Legend of the Sea Devils (TV story)

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Legend of the Sea Devils was the 2022 Doctor Who Easter Special, the second special of its kind, following Planet of the Dead [+]Loading...["Planet of the Dead (TV story)"] in 2009.

It re-introduced the Sea Devils, last seen in their own story on television in 1984's Warriors of the Deep [+]Loading...["Warriors of the Deep (TV story)"] but did cameo on 1993’s Dimensions in Time [+]Loading...["Dimensions in Time (TV story)"], into the BBC Wales revival series. Unlike the 2010 redesign of the Sea Devils' cousins, the Silurians, in The Hungry Earth [+]Loading...["The Hungry Earth (TV story)"], these returning enemies remained largely faithful to their original designs, with CGI augmentations mostly allowing for a greater variety of expressions. It also furthered the plotline about Yasmin Khan's infatuation with the Thirteenth Doctor, with the two finally discussing their feelings openly and the Doctor admitting that she also had a romantic interest in Yaz, although they ultimately decided not to pursue a relationship due to the Doctor living under the threat of time running out for her.


When the legendary pirate queen Zheng Yi Sao, alias "Madam Ching", awakens an antediluvian Sea Devil extremist, the Doctor's TARDIS is pulled off-course and Team TARDIS must try to work together with the historical rogue to save the entire Earth from global flood. But amidst the high-stakes, high-sea adventure, it soon becomes clear the stakes for everyone involved — even the Thirteenth Doctor and Yaz — are much more personal than a legendary sunken treasure, or even the all-important Keystone...


The population of a Chinese coastal village in 1807 hide in their houses as, under heavy rain, the lone figure of a pirate queen walks into their town square, intent on smashing the statue at its centre. Despite his son Ying Ki's protests, an old man called Ying Wai insists on walking out to confront her, knowing that she might "unleash" something inconceivable. Wai tells his son that if anything should happen to him, "the duty" will pass to him. Meanwhile, the pirate queen is digging into the statue with her sword, trying to make out inscriptions on the rubble. Wai tries to warn her off, holding her at sword-point, and she threatens his life in return, but their squabbling is interrupted when glowing green cracks spread across the "statue", which is of a Sea Devil in pirate dress, victoriously holding a small human figure. The stone eye blinks before the entire stone coating explodes — falling away to reveal a real, living Sea Devil, dressed like the statue and holding a glowing cutlass, who promptly kills Ying Wai.

On the beach, the Doctor's TARDIS materialises. The Thirteenth Doctor and Yasmin Khan walk out, decked out in period clothing, and are immediately upset to realise their efforts misfired because they have somehow ended up four hundred years off from their intended date. Further banter follows from Dan Lewis walking out dressed as a pantomime Western pirate, complete with an eyepatch and a hook; Yaz sheepishly confesses to having gotten him to dress like this as a joke. Things get strange when the Doctor is suddenly pulled towards the water by her metal earring. Experiments with stone-skipping show that there is a strong geomagnetic disturbance nearby.

Hearing screams coming from the nearby village, they rush there to find the Chief Sea Devil just about done slaughtering the population. They draw him away from killing Ying Ki and the pirate queen, however, even managing to catch him in a fish-net. However, to the Doctor's bafflement, he easily cuts his way out with his glowing sword and then summons a flying ship, which he says belongs to him. Leaping aboard, he sails into the distance. The Doctor is left to analyse Ying Wai's body, recognising his wounds as marked with hexo-toxic poisoning, a known Sea Devil biological weapon. Thus, she is able to confirm Ying Ki that the swordswoman did not kill his father. The woman in question introduces herself as Zheng Yi Sao, alias "Madam Ching", whom an enthusiastic Doctor recognises as a notorious pirate queen. Ching further explains that she is seeking the lost treasure of the Flor de la Mar, which was supposedly found in the 16th century by the "great captain" Sin Ji-Hun only for his ship to sink nearby.

