Warriors of the Deep (TV story)

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Warriors of the Deep was the first serial of season 21 of Doctor Who. It marked the return of two enemy races last seen during Jon Pertwee's tenure as the Third Doctor: the Silurians and the Sea Devils, who make their only televised appearance in the same story. The Silurians and Sea Devils hadn't appeared in the series since Doctor Who and the Silurians and The Sea Devils (respectively).

This story was beset with numerous production problems and even political considerations (Margaret Thatcher had called an election when production began, and the reference to two superpowers in the story would be seen as a reference to the Cold War). (DOC: The Depths) Editing removed many, but some remained in production.

Everyone involved with the making of the serial has cited it as an example of how not to do a Doctor Who story. It was during production that Peter Davison and Janet Fielding announced that they were leaving the series.


Earth, 2084. Two global superpowers hover on the brink of war. When the TARDIS is forced to make an unplanned visit to Sea Base 4, the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough find themselves accused of being enemy agents. Quicky embroiled in a deadly game of paranoid intrigue, it becomes clear that others on the base have sabotage and murder in mind.

However, there is a greater threat to Mankind: the Silurians and Sea Devils, prehistoric reptiles seeking to reclaim the Earth. Can the Doctor prevent them implementing their 'final solution' and triggering a war that could wipe out the entire human race?


Part one[[edit]]

The year is 2084, and there is a cold war in progress. The world is divided into two opposing superpower blocs. One of the blocs has created a secret underwater base, Sea Base 4, which is strategically positioned and has nuclear weapons aimed at the opposing bloc. As a security measure, the base's proton missiles cannot be activated unless a trained human operator can "sync" their mind with the computer and authorise their deployment.

However, the bridge sync operator, Lt. Michaels, has been mysteriously killed and has been succeeded by his inexperienced apprentice, Ensign Maddox. Maddox is nervous, fearing he is not ready to take over as sync officer and will not be able to cope if a missile run is ordered. An unidentified reading is detected by the base's long-range sensors, but the base's commander, Vorshak, and one of his officers, Bulic, dismiss it as nothing more than a glitch. The reading on the sea base's sensors is, in fact, an undersea craft; on board is the Silurian Icthar, with his subordinates, Scibus and Tarpok.

Sea Devils in hibernation.

Inside the TARDIS, the Fifth Doctor has set coordinates for Earth, telling Turlough (who had changed his mind about returning home) he has promised Tegan to show her some of her planet's future. The TARDIS materialises in orbit over Earth, but is confronted by a robotic security satellite, Sentinel Six, which demands the TARDIS transmit the proper security code.

Meanwhile, the sea base sends out an unmanned probe to check on the identified reading, just to be sure. Taking note of the probe, Scibus is concerned that they will be detected, but Icthar sends a Myrka, a large aquatic reptile with the ability to electrocute other organisms that the Silurians control, against it; he assures Scibus that the creature will destroy the probe before they are detected. They then descend to a secret underwater berth where their cousin-species, the Sea Devils, have long been in hibernation.

Sea Base 4 undergoes a missile run and Maddox is synched to the computer; it turns out to only be a practice drill but when it ends, Maddox is overwhelmed with anxiety and faints. The base's chief medical officer, Doctor Solow, declares Maddox is unfit for duty. Vorshak is concerned; until Maddox can return to his duties or a replacement is assigned, the function of the base is compromised. Another officer, Nilson, suggests to Vorshak that they use a special security disk to reprogram Maddox's brain and help the sync operator cope with his job. Vorshak agrees and releases a duplicate program disk to Nilson and Solow, who take Maddox to the medical area's psycho-surgery unit. Nilson and Solow, however, are actually enemy agents for the opposing bloc; they plan to program Maddox so that he will destroy the nuclear weapons computer.

