Terror of the Zygons was the first serial of season 13 of Doctor Who. It had been originally produced to conclude season 12 and saw the last regular appearance of Ian Marter as Harry Sullivan and was the first UNIT story since Robot. Although two more UNIT stories followed later this season, this was the last appearance of the Brigadier until 1983's Mawdryn Undead.
Originally a six parter entitled The Secret of Loch Ness, it was condensed down to four by script editor Robert Holmes; no significant plot threads were lost in the rewriting. (INFO: Terror of the Zygons)
The ending of the non-narrative TV special Disney Time 1975 (broadcast just a few days earlier) was designed to tie into the beginning of the serial, as it showed the Doctor receiving the message which sends him to the Brigadier at the beginning of Terror.
Having received an urgent request for assistance from the Brigadier, the Doctor, Sarah and Harry arrive in Scotland, where they discover that a mysterious force has destroyed three oil rigs.
The mystery deepens when a piece of wreckage is found with giant teeth marks on it. The trail leads them to the shores of Loch Ness where they find that the legendary monster really does exist — and is the murderous tool of the Zygons, aliens intent on overpowering the planet.
The Doctor, his companions and UNIT must find a way to defeat the deadly Loch Ness Monster and its controllers, but the Zygons have the terrifying power to change shape. The Doctor's life has never been in more danger, as the line between allies and enemies is tested to the very limit...
Part one Edit
On an oil rig off the coast of Scotland, a strange, high-pitched beeping sound echoes through the structure. The rig begins to break apart, collapsing into the North Sea. A radio operator tries to send a mayday, but his efforts are in vain.
The Fourth Doctor, Harry and Sarah hitch a ride with a motorist to the town where the Brigadier and UNIT have set themselves up in an inn. The Brigadier is talking to Huckle, an official of Hibernian Oil, who owned the rig. Huckle complains that three rigs have been destroyed in the last month, two of them belonging to Hibernian. The Brigadier assures Huckle that UNIT is also concerned, especially about the loss of life.
The Doctor, Harry and Sarah arrive at the inn. It turns out that the man who has given them a lift is the Duke of Forgill, a local landowner. The Duke is angry about Huckle's men trespassing on his land. Huckle assures him that he has warned his employees about this, and any who are caught will be dismissed without question. However, the Duke warns that any of Huckle's men caught on his land will be shot. He also wants to know what UNIT are doing here, but the Brigadier says that it is a sensitive matter. Though not pleased, the Duke leaves.
On the shoreline, a survivor of the destroyed rig washes up, barely alive.
The Brigadier brings the Doctor, Harry and Sarah to Hibernian Oil, where Huckle briefs them on the injuries of the rigs' crew. Harry decides to examine the injuries at the sickbay, while Sarah goes to talk to some of the locals. Huckle cannot understand it: the rigs were designed to be unsinkable and the seas were calm and empty before the incidents. The Doctor darkly notes that the sea is never empty.
Back at the inn, Sarah talks to Angus, the landlord. She admires a stuffed stag's head above the fireplace, a gift from the Duke just this past week. Angus observes that the Duke has not been himself since the oil companies came. His servants have all left to go and work for them, leaving Forgill Castle cold and empty. He tells Sarah about Tulloch Moor and people disappearing over the centuries when the mist comes down. Sarah is sceptical — evil spirits do not destroy oil rigs. All this while, something alien watches Angus and her on a monitor screen.
The Duke's man, Caber, sees the rig survivor, Munro, stagger from the surf. Harry is driving by and goes to Munro as he collapses. Before Munro can tell Harry about what smashed the rig, Caber fires a rifle, killing Munro and creasing Harry's forehead with a second shot. Harry falls, unconscious. Back at the inn, the Doctor is working on a radio probe to check for localised jamming when a call comes in informing them about Harry.
Alien hands manipulate strange, organic controls. A high-pitched beeping summons a creature from the depths. It heads towards the Ben Nevis rig. The rig's communications with Huckle are jammed.
