Professor Richard Lazarus was a man who craved immortality.
Lazarus was only a child during World War II but had vivid memories of it. He hid in Southwark Cathedral during the London Blitz with others. He sat in the crypt, the living amongst the dead and feared death. His childhood home was destroyed in the bombing.
Lazarus built a Genetic Manipulation Device with financial backing from Harold Saxon. It took him many years to complete, and he was seventy-six years old when he finished it. When interviewed on television, he spoke of how his experiment would "change what it means to be human."
The head of PR, Tish Jones, organised an unveiling of the experiment. He stepped into the machine when it was activated. Despite engineering faults, the machine worked, taking thirty years off his age. He stepped out a younger man.
Unbeknownst to Richard, the process had activated dormant genes in his DNA. They refused to settle down and he transformed into an alternate evolution of humanity which fed on human life energy. In this form he killed his associate, Sylvia Thaw, draining her of life. Lazarus then returned to human form. He needed still more for the mutation to stabilise, so he took Tish up to the roof, intending to drain her. The Tenth Doctor and Martha Jones interrupted them and ran from him as he again mutated. He chased them down to the main room where he drained another victim.
The Doctor distracted him, leading him to a lab where he caused an explosion. This only angered Lazarus, who continued his pursuit. Martha and the Doctor hid within the Genetic Manipulation Device, knowing Lazarus would not want to damage it. Lazarus activated it but the Doctor altered it so that it let out a blast that incapacitated Lazarus. He changed back to human form and, seemingly dead, was taken away in an ambulance.
Death and legacy
Lazarus had, however, survived the blast. He recovered and drained the two ambulance men with him. He then escaped the ambulance and hid in Southwark Cathedral. He chased Tish and Martha up to the bell tower, mutating again. While he was there, the Doctor used the amplified noise of the organ to confuse and injure Lazarus, mere seconds before Lazarus could drain Martha. He lost his balance, fell from the tower to his death and his corpse changed into his young human form, then into his old form. (TV: The Lazarus Experiment)
Lazarus' main desire was to obtain immortality. This was motivated by his traumatic experiences as a child during World War II, which left him with an intense case of thanatophobia. He was willing to go to any lengths to obtain his ultimate goal, having worked his whole life on his machine. Once he mutated, this trait of his character only worsened, as he was more than willing to succumb to his hunger and feed off innocent people just to prolong his own life. When the Tenth Doctor told Lazarus about the burdens of a long lifespan such as a Time Lord's and the horror of seeing everyone he cared about die around him, Lazarus simply brushed it off and called it "a price worth paying".
Another prominent aspect of his personality was his womanising tendencies. Even when he was 76 years old, he flirted with Tish Jones, who originally viewed him as a repulsive man when he made such advances and made her disgust obvious. It should be noted that all members of his staff appeared to be young women in their twenties. Once he was rejuvenated, he became more openly flirtatious and was seen having his picture taken with numerous young women around him. He would resort to womanising on two occasions before his death, the first with Lady Thaw (where he utilised it in an argument they were having though he stopped kissing her because of her age) and Tish Jones (only minutes later, showing he had essentially discarded Lady Thaw after killing her). However, in his mutated form, Lazarus outright discarded any adoration for women (or, indeed, human beings), citing their slaughter to be a necessary sacrifice, even though their deaths achieved nothing but showing him to be so much of a monster.
Lazarus was also incredibly vain, to the point of developing a God complex: after he had become younger, he developed the concept that he was immediately superior to everyone else. He paid no attention to the Tenth Doctor's warnings about the uncertainty of the machine's process and once he had transformed, he called his mutation "progress" and believed he had changed history, ignoring the notion that the people whom he'd fed on could have done so as well. He even mockingly suggested to the Doctor that he would undergo the process three or four more times simply in order to deride him. In a successful attempt to provoke him and spare Martha's family, the Doctor called Lazarus "a vain old man who thought he could outsmart nature" and "a joke", which actually was a completely accurate observation: Lazarus was too narcissistic and too callous to realise that his process had not only failed, but it had destroyed him. He wouldn't destroy his own work, not even when the Doctor and Martha had taken refuge inside.
Lazarus was fairly sentimental, as evidenced by the way in which he remembered his childhood during the Blitz. However, this sentiment descended into his ambition even more, since he became obsessed with cheating death after the Blitz.
Powers and abilities
After having stepped out of his machine, Lazarus soon mutated into a gigantic hideous creature that was actually an evolutionary throwback. Though this option was rejected by evolution for humanity millions of years ago, the Tenth Doctor stated that the potential was still there, locked away in humans' genes, suggesting that any human who underwent the same process would suffer the same mutation.
In his mutated form, Lazarus displayed superhuman strength thanks to his massive size. He hurled a table at Leo Jones with such force that it knocked him out. Due to his extra limbs, he was also gifted with superhuman agility and dexterity. Despite being massive in size, he could easily fit through doors and even climb along walls and ceilings.
He also demonstrated incredible durability and resistance to damage, surviving an enormous explosion set off by the Tenth Doctor without a scratch. A powerful blast of hypersonic soundwaves left him seemingly dead only for Lazarus to recover minutes later. He was finally killed when he fell from the top of the bell tower of Southwark Cathedral, dying upon impact.
His most fearsome weapon was a massive tail similar to that of a scorpion. By stabbing a victim with the two pincers on the end, Lazarus could drain a human of all their life energy in seconds. This inevitably killed the victims, which were reduced to desiccated husks.
Behind the scenes
- Mark Gatiss, a longtime Doctor Who fan with several writing credits connected with the series, played Lazarus in both his young and old human forms.
- Neill Gorton claimed that the prosthetic face for the older Lazarus was partially modelled on Vincent Price. (CON: Monsters Inc.)
- The character's surname was a reference to the biblical character of Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead. The Doctor made reference to this when he discovered that Lazarus had "risen from the dead" and escaped from the ambulance.
- The wig Mark Gatiss uses is the same wig that he uses for the character of Matthew Chinnerey, the vet from League of Gentlemen. The profession of the character's father was also changed to butcher, possibly in reference to Mark Gatiss' League of Gentlemen character, the butcher Hilary Briss.
- Lazarus appeared in the two invalid comics, Destiny's Door (as an illusion) and Escape to Penhaxico.