Doctor Who Easter Special: Sea Devil Pirates

Posted Filed under

In issue 351 of SFX magazine, it is revealed that the Sea Devils in the Doctor Who Easter special, Legend of the Sea Devils dress and act as pirates.

“So this is a whole new story with the Sea Devils,” costume designer Ray Holman told SFX. “The Doctor meets them again and we’re on a pirate ship. I talk to [showrunner] Chris [Chibnall] about everything we design, and his words were, ‘Sea Devils as pirates – swashbuckling Sea Devil pirate adventure!’”

“They have stripy britches, bucket boots, arming jackets and leather armour. They’re kind of a cross between a seafaring pirate and a science fiction creature, which references the original Sea Devils, but our Sea Devils have armour. Their leader has a big 18th century coat which is covered in molluscs, and we’ve put molluscs and mussels all over their boots and their arming jackets. But within the design of the new Sea Devils I’ve brought a lot of elements of the old.”

“I’ve used fishing net within the new costumes. They have leather armour and I found some fishing net to be compressed beneath the leather that we’ve used on the armour. You get the criss-crosses and the shape of the net. Plus I added strands of fishing net throughout their costumes.”

Not only that but when we first see the Sea Devil leader, played by Karvanista actor Craig Els, he’s wearing a huge tricorn hat. Unfortunately, the hat will not appear for long because it was was difficult to keep on his head and too distracting.

Holman and Creature Costume Maker Robert Allsopp originally considered using animatronics but were prevented by time constraints. Eye-blinks were added in post-production.

Holman also described the Doctor’s (Jodie Whittaker), and companions Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Dan’s (John Bishop) costumes.

“[The Doctor] has a Chinese jacket. We decided to dispense with the coat. I found the most beautiful silk brocade and some samples of authentic Chinese pieces in a costume hire place and copied them. The Doctor’s Chinese tunic is in her colours, so it’s in sky blue. It’s beautiful. I think people will like it.”

“Yaz is in the most beautiful skirt. I made it a really complicated thing, because she has a lot of action. It’s a wrap-around skirt based on an original Chinese skirt from 200 years ago, with a lot of appliqué. The appliqué pieces are printed waves, so they’re almost Japanese in the look of them, like the famous Japanese paintings of waves. And she has her Chinese slippers.”

“Yaz has dressed [Dan] as a pirate but as a Caribbean pirate, so he’s full panto pirate. And that was all made for him as well. I bought a really old pair of curtains, and I hate to say it but I cut them up to make his waistcoat, because it was such brilliantly woven fabric. He looks completely out of place. He’s got bucket boots and beautiful linen britches.”

Crystal Yu, who plays pirate leader Madame Ching, was also interviewed by SFX.

“The first day I arrived on set and I saw Madame Ching’s ship, I was blown away. Not just by the sheer scale of the work but it was just the fact that I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is real!’ It really felt like, ‘Oh my god, am I dreaming? Is this my ship?’”

“I remember the audition sides describing something about a monster coming from the sea and Madame Ching shooting it down and I was like, ‘You know what, I’m just going to let my imagination think that I’m in the sea shooting at monsters and I’m a formidable powerful pirate!’”

In the article, SFX stated April as the transmission date for Legend of the Sea Devils but, in an email ahead of the magazine’s publication, they stated, “…we look forward to Doctor Who’s Easter special “Legend Of The Sea Devils”…”

Written by Chris Chibnall and Ella Road, directed by Haolu Wang and starring Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill, John Bishop, Crystal Yu, Arthur Lee, Marlowe Chan-Reeves and Craige Els, Legend of the Sea Devils airs Easter Sunday, April 17, very likely at 7:00pm BST on BBC One and at 2:00pm and again at 8:00pm EDT on BBC America.

SFX magazine is available by digital subscription and in newsstands in the UK on March 23, 2022.