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24 September 2014

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The Sea Devils

Production Code: LLL

First Transmitted

1 - 26/02/1972 17:50

2 - 04/03/1972 17:50

3 - 11/03/1972 17:50

4 - 18/03/1972 17:50

5 - 25/03/1972 17:45

6 - 01/04/1972 17:50


The Doctor and Jo visit the Master in his high-security prison on an island off the south coast of England and hear from the governor, Colonel Trenchard, that ships have been mysteriously disappearing at sea.

Investigating, the Doctor learns from Captain Hart, commander of a nearby Naval base, that the sinkings have centred around an abandoned sea fort. He and Jo then visit the fort and are attacked by what one of the men there terms a Sea Devil - an amphibious breed of the prehistoric creatures encountered by the Doctor shortly after his exile to Earth.

The Master, aided by a misguided Trenchard, is stealing equipment from the Naval base in order to build a machine to revive the Sea Devils from hibernation.

The Doctor takes a diving bell down to the Sea Devils' underwater base to try to encourage peace. His efforts are frustrated by a depth charge attack ordered by a pompous politician, Walker, but in the confusion he manages to free a captured submarine and escape back to the surface.

The Sea Devils then capture the Naval base, and the Master has the Doctor taken back to their control centre, where he forces him to help finish the machine. The Doctor sabotages the machine and the two Time Lords escape together just as the base is destroyed in an explosion.

Episode Endings

The Doctor and Jo head for the sea fort to investigate further. Once there, their boat is destroyed, trapping them inside. They hear the shuffling gait and rasping breath of something approaching them down a corridor.

The Doctor returns to the prison to see the Master and walks into his trap. The two Time Lords fight with swords. The Doctor seems to gain the upper hand but, when he turns his back, the Master pulls a knife and throws it straight at him.

With Jo's help, the Doctor escapes from the Master's prison. The two head for the beach, where they find themselves caught between a squad of castle guards, a minefield and a Sea Devil that the Master has summoned from the sea.

The Doctor determines to descend in a diving bell to try to make contact with the reptiles. Jo watches anxiously as the bell is lowered. After a short time contact is lost and it is hauled back up again. Jo looks inside and sees to her horror that the Doctor has gone.

The Master leads an attack by the Sea Devils on the naval base. The Doctor and Jo, on their way with Captain Hart to try to make contact with the reptiles once more, find themselves facing the creatures on the base.

With the Sea Devil base destroyed, the Master contrives to escape in a hovercraft.



The Kraken Wakes.

Walker quotes the Naional Anthem.

Dialogue Triumphs

The Doctor : [Speaking of the Master.] "He used to be a friend of mine once... a very good friend. In fact, you might almost say we were at school together."

The Doctor : "If Horatio Nelson had been in charge of this operation, I hardly think that he would have waited for official instructions."

Captain Hart : "Yes... a pretty impulsive fellow. If one can believe the history books."

The Doctor : "History books? Captain Hart, Horatio Nelson was a personal friend of mine."

The Doctor : "Why begin a long and bloody war where thousands will be killed on both sides?"

Chief Sea Devil : "We shall destroy man and reclaim the planet."

The Doctor : "Is there nothing I can say to make you reconsider?"

Chief Sea Devil : "Nothing."

The Doctor : "I'm sorry."

Double Entendre

Trenchard : [To Hart] "Time for a quick one?"

Trenchard : [To the Master] "I can't keep it up, you know"


The Doctor and the Master were very good friends once: 'In fact, you might almost say we were at school together' [the Academy].

The 'Sea Devils' are never named (the fort survivor rambles on about sea devils). They are marine relatives of the Silurians, which this story makes clear is a misnomer. The Doctor blames their discoverer for this mistake, and calls them Eocenes. Unlike the land-based species, these creatures do not have a biological heat weapon, but instead have hand-held devices. There are colonies of perhaps millions of the creatures throughout the world.

The Master discovered the existence of the Sea Devils in stolen Time Lord files (see Terror of the Autons, 'Colony in Space'). [The Doctor, on the other hand, is unaware of the existence of the 'Silurians'.]

The sonic screwdriver can detect and explode mines. The Doctor is a trained diver and a very accurate blindfold golfer. Jo knows how to operate a hovercraft.


A south coast naval base (HMS Foxglove) and prison and surrounding waters, [Autumn 1971 (Note the Master's reference to colour television. The Clangers episode was first shown six months earlier.)]


The Doctor is a friend of Nelson's.


Stuntman Stuart Fell doubles, rather unconvincingly, for Katy Manning in the scene in Episode One where Jo climbs up a ladder to the sea fort.

