DR. WHO
The Villains



"Don't blink! Don't even blink! Blink and you're dead!"
- The  Tenth Doctor

     No show featuring a hero can survive without villains. Doctor Who had dozens of evil aliens, nasty beasties and not-so-nice humans throughout its long run. Here are several of my favorites.


THE DALEKS

"The trouble with Daleks is they take so long to say anything. I'll probably die of boredom before they shoot me." - The Eleventh Doctor

   "The Unearthly Child", the first serial story ever broadcast on the original Doctor Who series, proved that the show had a solid premise, as The Doctor and his companions traveled back to 10,000 B.C. and found themselves dealing with rival caveman tribes. But what to follow up with? Although several scripts were in progress, only one, about an alien race called The Daleks, had been completed. The Daleks looked like robots, something that the producers did not want to have on their show ("No robots or bug-eyed monsters!"). But there was no real choice - it was the only script ready, so, on December 21, 1963, the first part of the seven-part serial "The Daleks" went out over the air, and by the end of the serial, a new phenomenon was born: Dalekmania! It was like Beatlemania, but with less emphasis on guitars and more emphasis on exterminating the human race.

     The Daleks were a race of mutants who lived inside armored shells. The shells had an eye-stalk, a laser gun and a sucker that looked suspiciously like a plumber's helper, aka a plunger. Their mission was to dominate over all other life forms in the Universe, by enslavement or extermination. Aside from The Doctor himself and the TARDIS, the Daleks are the most recognizable symbols of the Doctor Who program, and early in the series, rarely did a season go by without at least one appearance by what the late Turner Classic host Robert Osbourne called the "giant alien salt shakers".  They were killed off by the Second Doctor in the 1967 episode "Evil of the Daleks", but you can't keep a good mutant race down, and by 1972, they were back battling The Third Doctor. The 1975 episode "Genesis of the Daleks" introduced Davros, the creator of the little buggers (see more about Davros directly below).

     The Daleks would come and go throughout the original series, but when Russell T Davies brought back Doctor Who in 2005, he had The Doctor meeting a Dalek by the fifth episode, and since then, there hasn't been a season from 2005 to 2017 that did not feature at least a cameo appearance from The Daleks. Because, on Doctor Who, it's not a party until the Daleks show up, screeching "Exterminate!  Exterminate!"


DAVROS

     The Daleks were introduced in 1963, but it wasn't until 1975 and "Genesis of The Daleks" that we learned who created them: Davros, a warped, physically damaged evil genius for the ages. Davros always wanted to rid the Universe of all living things except for his Daleks. He admitted to The Fourth Doctor that if he had the power to destroy everything in the Universe, he would do so for no other reason except that it would be a thrill to have all that power. He was almost defeated by The Seventh Doctor in 1988's "Remembrance of the Daleks" but escaped at the last moment. Threatening to use his "Reality Bomb" to destroy the Universe, Davros returned in the modern series to fight with The Tenth Doctor and companions in the fourth season two-part final "The Stolen Earth"/ "Journey's End". Presumed dead after that battle, he turned up again in Season Nine's two-part opener "The Magician's Apprentice / The Witch's Familiar", where he and The Twelfth Doctor spent much time attempting to outwit each other to death. Needless to say, The Doctor won.

     Disfigured and confined to a special mobile chair, there was not much Davros can do without the help of The Daleks, which is a pity for him because even the Daleks tended to sour on him periodically. The part of Davros has been played by several actors over the years, but Julian Blecher, aided by spectacular makeup and effects, was the perfect choice to revive the evil loony in the new series.


THE MASTER

     Every good hero has his arch-enemy. Sherlock Holmes had Moriarty, Batman had the Joker, James Bond had Blofeld. The Doctor had The Master. A Timelord himself, The Master always had a love-hate relationship with The Doctor. Like all great villains, The Master wanted to take over the world, in this case, "the world" being the Universe, but The Doctor always seemed to find a way to stop him.

