It’s interesting to note that the phenomenal and worldwide coverage that the Loch Ness Monsters achieved in the mid-1970s – and coupled with the deep attention given to the supernatural aspects of the controversy by the likes of Nessie-seeker Ted Holiday – had an impact on the production team behind the BBC’s long-running, hugely popular science-fiction series, Dr. Who. For those who don’t know, Holiday was a guy who started out believing that the Nessies were flesh and blood animals, but who came to embrace the kinds of theories that John Keel was highlighting in the likes of UFOs: Operation Trojan Horse, The Mothman Prophecies, and Our Haunted Planet. Holiday claimed an encounter at Loch Ness with a Man in Black. He reported numerous weird synchronicities. He even took part in a late-night exorcism to try and banish the beasts from the loch. Holiday also developed a deep interest in UFOs. And, on the matter of UFOs and Loch Ness…
From August 30 to September 20, 1975, the BBC ran “Terror of the Zygons.” It was a four-part Dr. Who story, broadcast on Saturday evenings, and which put an interesting spin on the story of the Loch Ness Monster. In much the same way that the monster of the 1970 movie, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, was actually an advanced piece of machinery – namely, a carefully camouflaged submarine – so was the Nessie that tangled with the world’s most famous, fictional time-traveler, Dr. Who.
“Terror of the Zygons” tells the story of an alien race – the Zygons of the title – whose home world was decimated and destroyed by solar flares centuries ago. As a result, they decide to create a new home for themselves. No prizes for guessing the planned location of that new home: the Earth. The one, solitary band of Zygons that successfully makes the journey to Earth has the distinct misfortune to crash their spacecraft in none other than Loch Ness. And they remain there for hundreds of years, patiently planning for the day when they can finally claim the Earth as their own.
To help them in their quest to seek control of the planet, the Zygons employ the use of a terrifying, huge monster known as the Skarasen. It’s an ancient beast of the deep waters that the Zygons turn into an alien cyborg – a half-flesh, half-machine that does their every bidding and which lives in Loch Ness. It has, over time, of course, become known as the Loch Ness Monster. That bidding includes a wave of mysterious and violent attacks on oil-rigs in the North Sea.
It’s up to Dr. Who and his comrades, Sarah Jane Smith, Harry Sullivan, and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, to defeat the deadly Zygons – who are shape-shifting monsters that can take on the form of any human being they choose. Fortunately, Dr. Who finally saves the day, as always. But not before the Skarasen/Nessie wreaks havoc in and around London’s River Thames and the Zygons do their very best to take hold of the planet.
There can be little doubt that the writing team behind the story had some knowledge of the very weird lore and legend of Nessie. After all, the creature is presented as not just an unknown animal. Far from it, in fact. In addition, the story does not shy away from the UFO-themed connections to Loch Ness. And, let’s not overlook something else of great importance: the masters and manipulators of the Loch Ness Monster, the Zygons, are diabolical shape-shifters. Just the like the murderous kelpies and water-horses of centuries long past that haunted Loch Ness and terrified the local folk. Although strictly fiction, “Terror of the Zygons” provided an entertaining scenario to explain the mystery of the Loch Ness Monster.