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P.R.O.B.E. is a series of videos mostly 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 former 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 permitted.) Doctor Who alumna Louise Jameson co-stars with Caroline John in all four films, as Patricia Haggard.

Originally released on VHS, the series was not widely available on video. When an interviewer commented to series author Mark Gatiss that he had 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] All four films were released on DVD on 3 March 2012 exclusive to Galaxy 4 shop with a 12 rating.[2]

A fifth film written and directed by Bill Baggs was released 20 April 2015 with Hazel Burrows taking over as Liz Shaw.[3]

The Zero Imperative (1994)

1 – The Zero Imperative
Directed by Bill Baggs
Written by Mark Gatiss
Produced by Bill Baggs
Executive producer(s) Andy Grant
Length 60 minutes
First broadcast January 1994

The Zero Imperative was released direct-to-video in January 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?



  • 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.[4]

The Devil of Winterborne (1995)

2 – The Devil of Winterborne
Directed by Bill Baggs
Written by Mark Gatiss
Produced by Bill Baggs
Length 80 minutes
First broadcast January 1995

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


When P.R.O.B.E. are summoned to investigate the savage murder of retired headmaster Mr. Whittaker and his dog, Liz Shaw is disturbed to find evidence of a satanic ritual near the scene of the crime. The trail leads of deceit and corruption extends to the current occupants of nearby Winterborne School, where it appears that someone is determined to cover up an ancient secret – at any cost. With another animal having bit the dust, the current headteacher accused of murdering a pupil, and one of the school's oldest employees having been stabbed with a knife, Liz finds herself under increasing pressure from all sides to produce results, especially with P.R.O.B.E. under threat from within – and the death toll mounting. However, a shocking revelation from headteacher Gavin Purcell reveals that The Devil of Winterborne is at large – and only Liz can stop it.


Unnatural Selection (1996)

3 – Unnatural Selection
Directed by Bill Baggs
Written by Mark Gatiss
Produced by Bill Baggs
Length 47 min.
First broadcast October 1996

Unnatural Selection was released direct-to-video in October 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?


Ghosts of Winterborne (1996)

4 – Ghosts of Winterborne
Directed by Bill Baggs
Written by Mark Gatiss
Produced by Bill Baggs
Length 42 min.
First broadcast November 1996

Ghosts of Winterborne was released direct-to-video in November 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?


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.
  • Until the release of Zygon: When Being You Just isn't Enough in 2007, this was the only Doctor Who related product to be given an 18 certificate although in 2012 Ghosts was re-rated 12.

When to Die (2015)

5 – When to Die
Directed by Bill Baggs
Written by Bill Baggs
Produced by Bill Baggs
First broadcast 20 April 2015 (2015-04-20)

When to Die was released direct-to-video on 20 April 2015 by BBV.


Liz investigates the government execution of an immortal Corporal who 'no longer has a use'.


  • Liz Shaw - Hazel Burrows
  • Patricia Haggard - Georgette Ellison
  • Giles - Bill Baggs
  • Secretary of State for Defence - Matthew Ellison
  • Security Guard - Danni Fletcher
  • Josie Williams - Clare Groome
  • Receptionist - Kathrina Gwynne
  • Major Johnson - Neil Gwynne
  • Charlie Reynish - Ken Hann
  • Bennett - Marcus Kinsella
  • Soldier - Ruben Sanchez
  • Bosnian Diplomat - Brian Stansbridge
  • Corporal 7891Alpha - Peter Ward

See also

Other creator-authorised Doctor Who spin-offs include:


  1. ^ "FindArticles.com - CBSi". findarticles.com. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Galaxy 4 - PROBE: 4 TITLE OFFER FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY". www.galaxy4.co.uk. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Galaxy 4 - PROBE: When To Die". www.galaxy4.co.uk. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  4. ^ "P.R.O.B.E: The Zero Imperative @ The TARDIS Library (Doctor Who books, DVDs, videos & audios)". www.timelash.com. Retrieved 17 April 2018.

External links

  • P.R.O.B.E. on Doctor Who Wiki, an external wiki
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