The Doctor and Sarah visit Harry, who is sedated and being tended by Sister Lamont, the nurse. The Brigadier arrives to tell him of the Ben Nevis rig's destruction. Sarah stays with Harry while the Doctor goes with the Brigadier. Outside, the Doctor spots wreckage from the rig with odd holes in it. He asks Sergeant Benton for plaster of Paris and makes a mould of the holes, revealing that something with very large teeth bit the rig. The watching aliens decide that the Doctor knows too much and must be destroyed.
Harry awakens. Sarah goes to tell the Doctor while Sister Lamont tells Harry he will be very well looked after. A high-pitched beeping echoes through the room, and Harry looks up in fear. As Sarah calls the Doctor, a suction-tipped hand clamps down on her shoulder. She turns as she is grabbed by a large, orange biped creature.
Part two Edit
The Doctor hears Sarah's cries over the telephone and rushes to the sickbay. Sister Lamont tells them that she found Sarah gone and Harry's bed empty. The Doctor snoops around and finds Sarah unconscious in a decompression chamber. As Sarah comes round and starts telling the Doctor about what happened, a Zygon locks them in and starts to remove the air from the chamber. To escape death, the Doctor hypnotises Sarah into not needing to breathe and then puts himself in a similar trance.
Harry is brought to the Zygon ship deep underwater, where he meets their warlord, Broton. Centuries ago, their spaceship was damaged, and they landed on Earth. They were waiting for rescue when they heard that their world had been destroyed in a stellar explosion. Now, they intend to claim Earth for their own, using the sea monster under their command, an armoured cyborg of great power. Broton explains that the Zygons depend on the lactic fluid of the Skarasen. Harry realises that if the monster is destroyed, the Zygons will die. Broton declares that no human weapon can affect the Skarasen.
The Brigadier is briefing one of his officers at the inn when gas floods the room, knocking them all out. Meanwhile, Benton has found the Doctor and Sarah. He opens the pressure door. The Doctor exhales, awakens and carefully revives Sarah. He tells Benton that the trance was a trick he picked up from a Tibetan monk.
The Doctor, Sarah and Benton find the entire village has been drugged by some kind of nerve gas, but the people soon revive. The Doctor deduces that this was done so that something could get around unseen. The Zygons watch Huckle give the Doctor a device he found in the wreckage: the signal device that summons the Skarasen. Briton says that it must be recovered. Harry is taken to another room in the ship, where he sees other humans hooked up to booths, providing the Zygons with "body prints" that they use to assume human form.
The Doctor hypothesises that the signal device sends out a primeval mating call to attract the beast. The savaged body of a UNIT soldier is found on the moor, and the Doctor and the Brigadier go to see it, leaving Sarah behind in case Harry turns up. He does, but it is his Zygon duplicate Madra. He takes the signal device, saying that the Doctor asked him to collect it. Sarah notices his curious behaviour and questions him, but he pushes her aside and runs away. Sarah and some soldiers pursue him.
Sarah discovers "Harry" hiding in the upper level of a barn, and he attacks her with a pitchfork. She steps aside at the last moment, and he falls, impaling himself on his weapon and turning back into a Zygon. The signal broken, Broton realises that Madra is dead and remotely disperses the corpse. Harry, however, is freed from his body print booth.
Sarah wonders how the aliens knew they had the signal device. The Brigadier orders the inn searched for bugs. Broton in turn orders the Skarasen unleashed, even if it reveals their presence. The signal device begins to beep. The Doctor grabs it to lure the creature away, while the Brigadier tries to get a fix on the activating signal.
The Skarasen catches up to the Doctor on the moor, and he finds that he cannot get rid of the semi-organic signal device which has fastened itself to his palm. The Brigadier traces the incoming signal to Loch Ness. As the Doctor stumbles, Broton orders the Skarasen to destroy him.
Part three Edit
Harry rushes into the Zygon control room and randomly hits controls, making the device fall off the Doctor's palm and allowing him to roll out of the Skarasen's way. Since the device is dead, Broton assumes that the Doctor is too and recalls the Skarasen. The Doctor retrieves the device and makes his way back across the moor as the Skarasen glides away. In the ship, Harry is dragged away by the other Zygons.
