CRRRaSh! 336 Doctor Who: Terror of the Zygons

By Roy Mathur, on 2020-10-07, at 23:51:21--00:25:23 BST, for Captain Roy's Rocket Radio Show, Listen

The State of the Rewatch

Delays, delays, delays. Sorry.

If you listened to the last pod, you'll know I'm going through a few things, not just podcast things, but life things. Those things have not improved, in fact, they have become even more thingy, so much so, that I don't know what I'm going to do, except sweep it all back under the carpet (again). And so, happily, this episode is thing free.

I wanted to do this show tipsy, but since the alcohol, phosphoric acid, and citric acid in a Cuba Libre would make me sick, I can't. And so, on to the show, frighteningly sober... finally.

Cast and Production Notes

Fourth Doctor: Tom Baker
Sarah Jane Smith: Elisabeth Sladen
Harry Sullivan: Ian Marter
Director: Douglas Camfield (art school, ex-army, DW prod. assist. and later director)
Writer: Robert Banks Stewart (ex-journo, story editor, credits included The Avengers and DW)
Producer: Philip Hinchcliffe
Story 1 of the Season 13, following Revenge of the Cybermen covered in 333, 4 x 25 minute episodes, first broadcast from 30 August--20 September 1975.

On this Day in the UK

Yet again, bugger all happened in blighty that I could find or remember.

Number one in the UK was Can't Give You Anything (But My Love) by The Stylistics, which I cannot at all redeemer, but can be grateful that it knocked Rod Stewart's Sailing from the number one spot. It seems like that, and the Bay City Roller's Bye Bye Baby covered in pod 332, were the type of songs parents would sing to their kids and I should have some fleeting memory of, but I can't be sure. All I know is that I would become really irritated by Rod Stewart in later years. Sorry Rod.

It's odd that bands like Abba and Boney M. also fall into the category of overplayed songs from my childhood, but I'm okay with them.

What Happens

The Doctor and his companions help UNIT investigate attacks on oilrigs. The attacks are being carried out by Zygons, whose spaceship is at the bottom of Loch Ness. They are controlling and using the Loch Ness monster as a weapon. They are also kidnapping and duplicating the local humans, which accounts for their hostility towards the oilmen.

The Zygons are bent on taking the Earth for themselves and terraforming it to their requirements, following the destruction of their home world.

Eventually, the Doctor releases the prisoners on the Zygon spaceship, and destroys it by activating its self-destruction system. The Zygon leader has, however, already left in the guise of Duke of Forgill. He plans to infiltrate the World Energy Conference and destroy the event using the monster. He is foiled by UNIT and the Doctor throws the device that is used to attract the monster into its own mouth. When it ceases to function, the monster loses interest and heads home to Loch Ness.

The story ends with the Doctor and Sarah taking the TARDIS back to London "five minutes ago".

What I Thought

Poor old Harry, if he isn't clumsily causing some calamity or losing his shoes, then he's getting himself shot in the head and possessed by Zygons. Honestly, the man's a liability.

New story, new iconic-ish aliens. Iconic-ish because they aren't the Daleks or the Cybermen, but it's nice to have a change. Here we have our first encounter with the Zygons, the aliens who feature heavily in New Who, with their squidgy organic tech.

Funny scenes with the Brigadier:

Doctor: You've been asleep brigadier.
Brigadier: Asleep? Impossible! I was on duty. There are times, Doctor, when you do talk nonsense. Excuse me.

There's also a scene in which the Brigadier addresses the offscreen female Prime Minister on the phone. This is four years before Thatcher, though at the time she was head of the Tory Party, and Labour, though forming a government, was not doing well.

I sighed with relief when the pompous bagpiper, psychic, snobby publican of the Tullock, Angus, finally croaks in the sucker strewn hands of the murderous Zygon disguised as a nurse. It's a little close to the bone, given that as we speak, Ratchet, the TV show about the evil nurse in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, is making the rounds. The chilling spectre of angel of death nurses really are at the forefront of my mind at the moment and Lillias Walker does a good job as Sister Lamont.

Robert Banks Stewart, the writer, was Scottish. This is reflected in the story and the Loch Ness monster. However, it did surprise how hard he leans into what was thought to be humorous Scottish stereotypes at the time. While there are pieces of my own Indian, British Asian, and African culture I poke fun at in my own writing, I assiduously avoid racist cliches. On the other hand, he was Scottish, so if anyone has to right to mock their own roots, it is someone from that same background.

I also wonder what the writer thought of sharing the same clan with a fictional character. He certainly does comedically Scots up the Brigadier in this story, giving him a kilt with a sporran.

Playing with the Loch Ness monster myth by revealing it to be, in actuality, an alien Zygon weapon called the Skarasen was a nice touch.

I liked the Zygon spaceship. It was squat and fortress-like, but I like any spaceship with the three legged tripod configuration because it reminds me of Blake's 7's Liberator.

The Zygon ship is a bit of a joke though, as it only takes the Doctor sticking both hands into the console for a second to initiate the self-destruct sequence.

The Zygons body snatching duplication is reminiscent of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and my supposition was later confirmed by referring to the BBC webpage for this story.

I read that this would be Nicholas Courtney's last regular appearance on the show until Mawdryn Undead, eight years later. Until we meet again, we will miss you Brigadier!

The screams of panic and sounds of destruction as the monster wrecks havoc are unintentionally funny. One of my characters mentions a similar comedic scenario in my novel The Horus Box.


The story exteriors were filmed mainly on the south coast of England at various locations in West Sussex. The Forgill Castle exterior seems to have been stock footage of Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye.

Hold Onto Your Hat

...Because I'm taping the weekly geekly episode right after this one.

See? Despite the horrid stresses of life, I'm making an effort.