Doctor Who Monsters, Aliens and Villains

The Vermine
Audio - Shades of Fear - The Colour of Terror
The Colour of Terror
(Lizzie Hopley)
 Name: The Vermine

 Format: Audio

 Time of Origin: Uncertain; The Doctor first encountered them on present-day Earth and on a distant Earth colony in the far future.

 Appearances: "The Colour of Terror" and "Red Darkness"

 Doctors: Ninth Doctor

 Companions: Callen Lennox

Christopher Eccleston
The Ninth Doctor
 History: The Doctor has faced several unconventional forms of life in his travels, but the Vermine are particularly unconventional, as they were essentially a sentient colour. The Doctor described them as a multi-dimensional life form that could manifest through the higher end of the spectrum, speculating that they were an artificial intelligence before he determined they were nature to higher dimensions. They were able to act through anything that was the colour red, The Doctor speculating that this was because red was the most common part of the spectrum and therefore it made it easier for the Vermine to travel. The Doctor initially hoped that the Vermine were simply explorers who didn’t understand what they were doing, but after they explicitly attacked and absorbed a woman who wore a red dress, The Doctor was able to communicate with what was left of her essence and confirm that the Vermine had taken pleasure in what they had done.

 The Doctor’s first encounter with the Vermine was when the TARDIS was drawn to a surge of photonic radiation in the charity shop The Chariot, run by Mrs Bevell, currently employing Pete as a volunteer worker as he had been released from prison after shoplifting to support his family ("The Colour of Terror"). The Doctor didn’t take long to determine that Mrs Bevel was a very unpleasant woman, such as when she basically forced Pete to claim that a vanished woman could have just run out of the shop rather than vanishing from inside the changing room. Drawn to the shop by a surge of electromagnetic energy, The Doctor was forced out before he could conduct a more detailed analysis, but soon realised more things were going wrong when the ketchup bottles in the café next door literally exploded.

 Returning to the Chariot through the basement it shared with the café, accompanied by the café owner and her last few customers of the day, The Doctor confirmed that the vanished woman, Marla, had disappeared after putting on a red dress while shopping for her upcoming wedding to Cath, who had been waiting for her in the café. Noticing various missing animal posters in the neighbourhood where all the depicted animals had red fur, The Doctor realised that something was basically attacking them through the red spectrum. The Doctor even observed that it was a very specific shade of red, such as musing that one person’s ‘orange-ish’ earrings should be safe but advising them to take off their red socks. Discovering a lost cat in the basement, The Doctor and his allies were shocked when the cat ‘spoke’ to them, followed by various red items in the shop, such as a doll or a spinning top, making other noises. When the radio began to speak, The Doctor was able to use the sonic screwdriver to refine the message and allow their enemy to identify itself as ‘the Vermine’. When the Vermine managed to speak through Cath due to a rose tattoo on her wrist, the Vermine declared their intentions to dominate the world, confirming to The Doctor that they weren’t just passive explorers. He was subsequently horrified when they confirmed that they wanted the TARDIS to expand their ability to explore dimensions, only unable to claim the ship straight away because it was the wrong colour.

 Once the sun had set, The Doctor observed that this would give them time to find other ways to deal with the Vermine as the red spectrum was less dominant in the dark. However, The Doctor had already witnessed the Vermine attempt to expand out from the shop in a manner that had caused a post box to explode, flowers to freeze, and a man’s coat to basically go in the opposite direction from its wearer, confirming that they had significant power despite their ‘limits’. Most significantly, if The Doctor didn’t find a way to stop the Vermine by morning, once the sun rose the Vemrine would be able to expand further by entering the red in the sky. Mrs Bevel tried to insist that The Doctor just take everything red from the shop and take it away in the TARDIS, but The Doctor wasn’t willing to take the risk that the Vermine would be able to take control of the ship if he let them inside. However, with the Vermine weakened in the dark, The Doctor was able to identify the initial entry-point into this dimension as a jigsaw puzzle of London Bridge, guessing that one of the buses depicted had been the initial ‘door’. With the puzzle pieces painted over so that the ‘door’ the Vermine used was essentially closed, The Doctor took Marla’s dress into the TARDIS so that the ship could help channel the residual energy in the dress to let Cath talk with what was left of Marla’s essence after the Vermine converted her.

