Silurian (Doctor Who)
|Doctor Who alien|
The 2010 redesign of the Silurians
|First appearance||Doctor Who and the Silurians (1970)|
The Silurians are a fictional race of reptile-like humanoids in the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. The species first appeared in Doctor Who in the 1970 serial Doctor Who and the Silurians, and were created by Malcolm Hulke. The first Silurians introduced are depicted as prehistoric and scientifically advanced sentient humanoids who predate the dawn of man; in their backstory, the Silurians went into self-induced hibernation to survive what they predicted to be a large geological upheaval caused by the Earth capturing the Moon. The Silurians introduced in the 1970 story are broad, three-eyed land-dwellers. The 1972 serial The Sea Devils also by Hulke introduced their amphibious cousins, the so-called 'Sea Devils'. Both Silurians and Sea Devils made an appearance in 1984's Warriors of the Deep. After Warriors of the Deep, the Silurians did not appear in the show again before its 1989 cancellation. Heavily redesigned Silurans were reintroduced to the series in 2010, following the show's 2005 revival, and have recurred frequently since then.
Commonly called Silurians, the creatures have also been referred to by other names. The terms "Silurians" and "Eocenes" are human misnomers, as the creatures date from a period between those times. The name Homo reptilia (itself a taxonomic misnomer, placing the species in the same genus as humans) is first used to describe the creatures in a novelisation of Doctor Who and the Silurians by Malcolm Hulke, and is first used in the series proper in the episode "The Hungry Earth" (2010).
Peter Bryant and Derrick Sherwin, drawing on the ideas of the Quatermass serials, decided that for the season's seventh series the Doctor should be restricted to contemporary Earth and working alongside the UNIT organisation, featured prominently in the recent serial The Invasion. Barry Letts and Terrence Dicks, inheriting this new vision for the series, also wanted their stories for the seventh season to have a serious, deeper subtext. They approached Malcolm Hulke, co-writer of the Patrick Troughton serials The Faceless Ones and The War Games, to write a serial for this new season.
Hulke saw limitations with this earthbound format – he believed there would be two types of stories, one featuring mad scientists and the other alien invasions. Terrence Dicks claims credit for thinking of the idea of creatures that had been there all along, however other sources give Hulke credit for deliberately thinking his way outside of his earlier preconceptions.
While planning stories for Doctor Who's ninth season, Terrence Dicks and Barry Letts decided to revive the Silurian concept, this time with the twist of these new Silurians originating in the sea. Originally dubbed "Sea Silurians", they were rechristened "Sea Devils" for dramatic effect as the scripts were edited.
Johnny Byrne, writer of the Peter Davison serial Warriors of the Deep, notes that the Myrka creature was created to absolve the Silurians from the guilt of genocide, using the creature as a weapon of last resort.
In their first appearance in Doctor Who and the Silurians, a group of Silurians were awakened from hibernation by the energy from a nearby nuclear power research center. The Doctor initially manages to negotiate an honorable compromise with the colony's leader. Unfortunately the colony's leader was assassinated by his own son who was intent on a far more aggressive policy. To that end, the Silurians then attempted to reclaim the planet from humanity by releasing a deadly virus and attempting to disperse the Van Allen radiation belt. Both plans were thwarted by the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) who was at that time stranded on Earth. Despite the Doctor's best efforts to broker a peaceful solution, the Silurians are still determined to exterminate Humanity, only to have their base destroyed by the fictional United Nations Intelligence Taskforce on the orders of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) to preempt this open threat.
In The Sea Devils (1972), an amphibious variety of Silurians were awakened from their hibernation by a renegade Time Lord known as the Master (Roger Delgado), who persuaded them to reclaim the planet from the human race. Despite the Doctor's efforts to convince them otherwise, the Sea Devils eventually decided to go to war, forcing the Doctor to destroy their base. It was revealed, however, that there were many colonies still in hibernation around the world. The land-based Silurians and the 'Sea Devils' next appeared, together, in Warriors of the Deep (1984), where they attempted again to reclaim Earth from the humans. Set in the year 2084 during a prolonged "cold war" between factions of humanity. The Sea Devils in this episode were described as being elite warriors; they sported bullet-proof samurai-style armour. The Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) tries in vain to prevent any bloodshed against either species; he tells companions Tegan (Janet Fielding) and Turlough (Mark Strickson) to give the Silurians oxygen to keep them safe from the hexachromite gas he released into the base's atmosphere. The last surviving Silurian in the episode, however, is killed by Turlough, leaving the Doctor despondent.
Silurians are reintroduced to the series, following its cancellation and revival, in the 2010 two-parter "The Hungry Earth" / "Cold Blood", in which Silurians are awoken in 2020 by an underground drilling operation. These Silurians lack the third eye of their 1970–1984 counterparts, and wear masks. Having misinterpreted the drilling as a deliberate attack, the Silurians take hostages. After a protracted conflict, the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) leaves behind two humans in the Silurian city to act as ambassadors to the human race when the Silurians re-awaken in a thousand years. Recurring character Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh) is then introduced in "A Good Man Goes to War" (2011) as a Silurian detective in the Victorian era, who befriended the Doctor after a brief rampage on the London Underground. She lives with her human companion and lover Jenny Flint, and after "A Good Man," also employs the Sontaran Strax as her butler. The "Paternoster Gang," as the three are known, appear again in "The Snowmen" (2012), "The Crimson Horror" and "The Name of the Doctor" (both 2013). In "The Crimson Horror", Vastra claims to be from 65 million years ago.