Aboard his ship, the Chief Sea Devil addresses his crew, who answered his call, coming out of hibernation. He has them summon the Hua-Shen, a huge sea creature at their command, who eats a lone human fisherman as it returns to the surface.

Meanwhile, Ching has returned to her ship. Watching it from the shore, Dan is roped by Ying Ki into swimming over to sneak on-board. Noticing his absence as she and Yaz return to the TARDIS, the Doctor chastises Yaz for not sopping Dan wandering off, but quickly changes the subject, giving Yaz a crash-course in the history and nature of the Sea Devils. The TARDIS systems fail to trace the Sea Devil pirate ship, which has cloaked itself, leading the Doctor to suggest they talk with Madam Ching again. When Yaz reminds the Doctor that Ching seemed uninterested in talking with the strangers at any length during their brief earlier encounter, the Doctor proposes that they acquire the lost treasure of the Flor de la Mar themselves, so as to use it as a bargaining chip to get Ching on their side. To find it, she makes a short hop in the TARDIS so that they can see for themselves what happened to Ji-Hun, and thus discover the exact location of the shipwreck as it must still exist in 1807.

On-board Ching's ship, Dan and Ki briefly argue about their intentions once they find the pirate herself, with Ki openly intending to murder her, to Dan's shock. They also notice the conspicuous absence of any crew other than Ching, who is doing her best to sail the large ship all by herself using complex rope tricks. While they are bantering about Dan's age, they are jumped by Ching, who promptly trusses them up by the ankles and hangs them upside-down from a spar to interrogate them. Admitting that she has no crew — though she does not yet explain why — she offers the two intruders a chance to live if they will help her sail the ship to the location of the shipwreck.

The Doctor and Yaz materialise on Ji-Hun's ship in 1533, witnessing a strange scene as Ji-Hun forces all his crew (including his second-in-command Lei Bao) to jump overboard or be stabbed. The Chief Sea Devil teleports in and Ji-Hun kneels to him, stating that he has fulfilled his request and emptied his ship for the Sea Devil's use. He also claims to have "what we agreed". The Sea Devil makes clear that he does not intend to hold up his end of the bargain, considering that he is not bound by promises made to a mere "land-crawler". The two lock swords as the ship begins to sink, and the Doctor and Yaz hurry back to the TARDIS.

After sharing their bafflement at how little what they just witnessed resembled their expectations, the Doctor and Yaz return to 274 years in the future, when they left Dan, at the exact location they now know the ship went down. The TARDIS lands on the ocean floor, with an oxygen bubble allowing the Doctor and Yaz to stand on the said ocean floor, marveling at the underwater scenery. The Doctor makes a joking comment about "not being a bad date", which startles Yaz, who briefly takes it seriously as her romantic feelings for the Doctor bubble back to the front; the Doctor realises this and awkwardly looks away before getting back to the matter at hand and pointing out that, even though they are at the right location, there is no trace of a sunken ship. Suddenly, the floor drops beneath their feet, revealing itself to actually have been the back of the Hua-Shen. As the two women rush back into the TARDIS, the creature catches it in its jaws like a cat carrying a kitten by the scruff of its neck, carrying it away.

Meanwhile, on Madam Ching's ship, the pirate queen is irritated and baffled as her compass and other similar quipment seems to be going haywire. Even celestial navigation proves a no-go as the stars inexplicably move around before her, Dan and Ying Ki's very eyes. When Dan and Ki question her desperation, she unveils a human ear in a box and explains that her entire crew (including her two sons, mere toddlers) has been captured, and will all be put to death unless she brings back the treasure of the Flor de la Mar as ransom. Ching's ship is suddenly attacked by the Hua-Shen, which displays the ability to hurl their cannon-balls back into the sky and make them explode when the humans try to shoot it.