Exiting the TARDIS, the Doctor, Tegan, and Turlough find themselves in a chemical storage area. From the design, the Doctor accurately surmises the year and is aware of the time period's cold war. Turlough signals for a lift, inadvertently triggering an alert in the base's security system. A team led by Bulic is dispatched to investigate. The Doctor sets a reactor to overload in an attempt to avoid capture; this allows Tegan and Turlough to escape, but the security guard catches up to the Doctor. The two struggle and the Doctor falls over a ledge into a tank of water. Tegan wants to help the Doctor, but Turlough urges her to flee, saying she must accept the Doctor has drowned...

Part two[[edit]]

The Doctor takes a swim.

The Doctor swims underwater and escapes through a hatchway. Tegan and Turlough escape through a bulkhead, sabotaging it so they cannot be followed by Bulic and his security guards. A security guard is electrocuted while trying to open the bulkhead. The Doctor finds the guard and takes his radiation suit. Meanwhile, Turlough allows himself to be captured in order to give Tegan a chance to escape.

In the underwater berth, Icthar revives the Sea Devil warriors of Elite Group One from their hibernation and orders their commander, Sauvix, to attack Sea Base 4. They may kill the humans, but Icthar needs the base intact and undamaged.

Turlough is captured when a bulkhead seals between him and Tegan. Turlough is taken to the bridge for questioning. The Doctor meets up with Tegan. They head towards the bridge. Outside of the bridge, the Doctor leaves Tegan in hiding while he enters the bridge to find Turlough. The Doctor enters the bridge and starts to negotiate the release of Turlough. Tegan is found by Preston, a worker on the Sea Base, who takes her to the bridge. A Silurian battlecruiser comes into view of the base and Vorshak orders an attack on it. The Doctor tells Vorshak to call off the attack, stating that the Silurians are a noble race. Vorshak ignores him and the Silurians use a particle suppressor to neutralise the base's defences. In the confusion, Solow and Nilson use Maddox to sabotage the station. One of the base's personnel, Karina, discovers this and attempts to stop Maddox, but Solow and Nilson force him to kill her.

The Silurians then launch their attack, dispatching the Myrka against the sea base's airlock 1 and the Sea Devils to assault airlock 5. The Doctor and his companions head to airlock 1 while Vorshak, Preston, and a team head to airlock 5. The Myrka breaks the door down, trapping Tegan and killing some of the base's crew with its electric touch; the Doctor stays to free Tegan, but the other other crew members retreat, sealing the bulkhead and therefore leaving the Doctor and Tegan trapped in the airlock with the Myrka.

Part three[[edit]]

The Myrka dies in the beam of an ultraviolet-light generator.

The Doctor is able to free Tegan when the Myrka steps on the side of the door raising up the side Tegan was trapped under. They are then trapped by the bulkhead and the Doctor is unable to open the door. The Doctor removes the rifle's power pack and tosses it at the Myrka causing the power pack to explode and temporarily blind the Myrka. Turlough races to the bridge and threatens Nilson with a rifle to open the airlock in which the Doctor and Tegan are trapped. After Nilson complies, the Doctor and Tegan escape and head to Airlock 5. This also releases the Myrka. The creature begins making its way toward the bridge, killing more of the base's personnel. The Silurians prime up a device called a manipulator and prepare to enter the base.

At Airlock 5, the Doctor tells Vorshak that he has an idea to defeat the Myrka and that he needs one person to help. Vorshak tells Preston to help him. Preston leaves Vorshak at airlock 5 and heads off to help the Doctor and Tegan stop the Myrka. The Sea Devils blow open airlock 5 and ruthlessly kill a defender, suffering no casualties of their own. Vorshak manages to survive and orders a retreat. The Doctor works with Preston to modify an ultraviolet converter to fight the Myrka with. Vorshak orders Nilson to radio their superiors to inform them of the attack. Nilson and Dr Solow discuss what they should do and Nilson tells Dr Solow to flee in an escape pod while he continues manipulating Maddox's sabotage. Dr Solow tries to flee the base with the reprogramming disk, but is killed by the Myrka. The Myrka comes around a hallway corner towards the Doctor and is destroyed by the ultraviolet converter.

