Doctor Who: Legend of the Sea Devils – new details

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According to Doctor Who Magazine subscribers who received their issues a day early in the post – and as we previously announced, the next Doctor Who special, Legend of the Sea Devils, is co-written by showrunner Chris Chibnall and playwright Ella Road.


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Ella Road is a writer and actor from London. Her first play The Phlebotomist premiered in Spring 2018 and was nominated for an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Affiliate theatre, and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Her latest work, Fair Play, opened at the Bush Theatre in December 2021.

Along with the cast cast already announced, 6-foot, 4-inch actor Craige Els, who plays Karvanista (and Dan’s work mate in John Bishop’s Doctor Who introduction video) in Doctor Who: Flux plays a character named Marsissus, possibly a Sea Devil. A name like Marsissus sounds apt for the whisper-voiced Sea Devils.

First seen with Jon Pertwee’s third Doctor in The Sea Devils, the classic monster will once again emerge from the deep to terrorize Earth’s coast in Legend of the Sea Devils.

She killed my father and she released the demon…
— Ying Ki

Legend of the Sea Devils finds the Doctor, Yaz and Dan in 19th century China, where a small coastal village is under threat – from both the fearsome pirate queen and a monstrous alien force which she unwittingly unleashes. Will the Doctor, Yaz and Dan emerge from this swashbuckling battle with the Sea Devils to save the planet?

“The next Special, Legend of the Sea Devils, is a chance for all the design departments to totally show off,” executive producer Matt Stevens told Doctor Who Magazine. “We built these massive, full-size galleon ships in the studio, the costumes are exquisite – John [Bishop] had great fun dressing up as a pirate. And Chris [Chibnall] 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 (the Doctor Who BBC centenary Special which will air in autumn of 2022).”

Along with the main cast Jodie Whittaker (the Doctor), Mandip Gill(Yaz) and John Bishop (Dan), the episode also features:

Crystal Yu as “pirate queen” Zheng Yi Sao, also known as Ching Shih (Madame Ching)

Arthur Lee as Ji-Hun

Marlowe Chan-Reeves as Ying Ki

The was a large casting call for Asian men to play Chinese pirates and villagers during the filming of the special in June 2021.

Known filming locations for the special are Sully Beach on June 25 and July 15, Cardiff Bay on July 26 and sets at Roath Lock Studios featuring a Chinese Village and the deck of a sailing ship.

The Legend of the Sea Devils spring 2022 transmission date was not revealed in Doctor Who Magazine. However, director Haolu Wang’s CV lists it as a 60-minute special airing Easter Sunday, April 17, 2022.

Doctor Who Magazine will be available on newsstands and by digital issue March 3.

Written by Chris Chibnall and Ella Road, and directed by Haolu Wang, Legend of the Sea Devils, will air in Spring of 2022.