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It’s not often the Doctor says something is impossible, but when she does, it’s time to pay attention.

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Legend of the Sea Devils finds the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Dan (John Bishop) in 19th century China, where a small coastal village is under threat – from both the fearsome pirate queen Madame Ching (Crystal Yu) and a monstrous alien force which she unwittingly unleashes.

The first look trail, which aired after the New Year’s Day Special Eve of the Daleks, also introduced cast members Arthur Lee as Ji-Hun and Marlowe Chan-Reeves as Ying Ki.

Legend of the Sea Devils is a classic Doctor Who period story. In it, our heroic Time Lord encounters a famous personage from the past—in this case, a notorious pirate queen in 19th-century China named Zheng Yi Sao, aka Madame Ching.

The Doctor first met the Sea Devils ten incarnations ago, in Doctor Who and the Sea Devils starring John Pertwee as the Third Doctor. That story is generally considered one of the best stories of classic Doctor Who.

About Madame Ching, the Chinese Pirate Queen

Historians believe that Madame Ching, born in 1775, may have started out as a prostitute or madame on a floating brothel.

Her life changed forever in 1801 when she married the notorious pirate Zheng Yi, who hailed from a long family of pirates. Madame Ching proved to be a valuable asset, using her diplomatic skills to help her husband consolidate the various pirate fleets into a loose confederation. Each fleet had its own distinctive flag color (red, black, blue, white, yellow, and purple), and Zheng Yi took command of the largest Red Flag Fleet. When Zheng Yi died in November 1807 at the age of 42 (he fell overboard during a gale), Madame Ching took over the entire confederation.

Zheng Yi had abducted a boy named Zhang Bao from his family at age 15 and forced the lad into a life of piracy (apparently a reaonably common practice), and this boy took over his father’s fleet when he died. He took orders from Madame Ching, though, consulting her on everything before doing anything. The two were also romantically involved.

The pirate confederation eventually fell when the leader of the Black Flag Fleet, Guo Podal, openly fought Bao in late 1808 and almost immediately surrendered to Chinese authories afterwards, which suggests that that he had been compromised by the Chinese government.

Air Date

Legend of the Sea Devils does not yet have a firm air date, but is expected to hit screens sometime in the Spring of 2022. This is the second of a trio of specials airing in 2022. Jodie Whittaker’s final feature-length Special will air in autumn 2022 as part of the BBC’s Centenary celebrations.

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Susan Macdonald
Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as short stories in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, “Supernatural Colorado”, “Barbarian Crowns”, “Cat Tails””Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.

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