The Sea Devils continue their push towards the bridge, killing any crew that stand in their way. The Silurians follow in their path. Vorshak reaches the bridge with Preston and finds Nilson alone and not setting up the communications with their superiors. Suspicious, he has Preston look for Maddox. She finds him sabotaging the computers. Vorshak tries to stop Maddox, but Maddox throws him to the ground. Maddox collapses because of the effort from the manipulation by Nilson. Preston and Vorshak confront Nilson and attempt to take him into custody but he pulls a gun on them. The Doctor and Tegan enter the room and are captured as well. Maddox tries to stop Nilson, but Nilson overloads the control unit for Maddox's brain, killing him. Preston tries to grab the gun that Maddox dropped and the Doctor tries to knock the gun out of Nilson's hand, but Nilson knocks over the Doctor and takes Tegan hostage. Nilson takes Tegan and leaves the bridge to try and escape in an escape pod.

Bulic and Turlough are still retreating while fighting with Sea Devils but as they step through a doorway, they walk right into another group of Sea Devils and are captured. They lock Turlough and Bulic in the crews' quarters.

The Doctor runs after Nilson and makes it back to the ultraviolet converter. Nilson comes around a corner with Tegan still hostage and confronts the Doctor. The Doctor blinds him with the ultraviolet converter, grabs Tegan and both head back towards the bridge while Nilson, still blind, stumbles around the corner into a group of Sea Devils, who kill him. The Sea Devils come around the corner and capture the Doctor and Tegan.

Part four[[edit]]

The Sea Devils take the Doctor to the bridge, now under the control of the Silurians. The Doctor recognises Icthar from his third incarnation and confronts him about the massacre in the base. Icthar explains to the Doctor and Vorshak his plan to destroy mankind by starting a war with the base's missiles. The nations of the world will retaliate, wiping one another out. They undo the damage caused by Maddox's sabotage and connect the manipulator to the systems.

Turlough, meanwhile, has been trying to loosen a grille that leads to a ventilation shaft when he hears someone approaching. The door opens and the Sea Devils push Preston and Tegan into the room. Once they leave, Turlough loosens the grille and Tegan and Bulic escape as Turlough considers trying to escape to the TARDIS.

Tegan and Bulic find their way to a door to the bridge and Bulic gestures to the Doctor who then escapes unnoticed from the bridge. They make their way to the storage room and try to find something to use against the reptiles. They discover some cylinders of Hexachromite gas, which is lethal to all reptile life. A Sea Devil discovers the Doctor's presence and attempts to shoot him. He misses the Doctor and hits one of the gas containers which sprays all over the warrior. As a result, the warrior begins to dissolve. Preston urges the Doctor to use the gas on the Silurians and Sea Devils. The Doctor adamantly refuses, accusing Preston of advocating genocide. Turlough reminds the Doctor of what the Silurians will do if they are able to launch the missiles. The Doctor is unable to find anything else harmful but less lethal and regretfully begins to connect the gas containers to a central air pump. The Doctor is discovered by Sauvix before he can turn the pump on. Preston grabs a gun, but is killed by Sauvix; Bulic sprays Sauvix with the gas, killing him.

The TARDIS crew laments a regrettable end to hostilities.

As the Silurians prepare to fire the missiles, the Doctor feeds the gas into the ventilation system. Bulic stays in the chemical store to ensure that the gas keeps flowing, while the Doctor and his companions leave for the bridge to try to stop the Silurians.

Scibus activates the missiles as the Sea Devils begin to collapse from the gas, and the Doctor tells Tegan and Turlough to give the Silurians oxygen to keep them alive. The Doctor, aided by Vorshak, tries to stop the missiles by linking himself into the equipment as the sync operator. The Doctor succeeds, but Vorshak is killed by Icthar. Then Icthar is killed by Turlough. Finally, it is all over. The Doctor, his companions, and Bulic are the only survivors. The Doctor is left in despair for both the base's personnel and the Silurians, regretfully pondering, "There should have been another way."


