The Crimson Horror reviewed


Series 7B of Doctor Who continues with The Crimson Horror a Mark Gatiss story set in Victorian England and allowing the latest Clara to meet with the Paternoster Square gang – Vastra, Strax and Jenny. Will they mention The Snowmen?

I think the set-up for this has a lot of potential even if I generally find Mark Gatiss’s stories a challenge (as I said here). Spoilers aside, I share my thoughts below…

The Story

The Vastra, Jenny and Strax head to Yorkshire on the trail of both the Crimson Horror (as evidenced by the colour of several corpses who perished in fear) and the Doctor! Vastra identifies the Crimson Horror as being a relic from the time when the Silurians ruled the Earth! Jenny meantime gets in with the mysterious Mrs Gillyflower (wonderfully realised by Diana Rigg) and her blind daughter Ada (again wonderfully and poignantly played by Rachael Stirling [Diana Rigg’s daughter in real life]) and infiltrates her perfect town of Sweetville.

Jenny rescues the Doctor who has been part petrified by the Crimson Horror and the two of them then rescue Clara; Jenny is of course perplexed that Clara is alive following The Snowmen. Our heroes all regroup and decide that they need to infiltrate Sweetville and its mysterious factory to stop Mrs Gillyflower poisoning the Earth’s atmosphere with antediluvian leech toxin and so the Doctor and Clare head for Mrs Gillyflower, Vastra and Jenny head for a mysterious rocket loaded with toxin and Strax comes on behind fully armed for battle.

There is much action, Mrs Gillyflower is shown to have betrayed her daughter many times but all ends well with great flourish and the Doctor and Clara head back to contemporary Earth. Back as a nanny the children of the house have meanwhile located many pictures of Clara from the past and uncover her as a time-traveller!

The Storytelling

I liked the pace, the setting and the characters. Vastra is less relied on than normal, Jenny has a lot to do as a leather clad martial arts hero and the story is really only marginally about the Doctor and could have been the first real pilot for a Paternoster spin-off. Strax even has fun when he gets navigational directions from a young lad named Thomas Thomas [sic].

There was betrayal and the classic Who trick of splitting the enemy ranks by revealing internal treachery – ie the mother was shown to have experimented on her daughter turned the daughter then into one of the good guys. The leech was horrible and the whole things was moody, dark and compelling.

Minor gripe – how could Mrs Gillyflower create a rocket?

More major gripe – the kids Clara looks after just ‘found’ lots of historic pictures of Clara. Really?

The Series Arc

Good again in that it didn’t dwell on how Clara could be alive to even though Jenny and Vastra were worried. Strax of course can’t tell humans apart so said nothing. Things are coming to a head nicely and next weeks Cybermen story has possibilities though the use of kids I wait to be convinced by. Only two weeks until The NameI

Final Thoughts

I seem to be in tune with early twitter reaction and even agree with JR Southall’s review; wonders will never cease!

Did you enjoy it? Let me know!


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