‘The Sea Devils’ (TV)

The Sea Devils DVD Cover beneath the surface dvd


Please feel free to comment on my review.

What Lies Beneath with the Sea Devils

‘The Sea Devils’ is a six-part story by Malcolm Hulke on a 1-disc DVD. It features Jon Pertwee’s Doctor with Jo Grant and the Master. This is one of my favourite stories from the Jon Pertwee era of ‘Doctor Who’.

I love ‘The Sea Devils’! The Doctor and Jo visit the Master in prison on an island, following ‘The Dæmons’. There have also been reports of sinking ships as the Sea Devils wake up to reclaim Earth.

I’ve had the DVD cover of ‘The Sea Devils’ signed by the lovely Katy Manning (Jo Grant) and director Michael E. Briant. I saw them at the ‘Pandorica’ conventions in Bristol, in September 2014 and 2015.

I’ve enjoyed meeting Katy at conventions. She so delightful and cheers me up when I chat to her. Katy shared her memories of this story with me as she remembers the Sea Devils as ‘poor little darlings’.

Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks decided to do a sequel to ‘Doctor Who and the Silurians’. This story by Malcolm Hulke features the appearance of the Silurians’ sea-based cousins now called the Sea Devils.

This story, directed Michael E. Briant, had some help from the Royal Navy. This was a nice change to have the navy take part instead of U.N.I.T. Having the navy makes the story exciting and compelling.

Jon Pertwee is great as the Doctor. He gets to be the dashing hero, even when he and Jo get into trouble. I liked the Doctor and the Master’s sword fight and the Doctor using his sonic screwdriver.

I liked the moment when Jon’s Doctor gets un-handcuffed and re-handcuffed as he says “How very kind of you!” before he says “How very unkind of you!” I also liked it when he ‘reverses the polarity of the neutron flow’.

Katy Manning is wonderful as Jo Grant. Jo joins the Doctor and gets to do so much such as riding a motorcycle and helping the Doctor to escape prison. Jo’s escapology skills are put to good use in this.

Jo also shows her compassionate and caring side. I liked it when Jo protests to the politician Walker about starting a nuclear air strike on the Sea Devils, especially when the Doctor’s in the middle of it.

Roger Delgado as the Master is captivating and thrilling to watch with his maniacal and manipulative evil schemes. He uses Trenchard for his plans and he gets to use his hypnotic skills on some people.

The Master seems to know a lot about the Sea Devils as he wants to provoke a war between them and the humans. It gets tense when the Master gets to win the Sea Devils at some point in the story.

The guest cast includes Edwin Richfield as Captain Hart; Clive Morton as Colonel Trenchard; Martin Boddey as Walker; Jane Murphy as Blythe; Donald Sumpter as Ridgeway and David Griffin (from ‘Keeping Up Appearances’) as Mitchell.

I liked the Sea Devils. My parents can’t take them seriously. My Dad finds them funny when they rise up from the water and sings “Oh I do like to be beside the sea-side…” Katy laughed when I told her that. I like the whispery voices that the Sea Devils have.

the sea devils5

The DVD special features are as follows. There’s a commentary with director Michael E. Briant; producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks, moderated Andrew Cartmel. There’s also an isolated music option by Malcolm Hulke and an info text commentary option to enjoy. There’s also a making-of documentary called ‘Hello Sailor’ featuring behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew. There’s also a ‘8mm Film’; trailers and continuity announcements; PDF Materials including a ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story and ‘The Making of Doctor Who’ book; and a photo gallery of the story. There’s also a coming soon trailer for ‘The Time Meddler’ with William Hartnell, Maureen O’Brien and Peter Purves.

‘The Sea Devils’ is a great ‘Doctor Who’ story to watch. It never lets down for me and I enjoyed watching the Doctor fighting the Master with Jo Grant and Captain Hart. The Sea Devils were a treat and with action-packed sequences and lots of fun out on the sea, you can’t go wrong with this one.

‘The Sea Devils’ rating – 10/10



Please feel free to comment on my review.

