You know those moments when you’re somewhere unfamiliar, and you get the distinct feeling you’re being watched… only when you turn round, there’s just a blue, gaseous cloud floating around waiting for you to die so it can steal your corpse and go terrify a famous author?
This lot do… The Gelth.
The periodic table’s version of the Puss in Boots character off of the Shrek films, this species’ cunning strategy is to make humans feel sorry for them by reanimating their dead relatives and using them to snap their necks (presumably a traditional greeting within their society) and then immediately go all flamey and badass on them.
Aside from that, we don’t know a great deal about them. They once had bodies, lost them in the Time War (very careless, I know) and were converted to gas-forms. Somehow they then discovered the rift, which had opened at a funeral parlour in Cardiff. The gaseous nature of the rift kept them alive, and from this position they were able to dominate the heating and lighting industries of the late 19th Century.
It is thought that their domination of the Cardiff power network led directly to the formation of British Gas (thus explaining their blue flame logo).
But Gelth are also able to survive in the otherwise inhospitable (and unthinkable) conditions of a human corpse, thanks to the gasses produced by a body in decay. They then reanimate the bodies and go out to the theatre, or try and kill a stranger – just like any other friendly neighbourhood joyrider.
During his one encounter with this species, the Ninth Doctor offered to help them find a planet of their own until he realised their deceit and their actual intention to take control of the planet by force. They were defeated by the servant of the funeral parlour’s owner, who just happened to have psychic abilities and the knowledge of how to close a rift in time and space. When the rift was closed on the invading creatures, the remaining Gelth were destroyed by fire. The servant died and then became a key member of Torchwood…
First appearance: The Unquiet Dead (2005)
Sworn enemy: Neon, Argon, Mercury vapour. You know, any of the show-offy fluorescent ones.
Strengths: Gaseous form – can enter spaces undetected.
Weaknesses: Strong gusts of wind, naked flames…
Well, even there we’re spoilt by the great children’s entertainer in the sky. Enter, the Slitheen.
Coming from Raxacoricofallapatorius, Slitheen is a family name rather than a species – but that didn’t seem to stop anyone from mixing them up. Although, to be fair, it is a lot easier to say than Raxacoricofallapatorian… Either way, this is the universe’s version of the Krays, and after escaping their fate, they decided that the earth was a suitable place to convert into starship fuel and scrap.
The Doctor’s first encounter with these creatures came when they dressed a pig in a spacesuit (insert your own joke about Barack Obama / Sarah Palin here, folks) and made it crash into the Houses of Parliament and down into the Thames.
So, with the spaceship ringing Big Ben, their invasion began. While scientists were baffled by the terrified pig, the Slitheen family had moved into 10 Downing Street, killing and using high-profile victims as dress-making patterns for their handy skin suit disguises, which were very poorly designed. As anyone who’s ever tried to get a small person into a baby-gro will know, a suit with just a small opening at the top is not going to be easy to get in and out of. And if they were going for stealth, the whole breaking wind and lighty-up zipper thing probably isn’t good design either…
Here, two things were learnt about the species. Firstly, that they explode if they come into contact with vinegar. Secondly, that they are vulnerable to nuclear attack. Useful to know – to be safe from Slitheen attack, just open a fish &chip shop up in Chernobyl.
But disguise and covert existence seems to be their major strength – managing to infiltrate positions of authority is something unique to the Slitheen. And the Autons. And Zygons. Oh, and the Master too.
But disguise and covert existence seems to be their major strength – managing to infiltrate positions of authority is something they are moderately good at.
A lone Slitheen managed to escape the Downing Street explosion and resurfaced in Cardiff just six months later – proving the family’s reputation for being quick-to-rise political talents by already being installed as Mayor of the city. Using her powerful position, Margaret Slitheen managed to get a badly-wired nuclear power station approved at the planning stage – the model of which hid a hover board that she’d either borrowed from the Jetsons or Marty McFly (we’re never quite told) and on which, she intended to ride to freedom… She was then defeated in true Doctor fashion, by being given a second chance and regressing to an egg.
Slitheens, or at least fellow Raxacoricofallapatorians, were also part of the Alliance that shut the Doctor into the Pandorica. So maybe that second chance didn’t work out so well after all…
First Appearance: Aliens of London/World War Three (2005)
Telltale signs of their presence: Lots of windy smells, fidgeting, evil giggling. (actually, that could just be children, couldn’t it?)
Strengths: Surprise (as long as you don’t notice the farting or flashing lights), strength, disguises.
Weaknesses: Vinegar (any type is fine, although Balsamic is preferable if you’re having a salad after), nuclear explosions, and pregnant women with a good sob story.
For anyone interested, here’s the poem I wrote about that speech in “Rose”, and performed (if performed is the right word) on Series 3 episood 5…
That’s Who I Am
In 1970, The Doctor changed. But not only that, a new terror stalked the high streets and shopping centres of Britain… Something that would make shopping a more frightening experience than it already was. Plastic mannequins with weapons concealed within poorly-manufactured hands… The Autons.
Autons are basically deadly shop window dummies brought to life by the Nestene Consciousness – one of the oldest beings in the universe, a disembodied alien life-form, which created the form of a large, be-tentacled cuttlefish after invading the earth using hollow plastic meteorites. The control of their plastic warriors was generally done through an advance form of short wave radio signal.
During the first invasion attempt, the Nestene Consciousness stuck to their simple initial 2 ranges: The Basic (Which lived in shop windows and wandered around killing indiscriminately) and the Deluxe (more advanced and realistic human replicas, living in waxwork museums which were used to take the place of leaders and other important figures). Both were armed with the now-familiar weaponry – guns concealed in the hands of the Autons, which could only be activated when the fingers dropped down.
Their first invasion attempt failed when UNIT attacked the plastics factory the Nestene Consciousness was hiding in, but as the soldiers discovered that the Autons were impervious to traditional bullets, it was left to Liz Shaw to save the planet by finding the off switch on the tank containing the consciousness.
But the Autons were genuinely scary, and returned to have another crack at humans a year later, this time with a more developed plastic power thanks to an alliance with the Master – who convinced them with some joke shop daffodils. Eventually (and uniquely maybe) the Doctor convinced the Master that the Nestenes would double cross him and they teamed up to send them back off into space.
The Ninth Doctor later discovered them in Henrick’s Department Store, London where he helped a certain shop assistant to escape before blowing the activated Autons up (along with the store). This much later invasion attempt showed the Nestene Consciousness as an angry blob of putty hiding under the London Eye, near Westminster Bridge. He defeated them with “Anti Plastic” (bit like De-Icer. Only for plastic and that).
Their eye for detail has clearly improved over the years, and when they returned at the moment the Eleventh Doctor discovered the Pandorica, they were capable of very accurate human reproductions – and had decided to make a whole new Roman Army for the occasion.
First appearance: Spearhead From Space (1970)
Most heartbreaking appearance: The Pandorica Opens (2010) [Poor Rory!]
Most “handy” appearance: Rose (2005)
Strengths: Resistant to conventional earth weapons, can activate any number of inanimate plastic objects
Weaknesses: Extreme heat, being switched off, over-simplified opposites.