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Doctor Who and the Silurians
Series: Doctor Who - TV Stories
Season Number: Season 7
Story Number: 52
Doctor: Third Doctor
Companions: Liz Shaw
The Brigadier
Enemy: Silurians
Setting: Earth; circa 1970s
Writer: Malcolm Hulke
Director: Timothy Combe
Broadcast: 31st January - 14th March 1970
Format: 7 25-minute Episodes
Previous Story: Spearhead from Space
Following Story: The Ambassadors of Death
"Outbreaks of the disease are being reported all over London..."
―Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart

Contents

Synopsis

Summoned by the Brigadier to an underground research centre at Wenley Moor, the Doctor and Liz Shaw learn from its director, Dr Lawrence, that work on a new type of nuclear reactor is being hampered by inexplicable power losses and by an unusually high incidence of stress-related illness amongst staff.

Investigating a nearby cave system, the Doctor discovers it is the base of a group of intelligent reptiles, termed Silurians, who went into hibernation millions of years ago but have now been revived by power from the research centre.

The Doctor strives for peace between reptiles and humans and manages to gain the trust of the old Silurian leader, but then a rebellious young Silurian seizes power and releases a deadly virus that threatens to wipe out humanity.

The Doctor finds an antidote, but the Silurians retaliate by taking over the research centre and preparing to destroy the Van Allen Belt, a natural barrier shielding the Earth from solar radiation harmful to humans but beneficial to reptiles. The creatures are tricked into returning to their caves when the Doctor overloads the reactor, threatening to cause a nuclear explosion. The Brigadier, to the Time Lord's disgust, then has the Silurian base blown up.

Plot

Episode 1

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, and the Doctor and Liz meet Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart there. While exploring the caves, one of the workers at the centre was killed, with wounds that look like giant claw marks, and his companion's mind has been traumatised to the extent that he can only scrawl primitive cave drawings of reptilian creatures on the walls of the ward. Lawrence, the Director, resents UNIT's presence and feels that it will interfere with the working of the plant, which is 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 in the centre, and 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.

Episode 2

As the dinosaur is about to attack the Doctor, it is called off by a strange whistling sound. The Brigadier decides to explore the caves with armed men. Baker fires at a humanoid figure he spots in the caves, and 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 screams, but the creature knocks her unconscious.

Episode 3

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. When the Brigadier and the Doctor discover the humanoid's tracks, they 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.

Episode 4

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.

Episode 5

Soon the older one puts a stop to it. The older Silurian 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.

Episode 6

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.

Episode 7

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 off.

Cast

Crew

References

  • Bessie (the Doctor's car) is seen for the first time.
  • 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 in order to enter the Silurians' base.
  • The Brigadier has no trouble lying to the Doctor and bombing the Wenley Moor Silurian base.

Story Notes

  • This story had a working title of The Monsters.
  • Bessie (on screen numberplate WHO 1) is seen for the first time (its real numberplate was MTR5 as WHO1 was taken).
  • 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 name "Doctor Who"). Previously, an episode of the serial The Chase also broke the taboo by being titled "The Death of Doctor Who". Due to this, some fans call it "The Silurians" instead.
  • The title of the story came about because most of the scripts (up to this point) were titled 'Doctor Who and the...' However, while the 'Doctor Who and the...' was ordinarily left off the titles, this time, the title wound up retaining 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, Terrance Dicks and, most prominently, Trevor Ray (who plays a ticket collector struck down by the Silurian virus), in the location scenes shot at Marylebone Station in London.
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Ratings

  • 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

Myths

None.

Filming Locations

  • 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

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • The vision impairment of the injured Silurian changes between episodes.
  • It was raining when Dr. Quinn arrived but it wasn't raining when the search for the "thing" began or before Dr. Quinn arrived. It can sometimes start raining spontaneously.
  • The name 'Silurian' is a misnomer, as scientifically-minded viewers pointed out. The creatures could not have come from the Silurian Period, as reptiles had not yet evolved. In The Sea Devils the Third Doctor acknowledges the error by saying the Silurians should be called Paleocenes. But this is incorrect as well, for the Paleocene Epoch marked the beginning of the Age of Mammals. (The Doctor estimates at that time when they may have been from. The fact that mammals were becoming dominant during the Paleocene Epoch doesn't mean the "Silurians" couldn't have been there as well.)
  • The Doctor states that he's thousands of years old, which is inconsistent with the Fourth Doctor's later statements of being about 750 years old, or the Second Doctor's statement of being only 450 years old soon after his regeneration (there's no indication the Second incarnation lasted for thousands of years). The Doctor may have been exaggerating, or basing his age upon the relative age of the Silurians. The Doctor has been caught out lying about his age (DW: The Ribos Operation), and age can be interpreted many different ways when you are both a time traveler and an alien.
  • According to the story, the moon was originally a huge meteoroid that ended up in orbit around Earth in the early Cenozoic Era, but actually the moon is about as old as the Earth, and actually resulted from a planet-sized object hitting it.

Continuity

Timeline

DVD, Video and Other Releases

DVD Release

Video release

  • This was released on video in episodic format.

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

Novelisation

Main article: Doctor Who and the Cave-Monsters

External Links

  • Official BBC Episode Guide for Doctor Who and the Silurians
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide: Detailed Synopsis - Doctor Who and the Silurians
  • A Brief History of Time (Travel) Guide to Doctor Who and the Silurians
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who - Doctor Who and the Silurians
Season 7
Spearhead from Space  • Doctor Who and the Silurians  • The Ambassadors of Death  • Inferno
Silurian television Stories
Doctor Who and the Silurians  • Warriors of the Deep
Sea Devil television stories
The Sea Devils  • Warriors of the Deep

This article uses material from the "Doctor Who and the Silurians" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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