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P.R.O.B.E. was a multi-media spin-off series of Doctor Who.

The series started out starring Caroline John, playing an older version of television's Third Doctor companion Doctor Liz Shaw, and featuring her adventures working at the Preternatural Research Bureau, investigating unusual phenomena whilst struggling with the indifference and derision of the government and the police.

The series was originally released as direct-to-video films produced by BBV Productions, with four of its five instalments being released during the period of Doctor Who's cancellation.

In 2020, Arcbeatle Press made a publishing partnership with BBV and "revived" the series, starting with the release of Shadows of Doubt.[1] The next year, BBV Productions themselves released two volume's worth of live-action P.R.O.B.E. shorts, the P.R.O.B.E. Case Files.

Premise[]

The series followed Liz Shaw some years after she left UNIT and the Doctor. As established in The Zero Imperative, Liz was headhunted to set up a department for the Ministry of Defence called the Preternatural Research Bureau (or P.R.o.B.e.) because of her work at the University of Cambridge. She accepted but was unaware that P.R.o.B.e. was to be grossly underfunded, understaffed and based in a single cramped office at Ashley House.

Unlike UNIT, P.R.O.B.E. was a small-scale organisation answerable to the British government — and its purpose was to investigate the strange and the out of the ordinary, rather than merely the extraterrestrial. Liz's only colleague in the original films was assistant Louise Bayliss, who was transferred by minister Brian Rutherford in a bid to have the organisation closed. However, permission was required from Liz's ministry liaison and later lover Patsy Haggard, who refused to do so and frequently went out of her way to assist Liz. Although mention of the Doctor and the events of season 7 was forbidden due to licensing restrictions, a number of Doctor Who actors featured in the series in new roles, notably Jon Pertwee, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy, as well as Louise Jameson in the recurring role of Patsy.

The first four films were written by Mark Gatiss and directed by Bill Baggs. After Caroline John's death in 2012, the role of Liz was recast and given to Hazel Burrows in When to Die, a tribute to John written and directed by Baggs. Jameson did not return as Patsy, who was instead played by Georgette Ellison. The film also introduced two new members of the team: the eccentric technician Giles and the K9-esque portable computer Box. Later P.R.O.B.E. media starting from Shadows of Doubt featured a new P.R.O.B.E. team which had formed around Giles and Box, including Archie MacTavish, Az, Tasha Williams, Agamya and the alien refugee Maxie Masters. Liz (now Liz Haggard) was presented as retired and living in Spain with her now-wife Patsy, though she kept in contact with the new team.

Production team[]

All five P.R.O.B.E. films were directed by Bill Baggs, who also produced all of them bar The Zero Imperative which was produced by Andy Grant. Mark Gatiss wrote the first four films whilst Baggs wrote When to Die. Mark Ayres, who did music for season 25 and season 26 of Doctor Who, made original music for the first few films, with the fifth being done by Olivia Thomas.

Doctor Who actors[]

A number of actors from Doctor Who played the roles of other characters throughout the P.R.O.B.E. series. Louise Jameson played Patsy Haggard in the first four films, Jon Pertwee played Jeremiah O'Kane, Peter Davison played Patient One and Gavin Purcell, Colin Baker played Peter Russell, Sylvester McCoy played Colin Dove, Sophie Aldred played a public relations officer, Geoffrey Beevers played Brian Rutherford and Terry Molloy played D.I. Burke.

Stories[]

Direct-to-video features[]

Title Author Featuring Released
The Zero Imperative Mark Gatiss Liz, Patsy, Gilchrist January 1994
The Devil of Winterborne Liz, Patsy, Andrew, Gavin, Rutherford 1995
Unnatural Selection Liz, Patsy, Gilchrist, Rutherford January 1996
Ghosts of Winterborne Liz, Patsy, Andrew, Gavin 1996
When to Die Bill Baggs Liz, Patsy, Giles 15 April 2015

P.R.O.B.E. Case Files[]

Title Author Featuring Released Medium
Stacey Facade James Hornby Love wraith 22 January 2021 YouTube webcast
Manchester Archie 5 February 2021
Peckham Poltergeist Giles 12 February 2021
Shadow People 26 February 2021
Varunastra 12 March 2021
Doctor X Doctor X 26 March 2021
Goo! Bill Baggs Liz, Control April 2021 Home video
Sherwood Sorceress James Hornby Liz, Holub 24 April 2021
Daylight Savings Faction Paradox 6 June 2021
First Entry Giles 10 June 2021
Kelpie
Ichor Bill Baggs Liz 5 July 2021
Fog Giles 6 July 2021
Lauren Anderson James Hornby, Bill Baggs Lauren, Cyberons 7 July 2021
Living Fiction Warren Lewis Orlok 8 June 2021

Audiobooks[]

Title Author Featuring Released
The Door We Forgot James Hornby, James Wylder Giles, Agamya, Bedevere, Maxie, Tasha 8 May 2021
9 to 5 James Hornby Tasha 15 May 2021
A Worthy Successor James Hornby, James Wylder Giles, Archie 15 June 2021
She Came From Another World! James Wylder Giles, Maxie 17 June 2021
What Happened in Manchester James Hornby Giles, Archie 28 July 2021
Broken Bonds Giles 4 October 2021

Short stories[]

Title Author Featuring Released
The Door We Forgot James Hornby, James Wylder Giles, Agamya, Bedevere, Maxie, Tasha 5 May 2020
She Came From Another World! James Wylder Giles, Maxie 8 August 2020

Anthologies[]

Title Release date
Out of the Shadows 12 October 2021

Unproduced stories[]

Title Author Featuring Type
Ishmael's Star Mark Gatiss Liz Home video
Drome Dave Stone Audio

External links[]

Footnotes[]

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