->''"I like [[WorldOfHam wild, rich, hammy characters]] and ''Doctor Who'' is one of the few series where you can get away with them."''
Robert Holmes (1926–1986) was a British screenwriter best known for his stint on ''Series/DoctorWho'': he wrote 18[[note]]A couple of these were effective page-one rewrites for other writers and went out under pseudonyms. The number is greater still if you count stories written by others that he heavily script edited.[[/note]] stories between 1968 and 1986, and served as script editor from 1975-1977.
These aren't just ''any'' stories though. Included in his work are some[[note]]Some might say ''most''[[/note]] of the all-time classics of the show, including:
* "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS7E1SpearheadFromSpace Spearhead from Space"]]
* "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS13E3PyramidsOfMars Pyramids of Mars"]]
* "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS14E3TheDeadlyAssassin The Deadly Assassin]]"
* "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS14E6TheTalonsOfWengChiang The Talons of Weng-Chiang]]"
* "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS21E6TheCavesOfAndrozani The Caves of Androzani]]"
Yep, this is the guy who gave us the Autons and the Sontarans... and, as if that weren't enough, wrote the first appearances of the Master, quite a bit of Time Lord mythology[[note]] such as the idea of Gallifrey, 13 incarnations, the Eye of Harmony, and Rassilon[[/note]] and some of the best companions. His contribution to ''Doctor Who'' cannot be overstated and we're willing to bet at least one of his stories turns up on your top 10 list, probably more. Creator/StevenMoffat called him "the man who showed us how to write ''Doctor Who''", while Creator/RussellTDavies lamented how [[SciFiGhetto the BBC had no respect for him]], and compared the first episode of "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" to Dennis Potter.
Many of his plots have a formula -- crippled super-villain tries to regain power -- but they vary widely from that initial idea. Holmes was very fond of ThoseTwoGuys: many of his stories are advanced by a double act of supporting characters. His Holmesian Double Act in "The Talons of Weng-Chiang", showman Jago and police pathologist Litefoot, were so popular that a spinoff was briefly considered, and eventually realised in 2010 by Creator/BigFinish. He died before he could finish "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS23E4TheUltimateFoe The Ultimate Foe]]"; it would require others to finish that one off. It's also a shame that we never got to see "Yellow Fever and How to Cure It", a story planned for the original Season 23, which would have featured the Master teaming up with the Nestene Consciousness in Singapore.
''Series/DoctorWho'' wasn't the only British science fiction institution Holmes wrote for. He was offered the script editor's position on ''Series/BlakesSeven'', which he declined, recommending Creator/ChrisBoucher for the job. He eventually wrote four episodes for that series, including "Orbit," where Avon stalks Vila through a shuttle in order to [[ShootTheDog throw him overboard to save weight]].
Holmes joined the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders in 1944, and was actually the youngest commissioned officer of the ''entire British Army'' in the Second World War, having lied about his age to join. After the war, he became a [[UsefulNotes/BritishCoppers London policeman]]. His contact with court reporters led him to leave the Met and become a reporter himself, and eventually a television writer. A spec script sent to the BBC led to his first scripting job for ''Doctor Who'', Season 6's "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS6E4TheKrotons The Krotons.]]"
!Tropes in his work include:
* BlackComedy: If his sense of humour wasn't clever wordplay, it was this.
* BloodierAndGorier, DarkerAndEdgier: Along with producer Philip Hinchcliffe, he was responsible for Doctor Who's "gothic horror" period in the mid-Seventies, and really tested the limits of what they could get away with.
* CreatorThumbprint: ThoseTwoGuys, massive body counts, boundary-pushing horror, general cynicism sometimes to localised CrapsackWorld levels, aliens referring to Earth humans as "Tellurians", GettingCrapPastTheRadar fart gags, deformed grotesque villains and more than a touch of black humour.
* DistinguishedGentlemansPipe: He was fond of smoking one.
* EverybodysDeadDave: In at least three of his stories, he butchered nearly all his guest cast. In "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS21E6TheCavesOfAndrozani The Caves of Androzani]]", the only person to make it off Androzani alive is Peri - he even kills the Fifth Doctor!
* GothicHorror: His tenure even had a touch of Creator/HammerHorror about it.
* NightmareFetishist: His attitude to ''Doctor Who'' was essentially, "Let's scare the little buggers".
* ThoseTwoGuys: And frequently so well-written they became [[EnsembleDarkhorse pretty popular]]. Some of the more popular examples include showman Jago and police pathologist Litefoot (TheyFightCrime!), con artists Garron and Unstoffe, and mercenary Sabalom Glitz and his incompetent assistant Dibber.
* WriterOnBoard: Occasionally quite obvious, though rarely detrimental to the plot. "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS22E4TheTwoDoctors The Two Doctors]]" made the Doctor a vegetarian like Holmes (and this actually held for twenty years). "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS15E4TheSunMakers The Sun Makers]]" was a jab at the Revenue office (because they subjected him to a gruelling tax audit because he'd been paid as both an employee and a freelancer for the BBC during his period as script editor). "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS14E3TheDeadlyAssassin The Deadly Assassin]]" is commonly seen as taking some potshots at the ridiculousness of the House Of Lords and the Oxbridge establishment, too.