The Crimson Horror


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The Crimson Horror

Series 7

Episode 11

First Transmitted

4 May 2013

Final Ratings



Series 7 Set


Series 7 Volume 2


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Regular Cast

Matt Smith (The Doctor), Jenna Louise Coleman (Clara)

Guest Cast

Neve McIntosh (Madame Vastra), Dame Diana Rigg (Winifred Gillyflower), Dan Starkey (Strax), Catrin Stewart (Jenny Flint), Rachael Stirling (Ada Gillyflower), Eve De Leon Allen (Angie Maitland), Kassius Carey Johnson (Artie Maitland), Brendan Patricks (Edmund & Thursday), Graham Turner (Amos), Olivia Vinall (Effie), Michelle Tate (Abigail), Jack Oliver Hudson (Urchin Boy).


Written by Mark Gattis
Directed by Saul Metzstein
Produced by Denise Paul & Marcus Wilson


There’s something very odd about Mrs Gillyflower’s Sweetville mill, with its perfectly clean streets and beautiful people.

There’s something even stranger about the bodies washing up in the river, all bright red and waxy. When The Doctor and Clara go missing, it’s up to Vastra, Jenny and Strax to rescue them before they too fall victim to the Crimson Horror!


In 1893, Silurian Madame Vastra, her human wife Jenny Flint, and their Sontaran butler Strax are asked to investigate”The Crimson Horror”, a mysterious cause of death in which victims are found dumped in the river with bright red skin. Superstitedition states that the retina retains the image last seen by the person (an “optogram”), and they are shocked to find that not only did this really happen, but that the latest victim had seen The Doctor. They travel to Yorkshire, where Jenny infiltrates Sweetville, a utopian community led by Mrs Gillyflower and the never-seen Mr Sweet. Mrs Gillyflower preaches about the coming apocalypse to encourage people to come, using as an example of their doomed and corrupt society her blind daughter Ada, who had been beaten by her late husband.

Jenny discovers The Doctor, who is chained up and exhibits red skin and a stiff statureat his silent direction she puts him into a chamber to reverse the process. Once restored, he explains to Jenny that he and Clara had arrived in Yorkshire and were also investigating the mystery of “The Crimson Horror”. They had also joined Sweetville to investigate, but learned that they were to be preserved to survive the apocalypse. The process did not work on The Doctor because he was not human, and he was saved from being destroyed by Ada, who affectionately called him “my monster” and had hidden him from her mother. The Doctor finds the preserved Clara in one of Sweetville’s houses and manages to reverse the process on her. Meanwhile, Vastra recognises that Sweetville is using the venom of a prehistoric red leech that was a major pest to her people. The Doctor and Clara confront Mrs Gillyflower, who reveals that she plans to launch a rocket to spread the poison all over the skies, everyone on Earth will die except those”perfect” people she had preserved, who will then start over to make a better world.”Mr Sweet” is also revealed to be a red leech from Vastra’s prehistoric times that has formed a symbiotic relationship with Mrs Gillyflower. The Doctor berates Mrs Gillyflower for experimenting on Ada to get the preservationformula right. Ada, overhearing this, angrily advances towards her mother, giving Clara time to smash the controls. However, Mrs Gillyflower holds a gun to Ada’s head and heads into the rocket silo, which has been disguised as a chimney, to reach the secondary control.

Mrs Gillyflower launches the rocket, but Vastra and Jenny reveal themselves with the vat of leech poison that they have removed from it, rendering it worthless. Mrs Gillyflower turns on The Doctor, but Strax appears at the top of the chimney and shoots at her, causing her to tumble over the staircase. As Gillyflower dies from her injuries, proud of her daughter’s hatred towards her, Mr Sweet abandons its host before being smashed to death by Ada’s cane. The Doctor and Clara say goodbye, Ada says that she is looking forward to finding new opportunities in life. Vastra and Jenny ask about Clara, as they had previously met a Victorian version of her in “The Snowmen”, in which she died. The Doctor does not wish to explain, however (as he hasn’t yet worked it out himself).

The Doctor drops off Clara in modern-day London. When she returns home, she finds the two children that she babysits for, Angie and Artie, have discovered photos of her on the Internet from the past, including one that she does not recognise of herself in Victorian London (“The Snowmen”). They assert she must be a time traveller and threaten to tell their father if she does not take them on a trip.


  • This story marks the first time in the revived series that a companion’s associates have successfully deduced the person’s time-travelling affairs with The Doctor’s on their own, along with the Doctor’sability to time-travel, without questioning The Doctor directly or getting a firsthand experience of the TARDIS. Artie and Angie Maitland discovered pictures of Clara’s travels from Cold War, Hide, and a picture of Clara during her Victorian life (The Snowmen) on the Internet, which exposed her secret.
  • Likewise to the above, Clara sees herself in a past life for the first time by looking at the Victorian era photo of herself in London (The Snowmen), cluing her in that she really has lived more than one life, which The Doctor confronted her over in their last adventure, but she later forgot due to the day being rewritten. (Journey To The Centre of the TARDIS).
  • The Doctor is generally much friendlier to Clara, now that he knows she doesn’t have control over her multiple lives. He stops treating her like a ghost and treats her as his companion.
  • Although Jenny and Vastra both question The Doctor concerning how Clara is alive, he neither explains anything to them, nor is she ever present for these questions. Thus despite having met, Vastra and Jenny do not know that this is a different person and not the same one revived in some manner, and Clara gains no knowledge of her past life from the pair.
  • This story is the first to feature Vastra, Jenny, and Strax that was not written by Steven Moffat.
  • This story marked the 100th Doctor Who episode since the programme’s revival in 2005.
  • Filming for this episode began on 2 July 2012.
  • Diana Rigg is credits as “Dame Diana Rigg” the first time such an honourific has been included in a Doctor Who screen credit (by contrast, Sir Michael Gambon was not identified as such in A Christmas Carol).
  • The superstition of an eye retaining the last image it sees was previously referenced by the Fourth Doctor, who then used a similar process to read the last images recorded in the brain of a deceased Wirrn. (The Ark in Space)
  • Gillyflower has anorgan that turns around to reveal the launch mechanism for her rocket when specific keys and buttons are pushed. The Tenth Doctor played an organ to stop Lazarus. (The Lazarus Experiment). The Sixth Doctor’s TARDIS turned into an organ, which he played too. (Attack of the Cybermen).
  • An illness that turns your skin red was seen before, which may or may not have been from here. (New Earth).
  • As The Doctor and Clara prepare to Yorkshire, Clara says she’s had enough of Victorian values. The Doctor previously spoke to Strax about Victorian values, where after a person finds something brand new in the world that they’ve never seen, they will next look for a way to make a profit from it. (The Snowmen)
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