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Trivia / Robert Holmes

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  • Author Existence Failure: He passed away before he could finish writing the last episode of "The Ultimate Foe".
  • Author Phobia:
    • In "The Deadly Assassin" the Doctor gets tortured, beaten to a pulp and drowned in a jungle. It has an added frisson when you remember that Holmes had fought in Burma while still a teenager.
    • He hated filing his taxes - as his role on Doctor Who combined writer (as a freelancer) and script editor (as a staffer), he was stuck in a complicated and Kafkaesque financial situation where he had to pay tax on his earnings twice. This annoyed him so much that he wrote "The Sun Makers", a story about an Obstructive Bureaucrat civilization that taxes people to suicide before the Doctor inspires a populist revolt to murder them all and cheer about it.
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  • Creator's Favorite: His favourite Doctor was the Fourth, the one he was most involved in creating. He had the Fourth Doctor mention that he preferred himself to the last one in "The Brain of Morbius", and admitted when he wrote "The Caves of Androzani" with the Fifth Doctor as Four. He also wangled a way of giving the Fourth Doctor a gratuitous cameo (by means of the Doctor temporarily regressing mentally) in "The Mysterious Planet".
  • Old Shame: He wasn't particularly proud of "The Power Of Kroll" and didn't think the effects would work (he was right), not to mention resenting the over-arching "Key To Time" arc. This is why it is generally regarded as his weakest episode.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • He was offered the post of script editor on Blake's 7. Having just left that post on Doctor Who, he turned it down, though he did recommend Chris Boucher for the job. He did write four episodes of the series.
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    • He was originally asked to write "The Five Doctors". His version, originally titled "The Six Doctors", would have featured the Cybermen and their kidnapping of the five incarnations of the Doctor; in their attempt to extract Time Lord DNA to turn themselves into "Cyberlords", the twist being that the First Doctor and Susan would actually be android impostors (the former being the "Sixth Doctor" of the title) and the Second Doctor would have saved the day. Ultimately, Holmes was unable to cope with John Nathan-Turner's shopping list of things to put in the script and dropped out. Some elements of this plotline would be reused in Holmes' own "The Two Doctors".
    • His original version of "The Ultimate Foe" revealed that the Valeyard was in fact the Doctor's final incarnation. The finale then opened with the Master saving the Doctor from the quicksand while the Valeyard kidnapped Glitz. The Doctor encountered Popplewick again, who led him into a trap baited with an illusory Mel. Popplewick, too, was revealed as a construct of “JJ Chambers” — who, in turn, was unmasked as the Valeyard. While news reached the courtroom of the High Council's mass resignation, the Master warned that the Valeyard had materialised his TARDIS around a time vent in the Matrix. If the vent were to be opened for too long, there would be catastrophic ramifications for the space-time continuum. The Valeyard — shown to be a pitiable old man afraid of dying — planned to use this threat to force the Time Lords to grant him the Doctor's remaining regenerations. The Master revealed that he was hired by the High Council to murder the Doctor in exchange for a pardon, but had now decided not to follow through. The Doctor bluffed his way into the Valeyard's TARDIS just as the Valeyard opened the time vent door. Struggling, the Doctor and the Valeyard plunged into the time vent while the Master had Glitz seal the door, saving the universe but trapping the Doctor for all eternity.
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    • He planned to write a story for Doctor Who's original Season 23 before the series was put on hiatus and replaced with "The Trial of a Time Lord". It was called "Yellow Fever and How to Cure It" and saw the Sixth Doctor and Peri in Singapore where they encounter the Master and the Rani disguised as street performers, and working with the Autons. It would have also seen the return of the Brigadier, who just happened to be on holiday. Sadly, Holmes never got further than an outline before it was abandoned.
    • He was asked to write "The Invasion of Time", but declined, as he wanted to distance himself from Doctor Who at the time. He did suggest making it a story of two halves - the first four episodes being about the Vardans and the last two being about the Sontarans.
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