Doctor Who's scariest episodes, ranked

Cameron K McEwan
Photo credit: BBC

From Digital Spy

It's Halloween! And what better way to celebrate than kicking back with an episode or two of a long-running TV show that's had its fair share of horrors over the years, from deadly Daleks to wicked Weeping Angels.

But what are actually the scariest Doctor Who stories out there? Ones that will send you behind the sofa and wishing you had a TARDIS to get the hell out of there?

Here are seven of the most frightening episodes to curl up with, turn the lights off and watch through your fingers…

7. Mummy on the Orient Express

You'd think that Doctor Who would have delved into Egyptian lore and imagery much more but this was only the second time in the show's history where it had done so (well, in any meaningful way). The previous, Tom Baker's 'Pyramids of Mars', just misses out on a place in this chart.

This slice of Peter Capaldi, from his first year in charge of the TARDIS, featured a Mummy front and centre and didn't pull any punches when it came to its grim facade. 'The Foretold', as it was actually known, was a withered wreak of a creature and hunted down the weak to kill first – and it only took 66 seconds to do so, with the tension and frights ramped up.

Also providing scares in this outing was pop chanteuse Foxes, who somehow managed to drain all the life from the Queen hit, 'Don't Stop Me Now'.

6. Human Nature

Lurching back in time a few years now to the David Tennant two-parter that saw the Time Lord become human, which was something of an alarming revelation in itself.

Although the aliens that were chasing him, the Family of Blood, were pretty darn ghoulish (featuring Harry Lloyd in top form in an almost Master-like performance), it was actually something much more Earth-based that caused chills. Enter the Scarecrows.

Doctor Who is great at taking everyday objects and making them seem like the most horrendous things imaginable and here this is evidenced once more – although scarecrows are a bit like clowns in that they're just fairly creepy whatever the context.

5. The Impossible Planet

Who do you go to for unadulterated, pure evil? Yup, the Devil.

Tennant was barely in the role when he literally came face-to-face with the ultimate bad boy, Satan. Just before that hellish meeting, maximum chills were delivered when the Doctor and Billie Piper's Rose found themselves in Sanctuary Base 6 on Krop Tor, a planet impossibly orbiting a black hole.

The Ood, alien slaves for the human staff, were possessed, while the Devil also reached out to human victims: "Don't turn around," an eerie voice intoned to poor base member Toby, as everyone watching at home stayed glued to their TV sets, not moving an inch. "Don't look at me. If you look at me, you will die."

4. The Waters of Mars

The Tenth Doctor's time was coming to an end with this penultimate adventure set on the Red Planet. It was back to basics with a base-under-siege story as the Time Lord found himself on the first human colony on Mars, an expedition he knew was doomed – and he soon found out why.

An organism, known as The Flood, had entered the water supply and started to infect the crew of Bowie Base One, one by one, turning the episode into a horrific zombie-fest no- one saw coming.

Early designs for the the make-up had to be altered, too, when then-showrunner Russell T Davies deemed the outcome too horrific. Eeeshk!

3. The Empty Child

"Are you my mummy?" became the catchphrase of the summer of 2005 thanks to Steven Moffat's grisly imagination.

Despite being broadcast during sweltering conditions across the UK, the Gas Mask Zombies of World War II managed to bring proper pant soiling back to Doctor Who for a new generation.

Within minutes, Moffat established himself as the King of Scares in the world of Who, sending audiences behind sofas / pillows / loved ones (delete as applicable) like never before.

And all it took was a child wearing a gas mask.

2. Midnight

Before Moffat created an invisible villain in 2014's 'Listen', his predecessor Russell T Davies cranked one out in this grim gem from 2008. David Tennant's Doctor is taking a tour bus on the titular planet Midnight when things start to go wrong and an unseen creature comes aboard.

From the impeding doom of the banging on the ship's sides to the repetitious nature of the creature (it repeats everything said), the episode is certainly not a comfortable watch. The moment when the being catches up, stops repeating and takes control of everyone's favourite Time Lord is an absolute shocker and unnerving in the extreme.

Yet the "Midnight Monster", as it's sometimes referred to, is not the worst horror on show here – it's the human beings. The way in which they turn on each other is one of the most unpleasant scenes in Who's long history.

1. Blink

Photo credit: BBC

Weeping Angels, obvs. The deadliest, most powerful, most malevolent life form ever produced are also the only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely – and they do so by sending you back in time.

Moffat's monsters were an instant hit and universally loved in this creepy and terrifying episode from 2007. Starring Carey Mulligan as Sally Sparrow before Hollywood came calling, 'Blink' is not only a good old-fashioned scare-fest, it's also an instalment that is constantly voted at the top (or close second) of best Who stories of all time.

The final twist – that every statue in the world was a Weeping Angel – was a stroke of genius from Moffat, Doctor Who's scaremeister general, meaning kids (and many adults, no doubt) would never be safe again...

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