7.12. The Crimson Horror

Series 7 - 2012/2013

Writer: Mark Gatiss
Produced by: Marcus Wilson
Director: Saul Metzstein
Music: Murray Gold


In the Yorkshire town of Sweetville, in 1893, the body of a man, Edmund Thursday, is taken to the local mortuary. His skin is red. The mortician tells the man's brother, Mr Thursday, that this is not the first body. The locals are calling in "The Crimson Horror". The mortician asks for payment, as is taking a big risk, and could be killed if "they" knew he was showing someone one of the bodies.

Back in London Mr Thursday asks Madame Vastra and Jenny to investigate the Crimson Horror incident. The man then shows Jenny and Madame Vastra an optogram - a belief that the eye retains the last image it saw. In the image there is a reflection of the Doctor.

Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax head North to Sweetville. Sweetville's proprietor, Mrs Gillyflower, holds recruitment drives for the fittest and most beautiful people, and Vastra suggests sending Jenny, not Strax, to go undercover. Jenny attends the recruitment drive, and Mrs Gillyflower introduces her daughter, Ada, who was blinded by her late husband in a drunken rage. Mrs Gillyflower tells the people who have gathered that Sweetville, a shining new community, offers a different path from the current decay of modern society and the coming apocalypse. Jenny signs up.

Inside Mrs Gillyflower's house Ada takes a bowl of food for her "monster" which she keeps inside a locked room, feeding him through a hatch in the door.

After signing up the next stage is to be accepted for Sweetville. Whilst standing in line a local, Abigail, introduces herself. Jenny asks Abigail if she knows anyone in Sweetville. Abigail says she had a friend who joined three months earlier and who wrote to say how perfect it was. But Abigail has heard nothing from her since. Jenny offers Abigail a guinea and asks her to cause a distraction. As Abigail pretends to faint Jenny picks the lock of a door and enters a restricted room.

Madame Vastra travels up to Yorkshire to visit the mortician. He hands her a glass bottle containing a red liquid. Vastra thinks she knows what is causing the Crimson Horror; it is something she last saw around 65 million years ago.

Investigating further Jenny finds a room which sounds like it contains heavy plant machinery. When she enters the room she finds a huge factory. It's empty, and the sound is coming from gramophone speakers around the factory. She ducks down as people walk past carrying bottles of red liquid.

Wandering further into the factory she finds a room with an eery red glow coming from a window. Before she can investigate properly a crash alerts her. She follows the sound and finds her way to the room that houses Ada's monster. Jenny picks the lock to the room and find the Doctor, barely able to move and with red skin. She frees him and helps him down the corridor. She hears some coming and takes the Doctor into the room she saw earlier.

Inside she can see people being carried along by machinery in groups of six and dipped in a crimson liquid. The Doctor is able to signal to Jenny and she puts him into a small room with his clothes, and sonic screwdriver. Shortly afterwards he leaps out, restored.

The Doctor explains to Jenny how he came to be in the predicament he was in when she found him: The TARDIS materialised in Yorkshire 1893. The Doctor and Clara had been expecting London, 1893. Shortly afterwards they hear a woman scream, and find people standing around another body found in the canal. A man explains to the Doctor and Clara about Winifred Gillyflower, a chemist who has built a factory in her old town. A factory where no-one seems to come out. The man takes the Doctor and Clara to the mortuary where they hear about other bodies turning up in the canal - their bodies glowing red. The Doctor examines the red tinge on the skins of the victims and finds it is a kind of venom. Something he and Clara need to investigate further. They join the Sweetville community and Mrs Gillyflower shows them to a house that is provided for them. When asked about the Sweetville name Mrs Gillyflower says it is named after her silent partner Mr Sweet. After entering the house Clara and the Doctor are taken away, and the Doctor is dipped in red liquid. Sometimes the preservation process goes wrong, and the Doctor is one of the ones that does. Ada is ordered to throw the rejects into the canal, but when the Doctor tries to grab her had she takes him upstairs to a room, calling him her monster.

