Preternatural Research Bureau or P.R.O.B.E. was a government organisation investigating paranormal activities. Former UNIT scientific advisor Doctor Elizabeth "Liz" Shaw lobbied for the establishment of P.R.O.B.E. in the mid-1990s after having spent some time at the University of Cambridge. (HOMEVID: The Zero Imperative, et al.)
Her assistant, Lou Bayliss, who was concerned with research based in their cramped office was "not what [Liz] had been promised". Patricia "Patsy" Haggard was P.R.O.B.E.'s liaison with the Ministry, and also Liz's very close friend. Due to its ongoing funding and support issues, in 1994 it was in danger of being shut down if it handed a case over to the police. (HOMEVID: The Zero Imperative)
The new Minister responsible — Brian Rutherford, who replaced "Sir Richard" — clearly didn't agree, noting that the Bureau didn't get called out very often.
In fact, his first act was to move Bayliss to another department without Liz's knowledge. He then threatened to close the operation down altogether. Only the fact that he needed the approval of Haggard prevented him from doing so. D.I. Burke, after working on a case with Dr Shaw, applied unsuccessfully for a transfer to P.R.O.B.E. (HOMEVID: The Devil of Winterborne)
The organisation received as little support from the police force as it did from the department, as shown by Burke's initial scepticism, and also by the "practical joke" instigated by a policeman which sent Dr Shaw to investigate a poltergeist for two weeks. After Rutherford's kidnap by Alfred Emerson, and the revelation of his past dealings with Emerson's creator Julius Quilter, he quit his position and was ultimately replaced by Haggard herself. (HOMEVID: Unnatural Selection)
While Haggard would certainly be more sympathetic to P.R.O.B.E. than her predecessor, Liz remained the only member of staff after Haggard's appointment.[source needed]
Behind the scenes Edit
- P.R.O.B.E. was introduced in a series of independent films produced by BBV Productions, which featured Liz Shaw from the Doctor Who series. Although not aimed for broadcast on television, this series of films nonetheless constituted the first ongoing spin-off set in the Doctor Who universe, predating the similarly themed Torchwood by more than a decade.
- Liz Shaw smokes in the book Who Killed Kennedy, a deliberate tie-in to the contemporary P.R.O.B.E. stories.