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The Hungry Earth was the eighth episode of series 5 of Doctor Who.

It was the first part of a two-part story that featured the first televised re-appearance of the Silurians since 1984's Warriors of the Deep. It also introduced a new branch of the Silurian species, who are different both in appearance and in culture.


It's 2020, and the most ambitious drilling project in history has reached deeper beneath the Earth's crust than man has ever gone before — but now the ground itself is fighting back. The Eleventh Doctor, Amy and Rory arrive in a tiny mining village, and find themselves plunged into a battle against a deadly danger from a bygone age.


In 2020, in the small Welsh village of Cwmtaff, a team led by Dr Nasreen Chaudhry is attempting the deepest drilling project in history to investigate minerals that have appeared locally, but otherwise have not been seen on Earth's surface for over twenty million years. Mo Northover, a night watchman on the project, is helping his dyslexic son Elliot read the book The Gruffalo, without his headphones for the audio option. His wife Ambrose gives him his lunch and sends him off to work.

At the site, Ambrose's father, Tony Mack, is celebrating their latest drill with Nasreen. They have reached their latest goal of 21 kilometres. Mo arrives and sends them off so he can start his shift, happy to a have a peaceful night to himself. By night time, a strange earthquake strikes. Investigating, he finds a smoking hole in a storeroom floor. He plunges his hand in and finds nothing beneath it but air. After his torch is dropped onto the dirt, though, he watches as it sinks. He manages to pull himself away, but bumbles, getting his feet stuck in the dirt. He is promptly dragged down.

Shortly thereafter, the Eleventh Doctor arrives in Cwmtaff with Amy Pond and Rory Williams, having promised them a vacation in Rio de Janeiro, missing by several thousand miles; the TARDIS has brought them to the wrong place yet again, much to the annoyance of the companions. As they look across the valley, Amy spots two figures waving at them from the opposite hillside. It is Amy and Rory from ten years in their future, coming back to revisit past glories. Though she finds this "interaction" with her future self thrilling, Amy still wants to go to their intended destination. However, the Doctor is intrigued by blue grass in the cemetery where the TARDIS has parked, as well as the drilling operation in the valley below; it's the reason the ground "doesn't feel right". He insists they investigate, much to Amy's annoyance and expectation.

While the Doctor and Amy head off to explore, Rory returns Amy's engagement ring to the TARDIS for safekeeping, promising to catch up to them. As he leaves the police box, he is stopped by Ambrose Northover, who mistakes him for an investigator she called down for. Seeing that he cannot get away, Rory decides to play along until he gets an opportunity to run. Along with her son Elliot, Ambrose explains that her aunt Gladys' grave has been dug up without the round being disturbed. The body, the coffin — it all just disappeared! While Ambrose leaves to get tea, Elliot talks to a baffled Rory, telling him his conclusion is that the bodies are eaten by the graves. He learned to think this way from his Sherlock Holmes audiobooks: "When you've eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." Travelling with the Doctor, Rory knows Elliot may just be right.


The Doctor struggles to prevent Amy from being pulled underground.

At the mine, the Doctor and Amy meet Nasreen and Tony, who are investigating the hole in the storeroom. Checking the readings on Nasreen's computer, the Doctor announces the earth is shifting when it shouldn't be; specifically, the shifting is only and directly under this room. Abruptly, another earthquake strikes and more holes appear. As the group rushes to escape, Tony is caught in one of the holes. Despite the Doctor's orders that she keep moving, Amy stops and tries to help Tony, only to be caught in one of the holes herself. Nasreen and the Doctor double back to help the two. Nasreen helps Tony to safety, and the Doctor orders them to shut the drill down while he holds onto Amy. Though he promises not to let go of her, he can't stop her from being pulled under.

When Nasreen and Tony return — having shut off the drill too late to save Amy — the trio continues inspecting the earth. The Doctor deduces the earth was bio-programmed to attack whenever it perceived a threat. Nasreen's drill, which has breached a network of tunnels twenty-one kilometres down, was such a threat.

Transport pods are heading for the surface and will arrive in twelve minutes. The Doctor, Nasreen and Tony gather the equipment and make for the local church, where they encounter Rory, Ambrose and Elliot; the Doctor dismisses Rory's concerns about the graves. The attackers create an energy barrier around the town to prevent escape. Ambrose and Rory are furious their loved ones have been lost, but the Doctor promises to get them back, though he requires their cooperation. The group sets up a network of cameras and security alarms around the church and continues monitoring the pods' ascent via Nasreen's computers. Elliot, meanwhile, draws a map of the entire village, marking the locations of the cameras placed. The Doctor, distracted by the impending threat, allows Elliot to leave the safety of the church so he can return home and collect his headphones.

