Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

The Lowdown on... Robert Holmes

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1988-22 Blockbusters p13b.jpg


New to SF fandom? Finding it difficult to keep track of all those names on the end credits of your favourite videos? Tossing and turning at night because your knowledge of veteran writers is so tragically lacking? Cast those worries aside because Metamorph 2 primly presents the first in a sodas of handy thumb-nail sketches of the people behind the scenes.

Claims to Fame

Over 16 Doctor Who scripts and three years in the script editors chair


The writer's writer. The man who gave is no less than seven acknowledged DOCTOR WHO classics—SPEARHEAD FROM SPACE, CARNIVAL OF MONSTERS, ARK IN SPACE, PYRAMIDS OF MARS, THE DEADLY ASSASSIN, TALONS OF WENG CHIANG, CAVES OF ANDROZANI, script-edited the three golden years of Doctor Who and the master of the brilliant last-minute script

So everyone loved him then?

Not everybody; the Doctor Who Appreciator Society hated his cavalier approach to established WHO lore; the National Viewers and Listeners Association thought his scripts were too scary for kids; and John Nathan Turner got rather mitred with all the acclaim Holmes received for CAVES OF ANDROZANI. More recently, trendy 20-somethings found all sorts of misogynistic readings in his work, and objected very loudly.

But he did write some good stuff?

He wrote some bloody marvellous stuff, and no mistake. Holmes could write for any Doctor and for any producer and come up with a corker. Not only That but during this lime as script-editor (working alongside producer Philip Hinchcliffe and actor Tom Baker), if Holmes didn't think another writers commissioned script was up to scratch he'd re-write himself and, presto, another classic.

Producers must have considered him a god-send?

Er...Barry Letts, Philip Hinchcliffe and Graham Williams were fully-fledged members of the Holmes Appreciation Society, but JN-T preferred using new writers so Holmes' telephone remained silent fora few years.

What brought him back?

Eric Seward, JN-Ts Third script-editor, watched some old videos and quickly came to realise the strength of Holmes' talent. Seward pestered JN-T for years to let Holmes contribute, and finally got his way during anniversary year: Holmes was lined up to write THE FIVE DOCTORS in 1983.

Wow, that must have been a goodie!

Nope. Holmes had a bash at it but couldn't really get it to work. Seward reluctantly called in Terrarce Dicks to write a replacement. Seward managed to get Holmes back though, and the result was the Davison finalé CAVES Of ANDROVANI. After it was broadcast a shell-shocked fandom finally came to its senses and hailed Holmes a genius.

So it all ended happily, then?

Far from it. THE TWO DOCTORS--Holmes' first script after CAVES was considered by practically everyone to be a bit of a let down, and then things went pear-shaped during THE TRIAL OF A TIME LORD.

Come Again?

Well, Holmes wrote the season opener, THE MYSTERIOUS PLANET, and it turned out to be an even bigger disappointment than THE TWO DOCTORS. Holmes was collaborating with Seward on the final set of scripts for the season and the two men had come up with a down-beat end of season cliff-hanger in an attempt to bring back some suspense and drama to the ailing series, but Holmes was in extremely poor health, and died before work was complete on the script for the final episodes. Then JN-T decided he didn't want the season to conclude on a downer and told Seward to come up with a happy ending. Seward, who was grieving the loss of his friend, walked out in disgust. THE TRIAL OF A TIME LORD was a critical (and ratings) disaster.

Most likely to love Holmes

The general viewing public (especially Dads), technophobes, BBC Video, Target Books, Eric Saward

Most likely to hate Holmes

Continuity bores, The Inland revenue, the NVLA, wimps, JN-T

What to say

'Take the traditional Holmes' double-act, for example...'

What not to say 'Those Krotons were shite, weren't they?'

"'Classic' may be fascist terminology but a 'classic' is still a 'classic'

Disclaimer: These citations are created on-the-fly using primitive parsing techniques. You should double-check all citations. Send feedback to

  • APA 6th ed.: Stadon, Vince (summer 1988). The Lowdown on... Robert Holmes. Blockbusters p. 13.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Stadon, Vince. "The Lowdown on... Robert Holmes." Blockbusters [add city] summer 1988, 13. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Stadon, Vince. "The Lowdown on... Robert Holmes." Blockbusters, edition, sec., summer 1988
  • Turabian: Stadon, Vince. "The Lowdown on... Robert Holmes." Blockbusters, summer 1988, section, 13 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=The Lowdown on... Robert Holmes | url= | work=Blockbusters | pages=13 | date=summer 1988 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=13 June 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=The Lowdown on... Robert Holmes | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=13 June 2024}}</ref>