Uncredited cast[[edit]]


Uncredited crew[[edit]]




Story notes[[edit]]

  • During the production of this story, Janet Fielding and Peter Davison both announced their decision to leave later in the year. According to volume 38 of The Complete History, Fielding and Davison had planned to leave Doctor Who by the end of the 1984 season before production began in June 1983, and there were already auditions being held for the new companion to replace Fielding by May.
  • In part three, there is a comical scene where Solow attempts to fight the Myrka by dealing it a karate kick and is electrocuted as a result. It was this footage, amongst others, that was later to be presented by BBC executives who wanted to axe Doctor Who. Ingrid Pitt came up with the idea herself.
  • Writer Johnny Byrne has stated that several elements of this story were not in his original script, including the deaths of Icthar and Vorshak at the story's end, the drop-kicking German female scientist and "nowhere did [he] describe [the Myrka] as a four-legged beast on loan from Panto-Horses-Are-Us." (REF: The Eighties)
  • The Myrka was operated by William Perrie and John Asquith, who were uncredited both on-screen and in Radio Times. The pair were perhaps better known for playing Dobbin the Pantomime Horse in the children's sitcom Rentaghost (1976-1984).
  • Johnny Byrne has also stated that the base looked nothing as he envisioned it: "I was very specific in my description of the base — rusting, leaking, virtually forgotten by all except those on board — the atmosphere and look was something like Alien with the Myrka essentially a lurking deadly presence waiting to reveal itself." (REF: The Eighties)
  • It was decided that the sets should be brightly lit, which had the effect of downplaying the elements of intrigue, horror and suspense in the story.
  • The original Sea Devil costumes had all been lost or destroyed at the time of production. All that remained was a head, which was on display in the BBC museum. The head was used to make a mould for the new Sea Devil costumes, with the side fins removed in order to incorporate their helmets.
  • Eric Saward constantly rewrote the script to address complaints from Ian Levine that the returning monsters weren't properly represented.
  • Because the mouths on the Silurian head props were static, there was no way to tell which Silurian was speaking during scenes with multiple ones. Therefore, the Silurians' third eye went from a psychokinetic outlet — used in Doctor Who and the Silurians as both a tool and a weapon — to a mere light that flashed during speech, identically to the Daleks.
  • The Myrka costume was completed only half an hour before filming and the paint and glue on it weren't dry — it visibly smears on the sets as it staggers around, the actors inside the costume being light-headed from the fumes (Pennant Roberts, had begged John Nathan-Turner to let him drop it, describing it as "not the icing on the cake, but the lard at the bottom of the pan"). Mat Irvine was unable to design the creature, as he had a prior assignment that overran.
  • Johnny Byrne drew inspiration from the Space: 1999 episode "Guardian of Piri", which he script-edited. Both scripts feature a character who could interface with computers via an implant.
  • Peter Davison possibly contracted hypothermia from having to swim in a water tank in part two, after having "fallen" into it, and the operators of the tank that had been hired for the day had forgotten to fill it in advance in order for the water to warm up. Peter reported that his voice subsequently went into a high pitch. (REF: Making 'Warriors of the Deep')
  • Steven Berkoff, Brian Blessed, Kenneth Colley, Michael Craig, Paul Darrow, Anton Diffring, Peter Gilmore, Del Henney, Gareth Hunt, Martin Jarvis, Patrick Mower, Patrick Stewart, David Warner, Simon Williams and Peter Wyngarde were considered for the role of Commander Vorshak.
  • Honor Blackman, Eleanor Bron, Diane Keen, Rula Lenska, Maureen Lipman, Pamela Salem, Sylvia Syms, Wanda Ventham and Fiona Walker were considered for the role of Solow.
  • Peter Arne, Nicholas Ball, Tom Chadbon, Michael Gothard, Ian Holm, Denis Lill, Ronald Lacey, Alfred Lynch, Ian McKellen, Clive Merrison, John Normington and Edward Peel were considered for the role of Nillson.
