One of the most memorable aspects of Doctor Who’s series 12 premiere was the genuinely unsettling alien threat: a race of extraterrestrial spies targeting Earth’s secret agents and altering their DNA. These creatures rarely spoke, but appeared as vaguely human-shaped glowing figures.
Could it be, though, that this ‘new’ monster is actually an old one in disguise?
They’re VOORDS!! Their heads look like Voord helmets, they are part humanoid and part tech, and the company is called VOR, with the logo plastered everywhere – so very The Master!! I’m calling it now!
— Ethan (@SeaDevilLagoon) January 1, 2020
Yes, fandom is currently abuzz with speculation that part two of Spyfall will reveal these alien spies to be none other than the Voord… but just who are the Voord anyway?
Devised by Dalek creator Terry Nation, the Voord are an extraterrestrial race of mutants who appeared in Doctor Who over 55 years ago, in the 1964 adventure The Keys of Marinus.
Amphibious beings clad in black frogman outfits and equipped with trademark antennae on their wedge-shaped helmets, the Voord and their leader Yartek sought to control the Conscience of Marinus, a supercomputer with the ability to control minds. The Conscence was employed to make evil thoughts and actions impossible, eliminating all crime on the planet Marinus, but the Voord sought to use the use the device for their own evil ends.
They were defeated when the Doctor’s companion Ian Chesterton (William Russell) tricked them into destroying the machine by using a forged key to activate it, with the Voord being obliterated in the resulting explosion.
So why exactly do fans suspect that the mysterious monsters of Spyfall – Part One are the Voord revived? Well, the tech conglomerate owned by the aliens’ ally Daniel Barton (Lenny Henry) is called VOR – which sounds a bit like ‘Voord’ – and their glowing silhouettes (in particular, their oddly-shaped heads) do bear a passing resemblance to the Voord as they originally appeared.
As air-tight as the Voord’s wetsuits, right? Well, not quite…
“We take this form to mock you,” one of the aliens tells the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) in Spyfall – Part One. “Your shape amuses us.”
The original Voord appeared to be actually humanoid, not taking the shape to “mock” anybody. They also never displayed the ability, as these creatures do, to pass through solid objects, or materialise and dematerialise themselves and others at will. They never changed anybody’s DNA either. Oh, and they definitely weren’t spies.
It’s possible, of course, that the Voord have changed and evolved since we saw them last, but those would be pretty big changes to their physical make-up, their powers and their modus operandi – they’d almost be a new monster entirely.
There is one more important point to consider, though, before dismissing the Voord theory entirely – the imminent return to Doctor Who of the Cybermen.
1968 Cybermen TV story The Invasion contained a mention of one ‘Planet 14′ as one of the cyborgs’ homeworlds. But 1987 comic book story The World Shapers later revealed that Planet 14 was actually Marinus, where the first Doctor (William Hartnell) battled the Voord.
The World Shapers suggested that the Cybermen had actually evolved from the Voord… and before you shout “But comic strips aren’t canon!”, there’s actually been a nod to this development on television – in 2017 episode The Doctor Falls, the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) says that Cybermen “happen everywhere there’s people”, mentioning their home planet of Mondas, their second home of Telos (as featured in 1967’s The Tomb of the Cybermen) and Earth (where the alt-Cybermen originated in 2006’s Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel).
But he also mentions Planet 14 and Marinus… a nod to that comic-book storyline from 1987!
Could Spyfall be about to follow up this nod by confirming the Voord/Cybermen connection? Is series 12’s two-part premiere simply teeing up the bona-fide return of the Cybermen later in the series? Don’t forget, the Cybermen did once disguise themselves as ‘ghosts’ similar to Spyfall’s aliens, in the 2006 episode Army of Ghosts.
Is it possible that these aliens engaging in espionage are actually the Voord, who are actually the Cybermen? That’d certainly be a twist big enough to follow up Part One’s reveal of the new Master (Sacha Dhawan).
Only three days to go till we find out for certain…
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