Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster

Posted May 22, 2010 by Andrew John
Is there a Scottish takeover of Doctor Who in progress? Karen Gillan, who plays the Doctor’s companion Amy Pond in the current series, certainly seems to think so.
Silurians  2010
Silurians, 2010
BBC publicity photograph
In an interview with the Scottish Daily Record, Scots lass Gillan, 22, has revealed that she’s been badgering the show’s executive producer, Steven Moffat – also a Scot – to do a Highland special. And she would love to see the Scottish comedian Billy Connolly appear in an episode featuring the Loch Ness Monster.
She told the paper: “The Scots are taking over. I said to Steven that we should do something with the Loch Ness Monster in Inverness.”
Gillan is originally from Inverness, where the home of the world-famous Loch Ness Monster – known affectionately as Nessie – is reputed to live. She and Arthur Darvill (who plays Rory Williams) joined the new Doctor, Matt Smith, for the current series of the BBC Wales-produced science-fiction drama earlier this year.
Matt Smith, 27, is one of Britain’s fastest-rising stars, though he didn’t set out to be such: he trained as a professional soccer player until injury put a stop to that career path.
Smith made his professional TV acting debut in 2006 in Philip Pullman’s Ruby in the Smoke, which Billie Piper, who plays Rose Tyler in Doctor Who. Less than three years later, he was cast as the eleventh Doctor, at 26 becoming the youngest actor to take on the role.
Smith’s first appearance as the Time Lord was broadcast in the UK on New Year’s Day 2010, when he took over from David Tennant.
He’ll be starring in the Christopher Isherwood biopic Christopher and His Kind, taking the role of Isherwood, while youngster Douglas Booth, 17, plays his lover.
Och aye, the Who! – Doctor Who and the Big Yin
“I would love to see someone like Billy Connolly in the show [but not as Nessie, we presume]. I just think we should have someone who’s a big character and who is really funny. Someone like that, who is Scottish,” she told the Daily Record.
Glaswegian Billy Connolly is a comedian, actor, musician
Let Zygons be Zygons
Let Zygons be Zygons
BBC publicity photograph
and TV presenter. He is often referred to as “the Big Yin”, a nickname he acquired as a teenager.
Since Russell T. Davies returned Doctor Who to TV screens in 2005, there has been much speculation that the Zygons would return. David Tennant – who played the tenth Doctor from 2005 to 2010 – made no secret of the fact that they were one of his favourite monsters. In April 2006, he told Radio Times: “I still think the Zygons were a bit of a design classic. If we got [prosthetics expert] Neill Gorton onto them now we could do something pretty exciting.”
The Hungry Earth
For now, however, Who fans will have to make do with another old adversary of the Doctor, the Silurians, who make their return to the show tonight in the UK (two weeks’ time in the US, Canada and Australia) in a two-part story, The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood, by Chris Chibnall (during which Meera Syal of Beautiful People fame joins the cast). It’s the first time they’ve appeared in Doctor Who for more than a quarter of a century.
The lizard-like monsters have surfaced only twice in the television show’s 47-year history, first appearing in the programme a staggering 40 years ago, in the Malcolm Hulke-penned story Doctor Who and the Silurians – when Jon Pertwee was playing the third Doctor – and, again, in 1984, in Johnny Byrne’s Warriors of the Deep, with the fifth Doctor, Peter Davison.
The Loch Ness Monster has already appeared in the popular science-fiction series, in 1975, in Terror of the Zygons. In that story, the fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, fell foul of the Zygons, an alien race that enlisted Nessie to help further their dastardly plans of world domination. However, the representation of Nessie was far from convincing!
Alex Westthorp, of Den of Geek, sums it up thus: “The storyline was good but the special-effects department seriously let them down. Nessie looked more
Diagrammatic views of Nessie as seen in Wikipedia
Diagrammatic views of Nessie as seen in Wikipedia
Wikimedia Commons
like something knocked up on Blue Peter [see under ‘Background’ below] than a proper scary monster.”