  • Lynda Bellingham, Sarah Berger, Isla Blair, Suzanne Danielle, Patricia Finnegan, Georgina Hale, Jenny Hanley, Diane Keen, Rula Lenska, Helen Mirren, Susan Penhaligon, Pamela Salem, Susan Skipper, Catherine Schell, Primi Townsend, Wanda Ventham and Fiona Walker were considered for the role of Preston.
  • Nicholas Ball, Tom Chadbon, Maurice Colbourne, Paul Darrow, Michael Gothard, Richard Heffer, Roger Lloyd Pack, Bruce McCulloch, Terry Molloy, Tony Osoba, Edward Peel, Stephen Rea, Carl Rigg, Donald Sumpter, David Warwick and Stephen Yardley were considered for the role of Bulic.
  • In the original script, Preston and Commander Vorshak survived the massacre at Seabase Four.
  • Doctor Solow and Preston were at first male, but Pennant Roberts changed their gender.
  • Ian McCulloch was originally considered for the role of Vorshak before being cast as Nillson.
  • Norman Comer was first booked to play Tarpok before being cast as Icthar.
  • Norman Comer replaced Robert Ashby.
  • Johnny Byrne watched Doctor Who and the Silurians and The Sea Devils to prepare for the assignment, and decided that the Silurians should be portrayed as the leaders of their race, while the Sea Devils would operate more in the manner of elite foot soldiers. He also asked Eric Saward if he could model his serial on Earthshock, as he had been impressed with its kinetic, action-oriented style, and wanted to try his hand at a similar type of story.
  • Johnny Byrne intentionally avoided using any recognisable names for the two power blocs involved in his adventure; to this end, he implied that his supporting characters emanated from a variety of nationalities. In Terrance Dicks's novelisation of the story, they are named the East Bloc and West Bloc.
  • Johnny Byrne saw the story as an allegory for the Cold War. Due to the political climate, this was toned down in the rewrites. Byrne was so disappointed by the outcome that he vowed never to work on the show again (although he was involved with the unmade film scripts The Time Lord and The Last of the Time Lords).
  • Pennant Roberts described the story as "not Doctor Who", just one battle after another.
  • Ingrid Pitt came up with the infamous scene where Solow attacks the Myrka. She wanted it to be a whole battle, but Pennant Roberts was "having dreadful problems with the Myrka" and there was only time for one "feeble" kick. She also claims it looked ludicrous because it was shot at the wrong angle. Eric Saward felt the scene marred everything and wondered why John Nathan-Turner, who saw it happen, didn't ask for its removal.
  • The Radio Times programme listing for part two included a black-and-white photograph of Ingrid Pitt as Solow standing at a control panel, while the combined Radio Times cast for parts one/two erroneously credited Martin Neil (Maddox) twice.
  • Ingrid Pitt and Nigel Humphreys had previously appeared in the film Who Dares Wins.
  • The original script contained scenes from the point of view of the crew aboard the probe despatched from the seabase, which was destroyed by the Myrka.
  • It was Eric Saward who named Tarpok (originally Tanpon) and Scibus.
  • Despite his preference for hiring new directors, John Nathan-Turner hired Pennant Roberts, having met him when investigating the use of clips from Shada (which was the last serial Roberts directed) for use in The Five Doctors.
  • Mat Irvine's arrival on the serial was delayed by his commitment to The Odd Job Man, which had fallen behind schedule.
  • The original plan was to film the serial at the BBC Television Film Studios water tank in Ealing. This was scrapped both because the crew would be required to cover the surprise General Election and because of scheduled maintenance to repair a leak in the water tank.
  • There were problems with the Silurian and Sea Devil costumes. Ventilation was poor for the actors within, exacerbated by the heat wave afflicting England at the time. Furthermore, the Silurian outfits had a tendency to buckle around the neck, which resulted in the mask being improperly fitted to the body on some occasions. The Sea Devils' large webbed feet hindered mobility, and their helmets were too heavy, which caused the head tilt to one side and obscure the actor's vision.
  • Shots of the Sea Devils moving across the sea floor had to be abandoned due to time constraints.
  • The script originally featured scenes from the point of view of the crew aboard the probe despatched from the seabase, which was destroyed by the Myrka.
  • Tarpok was originally named Tanpon.


