TARDIS Index File

The Crimson Horror (TV story)

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The Crimson Horror
The Crimson Horror
Doctor: Eleventh Doctor
Companion(s): Clara
Featuring: Jenny, Vastra, Strax
Main enemy: Mr Sweet
Winifred Gillyflower
Main setting: Yorkshire, 1893
Key crew
Writer: Mark Gatiss
Director: Saul Metzstein
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Release details
Story number: 236
Season/series: 7
Premiere broadcast: 4 May 2013
Premiere network: BBC One
Format: 1x45 minute episode
Production code: 3.12
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Doctor Who television stories
Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS Nightmare in Silver
Production order
Cold War The Great Detective
Memorable moment
Brave heart, Clara! - The Crimson Horror - Doctor Who Series 7 Part 2 (2013) - BBC One00:34

Brave heart, Clara! - The Crimson Horror - Doctor Who Series 7 Part 2 (2013) - BBC One

Another memorable moment
Trouble at Mill! - Doctor Who - The Crimson Horror - Series 7 - BBC02:14

Trouble at Mill! - Doctor Who - The Crimson Horror - Series 7 - BBC

One more memorable moment
Die You Freaks! - Doctor Who - The Crimson Horror - Series 7 - BBC03:37

Die You Freaks! - Doctor Who - The Crimson Horror - Series 7 - BBC

The Crimson Horror was the eleventh episode of the seventh series of Doctor Who produced by BBC Wales. It featured the return of Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint and Strax, who were last seen in The Snowmen. The episode marked the 100th episode of the revived series of Doctor Who, started in 2005.

Synopsis Edit

In 1893, the Eleventh Doctor's old friends, Vastra, Jenny Flint and Strax find an optogram of the Doctor on a victim of the mysterious "crimson horror". They head for Yorkshire, where Jenny infiltrates Mrs Winifred Gillyflower's community of Sweetville to find what has happened to him.

Plot Edit

Madame Vastra and her partners, Jenny and Strax, investigate "the Crimson Horror" — a mysterious condition leaving victims with red skin and preserved like statues — after discovering that one victim has the image of the Eleventh Doctor visible in one of his eyes.

Investigations lead them to Sweetville, an idyllic community run by Mrs Winifred Gillyflower and her never-seen "silent partner", Mr Sweet, apparently as a home for the chosen few to help them survive the coming apocalypse. Jenny goes undercover as a convert and infiltrates Sweetville, where she discovers the Doctor, chained up in a cell, but only partially preserved due to the process not working because he was not human. Gillyflower tends to dispose of such "rejects", but he has been saved by her blind daughter, Ada Gillyflower, who has become infatuated with who she describes as "my monster".

The Doctor is able to reverse the process on himself and he and Jenny go off in search of companion Clara Oswald, who has also been preserved. This confuses Jenny as she last saw Clara killed by the ice woman months earlier. The Doctor tells Jenny that he and Clara were actually aiming to visit London in 1893, but instead arrived in Yorkshire. They immediately get involved in the investigation of Sweetville and the red bodies piling up in the sewers. The Doctor and Clara, posing as a married couple, joined the Sweetville community to investigate, but Mrs Gillyflower imprisoned and preserved them. The process worked on Clara, while the Doctor's process wasn't finished. Ada locked him up away, keeping him as her "special monster".

The preservation process on Clara is successfully reversed, and Madame Vastra says the substance used to create the "Crimson Horror" effect is the poison of the red leech, a parasite the Silurians considered a major threat 65 million years ago. The Doctor and Clara confront Mrs Gillyflower, who explains her plan and reveals that Mr Sweet is in fact a red leech who has attached himself to her chest. Their plan is to launch a rocket into the skies over England, and spread the leech's poison over much of the planet. Ada, listening in, learns of her mother's plans and confronts her while Clara disables the rocket launch controls.

Holding a gun to her daughter's head, Gillyflower retreats into the rocket silo to activate a secondary launch control; she launches the rocket, but learns moments later that Vastra and Jenny have removed the poison payload. She decides to shoot the Doctor, but misses. Strax, who has climbed the chimney from the outside, returns fire, causing Winifred Gillyflower to plummet to her death at the bottom of the silo.

