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P.R.O.B.E. is a series of four videos written by Mark Gatiss and produced by BBV Productions. It predates Torchwood as the first ongoing spin-off of the Doctor Who universe.

The series features Caroline John as Liz Shaw, working for the Preternatural Research Bureau. Many former Doctor Who actors, including Doctors Jon Pertwee, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy, appear in the series playing different roles. (Due to licensing restrictions, no overt reference to The Doctor is allowed.) Doctor Who alumnus Louise Jameson co-stars with John in all four films, as Patricia Haggard.

As with all spin-off productions, the canonicity of these films is uncertain. However, all story elements relating to Doctor Who are licensed from their respective authors[citation needed].

Originally released on VHS, the series is not currently available on video. When an interviewer commented to series author Mark Gatiss that he'd never seen the series, Gatiss replied "no, and you never will. One, they're not available. And two, I forbid it. Christ, for all I knew, they were the only things I would ever get to make. And I learned a frightening amount from working on them."[1]


The Zero Imperative (1994)

1 – The Zero Imperative
The Zero Imperative (1994).jpg
Cover of the original VHS release
Writer Mark Gatiss
Director Bill Baggs
Producer Bill Baggs
Executive producer(s) Andy Grant
Length 60 min.
Originally broadcast 1994

The Zero Imperative was released direct-to-video in 1994 by BBV.


Former UNIT luminary Liz Shaw and her assistant Bayliss are investigating a series of bizarre murders, all committed near a soon-to-be-closed psychiatric hospital.

When the hospital is unexpectedly reprieved by rich Industrialist Peter Russell events seem to move out of Liz's control. Are the incumbent director of the clinic, Doctor Dove and his predecessor Doctor O'Kane harbouring the killer? What is the centuries-old horror hidden in the grounds?

And what exactly is the secret of room zero?


  • Liz Shaw - Caroline John
  • Patricia Haggard - Louise Jameson
  • Louise Bayliss - Linda Lusardi
  • Dr. O'Kane - Jon Pertwee
  • Dr. Dove - Sylvester McCoy
  • Peter Russell - Colin Baker
  • Dr. Bruffin - Mark Gatiss
  • Patient Zero - David Terence
  • Dr. Hearst - Nicola Fulljames
  • Dr. Gilchrist - Patricia Merrick
  • Cummings - Jonathan Rigby
  • P.R.O. - Sophie Aldred
  • Orderly - Simon Messingham
  • Orderly - Alexander Kirk
  • Patient One - Peter Davison
  • Daniel - Bill Baggs
  • Boy's Voice - Daniel Mills


  • This film is occasionally listed as part of BBV's series The Stranger, although it is a standalone production. The only apparent connection besides production company is that Colin Baker stars in both.[2]

The Devil of Winterborne (1995)

2 – The Devil of Winterborne
Devil of Winterborne.jpg
Writer Mark Gatiss
Director Bill Baggs
Producer Bill Baggs
Length 82 min.
Originally broadcast 1995

The Devil of Winterborne was released direct-to-video in 1995 by BBV.


When P.R.O.B.E. is summoned to investigate the savage murder of a retired headmaster, Liz Shaw is disturbed to find evidence of satanic rite near the scene of the crime.

She soon discovers a web of deceit and corruption that extends back in time, threatening the current occupants of nearby Winterborne School.

With P.R.O.B.E. under threat from within and the death toll mounting, Liz finds herself under increasing pressure from all sides to produce results...

The Devil of Winterborne is at large and only Liz can stop it!


Unnatural Selection (1996)

3 – Unnatural Selection
Unnatural Selection.jpg
Writer Mark Gatiss
Director Bill Baggs
Producer Bill Baggs
Length 47 min.
Originally broadcast 1996

Unnatural Selection was released direct-to-video in 1996 by BBV.


In 1975, the British Government quietly closed down a secret evolutionary project codenamed BEAGLE, ordering the destruction of all research materials.

Today, the horrific discovery of several oddly mutated bodies alerts Liz Shaw and P.R.O.B.E. to the fact that something is stalking the original site of project BEAGLE - something which may challenge the very nature of humanity itself!

With a crack security team at her disposal, Liz desperately attempts to track down the perverted results of the project.

But who or what is hunting whom?


  • Liz Shaw - Caroline John
  • Patricia Haggard - Louise Jameson
  • Julius Quilter - Charles Kay
  • Brian Rutherford - Geoffrey Beevers
  • Soldier - Stephen Bradshaw
  • Soldier - Keith Brooks
  • Alfred Emerson - Mark Gatiss
  • Col. Ackroyd - Alexander Kirk
  • Dr. Gilchrist - Patricia Merrick
  • Soldier - Mark Moore
  • Security Guard - George Murphy
  • Soldier - Gabriel Mykaj
  • Clare - Zoe Randall
  • Angela - Kathryn Rayner
  • Cummings - Jonathan Rigby
  • Dr. Dennis Lancaster - Simon Wolfe

Ghosts of Winterborne (1996)

4 – Ghosts of Winterborne
Ghosts of Winterborne.jpg
Writer Mark Gatiss
Director Bill Baggs
Producer Bill Baggs
Length 42 min.
Originally broadcast 1996

Ghosts of Winterborne was released direct-to-video in 1996 by BBV.


The Devil of Winterborne has only recently been exorcised by P.R.O.B.E.

But when the body of its last victim disappears, and a book of black magic spells is stolen from a local museum, Liz Shaw begins to wonder if the ghosts of the past have really been laid to rest.

Forced into an unholy alliance with the school's disgraced headmaster, Liz must fight not only her own warring emotions, but a festering evil that threatens to corrupt the Earth again after 100 years.

But how do you fight a shadow from hell?


  • Liz Shaw - Caroline John
  • Patricia Haggard - Louise Jameson
  • Gavin Purcell - Peter Davison
  • Christian - Daniel Matthews
  • Margaret Wyndham - Charmian May
  • Andrew Powell - Reece Shearsmith
  • Max - David Hankinson
  • Ian - Nathan Hamlett
  • Librarian - Alan Nicholas

Story Notes

  • The end credits list Mrs. Wyndham's first name as Barbara, rather than her on-screen name of Margaret. However, Mrs. Wyndham's deceased twin sister, Ms. Taploe, was also named Barbara.

External links


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