Chapter 87. Doctor Who – Warriors of the Deep (1984)

Synopsis: The Earth was once home to a race of intelligent reptiles who dominated the land and the sea. Having spent millions of years in hibernation, they are now preparing to awake and reclaim their planet. As the personnel of a nearby underwater military base run tests in preparation for a potential war, their paranoia and stress is being exploited from within by agents secretly working for a foreign power. The Doctor has failed to broker peace with the reptiles before, but now the Sea Devils and Silurians are working together to trigger a war that could eradicate humanity entirely.

Chapter Titles

  • 1. The Intruder
  • 2. The Traitors
  • 3. Hunted
  • 4. The Sea Devils Awake
  • 5. The Attack
  • 6. The Myrka
  • 7. The Breakthrough
  • 8. Sabotage
  • 9. The Hostage
  • 10. Captured
  • 11. Counterattack
  • 12. Sacrifice

Background: Terrance Dicks adapts scripts by Johnny Byrne for the serial broadcast just four months earlier.

Notes: By 2084, Earth is divided into two power blocs, East and West (suggested on screen but not spelled out) and after space stations proved vulnerable to ‘spy-satellites and the searing blast of laser beams’, many of Earth’s defence systems are now housed under the sea. Commander Vorshak has ‘the rugged good looks of a recruiting-poster hero, much to his own embarrassment’. The hull of the Silurian vessel has an irregular surface, as if it were ‘grown rather than manufactured’. The Silurians are ‘immensely tall, robed figures’…:

… brown-skinned with great crested heads and huge bulging eyes. Their slow, almost stately movements, their coldly measured speech-tones gave evidence of their reptilian origin.

Icthar is confirmed as the sole survivor of the ‘Silurian Triad’ and it’s made clear that the Doctor specifically remembers him as one of three Silurians from their origin story [see The Cave Monsters for Okdel, K’to and Morka – thought he could be one of the other bystanders who survives the end of the story only to be entombed]. He led the return to hibernation and awoke over a hundred years later. The Sea Devil warriors are in suspended animation in a chamber in the bowels of the Silurian ship (not in their own base as on TV), which is where Icthar found them, frozen under a polar ice cap (so Sea Devils and Silurians presumably had an alliance at some earlier point, considering the Sea Devils are piloting a craft that the Doctor recognises as specifically Silurian). There’s a handy addition to the backstory of the Earth Reptiles, summarising their two previous appearances. Apparently, many of them had developed’ almost mystic powers, the Silurian ‘third eye’ being ‘the source of psychic energy that enabled some Silurians to dominate lesser races by sheer mental force’.

Terrance Dicks still considers Tegan to be an ‘air-hostess’; she hasn’t been one for some time now, after she was sacked, and hadn’t actually started work prior to Time Flight, so it might be time to accept that she’s ex-flight crew now and let her move on, eh?

Doctor Solow was recruited by Nilson to the cause of the Eastern Bloc. She was ‘disappointed in her career, left alone by the death of her husband and her parents’ so she fell ‘an easy prey to Nilson’s arguments’. Icthar found the Myrka along with Sauvix’s ship and revived it. The beast is ‘like a kind of pocket dinosaur’ with a ‘hideous dragon-like head’ and ‘a long tail’ that is agile enough to use as a weapon against its attackers.

The Doctor climbs out of his stolen sea base uniform as soon as he’s handed the gun over to Vorshak. The charred bulkhead door reminds Turlough of toast, which triggers a memory of ‘study teas’ at his public school, ‘with a terrified fag to make the toast’; for non-English readers, this isn’t quite as offensive as it sounds, referring to the public-school practice of forcing the younger boys to work as servants (or fags) for older boys. The fact that he finds himself running towards the sound of battle with a gun in his hand strikes Turlough as odd. Later, he and Preston shoot down two Sea Devils to rescue the Doctor and Tegan; Turlough reminds Preston to ‘Aim for the head’. Tegan is surprised by Turlough’s change of heart but decides to give him the benefit of the doubt. As the Doctor laments that there ‘should have been another way’, he also recognises that Bulic won’t be the sole survivor and maybe he can lead the others and get the base running again.

Cover: The first release boasts a straightforward portrait of a Sea Devil warrior by Andrew Skilleter. Alister Pearson’s 1992 cover is really classy, with the sea base and the Doctor between a Silurian and a Sea Devil. There’s also a new brand logo, the colourful target is dropped in favour of a hollow, white line drawing.

Final Analysis: Terrance Dicks has form for improving on the limitations of what could be achieved in a studio: Adapting a story that was famously overlit because of external pressures, he tells us here that the whiteness of the sea base is intentional, a design choice to counter the blackness of the deep sea; while the Silurians walk and speak slowly not because of restrictive costumes but because it’s dignified to do so; the heavy bulkhead door lands on Tegan, whose foot is ‘only trapped, not mangled’; and the Myrka is a horrific beast with a lithe and deadly tail! In truth, I’ve always loved this story, so it’s gratifying to see Terrance do it justice, even if some of the enhancements are tongue in cheek, it at least allows him to pay tribute to his friend Malcolm Hulke in reminding new readers of the origins of the Sea Devils and Silurians.