The Doctor is met halfway by the Brigadier and Sarah, who tell him that the signal came from Loch Ness. The Doctor decides to visit Forgill Castle, right next to the loch. They get a frosty reception from the Duke, who does not believe them about the monster or the aliens and is unhappy with their intention to drop depth charges in Loch Ness.
At the inn, Angus discovers the Zygon surveillance link in the stuffed deer head that was the Duke's gift. As he tries to pry it loose, Sister Lamont enters the inn. The sister turns into a Zygon and kills him, removing the link after. Angus' dying cries are heard by Benton and some UNIT soldiers, who discover the body and pursue the killer. The UNIT troops sweep through the nearby forest and fire on the Zygon.
The Brigadier is told that a Zygon is being cornered. He and the Doctor leave Sarah at the castle to research the monster. In the woods, the wounded Zygon disguises itself again as Sister Lamont and fools a UNIT soldier long enough to knock him out and steal his jeep. At the inn, the Doctor notices the missing eye in the deer head and realises that the Duke may be a Zygon facsimile.
At the castle, Sarah examines the upper bookshelves. She triggers a hidden switch, and a section of the bookcases slides open, revealing a passage. She takes a torchlight and goes in, following a long dark tunnel that leads to the Zygon ship. "The Duke" (in reality Broton) finds the open bookcase. He and "Caber" take the wounded "Sister Lamont" (the Zygon Odda) into the ship; the crew must be alerted and the intruder found and destroyed.
Sarah finds the cell where Harry is held. She frees him, and they sneak back to the castle, just in time to meet the Brigadier and the Doctor. Sarah tells the Brigadier about the Zygon ship. The Doctor enters the tunnel but does not get far; a scream is heard. The Zygons emerge in their true forms. Broton tells the humans that they are leaving with the Doctor as their prisoner. He warns them that the oil rigs were only a test; the "big event" is yet to come. Broton retreats, sealing the entrance to the tunnel.
The Brigadier orders the loch depth-charged to bring the Zygon ship to the surface. The Zygon ship does rise but keeps on rising into the sky, flying away.
Part four Edit
Broton orders a jamming signal transmitted to block the humans' radar systems. The Brigadier prepares to move his troops out, but Sarah and Harry suggest they search Forgill Castle before they leave for clues to the Zygons' plans. Sarah finds some papers that indicate the Duke is the President of the Scottish Energy Commission, but Harry dismisses the information as useless. They return with the Brigadier to London.
The Zygon ship lands in a disused quarry. UNIT cannot track it. Radar stations are knocked out all over the country. However, there are reports of a large underwater object heading south at high speed. Broton enters the Doctor's cell and, taking the Duke's form again, tells him that Phase I of the conquest of Earth is complete. A great Zygon refugee ship is on its way but will take some centuries to arrive. In the meantime, Earth's environment must be restructured with human labour and Zygon technology to turn it into a new homeworld.
Left alone, the Doctor rigs some of the organic technology in his cell, electrocuting himself but sending a transmission to help UNIT track the ship to the quarry. By the time Broton and his men open the Doctor's cell door, the Doctor is apparently dead. However, when Broton leaves, the Doctor comes to. He makes his way to the body print chamber and frees the real Duke, Sister Lamont and Caber.
Broton leaves the ship to plant a trilanic activator on his target, which the Skarasen will then destroy, proving the power the Zygons hold. When Phase II is complete, he will broadcast his demands to the world. Inside the ship, the Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to set off the fire sensor, triggering an alarm. When the Zygons go to investigate, the Doctor ushers the humans out of the ship, jamming the hatches and activating the ship's self-destruct.
The Brigadier has arrived, and the escapees reach UNIT's position. The Doctor shouts for everyone to get down, just before the Zygon ship explodes. However, Broton is still free and has control of the Skarasen. The target is in London and must be close to the River Thames.