The Doctor claims that the earlier description of the Earth's one-time reptilian rulers as 'Silurians' was incorrect, and that they should really have been referred to as 'Eocenes'. This piece of dialogue was included by writer Malcolm Hulke in response to claims by one or more viewers that it was impossible in evolutionary terms for the Silurian era to have spawned man-sized reptiles; ironically, however, it is equally unlikely that the Eocene era could have been the origin of such creatures.

This is the last instance of Derek Ware's stunt organisation HAVOC being contracted to perform a story's stunt work.


The Master watches The Rock Collector episode of Clangers on a television in his prison cell and fails to realise that it is a children's puppet show until this is pointed out to him by Colonel Trenchard. (The Master fully realises the nature of what he is watching. His comment to Trenchard that the Clangers seem to be 'a rather interesting extraterrestrial life-form' is intended to be a joke, and his expression clearly shows his frustration at Trenchard's lack of a sense of humour when he takes it literally.)

Roger Delgado was afraid of the water and it took great courage for him to film the scene in which the Master and the Doctor are rescued from the sea by the Navy. (This was frequently recalled by Jon Pertwee in later interviews, but according to Delgado's widow Kismet it is untrue. Delgado was actually worried about getting his costume wet, as there was no spare available.)


The Doctor reverses the polarity of the neutron flow (the only occasion he does during the Pertwee era).


The helicopter sent to rescue the Doctor and Jo changes in mid flight (it begins as a grey Sea King marked SO; in the second shot it has an orange nose and tail stripe and is numbered 56).

Jo leaves her handbag in the prison when rescuing the Doctor, but later regains it.

The rope attached to the life belt point is slack when the Master arrives, despite the fact that the Doctor is descending the cliff on it.

A rack of swords is placed just outside the Master's cell.

The Doctor's diving bell is pulled up so rapidly that he probably would have got the bends if he had been in it.

How did the air sea rescue helicopter get to the sea fort before the Doctor asks for it?

Why is the submarine hi-jacked?

Why don't the Sea Devils attack the escaping submarine?

In episode six, the Doctor's tinkering with the gadget disables the Sea Devils, and the Master just stands there and watches.

Fashion Victim

Jo (and stuntman Terry Walsh) in a white flared trouser suit, which goes well with the red crash helmet when following the Doctor on a motorbike.

Cast & Crew


The Doctor - Jon Pertwee

Jo Grant - Katy Manning

3rd Officer Jane Blythe - June Murphy

A/B Girton - Rex Rowland

C.P.O. Myers - John Caesar

C.P.O. Smedley - Eric Mason

C.P.O. Summers - Colin Bell

Captain Hart - Edwin Richfield

Castle Guard Barclay - Terry Walsh

Castle Guard Drew - Stanley McGeagh

Castle Guard Wilson - Brian Justice

Chief Sea Devil - Peter Forbes-Robertson

Clark - Declan Mulholland

Commander Ridgeway - Donald Sumpter

Hickman - Hugh Futcher

Ldg. Seaman Lovell - Christopher Wray

Ldg. Telegraphist Bowman - Alec Wallis

Lt. Commander Mitchell - David Griffin

Lt. Commander Watts - Brian Vaughan

Master - Roger Delgado

Radio Operator - Neil Seiler

Rear Admiral - Norman Atkyns

Robbins - Royston Tickner

Sea Devil - Pat Gorman

Trenchard - Clive Morton

Walker - Martin Boddey


Director - Michael E Briant

Action/Stunts - HAVOC stunt group

Assistant Floor Manager - John Bradburn

Costumes - Maggie Fletcher

Designer - Tony Snoaden

Fight Arranger - Derek Ware

Film Cameraman - Peter Sargent

Film Editor - Martyn Day

Incidental Music - Malcolm Clarke

Make-Up - Sylvia James

Producer - Barry Letts

Production Assistant - Colin Dudley

Script Editor - Terrance Dicks

Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson

Studio Lighting - Mike Jefferies

Studio Sound - Tony Millier

Studio Sound - Colin Dixon

Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Delia Derbyshire

Visual Effects - Peter Day

Writer - Malcolm Hulke

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

A good Malcolm Hulke script, full of characters (there are well over 20 speaking parts). The pace is pedestrian, although this gives a little more room for suspense. Like Doctor Who and the Silurians, the music veers between being eerily experimental and tunelessly intrusive.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

We open on a ship. Screams and shouts can be heard over the clamour of alarms, and a panicked sailor calls for help into the radio. Suddenly an alien hand reaches out and grasps the microphone as the sailor screams in terror...

From this dramatic beginning The Sea Devils unfolds as a colourful adventure yarn in much the same vein as The Claws of Axos and The Daemons. 'The Sea Devils was intended to be fun, and that's exactly what it succeeds in being,' wrote Alistair Hughes in TSV 48, dated August 1996. 'From the Doctor's famous "Horatio Nelson" quote in Episode One to the Master's cavalier wave as he makes his escape in Episode Six, we are treated to an enjoyable ride filled with memorable moments and fine portrayals.'