The attack begins with the energy barrier blocking out all light. The attackers' advanced technology knocks out all the electricity in the area including the camera network, leaving the group blind. Elliot is chased back to the church by a reptilian, humanoid creature. It catches up with him before the group can open the church door. Ambrose races into the night, calling for her son. She is attacked by one of the creatures. When Tony steps in to rescue her, the creature lashes at him with its venomous tongue. The Doctor gives chase, using special sunglasses to determine that the creatures belong to a species he's encountered before. With Rory's help, they trap it in the back of Ambrose's Meals on Wheels van, with the cold putting it to sleep due to its reptilian nature. The other creatures flee; both sides have hostages now.

Amy awakes beneath the surface; she is trapped in a clear container. Banging her fists against the container, Amy demands that whoever put her in the container let her go. Despite her protests, a shadowy figure with a surgical mask activates a control, flooding the container with gas that knocks her out again.

The Doctor and Rory bring the creature to the church cellar, and restrain it with chains. The Doctor deduces it is a member of an unknown, three-hundred-million-year-old branch of the Silurians, the reptilian race that inhabited Earth before the humans; he's failed numerous times before to make peace between them and humanity, mostly due to humanity being uncompromising. He confronts the prisoner, a warrior called Alaya. She says the Silurians have been hibernating below Cwmtaff for countless centuries, but their civilisation was disturbed by the drill, threatening its safety. The Doctor tries to negotiate with her, but Alaya declares war. The Silurians will wipe humanity off the surface of the planet, and reclaim what is rightfully theirs.

The Doctor returns to the church hall and informs his companions that he will travel beneath the surface to commence negotiations and rescue Amy, Mo and Elliot. While Tony insists they dissect Alaya to learn more about what they are facing, the Doctor refuses. If they are to get their loved ones back unharmed, Alaya must be kept alive. He entrusts the humans with this responsibility, paying particular attention to Ambrose, who has opposed his actions so far and likely poses the most danger to his attempts to once more broker peace between Silurian and human. As the Doctor goes out to the TARDIS, Nasreen follows, asking to go down with him; he reluctantly agrees. Nasreen and Tony share a passionate kiss before she departs. Tony returns to the church and inspects his wound in a mirror, horrified to realise that the veins around the injury are turning green.

Rory, Ambrose and Tony visit Alaya, who warns them that one of them will kill her, which will ignite a huge war between the two species. And she knows which one of them will do it...

Below the surface, Amy regains consciousness again. She is strapped to a standing surgical table in a Silurian surgery. Mo is imprisoned next to her and warns her of her impending live dissection. He reveals a long scar stretching down from his chest as evidence of this. Amy hears footsteps and looks forward. She sees tools banging and chiming behind a masked surgeon. She begins to struggle as the surgeon approaches her with a scalpel. He closes in on her. Amy struggles, but can't break free as the surgeon enters her surgical chamber.

The Doctor and Nasreen find the Silurian city

The Doctor and Nasreen discover the Silurian city.

In the meantime, the TARDIS is dragged under by the bio-programmed soil and into a cavern deep within the Earth. The Doctor and Nasreen begin exploring the surrounding tunnels in search of the Silurian camp. The Doctor warns Nasreen to expect a small group of perhaps a dozen Silurians. However, she points him to an entire civilisation living beneath the Earth, stretching for miles around.



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.

Despite the centrality of prosthetics to creating the Silurians — and indeed the inclusion of an interview with Rob Mayor on CON: After Effects — no member of Millennium FX's staff received an individual credit on this episode.  Similarly, Davy Jones was fairly extensively interviewed in CON: After Effects, where he was clearly shown to be doing the job of the prosthetics make-up artist. However he wasn't credited for his work. This was the first time he was visually confirmed to be working on Doctor Who since The Parting of the WaysMalcolm Hulke did not receive a credit for creating the Silurians, though he does later on in TV: A Good Man Goes to War.


  • The Doctor and later Ambrose quotes "every little helps," when looking for objects in the van, a reference to the famous caption of Tesco, a large supermarket chain in the United Kingdom.
  • The Doctor also refers to the Silurians as "Eocenes", "Homo Reptilia" and "Earth...lians".

Literature from the real world[]



The Doctor[]

  • The Doctor carries a slingshot in his pocket.
  • The Doctor can't make a decent meringue.

