The Full Wiki

More info on The Idiot's Lantern

The Idiot's Lantern: Misc


Dr Who

Up to date as of January 31, 2010

From TARDIS Index File, the free Doctor Who reference.

The Idiot's Lantern
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Series Number: Series 2
Story Number: 173
Doctor: Tenth Doctor
Companions: Rose Tyler
Setting: London; 1st2nd June 1953
Writer: Mark Gatiss
Director: Euros Lyn
Producer: Phil Collinson
Broadcast: 27th May 2006
Format: 1x45 minute Episode
Prod. Code: 2.7
Previous Story: The Age of Steel
Following Story: The Impossible Planet
"Are you sitting comfortably? Good, then we will begin."
The Wire



London, 1953: on the eve of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation, Mr. Magpie is selling televisions from his little shop at an amazingly low price. It must be an alien plot...


The Wire presents itself to Magpie, the first of its victims, a television shop owner of northern London

The Wire is a creature which has escaped the death punishment of its own world, becoming living energy. Like that, it arrives to Earth in 1953 and it mingles into the human signals of television to stay alive. Then, The Wire makes a deal with a television repairer, Mr. Magpie, so its shop begins to sell sets of television for extremely cheap sums of money at the northern area of London. Such devices are entirely normal yet The Wire survives taking control of them afterward. The victims of The Wire are subjected of some weird radiations of their television sets, by which their brain waves are robbed and their faces disappear off their heads as well, being captured onto the screens of the shop. The Wire has stolen their energy.

About then, the Doctor and his companion Rose Tyler landed in Muswell Hill, London, in 1956, yet expecting to be in New York. Dressed in an Elvis Presley vibe, they expected to attend a performance of the Ed Sullivan Show. However, the different skyline, a red double decker bus, and a Union Flag tells them that, actually, they are in northern London on the eve of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation.

By chance, the Doctor witnesses that the body of a person wrapped in a blanket being brought quickly toward a dumpsite. They decide, then, to investigate. Sneaking into a house of the neighborhood as Royal inspectors, with the help of the Doctor's psychic paper, they find that an obnoxiously rigorous father, Edward Connolly, is repressing his young son, Tommy, who is much concerned about his grandmother, gran Connolly, who is kept isolated in her room. Secret agents irrupt, knocking the Doctor out, and taking the woman, who lacked her face, in a carpet too. The doctor chases it but Rose is distracted by a rare occurrence of the television set, which showed some paranormal violet discharges around.

Rose reads the tag of the television set, Magpie, so she decides to investigate thither. Before her insistence, the technician locks the door, trapping her inside the mysterious shop, and the talking representation of The Wire, a female television presenter, presents itself, and promptly Rose is subjected to the lethal radiation of The Wire ("I'm The Wire... and I'm hungry!"). Rose loses her face which is seized onto one of the screens of the shop.

At the dumpsite, the Doctor finds many standing people whose faces have been robbed. The Detective Inspector Bishop detaines him then, though, for an interrogation. The Doctor learns that they have been bringing the bodies secretively to the depot and finally he persuades Bishop for help. Also, Rose's body is brought to the police department after it has been found on a street. The now entirely committed Doctor gets then to the repairing shop with Tommy Connolly and Bishop. The Wire attacks them. Bishop is victimized but The Doctor stops the radiations timely through his screwdriver, saving Tommy as well.

Magpie takes advantage of their temporary paralysis though, taking The Wire out of the shop with a small portable television. At the giant Alexandra Palace antenna, The Wire would drain the energy of three million viewers of the coronation day. Then, The Wire would regain its corporeal form. The Doctor rushes behind the mini van while Tommy stays in the shop, managing some devices under some indications of the Doctor. At the giant antenna, the Doctor manages to tap into the transmission, diverting the signal of The Wire with the help of Tommy, and The Wire ends up trapped, into a Betamax video tape. The Doctor comments that it would be enough, yet he would probably erase the tape, just in case. Also, all the victims recuperated their faces and minds.



to be added


  • The Doctor and Rose try to arrive in 1956 to see Elvis Presley's performance on the Ed Sullivan Show in New York City, but arrive mistakenly in London, three years earlier.
  • Torchwood is mentioned by the police officer (though the mention doesn't appear to be noticed by the Doctor).
  • The Doctor drives a motorcycle out of the TARDIS. This is the second time a vehicle has been shown leaving the TARDIS; the first time was in the TV Movie. This is the first time that a vehicle was shown to be kept inside the TARDIS (although the Eighth Doctor had a Volkswagen Beetle at one point)