The Doctor's TARDIS has been taken to the Sea Devils' underwater base, where the Doctor and Yaz emerge to be confronted with the Chief Sea Devil, who is intrigued when they mention that they know of Ji-Hun's previous contacts with his kind. The Doctor babbles about the technology keeping the base running, but the Sea Devil sees through her attempt to buy herself time to think, putting things back on-topic and showing them Ji-Hun's ship, the very ghost ship they saw him flying earlier, explaining his pirate Sea Devils have "made it [their] own". The Doctor bluffs the Chief Sea Devil into believing she knows the location of the Keystone, and asks to be taken to see the ship before she'll talk to him about it; there, the Chief Sea Devil shows them Ji-Hun in person, whom he has kept in stasis in a living death for hundreds of years as punishment for tricking him. The Doctor and Yaz get the opportunity to talk to him privately while the Sea Devil attends to the apparatus through which the Hua-Shen is controlled, learning that he was never in league with the Sea Devils but merely tricking the Chief Sea Devil into thinking so in order to buy his crew time to escape with their lives, and to safeguard the Keystone. The Keystone, he explains, is a gem of extraordinary power, which was part of the treasure of the Flor de la Mar and is what the Chief Sea Devil is really after.

The Chief Sea Devil returns to announce that the Hua-Shen has detected the Keystone's presence and the surface, and he is therefore calling the Doctor's bluff. Before he can kill her and Yaz, however, she hits the necessary controls to abruptly make the ship return to the surface, freeing Ji-Hun in the confusion. Back on the surface, Dan, Ki and Ching are baffled when the Sea Devil ghost-ship rises up right next to theirs — and the Doctor, Yaz and Ji-Hun swing over on ropes, with shouts of "Geronimo". However, she barely has time to figure out that the Keystone is in fact being worn as a necklace by Ying Ki, who is the descendant of Ji-Hun's second-in-command Lei Bao (to whom Ji-Hun had entrusted the jewel), before the Chief Sea Devils teleports in and takes it at sword-point before returning to his ship.

Intent on taking it back before the Chief Sea Devil can sink the ship again to take the Keystone to the base and use it to trigger a mechanism that will flood the entire Earth, the Doctor and friends swing back over to the flying ship where a sword-fight ensues. The Chief Sea Devil announces that he "sent down" the Keystone already, but is soon killed by a vengeful Ji-Hun, to the Doctor's dismay. She takes control of the ship and sinks it again, instructing Dan to keep an eye on Ching and Ji-Hun and help them keep the Sea Devil crew at bay, while she and Yaz make their way to the control core of the underwater base to try and stop the mechanism. Indeed, Dan and Ji-Hun soon stumble on half a dozen Sea Devils, but Dan is quicker than them and slays them in all in one blow with a Sea Devil sword that the Doctor entrusted to him, greatly impressing Ji-Hun (who credits his mum with teaching him to deal with opposition so effectively).

At the control core, the Doctor has to fiddle with the hardware, trying to trigger a short-circuit that will turn the base into "the densest thing on Earth", causing it to collapse in on itself and preventing further geomagnetic waves from leaving it to disrupt the planet's orbit. While she's working, she surprises Yaz by bringing up the possibility of a romantic relationship between them head-on. However, she ultimately tells Yaz that although, if she were to date anyone in this incarnation, it would be her, she is unwilling to commit to any such relationship, because sooner or late, "time always runs out". Indeed, she is ready to sacrifice herself by holding the mechanism in place as it explodes, until Ji-Hun persuades her to let him lay down his own life instead, as he has no wish to return to a world that is no longer his own, preferring to die a good death safeguarding that world for those who are native to it.

The Doctor and Yaz make it back to the TARDIS in the nick of time, with the treasure chest containing the treasure of the Flor de la Mar. Examining it, Madam Ching confirms it will be enough to save her crew. Apologising to Ki for failing to save his father, she offers him a chance to start a new life as part of her crew, something which he gleefully accepts. As the Doctor, Yaz and Dan say their goodbyes, they wonder where to head next, and Yaz suggests that before leaving this time-zone, they finally enjoy that holiday out at the beach that the Doctor keeps promising and which they keep getting side-tracked from.

