Written by: Russell T Davies
Directed by: Alice Troughton
THE ONE WHERE
Donna soaks up the rays while the Doctor finds himself on an Awayday to Hell. Whatever possessed you…?
Russell T Davies beautifully suckerpunches our expectations with this one. The opening ten minutes promise a chirpy, holiday-themed adventure in the style of Voyage of the Damned – but then Murray Gold packs away the fun chords, a strange knocking begins and we’re plunged into an unholy brew of The Crucible and The Exorcist. It’s an astonishingly tense, creepy bottle episode that trades on paranoia and suggestion rather than spectacle, effectively mining some contemporary cultural concerns – Doctor Who and the Planet of the Mail Readers, anyone? There’s a real power in seeing the usually untouchable Time Lord become the victim of a witch hunt, his protestation of “Because I’m clever!” sounding frighteningly out-of-step in our dumbed-down age. Now that’s truly scary.
The moment that Silvestry verbally overtakes the Doctor is tiny but spine-raking.
Professor Hobbes is played by David Troughton, son of Patrick, the Beatle-mopped Second Doctor. Director Alice is no relation, though there haven’t been bloodtests.
DID YOU SPOT?
Yes, that’s another sneaky cameo from La Piper, popping up on the shuttle’s monitor screen to silently mouth “Doctor!”
How brilliant is Lesley Sharp? Her possession is genuinely unnerving, and she sells a sense of powerful alien menace without recourse to prosthetics or CGI. When her face is first revealed from the shadows, it’s the eyes alone that chill us…
Love the spookily glittering vistas of the planet Midnight. They almost have a ‘60s Anderson show vibe.
The Doctor (in synch with Silvestry): “Oh Doctor you’re so handsome… why yes I am, thank you!”