Top Ten Doctor Who Monsters

Doctor Who TT Monsters

It’s an odd fact that nothing seems to date as quickly as science fiction, so when the BBC announced 26th of September 2003 that they would be producing a new series of Doctor Who there was, naturally enough, a great deal of speculation and (let’s be honest) trepidation as to how it would re-invent itself. Writer/executive producer and fan, Russell T Davies, knows the ionic value of The Doctor, the TARDIS and especially the villains that The Doctor needs to come into conflict with. Davies has already brought back a number of old favourites, but there are many more waiting in the wings as well as some interesting new additions. Old or new they are an essential element of the series. So who are the top ten monsters? Here’s one suggestion in ascending order.

Slitheen

10 – Raxacoricofallapatorians (aka Slitheen) – First appearance: Aliens of London
Not one of my personal favourites, but the Slitheen appear to be popular with the younger fans of Doctor Who. Whether this is because of their tendency to make farting noises or because they have large puppy-like eyes isn’t clear. Slitheen is the family or clan name of a criminal gang, so presumably there are other Raxacoricofallapatorians who would be nicer to know

Weeping Angel

9 – The Weeping Angels – First appearance: Blink
These are the sort of spooky monsters that get you twitching a quick look over your shoulder, especially if you’re alone with a lot of statues!
Their power comes from tapping into our cultural myths, but with a neat twist. We turn them into stone. Unfortunately it’s only for as long as we are able to look at them.

Mr Sin

8 – Mr Sin – The Talons of Weng-Chiang
There’s something decidedly creepy about dolls that move and talk, especially when they don’t need the ventriloquist around to do it. I remember one of those awful laughing sailor dolls, you used to see at fairgrounds, scaring me rigid when I was a kid. Mr Sin was all those nightmares personified.

Rill

7 – The Rill – Galaxy 4
These hideous, ammonia-breathing aliens turned out to be the good guys. They were friendly and compassionate and, like The Doctor, primarily interested in exploring the universe. Their antagonists, the Drahvins, on the other hand, were beautiful blond female humanoids, consisting of a unit of mindless cloned soldiers and their aggressive leader. She was treacherous and bullying and only interested in making war. It was refreshing to see a Doctor Who story where the implied message was not to judge by appearances.
To paraphrase Samwise Gamgee from Lord of The Rings, the Rill looked foul, but felt fair.

Ice warriors

6 – Ice Warriors – First Appearance: The Ice Warriors
There was something distinctly reptilian about the Ice Warriors. They were a lost race of Martians that had survived the death of their planet and, to coin a phrase, turned envious eyes towards the Earth.
They weren’t all bad, in fact they were no worse than humans, just desperate. Eventually they became allies of Humans within the space equivalent of the European Community. Likely candidates for a reappearance I’d say.

Autons

5 – The Autons – First Appearance: Spearhead from Space
Imagine the scene. A pensioner is reassuring herself by talking to the symbol of peace and security, the British Bobby. From around the corner there is the sound of a window being shattered. The policeman rushes to investigate only to be shot down in cold blood.
It could have been an ionic moment from any British TV police series like No Hiding Place or Dixon of Dock Green onwards. Except that, once again, there is an inversion of the norm. Instead of human criminals breaking into a shop premises it is the heavily armed window dummies smashing their way out. And their intention is to turn us all into fashion victims!

Kaldor City Robots

4 – Kaldor City Robots – The Robots of Death
With their finesse, Art Deco design, well-mannered voices, absence of body language, uniformity of appearance and leaving no fingerprints or DNA these made very chilling serial killers. They were Asimov robots, corrupted by a mad scientist (there’s another one) called Taren Capel. Even his name is homage to robot folklore.
One individual robot called D84 (the D standing for Dumb) was in fact an undercover Super Voc working as the partner of a human detective. This echoed the plot to Asimov’s The Caves of Steel. He was also the best companion the Doctor never had, as plans to have him join the Doctor were scrapped in favour of a robot in the shape of a small dog!

Sontarans

3 – Sontarans – First Appearance: The Time Warrior
And talking of cloned soldiers the ultimate examples of such were the Sontarans. Biologically mass-produced troops all programmed to dream of dying gloriously in battle (presumably having made a greater number of the enemy die gloriously first). Their home planet, Sontar, had a much greater gravity than Earth’s and, as a result, they have evolved as short squat humanoids without a neck, but possessing enormous strength. There are no longer any female Sontarans (no wonder they’re always in such a bad mood) having been considered superfluous when the technique for mass cloning the ultimate soldier was perfected. Along with the females went all the other non-military types including (presumably) telephone sanitizers.
Sontarans represent military ideals taken to extremes, a distorted and overbalanced masculinity that has lost its perspective.

Cybermen

2 – Cybermen – First appearance: The Tenth Planet
Our dread of the Cybermen, and cyborgs in general, may have as much to do with looking back into the dark myths of our culture as they do in looking forward to the possibility of a machine future. The fear generated within us by the Cybermen comes from the dark nightmare of those archetypes we all carry within us – our fear of being turned into one of the undead, like zombies, mummies or Frankenstein’s monster.
The newer, chunkier, metallic Cybermen look as though they could have come off any car manufacturer’s production line. In fact I can imagine an advert for the ‘new model’ Cyberman, showing him tramping along empty roads that wind through beautiful countryside. The implication being that the “new” Cyberman is somehow good for the environment.

