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"There should have been another way..."
―The Doctor
Warriors of the Deep
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Season Number: Season 21
Story Number: 131
Doctor: Fifth Doctor
Setting: 2084
Writer: Johnny Byrne
Director: Pennant Roberts
Broadcast: 5th January - 13th January 1984
Format: 4 25-minute episodes
Previous Story: The Five Doctors
Following Story: The Awakening

Warriors of the Deep was the first story of Season 21. It marked the return of two monster races last seen during the Jon Pertwee eras - the Silurians and the Sea Devils, and was the first story to feature both.



The Doctor, Tegan and Turlough arrive on Sea Base 4, a nuclear warhead station under the Sea that has some very nasty neighbours.



Part One

Sea Devils in hibernation

The year is 2084, and there is a cold war in progress. The world is divided into two opposing superpower blocs. One of the blocs has created a secret underwater base, Sea Base 4, which is strategically positioned and has nuclear weapons aimed at the opposing bloc. As a security measure, the base’s nuclear weapons can not be activated unless a trained human operator can "sync" his/her mind with the computer and authorize their deployment.

However, the Bridge Sync operator, Lt. Michaels, has been mysteriously killed and has been succeeded by his inexperienced apprentice, Ensign Maddox. Maddox is nervous, fearing he is not ready to take over a sync officer and will not be able to cope if a missile run is ordered. An unidentified reading is detected by the base’s long-range sensors, but the base’s commander, Vorshak, and one of his officers, Bulic, dismiss it as nothing more than a glitch. The reading on the sea base’s sensors is, in fact, an undersea craft; on board is the Silurian Icthar, with his subordinates, Scibus and Tarpok.

Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor has set coordinates for Earth, telling Turlough he has promised Tegan to show her some of her planet’s history. The TARDIS masterialises in orbit over Earth, but is confronted by a robotic security satellite, Sentinel Six, which demands the TARDIS transmit the proper security code.

Meanwhile, the sea base sends out an unmanned probe to check on the identified reading, just to be sure. Taking note of the probe, Scibus is concerned that they will be detected, but Icthar sends a Myrka, a large aquatic reptile with the ability to electrocute other organisms (similar to that of an electric eel’s) that the Silurians' control, against it; he assures Scibus that the creature will destroy of the probe before they are detected. They then descend to a secret underwater berth where their cousin-species, the Sea Devils, have long been in hibernation.

Sea Base 4 undergoes a missile run and Maddox is synched to the computer; it turns out to only be a practice drill but when it ends, Maddox is overwhelmed with anxiety and faints. The base’s chief medical officer, Doctor Solow, declares Maddox is unfit for duty. Vorshak is concerned; until Maddox can return to his duties or a replacement is assigned, the function of the base is compromised. Another officer, Nilson, suggests to Vorshak that they use a special security disk to reprogram Maddox’s brain and help the sync operator cope with his job. Vorshak agrees and releases a duplicate program disk to Nilson and Solow, who take Maddox to the medical area’s psycho-surgery unit. Nilson and Solow, however, are actually enemy agents for the opposing bloc; they plan to program Maddox so that he will destroy the nuclear weapons computer.

Exiting the TARDIS, the Doctor, Tegan, and Turlough find themselves in a chemical storage area. From the design, The Doctor accurately surmises the year and is aware of the time period’s cold war. Turlough signals for a lift, inadvertently triggering an alert in the base’s security system. A team lead by Bulic is dispatched to investigate. The Doctor sets a reactor to overload in an attempt to avoid capture; this allows Tegan and Turlough to escape, but the security guard catches up the Doctor. The two struggle and fall over a ledge into a pool of water.

Part Two

The Doctor takes a swim

The Doctor swims underwater and escapes through a hatchway. Tegan and Turlough escape through a bulkhead, sabotaging it so they cannot be followed by Bulic and his security guards. A security guard is electrocuted while trying to open the bulkhead. The Doctor finds the guard and takes his radiation suit. Meanwhile, Turlough allows himself to be captured in order to give Tegan a chance to escape.

In the underwater berth, Icthar revives the Sea Devils warriors of Elite Group One from their hibernation and orders their commander, Sauvix, to attack Sea Base 4. They may kill the Humans, but Icthar needs the base intact and undamaged.

The Doctor meets up with Tegan, who he leaves in hiding he while he enters the Bridge to find Turlough. Tegan, however, is found by Preston, a worker on the Sea Base, who he takes to the Bridge. An undersea craft comes into view of the base and Vorshak orders a missile run. The Doctor reveals himself and tells Vorshak to call off the attack, stating that the Silurians are a noble race. Vorshak ignores him and the Silurians use a particle compressor to neutralise the base’s defences. In the confusion, Solow and Nilson use Maddox to sabotage the station. One of the base’s personnel, Karina, discovers this and attempts to stop Maddox, but Solow and Nilson force him to kill her.