Story Notes

  • This story had working titles of: Mr Sandman, Sonic Doom, The One-Eyed Monster.
  • The Idiot's Lantern was originally to have been the ninth episode of Series 2.
  • Originally, The Doctor was supposed to have a line about having trouble with radio transmitters, which was supposed to be a reference to Logopolis, where the Fourth Doctor fell from the Pharos Project transmitter.
  • The Doctor quotes Kylie Minogue's song "Never Too Late." Minogue would later appear as a guest star in the episode Voyage of the Damned, playing Astrid Peth.


to be added


  • This episode is frequently mistakenly cited as taking place in 1952, the year Elizabeth ascended to the throne upon the death of her father; her official coronation ceremony, however, did not occur until nearly 18 months later, in June 1953. (In addition, the episode itself states that it is 1953.)
  • Footage of Rose calling out from the TV set was recycled for her brief cameos in the Season 4 episodes The Poison Sky and Midnight. In fact, this scene was especially shot for the later episode, Midnight, and inserted into The Poison Sky; it did not originate from this episode.

Filming Locations

  • Alexandra Palace, Wood Green, London
  • Florentia Street in Cathays, Cardiff
  • Blenheim Road in Pen-y-lan, Cardiff
  • Cardiff Royal Infirmary
  • Veritair Limited tarmac at the Cardiff Heliport on Cardiff Bay

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • How do the people survive without mouths/noses for air? The Doctor says they are in "complete neural shut down" and just "ticking over" implying that they needn't breathe.
  • Though it's clearly stated in the episode that the grandmother is Rita Connolly's mother, she is credited as Grandma Connolly. She was never given a name on screen so that credit might've just been for simplicity when crediting the actress so that we know who she was, even if that isn't her character's surname
  • The Doctor and Tommy have their faces sucked into the TV along with the inspector when they search the TV store. Apparently, since the Doctor and Tommy have been around the same time as the Inspector, how come the Doctor and Tommy survive and the Inspector's face is gone? The Doctor might've used his sonic screwdriver to get his and Tommy's face back, but not had time to rescue the Inspector.
  • How does the Wire use the image of the host? Why not use someone else or doesn't the real person know about this event? The Wire probably stole the face of the host as well.
  • The Doctor gives Rose a Betamax tape to record over but how can she if she does not have a Betamax tape-recorder? The Doctor probably has a Betamax recorder or something similar inside the TARDIS.


  • Magpie Electricals apparently continues to exist. Martha Jones had a Magpie brand television in DW: The Sound of Drums, and a Magpie brand microphone can be seen in Voyage of the Damned.
  • The Wire shares many things with the Abzorbaloff (Love & Monsters episode also of the second series). Both absorb their victims, whose faces are visible somewhere around the creature and whose consciousnesses are preserved somehow in such medium of captivity. However, The Wire expected to be fed and to regain its corporeal form. The Abzorbaloff wanted to absorb the Doctor's memories.
  • Lara Phillipart, who played Jasmine Pierce in TW: Small Worlds can be seen briefly as a girl in the Connolly's living room watching the coronation.
  • The Wire's repeated demand "FEED ME!" is reminiscent of a similar demand made, to comic effect, by the killer plant Audry Jr. in the classic horror-comedy film (and later musical) The Little Shop of Horrors.


DVD Releases

Series 2 Volume 3 DVD Cover

See also

to be added

External Links

  • Official BBC Website - Episode Guide for The Idiot's Lantern
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide - Detailed Synopsis - The Idiot's Lantern
  • The Whoniverse - The Discontinuity Guide to: The Idiot's Lantern
  • Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel) - A Brief History of Time (Travel): The Idiot's Lantern
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures: Story Locations - The Idiot's Lantern
Series 2
Mini-episode: Children in Need Special  • Christmas Special: The Christmas Invasion

New Earth  • Tooth and Claw  • School Reunion  • The Girl in the Fireplace  • Rise of the Cybermen  • The Age of Steel  • The Idiot's Lantern  • The Impossible Planet  • The Satan Pit  • Love & Monsters  • Fear Her  • Army of Ghosts  • Doomsday

This article uses material from the "The Idiot's Lantern" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address