Worst Creature no 5: The Cheetah People (Survival)
Galloping in as the fifth-worst Doctor Who creature of the classic series, we have the imaginatively-named Cheetah People. As a serial Survival works well, and provided a worthy finale for Doctor Who’s original run to finish on in 1989 (no new series was aired for another sixteen years, with only Paul McGann’s TV Movie to bridge the gap). Set in the rundown neighbourhood of Perivale and featuring independent companion Ace, it supplied elements which Russell T. Davies later used when he brought the series back in 2005. For me, the only disappointment in this episode (apart from the somewhat awful running-away-backwards acting) was the fact that even after twenty-six years of almost constant evolution, there seems to be one monster that Doctor Who can’t get away from: people in suits.
Being cheetah people by name- if they ever officially named their species we never found out- there isn’t much room for creativity when it comes to costume design. Scriptwriter Rona Munro had envisaged a more human look with large canines and yellow eyes, but either that wasn’t deemed scary enough or the costume department had a lot of spotty material they needed getting rid of. The result is a tribe of horse riding, hunt-obsessed, oversized fluffy cats. They even play with a ball, for goodness’ sake. And those costumes don’t half look hot to wear; add that to the fact that it was almost 40 degrees centigrade during some of the outside filming, and you’ve got an outfit that benefitted absolutely no one. Also, how a species so closely resembling an Earth animal can evolve so far away from it is beyond me. But then again as far as Doctor Who is concerned, it’s the norm.
This article was first posted on March 29, 2013