11 of the Scariest Everyday Horrors in Doctor Who

By Paul Lang

As Yaz, Ryan and Graham are beginning to realise, the universe might be full of the most terrible things, but there’s nothing quite as scary as something that you see every day becoming monstrous. The Doctor has encountered loads of seemingly mundane things that have ended up being absolutely terrifying. To celebrate Halloween, here are 11 of the best – of the worst – horrors.


Shop dummies

Rose (2005)


Rose Tyler thought it was an ordinary day when she went to work at Henrick’s department store, but by the end of it, all the shop’s display mannequins had come to life and gone on a murderous rampage! The dummies (known as Autons) were controlled by the Nestene Consciousness, an energy life form with no body of its own that used living plastic to carry out its dastardly deeds. The Doctor turned up just in time to rescue Rose from the advancing dummies, and a legendary partnership was born.



The Woman Who Fell To Earth (2018)

The Doctor’s first job in her latest body was to track T’zim-Sha, a Stenza warrior from a faraway galaxy who was hunting down randomly-chosen humans for trophies. “Tim Shaw”, as the Doctor called him, was pretty terrifying with his faceplate on, but the horror went to a whole other level when he took it off. His face was studded with teeth that he’d prised out of his victims after he killed them! This guy definitely gave the Tooth Fairy a bad name.



The Runaway Bride (2006)

Donna Noble’s Christmas wedding didn’t go according to plan. For a start, she only got half way up the aisle before suddenly vanishing, ending up in the TARDIS in front of a baffled Doctor. He took her back to Earth to investigate. Donna was having none of it and jumped into a passing taxi, which appeared to be driven by a cheerful cabbie dressed up as Santa. Wrong! It was actually a deadly Roboform in disguise, which put its foot down and took Donna on a white-knuckle ride along a duel carriageway. The Doctor got the TARDIS to hover alongside and she had to make a scary leap of faith across the carriageway at high speed. Yikes!


Gas masks

The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances (2005)

As if things weren’t bad enough for the people of London in 1941 at the height of the Blitz, there was something really unsettling roaming the streets – a young boy, terribly injured by a bomb, whose gas mask was fused to his face. This "Empty Child" had just one question for anyone he met: “Are you my mummy?”. As the Doctor and Rose tried to work out what was going on, things got even more serious – the boy’s injuries started to spread like a plague, and everyone affected ended up with the same blank, gas-mask features. It turned out that some nanogenes had found the injured boy and, trying to be helpful, thought he was what humans were supposed to look like, so were "fixing" the rest. When they scanned his actual mum, they realised their mistake and turned everyone back.



Human Nature/The Family of Blood (2007)

Farringham School for Boys had a most unusual teacher in 1913 – John Smith, aka the Doctor! He'd turned himself human to hide from the Family of Blood, who wanted to implant their son into the Doctor's Time Lord body so he could live forever. The Family nicked the bodies of some unfortunately locals, then animated all the scarecrows in the fields around the village to be their henchmen. The scarecrows were a particularly gruesome bunch, with sewn-together eyes and a sinister, lumbering walk. The school's pupils had to fight for their lives when they mounted a full-scale attack.



The Green Death (1973)

The Doctor and his friend Jo Grant had a lot to contend with when they investigated Global Chemicals. The company was dumping toxic waste, for starters, and its boss had been taken over by an out-of-control supercomputer. Oh, and the toxic waste had created a new breed of giant, feral super-maggots that liked nothing better than sinking their gnashers into humans. It really does pay to recycle.



Planet of the Spiders (1974)

While the Doctor was sorting out the giant maggots, he popped to planet Metebelis III to obtain a special blue crystal that would help him save a friend who'd been hypnotised. Much later, a group of human colonists crashed on the planet, and some ordinary Earth spiders they brought with them mutated into the giant Eight Legs. Their leader, the Great One, wanted to collect all the blue crystals but was foiled when she discovered the Doctor had pinched one, so sent some of her gang back in time to get it. The Doctor's friend Sarah Jane Smith got a nasty fright when one of the outsized arachnids launched itself at her, landing right on her back!




Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead (2008)

Have you ever felt scared of the dark, even though there’s no real reason to be? You might have been right! When the Doctor and Donna visited The Library, a vast 51st century repository, they found that something very nasty had hatched from the books there. The Doctor realised there were Vashta Nerada living in the shadows – creatures that could strip someone of all their flesh in seconds. A team of archaeologists who arrived there were picked off one by one inside their space suits – leaving their skeletons still walking around! So make sure you count the shadows when you enter a strange room in the dark – if there’s just one too many, there could be something waiting to devour you...



The Ghost Monument (2018)

The Doctor, Ryan, Yaz and Graham's first interplanetary trip together took them to planet Desolation, where the surface was littered with piles of rags. These Remnants were harmless enough during the day, but that all changed after nightfall. They came to life – slithering, jumping around, and generally causing loads of grief for Team TARDIS, who were attacked by a gang of them in the Acetylene Field. Unfortunately for the Remnants, acetylene and naked flames don't go well together, so when Graham threw a special self-lighting cigar into the air and the Doctor clicked her fingers, the Remnants went up in flames.



The Angels Take Manhattan (2012)

The Weeping Angels were among the most fearsome foes the Doctor has ever encountered. These absolutely remorseless predators might look just like ordinary statues, but they can move like lightning when nobody’s looking at them, and a single touch zaps victims back in time, leaving the Angel to feast on the energy left behind. When the Doctor, Amy and Rory encountered them in New York, they came face-to-face with the biggest Angel ever – the Statue of Liberty! So remember, if you see a suspicious-looking statue – don't blink!


Spiders again

Arachnids in the UK (2018)

Most recently, the Doctor’s had to deal with yet another infestation of giant spiders – but these ones were entirely man-made! After finally getting back to Sheffield, the Doctor, Graham, Yaz and Ryan discovered something weird was happening with the eight-legged occupants of the city. This time, though, there were no blue crystals. Robertson, an unscrupulous American businessman and politician, had been building posh hotels on old industrial sites, and burying hundreds of tons of rubbish underneath them. The pollution had resulted in hordes of very large spiders on the loose in the city, including one spectacularly huge one who had taken up residence in the hotel’s ballroom.


Missed Arachnids in the UK or would like to watch it again? Catch up with the current series On Demand at BBC iPlayer (UK) or BBC America. For other regions, visit the Watch section to find out where to catch up in your territory.

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