More Sailors and Sea Devils

I wish I could say that I found this ‘Doctor Who’ novelization/audiobook very fulfilling.

I’ve read and listened to ‘Doctor Who and the Sea-Devils’, based on the original TV story, ‘The Sea Devils’ that was shown in 1972. I enjoyed reading/listening to this Target novelization/audiobook of the TV story. ‘The Sea Devils’ is one of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ TV stories from the Jon Pertwee era.

Earlier in 2018, I read and reviewed the Target novelization on ‘The Silurians’ story called ‘Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters’. I enjoyed reading and reviewing that novelization and was hoping to continue the journey of exploring these novelizations featuring the Silurians and the Sea Devils. Thankfully I did.

I was hoping to explore more of the world created in ‘The Sea Devils’ story through the Target novelization by Malcolm Hulke. For the most part, I found it very well-detailed and engaging. It contain some additional background stuff regarding characters featured in the story, especially for the Master.

However, I did feel that by the end of the novelization that everything seemed rushed and not everything was as detailed as I hoped it would be in the story. The last two episodes of the six-part story felt compressed to a reduced level in the last three chapters of the novelization which isn’t good.

The Target novelization was first published in 1974, two years after the story was shown on TV. I purchased my copy of the Target novelization from Amazon.co.uk and it features the cover with the Sea Devils on it. The story is divided into 13 chapters and yet it doesn’t feel enough for a six-part story.

In fact, comparing this to ‘The Caves Monsters’ novelization which is 19 chapters, I’m surprised Malcolm Hulke didn’t accommodate the same treatment to ‘The Sea Devils’ that he gave to the first ‘Silurians’ story. I’m not sure why it’s the case, but I would’ve expected more from Mr. Malcolm Hulke.

I purchased the audiobook for this Target novelization as a download via Audible. The audiobook is read by Geoffrey Beevers who played the Master in ‘The Keeper of Traken’. I would ask why Geoffrey Beever is reading the audiobook for this Target novelization, as he had nothing to do with ‘The Sea Devils’.

But then again, these ‘Doctor Who’ audiobooks are read by random actors these days, so I shouldn’t really be surprised. Otherwise, I’m glad Geoffrey Beevers is reading this Target novelization since he does a good voice for the Master anyway. I’ve also heard Geoffrey do other ‘Doctor Who’ audiobooks.

Geoffrey has also read the Target novelizations for ‘The Space War’ and ‘State of Decay’. I heard those audiobooks beforehand, so I was familiar with Geoffrey’s reading style anyway. Also, I know Geoffrey worked with Jon Pertwee in ‘The Ambassadors of Death’, so he would’ve had some insight in that era.

Incidentally, when I reviewed ‘The Space War’ novelization on my blog, I wasn’t sure whether Geoffrey attempted to mimic the tone of Roger Delgado’s performance as the Master in the audiobook. Now I’ve heard the audiobook for ‘The Sea Devils’, I’m sure Geoffrey is injecting his version of the character.

That’s okay as far as I’m concerned, as Geoffrey does a really good voice for the Master anyway. And for all intents and purposes, it does almost sounds similar and fitting to Roger Delgado’s Master in the story. There were a few occasions when I thought of Roger Delgado’s Master, not Geoffrey Beevers’.

Anyway, let’s talk about the differences between the TV story and the novelizaiton/audiobook here. Incidentally, the novelization uses the term ‘Sea-Devil’ with a hyphen in it rather than ‘Sea Devil’ itself. Which tilts my head as I wonder why Malcolm Hulke would do that since it does not make a difference.

Oh incidentally, no disrespect to Geoffrey Beevers, but I didn’t feel his voice for the Sea Devils matched the ones that appeared in the TV story. He does provide the hissing sounds for them, but I would’ve expected them to sound quieter and more whispery than the sharper tones Geoffrey seemed to give.

I like how the first chapter details the first scene with the SS Pevensey Castle being attacked by the Sea Devils. It makes for very tense drama, especially when the Sea Devils attack out in the open as well as inside the ship. It almost feels like the ship is out in a huge storm when the Sea Devils attack it.

