P.R.O.B.E. (series)

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P.R.O.B.E. was a multi-media spin-off series of Doctor Who.

The series started out starring Caroline John, playing an older version of television's Third Doctor companion Doctor Liz Shaw, and featuring her adventures working at the Preternatural Research Bureau, investigating unusual phenomena whilst struggling with the indifference and derision of the government and the police.

The series was originally released as direct-to-video films produced by BBV Productions, with four of its five instalments being released during the period of Doctor Who's cancellation.

In 2020, Arcbeatle Press made a publishing partnership with BBV and "revived" the series, starting with the release of Shadows of Doubt.[1] The next year, BBV Productions themselves released two volume's worth of live-action P.R.O.B.E. shorts, the P.R.O.B.E. Case Files. By January 2022, Arcbeatle had released two P.R.O.B.E. print anthologies, Out of the Shadows and True Origins, as well as using the Preternatural Research Bureau in their anthology Cyberon; True Origins declared itself the final release from Arcbeatle that would use the Bureau or other licensed BBV concepts.[2] Shortly after, BBV introduced a new subseries, P.R.O.B.E.: New Companions, beginning with the audiobook Maxie, which starred one of the characters introduced in Arcbeatle's prose material, Maxie Masters.[3]

Premise[[edit]]

The series followed Liz Shaw some years after she left UNIT and the Doctor. As established in The Zero Imperative, Liz was headhunted to set up a department for the Ministry of Defence called the Preternatural Research Bureau (or P.R.o.B.e.) because of her work at the University of Cambridge. She accepted but was unaware that P.R.o.B.e. was to be grossly underfunded, understaffed and based in a single cramped office at Ashley House.

Unlike UNIT, P.R.O.B.E. was a small-scale organisation answerable to the British government — and its purpose was to investigate the strange and the out of the ordinary, rather than merely the extraterrestrial. Liz's only colleague in the original films was assistant Louise Bayliss, who was transferred by minister Brian Rutherford in a bid to have the organisation closed. However, permission was required from Liz's ministry liaison and later lover Patsy Haggard, who refused to do so and frequently went out of her way to assist Liz. Although mention of the Doctor and the events of season 7 was forbidden due to licensing restrictions, a number of Doctor Who actors featured in the series in new roles, notably Jon Pertwee, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy, as well as Louise Jameson in the recurring role of Patsy.

The first four films were written by Mark Gatiss and directed by Bill Baggs. In 2010, Big Finish Productions released Shadow of the Past, a Companion Chronicle starring John as Liz. While not part of the P.R.O.B.E. series, it acknowledged its continuity, with Liz nodding to the "preternatural research" she had been working on in her absence from UNIT. After Caroline John's death in 2012, BBV surprised their audience by announcing a new film, designed as a tribute to John and farewell to the character of Liz. When to Die, where Hazel Burrows stepped in as an elderly Liz, was released in 2015. Jameson did not return as Patsy, who was instead played by Georgette Ellison.

Designed to wrap up Liz's adventures with P.R.O.B.E. and allow the series to continue with a fresh cast, the film also introduced two new members of the team: the eccentric technician Giles and the K9-esque portable computer Box. Later P.R.O.B.E. media starting from Shadows of Doubt featured a new P.R.O.B.E. team which had formed around Giles and Box, including Archie MacTavish, Az, Tasha Williams, Agamya and the alien refugee Maxie Masters. Liz (now Liz Haggard) was presented as retired and living in Spain with her now-wife Patsy, though she kept in contact with the new team.

Production team[[edit]]

All five P.R.O.B.E. films were directed by Bill Baggs, who also produced all of them bar The Zero Imperative which was produced by Andy Grant. Mark Gatiss wrote the first four films whilst Baggs wrote When to Die. Mark Ayres, who did music for season 25 and season 26 of Doctor Who, made original music for the first few films, with the fifth being done by Olivia Thomas.

Doctor Who actors[[edit]]

A number of actors from Doctor Who played the roles of other characters throughout the P.R.O.B.E. series. Louise Jameson (Leela) played Patsy Haggard in the first four films, Jon Pertwee (the Third Doctor) played Jeremiah O'Kane, Peter Davison (the Fifth Doctor) played Patient One and Gavin Purcell, Colin Baker (the Sixth Doctor) played Peter Russell, Sylvester McCoy (the Seventh Doctor) played Colin Dove, Sophie Aldred (Ace) played a public relations officer, Geoffrey Beevers (the Decayed Master) played Brian Rutherford and Terry Molloy (Davros) played D.I. Burke. This tradition was resumed for the 2020s revival with P.R.O.B.E. Case Files - Volume 2 with Simon Fisher-Becker (Dorium Maldovar) being cast as Andrew Williams.