As the old woman lays dying, Mr Sweet abandons his host. Ada shares final words with her mother before brutally killing the parasite with her cane.

Later, the Doctor returns Clara to her 21st century home, where she discovers that the two children she helps care for, Angie and Artie Maitland have discovered images of her and the Doctor in different points of time — including a nuclear submarine in 1983 and a manor house in 1974. They also have found an image Clara does not recognise taken in Victorian London — but she's only been to Victorian Yorkshire. The children threaten to inform their father that their nanny is a time traveller unless she takes them on a trip in her time machine.

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics


General post-production staff

Special and visual effects


Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.

References Edit

Cultural references from the real world Edit

  • Thomas Thomas, who uses the language of a modern GPS, is an obvious reference to the popular real-world GPS service, TomTom.
  • Sweetville is based on the real-world model village of Saltaire, Yorkshire, founded in 1851 by wool industrialist Titus Salt. Titus also had a daughter called Ada, after whom a street in the village is named. Sweetville's name may also reflect the model village of Bournville whose name was later used for a brand of sweet, a chocolate bar.
  • "The Repulsive Case of the Red Leech" is an unrecorded Sherlock Holmes adventure, mentioned in The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez.
  • Upon returning from her adventure, Clara picks up a toy robot from the Transformers line, specifically a Galvatron action figure.
  • Several real world foods available in the 19th century are mentioned, including: Amontillado, Pontefract cakes, tea and seed cakes.
  • The episode contains the DWU's first surviving glimpse of a guinea, since The Highlanders is lost.
  • Real northern locations are mentioned, including Bradford and Buckden Pike.
  • Vastra's client continually faints when exposed to any unexpected or shocking events. This is a satire of how women were culturally perceived to act in the Victorian era.

Story notes Edit

  • This story marks the first time in the revived series that a companion's associates have successfully deduced the person's time-travelling affairs with the Doctor's on their own, along with the Doctor's ability to time-travel, without questioning the Doctor directly or getting a firsthand experience of the TARDIS. Artie and Angie Maitland discovered pictures of Clara's travels from TV: Cold War, Hide, and a picture of Clara during her Victorian life (TV: The Snowmen) on the Internet, which exposed her secret.
  • Likewise to the above, Clara sees herself in a past life for the first time by looking at the Victorian era photo of herself in London (TV: The Snowmen), cluing her in that she really has lived more than one life, which the Doctor confronted her over in their last adventure, but she later forgot due to the day being rewritten. (TV: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS).
  • The Doctor is generally much friendlier to Clara, now that he knows she doesn't have control over her multiple lives. He stops treating her like a ghost and treats her as his companion.
  • Although Jenny and Vastra both question the Doctor concerning how Clara is alive, he neither explains anything to them, nor is she ever present for these questions. Thus despite having met, Vastra and Jenny do not know that this is a different person and not the same one revived in some manner, and Clara gains no knowledge of her past life from the pair.
  • This story is the first to feature Vastra, Jenny, and Strax that was not written by Steven Moffat.
  • This story marked the 100th Doctor Who episode since the programme's revival in 2005.
  • Filming for this episode began on 2 July 2012.
  • Diana Rigg is credited as "Dame Diana Rigg," the first time such an honourific has been included in a Doctor Who screen credit (by contrast, Sir Michael Gambon was not identified as such in TV: A Christmas Carol).

Ratings Edit

"The Crimson Horror" was first broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC One on 4 May 2013. Overnight ratings showed that it was watched by 4.61 million viewers live.

