Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Head behind the sofas, the Sontarans are back!

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The year 1973 was a momentous one for Doctor Who. Not only did it mark the sci-fi series' 10th anniversary, it also featured the debuts of two characters that would make a lasting impression on the show.

On December 15 that year, the 11th season, which had Jon Pertwee playing the lead, began with an adventure entitled The Time Warrior. It introduced the Doctor's new assistant, plucky journalist Sarah Jane Smith. She's since become arguably his most famous and popular companion, and more than 30 years later has her own successful spin-off which will be returning for a new run later this year.

The alien menace in The Time Warrior was Linx, a member of the war-loving Sontaran race.

For those unfamiliar with the creatures, they're squat, humanoid beings with a dome-shaped head, and they clone themselves.

After the Doctor and Sarah successfully defeated Linx with help from a bunch of medieval civilians, the Sontarans returned several more times to bother the Time Lord.

Sarah came face to face with them again in 1976 when Tom Baker's Doctor dealt with The Sontaran Experiment. He also battled the alien menace two years later in The Invasion of Time.

Then, in 1985, both Colin Baker and Patrick Troughton had to defeat them in The Two Doctors. But since that serial, the Sontarans have remained dormant, just a faint memory for fans of the show's original run.

One who clearly remembers them is executive producer and head writer Russell T Davies. When Doctor Who returned to our screens, he made a promise to bring back classic villains, and the Sontarans are the latest to make an appearance, following in the footsteps of the Daleks, Cybermen, Macra and the Master.

The Sontaran in this week's edition is played by Christopher Ryan, who'll be more familiar to viewers of a certain age as Mike in The Young Ones. As Catherine Tate revealed on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross recently, she was somewhat shocked at the sight of an actor in the costume, believing it originally to have been a robot.

But they're not the only familiar face returning this week. Martha Jones is also back, and she's not the simpering medical student. Instead, she's grown up a lot and has a new outlook on life - which doesn't involve mooning over maverick Gallifreyans.

As Torchwood viewers will already know, Martha is now a qualified doctor working as medical officer for international paranormal investigations agency UNIT, an organisation that first cropped up in the late 1960s and was a regular part of Doctor Who for a decade.

Here, Martha summons the Time Lord back to modern-day earth. It seems there are grave concerns about mysterious devices known by the acronym ATMOS, which are becoming globally popular. Donna realises even her own family are threatened by them, but can they and the rest of the human race be saved?

Disclaimer: These citations are created on-the-fly using primitive parsing techniques. You should double-check all citations. Send feedback to whovian@cuttingsarchive.org

  • APA 6th ed.: (2008-04-25). Head behind the sofas, the Sontarans are back!. Express & Echo p. 29.
  • MLA 7th ed.: "Head behind the sofas, the Sontarans are back!." Express & Echo [add city] 2008-04-25, 29. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: "Head behind the sofas, the Sontarans are back!." Express & Echo, edition, sec., 2008-04-25
  • Turabian: "Head behind the sofas, the Sontarans are back!." Express & Echo, 2008-04-25, section, 29 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Head behind the sofas, the Sontarans are back! | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Head_behind_the_sofas,_the_Sontarans_are_back! | work=Express & Echo | pages=29 | date=2008-04-25 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=8 February 2023 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Head behind the sofas, the Sontarans are back! | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Head_behind_the_sofas,_the_Sontarans_are_back! | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=8 February 2023}}</ref>