The Silurians then launch their attack, dispatching the Myrka against the sea base’s Airlock 1 and the Sea Devils to assault Airlock 5. The Doctor and his companions head to Airlock 2 while Vorshak, Preston, and a team head to Airlock 5. The Myrka breaks the door down, trapping Tegan and killing some of the base’s crew with its electric touch; the Doctor stays to free Tegan, but the other other crew members retreat; sealing the bulkhead and therefore leaving the Doctor and Tegan trapped in the airlock with the Myrka.

Part Three

The Myrka dies in the beam of an ultra violet-light generator

The Doctor temporarily blinds the Myrka with a rifle power pack. Turlough races to the Bridge and threatens Nilson with a rifle to open the airlock that the Doctor and Tegan are trapped in. Nilson does this and the Doctor and Tegan escape and head to Airlock 5, but this also releases the Myrka. The creature begins making its way toward the Bridge, killing more of the base’s personnel. The Silurians prime up a device called a manipulator and prepare to enter on the base.

Preston leaves Vorshak at Airlock 5 and heads off to help the Doctor and Tegan stop the Myrka. He finds Maddox still sabotaging the bases controls. The Sea Devils blow open Airlock 5 and ruthlessly kill the defenders, suffering no casualties of their own. Vorshak manages to survive and retreat. Dr. Solow tries to flee the base with the reprogramming disk by way of escape pod, but is killed by the Myrka. The Doctor is eventually able to destroy the Myrka using an ultra-violet light generator.

The Sea Devils continue their the push towards the Bridge, killing any crew that stand in their way, the Silurians following in their path. The Vorshak reaches the Bridge and finds Nilson, now revealed as an enemy agent, holding Preston at gunpoint. Maddox tries to stop Nilson, but Nilson overloads the control unit for Maddox’s brain, killing him.

Nilson leaves the Bridge and encounters the Doctor and Tegan, taking Tegan as a hostage in an attempt to escape, but the Doctor blinds him with the ultra-violet generator. A group of Sea Devils arrive and kill Nilson; locking Turlough and Bulic in the crews’ quarters, they then turn their guns on the Doctor.

Part Four

The TARDIS crew laments a regrettable end to hostilities

The Sea Devils take the Doctor to the Bridge, now under the control of the Silurians, and lock Tegan and Preston in the crews’ quarters with Turlough and Bulic. The Doctor recognizes Icthar from his third incarnation and confronts him about the massacre in the base. Icthar explains to the Doctor and Vorshak his plan to destroy mankind by starting a nuclear war with the base’s missiles. The nations of the world will retaliate, wiping one another out. They undo the damage caused by Maddox’s sabotage and connect the manipulator to the systems.

The Doctor manages to escapes from the bridge and tries to find something to use against the reptiles. He discovers some cylinders of Hexachromite gas, which is lethal to all reptile life. A Sea Devil discovers the Doctor's presence and attempts to shoot him. He misses the Doctor and hits one of the gas containers which sprays all over the warrior. As a result, the warrior begins to dissolve. Preston urges the Doctor to use the gas on the Silurians and Sea Devils. The Doctor adamantly refuses, accusing Preston of advocating genocide. Turlough reminds the Doctor of what the Silurians will do if they are able to launch the missiles; when he is unable to find anything else harmful but less lethal, the Doctor regretfully begins to connect the gas containers to a central air pump. The Doctor is discovered by Sauvix before he can turn the pump on. Preston grabs a gun, but is killed by Sauvix; Bulic sprays Sauvix with the gas, killing him.

As the Silurians prepare to fire the missiles, the Doctor feeds the gas into the ventilation system. Bulic stays in the chemical store to ensure that the gas keeps flowing, while the Doctor and his companions leave for the bridge to try to stop the Silurians. Scibus activates the missiles as the Sea Devils begin to collapse from the gas and the Doctor tells Tegan and Turlough to give the Silurians oxygen to keep them alive. The Doctor, aided by Vorshak, tries to stop the missiles by linking himself into the equipment as the sync operator. The Doctor succeeds, but Vorshak is killed by Icthar. Then Icthar is himself killed by Turlough. Finally, it is all over. The Doctor, his companions, and Bulic are the only survivors. The Doctor is left in despair for both the base’s personnel and the Silurians, regretfully pondering, "There should have been another way." [1]




