Saturday, 2 November 2013

Asterix, Doctor Who and Nessie

Two items of cultural interest to Nessie followers have recently come to my attention.

Firstly, "Asterix and the Picts" has been published and as you may guess from the title, the indomitable Gaul is heading north to the Highlands. And, yes, he meets the Loch Ness Monster on his travels. This is no surprise as the Picts were the indigenous people around Loch Ness during the time of the Romans.

However, an appearance by Saint Columba is unlikely as Asterix predates him by over 500 years! Unlike Columba's man-killer, and going by this image I found via google, the publishers have gone for a blue, docile Nessie. Well, it is aimed at a younger audience. I was a fan of the Asterix books in my youth and hope to get my hands on this book soon.

Talking of my mis-spent youth, the next item to recently go on sale is a DVD release of the Doctor Who's "Terror of the Zygons". Broadcast in 1975, it pits the Doctor against an alien race which feeds of a pet cyborg called the Skarasen (Nessie to us). This Loch Ness Monster is not so blue and not so docile as it goes on a trail of destruction.

I watched this as a kid but the memory of it has long faded. Apparently, the Loch Ness Monster was a bit of a flop in terms of special effects, though I doubt I would have been complaining as a 1970s kid. One suspects it got the scrag end of the production budget but the story itself is first class. Again, I hope to see this in my possession soon as some nostalgia is indulged in.

This story was broadcast  over September 1975, a mere three months before the famous Rines underwater photographs reached a peak of media frenzy. In fact, the Loch Ness Monster was on such a high, that when Target Books published the story as a paperback the following January, it was the alien pet that usurped the alien owners as the title was changed to "Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster"! The BBC trying to cash in on Nessie fever? Surely not!

By some coincidence, this is also the 50th anniversary of the Doctor Who phenomenon and the Zygons will be featuring in the anniversary episode on the 23rd November. There is no word either way on whether their pet cyborg will be making an appearance. I think they ought to as recompense for the poor rendition of 1975!

Talking of 1970s recession TV from the BBC, I really ought to end with that other Nessie appearance contrived by them in 1971 with that other great series "The Goodies". Whilst hunting for haggis and tackling a venomous bagpipe spider, our favourite cryptid appears - or does he?


  1. Chasing Leviathan3 November 2013 at 11:41

    As I recall the DOCTOR WHO Nessie wasn't bad for the first part of the story - they used stop-motion photography Ray Harryhausen-style.

    Unfortunately they ran out of money half-way through (or were hit by industrial action - or perhaps both) and ended up using a rather embarrassing hand puppet. (The original Loch Ness Muppet, perhaps..? ;))

    Cracking story nonetheless!

  2. An amusing article. I can always count on this Blog to inform, educate and sometimes entertain me. Offbeat, but still Nessie pertinent. Good light hearted fun. No other cryptid has permeated popular culture like the Loch Ness Monster. Everything from cutesy friendly Nessie in toddler’s story time tales to villainous, murderous Nessie in “Terror/Horror at Loch Ness” type B movies. From innocence to the utterly preposterous. Over here in the states, we have the iconic Homer Simpson meeting up with the LNM of all things! For those interested, checkout Wikipedia’s entry for more on Nessie in popular culture.

  3. If you can find it--and are into really really bad movies that swear a LOT (I mean it; this f-bomb is everywhere), find a movie called AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON. It's SUPPOSED to be a spoof of late-night American tv in the 1980s (the Amazon women are a 1950s movie "you" are watching as you flip channels), but Nessie shows up in the "In Search Of" type segment: B---t or Not: Was Jack the Ripper the Loch Ness Monster?
    We get a plesiosaur dressed up in Victorian clothing soliciting prostitutes in the West End and snickering evilly. Easily the best--and frankly, only GOOD part of the movie.

    Frankly, I would try Youtube to see if that segment is there; the rest of the movie isn't worth it. At all.


  4. I could not resist, call me a sucker. The scene referenced is shown here: “Who was Jack the Ripper really /Bulls**t or Not”

    A discussion of Nessie in popular culture would not be complete without this gem of bawdry humor. Quite funny. A bit dark you may have to adjust your brightness.

    1. Oh boy! I don't think I will be adding this one to my "Nessie on Land" series!