While a good deal of the mannerisms of Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor were based on an appreciation for the comic timing and warmth of Patrick Troughton’s Second Doctor, it’s the key adventures of the Third Doctor that provides the key inspiration for “The Hungry Earth,” which also resurrects one of the classic show’s most memorable ‘monster’ races in the process.
Here are a few things to keep an eye out for, the next time you watch:
Steven Moffat approached Chris Chibnall to write the return of the Silurians as a special project. He asked him to reinvent the homo reptilian race for the modern age, changing their faces and their physiques, too. Along the way, he asked that they lose the third eye — which had since become a trademark of Davros — so Chris came up with the long poisoned tongue deployed by the warrior Alaya.
As befits a story written by such a Doctor Who buff, it begins with the Doctor promising to take his companions to the beach. This is something of a running joke, as the Third Doctor promised Sarah Jane Smith a beach trip, before the pair found themselves facing the Daleks on Exxilon (“Death to the Daleks”), and the Tenth Doctor promised similar trips to both Donna Noble (“Silence in the Library”) and Martha Jones (the animated adventure “The Infinite Quest”).
Due to budget constraints, Chris’s original plan to have the village terrorized by heavily shelled dinosaurs called Armasaurs had to be shelved, forcing the invention of bio-programmed soil. The special effects budget was spent on facial prosthetics for the Silurians instead.
The original title of this story was “The Ground Beneath Their Feet,” and Chris deliberately laced the story with callbacks to early ’70s Doctor Who. The Third Doctor’s trip to an alternate dimension in “Inferno” was also as a result of a drilling experiment, the giant force field the Silurians put around Cwmtaff echoes the heat-shield placed around the village of Devil’s End in “The Daemons,” the Doctor visits a Welsh mining village in “The Green Death” and the Silurian guns looked markedly similar to those wielded by their homo reptilian cousins in “The Sea Devils.”
Continuing the tradition of inviting established British comedians to play cameo parts, Meera Syal plays Nasreen Chaudhry. Meera is well known to British TV viewers from her many comedic roles, not least as a member of the sketch troupe who made the hit BBC comedy Goodness Gracious Me:
Two other members of the Goodness Gracious Me cast have appeared in Doctor Who. Meera’s co-star and husband Sanjeev Bhaskar went on to appear as Colonel Ahmed in”Death in Heaven,” while Nina Wadia played Dr. Ramsden in “The Eleventh Hour.”
Alaya’s venomous line, “My death shall ignite a war, and every stinking ape shall be wiped from the surface of my beloved planet,” is a reference to one of the most famous lines in the classic 1968 sci-fi movie Planet of the Apes, especially Charlton Heston‘s similarly snarled “get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape.”
Although it sounds like a genuine interrogation tactic, or a reference to a known situation in Doctor Who lore, the Klempari Defence is, in fact, an invention of Chris’s for the script:
The scene where Amy vanishes under the bio-programmed soil required Karen Gillan to be raised up on boxes, then lower herself into a stone enclosure, through two sheets of rubber. As it was quite a claustrophobic stunt to pull off, Karen used her own nervousness at lowering herself into the soil as inspiration for Amy’s panic.
Due to time constraints, a sub-plot was cut, which involved the Discovery Drilling Project having to speed up their activities in the face of intense pressure from their financial backers.
While talking to Ambrose about the useful objects in the van, the Doctor says “every little helps,” which will have been well known to British viewers at the time as the advertising slogan of Tesco supermarkets:
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