Doctor Who Monsters, Aliens and Villains

Audio - The Spectre of Lanyon Moor
The Spectre of Lanyon Moor
(Nicholas Pegg)
 Name: Sancreda

 Format: Audio

 Time of Origin: Came to Earth 18 000 years ago and was trapped in a comatose state until his destruction in 2000.

 Appearances: "The Spectre of Lanyon Moor"

 Doctors: Sixth Doctor

 Companions: The Brigadier and Evelyn Smythe

Colin Baker
Colin Baker
 History: While an ancient being from a notoriously powerful race, Sancreda's actions as an antagonist were fundamentally petty, initially seeking revenge for his perceived abandonment and later lashing out at an entire planet just because he didn't have anyone specific to be angry at.

By species, Sancreda was a Trigannon, an ancient race of conquerors whose short height of three feet was belied by their advanced psionic technology channelled through ancient rocks, mastered millions of years ago, with a natural lifespan extending for hundreds of thousands of years (The Doctor noted that 18 000 years 'asleep' for a Trigannon would be the equivalent of a human awakening from a decade-long coma, as it would be disorientating but not impossible to adapt to the situation). Their natural abilities included telepathy, telekinesis, teleportation, the ability to project images, and even assume the appearance of their victims based on their physiological imprints. However, many of these required technological assistance to achieve their full potential, linking to their ships and thus establishing a remote connection to the Trigannon gestalt, with the Trigannons shown using handheld laser weapons rather than relying exclusively on their powers.

Sancreda's troubles started when he and his brother Scryfan were carrying out geological surveys on ancient Earth, Sancreda being attacked by an unspecified pack of carnivorous local life-forms just as his current survey was coming to an end. This attack resulted in Sancreda being separated from his psionic amplifier, leaving him unable to use his more obviously offensive psychic powers and restricting him to his own weapons as he tried to get back to his ship. However, Sancreda was unable to return before it left, leaving him feeling outraged at his perceived abandonment by his brother but unable to take any action himself. Recognising that he lacked the power to do anything at this time, Sancreda put himself into a dormant state to gather his power and wait for his chance.

Even in a dormant state inside an old tumulus, Sancreda exerted a disturbing yet subtle influence over the nearby Lanyon Moor over the centuries, with the Moor developing a reputation for ghostly apparitions. During the English Civil War, a party of Roundheads was apparently torn apart by wild beasts while camped around the tumulus, as reported by their quarry, the Royalist Edward Hopkins. In 1783, Sir Percival Flint, the owner of a local tin mine, tried to excavate the tombs before a diabolic, shrieking wind drove his workers away. In the 1840s, when a tenant farmer tried to flatten the tumulus, he dropped dead of a heart attack, his entire herd of cattle died within a month, and all crops in the area failed for the next seven years. In 1940 the moor was the site of a naval radar observation post, but it was unsuccessful due to the mental energies caused by Sancreda's presence scrambling the electronic signals and creating a wave of mental illness among the staff, with a death at the station prompting the government to close the operation and move it twenty miles down the road.

Eventually, Sancreda's power was stirred for the final time when an archaeological dig was carried out on the Moor, allowing him to reach out among the local populace and find assistance. While his psychic powers were detected by local baronet Archibald Flint, who sought to harness that power for his own agenda, Sancreda found his own 'ally' in the form of local housekeeper Mrs Moynihan, who had spent her life feeling as though she was dismissed and ignored by everyone, such as her husband leaving her for his secretary and her daughter marrying a man she didn't approve of. With this ally available, Sancreda instructed Mrs Moynihan to search for his psionic amplifier in Greece, having gained a sense of its physical presence even if he couldn't get it himself.

Fortunately, just as Sancreda and his allies were starting to gain enough power to take deliberate action, the retired Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart was sent by UNIT to take a discreet look at the mysterious events at Lanyon Moor at the same time as the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn Smythe arrived in the area as the TARDIS was drawn off-course by Sancreda's psychic powers ("The Spectre of Lanyon Moor"). While The Doctor and The Brigadier studied the objects salvaged in the dig, Evelyn did some research into the history of the Moor in Flint's library, finding records of the disruptions caused by Sancreda's prior presence. Concerned at these discoveries, The Doctor planned to collect equipment from the TARDIS to carry out a more thorough search, but when he found that the TARDIS had vanished, he was forced to create a more basic scanner linked to his own mind despite the risks.

While The Doctor and The Brigadier coordinated their efforts to find out exactly what they were looking for, Evelyn decided to return to Flint's house to carry out more research because she was puzzled at his claim that all his servants had gone on holiday at the same time, only to be captured when Flint was revealed to be trying to harness the power on the moor for himself. Although unaware that Evelyn had been captured, The Doctor continued his research into the current anomaly, with his scan allowing him to tentatively identify their enemy as a Trigannon based on its psychic potential. Having determined the nature of their enemy, The Doctor soon realised that the situation was escalating when he identified Mrs Monyihan as another 'follower' of Sancreda; during the scan, he had detected a psychic power signature in Athens, which he deduced was Sancreda's psionic amplifier that had been taken to Athens as part of an old trade, concluding that Mrs Monyihan's trip to that city was unlikely to be a coincidence. At the same time, Evelyn was able to escape Flint when The Doctor's scan disrupted Flint's efforts to harness Sancreda's psychic powers, but despite The Doctor and The Brigadier's efforts, Mrs Monyihan was able to get back to the moor with the amplifier and awaken Sancreda, although it turned out that he still couldn't access his full power as a part of the psionic amplifier was missing.

Using his restored power, Sancreda confronted Archibald Flint directly, expressing disdain at Flint's proposed partnership as he had no interest in ruling this world with one whose actions had already caused him pain, destroying Flint with a powerful psychic assault before returning to the institute. Arriving back just as Evelyn had rejoined The Doctor. Sancreda was fully restored to his old power after he forced Evelyn to give him the induction loop, where the first action he performed with his full power was to destroy Mrs Monyihan by turning her dogs against her just to show what he was capable of (Interestingly, Sancreda never showed any sign that he was aware that The Doctor wasn't human despite The Doctor displaying knowledge of Trigannon technology and history that should have been impossible for any human to know; most likely Sancreda's sheer arrogance meant that he saw no point in questioning this anomaly as he was certain that he was about to win and The Doctor never showed any sign that he could actually hurt Sancreda). Keeping Evelyn alive as a hostage to use against The Doctor and The Brigadier, Sancreda was able to trigger a recall signal that drew his ship back to Earth, but once it arrived, Sancreda learned that his brother had died long ago; the ship had taken off on automatic after Sancreda accidentally shot his brother while trying to drive off the animals attacking him.

With the revelation that his brother had been dead for millennia, Sancreda instead decided to destroy Earth to avenge his frustration at having been trapped on it for centuries, despite The Doctor pleading that this was pointless. He ordered The Doctor, Evelyn and The Brigadier to depart from his ship before he ascended to a greater height so that he could destroy Earth with the psionic cannon, but The Brigadier was able to stay behind and distract Sancreda long enough to switch the psionic amplifier for a length of copper wire The Doctor had been using earlier. As a result, the energy from the psionic cannon was unable to be focused outwards, causing it to backfire and destroy Sancreda's ship. With Sancreda defeated, the TARDIS reappeared, revealing that its disappearance had been the result of it shifting itself onto a different dimensional plane to escape Sancreda's influence. The threat defeated, The Doctor, Evelyn and The Brigadier decided to have a meal together before they all moved on, the Time Lord and the retired Brigadier reflecting with satisfaction on this reminder of old times.

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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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