Story notes[]

  • The episode was incorrectly entitled Warm Planet and Cold Blood.[statement unclear]
  • The working title for this episode was The Ground Beneath Their Feet. (REF: The Brilliant Book 2011)
  • Despite the press release saying that the story would take place in 2015, it actually took place in 2020. It may have been changed due to some events of the previous episode happening in (a dream version of) 2015.
  • The visor's different scanning types are reminiscent of the helmets used by the aliens in the Predator film series. Also when Matt Smith moves his hand when looking through the heat scanning glasses, there is the same "swish" sound heard when the Predator changes scanning type.
  • Matt Smith celebrated his twenty-seventh birthday during the filming of this episode.
  • Amy and Rory see future versions of themselves in 2020 from a distance, seemingly revisiting their past adventure and watching their past (current, from a series perspective) selves. However, time is altered at the end of Cold Blood, and only Amy is seen at a distance in that episode.
  • When Amy goes to say hello to their future selves, the Doctor stops her, saying, "Things can get very complicated".
  • This is the first on-screen Silurian story to feature a female member of the species; AUDIO: Bloodtide released before this story previously featured a female Silurian Sh'vak
  • Originally, Mo and Amy were to be stripped down to their underwear before being dissected. This was removed as "too adult".
  • This is the first episode which does not credit the creator of an already established species since the revival.
  • In the early stages of production, the new Silurians' masks were intended to be quite similar to the originals, only with green scales. (DWA 172) This design was eventually used for Horlak in COMIC: The Lost Dimension.
  • This episode aired on the same day the K9 episode Mutant Copper was first broadcast on Disney XD in Britain, alongside when Jaws of Orthrus was first broadcast on Network Ten in Australia.
  • Though the term homo reptilia makes its television debut here, the Third Doctor introduces the term to the DWU in Doctor Who and the Cave-Monsters, the novelisation of the 1970 TV story Doctor Who and the Silurians.
  • The Silurians wear armour similar to what the Sea Devils wore in TV: Warriors of the Deep.
  • This Silurian tribe have the ability to flick their long, forked tongues at their enemies, injecting them with poison. The Doctor implies that he has prior knowledge of such an ability, suggesting that he had encountered another Silurian tribe with a similar trait.
  • In Doctor Who and the Silurians, another tribe of Silurians had gone into hibernation, intending to be revived 50 years later (before being destroyed). That episode was made in 1970 (with an unclear setting due to the UNIT dating controversy) and this episode was set exactly 50 years later in 2020.
  • For the scene in which Amy is dragged underneath the ground, Karen Gillan stood on boxes and lowered herself into a stone compartment. Two pieces of rubber were at the opening of the compartment which expanded as she lowered herself down. A layer of soil was spread across the rubber; Gillan's ears were taped over to make sure the soil did not enter her ears. Gillan, initially scared at performing the stunt, put some of her fear and claustrophobia into the scene as she expected Amy felt the same way.
  • Steven Moffat dispensed with the Silurians' third eye, which he felt was now associated with Davros. In its place, Chris Chibnall conceived the whiplike tongue with which the new Silurians could poison their enemies.
  • The completed episode had a running time of sixty minutes, requiring over fifteen minutes of footage to be removed to fit its broadcast slot. Much was originally made of the fact that the Discovery Drilling Project was under pressure from its financial backers to reach greater depths more quickly.
  • Originally, it was these armadillo-like dinosaurs who were responsible for the abductions, and the holes in the ground were their routes to the surface. One reason for their inclusion was to allow the Silurians to remain unseen until the end of the episode, much like how Doctor Who and the Silurians had delayed the creatures' first appearance until its third episode. However, it soon became clear that the budget would not accommodate both computer animation for the Armasaurs and the sophisticated prosthetics necessary for the Silurians. As a result, the Armasaurs were dropped and the humans would instead be snared by bioprogrammed quicksand. To provide the episode with a more tangible threat, Alaya's introduction would now occur earlier in the narrative.
  • A deleted scene depicted Amy discussing with the Doctor how she had seen herself with Rory ten years in the future, and if that would really happen.
  • Steven Moffat chose Chris Chibnall to write this two-parter based on the strength of the episodes he wrote for Torchwood - "Adrift", "Fragments" and "Exit Wounds".
  • For research, Chris Chibnall read Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters and watched the original serial, noting the freedom that Malcolm Hulke took with the novel in things he could not have done in the television format.
  • Chris Chibnall considered bringing back the Sea Devils, but decided that doing two races of monster was much tougher and the story was "so clearly about the Silurians and what the Silurians want". It was quickly agreed that their involvement would be an unnecessary complication, but the design of the Silurian weapons would echo those seen in The Sea Devils. Chibnall would later bring them back in Legend of the Sea Devils.
  • Two of the Silurian names were corruptions of Doctor Who personnel Malohkeh for Malcolm Hulke and Restac for Terrance Dicks.
  • Robert Pugh would later play Craster on Game of Thrones. Matt Smith would later play Daemon Targaryen on the prequel series House of the Dragon.
  • To help convey the distinct personalities of the different Silurians, Chris Chibnall recommended prosthetics which would allow much of the performer's facial features to remain visible. He also wanted to avoid any form of vocal modulation, as had previously been used for Silurian dialogue.
  • The drilling plot was inspired by the Kola Superdeep Borehole, a Russian scientific project begun in 1970 on the Kola Peninsula near the Norwegian border. It eventually reached a depth of more than twelve kilometres in 1989, before falling victim to budgetary shortfalls after the demise of the Soviet Union; the drilling permanently ceased in 1995, and the project as a whole was abandoned in 2008.
  • Other elements dropped from the adventure included the Silurians animating tree roots in the graveyard to drag people into the ground. This was intended to be the mechanism via which the Doctor and Nasreen travelled to the Silurian city, before Chris Chibnall realised that it would be simpler if they just used the TARDIS.
  • Restac was originally male. The change in gender led to her and Alaya being played by the same actress.
  • Ashley Way had previously directed six episodes of Torchwood, including Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and Exit Wounds, both of which were written by Chris Chibnall.
  • This two-parter formed Block Four of season five.
  • Chris Chibnall, having enjoyed when the Doctor and his companion were separated, made the decision for Amy to be absent for most of the episode. Steven Moffat also thought that, at the point in the middle of the series, it was appropriate to show the Doctor behave differently with other people.
  • With the absence of Amy, Chris Chibnall thought that Nasreen became a "de facto companion".
  • Meera Syal had been a fan of the series since childhood and had been trying to secure a role in the show since its revival in 2005 and was pleased when she received it.
  • Meera Syal described her character as "a very high-up, innovative geologist" who became good friends with the Doctor as the two admired each other's passion.
  • Danny Hargreaves of Real SFX took advantage of an existing mechanics' pit to create the quicksand effect.
  • Steven Moffat wanted the Silurians to be "completely different". They were intended to be a different branch of the same species, and so the original Silurians still existed.
  • Chris Chibnall wrote for the redesigned Silurians to be beautiful and it was intended for the redesign to capture the actors' features and allow them to give stronger performances and differentiate themselves. Chibnall believed that it complemented the theme in the two-parter about how the humans and Silurians were alike and different.
  • Due to the expensive prosthetics needed, extra Silurians wore face masks which prevented the need for every actor portraying a Silurian to receive the facial prosthetics.