There, the Doctor and Yaz head off to thoughtfully skip stones, leaving Dan, sitting by the TARDIS, to phone Diane, timidly asking if they could meet up again at some point so that he'll have someone to talk to about his "mad adventures". To his surprise and delight, Di picks up immediately, explaining that she was just about to call him herself. Meanwhile, the Doctor explains to Yaz at greater length why, even though her death was not as immediate as she thought during their previous conversation, she remains unwilling to "fix herself to anything, anywhere... or anyone". Yaz tries to convince her to commit to her feelings despite the risk of future pain, but the Doctor, melancholy, asks that they simply live in the present, going on as friends while they still can, rather than risking what they have. As she skims a stone into the distance, she makes a wish: "I wish this would go on forever" — but her smile is a sad one.


Uncredited cast[[edit]]


General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics



General post-production staff

Special and visual effects


Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.



  • The Doctor invokes her eleventh incarnation by using his rally cry of, "Geronimo".
  • The Doctor tells Yaz of her wife, River Song, though mentions she was "a different man" during their marriage.
  • Yasmin Khan reveals talents with swordsmanship.
  • The Doctor, Yasmin, Zheng Yi Sao, and Sin Ji-Hun use dao, single-edged Chinese swords.




Popular culture[[edit]]

  • The Doctor says Stephen King films, like history, are "never like the books".
  • The Doctor sarcastically states "No ship, Sherlock" when Yaz fails to notice the conspicuous absence of Ji-Hun's ship from the ocean floor.
  • The Doctor makes reference to Pimp My Ride, saying that the Sea Devils "really pimped [Ji-Hun's] ride". Yaz reminds her that referencing the show in 1807 is an anachronism.


Story notes[[edit]]

  • This was the second Easter Special in Doctor Who history, following 2009's Planet of the Dead [+]Loading...["Planet of the Dead (TV story)","Planet of the Dead"].
  • Legend of the Sea Devils was also the shortest Doctor Who special, excluding mini-episodes, up to that point, with a running time of 48 minutes; the average length of a regular episode.
  • This episode was the first time that Chris Chibnall had his executive producer credit above Matt Strevens' credit. The entire Chibnall era, Matt Strevens was credited above Chris Chibnall as executive producer.
  • This was the first episode since Revolution of the Daleks [+]Loading...["Revolution of the Daleks (TV story)"] to include the old BBC logo in the title sequence. On the DVD and Blu-ray releases, it was replaced by the new one.
  • The sets for this episode were particularly ambitious and included a full sized pirate ship. Executive producer Matt Strevens said that they were "probably" the biggest sets that had ever been made for the show, while Mandip Gill said they were the biggest sets she had ever worked on.[1]
  • This was the first episode of the Chibnall era that played the "Coming Soon" trailer before the end credits. This is also the first episode of the Chibnall era not to include the Doctor Who theme over the "Coming Soon" trailer; a special rendition of the Thirteenth Doctor's theme by Segun Akinola was played instead.
  • John Friedlander is credited as originally designing the Sea Devils from the story The Sea Devils [+]Loading...["The Sea Devils (TV story)"] and Warriors of the Deep [+]Loading...["Warriors of the Deep (TV story)"].
  • With overnight ratings of 2.2 million, this story is officially the story with the lowest on the day viewing figures since Battlefield [+]Loading...["Battlefield (TV story)"] in 1989.
  • Tailor Steven Ricks (who made Marsissus’ coat)[2] helped conceal the Sea Devils’ return by using his own code name, calling them the Green Gilberts in reference to a line in The Sea Devils.[3]
  • Of particular significance to historians, this was the final episode to air during the lifetime of Queen Elizabeth II, who had reigned since before the creation of Doctor Who. She was said to be a longtime fan of the series, though this was according to tabloid rumours and has not been confirmed by any official sources.
  • On 10 September 2023, Chibnall said during an interview with the WHO Corner to Corner podcast, in accordance with the disproven rumour that the Hua-Shen was going to turn out to be the Myrka (last seen in Warriors of the Deep [+]Loading...["Warriors of the Deep (TV story)"]) that one could make a case that the Myrka was actually an off-spring of the Hua-Shen.[4]