The Brigadier says the Prime Minister will be at a conference at Stanbridge House, near the river. The Duke adds it is the first International Energy Conference, with delegates from all over the world. As the Duke is the President of the Scottish Energy Commission, Broton will have a pass into the meeting. They leave for London.
"The Duke" places the activator in the basement of Stanbridge House. The Skarasen has been sighted mere minutes away. The Doctor finds Broton, back in his true form, who swears he will make sure the Doctor is dead this time and attacks him. Sarah calls for the Brigadier, who arrives to shoot Broton dead. The Doctor finds the trilanic activator in his pocket and feeds it to the Skarasen as it rises out of the Thames. After it consumes the device, the beast sinks back into the river and heads back to Loch Ness, the only home it has ever known. However, it is witnessed by not only the Doctor, Sarah and Harry, but many terrified Londoners.
Returning to Scotland, the Brigadier tells the Duke that the incident will be kept quiet, even the appearance of a fifty foot monster in the Thames. The Doctor leads them into the woods to the TARDIS and offers all of them a lift. The Brigadier and Harry decline. Sarah agrees on the condition they go straight back to London. The Doctor promises, and the TARDIS takes off with the Doctor and Sarah inside. The Duke tells the Brigadier that, as a Scotsman, he should have gotten a refund for Sarah and the Doctor's return train tickets.
- Doctor Who - Tom Baker
- Sarah Jane Smith - Elisabeth Sladen
- Harry Sullivan - Ian Marter
- Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart - Nicholas Courtney
- RSM Benton - John Levene
- Duke of Forgill/Broton - John Woodnutt
- Sister Lamont - Lillias Walker
- The Caber - Robert Russell
- Angus - Angus Lennie
- Huckle - Tony Sibbald
- Munro - Hugh Martin
- Radio Operator - Bruce Wightman
- Corporal - Bernard G. High
- Soldier - Peter Symonds
- Zygon - Keith Ashley
- Zygon - Ronald Gough
Uncredited cast Edit
- Thurston - Barry Summerford (DWM 210)
- UNIT Soldiers - James Muir, Patrick Ginter, Rowland Geall (DWM 210)
- Morton - Alan Clements (DWM 210, INFO: Terror of the Zygons)
- Assistant Floor Manager - Rosemary Webb
- Costumes - James Acheson
- Designer - Nigel Curzon
- Film Cameraman - Peter Hall
- Film Editor - Ian McKendrick
- Film Sound - John Tellick
- Incidental Music - Geoffrey Burgon
- Make-Up - Sylvia James
- Producer - Philip Hinchcliffe
- Production Assistant - Edwina Craze
- Production Unit Manager - George Gallaccio
- Script Editor - Robert Holmes
- Special Sounds - Dick Mills
- Studio Lighting - John Dixon
- Studio Sound - Michael McCarthy
- Theme Arrangement - Delia Derbyshire
- Title Music - Ron Grainer
- Visual Effects Designer - John Horton
Uncredited crew Edit
- Assistant Floor Manager - Rosemary Webb (INFO: Terror of the Zygons)
- Grams Operator - Gordon Phillipson (INFO: Terror of the Zygons)
- Make-Up Assistants - Suzanne Jansen, Martha Livesey (INFO: Terror of the Zygons)
- Visual Effects Assistantsa - Roger Barham, Len Hutton, Charlie Lumm, Colin Mapson, Steve Bowman, Steve Drewett, Richard Conway (INFO: Terror of the Zygons)
- Film Camera Assistant - Alec Curtis (INFO: Terror of the Zygons)
- Film Sound Assistant - Clive Derbyshire (INFO: Terror of the Zygons)
- Grips - Roy Monks, Dennis Rogers (INFO: Terror of the Zygons)
- Props Buyer - Eric Barker, Robert Sutton (INFO: Terror of the Zygons)
- Technical Manager - Henry Barber (INFO: Terror of the Zygons)
- Director's Assistant - Joy Sinclair (INFO: Terror of the Zygons)
- Floor Assistant - Carol Scott (INFO: Terror of the Zygons)
- Dressers - Elizabeth Lincott, Michael Purcell, Jack Rowe (INFO: Terror of the Zygons)
- Inlay Operator - Dave Jervis (INFO: Terror of the Zygons)
- Vision Mixer - Nick Lake (INFO: Terror of the Zygons)
- Film Operatives - Leslie Baker, Spike Hughes, Dick Norwood, Brian West (INFO: Terror of the Zygons)
- Film Ops Manager - Ian Brindle (INFO: Terror of the Zygons)
- Facilities Assistants - Jennie Betts, Carol Vigurs (INFO: Terror of the Zygons)
- Senior Cameraman - Paul Kay (INFO: Terror of the Zygons)
The Doctor's items Edit
- Angus plays "Flowers of the Forest" on the bagpipes. The Doctor refers to it as a "lament for the dead".