Despite the story's near-contemporary Earth setting, UNIT is for once totally unseen, leaving the Royal Navy to deal with this latest threat to the planet's security. The implication may perhaps be that UNIT is a purely land-based force with no jurisdiction over incidents occurring at sea, but this is left as a matter for speculation as no explanation is provided in the story itself. Fulfilling the Brigadier's usual narrative function as an incredulous military figurehead is Captain Hart, ably played by Edwin Richfield, who also has a trusty number two in the person of 3rd Officer Jane Blythe.

The most interesting guest character of all, however, is Colonel Trenchard, brilliantly portrayed by Clive Morton - although it must be seen as a damning indictment of the British authorities that they are content to entrust the security of the Master, supposedly their number one prisoner, to this bumbling ex-colonial official. It would indeed be difficult to imagine any less suitable person than Trenchard to be placed in charge of the Master, who manages to win him over without even using his hypnotic abilities, purely by the power of persuasion!

The monsters on this occasion are the eponymous Sea Devils (although the only character to refer to them as such is Clark, one of the hapless caretakers of the sea fort, who babbles incoherently about 'sea devils' when he is found by the Doctor and Jo). 'The finned, turtle-like Sea Devil heads are especially striking and stand lingering close-ups on many memorable occasions,' wrote Hughes. 'The head masks were worn as "top hats" by the actors to increase the neck length and break up the human shape, and the [result] brings to mind large aquatic creatures like whales and dolphins, which have very large heads with long tapering bodies. As has always been a strength in Doctor Who, the Sea Devils behave intelligently, not as lumbering "man-in-suit" monsters. Generally, they are used well, and it's refreshing to see them move quickly and agilely when they have to, pursuing the Doctor through the sea fort and capturing the Naval base as efficiently as any commando team...'

The creatures have a statuesque quality and, in the case of the Chief Sea Devil (the only one that speaks), a strange nobility imparted largely by Peter Forbes-Robertson's sensitive portrayal. They work very well in the action scenes, too, as they attack, get shot at and die in a variety of imaginative stunt falls - and even, on one occasion, a back-flip. Their weapons - silver, saucer-like discs that can blast or burn as required - are well designed and memorable, as Dallas Jones appreciated in A Voyage Through 25 Years of Doctor Who, dated December 1988: 'The gun itself I consider to be one of the most ingenious props in the series' history - simply because it doesn't look like a gun! It is so simple in appearance and [this] makes it seem all the more real.'

Another notable aspect of the story is that it showcases a wide variety of different forms of transport, including a motor boat, a scooter, a hovercraft, some one-man speedboats, a submarine, a diving vessel, a diving bell and a number of customised Citroens. This contributes greatly to its action-packed flavour. The same can be said also of the liberal use of stock footage of depth charges being laid and ships moving into attack; and so well integrated are these sequences with the location footage specially shot for the story that it is hard to see where one stops and the other starts. Apparently the Navy agreed to contribute to the production on condition that the story presented them in a good light, but given its underlying moral message - that blowing your perceived enemies to pieces might not always be the best solution - it is debatable whether or not they actually got their wish.

This moral dimension is a characteristic feature of Malcolm Hulke's stories. Here the viewer is presented with the plight of the reptiles, caught between the Master, the Doctor and the humans - who should they trust? Ultimately they are betrayed by all three, although it is the humans whose actions are shown to be the most irrational as the (admittedly somewhat clichßd) faceless civil servant Walker orders an attack on their base, thereby throwing away any chance of a peaceful solution to the conflict. The reptiles are left convinced that humanity is prepared to listen only to the language of violence.

Michael Briant's direction of the story is splendid, and the production values are high. The performances by all the leads are, as usual, excellent and believable, and the location work lends an air of reality to the proceedings. Perhaps the only area of contention is the incidental music, which is quite radically different from the norm for this period of Doctor Who's history - or indeed for any period. Radiophonic Workshop composer Malcolm Clarke, making his first contribution to the series, came up a score that can best be described as experimental. It is in effect a collection of atonal sounds that punctuate the action, in some parts melodic but in others simply a background noise (for example a low bubbling for the sequences set in the submarine). Opinions differ greatly as to the merits of this approach, but one thing that is certain is that no-one who watches The Sea Devils can possibly fail to miss what is arguably its most striking aspect.

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This episode guide is made up of the text of The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping, and Doctor Who: The Television Companion by David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker.

The Discontinuity Guide © Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping 1995.
Doctor Who: The Television Companion © David J Howe and Stephen James Walker 1998, 2003.

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