C080 Terror of the Zygons

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The trustee of the Golden Haggis Lucky Dip commands a lactating Loch Ness Monster in a bid to destroy the environment

The Doctor is back on Earth in response to an alert from the Brigadier. It seems there’s something nasty in the waters off Scotland and it’s gobbling up all the oil rigs. But there’s more at stake than mere fossil fuel! A marooned band of Zygons and their pet cyborg Nessie are planning to ruin the environment in preparation for a Zygon invasion.

Does the Brigadier look good in a kilt? Is it legal to kill a man if he won’t stop playing the bagpipes? Is that a slimy knob in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me? Listen to this episode now to discover if we can answer any of those questions!

4 Responses to “C080 Terror of the Zygons”

  1. Paul Fauber | @wordsmithpaul

    The BBC filmed writer Robert Banks Stewart’s atmospheric mystery, ‘Terror of the Zygons,’ on location. The small town tavern owner played bagpipes and told Sarah Jane local legends involving misty lochs, foggy moors, and ancient castles. She, the Doctor and Harry helped UNIT investigate oil rigs’ destruction in Scottish waters. For his final on screen command, the Brigadier wore a kilt, perhaps to aid his dealings with the local Duke. He was upset the oil company recruited his household staff and suspected their employees of trespassing and poaching. When the Doctor found enormous tooth marks on oil rig wreckage, the Loch Ness Monster became the story’s focus, according to Script Editor Robert Holmes’ wishes.

    Achieved perhaps disappointingly through puppetry, Nessie proved to be the weapon behind an ultimatum. Once humanity got the message, slave labor would transform the Earth for colonization. Preparations involved Nessie destroying organic homing devices on oil rigs. The Doctor fled with one to protect UNIT and the town. His bravery ironically fit perfectly into the aliens’ plans to destroy him.

    The chameleon-like, lobsteresque Zygon aliens had monitored UNIT since their arrival and quickly realized the Doctor was a threat. To protect their secrets, they impersonated locals as well as Harry. Sarah Jane watched injured Harry in episode one and went after his impersonator in episode two. Doing research at the Duke’s castle in episode three let her discover the Zygons spaceship, acting like an investigative journalist. Benton UNIT chased Zygons while the Brigadier drove a spaceship from the loch with depth charges and killed a Zygon with bullets. The Doctor dealt with the Zygons, trapping them on their ship and ruthlessly blowing it up. Why not give them a chance to fly away?

    ‘Terror of the Zygons’ was filmed with Season 12, intended as its finale, but held back to let DOCTOR WHO start broadcasting in the Fall. Given the atmosphere; the mystery; the Loch Ness Monster; an alien menace; and plenty for our main characters to do, it was well worth the wait for viewers in 1975.

  2. Trenton Bless | @trentonbless

    After that disaster that was “Revenge of the Cybermen”, we needed something to recover. Terror of the Zygons was the best story to recover with.

    It’s a shaky old start, mind you: the establishing shot of an oil rig is straight out of the manual on How Not to Film a Model (from above, in water), while the lone radio operator on the Bonnie Prince Charlie is saddled with some dubious geographical colour, uttering the word “haggis” in the toss of a caber.

    Fortunately, two things turn it around: the heart-warming togetherness of the three travellers, first seen tramping through the heather (Harry sporting the Doctor’s scarf and Sarah, his hat), and Tom Baker’s captivating performance as the Doctor, talking once again through his hat (“VERY WELL!”) and later, staring morosely into the middle distance as if utterly bored by terrestrial concerns.

    Just ten minutes in, we see the story’s pièce de résistance: the Zygon itself. All nodules and burst capillaries, it looks like Humpty Dumpty’s had a skin graft from an octopus. As dreamt up by James Acheson and John Friedlander, the Zygon is exquisitely horrible. The monster’s staccato whisper – a lovely contrast to the traditional roars and rants of the bad-guy alien – completes the package.

    Overall, what do I think? I think it’s brilliant! It’s wonderfully done and possibly the best story with shapeshifters in Doctor Who (Sorry, “Faceless Ones”). Not even the Modern Series can touch this one. 4.2/5.

  3. Peter Zunitch

    It’s not surprising that the Zygons became so popular from just this one story. They’re an interesting race, well-performed, incredibly well designed, and with a technology unlike anything seen to date. Unlike other races, they skip the peace conference and head straight for the power summit. They know how to hit where it hurts.

    This episode is riddled with great acting. Liz Sladen is in top form, Tom Baker is entrancing, The Brigs is totally in command, Benton, Harry, the landlord, the Duke, all interesting characters with substantial development for the limited time they all have on screen.

    The biggest elephant in the room has to be the Skarasen, and yes, it’s a shame it didn’t look better, but I’m amazed with what they did pull off, and for the time I think it’s just fantastic. It’s also a shame that the outside of the ship didn’t look as organic as the inside, but that’s such a small observation it’s laughable.

    The only thing left is the production, and there’s no complaints from me. The music is haunting, the locations are interesting, and the directing is top notch. It’s the perfect length and simply leave us wanting more.

    Is it the best story? No. It’s not a thrill a minute that leaves you on the edge of your seat. It is however a thoroughly enjoyable watch, and one I’m happy to come back to time and time again. So vote this one high, fans. The moose is watching. 4.4

  4. Michael Ridgway | @Bad_Movie_Club

    Things I Liked:

    • Creepy moors, sinister music, fabulous villains (in both human and squelchy form) and awesome glove puppet & stop motion Nessie! Anyone who didn’t like the latter is dead inside.
    • UNIT back in action. The refresher training since their shambolic Dads Army performance in Robot has clearly paid off.


    • The Zygons really need to work on their getaway plans. Zygon Harry and Zygon Nurse Rachet clearly hadn’t the foggiest what to do next. Why didn’t Zygon Harry bring a car to steal the beacon instead of legging it and cowering in a barn like a fool?
    • Is Harry’s departure a little underwhelming for what was a great Tardis trio (the ‘real’ Power of Three)?
    • Only three more outings of Bagels to go (though one is an awesome adventure with the Seventh Doctor). To think, if he hadn’t have been the sole survivor of the battle with the Yeti in the bloodbath that was episode 4 of the Web of Fear, we would never have had the Brigadier! A toast to you Lethbridge-Stewart.

    Summary: We are spoiled with this quintessential Classic Who. A joy.

    Rating: 4.5/5 oil rig workers being chewed on by cyborg Nessie.


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