- Broton intended to disrupt the World Energy Conference.
Story notes Edit
- This story had working titles of: Loch Ness, The Secret of the Loch, Secret of Loch Ness, The Loch Ness Monster and The Zygons.
- This story was originally planned to end season 12, but was pushed back to the start of season 13 to allow the series to shift its broadcast schedule from a January start (its routine since 1970) to September.
- Nicholas Courtney is credited as "Brigadier" in Radio Times for part four.
- Radio Times credits John Woodnutt as "Duke of Forgill" for part one, "Broton" for parts two and three, and "Broton/Duke of Forgill" for part four. All on-screen credits read "Duke of Forgill".
- The Radio Times programme listing for part one was accompanied by a black and white illustration by Frank Bellamy depicting the Doctor in his tam-o'-shanter, the oil rig being destroyed and the eye of the Skarasen, with the accompanying caption "A tartan touch for Dr. Who when he faces a new breed of monsters that bring terror to the North Sea: 5.45".
- Radio Times art editor David Driver commissioned a full colour illustration from Frank Bellamy depicting the Zygon spaceship taking off, the Doctor and the Skarasen, with a comic strip style speech balloon for the Doctor reading "WE'RE DEALING WITH A CREATURE THAT IS NOT OF ORDINARY FLESH AND BLOOD..." in the hope it would be used as a front cover for the forthcoming 30 August - 5 September 1975 issue to tie-in with the start of season 13. This never happened, but the artwork eventually saw print as part of Still waters, a Radio Times article about the Loch Ness monster which featured in that issue. The introduction for the article read "Dr. Who / Saturday BBC1 / What is Nessie? Who can tell? In a new series starting this week, Dr. Who takes on the unidentified incumbent of Loch Ness. Here Andrew Haden-Guest plumbs the depths of the Scottish mystery".
- This is the only season opener to feature a companion departure, though Harry would return in The Android Invasion.
- The departure of Harry while Sarah remains with the Doctor marks one of only two incontrovertible times in the televised classic series that a companion, who had already been with the Doctor before another one joins, remains with him after the second companion leaves. Jamie arrived before Victoria Waterfield and remained after her departure. Two other arguable examples would be Katarina and Sara Kingdom, who weren't with the Doctor very long, and ended up dying. Generally, the Doctor's roster of companions revolves fairly consistently.
- This was the only on-screen appearance of the Zygons, save for flashbacks and verbal references, during the classic series. A Zygon was apparently to have appeared, along with a Dalek and a Cyberman, among the alien prisoners on the Time Lords' prison planet in Douglas Adams's original script of Shada, but the scenes set inside Shada itself were never recorded. The Zygons made their first on-screen appearance in the revived series in the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary episode, The Day of the Doctor, an episode which also featured the return of Tom Baker in a special cameo.
- On the DVD release of this story, it featured a deleted scene set at the start of the story featuring the TARDIS landing. It was in a mixture of colour and black and white, but the monochrome sections were recoloured by the YouTuber, Babelcolour, who also worked on The Mind of Evil and Genesis of the Daleks DVDs. The original colour/black and white version is included on the DVD as an Easter egg.
- In this story the Brigadier speaks to an unnamed female prime minister on the telephone. Margaret Thatcher had become Leader of the Conservative Party in February 1975, seven months before broadcast.
