The Holmes House of Horror


That is a term often banded about when talking about the Doctor Who screenplays written and/or script edited by Robert Holmes.

Often his stories would involve some kind of body horror inflicted upon a character. The Ark in Space (1975) has the character of Lazar (nicknamed Noah) infected by the larvee of a alien insect species called the Wirrn and over the course of episodes and three we slowly see him mutate into a Wirrn. Ok in visual terms he slowly gets covered in sprayed green popping paper but kudos to the poor actor for making the performance real. We see his struggling mind as he tries to repel the consciousness of the Wirrn… It is a very good performance and it struck the producer as so intense that a scene of him handing over a fun and begging another character to kill him was cut from the finished episode.

The following season we have the Brain of Morbius which is essentially Frankenstein in Space and we have Dr. Solon making a body from the left over carcasses of the victims of crashed spaceships for the criminal Timelord Morbius. Solon having helped Morbius cheat execution by removing his brain and keeping in a jar until the body is built. The last thing he needs to complete the body is a head… And the head Solon desires is the Doctor’s.

Brain of Morbius is one of the few stories which did bother me as a child when I watched it. The cliffhanger to part one with the headless body being uncovered was one of the few moments that made me hide behind the sofa. Later in the story, Solon’s retarded Igor like servant, the hook handed Condo discovers that his arm wasn’t lost in a crash but amputated by Solon and used on the Morbius body. Condo doesn’t take kindly to this and attacks Solon which results in Solon shooting Condo in the stomach, which is unusually visceral in its depiction. Normally on Doctor Who when people are shot they fall down or fall down in a theatrical manner with no apparent wound.  This isn’t the case here, Condo’s stomach bloody explodes…

All in all Holmes’ Doctor Who could be called A Tea Time House of Horror.


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