With today’s better production values, a modern representation of the monster would be very different. And, after world domination, a Scottish takeover of Doctor Who should be a cinch for old Nessie. BBC Wales beware!
In Australia and North America – which are two weeks behind the UK – tonight’s episode is The Vampires of Venice by Toby Whithouse (Being Human).
The Loch Ness Monster is a cryptid (a term used in cryptozoology to refer to a creature whose existence has been suggested but not recognised by a scientific consensus). The monster is reputed to live in Loch Ness, Inverness-shire, in the Scottish Highlands. According to, the most common speculation among Nessie-believers
Book adaptation of Terror of the Zygons
Book adaptation of Terror of the Zygons
and the press is that the creature represents a line of long-surviving plesiosaurs. It is similar to other supposed lake monsters in Scotland and elsewhere, though its description varies from one account to the next.
The earliest report of a monster associated with Loch Ness appeared in Adomnán’s seventh-century Life of St Columba, and was first “sighted” in modern times in 1933. Evidence of its existence is anecdotal, with minimal and much-disputed photographic material and sonar readings.
The scientific community regards the creature as a modern-day myth, explaining sightings as a mix of hoaxes and wishful thinking.
In Doctor Who, the Silurians were introduced as the Earth’s first sentient species, who lived during prehistoric times with the dinosaurs
Book adaptation of Doctor Who and the Silurians
Book adaptation of Doctor Who and the Silurians
, but went into self-induced hibernation when the planet was threatened with cosmic catastrophe. Since awakening, they have tried on several occasions to reclaim their birthright from the humans. Their name was given to them by humans who, incorrectly, identified the reptiles as being from the Silurian geological period. However, the Silurian epoch occurred before dinosaurs or tetrapods had evolved.
In Warriors of the Deep, the fifth Doctor claims that they should be called the Eocenes. But this, too, is incorrect as, by that epoch, the dinosaurs had long become extinct. In subsequent Doctor Who novels, the creatures have been referred to as “Earth Reptiles” and “Indigenous Terrans”.
The Silurians are related to their underwater cousins, the Sea Devils. They first appeared in a 1972 serial, The Sea Devils – with Jon Pertwee’s third Doctor, his companion, Jo Grant (Katy Manning) and the Master (Roger Delgado) – and later, with the Silurians, in Warriors of the Deep. The Sea Devils have also appeared in an audio adventure, Bernice Summerfield and the Poison Seas;
Book adaptation of The Sea Devils
Book adaptation of The Sea Devils
three Doctor Who Magazine comic strips, Devil of the Deep, City of Devils and The Cybermen: The Hungry Sea; and, with the Silurians, in two Doctor Who novels – Blood Heat (1993), by Jim Mortimore, and The Scales of Injustice (1996), by Gary Russell; a comic strip, The Cybermen: The Dark Flame; and a computer-game-based adventure, Destiny of the Doctors.
To date, Doctor Who and the Silurians is the only example of the words “Doctor Who” being used in the title in this way for the television series – although Episode 5 of The Chase, starring William Hartnell as the first Doctor, was called The Death of Doctor Who, and the 1996 movie starring Paul McGann as the eighth Doctor was called, simply, Doctor Who.
As well as the Silurians, this year also saw the 40th anniversary of Jon Pertwee’s becoming the Doctor. His first televised story was Spearhead from Space by Robert Holmes, which showed the series in colour for the first time. (Doctor Who and the Silurians was his second story.) In the first Pertwee story, the Autons were introduced to herald what had become a new look and a new era for Doctor Who.
Russell T. Davies used the Autons to herald the relaunch of Who in 2005 after its 16-year television hiatus. That story was called Rose and starred Christopher Eccleston as the ninth Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler.
Terror of the Zygons was later adapted as a novel, by Terrance Dicks, under the title Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster.
Blue Peter is a BBC magazine programme, famous for teaching children how to make all manner of things using ordinary household objects such as newspaper, washing-up-liquid bottles and sticky-back plastic.