 Unfortunately, while The Doctor and Cath were talking with Marla in the TARDIS and the rest of their allies were making sure nobody came to the shop from outside, they failed to realise that Mrs Bevel had claimed new paint tins from the basement and repainted the TARDIS red. After witnessing Cath serve as the Vermine mouthpiece, Mrs Bevel put on all red items of clothing found in the shop in the belief that she could serve as the Vermine’s agent and make things go in her favour again. The Doctor dismissed that as further proof of Mrs Bevel’s flaws; while he wanted to hope some part of her ran her shop to help people, she was now so focused on maintaining her shop’s high online rating that she neglected to think about the people she was meant to help, such as not letting animals in the shop even when there should be an exception for service animals. After Pete knocked Mrs Bevel out with a vase, The Doctor used her to basically keep the Vermine contained while his allies gathered all available glass, ranging from actual drinking glasses to mirrors, and gathered it around her. Once the sun rose, The Doctor was able to use the glass to refract the light and force the Vermine out of Mrs Bevel, tricking them into apparently entering the TARDIS when in reality The Doctor then trapped them in a music box with a mirrored interior. Mrs Bevel was blackmailed into not talking about what had happened in favour of allowing the café owner to appeal to the local government for funding to repair the damage both shops had suffered. The Doctor planned to take the Vermine to a distant planet with a red giant star that would allow them to exist without being a threat to the wider universe.

Audio - Shades of Fear - Red Darkness
Red Darkness
(Roy Gill)
 However, as The Doctor would later learn, at least one wave-form of Vermine had escaped before he could trap them in the music box. While this wave-form was too weak to do anything at first, they eventually arrived on Solis Kailya, a planet where a combination of factors including the atmosphere and its position from the sun created a unique filter in the sun that made Solis Kailya potentially good for colonisation ("Red Darkness"). Learning that colonists had been disappearing recently, The Doctor initially suspected the Vashta Nerada ("Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead"), but soon realised that it was worse than he had believed when he realised that the Vashta Nerada had essentially merged with the Vermine, the new hybrid capable of absorbing power from light and devouring humanoids completely where on their own the Vashta Nerada could only exist in shadow and devoured flesh while leaving the bones behind. The new hybrid introduced itself to The Doctor as the Red Darkness, presenting itself as a simple ruthless predator, but The Doctor soon deduced that the hybrid, like the original Vermine, still sought the TARDIS to gain access to time and space. With the Red Darkness able to possess anyone who looked at it directly, The Doctor and Iona Lennox, the chief scientist on the colony, blindfolded themselves to stop the Red Darkness infecting them while Iona’s son Callen Lennox and his dog Doyle led them back to the TARDIS. Callen had been born with a visual defect that meant he couldn’t see certain light spectrums, including red, making him immune to infection by the Red Darkness (Doyle was naturally immune as dogs couldn’t see colour anyway).

 Unfortunately, by the time they reached the TARDIS the Red Darkness had already discreetly infected the ship by hiding in the lamp on top, basically hiding in the red light that was part of the spectrum of white generated by the lamp. The Red Darkness nearly attacked them using the body of another colonist, but Iona, already infected by the Red Darkness, sacrificed herself to destroy the host with a wide-spectrum flare. The Doctor pretended to agree to allow the Red Darkness to use him as a host to take the TARDIS to another planet to continue their new campaign of conquest, but once inside, The Doctor revealed that Iona had previously given him a light filtration system she had developed that had been modified to render him temporarily blind so that he couldn’t see anything. Immune to the Red Darkness’s influence, The Doctor convinced the two species to turn on each other by pointing out how the Vermine’s reliance on colour would actually limit the Vashta Nerada’s opportunities, resulting in the Red Darkness destroying itself as the Vashta Nerada consumed the Vermine. The Doctor subsequently abandoned that collection of Vashta Nerada on a deserted swamp world, intending to go back to Solis Kailya and arrange for a warning beacon to be set up to stop anyone else trying to establish a colony on that planet.

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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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