The Waters of Mars is looked back on as one of the most terrifying Doctor Who episodes of all time. But one moment was actually deemed too scary to broadcast.


Phil Ford, who wrote the iconic episode with Russell T Davies, has revealed the showrunner stepped in to stop one horrifying scene being shown on TV.

The 2009 autumn special follows David Tennant's Tenth Doctor as he attempts to alter a fixed point in time by saving the life of astronaut Adelaide Brooke. The Doctor encounters one of the scariest monsters of the entire series – The Flood, a mysterious force that has the power to transform people into horrifying zombie-like creatures who gush water.

Ford, who has revisited the story for a new novelisation, explained that one part of the transformation was never shown on screen – and for good reason.

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"The thing was, when we were making it, it was the only time I believe that Russell saw dailies and went onto the studio floor to change something because it was too scary," he told

"He didn't change them because we were too far into it but the decision was taken that, when we come to Maggie Cain and her transformation, her eyes don't change. And actually, it's mentioned in the script, there's a reason for why her eyes don't change.

"But the real reason for it was because Russell saw the dailies and just thought it was way too scary. And he was probably right. But that's something I can overlook in the pages of the book!"

The Waters of Mars
Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Maggie Cain in Doctor Who's The Waters of Mars.

Ford also recalled: "When I started on The Waters of Mars, it was originally going to be a Christmas episode. The original title for it was 'Red Christmas' because it was going to be Christmas on Mars. But The Waters of Mars was obviously a far better title!

"It was a Christmas episode right up to the point when Russell came on and then did his draft, so I was actually quite relieved I didn't have to worry about taking out all of the Christmas references that we had in it!

"That was when Russell brought in the whole Time Lord Victorious strand as well, so there were things that changed. Although that fundamental base under siege – which has always been a great staple of science fiction and indeed many times in Doctor Who – remained, it just got better."

As for the novel, Ford explained: "We obviously learn more about the characters... I also wanted to explore a bit more about Adelaide. In the episode, we see that scene where she sees the Dalek through her bedroom window and that's a pivotal moment in her life and, it turns out, time itself.

"And I really wanted to look back at that [more], so I have a whole adventure for Adelaide that precedes that moment in her bedroom which I hope means it makes even more sense."

Phil Ford's novelisation of The Waters of Mars will be released on 13th July. It's available for pre-order here.

Doctor Who is available to stream on BBC iPlayer with episodes of the classic series also available on BritBox – you can sign up for a 7-day free trial here.

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