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The Fact of Fiction

Exploring the hidden depths of Doctor Who’s most intriguing stories…


The Doctor and Clara go back to the 1970s, where a supposedly haunted house is the site of a psychic investigation…

The Doctor (Matt Smith) embarks on a ghost hunt.

Doctor Who’s first visit to a haunted house – or was it? – came in The Chase: Journey Into Terror (1965). Here, the First Doctor (William Hartnell) landed his

TARDIS inside exactly the sort of house you’d expect to find in a nightmare – all “Creaking doors, thunder and lightning, monsters, and all the things that go bumpety bumpety in the night…” He’d brought his companions to a place that existed in the dark recesses of the human mind, one that existed in the unconsciousness of millions – whose “immense power… combined together, makes this place become a reality…” Or so he believed. In fact, he’d arrived inside a robotised House of Horrors at the 1996 Festival of Ghana. So much for Gothic poetry!

But wait. Put yourself in the place, say, of a couple of Ghanaian teenagers, who’d maybe sneaked inside the cancelled festival at night – you know, for giggles – and headed for the House of Horrors, in the hope of seeing the Dracula droid and the Frankenstein Monster facsimile. And instead saw a weird blue box materialise out of thin air, from which stepped a scary, moaning white-haired man, dressed in the fashions of a long-dead age…

Well, you’d be in therapy to this day, wouldn’t you?

As with the House of Horror monsters – or the presumed-spooks in Day of the Daleks (1972), or The Time Warrior (1973-74), or Ghost Light (1989), among others – the Ghast of Caliburn House in Hide turns out to be not quite so uncanny. But that’s not the point, is it? Because, as always – it’s the Doctor who makes the visitation…

The Caliburn Ghast appears.

FIRST BROADCAST: 20 April 2013

“Caliburn House. Night Four. November 25th 1974. 11.04 pm.”

01m 53s Psychic Emma Grayling (Jessica Raine) has summoned “the spirit that inhabits this house” – while Professor Alec Palmer (Dougray Scott) seeks to record evidence of its manifestation.

But they’re not the first to make such an attempt – as we’ll see. Among others: Dr Lionel Barrett (Clive Revill), who brought psychic Florence Tanner (Pamela Franklin) to another property, the Belasco House, sometimes known as “the Mount Everest of haunted houses”, a year or so earlier, so he might dispel its weird energies using his ‘EMR machine’.

That investigation was documented in the scary movie The Legend of Hell House (1973) – which is punctuated throughout by on-screen captions giving the precise date and time, just as Palmer enunciates here; it’s “MONDAY DECEMBER 20TH 11.47 AM” when Barrett’s team arrive outside the gates of ‘Hell House’, for example.

‘Caliburn’ is an alternative name for King Arthur’s sword, Excalibur – derived from the Latinate Caliburnus, given in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain (circa 1136).

Director Jamie Payne had previously overseen the final three episodes of the first series of Call the Midwife (2012) – starring Jessica Raine as lead character Jenny Lee. Raine went on to play Doctor Who’s first producer, Verity Lambert, in the 2013 drama An Adventure in Space and Time.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

SERIES 11 COMPANIONS MANDIP GILL AND TOSIN COLE WRITE FOR DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE! READ THEIR DOCTOR WHO DIARY IN THE LATEST ISSUE. Doctor Who Magazine 529 also includes: • Meet the writers and directors of Series 11 • An interview with Roy Scammell, who was part of Doctor Who's stunt team in the 1970s • The life and work of Don Harper, the composer responsible for the soundtrack to 1968 epic The Invasion • Big Finish's Lisa Bowerman answers questions from the TARDIS tin • Games company Gale Force 9 reveal the background to Time of the Daleks • A tribute to Alan Bennion, who played three Ice Warriors in the 1960s and 70s • Part Six of The Clockwise War, a new comic strip adventure featuring the Doctor and Bill • The Time Team watches three pseudo-historical Doctor Who stories • The Fact of Fiction explores the 2013 Eleventh Doctor story Hide • Third Doctor cosplay with Rob Lloyd • Previews, audio, DVD and game reviews, news, The Blogs of Doom, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!