Jodie Whittaker and Team TARDIS returns to take down the Sea Devils in this swashbuckling Easter special. But what monsters shiver your timbers?
By Simon Ward, Content Editor
The scent of regeneration in the air on Doctor Who. Jodie Whittaker’s time as the 13th incarnation of The Doctor (yes, yes, we know that numbering system is all a bit messed up now after some major shocks) is almost up, as we reach the second of two final specials that will see her bowing out of the TARDIS to be replaced by… who?
As we write, that is still uncertain. But one thing we do know is that this latest Easter special features a returning foe that has so far evaded the Time Lord since the show’s reappearance back in 2005. They are the sinister aquatic beasts, the Sea Devils; amphibious Earth reptiles that were first seen in the 9th series of the iconic sci-fi show in 1972.
In the swashbuckling special, The Doctor (Whittaker), Dan (John Bishop) and Yaz (Mandip Gill) face off against the Sea Devils and pirate queen Madame Ching (Crystal Yu). When Madame Ching – a real-life 19th-century pirate leader – goes in search of the lost treasure of legendary ship the Flor de la Mar, she inadvertently unleashes a monstrous alien force.
Like many classic Who monsters, the Sea Devils have been given a modern makeover and have been described by the show’s boss Chris Chibnall as a “terrifying evil”. But what are the scariest monsters in Nu Who history? We check them out…
First appearance in the new series: Blink, series 2 (2007)
Truly terrifying. Monsters hiding as quantum-locked statues who are stationary if they are seen. Until you turn away. Until you blink. Then they attack. Since they made their debut in the series, grown adults now walk past statues at night with a lot more trepidation.
First appearance in the new series: The Impossible Astronaut, series 6 (2011)
The most alien-looking monster we’ve seen in the new era, they were forgettable – in the sense the second you turned your head, you’d forget about your encounter with them. Long fingers, creepy suits and bloodcurdling screams added to their overall dread.
First appearance in the new series: The Empty Child, series 1 (2005)
Mixing the terror and unstoppable nature of a zombie, but in the body of a child. Give that kid a gas mask and a haunting catchphrase – “Are you my mummy?” – and the ability to make lights flicker, telephone ring and hearts thump, we’re out the door running.
First appearance in the new series: The Waters Of Mars, autumn special (2009)
If you want a monster that epitomises how creative Doctor Who can be: they made water scary! A viral lifeform that infects other beings through close contact (gulp!), with their cracked skin and fast running (SO FAST!), even David Tennant could barely stop them.
First appearance in the new series: Dalek, series 1 (2005)
The genetically engineered pepper pots may not cause the panic and hysteria of their first appearance back in 1963, but the Daleks’ reinvention in the new series (they can now do stairs!) means they are always menacing and by far the Doctor’s most formidable foe.
First appearance in the new series: Utopia, series 3 (2007)
The Doctor’s ultimate frenemy. Another Time Lord from Gallifrey, the pair have fought each other across all of time and space, but have occasionally teamed up. As Missy, the renegade Time Lord even tried to give being good a bash. It did not go well or last long.
First appearance in the new series: Silence In The Library, series 4 (2008)
Literally meaning “the shadows that melt the flesh”, these are carnivorous swarms of microscopic beings The Doctor described as piranhas of the air. They can strip a creature down to bone in seconds. Oh great, we all thought, now we’re scared of our own shadows.
First appearance in the new series: Midnight, series 4 (2008)
The Weeping Angels may usually top the scariest monster lists in the modern era, but we’d put our money behind this thing. It’s never seen. Never given a name. It communicates by stealing people’s voices, sewing paranoia. This is Who at its most genuinely frightening.
First appearance in the new series: Rise Of The Cybermen, series 2 (2006)
The cybernetically augmented humanoids have undergone many forms. Most recently, the partially converted Cyberman Ashad in series 12 was proper petrifying, while companion Bill’s conversion into a Mondasian Cyberman in series 10 showed the monster’s tragic side.
First appearance in the new series: The Impossible Planet, series 2 (2006)
We’re not talking about the big red guy in the second episode of this two-parter. The Beast’s true fear factor came from how it possessed people, especially a character named Toby with his red eyes, deep voice and face writing. The scariest “Toby” in the galaxy.
Doctor Who 2022 specials: Legend Of The Sea Devils release date
Doctor Who: Legend Of The Sea Devils airs on BBC One HD (CH 101) and BBC iPlayer at 7.10pm on Sunday 17 April. Catch up on 13 series of Doctor Who in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer.
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Image credits: Doctor Who © BBC Studios