Filming locations Edit

Production errors Edit

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • Vastra's veil is far more transparent than it was apparently meant to be, given the reactions to the revelation of her non-human appearance.
  • We hear the crowd at the meeting singing the poem (sometimes referred to as a hymn) "Jerusalem" (also known as "And did those feet in ancient time"). Although William Blake wrote the poem around 1804 Hubert Parry's melody was not composed until 1916, 23 years after the story was set.
  • The image of the Doctor's face in the dead man's eye at the beginning of the episode is different from when it was shown in the flashback.
  • One of Mrs. Gillyflower's "Pretty maids all in a row" in the flashback scene blinks.
  • The images that Clara was shown were not possible since, for both Cold War and Hide, nobody was present to take the pictures.
  • A toy badger can be seen in Mrs. Gillyflower's sitting room in some shots, though it was likely put there intentionally as an easter egg.
  • As Mrs. Gillyflower was threatening to shoot the Doctor, Clara, Vastra, and Jenny, Strax appears on top of the tower and fires a shot that causes her to fall to her death, however a moment after she landed, he was right next to the others.

Continuity Edit

  • The Doctor mentions that the TARDIS used to be worse about landing at its intended destination, saying that he “once spent a long time trying to get a gobby Australian to Heathrow Airport.”, referencing the Fifth Doctor's travels with Tegan Jovanka and repeatedly unsuccessful attempts to return her to her own time. (TV: Four to Doomsday, et al.)
  • Just after referencing Tegan, the Doctor uses his fifth incarnation's often-used phrase "Brave Heart..." to Clara. (TV: Earthshock, et. al.)
  • The Doctor does a Northern accent again. He briefly put on a Northern accent in TV: The Rebel Flesh. His ninth incarnation naturally spoke with a Northern accent. (TV: Rose et al.) Clara also briefly speaks with a Northern accent when they are touring Sweetville.
  • Pictures on Angie's laptop are from TV: Cold War, Hide, and The Snowmen.
  • The Doctor is once again aided by Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint and Strax. (TV: A Good Man Goes to War, The Snowmen)
  • Strax chants the Sontaran battle cry, "Sontar-ha!" when he attacks the brainwashed humans surrounding the Doctor and Jenny. (TV: Sontaran Stratagem /The Poison Sky, et al.)
  • The superstition of an eye retaining the last image it sees was previously referenced by the Fourth Doctor, who then used a similar process to read the last images recorded in the brain of a deceased Wirrn. (TV: The Ark in Space)
  • Strax refers to Jenny as a "fleshy boy," showing he still has issues with differentiating genders. (TV: The Snowmen, The Battle of Demon's Run: Two Days Later)
  • Gillyflower says "you do keep turning up like a bad penny young man". The Doctor once attempted to say that he turned up like a bad penny to Melissa Heart, but he said "Bad Wolf" instead. (PROSE: The Clockwise Man).
  • Gillyflower has an organ that turns around to reveal the launch mechanism for her rocket when specific keys and buttons are pushed. The Tenth Doctor played an organ to stop Lazarus. (TV: The Lazarus Experiment). The Sixth Doctor's TARDIS turned into an organ, which he played too. (TV: Attack of the Cybermen).
  • An illness that turns your skin red was seen before, which may or may not have been from here. (TV: New Earth).
  • As the Doctor and Clara prepare to Yorkshire, Clara says she's had enough of Victorian values. The Doctor previously spoke to Strax about Victorian values, where after a person finds something brand new in the world that they've never seen, they will next look for a way to make a profit from it. (TV: The Snowmen)
  • Strax expresses fondness for grenades, elaborate violent tactics, and acid traps again. He once thought a grenade was the next thing to look for upon finding something new according to Victorian values instead of profit, before the Doctor corrected him. (TV: The Snowmen)

Home video releases Edit

Series 7b UK DVD Cover

Series 7, Part 2 DVD cover.

DVD releases Edit

The Crimson Horror was released as part of Doctor Who Series 7 Part 2 on May 22, 2013, and as part of The Complete Seventh Series on September 24, 2013.

Blu-ray releases Edit

to be added

External links Edit

to be added

Footnotes Edit

  1. Doctor Who Series 7: Diana Rigg Filming Pics. SFX (3 July 2012). Retrieved on 22 May 2013.
  2. Doctor Who Series 7: Diana Rigg To Guest Star. SFX (2 July 2012). Retrieved on 22 May 2013.

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