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Do Doctor Who's new monsters take inspiration from its old ones?

A few of the new villains in series 10 bear a close resemblance to former foes

Published: Tuesday, 14th March 2017 at 3:46 pm

As you probably already know if you’re reading this, Monday night saw the arrival of a brand-new trailer for Doctor Who series 10, full of new adventures, exciting locations and vaguely confusing dialogue (how exactly does the Tardis look like a kitchen?).


But perhaps what interested us most were the monsters and aliens who appear in the new footage, and how familiar they all looked. And no, we don’t mean the ones we’d seen before (although it is always nice to see the Daleks again, and the different takes on both the Ice Warriors and the Cybermen seem like they’ll be fun to watch), we actually mean that pretty much all the new monsters have reminded us of foes from Doctor Who’s recent past.

Take the emoji robots, perhaps the most eye-catching of the new designs. While their inclusion is bringing the Time Lord and his pals bang up to date, their cheery-turned evil schtick is similar to the Smilers from 2010’s The Beast Below, who similarly put on an angry face for their attacks.

The basic design also recalls both the Vashta Nerada spacesuit from 2008’s Silence in the Library/ Forest of the Dead (especially given the skulls) and the handbots (check the posture) from 2011’s The Girl Who Waited, so overall this new-look monster is pretty familiar.

And elsewhere, other new monsters take us on a trip down memory lane, both in terms of their appearance and their abilities (based on what we’ve seen so far, anyway).

The figure we’ve taken to calling Wet Dalek Lady (given her dripping appearance and “Exterminate!” line in the new trailer) bears more than a passing resemblance to The Flood from 2009’s The Waters of Mars, to the extent that we would hypothesise she is part of the same species (Doctor Who is going back to Mars, after all) were it not for some differences in her actions (she seems to materialise and float) and apparent association with the Daleks.

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Then there’s these sort of creepy decaying monks, who remind us of both the headless monks from A Good Man Goes to War and the human Pyroviles (below) from 2008’s Fires of Pompeii (to the extent that we previously misidentified these new creatures as potential Pyroviles – whoops!).

Plus, their creepy splayed-out finger habit recalls the similarly unnerving digits of The Silence. Give those guys a hand.

There’s also a wooden person who (as many others have pointed out) seems similar to the arboreal royals seen in 2011 Christmas special The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe (below left). And a giant eye that (sort of) reminds us of monsters like the Atraxi from Matt Smith’s first episode The Eleventh Hour. And, actually, we’d say just about every new monster bears some sort of connection to foes from the recent years of Doctor Who’s revival.

The tree creatures (left) from The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe and a new wooden monster (right)

Now, we should be clear that none of this is intended as a criticism of the show. We haven’t seen these monsters in action yet and we’re basing these comparisons on very limited footage, and to be honest there’s nothing wrong with riffing on already-existing good ideas to create new and scary monsters. After all, it’s not like the Daleks and Cybermen don’t have their similarities, and over the years they’ve both become brilliant and iconic sci-fi foes.

It’s just interesting to note that in a farewell series for Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi that’s already stuffed with classic Who returns, even the new additions feel like a run down memory lane. Maybe when you’re near the end of your journey it’s hard not to get a little nostalgic...


Doctor Who will return to BBC1 on Saturday 15th April


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