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Robert Holmes: Misc


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Up to date as of January 31, 2010

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Robert Holmes (2nd April 1926-24th May 1986) was script editor of Doctor Who from 1975 to 1977 and the author of many Doctor Who scripts, helping to create or reimagine many key elements of the programme's mythology.


Personal History

Holmes was, for a time at the end of the Second World War, the youngest serving officer in the British army. He became a police officer, graduating top of his class, but grew disillusioned with the job and eventually became a journalist. By the 1960s he had branched out into writing screenplays for both films and television series. In 1968 he received his first commission for Doctor Who and over the next few years became one of the series' lead writers.

When Terrance Dicks resigned as script editor in 1974 Holmes successfully applied for the position, continuing to write scripts as well. After leaving the post he wrote a few more stories before taking an extended break from the series. In 1983, as one of the series' most celebrated writers Holmes was the first person asked to write the 20th anniversary special, The Five Doctors. He declined but expressed an interest in writing for the series again.

Over the next three years Holmes contributed several more scripts and was heavily involved in the planning of Season 23. However, he passed away before he was able to complete his scriptwriting duties for The Ultimate Foe, and the planned ending of the story was altered.

After his death, his estate licensed both the Autons and the Sontarans for use in several independent video spin-off productions by Reeltime Pictures and BBV Productions, most notably for the Auton Trilogy and Shakedown: Return of the Sontarans. Since 2005 the revived Doctor Who franchise has also featured the Autons in Rose, and the Sontarans in the two-parter The Sontaran Strategem/The Poison Sky and a two-part storyline in The Sarah Jane Adventures, The Last Sontaran.

In 2009, Doctor Who Magazine conducted a reader's poll that named Holmes' The Caves of Androzani the best Doctor Who story of all time.


Many of Holmes' scripts recycled essentially the same plot: a crippled (often deformed) villain is trapped in an underground or otherwise isolated lair, dependent upon the physical or mental strength of their servants. Their ultimate goal is to escape and/or restore themselves to their former power. This broad outline applies to some extent to both Holmes' first and last completed stories, as well as four of his most celebrated contributions, Pyramids of Mars, The Deadly Assassin, The Talons of Weng-Chiang, and The Caves of Androzani.

However this is not to say Holmes was a formulaic writer, and the stories mentioned do not appear notably similar. This is probably due to the presence of another distinctive Holmes quality, a willingness to engage in knowing pastiches of well-known films and fiction. This was particularly evident during his time as script-editor. Gothic literature and pulp fiction provided Holmes with particularly rich pickings.

Also running through Holmes' scripts are a love of colourful, often bizarre or esoteric language (he disinterred the arcane word Valeyard, which means Doctor of Law, for his final scripts), and a fondness for larger-than-life characterisation. He does a particularly good line in lovable rogues, who often come in pairs and whose by-play provides an ironic commentary on the events of the story.

Contributions to the Mythos

Major characters and concepts created for or debuting in a Robert Holmes script include:

Televised Scripts

Robert Holmes was also commissioned to write Yellow Fever and How to Cure It for the original season 23 but this story was never made. Apparently it would have been set in Singapore and featured the Master, the Rani and the Nestenes.


External links

This article uses material from the "Robert Holmes" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


Up to date as of February 02, 2010

Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek content.

Robert Holmes is an artist who has contributed works to the Star Trek Ships of the Line calendars.

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This article uses material from the "Robert Holmes" article on the Memory-beta wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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