Doctor Who Monsters, Aliens and Villains

Audio - The Macra Terror
BBC Audio
 Name: Macra

 Format: Television show

 Time of Origin: An unnamed galaxy in the future (Exactly where and when was never expressly revealed) to New Earth in the year 5,000,000,043

 Appearances: "The Macra Terror" and "Gridlock".

 Doctors: Second Doctor and Tenth Doctor.

 Companions: Polly, Ben Jackson, Jamie McCrimmon, Martha Jones and, technically, Captain Jack Harkness.

 History: One of The Doctor’s most obviously alien adversaries - as opposed to those aliens who appeared fundamentally humanoid in shape - the Macra were giant intelligent crabs from a distant, unnamed galaxy that mankind had colonised in the distant future. According to The Doctor, their race was billions of years old, and had once established a great empire while becoming known as the ‘Scourge of the Galaxy’.

 The Macra eventually came into conflict with The Doctor when the Second Doctor, Polly, Ben Jackson and Jamie visited a human colony in the future. Initially, the colony appeared to be a happy place, run along the lines of an enormous holiday camp, but The Doctor soon learned that it had has in fact been infiltrated and taken over by the Macra, who had apparently been living under the planet’s surface. The brainwashed inhabitants were being forced to mine a gas toxic to themselves but vital for their oppressors' survival; unable to come up to the surface themselves due to the lack of gas, they had brainwashed the humans to pump it up for them, rather than refining it for power as was originally intended. Ben at one point came under the Macra's malign influence and turned against his friends, but he gradually fought it off, even managing not to report Jamie for taking an official’s keys. He eventually regained his senses, however, and under The Doctor's guidance, he successfully destroyed the gas pumping equipment. The Doctor subsequently reversed the system to pump oxygen into the underground tunnels, thus killing the Macra and restoring the colony's freedom.

Video - Season 29 (New Series 3)  - Volume 1
Season 29 (New Series 3) - Volume 1
 Centuries after this confrontation, both for The Doctor and for them - although obviously longer for the Macra - the Tenth Doctor encountered the Macra once more, during a visit to New Earth in the year 5,000,000,043. During this visit, The Doctor’s companion Martha Jones was abducted by two people who sought access to the ‘express way’ on the polluted underground hover-motorway of New Earth - where cars could spend several years driving around without getting anywhere. Determined to recover his companion, The Doctor hitchhiked to get access to the motorway and subsequently jumped down from car to car to try and find Martha. Arriving at the bottom lane, The Doctor and the car’s driver were able to use the car’s antigravity systems to create a ‘breeze’ that cleared away the worst of the fog and gas below them, revealing the Macra at the bottom.

However, these Macra were far from the intelligent beings that had existed back in the past; after all the centuries between this and their previous confrontation with The Doctor, the Macra had grown significantly larger and more threatening, but their intellects had significantly decreased, reducing them to little more than massive monsters, swiping at the hovercars in the same way that a cat will swipe at a ball of string. After a meeting with the dying Face of Boe (Who would later be revealed to be the future version of The Doctor’s immortal companion Captain Jack Harkness), The Doctor learned that the Face of Boe had sealed the cars inside the motorway after a drug inducing a feeling of bliss - preventing anyone from doing so much as breathing, never mind anything else to keep them alive - had become airborne, seeing it as the only way to save some people on New Earth. As the Face sacrificed the last of its power to help The Doctor, the motorway was opened once again, allowing the people to depart and re-populate New Earth, leaving the Macra to die as the toxic air they required to survive was replaced by fresher oxygen.
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Parts of this article were compiled with the assistance of David Spence who can be contacted by e-mail at
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