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Robert Holmes (2 April 1926-24 May 1986[1]) was script editor of Doctor Who from 1975 to 1977 and the author of more scripts for the 20th-century incarnation of the programme than any other writer (64 episodes in all). (INFO: The Sun Makers) He created or reimagined many key elements of the programme's mythology. Holmes had the uncredited role of a past incarnation of the Doctor in The Brain of Morbius and is notable for creating the Sontarans.

Personal history[]

Holmes was, at the end of World War II, the youngest serving officer in the British Army. He became a police officer, graduating top of his class. He grew disillusioned with the job and became a journalist. By the 1960s he had branched out into writing screenplays for films and television series. In 1968 he received his first commission for Doctor Who. Over the next few years, he became one of the series' lead writers.

In anticipation of Terrance Dicks leaving the show, Holmes was assigned uncredited script editing duties in 1973 during the last few Jon Pertwee stories. When Dicks resigned as script editor in 1974, Holmes took over the position. He continued to write scripts. After leaving the post, he wrote a few more before taking an extended break from the series. In 1983, as one of the series' most celebrated writers, Holmes was the first person asked to write the twentieth anniversary special, The Five Doctors. He declined but expressed an interest in writing for the series again.

Ill-health and death[]

Over the next three years Holmes contributed several scripts and was heavily involved in the planning of Season 23. However, his health had arguably been declining since the turn of the 1980s, and midway into 1986, Holmes fell seriously ill. He tried to pen a rough draft for the last story of Colin Baker's post-hiatus season, but it became increasingly difficult for him to work as his condition worsened. Robert Holmes turned progressively weaker and less coherent, eventually succumbing to his infirmity near the end of May. He passed away before he completed the script for The Ultimate Foe and the planned ending of the story was altered.


After his death, his estate licensed the Autons and the Sontarans for use in independent video spin-off productions by Reeltime Pictures and BBV Productions, most notably for the Auton Trilogy and Shakedown: Return of the Sontarans. Since 2005, the revived era of Doctor Who had brought back the Autons and the Sontarans in several episodes, beginning with Rose and The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky respectively. One Sontaran, Commander Kaagh, had featured in the second series of the spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures. The first on-screen Sontaran, Commander Linx, was mentioned in War of the Sontarans.

As well as the Autons and the Sontarans featuring in several audio adventures for Big Finish Productions, the company had also created new stories for Robert's other creations, including the Wirrn and the Krotons.

In 2009, Doctor Who Magazine conducted a reader's poll that named Holmes' The Caves of Androzani the best Doctor Who story of all time.

He currently holds the record for having written for the most eras of the show, with his contributions stretching from the end of Patrick Troughton's tenure until the end of Colin Baker's tenure, encompassing five Doctors.

Contributions to the mythos[]

Major characters and concepts created for or debuting in a Robert Holmes script include:

Televised scripts[]

Robert Holmes was also commissioned to write Yellow Fever and How to Cure It for the original season 23 but this story was never made. Apparently it would have been set in Singapore and featured the Master and the Nestenes.


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