We should remember also that this novel, like the story it retells, was released in 1984, the year that Ultravox released Dancing with Tears in My Eyes and Frankie Goes to Hollywood topped the charts with Two Tribes. While the TV episodes and the novel both predate the harrowing drama Threads this was the peak year for anxiety of mutual annihilation from a nuclear attack, the most ‘1984’ story we could have got, short of a celebrity historical where the Doctor meets George Orwell.

Chapter 5. Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters (1974)

aka Doctor Who – The Silurians (1992)

Synopsis: Long before mankind evolved to take over the Earth, it was inhabited by a race of technologically advanced reptiles. An oncoming catastrophe drove them into hibernation for millions of years. Now they’ve awakened and they want the planet back.

Chapter Titles

  • 1. Prologue: The Little Planet
  • 2. The Doctor Gets a Message
  • 3. The Traitor
  • 4. Power Loss
  • 5. The Fighting Monster
  • 6. Into the Caves
  • 7. Quinn Visits His Friends
  • 8. Into an Alien World
  • 9. The Search
  • 10. Man Trap
  • 11. The Doctor Makes a Visit
  • 12. Goodbye, Dr Quinn
  • 13. The Prisoner
  • 14. Man from the Ministry
  • 15. Attack and Counter-Attack
  • 16. The Itch
  • 17. Epidemic
  • 18.  A Hot World
  • 19. The Lie

Background: Malcolm Hulke adapts his scripts from the 1970 serial Doctor Who and the Silurians. As this followed Spearhead from Space on TV, this is another pair of stories to be adapted as consecutive releases.

Notes: The prologue introduces us to Okdel, a reptile, who sees the rest of his race entering the shelters in preparation for catastrophe. He wonders if there’s life on this new object in the sky and K’to, a scientist, tells him it’s unlikely as it’s been travelling across space. It’s such a kind, considerate question – is this going to be a cataclysm for them too? The prologue explains the basic idea behind the reptile hibernation and shows us division among their ranks as Okdel keeps mammals as pets but his colleague Morka considers them ‘vermin’ and K’to is concerned by the mammal raids on reptile-grown crops. Okdel also notes how scientists often get things wrong – a handy excuse for some of the scientific liberties Hulke will be taking in his story. While it robs the reader of the surprise of who the ‘cave monsters’ are, it prepares us for a tale that tries to see things from multiple perspectives.

Once we join the Doctor and Liz, it’s clearly been some time since the Auton Invasion as Liz recognises a Corporal, who in turn knows the Doctor well enough to know the name of his new car, and Liz has also formed an opinion of the Doctor as ‘the most thoughtful and considerate scientist I have ever worked with’ (though this might be sarcasm as he’s being unconsciously patronising to her). The opening scenes of the potholers have been cut, condensed into a reported summary from Dr Quinn, and in fact, we meet almost all the core human cast in the space of a few pages and learn much more about their background and motivations than we do across seven episodes of TV: Dr Quinn and Miss Dawson gain first names (Matthew and Phyllis); Quinn’s wife was killed in a car crash and he wants to gain fame for discovering the reptile men (they’re not called Silurians, but the word is used as the password to gain entry to the base); Phyllis Dawson is excited by the prospect of doing actual research now that she’s free from being held back by her recently deceased mother; Major Baker is now ‘Barker’ and is shown to be insensitive (calling one patient ‘looney’) and generally paranoid and bigoted against ‘communists… fascists… Americans’, basically anyone who isn’t English.

The outbreak of the reptile virus is depicted differently: Instead of Masters arriving at St Pancras Station and collapsing , we see him aboard the train (infecting a ticket inspector who later dies) and then he leaves the train, catches a taxi and dies before reaching London. Dr Lawrence’s given a different exit too, killed by a reptile heat ray as a warning to the other humans, rather than falling victim to the virus.

Cover & Illustrations:  The first release had a cover by Chris Achilleos. The cover showed the Doctor from Day of the Daleks with a green Silurian (without a third eye!), a T-rex-like dinosaur and a volcano. I’m very fond of the 1992 Alister Pearson reprint cover (when the book was retitled) with the ‘windows’ over the Earth and photorealistic versions of the T-rex and Silurian, but the Achilleos one is truly epic. The illustrations, also by Achilleos, include a horizontal section showing the cave system beneath Wenley Moor. My favourite shows Dr Quinn chatting with a Silurian that looks like he’s a guest on a chat show.

Final Analysis: I always assumed this was renamed ‘The Cave Monsters’ to simplify the idea of ‘Silurians’ make the title easier for younger readers to understand, but reading this again, I suspect it might also have been Hulke making a point; as Whitaker did in The Crusaders, Hulke works hard to show balance, there are progressive reptile men (though no women) as shown with Oktel, as well as the paranoid and bigotted Morka, plus the pragmatic K’po – and their emotions are mirrored by the Doctor, Barker and Quinn (and later Lawrence) – and the various actions of the humans make then equally monstrous cave dwellers as the members of the much older race. Aside from that cheeky password the Doctor uses to gain entry to the base, the word ‘Silurian’ doesn’t appear in the book – and as it was written a couple of years after the sequel to this story, Hulke manages to fix his original geological errors and establish the race as simply ‘Reptiles’.

And just one little namecheck for ‘Doctor Who’ in the text as well.