By Bronte Henwood
We’ve reached that time of year where we’re all looking for a fright. It’s October – the height of the spooky season, and Halloween is coming! We all love to feel the tingle of fear that something is behind us or will jump out from behind a corner. When looking for a scare, what better place to look than Doctor Who?
Since returning to our screens in 2005, Doctor Who has continued to bring us stories of friendship and fun – but also, fear. In many episodes, there is something to make you want to cover your eyes, particularly in most fan-favourite stories.
Sometimes it comes in the form of a monster, alien or creature. The ones that don’t look particularly nice and make it clear they want to cause harm from the moment they appear on the screen. This fear is something the audience can share with the characters under threat in the story. This is what makes Doctor Who stand out from classic shows that just put in scares *because they can*. As a family centred show, it provides us with the perfect combination of fun and frightening thrills, making it perfect for everyone to watch together. Not a lot of shows in the science fiction genre are able to create stories that can make audiences of all ages laugh and gasp at the same time.
One monster that has scared audiences for generations are The Daleks; one of the most iconic villains from the show. From their metal exteriors to their slimy interior selves, the Daleks have both thrilled and terrified children ever since they first appeared on screen in 1963. Sometimes it’s the suspense of not knowing what they’re going to do next, other times it is their endless killing sprees that haunt us. Bringing them back for the New Who era meant that adults and children alike could experience The Daleks in a whole new way, with updated graphics and designs to enhance the shocks and scares. They have always seemed like the furthest thing from human, which is what makes them worth fearing.
Fear can also be present in the things that the audience never get the answer to. Midnight is, in my opinion, one of the most haunting episodes to come out of the modern era of Doctor Who so far. Not because of the characters, time or place it is set, but because of the creature that has no face; only knocks. You don’t know when it’s coming, you don’t know how or why. All you know is that it wants you and it will get what it wants in the end. While the Doctor tried to find a probable cause of the creature’s existence and what it wanted, the audience is left wondering. To many of us, not knowing something is the worst kind of fear. It’s something that we usually have no control over and cannot change. That is why it’s scary, why we fear it, and why it’s so effective when used in a great Doctor Who story. After all, not everything worth fearing lives under the bed.
Because it’s Doctor Who though, there is, of course, an episode that explores our fear of what is hiding under our beds. Like Midnight, it begins with a creature that the audience doesn’t know anything about. Playing again and again on that fear of the unknown that anyone of any age will understand. The Doctor is questioning if we’re ever really alone, a concept terrifying to even think about. The episode explores the possibilities that when we wake up from our nightmares, someone is waiting there in the dark – a dream that seemingly everyone has had. Mixing the ordinary with the extraordinary, the story is truly some of the scariest Doctor Who there is.
Fear comes in all different shapes and sizes. While traditional jump scares and the odd gory death are more traditionally scary, the fear of forgetting can also send chills down everyone’s spines. This is where the Silence come in. As soon as you turn away, you’ll forget you’ve ever seen the huge, terrifying creatures. It’s the type of scary that’s hard to run away from (because you literally cannot get away from them).
The Weeping Angels also tap into our nightmares similarly by moving as soon as anyone looks away or blinks. The cruelty in being sent back to another time to live out your life is petrifying in itself, but the fact that merely blinking could cause this makes them one of the most genius creations in Doctor Who history.
Doctor Who brings people many things, making it a place for everyone to find something they like. Some might prefer to be caught off guard and jump out of their seats, while others may prefer horrific creatures, blood and gore.
I love the combination of things that Doctor Who can bring to its audience. Being on the edge of your seat and fearing for the characters while pondering the underlying meaning of each episode is truly something special that connects people of all ages across the world.
Have you found the thing that makes your heart race and hairs stand on end? Let us know your scariest Doctor Who monsters, villains or moments @thetimeladies_ or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org