Producer, Matt Strevens, has teased that the next episode of Doctor Who was “a chance for the design departments to show off”, hinting at a story laden with gorgeous designs, colours, costumes, and make-up.
Legend of the Sea Devils already mixes some themes and ideas that we’ve rarely, if ever, seen in Doctor Who before, taking place as it does in 19th Century China and featuring the “pirate queen”, Zheng Yi Sao, aka Madame Ching.
Strevens told Doctor Who Magazine:
“The next Special, Legend of the Sea Devils, is a chance for all the design departments to totally show off. We built these massive, full-size galleon ships in the studio, the costumes are exquisite – John [Bishop, who plays companion, Dan Lewis] had great fun dressing up as a pirate. And Chris [Chibnall, showrunner] is a superfan, as we know, so for him it was really important that we did the Sea Devils justice. He was really keen to stick close to the classic design. It’s a bit of a swashbuckler. It’s the last ‘regular’ adventure story before you go into the machinations of a regeneration story.”
Indeed, it’s Jodie Whittaker’s penultimate tale as the Thirteenth Doctor and brings back the Silurians’ aquatic cousins, last seen in 1984’s Warriors of the Deep.
Perhaps it’s the link to “Cathay”, but the enthusiasm about the episode’s design aspects brings Marco Polo to mind.
Now, regular DWC readers know I’m not the biggest fan of the Thirteenth Doctor era, but with the return of the Sea Devils, the promise of sumptuous costumes and colours, and the news that Chibnall co-wrote this with Ella Road… Well, I’m feeling a lot more positive about Legend of the Sea Devils!
The special is set to air over Easter 2022.