There’s more information given about the media publicity surrounding the Master’s trial following the events of ‘The Dæmons’. It was interesting to discover what went on in that trial and the ethical debate that ensued about whether to execute the Master or put him in prison for life as he seemed immortal.

Eventually however, it was the Doctor who gave his testimony to urge the punishment of sentence in prison rather than the death penalty. There’s information given on how the security prison castle on the island controlled by Colonel Trenchard gets set up in order to have the Master imprisoned for life.

It’s interesting especially in this Target novelization how much the Doctor wants to keep the Master alive rather than have him killed. This gets echoed in future ‘Doctor Who’ stories where the Tenth Doctor was determined to keep John Simm’s Master alive despite some people wanting him executed.

In the novelization, the character Robbins gets very annoyed when the Doctor steals his boat and Jo follows after him when he refuses to take them to meet Captain Hart at the naval base. This is in spite of the fact Robbins seemed willing to have a blind eye and let the Doctor steal his boat in the TV version.

Why Malcolm Hulke changed this in the novelization, I don’t know. Maybe Hulke wasn’t happy when seeing it in the TV story. It makes for amusement when Robbins’ boat gets destroyed near the oil rig and the Doctor and Jo surmise he won’t be happy about it. However, it doesn’t get followed on much.

The Doctor tells Jo the Sea Devils are related to the Silurians by saying they’re ‘just like those cave monsters we met in Derbyshire’. This is in keeping with Malcolm Hulke reframing from calling them Silurians as he did in ‘The Cave Monsters’ novelization since they should actually be called the Econes.

However that also does raise a continuity error in the Target novelization. The Doctor said ‘we’ when talking about meeting the ‘cave monsters’ in the Derbyshire. Assuming that the Doctor referred to both himself and U.N.I.T. from that story, it’s not made clear since Jo hadn’t met the Silurians before.

Mind you, that’s a minor continuity error here. But an obvious continuity error in the novelization is when the Master tells the Doctor that he plans to use the Sea Devils just like he used the Ogrons beforehand. Um…didn’t ‘Frontier In Space’ occur after ‘The Sea Devils’ story in the Master’s timeline?

Also in ‘The Space War’ novelization, the Master told the Doctor he thought he’d come and see him in prison like when he was locked up in ‘The Sea Devils’. So, ‘The Sea Devils’ novelization says it’s set after ‘The Space War’ and ‘The Space War’ novelization says it’s set after ‘The Sea Devils’. (Pause) Whoops!

What is it with continuity errors in Target novelizations of ‘Doctor Who’? First I came across it in the Target novelization of ‘Black Orchid’ where there was a mix-up of the Master in ‘The King’s Demons’ set before that story. Now I’ve come across it in two Target novelizations for two Third Doctor stories.

What’s especially annoying about this Target novelization is that we don’t get the sword fight between the Doctor and the Master in the prison as shown in the TV story. Okay, I suppose it wasn’t scripted by Malcolm Hulke originally, but come on! That’s one of the best scenes in ‘The Sea Devils’ story ever!

How could Malcolm Hulke not include that sword fight?! Also, in the scenes where the Doctor and Jo explore the oil rig, we don’t get introductions to Clark and Hickman beforehand when they’re guarding the rig. The Doctor and Jo find Hickman dead before Clark shows up in a really delirious, shocked state.

Interesting for Malcolm Hulke not to include those introduction scenes for Clark and Hickman, but I suppose this was to save time and it would’ve slowed down the story. Except of course, as I’ve said, things feel rushed towards the tale’s climax in the last three chapters focused on the last two episodes.

Jo is reasonably well-written in the Target novelization and comes across as being a strong character. However, I found it a little uncharacteristic of Jo to call Captain Hart ‘stupid’ during a heated moment in the story. I couldn’t help be reminded of Jo’s characterization in ‘The Curse of Peladon’ novelization.

A number of the supporting characters in the story are given first names in the novelization. The aforementioned Robbins is named ‘Thomas’ whereas Walker, the parliamentary private secretary (yeah he’s unlikeable in the Target novelization as he was in the TV story) has a first name ‘Robert’ here.