Jenny asks the Doctor if he knows what the liquid is. According to Mrs Gillyflower is a preservation process, possibly preserving them against her upcoming apocalypse. It may not have worked on the Doctor as he is not human. The Doctor's main concern is Clara. Jenny is confused as she thought Clara was dead. The Doctor tells her it is complicated.

Strax, driving a horse and carriage, is lost looking for Sweetville. As he is about to execute his horse for failing in its mission to find Sweetvile a young boy, Thomas Thomas, offers to give directions.

The Doctor and Jenny start looking in the houses, and the Doctor finds Clara sat motionless inside a glass cylinder. The Doctor smashed the glass and he and Jenny take Clara to one of the revival rooms that the Doctor used earlier. As they are waiting several or Mrs Gillyflower's pilgrims appear. Jenny is able to stop a few of them, but in time Strax appears, firing a laser, along with Vastra. After Clara is revived the group start their investigations. Vastra tells the Doctor that many years ago also fought off disease and plague, and the worst was a virulent red leech. Whilst the Doctor is trying to piece together what is happening Clara makes an observation: the factory has a chimney that does not blow smoke.

They make their way to the chimney, and after seeing the machinery the Doctor surmises that Mrs Gillyflower plans to use it to poison the air.

The Doctor sets off to find Mrs Gillyflower, and comes across Ada. When Ada touches his face she realises it is her monster back. Ada has been told by Mrs Gillyflower that people like her, blind, are not welcome in the new Eden; only perfection. The Doctor asks Ada about Mr Sweet, but even now Ada cannot betray her mother. The Doctor tells he has something to show her, and they go to find Mrs Gillyflower. Mrs Gillyflower tells the Doctor she has a symbiotic relationship with Mr Sweet, and reveals a creature attached to the front of her body.

Mrs Gillyflower tells the Doctor that because of him she has advanced her scheme. She has a rocket loaded with the poison/venom, and plans explode the rocket deep in the atmosphere; the poison will wipe out humanity. Her new Adam and Eves will awaken after a few months to reclaim the planet. The Doctor asks Mrs Gillyflower about Ada. Not realising she can is close by Mrs Gillyflower confirms that Ada was experimented upon. Ada attacks Mrs Gillyflower, and Clara takes the opportunity to destroy the control equipment using a chair. Mrs Gillyflower escapes from the room using Ada as a hostage.

Mrs Gillyflower, with Ada, makes her way to a secondary firing control inside the missile tower. The Doctor and Clara get there in time to see her launch the rocket. The Doctor then reveals that two of Mrs Gillyflower's pilgrims were in fact Jenny and Vastra, and that the rocket was not actually loaded with poison. Strax appears at the top of the chimney. Mrs Gillyflower fires a gun at him, and he fires back. Part of the railing collapses, and Mrs Gillyflower falls to the floor. As she lies there the Mr Sweet creature, realising what is happening, leaves her body. Ada, even though she is blind, can hear the creature and beats it with her cane.

Back at home, in her proper time, Clara checks on the children she has been looking after. She notices a laptop with pictures of her from the different adventures she has had with the Doctor. Clara tries to deny it, saying they are of someone else, but the Doctor is there as well. There is also a picture of Clara in Victorian London. But from her point of view she has never been to Victorian London... yet. The children say they want to have a go, otherwise they will have to tell their Dad that their nanny is a time traveller.

