For some time I have had in mind a storyline in which the Hub is invaded by small but fertile creatures. Yes, of course, the idea comes from Star Trek. That is why Ianto and Alun discuss The Trouble with Tribbles as they hunt the offspring of the alien left in Beth’s care. Anyone who has never seen the episode from the original 1960s series is obviously not a science fiction fan.

There is also more than a hint of Gremlins in the little alien beings, too. In that film, of course, the cute little creature starts to reproduce having been fed after midnight and then coming into contact with water. McVitie the biscuit loving alien doesn’t need any such excuse to start reproducing. He/she just needs plenty of protein. Exactly how much protein there is in a McVitie’s chocolate digestive was actually easy to find with a quick Google search. It is 1.2 grams per biscuit or 2% of an adult Human’s daily requirement. You don’t want to know about carbohydrates, sugars and saturated fats. Anyway, take it from me it is enough for a little alien reptile who reproduces asexually to get into trouble.

I originally made McVitie a cuddly furball of a creature, but on reflection, since the Tribbles are the ultimate furball, I thought it better to make it a reptile. That also allowed for Rhys to talk about cold blooded animals being torpid in cold weather, according to David Attenborough. We all know, of course, this is the first and last time Rhys, bless his heart, will ever use the word torpid in a conversation.

The other alien specimen brought into the Hub references two other popular culture sources. The first, of course, is Day of The Triffids, even though the plant is nothing at all like a triffid as seen in the Wyndham novel or any of the film or TV adaptation of the same. It is one of two obvious references when a strange alien plant appears in the Hub. The other is Little Shop of Horrors, referenced when Alun calls the plant ‘Audrey III’, of course.

Using the alien plant to destroy the ‘tribbles’ that invade the Hub was always on the cards. I didn’t think of how to destroy the alien plant, however, until quite late in the writing. Of course, the barbecue sauce has been used to attract Myfanwy before when she fought the Cyberwoman. This is a bit of a blatant rehash of the same idea, but it HAS been a few years, now. Doing it on too regular a basis would be bad.

Of course Beth gets to keep her original pet. Remind me to mention it as a feature of the back room of the tourist office in later stories.

By the way, “Oh, ffwrch!” is a Welsh swearword. You can probably guess what it is in English.