The Oodcast guide to… Doctor Who scares

Ice can burn, sofas can read, it’s a big universe…
…Big and often pretty scary. Here, Andrew presents his top eight Doctor Who scary moments. Rather than in order of scares it’s in chronological order, cos they are all just as scary.

An Unearthly Child: The TARDIS scene and its arrival on a strange rocky plain.

While all of An Unearthly Child is a bit scary in a ‘what’s going on?’ way, the moment Barbara barges into the police box is when everything changes. Forget everything you have watched before, this is special and totally boggling. A bright, big SPACE SHIP! A scary man from another world! One of our heroes gets electrocuted; panic and confusion. Now the scary aliens are fighting over the controls, anything might happen, and it does! What’s that NOISE?? It’s the TV equivalent of the ground disapearing from beneath your feet – topped off with a police box standing in the middle of nowhere, covered by a menacing shadow. This is tea time in 1963, telly isn’t meant to DO that!

The Daleks, The Expedition: The whirlpool effect

Our heroes are camped near a large lake on their way to find a way into the Dalek city. They hear a scream, and rush to discover Elyon, one of the Thals, has been dragged into the lake by a mutant. What the viewer actually sees is a massive whirlpool effect. It’s big and defies the brain’s attempt to make sense of how it was achieved. Must have been a huge monster! Gahhh.

…now fast forward twelve years to Andrew’s time. Tom Baker! Philip Hinchliffe! Robert Holmes! Scary!

The Seeds of Doom: End of part two

This one I don’t remember watching, but saw it in my dreams for days afterwards. They were awful nightmares, and I never forgot them. Years later, imagine my surprise when watching the video release of The Seeds of Doom, to find myself watching my recurring nightmare on telly.

It’s set in an antarctic research base, where two alien plant pods have been found. Some baddies have got wind of this and turned up to get the pods, but not before one of the pods turns someone into a big green tentacled plant with horrid rasping breathing. The baddies get the other pod, and tie the Doctor up in the base and Sarah in the power room with a time bomb. Meanwhile, scary-green-tentacles monster is on the loose. . . the Doctor gets free and saves Sarah, just as the scary green fella bursts in on them. They get away, or do they? It’s all a bit grim and ends with a great big explosion. I wake up terrified.

The Hand of Fear: Sarah finds the Hand

My first ever memory of actually watching Doctor Who. And it’s scary.

The Doctor and Sarah arrive in a barren rocky wasteland, and the Doctor declares with marvellous irony – nodding to a back catalogue of years of alien quarry landscapes – ‘We’re in a quarry!’ So far not scary. Then it goes bonkers. The quarry blows up – that’s an amazing sequence. Sarah is nowhere to be seen. Oh, that’s worrying. Sure she’ll be fine, though – the Doctor’s on the case. More toasted teacake please, Mum. The Doctor finds her – she’s in some space under a great big boulder, coughing in that inimitable Sarah way. Then she spots a stone hand. It’s creepy. She screams, and Dudley Simpson’s music does a uniquely big Dudley-Simpson-scary-moment. Toasted teacake everywhere.

The Deadly Assasin: That clown!

Part three of The Deadly Assassin is brilliant. I’m sure you know. It’s the one in the Matrix, the Time Lord Matrix that is. Oh, it’s amazing. Evil train drivers, a Samurai warrior, a scary surgeon, First World War imagery. The Doctor is on the run from all of the above, and is pretty thirsty. He hears running water from somewhere, but where? Is there a stream hidden beneath the sand perhaps? He bends down and sweeps away some sand, to find himself face to face with a blimmin clown! The clown laughs at him. It’s a scary derisory laugh that stayed in my poor head and no amount of toasted teacake would distract from it. How on earth could a clown be beneath that sand? Why, what, gahhhhh! Year’s later a Doctor Who magazine interview with David Tennant revealed that this was one of his all-time scariest memories of Who too. Well, how about that.

The Stones of Blood: Boom boom. Boom boom. Boom boom. Boom boom.

Big stones that can walk and suck your blood. And when they are thristy they make a scary sound: Boom boom. Boom boom. Boom boom. More nightmares. Gahhhhh.

The Power of Kroll: The Doctor nearly gets eaten by a great big scary squid.

This one genuinely terrified me and is the Doctor being his heroic best. One of his many Last Chance Saloons – testing a theory, and if he is wrong he’ll be no more, and if he’s right he’ll save everyone and they’ll all have the opportunity to make good on their mistakes and get a chance to live good lives.

There’s an enormous great big scary squid called Kroll. Kroll is more than a mile across and lives in a swamp. In a tale of science and so-called progress versus indigenous swamp dwellers the nasty exploitative scientists have been drilling for gas and using the swamp dwellers as slaves. Problem is they’ve inadvertently woken up Kroll. The swampies think Kroll is going to protect them from the nasty scientists, but Kroll has other ideas. Actually, he doesn’t have any ideas really. He’s just cross and hungry. And has got really long tentacles that pick off swampy and scientist alike. And even the Doctor. That was really scary. The Doctor in the grip of that tentacle, being dragged slowly towards that massive THING. I held on to my dad for dear life – and why was the sofa so blimmin close to the wall?? Fortunately Kroll was the fifth segment of the Key to Time, and the Doctor was jeeeeust able to convert him into his true form before becoming a tiny morsel. Pheeeewww. The thing was that I went nowhere near the deep end of a swimming pool for weeks. Or anywhere that a mile long tentacle could appear from.

Just recently, the Kroll prop was on sale at the Doctor Who props auction at Bonhams. If I’d had the money (haha, yeh right) I would have bid for it, set it up in my living room and pointed and laughed, going ‘Ner ner ne ner ner, not so scary now are you?’

City of Death: End of part one

Doctor Who is so clever at mining genres. Here we have a creepy inversion of body horror. Instead of someone inexorably turning into a big green tentacled plant or something, the villain of the story reveals that he’s not only a millionaire art criminal, he’s a ONE-EYED MONSTER! It was such a shock that there was probably another toasted teacake incident. This had just got bogglingly interesting. Doctor Who is good at being boggling. Wow. Scary green one-eyed monster with the technology to manufacture a well fitted convincing human mask that can blink, eat, drink, talk and everything. I’m not being sarcastic by the way, that is what I thought – we are up against something pretty amazing in this one. And isn’t the incidental music good. Shame you can see the actor’s nose through the green skin…

Comments 2

  1. Not sure you’d ever come up with a definitive list – many of those you mentio are from the baker era. But most that I remember ebing scarey were earlier, the green death, giant spiders, the sea devils etc. I think it’s difficult to come up with anything that’s genuinely scarey (apparently as a small child I used to freak out at the bubbles in The Prisoner). Often the best scares come from the things we don’t see – any DW suggestions?

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