Daleks

1 – The Daleks – First Appearance: The Mutants [aka The Daleks].
As much Doctor Who as The Doctor himself. The Daleks are the direct descendants of the cyborg Martians from War of The Worlds and the subterranean Morlocks from The Time Machine, both penned by H G Wells. But their creation by Terry Nation in 1963 was also an expression of the anxieties felt at that time. They represented the fear of contamination of our species through nuclear fallout induced mutation and the possibility of our mass extinction through nuclear war, as well as a growing awareness of the threat to the environment that rampant science and technology posed. The Daleks themselves are the Nazi that lurks within us all when stripped of those human characteristics that keep it in check.
Increasingly though, I think, the Daleks represent what happens to a society where the individuals within it rely far too much on their motorcars.



18 comments


    prof

    July 19, 2007

    Brilliant!

    I take your point about the creation of the Daleks, though I’d never thought about it before. 1963 was a troubled time. Cuban Missile Crisis, assassination of JFK, and the dawning realisation, through Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, that we may have shafted the planet.

    A perfect time for their genesis

    Drew

    July 19, 2007

    I would have to have put the Zygons on there, but who to take of, hmmmmmm.

    David

    July 19, 2007

    I can’t believe you forgot one of the most iconic and favourite candidates for return – the Zygons, looking like giant babies, with a ability to take on an human (and animal form), their popularity with fans has been reinforced by their appearance in at least 2 of the published novels by the BBC/Virgin. I think in this time with our concern for climate change, and the mistrust of politicians, their plan to change the world climate by infiltrating international organisations shoulds like a political metaphor for today. I agree about the Ice Warriors, they are ripe for return, but in their old Earth-conquering Martian idiom, not the newer caring ones. We also have the potential of Davros, but this could cause confusion with new fans over the Emperor Dalek, as could the Sontarans and the Jadoon – maybe the rhino face was a deliberately ploy on RTDs part to ensure that they had a distinctive look, when their uniform and overall look could in theory be similar. Anyway, next Easter seems such a long way away !

    Catherine

    July 19, 2007

    A neighbour of mine used to be a dalek in the early days and I’m sure his take would be somewhat different…by then again he was only acting 😉

    T

    July 19, 2007

    I heard that the name Daleks came from an encyclopedia collection – one volume was entries DAL to EKS. True?

    David

    July 19, 2007

    T, sorry Terry Nation later admitted he’d made that up to make the name sound more interesting, interestingly dalek means very far away in serbo-croat.

    pete grehan

    July 19, 2007

    “I can??????t believe you forgot one of the most iconic and favourite candidates for return ??????? the Zygons”

    I didn’t forget David, but only left them out after much agonising. I think they are also candidates for a reappearance.

    The Obvious Sontaran

    July 19, 2007

    The design of the Zygons was brilliantly realized, excellent costumes and make-up. Their appearance was second to none, but don??????t you think their stories were a bit clich???d? Shape shifters that can take over the appearance of a captured human. The sort thing we??????d see so often before in SF, where saving money was important. The best example being ??????The Invasion of The Body Snatchers??????. It had even been done before in Doctor Who in a story called ??????The Faceless Ones??????. Or am I missing a point here?

    David

    July 19, 2007

    Obvious Sontaran, although you are correct and “The Faceless Ones” was an example of the Sci-Fi clicheof taking over anothers body, the was more of a sub-plot in the story, the main theme of the story was the airport and the British concern about the “faceless” foreigners flooding into Britain through this airport and taking over our places, which was also the communist undercurrent in Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. The Zygons didn’t have such an undercurrent and taking over of the bodies was a convenience for infiltration. I also love that famous photograph of Broton where you can see one a microphone sticking out of one of his chest protuberances.

    Jimmy

    July 19, 2007

    Another vote for the Zygons here. Leave out the Slitheen if you are agonising that much over who needs to make way. Imperfectly judged at a time when the comeback was still finding its feet in terms of tone. I doubt RTD and the gang would propose anything so crude now they have a handle on the show.
    Zygons were beautifully designed, with huge dramatic scope for plenty for further exploration.

    And if the sontarans should return, make them the Kevin Lindsay type – not the characters from their last two outings.

    Smock

    July 19, 2007

    Yes, I was not overly fussed with the Slitheen(sp?) either. I thought they were rather crudely done, considering some of the other efforts. The only redeeming feature was when one of them cropped up again in a later story running a project called “Blaidd drwg” in Boom Town – but then I loved the whole bad wolf thing

    Frank S

    July 19, 2007

    I think the Zygons were mostly style over substance, though I??????ve not heard or read any of the audio spin-offs mentioned, but they??????re head and shoulders better than those awful Slitheens. A story arc in Doctor Who is fine, but you can use better monsters then them to progress it.

    benny

    July 19, 2007

    as far as the story line and baddies go, i must admit to enoying the Weeping Angels episode, almost carried away with believing these angels exist. i did not take my eyes of the wife all night in case she throttled me !!

    vicky

    July 19, 2007

    i think that i liked the weeping angels they were really good. Also i’d like too say that i did not blink during the whole 45 minutes it was on. i belived they were real and then i woke up that night and had too blink twice coz i thought there was one at the end of my bed!!!
    hahaha

    omakatyo

    July 19, 2007

    what? no master? he has to be in the top 3! and whats up with those plastic things being above the weeping angels? the weeping angels were awesome!

    Tonila

    July 19, 2007

    I think the shape-shifting gimmick ought to forfeit the Zygons their place in the list. But I’d still lose the Slitheen and in their place… Kneel before the might of Sutekh! The only monster that actually gave me nightmares as a kid.

    alex

    July 19, 2007

    the weeping angels are so freaky and so is the epmty child

    Joe

    July 19, 2007

    I think the giant maggots should be there. they scared the crap out of me!

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