Geoffrey does well in voicing Walker in the audiobook, making him sound unlikeable as ever. The submarine officers including Commander Ridgeway and Lt. Commander Mitchell also get first names. Ridgeway is named Robin and Mitchell is named Tony. I wish more was developed on their characters.

When the Doctor ‘reversed the polarity of the neutron flow’ to have the Sea Devils’ base destroyed, the Master tells him off that he murdered the Sea Devils, claiming the moral high-ground. The Doctor silently concurs with him. Interesting that this never got depicted in the TV version of ‘The Sea Devils’.

The book ends with the Master escaping in a helicopter instead of a hovercraft in the TV version. The Doctor surmises that they won’t be seeing the Master in a long while at the end of the story. Although I’ve read ‘The Eight Doctors’ already and know the Doctor and Jo immediately chase the Master after this.

Walker is also there is in attendance with Jo and Captain Hart to see the Doctor return just before the Master escapes. Walker is approving of the Doctor ‘murdering’ the Sea Devils to which the Doctor chastises. I’m with the Doctor. It was wrong to kill the Sea Devils, but it had to be done to stop a war.

‘Doctor Who and the Sea-Devils’ is…okay. It starts off being an in-depth read based on the TV story, but in the end I felt a lot of really good scenes were cut out in the novelization. It didn’t make for a fulfilling novelization of one of my favourite Jon Pertwee stories and it ended up just being rather average.

This is a shame as I’ve enjoyed reading the novelization for the most part and enjoyed Geoffrey Beevers’ reading in the audiobook. I’m guessing Malcolm Hulke ran out of space when focusing too much on the first four episodes of the story and not enough on the last two episodes in the novelization.

I’m glad I read/heard ‘The Sea Devils’ novelization/audiobook by Malcolm Hulke though. Whilst reading the book, there were some nice illustrations provided by Alan Willow featuring scenes from the story. It reminds me that I’m a reading a classic ‘Doctor Who’ novelization made from the 1970s.

‘Doctor Who and the Sea-Devils’ rating – 7/10

The previous story

For the Third Doctor was

  • ‘The Face of the Enemy’ (Book)

For Jo was

  • ‘The Face of the Enemy’ (Book)
The next story

For the Third Doctor is

  • ‘The Eight Doctors’ (Book)

For Jo is

  • ‘The Eight Doctors’ (Book)
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4 thoughts on “‘The Sea Devils’ (TV)

  1. Timelord007

    Awesome review Tim, Sea Devils is my favourite Third Doctor story & this in depth review is excellent & brilliantly written my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Timelord 007

    Completely agree Tim, The Sea Devils my favourite Third Doctor story & the Target novelization doesn’t do it justice, the audiobook read by Geoffrey Beevers is great but unfortunately Malcolm Hulke didn’t add any additional scenes to the story & i agree with you the last few chapters are extremely rushed (why?) & removing the sword fight was just bloody daft.

    Overall underwhelming novel could’ve & should’ve done a lot better & given this amazing story the quality it deserved.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon.

      Glad you completely agree with my thoughts on ‘The Sea Devils’ novelization/audiobook.

      I hoped to find this an enjoyable read/listen after my disappointment with ‘The Curse of Peladon’ novelization. Instead I came away with feeling I enjoyed a lot and yet not enough. I’m glad you concur the Target novelization doesn’t do ‘The Sea Devils’ justice. Yes Geoffrey Beevers is a great narrator for the audiobook, but I feel Malcolm Hulke cut a lot of scenes out, making it underwhelming. I’m very disappointed the sword fight scene was removed and the last three chapters focusing on the last two episodes of the story were rushed. Perhaps Malcolm Hulke was running out of space and had to fit his manuscript for the novelization to the exact word count as requested by Target publishing.

      Many thanks for your comments, Simon. I’m currently enjoying reading ‘The Time Monster’ novelization. I’m finding it a better novelization so far compared to ‘The Sea Devils’ one.

      Tim. 🙂



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