Remember the one when the Doctor had just regenerated, had a nap, then woke up just in time to have a sword fight with the Big Skeleton from the Funnybones books? I do, it was called The Christmas Invasion, and introduced us to one of the boniest enemies the Doctor has ever faced: the Sycorax.
Angry, gruff and generally quite grumpy, the Sycorax have had more of a presence in the travels of the Doctor than maybe some initially realise. Sure, there’s the big appearances: the Christmas Invasion of 2005, and a certain bony hand in the trapping of the Doctor in the Pandorica… but there’s also an inspirational literary encounter and a congenial bar-dwelling moment to explore.
As far as origins go, we can glean very little from their visual appearances. We know their language is “Sycoraxic”, and that they frequently suffered at the hands of cartoon dogs and Disney characters in desperate need of something to play their xylophones with. This might go some way to explaining their rage towards the human race.
So, the invasion attempt. It was perhaps technically crude, using a human blood sample to control a large number of people down below. But it was also astonishingly clever – witness the badass brass band of Santas (this is now the accepted collective noun for a group of Santas) and the circular-saw-cum-christmas-tree. Maybe not subtle, but certainly effective and with a degree of sophistication. And the tree wouldn’t have dropped any needles. Just the errant limbs of people getting too close.
Having been beaten in a swordfight by an illegal citrus-fruit-based manoeuvre, the Sycorax invasion rock was blown up by Harriet Jones (Prime Minister) – as if the humiliation couldn’t be complete. Somewhat mysteriously, they subsequently (or previously… or possibly both… hard to tell, it’s all a bit wibbly wobbly) joined the Alliance which imprisoned the 11th Doctor in the Pandorica.
The Sycorax is also one of an elite number of the Doctor’s enemies to have a showbusiness background, appearing in William Shakespeare’s 1611 explosive blockbuster, The Tempest – thanks to the Doctor’s name-dropping on a visit to Elizabethan London.
A well-known race of skeletal lushes, a Sycorax was spotted in the bar where the 10th Doctor used some of his last moments to pair everyone’s favourite intergalactic floozy, Captain Jack Harkness, with the chap off of Being Human for some inter-species naughtiness.
First Appearance: The Christmas Invasion (2005)
Best appearance they can’t remember due to being drunk in a bar: The End of Time pt2 (2010)
Strengths: Asteroid hijacking, Swordplay, similarity to very tall trick-or-treaters on Halloween.
Weaknesses: Men in dressing gowns, airborne satsumas, hungry dogs and falling several hundred thousand feel off an asteroid.