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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > 498 > The Zygon Inventor

The Zygon Inventor

The Scottish writer Robert Banks Stewart, who died on 14 January, gave Doctor Who two of its most popular stories in Terror of the Zygons and The Seeds of Doom – but this was just a small part of an extraordinary career.

ROBERT BANKS STEWART 1931-2016

In Part Four of The Brain of Morbius (1976) the Doctor challenges his opponent to what he calls a “mind-bending contest”. With grim determination the Doctor grasps one end of some rudimentary metal apparatus while Morbius grips the other. A screen in the middle of the device displays their mental struggle, as the Doctor tries to regress the psychotic Time Lord through his past incarnations. It’s not clear whether the unfamiliar faces that appear on the screen belong to Morbius or the Doctor, but fans have long been aware of their true identity: they include Doctor Who’s producer Philip Hinchcliffe, script editor Robert Holmes and the serial’s director Christopher Barry. One of the other faces belongs to Robert Banks Stewart. The writer had absolutely no connection to the serial, but was held in sufficiently high regard by his colleagues to merit a place in this mischievous roll of honour.

Robert Banks Stewart had written Terror of the Zygons, broadcast a few months earlier in autumn 1975, and The Seeds of Doom, the story that would immediately follow The Brain of Morbius. These would be his only televised contributions to the series, but they were enough to establish his lasting reputation as one of Doctor Who’s outstanding talents.

Robert Banks Stewart makes an on-screen appearance in The Brain of Morbius.

“They must have been bouncing around the room when they got someone of his class,” says Doctor Who’s current executive producer Steven Moffat. “Robert Banks Stewart was one of the great genre writers and one of the great non-genre writers of his era, there’s no question about it.”

Bob was 80 years old when I interviewed him for Doctor Who Magazine in November 2011. He was waiting for me as I scaled the handsome staircase leading to his expansive London flat. “Everything here is vintage,” he said, welcoming me in. “Including me!”

Robert Banks Stewart in 2011.
© MARCUS HEARN
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About Doctor Who Magazine

Contents include: David Tennant and Catherine Tate talk about their new audio adventures as the Doctor and Donna; Steven Moffat on groundbreaking stories; a tribute to Robert Banks Stewart; in an exclusive interview, John Leeson talks about being the voice of K9 ; Sadie Miller remembers her mum, Elisabeth Sladen; The Time Team watch The Time of Angels and Flesh and Stone; comic strip – Witch Hunt part 2, written by Jacqueline Rayner and illustrated by Martin Geraghty; Fact of Fiction studies the Fifth Doctor adventure Four to Doomsday; Missing in Action – a look back at The Evil of the Daleks; plus news, reviews, previews, competitions, a prize-winning crossword and the Wotcha column.
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