Episode notes

With cold autumnal evenings now in full swing and Halloween less than a week away, there’s no better time to be scared silly by some spooky Doctor Who. After all the show has always revelled in giving viewers a good fright and it turns out it’s scariest tales are some of it’s greatest. But what stories would make the Perfect Wholloween Marathon? Here’s our picks!

“What’s wrong with scared? Scared is a superpower”

1. Tomb of the Cybermen (1967) A creepy Troughton classic. It sees the debut of the no-nonsense Cyber-controller, complete with a sinister buzzing vocal. Matt Smith himself has said ‘The Cybermen are as scary as they’ve ever been in that one story.” And it’s hard to disagree. The scene where they break through their icy tombs, enhanced by a chilling score, is up there as the show’s most iconic. Fright Factor- 6/10

2. Spearhead from Space (1970) For me, the original Autons seen in this 70’s serial are much scarier than those that appear in ‘Rose’. Yes, you can clearly see the actors under those plastic masks, but this seems to make them all the more eerie. Fans have never looked at a shop work dummy in the same way since Fright Factor-7/10

Spearhead from Space: Auton Dummies
Spearhead from Space: Auton Dummies

3. The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances (2005) The success of this story is that it combines full-on horror with touching, sentimental themes. An image of anyone wearing a gas mask is a properly disturbing sight. Make that a child screaming for its ‘Mummy’ and you’ve got one of the creepiest concepts ‘Who’ has ever produced. Fright Factor-8/10

4. The Impossible Planet/Saturn Pit (2006) As stories go, one where the Doctor comes face to face with the devil was never going to be light and fluffy and this dark gem from series two is far from it. With possessed legions, ducking runaways and devil confrontations, this base under siege-esc plot defiantly delivers on the fear factor. However, it’s the scene where the Beast torments the crew members with their biggest fears/secrets that’s particularly unnerving. Fright Factor-9/10

The Impossible Planet: The Ood Possessed by the Beast

5. Human Nature/ The Family of Blood (2007) The Timelord-sniffing Family of Blood, aided by their scarecrow soldiers make a terrifying ensemble for this series 3 tale. Harry Lloyd’s Son of Mine is a standout, killing without thought, while continuously sporting an unnerving sneer. Most concerning however, is that with no Doctor, the viewer is left to wonder: how are they going to get out of this one? Fright Factor- 7/10

6. Blink (2007) Steven Moffatt has a knack for turning the everyday into your worst nightmares. Blink sees the debut of the weeping Angels, switching from stone statutes to lonely assassins in the blink of an eye. Apparently, Moffatt got inspiration for their creation in real life, when noticing a similarly designed statue in a graveyard. Upon his return, the sculpture had seemingly moved by itself! Spooky… Fright Factor- 9/10

Blink: A Weeping Angel ready to attack!

7. Midnight (2008) Lesley Sharp takes copycat to a whole new level! This story replaces lots of extravagant CGI and locations, with a dialogue-heavy script performed by a stellar cast. The sound team also have to be praised for some fantastic design creating an effective, claustrophobic atmosphere. We never did find out what the ‘Midnight Monster’ actually was…Fright Factor- 8/10

8. The Waters of Mars (2009) Before the Tenth Doctor faces his inevitable regeneration, he is stuck in a horrible dilemma on Mars. Water-spewing ‘Zombies’, with a terrifying screaming tendency, stalk the small crew. Jump scares a plenty, this will have some adults hiding behind the sofa! Fright Factor-8/10

9. Listen (2014) When this episode originally aired, we were still discovering who Peter Capaldi’s Doctor actually was. It turns out this new darker incarnation had a lot of internal issues to sort. Once again, Moffat plays on childhood fears, with this chilling, thought-provoking tale. What was under that blanket…? Who Knows? Fright Factor-7/10

10. World Enough and Time (2017) Series 10’s penultimate instalment adopts a fairly eerie tone throughout and is filled with shocks and scares. The oddly sinister Mondasin Cybermen return and it was pleasing to see they had been brought back untampered. It’s the scene with patients are moaning in pain that’s particularly distressing and its hard to believe that it went out on air before 7pm! Fright Factor-6/10

World Enough and Time: “Pain, Pain, Pain”

Honourable Mentions

Of course, there are loads more stories that could easily make this list.’ Knock Knock, Mummy on the Orient Express, ‘Hide’, Night Terrors’, The Impossible Astronaut, ‘Silence in the Library’/ ‘The Forest of the Dead’, ‘The Shakespeare Code’, ‘Horror of Fang Rock’ The Seeds of Doom’ ‘The Green Death’ and Fury from the Deep’ all have their moments.

The Sarah Jane Adventures provides its fair share of frights. ‘Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane Smith’, ‘The Nightmare Man’ ‘The Eternity Trap and The Day of the Clown’, (bizarrely featuring Bradley Walsh as a pretty creepy clown) all make for spooky viewing!

Not unsurprisingly, considering its adult aimed content, Torchwood contains quite a few unnerving episodes. ‘Countryide’, ‘From out of the Rain’, ‘The Ghost Machine’, ‘Dead Man Walking/ A Day in Death’ and ‘Children of Earth’ (in its entirety ) are particularly gruesome examples.

This is our list, but what episodes make your blood run cold? Let us know!

Dan Peters

Dan is soon to be a Marketing/IT apprentice from Hampshire. He enjoys writing; having worked on his College’s Magazine and regularly contributed to a range of other review sites. He’s been a big fan of Doctor Who since its revival and has a love of all things Science-Fiction. He also enjoys music, reading, gaming and staying active. Always happy to talk ‘Who’, when he should be doing something else!

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