Story Notes

  • During the production of this story, Janet Fielding and Peter Davison both announced their decision to leave later in the year.
  • This story was beset with numerous production problems and even political considerations (Margaret Thatcher had called an election when production began, and the reference to two superpowers in the story would be seen as a reference to the Cold War). The story is generally acknowledged as one of the most badly produced Doctor Who stories.
  • In the last episode there is a comical scene where Solow attempts to fight the Myrka by dealing it a karate kick. She is electrocuted as a result. It was this footage, amongst others, that was later to be presented by BBC executives who wanted to axe Doctor Who.
  • Writer Johnny Byrne has stated that several elements of this story were not in his original script including: the deaths of Icthar and Vorshak at the story's end, the "drop kicking ' German female scientist and "Nowhere did I describe it (the Myrka) as a four-legged beast on loan from Pano-Horses-Are-Us".[2]
  • Byrne has also stated that the base looked nothing as he envisioned it "I was very specific in my description of the base - rusting, leaking virtually forgotten by all except those on board - the atmosphere and look was something like Alien with the Myrka essentially a lurking deadly pressence waiting to reveal itself."[2].
  • It was decided that the sets should be brightly lit. This had the effect of downplaying the elements of intrigue, horror and suspense in the story.
  • The original Sea Devil costumes were all lost or destroyed at the time of production. All that remained was a head, which was on display in the BBC museum. The head was used to make a mould for the new Sea Devil costumes, with the side fins removed in order to incorparate their helmets.


  • Part One - 7.6 million viewers
  • Part Two - 7.5 million viewers
  • Part Three - 7.3 million viewers
  • Part Four - 6.6 million viewers


to be added

Filming Locations

  • Royal Engineer's Diving Establishment, McMullen Barracks, Marchwood, Hampshire
  • BBC Television Centre (TC6), Shepherd's Bush, London
  • Shepperton Studios (Stage A), Littleton, Middlesex,
  • BBC (Kendal Avenue) (Visual Effects Workshop), Kendal Avenue, Acton

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

This story suffered from more than usual continuity problems. At one point more than 120 points of discontinuity were identified before production. As many as possible were corrected, but because of time constraints many remained.

  • Why would the sea Devils call themselves, 'Sea Devils?' Ditto for the Silurians, which according to the standard Evolutionary theory could not have been around until the Mesozoic era. Indeed, in The Sea Devils the Third Doctor says the Silurians should have been called Eocenes (but even this is wrong, as the Eocene is in the Age of Mammals, not the Age of Reptiles). He also claims that the 'Silurians' and 'Sea Devils' are variants of the the same race. They presumably refer to themselves and their race by some name or other, and the "translation" for us is Silurians and Sea Devils. It's like watching a scene where the characters obviously aren't speaking English to each other, but we "hear it as such" as a convenience.
  • In DW: Doctor Who and the Silurians the Silurians are land-based beings. It is not explained how they come to be in the sea. They went there to find and team up with the local Sea Devils. The DVD commentary mentioned that the original script said that a build-up of ultraviolet light on the Earth's surface had forced the Silurians underwater.
  • The function of the "light" on the Silurians head has changed from DW: Doctor Who and the Silurians, and is now closer to the Daleks' light bulbs showing which one is speaking. In the previous story they were far more interesting. They had the power to kill, render unconscious, dissolve rock, and activate Silurian technology. They might still have that capability, but also choose to use it while talking.
  • The Doctor says that the Silurians had always wanted to live in peace with humanity. This is not exactly true. In DW: Doctor Who and the Silurians their attitude is at first ambivalent. They regard humans with contempt and call them 'apes'. It is the Third Doctor who persuades the leader of the Silurians to seek peaceful co-existence. But there exists a more powerful faction amongst them, which, lead by a younger Silurian, overthrows and kills the leader. From that point they mean to exterminate humanity. In The Sea Devils the creatures have hostile intentions toward humanity. The Doctor very briefly persuades their leader to seek peace. But after the humans attack their base, they resume their malevolent intent. The Doctor is perhaps being somewhat hopeful or optimistic at this point, as he is often wont to do.
  • How can the Doctor be offended that the personnel of the base suspect he is a saboteur when he has initiated a nuclear meltdown merely to provide a distraction so he and his companions can escape? Being offended is often not a logical emotional response.
  • The Doctor claims he knows Ichtar, though it cannot be from his previous chronicled encounter with the Silurians. In Doctor Who and the Silurians the leader of the Silurians is unamed, and is in any case killed by another unamed Silurian who takes his place. Ichtar cannot be the Silurian scientist in that story, who prepares a disease to kill humankind, and so is hardly worthy of the praise the Doctor gives Ichtar. It is possible of course that the Doctor met Ichtar in an unchronicled adventure.



DVD and Video Releases


Main article: Warriors of the Deep (novelisation)

External Links

  • BBC - Doctor Who - The Classic Series - Episode Guide: Warriors of the Deep
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide - Detailed Synopsis - Warriors of the Deep
  • Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel) - A Brief History of Time (Travel): Warriors of the Deep
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures: Story Locations - Warriors of the Deep


  1. Beneath the Surface Warriors of the Deep Plot summary used with permission
  2. 2.0 2.1 Howe, David J., Stammers, Mark, Walker, Stephen James, 1997, Doctor Who: The Eighties, Doctor Who Books, an imprint of Virgin Books, London, p.53
Season 21
Warriors of the Deep  • The Awakening  • Frontios  • Resurrection of the Daleks  • Planet of Fire  • The Caves of Androzani  • The Twin Dilemma
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 "Warriors of the Deep" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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