The Movellans outwardly resembled humans of various ethnicities and genders. All of the Movellan androids wore white, form-fitting uniforms. On each shoulder was a glowing green ampoule held in a metal frame. Movellans had long silver hair worn in braids generally tipped with matching silver beads, apart from commanders who wore black beads.
Being androids, the Movellans were strong and tough. The major weakness of the Movellan design was each android's external power pack which, being carried on their belts, was easily removed and completely shut down the android. The power pack circuitry could also be modified, reprogramming the android to obey human orders. Because they did not wish to reveal their mechanical status to others, they did not allow aliens to see them in death, claiming such a thing would be against their code of honour.
The Movellans' spacecraft fix on their landing spots with a targeting beam, and once they have landed, the lower half drills into the earth as a means of camouflage and defence. These ships have an intergalactic range and time-warp capability. Inside the ship, some Movellans wore headphones, presumably as a way of interfacing directly with the ship's computer.
The Movellans' main destructive weapon was the Nova device. This invention counted down to zero, at which point it altered the molecular structure of the atmosphere so that the atoms become flammable. Without protective shielding around the device, it would burn up an entire planetary atmosphere. It could, however, be turned on without being armed (making it into basically nothing more than an elaborate egg-timer). (TV: Destiny of the Daleks)
The Movellans originated from Movella (PROSE: The Also People, AUDIO: Alien Heart) in the star system 4-X-Alpha-4. (TV: Destiny of the Daleks) The Movellans were created in the image of a humanoid race that they destroyed after achieving self-awareness. (PROSE: The Also People)
According to Brastall, the actions of the Fourth Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith, and Harry Sullivan in the Adelphine Cluster led to Deepcity developing "a force of synthonic robots... that [would] contribute significantly to the Daleks' final demise". (PROSE: A Device of Death)
- Main article: Dalek-Movellan War
Most accounts agree that the Movellans and the Daleks encountered each other while both sides were expanding their interstellar empires beyond the bounds of the Mutter's Spiral and immediately engaged in a war which lasted for centuries. (TV: Destiny of the Daleks, Resurrection of the Daleks, PROSE: Remembrance of the Daleks)
The Twelfth Doctor lured a sentient oil puddle which had taken the form of human university student Heather into a war zone during a skirmish between Movellans and a group of Daleks, in the hopes of the Daleks destroying it. (TV: The Pilot)
As the empires' respective warfleets were evenly matched, neither side's purely logical battle computers could find a successful strategy for an attack against the other and so the two fleets remained locked in a stalemate, constantly manoeuvring and probing for weakness but never actually firing a single shot.
The Daleks returned to their homeworld, Skaro, to retrieve and revive their creator Davros, hoping that he could find a way to break the impasse, and the Movellans sent their own expedition to stop them. Davros determined that the first side to take a seemingly reckless gamble would be able to gain the advantage, but the Fourth Doctor prevented either side from returning to their respective fleets with this insight. (TV: Destiny of the Daleks)
They developed so that they would still work if their power packs were taken from them. At some point during the war, a group of Movellans headed by Narina was sent to deliver the final weapon against the Daleks. However, their ship was damaged and they landed on 4th century BC Earth and were attacked by the locals. They had created Chenek, a Movellan with human fear. (AUDIO: The Movellan Grave)
During the war, they became time active and travelled back to the 1970s to establish a strategic base and encountered Suzanne Clare, who helped them in there invasion. (AUDIO: The Movellan Manoeuvre) The Daleks later came after them. (AUDIO: The Dalek Gambit)
Despite the loss of Davros, the Daleks continued their war against the Movellans, managing to harvest some trace of imagination left in them to gain an advantage. Realising that this meant that the Daleks were organic creatures, (PROSE: The Astounding Untold History of the Greatest Enemies of the Universe the Movellans, within ninety years after the Doctor encountered them on Skaro, developed a biological agent, which attacked and was almost instantly fatal to the physiology of the mutant within the Dalek shell. This virus effected a turning point in the Dalek-Movellan War, reducing the once-great Dalek empire to a few scattered colonies. Once more, they sought out Davros for assistance. By this time, Davros resided in cryogenic suspension in a space station. The plan went wrong both as a result of Davros himself turning against the Supreme Dalek as well as the involvement of the Fifth Doctor. (TV: Resurrection of the Daleks)
The Daleks mounted a "war of vengeance" against the Movellans which was called the Pa Jass-Gutrik. The Special Weapons Dalek participated in this war. (PROSE: Remembrance of the Daleks) According to records, though unsubstantiated ones, recovered from the Space Security Service archive on Micawber's World, this conflict came about when the Daleks managed to use their duplicate program to infiltrate and sabotage the Movellan power pack production facilities, linking them all to the Pathweb. After some time had passed, the Daleks sent out a command for the Movellans to turn on each other, sparking a civil war that left them vulnerable to be wiped out by the Imperial Daleks. (PROSE: Dalek: The Astounding Untold History of the Greatest Enemies of the Universe)
During an encounter with the Daleks on Red Rocket Rising, the Eighth Doctor guessed that the Daleks may have been at war with the Movellans at the time. The Daleks did not clarify who they were currently fighting. (AUDIO: Blood of the Daleks)
When the Eighth Doctor and Sam Jones visited Skaro, the Daleks were using Movellans as part of their workforce. The Doctor suggested that the Movellans may have been reprogrammed, but the Dalek Prime insisted that the Movellans were not an independent race and that they had been obeying Dalek orders since their creation. (PROSE: War of the Daleks)
In the video game Happy Deathday, played by Izzy Sinclair on the Time-Space Visualiser, a pair of Movellans were among a host of "every single enemy" that the Doctor had ever defeated, who were assembled by the Beige Guardian and pitted against the Doctor's first eight incarnations. (COMIC: Happy Deathday)
Behind the scenes
- "Technical" (mainly made up by the author) information on the Movellans and their side-arms appear in The Doctor Who Technical Manual.
- FASA's The Doctor Who Role Playing Game offered background information on the Movellans, describing them as android slaves given independence by a computer virus.
- The Movellans (as well as other antagonists) appear in a Doctor Who skit, "The Monster Society of Evil" - Gallifrey One Masquerade 2011.
- The Movellans are stars of a long-running Internet series "What Are The Movellans Watching Today?" by Pip Madeley, in which they watch strange and usual television clips in their spacecraft.