  • Part one - 7.6 million viewers
  • Part two - 7.5 million viewers
  • Part three - 7.3 million viewers
  • Part four - 6.6 million viewers

Filming locations[[edit]]

  • Royal Engineer's Diving Establishment, McMullen Barracks, Marchwood, Hampshire
  • BBC Television Centre (TC6), Shepherd's Bush, London
  • Shepperton Studios (Stage A), Littleton, Middlesex,
  • BBC (Kendal Avenue) (Visual Effects Workshop), Kendal Avenue, Acton

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.
  • During a close-up scene on a Silurian in part one, the actor's eyes are clearly visible behind the eyes of the Silurian's head.
  • A microphone boom can be seen on the left side of the screen in the hallway scene prior to Turlough being rescued by the Doctor in part two.
  • The flaps at the base of the back of the neck are visibly coming out from under the back of the Silurian costumes in several different scenes.
  • As a Silurian dies from hexachromite gas in part four, the zip of his suit can be seen.
  • Vorshak refers to the Sea Devils by name without having heard it in advance.
  • Tegan's injury to her leg miraculously heals itself in part four, and she suddenly stops limping.
  • In part one, as the Silurians are leaving their control room, one of them bumps into a control pedestal and causes it to wobble.
  • Tegan acquires a bra between parts one and two.
  • The left airlock door states: "TO OPEN: Open other door first". The right door states exactly the same thing.
  • In the title sequence for all four parts, the words 'of' and 'the' in the episode title are capitalised, which is typically considered to be grammatically incorrect when the words are used as articles in a manner such as this.


  • The Doctor previously encountered both the Silurians (TV: Doctor Who and the Silurians) and the Sea Devils (TV: The Sea Devils) during his third incarnation. He recalls that he felt he "let them down", both bases in those encounters having been destroyed as well.
  • The Silurians also appear in PROSE: The Scales of Injustice, AUDIO: Bloodtide, and AUDIO: The Coup. The Scales of Injustice attempts to reconcile some of the incontinuities evident in Warriors of the Deep. It does not identify the Silurians from Doctor Who and the Silurians as members of the Triad, giving them their own names. It also established Warriors of the Deep as a sequel to Scales, rather than the apparent original intention of Doctor Who and the Silurians.
  • The Sea Devils and the Silurians also appear in PROSE: Blood Heat.
  • When the Doctor, Tegan, and Turlough are cornered in the reactor room near the end of part one, the Doctor says to Tegan and Turlough, "When I say run, run. ... RUN!" This quote was previously used by his second incarnation on numerous occasions.
  • An alternative version of the Doctor had his brain fried by the computer while substituting for the dead sync operator. (PROSE: So Vile a Sin)

Home video and audio releases[[edit]]

VHS releases[[edit]]

  • Warriors of the Deep was released on video by BBC Worldwide in 1995.

DVD/Box set releases[[edit]]

Special Features[[edit]]

Digital release[[edit]]

  • The story is available for streaming in Canada & the US through BritBox or Amazon Instant Video in the UK.
  • It can also be downloaded through the iTunes Store.

CD release[[edit]]

A CD of the original television soundtrack was released by BBC Audio in January 2008, with linking narration by Janet Fielding.

Novelisation and its audiobook[[edit]]

Warriors of the Deep novel.jpg
Main article: Warriors of the Deep (novelisation)
  • This story was novelised by Terrance Dicks in 1984.
  • It was released as an abridged audiobook, read by Peter Davison, in 1995.

External links[[edit]]