- In "The Pandorica Opens", some Silurians appear in 102 AD alongside various alien enemies of the Doctor (including alien Daleks, Sontarans, Nestenes and other species) to imprison the Doctor in the mythical "Pandorica" in order, as they see it, to save the universe from him.
- Silurians are mentioned in the 2011 Torchwood: Miracle Day episode "The Blood Line"; Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) briefly muses that the Blessing (an ancient phenomenon beneath the Earth's surface) could be out of "Silurian mythology".
- A Silurian doctor named Malohkeh(played by Richard Hope) is seen attending to Winston Churchill (Ian McNeice) in "The Wedding of River Song" in an aborted timeline.
- Hope plays another Silurian in "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" (2012), seen briefly on a computer screen. The titular spaceship is a Silurian Ark searching for a new planet with a cargo of dinosaurs, the Silurian colony on board having been ejected from the ship by Solomon (David Bradley) prior to the episode. The ship is shown to have reached a planet named Siluria with its dinosaurs at the episode's conclusion.
- In "The Time of the Doctor" (2013), many Silurian Arks are seen among the ships gathered round Trenzalore.
Most Doctor Who novels try to clarify facts or expand on plot points from earlier episodes, often taking place "in between" episodes of the classic (1963–1989) series. Many of the original Silurian stories were novelised. Terrance Dicks' adaptation of Warriors of the Deep, for example, clarified that Silurian Ichtar was a survivor of the Doctor Who and the Silurians encounter. The novelisation of Doctor Who and the Silurians adds a prologue which features the beginning of the Silurian's hibernation; the novelisation avoids referring to the reptiles as Silurians. The 1996 novel The Scales of Injustice by Gary Russell was written to explain a previous encounter (to 2084) with the Doctor alluded to by the Silurians in Warriors of the Deep. In Seventh Doctor Virgin New Adventures novel Blood Heat (1993), Silurians of an alternate reality have conquered Earth after the Third Doctor was killed in their initial appearance. Silurians have also made many minor appearances in Virgin New Adventures series of novels. By the 26th century, the time of human archaeologist Bernice Summerfield's, the term "Earth Reptile" has become popularly used to describe Silurians following their peaceful integration with human society, such as in the novel Eternity Weeps (1997). A Silurian short story, "Cold War", also features in the anthology Short Trips: Steel Skies (2003). Additionally, while not appearing in The Wheel of Ice (2012), they are mentioned; apparently, the Arkive attempted to lure them to Saturn, but they went into hibernation before this is possible.
The Silurians also make a number of appearance in comic books. In the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip cycle "The Cybermen" (1994–1996), the cyborg race of Cybermen discover Silurians and Sea Devils living on their own planet Mondas during an unspecified time in the past; in Doctor Who, Mondas is Earth's former "twin planet". The strip also portrays Golgoth, a primordial humanoid reptile god-figure, who resembles a Sea Devil and may have some link to the Silurians. In the story arc "Final Genesis" (1993), an alternate universe is depicted wherein Silurians made peace with humanity and the two races live in harmony; the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce is renamed the 'United Races Intelligence Command'. Comic book story "Twilight of the Silurians" (1980) is set during the species' last days pre-hibernation, where Silurians observe captive "apes" (Eocene era humans) in their zoological research station. The comic book "City of Devils" (1983) features two Doctor Who companions, journalist Sarah Jane Smith (likeness' Elisabeth Sladen) and robot dog K-9 uncover a hidden city of Silurians (here, 'Eocenes') in an Egyptian archaeological dig, who seek peaceful coexistence with humans; this comic strip is based on the premise of failed television spin-off series K9 and Company.
Silurians also appear outside of Doctor Who-related media. A cave drawing of a Silurian and a Sea Devil appear in a cave on Mars in a work of steampunk fiction by D'Israeli, Scarlet Traces: The Great Game. Silurians and Sea Devils are referenced in the second volume of Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen where they were connected to the creature from the Black Lagoon; League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is set in a fictional universe which reconciles the exploits of all fictional characters in one continuity.
Silurians also feature in the Big Finish Productions audio play Bloodtide (2001), in which the Sixth Doctor intervenes when Charles Darwin and the HMS Beagle expedition encounter a rogue Silurian group in the Galápagos Islands. The audio drama reveals that the leader of this group had been responsible for creating humanity's prehistoric ancestors via a forbidden breeding program, sabotaging the Silurian stasis chambers to escape punishment for his actions. In UNIT: The Coup (2004), the Silurians attempt to finally make peace with the humans, though the general public believes it to be a stunt involving men in rubber suits. In UNIT: The Wasting (2005), Silurians aid UNIT in finding a cure for a deadly plague. In the audio drama The Poison Seas (2003), from the Bernice Summerfield series of adventures, Summerfield travels to the planet Chosan sometime in the future to assist a colony of Earth Reptiles (Sea Devils) under threat there.