‘Doctor Who’ at 50: ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ (2011)

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The story

The Doctor is summoned to a bubble universe where he hopes to find his old friend the Corsair, another survivor of the Time War. Instead he encounters a terrible truth and a mysterious woman known as Idris.


Best moments

The Doctor discovers exactly why Idris told him that the little boxes would make him angry. A powerful moment of disappointment and fury, beautifully underplayed by Matt Smith.

House separates Amy and Rory in the corridors of the TARDIS, and Amy is confronted with the vision of an impossibly old, insane Rory who accuses her of abandoning him.

As Idris, the TARDIS appears to have one last conversation with the Doctor, a beautifully tearful, yet uplifting, moment, as the TARDIS finally gets to say a certain word that it always wanted to say to the Doctor – “hello”.




Writer Neil Gaiman was originally commissioned to write this story for the latter half of Series 5 the previous year. That version of the script wouldn’t have featured Rory. The episode was pushed back to Series 6 due to lack of sufficient budget to realise Gaiman’s vision.

‘The Doctor’s Wife’ was a fake title attached to the 1984 serial ‘The Caves of Androzani’; the producer John Nathan-Turner had changed the title to that on his office planning board in an attempt to weed out a suspected leak operating within the production team at the time.


Best quotes

Idris: “Biting’s excellent. It’s like kissing. Only there’s a winner”.

House: “Fear me! I’ve killed hundreds of Time Lords!”
The Doctor: “Fear me. I’ve killed all of them.”

The Doctor: “Hang in there, old girl. Not long now. It’ll be over soon.”
Idris: “I always liked it when you called me ‘old girl’.”



The verdict

It would be way too easy to call ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ a fan-service episode. And it would also be dead wrong to call it that too. Because whilst the story revels in making references and exploring the mythology that precedes it, it’s also a cracking and highly engaging romp that works for both the hardcore fans as well as casual viewers.

Writer Neil Gaiman creates an emotionally-charged adventure that finally explores the most consistent and interesting relationship in the show’s history – the Doctor and the TARDIS. Putting the TARDIS into the body of a living, breathing person and giving her a voice is one of the most genius ideas ever dreamt up for the show, and the witty yet emotional script is one that never fails to chime with both fans and non-fans.

Matt Smith and guest star Suranne Jones are both on dynamite form here, the latter stretching her acting chops to their fullest as a wonderful character so completely unique, the former a perfect leading man; funny yet taking it all so completely serious throughout.

The production design is a beauty throughout (just look at that junkyard), whilst the direction from Richard Clark makes it all look so easy – watch the scenes in the TARDIS corridors and you will see a very clever and highly skilled director at work.

‘The Doctor’s Wife’ seems the perfect story to finish up our Doctor Who at 50 countdown – it’s an amalgamation of everything us fans love about Who combined with a cracking script that will appeal to everyone.

Fast-paced, hilarious, occasionally sad and utterly glorious in every possible way, ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ is not just the highlight of the Smith/Moffat era, but one of the highlights of the whole Doctor Who canon.


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