Stories[[edit]]

Live-action[[edit]]

Direct-to-video features[[edit]]

Title Author Featuring Released
The Zero Imperative Mark Gatiss Liz, Patsy, Gilchrist January 1994
The Devil of Winterborne Liz, Patsy, Andrew, Gavin, Rutherford 1995
Unnatural Selection Liz, Patsy, Gilchrist, Rutherford January 1996
Ghosts of Winterborne Liz, Patsy, Andrew, Gavin 1996
When to Die Bill Baggs Liz, Patsy, Giles 15 April 2015

Shorts[[edit]]

P.R.O.B.E. Case Files[[edit]]
Title Author Featuring Released Medium Volume
Stacey Facade James Hornby Giles, Agamya, Maxie, Tasha, Sir Andrew, Stacey Facade 22 January 2021 YouTube webcast P.R.O.B.E. Case Files - Volume 1
Manchester Giles, Agamya, Maxie, Tasha, Sir Andrew, Liz, Archie 5 February 2021
Peckham Poltergeist Giles, Maxie, Tasha, Archie, poltergeist 12 February 2021
Shadow People Giles, Maxie, Tasha, Agamya, Shadow People 26 February 2021
Varunastra Giles, Maxie, Tasha, Agamya, Box, Cyberon, Control 12 March 2021
Doctor X Giles, Maxie, Tasha, Agamya, Doctor X 26 March 2021
Goo! Bill Baggs Giles, Maxie, Sir Andrew, Liz, Control April 2021 Home video
Sherwood Sorceress James Hornby Giles, Maxie, Liz, Elizabeth Holub, Bayliss 24 April 2021
P.R.O.B.E. CASE FILES - TRAILER Bill Baggs, James Hornby Giles, Box, Cyberon, Doctor X 25 April 2021 YouTube webcast
Daylight Savings James Hornby Giles, Maxie, Tasha, Az, Faction Paradox, Perdix 6 June 2021 Home video P.R.O.B.E. Case Files - Volume 2
Living Fiction Warren Lewis Giles, Maxie, Nosferatu 8 June 2021
First Entry James Hornby Giles, Liz 10 June 2021 P.R.O.B.E. Case Files - Volume 1
Kelpie Giles, Archie, Tasha
Ichor Bill Baggs Giles, Az, Liz 5 July 2021 P.R.O.B.E. Case Files - Volume 2
Fog Giles 6 July 2021
Lauren Anderson James Hornby, Bill Baggs Giles, Lauren, Cyberons 7 July 2021
PROBE: CASE FILES - Vol 2 Bill Baggs Giles, Lauren Anderson, Cyberons, Maxie, Sir Andrew, Faction Paradox, Orlok 14 February 2022 Webcast
A Message From Sir Andrew Uncredited Sir Andrew 25 February 2022 Home video
The Only Cure James Hornby Giles, Maxie, Tasha, Agamya, Az, Lauren, "hollow" Cyberon, Cyberons, Cyberon drug
Ex-President Faction Paradox, Felix Mather
Legend Giles, the Brigadier
Maxie Masters Bill Baggs Giles, Maxie, Tasha 4 February 2022[4] N/A
O'Kane Giles 1 January 2023
Mist Mystery 2 February 2023
Stranger Giles, Solomon 1 March 2023
Erlik Giles 29 April 2023
St. Swithun Giles 24 February 2024
Bridge Giles, Cyberon 22 March 2024
Arcbeatle Press shorts[[edit]]
Title Author Featuring Released Medium
Shadows of Doubt James Hornby, Hunter O'Connell, James Wylder Giles 28 April 2020 YouTube webcast
Out of the Shadows James Hornby 11 October 2021
Crossovers[[edit]]
Title Author Featuring Released Medium
Mission: Find Lilith Trevor Spencer Lucifer, Giles 8 November 2023 TikTok webcast

Documentaries[[edit]]

Title People interviewed Released Medium
Coding Case Files: Making P.R.O.B.E. Online James Hornby, Warren Lewis, Bill Baggs 14 February 2022 Home video

Audiobooks[[edit]]

Title Author Subseries Featuring Released
The Door We Forgot James Hornby, James Wylder P.R.O.B.E. Audiobooks Giles, Agamya, Bedevere, Maxie, Tasha 8 May 2021
9 to 5 James Hornby Tasha 15 May 2021
A Worthy Successor James Hornby, James Wylder Giles, Archie 15 June 2021
She Came From Another World! James Wylder Giles, Maxie 17 June 2021
What Happened in Manchester James Hornby Giles, Archie 28 July 2021
Broken Bonds Giles, Maxie, Tasha, Bedevere 4 October 2021
Maxie Bill Baggs P.R.O.B.E.: New Companions Giles, Maxie 4 February 2022
Sam Myers Trevor Spencer Giles 9 June 2022
Giles - The Beginning Bill Baggs P.R.O.B.E. Short Stories Giles, Liz 8 August 2022
First Case Giles, Liz 19 December 2022
Bold Giles, Bayliss 26 December 2022
Guardian At The Gate Chris McAuley Giles, H. P. Lovecraft, Great Race of Yith 29 March 2023

Anthologies[[edit]]

Title Release date
Out of the Shadows 12 October 2021
True Origins 8 January 2022

Unproduced stories[[edit]]

Title Author Featuring Type
Ishmael's Star Mark Gatiss Liz Home video
Drome Dave Stone Audio
Origin Zero James Wylder Origin Zero Anthology
The Paimon Affair Charles EP Murphy Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart Audio
Faction Paradox James Hornby Faction Paradox Home video

External links[[edit]]

Footnotes[[edit]]

  1. Arcbeatlepress - P.R.O.B.E.
  2. Afterword of True Origins
  3. P.R.O.B.E. New Companions: Maxie on BBVproductions.co.uk
  4. Date of release of the original audio version of Maxie. The date at which the illustrated version listed as an entry in the Case Files series was released is not presently known to the Wiki.