Ever wondered what it’s like to be hunted by a mad killer jacket potato?
Well, ok, it doesn’t sound too terrifying, does it? But what if the mad killer jacket potato is dressed in battle armour and carries the biggest weapon you’ve ever seen?
On first glance, the Sontarans may look a touch silly. After all, they are squat, have big round heads and don’t look too intimidating. But get on the wrong side of a Sontaran and you are in trouble! A war-mongering race, they take no prisoners. They are tactically brilliant and, if anyone gets in the way of their plans, they are swiftly dealt with. The Sontarans have mastered the art of warfare thanks to their conflict with the Rutans, a battle that has been going on for so long they have, as the second Doctor noted, "almost forgotten what started it."
The Sontarans’ planet, Sontar, is in the southern spiral arm of the galaxy. They reproduce by means of cloning, very handy when they send thousands out at a time to engage the Rutans. They are very strong but also get tired very quickly. Rather than refreshing themselves by food and sleep, they boost themselves by means of plugging in to their recharging devices and taking in the energy through a probic vent at the base of the back of their heads, much like recharging a battery. The probic vent is also their weak spot, as a blow delivered directly to it could be fatal. Sontaran weapons tend to be big and bulky but, due to their enormous strength, this poses no problem to them.
We first met the Sontarans in the 1973 Jon Pertwee story The Time Warrior. A Sontaran called Linx is trapped in the middle ages after his spaceship crashed down to Earth. He uses what technology he still has available on board to rig up a crude device to kidnap scientists from the 20th century in order to help him with his repairs. Of course, the Doctor is called in by UNIT and, along with an undercover investigative journalist called Sarah Jane Smith, he thwarts Linx’s plans and normal order is restored.
Our next meeting with the inter-galactic spuds is when it is discovered that a Sontaran warrior named Styre is conducting experiments on astronauts he has captured on Earth in the far future.
As well as being brilliant in battle, the Sontarans also appear to have no fear of anyone or anything. This is borne out by the fact that they actually managed to invade Gallifrey in an attempt to gain the secret of time travel, proving that if there is something they feel they need to help them in the war, they will stop at nothing to get it.
The last time we encountered the Sontarans was again on Earth. This time they were in league, for a short time at least, with the Androgums. The secret of time travel was again on their agenda and this time they very nearly succeeded. The experiments got to such a stage that the Time Lords intervened and it took two Doctors – the second and sixth – to frustrate their plans.
So now they return. Again we meet them on Earth, a handy place for them, it seems, to use as a base in their on-going struggle with the Rutans. We are to meet General Staal and Commander Storr as well as one of the Doctor’s old friends…
The Sontarans are generally regarded as one of the most popular Doctor Who monsters of all time. Some may feel they are half baked, or are they a spud-u-like? Whatever your view, hold on to your jackets, it’s bound to be a bumpy ride. If the Doctor doesn’t mash them, the planet may well roast and we would all have had our chips…
Donna was probably looking forward to a nice pleasant time as she goes back to see her family for the first time since she started travelling with the Doctor. But trust the Sontarans to spoil the atmos…