Regular Cast

  • Clara Oswald: Jenna-Louise Coleman

Guest Cast

  • Mrs Gillyflower: Dame Diana Rigg
  • Ada: Rachael Sterling
  • Jenny: Caitrin Stewart
  • Madame Vastra: Neve McIntosh
  • Strax: Dan Starkey
  • Angie: Eve De Leon Allen
  • Artie: Kassius Carey Johnson
  • Edmund and Mr Thursday: Brendan Patricks
  • Amos: Graham Turner
  • Effie: Olivia Vinall
  • Abigail: Michelle Tate
  • Urchin Boy (Thomas Thomas): Jack Oliver Hudson
  • Stand-in/Double for Mrs Gillyflower: Blod Jones
  • Organ playing double for Mrs Gillyflower: Christine Paterson
  • Workers: Natie Marie Davies, Nicole Crees, Emily Hodge, Amanda Mulford, Harriet Young, Anna Treasure, Lisa Jones, Edward James, Christian Pegley, Kade McOnville, Paul Bailey Daniel Palmer, Warrenb Pegley, Adam Dabbs, Ian Hoyle
  • Female Pilgrims: Brya Waterford, Tiffany Smith, Marley Hamilton, Rebecca Van-Stein, Olivia Alessandra
  • Double for Edmund and Mr Thursday: Andrew Cross
  • Pilgrims: Simon Carew, James Hill, Faye Johnson, Harry Burt, Sean Oakes, Rhys Edwards, Craig Walkey, Florent Bahuaud, Kally Davies, Marley Hamilton, Emily Humpphries
  • Congregation/People in Waiting Room: Caroline Harrison, Katie Powles, Katherine Gray, Mandy Floodpage, Hannah Floodpage, Kathy Saxondale, Jane Waters, Helen Evans, Melody Brain, Nicola Cope, Helena Dennis, Bethan Williams, Miriam Pippard, Angharad Baxter, Elizabeth Haworth, Den Edington, Ben Templar, Charlie Elliot, Jonathan Charles, Harry Damsell, Graham Smith, Peter Hanks, Geoff Scott, Nigel Mably, Richard Powell, Keith Ruby, Tim Beech, John Briton, Aled Hughes, David Harries
  • Passers-by: Mike Wendell, Anna Treasure, Gerald Bowman, Philip Gould, Richard Husband, Caroline Smith
  • Hansom Cab Driver: Mike Pike
  • Urchin Children: Travis Weeks, Harry Lewis, Ellie Pirie
  • Male Pilgrim: Rob Judd Handsome
  • Gawpers: Tim Reid, Maggie Baiton
  • Policemen: Stephen Eynon, Jonathan Hendry
  • Screaming Woman: Mandie Garrigan
  • Comforting Man: Ian Hoyle
  • Dead Crimson Woman: Elena Allsopp
  • Bell Jar Husband: Andrew Jay
  • Double for the Doctor: Matt Humphries
  • Double for Clara: Charlotte Patterson
  • Bell Jar Man: Mitchell Harper Handsome
  • Stunt Pilgrim: Dan Euston
  • New Pilgrims: Marley Hamilton, Emily Humphries, Brya Waterford, Oliver Park, Rhys Edwards, Florent Bahuaud
  • Stunt Double for Mrs Gillyflower: Stephanie Carey

Original broadcast on the BBC

Channel Title Date Viewers Rating
BBC 1 (HD) 12. The Crimson Horror Saturday, May 4, 2013 6:30 PM - 7:15 PM 6.47M 85

Click here to show repeat broadcasts on the BBC


  • BBC Roath Lock Studios: Studio 1
  • BBC Roath Lock Studios: Studio 2
  • BBC Roath Lock Studios: Studio 3
  • BBC Roath Lock Studios: Studio 4

Outside Locations

  • Barry Dock Office, Barry Docks, Barry
  • Barry Pumping Station, Hood Road, Barry
  • Beatty Avenue, Roath, Cardiff
  • Bullring, Llantrisant, Rhondda Cynon Taff
  • Canal adjacent to Brigantine Place, off Schooner Way, Cardiff
  • Holy Trinity Church, Trinity Street, Barry
  • Llandough Castle, Llandough, Vale of Glamorgan
  • Lower Row/Middle Row, Rhymney, Tredegar, Butetown, Caerphilly
  • Small Gym, Tonyrefail School, Gilfach Road, Tonyrefail, Rhondda Cynon Taff
  • Treowen Manor, Dingestow, Monmouth