  • Overnights: 2.20 million[5]
  • Consolidated: 3.47 million[6]


Filming locations[[edit]]

to be added

Production errors[[edit]]

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • The end credits misspelt Malcolm Hulke's name as "Malcom Hulke". (This mistake was fixed for the DVD/Blu-ray release)


  • The TARDIS team are on the hunt for the Flor de la Mar, just as the Doctor had planned to do after escaping the Dalek Executioners. Yaz also reminds the Doctor that she "keeps promising [her and Dan] a beach". (TV: Eve of the Daleks [+]Loading...["Eve of the Daleks (TV story)","Eve of the Daleks"])
  • Yaz recalls the Doctor's intention to take the TARDIS to sentient beaches of San Munrohvar. (TV: Eve of the Daleks [+]Loading...["Eve of the Daleks (TV story)","Eve of the Daleks"])
  • The Doctor tells Yaz that she's crossed paths with the Sea Devils "once or twice". (TV: The Sea Devils [+]Loading...["The Sea Devils (TV story)","The Sea Devils"], Warriors of the Deep [+]Loading...["Warriors of the Deep (TV story)"]) However, one account posits that Yaz has also encountered them once before as well. (COMIC: Alternating Current [+]Loading...["Alternating Current (comic story)"])
  • Dan claims he is "forty-two". However, he is seemingly discounting the four years he was trapped in the 1900s with Yaz and Eustacius Jericho, and indeed, he noticeably stumbles before saying "two". (TV: Survivors of the Flux [+]Loading...["Survivors of the Flux (TV story)"], Eve of the Daleks [+]Loading...["Eve of the Daleks (TV story)"])
  • The TARDIS is able to sustain being underwater with the doors open without flooding, (TV: Listen [+]Loading...["Listen (TV story)"]) using an oxygen bubble. (TV: The Runaway Bride [+]Loading...["The Runaway Bride (TV story)"], The Beast Below [+]Loading...["The Beast Below (TV story)"], Oxygen [+]Loading...["Oxygen (TV story)"])
  • The Doctor gets angry at Sin Ji-Hun for killing an enemy after they had been dealt with in a non-lethal manner, as she had with Karl Wright and General Logan. (TV: The Woman Who Fell to Earth [+]Loading...["The Woman Who Fell to Earth (TV story)","The Woman Who Fell to Earth"], War of the Sontarans [+]Loading...["War of the Sontarans (TV story)"])
  • Dan states that "his mum" taught him how to effectively deal with his enemies, and, indeed, surpasses him in ruthlessness. (TV: War of the Sontarans [+]Loading...["War of the Sontarans (TV story)"])
  • Yaz and Dan recall their earlier conversation regarding Yaz's romantic feelings for the Doctor, with Yaz correctly guessing that Dan told the Doctor about her crush on her. (TV: Eve of the Daleks [+]Loading...["Eve of the Daleks (TV story)"])
  • Diane gets back in touch with Dan, who remembers that they were "not at where [they] were at" when they last spoke. (TV: The Vanquishers [+]Loading...["The Vanquishers (TV story)"])
  • The Doctor is aware that her time is running short. (TV: The Vanquishers [+]Loading...["The Vanquishers (TV story)"])

Home video releases[[edit]]

DVD and Blu-ray releases[[edit]]

  • The story, along with the preceding story, Eve of the Daleks [+]Loading...["Eve of the Daleks (TV story)","Eve of the Daleks"], was released on Region 2 DVD and Region B Blu-ray on 23 May 2022 and was released on Region 1 DVD and Region A Blu-ray on 28 June 2022. It was also released on Region 4 DVD on 13 July 2022.
  • It was also released as part of The Series 13 Specials on Blu-ray, together with Eve of the Daleks and The Power of the Doctor, on Blu-ray in region B on 7 November 2022.

Digital releases[[edit]]

  • In the United Kingdom, this story is available on BBC iPlayer as part of Series 13.

External links[[edit]]