Doctor Who Monsters, Aliens and Villains

 Name: BOSS, AKA Biomorphic Organisational Systems Supervisor

 Format: Television show and audio

 Time of Origin: Earth, Wales, 1974; a back-up version was introduced on the Greenwood ship in the distant future.

 Appearances: "The Green Death" and "The Green Gift"

 Doctors: Third Doctor and Ninth Doctor

 Companions: The Brigadier, Sergeant Benton, Jo Grant, Captain Mike Yates and Callen Lennox

The Green Death
The Green Death
 History: Although fundamentally similar to the First Doctor’s adversary WOTAN ("The War Machines") in that both were highly advanced computers designed by Earth of the present who sought control of humanity for its ‘own good’, the Biomorphic Organisational Systems Supervisor showed a more human side than its ‘predecessor’, even if it was still clearly dangerous.

 Having realised that humans were so successful due to their ability to make illogical decisions that could be more efficient than logic, BOSS reprogrammed its creator - Stevens, the owner and founder of Global Chemicals - to make itself inefficient, subsequently gaining sentience. Using the connection equipment that Stevens had created to allow BOSS to scan his mind, BOSS was able to brainwash Stevens to serve as its human agent, developing new equipment and resources for Global Chemicals, such as claiming to have devised a means of producing more oil while leaving less waste while secretly dumping it in a nearby mine.

Jo with Professor Clifford Jones
Jo with Professor Clifford Jones
 Unlike other computers The Doctor faced at this time, BOSS was surprisingly able to ignore its fixation with logic more than once. Although The Doctor was able to escape his initial confrontation with BOSS by challenging it with the ‘Liar Paradox’ - asking it if BOSS would believe him if he said that the next thing he said would be true and the last thing he said would be a lie -, BOSS was still able to dismiss that attempt to delay it as irrelevant in the end. BOSS also showed some odd moments of humanity that it didn’t need do, such as humming a tune while it prepared to put its master plan into action, later calling Stevens its ‘sentimental friend’ as it went into overload.

BOSS eventually came to The Doctor’s attention when UNIT was asked to provide Global Chemicals with additional security following a suspicious death in a nearby mine (Although Jo Grant preferred to side with environmentalist Professor Clifford Jones, who was investigating the plant in the belief that it produced more waste than Stevens claimed -, rather than Stevens and Global Chemicals). Discovering a strange green slime in a nearby mine linked to Global Chemicals, The Doctor and UNIT found themselves facing giant maggots that had been mutated by the chemicals, spreading the ‘green death’ by biting people, the victims’ bodies turning green as they died.

A Giant Maggot
A Giant Maggot
Fortunately, UNIT managed to get Mike Yates inside Global Chemicals as an undercover operative, allowing The Doctor to sneak into the factory disguised as a milkman and washerwoman while UNIT attempted to contain the maggots. Although The Doctor was able to escape after learning the truth about BOSS, BOSS was able to brainwash Mike to send him after The Doctor, only for The Doctor to break his conditioning using the blue crystal he’d recently acquired on a trip to Metebelis Three ("Planet of the Spiders"). At the same time, Jones discovered that a fungus he had been experimenting with due to its possibilities as a beef substitute was poisonous to the maggots, The Doctor and Sergeant Benton subsequently taking Bessie to throw the fungus at the maggots.

Returning to Global Chemicals, The Doctor was able to convince Stevens to resist BOSS as it prepared to link with other computers, telling Stevens that BOSS's ‘efficiency’ would only result in greater pollution, brainless brainwashed humans, and more death and disease. With the blue crystal having broken BOSS’s hold over Stevens, Stevens, infuriated at what the BOSS has done to him, cross-fed the generator circuits, causing the whole plant to explode and destroying both of them ("The Green Death").

Audio - Pioneers
The Green Gift
(Roy Gill)
 The Ninth Doctor would encounter another version of BOSS when he and temporary companion Callen Lennox ("Red Darkness") arrived on the Greenwood ship, a vessel transporting various flora and fauna from Earth after an environmental disaster with the intention of returning them to Earth later. At first The Doctor was simply intrigued at the promise of the Greenwood, but he became suspicious when Fiacra, the head of the ship, revealed that she was aided in her decisions by a neural link to an artificial intelligence. Fiacra claimed that the link provided advice while she made the final choice, but The Doctor soon realised that this A.I. was actually based on a back-up version of BOSS retrieved from a deep dive into historical archives. While the shipís primary engines were powered by solar energy, they had created more industrialised engines as a back-up for cases where they lacked solar energy, but this required them to create a new fuel source using the 'Stevens Process' to support their back-up engines. This had also led to the creation of a new version of the giant maggots, which were used by the crew to consume the waste produced by that process but were just as hard to control as the originals.

  Taking a look at records of the shipís flight path, The Doctor realised that this version of BOSS had been constantly diverting the ship from Earth. While the planet was relatively safe even if the current human population had regressed to a primitive level, BOSS was keeping the Greenwood away until it would be most profitable for the company for the ship to return and reap the benefits by basically selling the flora and fauna on board back to humanity (The Doctor speculated that the computer was still at least partially operating on a 1970s view of civilisation). Fiacra briefly fell completely under BOSSís control as the computer tried to make The Doctor back down, but The Doctor was able to advise Callen on how to find the fungus that had previously been used against the maggots through the communicator in the collar of Callenís dog Doyle (Callen had a vision disorder and Doyleís collar was equipped with a speaker and translator to help him). Using the collarís technology to create a firewall, The Doctor was able to suppress BOSS and force a reset back to factory settings, removing BOSSís influence over the ship. The Doctor encouraged the crew to focus on helping life rather than adhere to the old way of doing things, directing the ship to a suitable world for the crew to set up a new colony of their own. The Doctor left Callen and Doyle to make a new life on this new planet, wanting to give Callen a new home and a suitable challenge to keep him engaged, but left a second version of Doyleís collar with another dog, Laika, so that the firewalls would help keep BOSS in check in future.

  During a visit to the thirtieth century, the Seventh Doctor learned that BOSS had been developed using funding provided by the Second Doctor’s old enemy Tobias Vaughn ("The Invasion"), who operated behind the scenes to protect Earth after being trapped in a robot body following his near-death at the hands of the Cybermen ("Original Sin").
Video - The Green Death
VHS Cover
Book- The Green Death
Original Target Cover
Book- The Green Death
Reprinted Target Cover
Video - The Green Death
DVD Cover
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Parts of this article were compiled with the assistance of David Spence who can be contacted by e-mail at
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