  • Overnight ratings were 4.5 million, 4.2 million on BBC1, 0.3 million on HD for a 32.2% share.[1]
  • The official viewing figures were 6.01 million viewers.
  • The final UK ratins were 6.49 million viewers.[2]
  • The Appreciation Index was 86.[3]

Filming locations[]

  • St. Gwynno's Church, Llanwonno, Rhondda Valley
  • Bedwelty Coal Pit, Tredegar, Blaenau Gwent
  • Tower Colliery, Hirwaun, Glamorgan, South Wales

Production errors[]

  • When Rory is being shown the graves by Ambrose and Elliot, he has his arms by his side whenever the camera is focused on the latter, but when the camera is on him, his arms are linked in front of him.
  • Throughout this episode, Amy's earrings seem to disappear and reappear.
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.


Home video releases[]


Series 5 Volume 3 DVD Cover

DVD & Blu-ray releases[]

  • Series 5, Volume Three was released on DVD and Blu-Ray in region 2/B on 2 August 2010 and region 4/B on 2 September 2010. The volume features Amy's Choice, The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood, and the featurette The Monster Diaries.
  • The episode was later released in the Complete Fifth Series boxset on both DVD and Blu-ray, in region 1/A on 9 November 2010, in region 2/B on 8 November 2010 and in region 4/B on 2 December 2010.
  • A DVD-only release of Series 5, Part Two, containing the latter seven episodes of the series, was released in region 1 on 26 July 2016.

Digital releases[]

  • In the United Kingdom, this story is available on BBC iPlayer.

External links[]