- This is, effectively, the earliest Doctor Who story directed wholly by Douglas Camfield to survive in its entirety. On Planet of Giants, Camfield only directed the final episode whilst on Inferno he did not direct most of the studio scenes due to falling ill with a heart condition. The Crusade, The Daleks' Master Plan, The Web of Fear and The Invasion are all missing episodes and The Time Meddler is missing twelve seconds of footage from its final episode.
- Part one - 8.4 million viewers
- Part two - 6.1 million viewers
- Part three - 8.2 million viewers
- Part four - 7.2 million viewers
Filming locations Edit
- Climping Beach, Littlehampton, West Sussex
- Hall Aggregates Quarry, Storrington, West Sussex
- Furnace Pond, Mill Lane, Crabtree, West Sussex
- Millbank, London
- Ambersham Common, South Ambersham, West Sussex
- Charlton, West Sussex
- Westminster Bridge, Westminster, London
- BBC Television Centre (TC3 & TC4), Shepherd's Bush, London
Production errors Edit
- When the Doctor is running from from the Skarasen, he leaves open the driver's door to the Land Rover he was driving. Later, when the Brigadier and Sarah-Jane drive by, both the driver's and passenger's doors of the Land Rover are closed.
- While the Doctor and the Zygons' captives are running away from the Zygon spaceship before it explodes, the ship's shadow moves.
- When the Brigadier and the Doctor examine the dead soldier's body in part two, one of the soldier's fingers moves.
- When the Caber jams the door of the Zygon ship by breaking off one of the mechanisms of the control panel, the whole wall of the ship shakes.
- When Sarah is typing on the typewriter, the text she is typing is already printed onto the paper, and she is therefore just typing over the text.
- The Sixth Doctor suggests an additional possible explanation of the Loch Ness Monster legend. (TV: Timelash)
- The Seventh Doctor mentions "the Zygon Gambit" to Ace. (TV: Remembrance of the Daleks)
- During Sarah Jane's comparison of travels with Rose, she mentions the Loch Ness Monster, which seems to impress Rose. (TV: School Reunion)
- PROSE: The Bodysnatchers and PROSE: Sting of the Zygons feature the Zygons and Skarasen.
- AUDIO: The Zygon Who Fell to Earth features the Zygons and Skarasen. AUDIO: Death in Blackpool also features the Zygons.
- Harry Sullivan opts not to continue travelling with the Doctor, having finally arrived home after his somewhat unwitting time in the TARDIS began. (TV: Robot) Sarah and the Doctor will soon encounter him again, however. (TV: The Android Invasion)
- The destruction of the Zygon homeworld would later be revealed to have been caused by the Time War. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)
DVD, Video, CD and Laserdisc releases Edit
DVD releases Edit
A DVD was commissioned in April 2011, and subsequently announced for release in the UK on 30 September 2013. However, an "advance release", minus extra features, was also announced for release on 29 July 2013 as part of the UK-exclusive The Fourth Doctor Time Capsule box set, limited to 5,000 copies. At the time it held the distinction of being the final complete classic-era story to see a DVD release, before The Enemy of the World was announced as having been found.
VHS releases Edit
This story was released as Doctor Who: Terror of the Zygons on VHS.
- PAL - Polygram
- PAL - BBC Video
- PAL - BBC Video
- NTSC - Playhouse
- Minor cuts were reportedly made on both the UK compilation and episodic releases to the scene in part two where the Zygon replica of Harry threatens Sarah with a pitchfork, in order to obtain a "PG" certificate.
- The 1999 episodic release also featured at the start of the tape footage of Tom Baker as the Doctor on the Summer Bank Holiday Monday edition of Disney Time, originally transmitted 25 August 1975.
- The 1988 compilation video release was previously only available in Australia.
Laserdisc release Edit
- PAL - Encore Entertainment EE1203
CD release Edit
- Terror of the Zygons at the BBC's official site
- Terror of the Zygons at RadioTimes
- Terror of the Zygons at BroaDWcast
- Terror of the Zygons at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- Terror of the Zygons at The Locations Guide