Doctor Who and The Silurians: Episode 3
Broadcast on February 14th, 1970 @ 5.15pm (7.5 million viewers)
After two episodes of this seven-part serial viewers had to wait until the very end of this episode too to catch a glimpse of the reptilian monsters of which the story title spoke. Tantalising glimpses of the creature had already been seen with brief shots of it’s clawed hands and spiny back, or with a view obscured because of sunlight or the darkness of the caves. Viewers had even seen through it’s triple vision but it is only at the conclusion of this episode that we get a first proper look at the Silurian.
With the creature having been wounded and lashing out at Liz when trapped in the barn, this episode serves as a prolonged build up to the final reveal. UNIT soldiers scour the countryside in search for this unidentified creature whilst Dr Quinn manages to spectacularly implicate himself with suspicious and incriminating behaviour. Sadly for him however, it doesn’t end well as his desire for scientific knowledge proves his undoing and the Doctor finds him dead in his chair. Spinning round the Time Lord comes face to face with a reptilian biped the likes of which we had never seen before.
Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)
The Silurian creature is only seen briefly in a fleeting moment but at a time when the episodes were screened and viewers had to wait for an excruciating 7 days for the next installment, it must have been a magical moment. Those last few seconds would have played out in the minds of younger viewers all week without the possibility of looking it up again on iplayer or rewinding a recorded videotape at home. The Silurians are a brilliant concept from writer Malcolm Hulke, creatures which predate homosapiens are a fresh change from invading aliens from another world. In fact, it is more accurate to call them ‘earthlings’ than human beings. At this period in television production, the only avenue to bring the creatures to the screen was through masks rather than the modern prosthetics which we see today. Crucially however, the design is suitably unique and impressive that it would inspire later returns for the creations in 1984 and in 2010, with some modifications from improved visual effects techniques. From their first reveal, the Silurians cemented their place as one of the most popular creations in Doctor Who, alongside the Daleks and Cybermen before others such as the Sontarans and Zygons would follow.
Doctor Who – Jon Pertwee
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart – Nicholas Courtney
Liz Shaw – Caroline John
Dr. Lawrence – Peter Miles
Dr. Quinn – Fulton Mackay
Miss Dawson – Thomasine Heiner
Director – Timothy Combe
Producer – Barry Letts
Writer – Malcolm Hulke
Also first aired On This Day…
- The Seeds of Doom: Part 3
- The Keeper of Traken: Part 3