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Dr Peter Russell was a doctor of philosophy as opposed to medicine. He was the adopted son of Jeremiah O'Kane, the director of the Hawthorne psychiatric clinic. Jeremiah's father, mother and two sisters had been murdered by Jeremiah's brother forty years earlier — the clinic was built in a place prone to evil, murderous possession of victims at certain times in history. The brother had been sent to another asylum following the murders, while Jeremiah took over the running of the clinic. He also raised his deranged brother's son — Peter Russell — telling him only that he was adopted. Russell declined to enter the family medical profession, which caused a bitter division between the two, but instead became a very wealthy businessman.

In his later years, O'Kane handed over the directorship to Dr Colin Dove, and continued to live in the clinic's grounds in his retirement. However, O'Kane and Dove knew another cycle of evil was imminent and set up a bizarre experiment. They organised the return of O'Kane's brother as an inmate of the clinic, and when government cut-backs forced the closure of psychiatric hospitals, Russell stepped in to finance the clinic and keep it open. Apparently part of their plan, or certainly Dove's plan, was to bring the father and son together at the appointed time and create "perihelion" — somehow allowing chaos to erupt into the world. Dove discussed this with O'Kane, but his involvement was questionable. Russell wanted to find out what dark secrets Dove was keeping from him, and worked with William Bruffin and the Preternatural Research Bureau to try to get to the truth. O'Kane tried to mend fences with his returning adopted son, but it was only after Russell was possessed by the same evil spirit and his self-sacrificing father saved Liz Shaw from him, that 'perihelion' was avoided and life returned to normal at the clinic. O'Kane and Russell tried to rebuild their relationship. (HOMEVID: The Zero Imperative)