     The Master (like The Doctor, we don't know his real name) was originally played by actor Roger Delgado, who for many fans of the original series will always be THE Master. The Third Doctor, played by Jon Pertwee, battled almost endlessly with The Master during those Doctor Who seasons, to a point where it was decided that enough was too much, and The Master was retired for a while. Unfortunately, in 1973,  Delgado died in a car crash. Since then, others have taken over the role. Typical of Doctor Who, the changes in appearance could be explained by either The Master regenerating or, in a pinch, stealing a body from somebody else. The most famous Masters after Delgado's death have been Anthony Ainley, who had similar looks to the late actor and possessed a great talent for maniacal laughter; Eric Roberts in the 1996 Doctor Who movie; John Simm in the David Tennant years; and the truly bananas Michelle Gomez who arrived in the Peter Capaldi years.

Pictured above: The Master... the original, you might say... Roger Delgado from the classic years.


THE CYBERMEN

     The Cybermen first appeared in the 1966 serial "The Tenth Planet", and, like The Daleks, they were never too far from a reappearance throughout the series. A race of aliens who slowly but steadily replaced their organic parts with cybernetic parts, the Cybermen have evolved over the long history of the series.  They are generally considered to be the show's second most popular villains after The Daleks.

     Cybermen live for one thing: creating new Cybermen. To do so, they take the brains of other creatures, including humans, and place them in Cyber-bodies. Apparently, judging from the Cybermen appearances in the modern series, the process involves a lot of wildly rotating knives and plenty of bloodshed.

     The Cybermen appeared throughout the original series and were carried into the modern series, where better effects and CGI could be used to create whole armies of Cybermen for the small screen. By the Peter Capaldi years, The Cybermen had joined with The Master to take over the world. In the tenth season, the so-called Mondasian Cybermen, an older, less sophisticated version of the Cybermen, returned for the season finale. Their appearance in the show fulfilled a request by Twelfth Doctor actor Peter Capaldi, who loved the old-school Cybermen and wanted them in the series for one last time before he left.


THE AUTONS

     A personal favorite of mine, The Autons are artificial, and deadly, plastic villains created by The Nestene Consciousness, one of the oldest creatures in the Universe. As with so many villains, their main mission is to take over The Earth. They first appeared in 1970's "Spearhead from Space", Jon Pertwee's debut episode as The Third Doctor. In that serial, The Doctor eventually defeated them with the help of the military and soon-to-be companion Liz Shaw, but the Autons soon returned in 1971's "Terror of the Autons", this time taking their orders from The Master, who at one point in the episode had them dressed up in bizarre comic attire (see our small graphic at the top of this page), because, apparently, the already creepy Autons were not creepy enough for The Master's tastes.

     Russell T Davies revived the Autons three and a half decades later in 2005's "Rose", making them the first villains to appear in the modern series. As shown in that episode, as well as in the earlier stories, not only can Autons be made out of already existing plastic objects, such as the plastic manikins that create havoc in the streets of London, but they can also be copies of living people, with the caveat that the copied person - such as Rose's boyfriend, Mickey Smith - must remain alive. In the Steven Moffat era, the Autons returned in a much evolved form in the 2010 two-part season finale "The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang".

     In the documentary "Reverse The Polarity: A Day in the Life of Jon Pertwee", Pertwee opined that having police officers turn out to be murderous Autons was a mistake, as it sent a bad message to the children who watched the show.


THE SONTARANS

     The Sontarans are a race of warriors who exists only to fight and conquer. Squat, with potato-like heads and deadly laser guns, the Sontarans first appeared in 1973's "The Time Warriors", where a lone Sontaran stranded in 13th Century England meets The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) who are investigating people being lost in time. They reappeared several more times in the Classic years, most notably in 1985's "The Two Doctors", where they battle with both The Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) and The Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton, returning to the series for one episode).

     The Sontarans returned to Doctor Who in 2008's fun two-parter "The Sontaran Stratagem"/The Poison Sky", where they attempt to conquer the Earth  There, they tangle with The Tenth Doctor (David Tennant), companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) and The Doctor's former companion Martha Jones (Freema  Agyeman), who is now working for UNIT. They made other small appearances in the show, mostly cameos such as in "The End of Time Part 2", when a lone Sontaran's attempt to kill Martha Jones is thwarted by the dying Tenth Doctor. Sontarans also made appearances in the spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures".

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Above: Strax in action.  Clara in pain.