Who are the Judoon? When did they last appear in Doctor Who?

Everything you need to know about the extraterrestrial species returning in this week's episode...

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 21/01/2020 - Programme Name: Doctor Who Series 12 - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 5) - Picture Shows: PRE TX 
**STRICTLY EMBAROGED UNTIL 21/01/2020 00:00:01** Judoon Captain, Judoon - (C) BBC  - Photographer: James Pardon

So far this series, we’ve seen the addition of several new monsters to the Doctor Who canon, including the Skithra and the Dregs – but few things get Whovians excited quite like the return of a past adversary.

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And so, this week’s episode spells good news for fans, with extra-terrestrial creatures the Judoon set to reappear – apparently searching for something in 21st century Gloucester.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Judoon…

Who are the Judoon?

Technically speaking, the Judoon are galactic police, but they have a habit of being rather brutal in their application of the law and have previously been described by the Doctor as being “interplanetary thugs”.

In terms of their appearance, they resemble rhinoceroses, though standing on two feet and dressed in heavy black armour with accompanying boots. They also carry energy weapons, with which they are able to incarcerate humans and are able to survive without oxygen for long spells due to their great lung reserve.

When did the Judoon first appear?

Compared to some other iconic baddies from the Whoniverse, such as the Daleks and the Cybermen, the Judoon are a fairly recent addition to the canon – having made their first appearance in 2007 episode Smith and Jones, when David Tennant was the Doctor.

In their debut appearance, the Judoon travelled to the moon (“Judoon platoon upon the moon”) – and transported a hospital along with them which contained the Doctor and his new companion Martha Jones. The Judoon invaded the hospital attempting to find a criminal, whom they eventually executed before transporting the hospital back to Earth.

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 21/01/2020 - Programme Name: Doctor Who Series 12 - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 5) - Picture Shows: PRE TX **STRICTLY EMBAROGED UNTIL 21/01/2020 00:00:01** Judoon Captain - (C) BBC - Photographer: James Pardon

What is the history of the Judoon?

The Judoon have made several subsequent appearances since their debut – in the main series as well as spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures and in novellas.

In series five episode The Pandorica Opens, they appeared as part of an alliance of the Eleventh Doctor’s enemies, helping to imprison him in Pandorica, beneath Stonehenge. They then appeared again the following series, although this time teaming up with the Doctor to defeat Colonel Manton and his Cleric forces.

Where and when did we last see the Judoon?

Prior to last week’s episode, we last came across the Judoon in 2015, when individual Judoon appeared in series nine episodes The Magician’s Apprentice and Face the Raven – although in both these episodes they only played a passing role.

The full return of the Judoon this week, then, is long overdue…

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Doctor Who airs on Sundays on BBC One