When it comes to established history, Doctor Who is constantly asking “What if?”. What if the Magna Carta was never signed? What if the British won the Battle Of Hastings? What If Queen Victoria was bitten by a werewolf? But there are a lot of big what ifs in the history of Doctor Who itself. Tipping points where history could have diverged and the programme could have changed considerably.

So with five months left until Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary, we ask what if…


10. Robert Holmes Never Worked On It

Doctor Who Robert Holmes

Apart from his tendency to write stories around his own personal views (such as the Fourth Doctor story The Sunmakers being about the evils of the taxman), Robert Holmes was one of Doctor Who’s best and brightest contributors. Not only did he create the Autons and the Sontarans, but he also wrote some of Doctor Who’s most highly regarded stories such as The Caves Of Androzani and The Deadly Assassin. So obviously, if he had never been welcomed into the Doctor Who family, the programme as we know it would be quite different.

The only major change to the mythos would be the absence of the recurring villains he created but if Holmes had not been a part of Doctor Who, some of the best loved stories would never have come into existence. We’d still have a Doctor Who that was broadly recognisable. But without any of Holmes’ truly brilliant contributions, it would be far lesser than what we know it to be. Especially since he oversaw several seasons of the Tom Baker years with Doctor Who writer Philip Hinchcliffe that are widely regarded as the Classic Series’ high point. Had Hinchcliffe been working with someone else, they’d probably not be held in such high regard.

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This article was first posted on June 23, 2013