Oyly-John
- Script Editor - Terrance Dicks
- Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson
- Studio Lighting - Ralph Walton
- Studio Sound - John Staple
- Theme Arrangement - Delia Derbyshire
- Title Music - Ron Grainer
- Visual Effects - Jim Ward
- Bessie (the Doctor's car) is seen for the first time. In Spearhead from Space, the Brigadier had promised the Doctor an antique vehicle to replace the one that the Doctor had "borrowed".
- Wenley Moor is an underground atomic research establishment, based around a cyclotron where protons are bombarded with subatomic articles. The aim is to produce cheap, safe electricity by finding a process to convert nuclear energy directly into electrical current.
- The energy released inadvertently woke some of the Silurians in their base in the nearby caves.
- The Doctor takes the summoning device from Quinn's dead body to enter the Silurians' base.
- In episode 1 the Doctor recites the first lines of Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll while working on Bessie..
- Near the end of episode 7, the Doctor is having trouble getting Bessie to start. He pours an unknown fluid into Bessie's oil tank, which passes through the entire engine and spills out of the exhaust pipe, apparently fixing the problem.
- The Brigadier deceives the Doctor and bombs the Wenley Moor Silurian base.
- It is unclear whether the Brigadier made the decision to destroy the Silurian base on his own or if he was given orders by the Ministry of Defence, as Liz suggests.
- The Silurians have at least one dinosaur, which guards their base.
- This story had a working title of The Monsters.
- Originally entitled Doctor Who and the Silurians, the preferred title in common use is The Silurians. This is attributed to the broadcast title incorrectly referencing the Doctor as Doctor Who, which has a tendency to annoy fans of the show.
- Bessie (on-screen numberplate WHO 1) is seen for the first time. Its real life numberplate was MTR 5, as WHO 1 was not available — having already been registered elsewhere. Special WHO 1 numberplates were made and used on the car when filming on private ground or on the public highway with permission from the police.
- This is the first use of CSO (Colour Separation Overlay) in Doctor Who.
- Paul Darrow (who went on to appear in Blake's 7 as Avon and Timelash as Tekker) appears as Captain Hawkins.
- The unusual music in this story was conducted by Carey Blyton and featured clarinets, recorders, cellos and horns.
- This is the only serial title to break the "Doctor Who" naming taboo (i.e. directly identifying the character by the incorrect name "Doctor Who"). Previously, an episode of the serial The Chase also broke the taboo by being titled "The Death of Doctor Who".
- The title of the story came about because most of the scripts (up to this point) were titled Doctor Who and the... While the Doctor Who and the... was ordinarily left off the titles, this time, the title retained the words. To avoid this occurrence in the future, the Doctor Who and the... was left off the scripts in the following stories. The practice was, however, retained for the Target Books novelisations, although when the time came to adapt this story, a different title was chosen (see below).
- There are non-speaking cameo appearances by members of the production team, including Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks as rail passengers and, most prominently, Trevor Ray as a ticket collector struck down by the Silurian virus, in the location scenes shot at Marylebone Station in London.
- The cave creatures are named Silurians on the presumption that they come from the Silurian Period (see discontinuity). It was known that reptiles had not evolved by the Silurian Period, so technically the name is a misnomer. Nevertheless the name was kept because it sounded good for the story.
- When the Silurians return to hibernation at the end of the episode, they say they will be revived in fifty years. While the year of this episode is not given, it was broadcast in 1970. Fifty years later would be 2020, which coincides with the events of TV: The Hungry Earth.
- With Mission to the Unknown, The Sea Devils, The Sontaran Experiment, Genesis of the Daleks and Midnight, this is one of only six televised stories in the history of Doctor Who not to feature the TARDIS.
- This is the first and only televised story to be named Doctor Who and....
- Episode 1 - 8.8 million viewers
- Episode 2 - 7.3 million viewers
- Episode 3 - 7.5 million viewers
- Episode 4 - 8.2 million viewers
- Episode 5 - 7.5 million viewers
- Episode 6 - 7.2 million viewers
- Episode 7 - 7.5 million viewers
- Marylebone station, Marylebone, London (Where the virus breaks out)
- Dorset Square, Marylebone, London (Where Masters gets out of his taxi)
- Sheephatch Farm, Sheephatch Lane, Tilford, Surrey (Location of the farm the Silurian hides in)
- Milford Chest Hospital, Tuesley Lane, Milford, Surrey (Wenley Hospital)
- Hog's Back Transmitter Station, Hog's Back, Guildford, Surrey (Exterior shots of Wenley Moor Nuclear Power station)
- Melcombe Place, Marylebone, London (Masters hails a taxi from here)
- Swancombe House (walkway), St. Ann's Road, Shepherd's Bush, London (Masters falls to the virus and dies at this location)
- Hankley Common, Rushmoor, Surrey (Wenley Moor)
- High Street, Godalming, Surrey (The town through which the Doctor and Liz Shaw are seen travelling in Bessie at the start of the story)
- BBC Television Centre, Studio 3, Studio 1, Studio 8
- Quinn arrives in the barn with a wet coat. In the next shot in the same scene, his coat is dry.
- The vision impairment of the injured Silurian changes between episodes.
- This is not necessarily a production error, but the "Doctor Who - Jon Pertwee" end credit card "ghosts" throughout Episode 6. Visually it looks similar to screen burn on a plasma television. The cause of this is unknown. It may either be because the episode no longer exists in its master videotape, or perhaps it was due to the colour restoration for the DVD.
- This story marks the first appearance of the Silurians, an occasionally recurring species (see Silurians - list of appearances).
- PROSE: Blood Heat and COMIC: Final Genesis both take place in (separate) alternate timelines which diverge from this story. In both versions, the Third Doctor died, with completely different outcomes for Earth's history.
- Sea Devils, the Silurian's "aquatic cousins", appear in TV: The Sea Devils.
- The journalist whom the Brigadier briefly speaks to over the phone at the Wenley Moor nuclear research facility is James Stevens of the Daily Chronicle, who received the number from a mysterious contact. (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy)
- In an alternative timeline in which the Doctor's exile on Earth did not begin until 1997, this crisis was resolved by Captain Mike Yates and his men travelling back in time millions of years to destroy the Silurian civilisation using fourteen nuclear warheads to prevent their eventual reawakening in the 1970s. This resulted in the creation of a crater in the middle of London. It is not made clear how this version of UNIT gained access to time travel technology. (NOTDWU: Sympathy for the Devil)
- By the time of his second incarnation, the Doctor had heard tales of a sentient race which evolved on Earth before humanity but had not yet encountered them at that point in his personal timeline. (PROSE: The Wheel of Ice)
- Dr. Lawrence and Masters received letters which predicted the exact dates and times of their deaths from the Apocalypse Clock. Lawrence died at 4pm on 21 November. (AUDIO: The Last Post)
Home video and audio releases
A cd was released
- This was released as part of a boxset called Beneath the Surface with The Sea Devils and Warriors of the Deep.
- This was released on video in episodic format in 1993 in the UK and Australia and 1995 in the US.
Editing for both VHS and DVD releases was completed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team.
- Doctor Who and the Silurians at the BBC's official site
- Doctor Who and the Silurians at BroaDWcast
- Detailed synopsis of Doctor Who and the Silurians at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- Doctor Who and the Silurians at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- Doctor Who and the Silurians at The Locations Guide