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From TARDIS Index File, the free Doctor Who reference.

"I say to thee Expelliarmus!"
William Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Code
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Series Number: Series 3
Story Number: 180
Doctor: Tenth Doctor
Companions: Martha Jones
Enemy: Carrionites
Setting: London; 1599
Writer: Gareth Roberts
Director: Charles Palmer
Producer: Phil Collinson
Broadcast: 7th April 2007
Format: 1x45 minute Episode
Prod. Code: 184
Previous Story: Smith and Jones
Following Story: Gridlock



Something sinister is afoot in Elizabethan London. When the Doctor takes Martha to meet Shakespeare, they are haunted by witch-like beings intent on using the power of words to subjugate humanity. Their plan involves the Bard himself, in the as-yet-unwritten play "Love Labours Won". Can the Carrionites be banished back to the Deep Darkness, or will an Age of Blood and Death wreck havoc across the globe?


London, 1599. A young woman is serenaded from her balcony by a lute-playing suitor, Wiggins. She bids him enter the house, but to his shock he finds it full of witching artifacts. The woman, Lilith, kisses Wiggins — but, on pulling away, he finds her transformed into a wrinkled hag. She introduces her two "mothers", Mother Doomfinger and Mother Bloodtide, who appear, cackling, and lunge at the screaming youth, apparently devouring him.

Meanwhile, the TARDIS has just landed nearby. Martha questions whether it is safe to walk around in the past, citing such familiar time travel concepts as the Grandfather paradox and a reference to the Ray Bradbury short story "A Sound of Thunder". The Doctor reassures her.She also worries about her reception as a black woman in a time when slavery still exists. The Doctor tells her not to worry, he isn't even human. He declares that they have arrived in London in 1599 and takes her to a performance at the Globe Theatre. At the end of the play, Love's Labour's Lost, Shakespeare announces that there will soon be a sequel called Love's Labour's Won. Lilith, using a poppet, influences Shakespeare to declare, rashly, that the new play will premiere the following evening. Martha asks why she has never heard of Love's Labours Won. The Doctor knows of the lost play and, curious, decides to find out more about why it was never published — and extends Martha's "one trip".

The two go to The Elephant, the inn where William Shakespeare is staying. They chat with the playwright, who intends to finish writing the final scene of Love Labour's Won that night. An instantly beguiled Shakespeare ("Hey nonny nonny!") tries to woo Martha, describing her as "a queen of Afric" or a "Blackamoor lady", which she finds slightly offensive. The Doctor claims she comes from "Freedonia" to explain her strange clothing and modern attitudes. Shakespeare sees past the Doctor's psychic paper, which the Doctor cites as proof of the man's genius.

Lynley, Master of the Revels, demands to see the script before he allows the play to proceed. When Shakespeare offers to show him the finished script in the morning, the official leaves proclaiming that this slight means he will ensure the play will never be performed. The trio of 'witches' watch the scene in a cauldron. Lilith, who works at the inn, secretly takes some of Lynley's hair and makes another poppet, which she plunges into a bucket of water. The Doctor, Martha and Shakespeare hear a commotion in the street and run out, where they witness Lynley vomiting water. Lilith stabs the doll in the chest, and Lynley collapses, dead. The Doctor calmly announces that Lynley has died of an imbalance of the humours, and privately tells Martha that any other explanation would lead to panic about witchcraft. When Martha asks what did kill Lynley, the Doctor responds, "Witchcraft".

Martha and the Doctor stay overnight at the inn. The Doctor gives a disgruntled Martha mixed signals by casually sharing a bed with her only to then openly bemoan the lack of Rose's insight. Meanwhile, Lilith entrances Shakespeare and, using a marionette, compels him to write a strange concluding paragraph to Love's Labour's Won. She is discovered by the landlady (also the Bard's lover), whom she frightens to death. On hearing another scream, the Doctor runs in and finds the body. Through the window, Martha sees a witch fly away on a broomstick.

In the morning the Doctor, Martha and Shakespeare proceed to the Globe Theatre, where the Doctor asks why the theatre has 14 sides. Shakespeare replies that the architect thought it would make sound carry well and mentions that he eventually went mad and talked of witches. The three then visit the architect, Peter Streete, in Bedlam Asylum. The Doctor helps Streete to emerge from his catatonia for long enough to reveal that the witches dictated the Globe's design to him. He also tells the Doctor that the witches were based in All Hallows Street.

The witches observe this interview through their cauldron. Doomfinger teleports to the cell and kills Peter with a touch. She threatens the other three but the Doctor works out who the 'witches' really are. He names the creature as a Carrionite, which causes her to disappear. The Doctor explains that the Carrionites produce their "magic" through an ancient science based on the power of words.

Back at the Elephant, the Doctor deduces that the Carrionites intend to use the words of a genius — Shakespeare — to break their species out of eternal imprisonment when Love's Labours Won is performed. The Doctor tells Shakespeare to stop the play whilst he and Martha go to All Hallows Street to thwart the witches. Shakespeare bursts on to the Globe's stage to make the announcement, but two of the Carrionites are already there and use one of their dolls to render him unconscious. The actors — thinking Shakespeare has passed out drunk — carry the playwright off stage and the performance proceeds.

The Doctor and Martha reach All Hallows Street and confront Lilith, who is expecting them. She confirms the Doctor's suspicions: the three Carrionites hope to gain entry for the rest of their species, eliminate the humans, begin a new empire on Earth and spread out from there. Martha, mimicking the Doctor's actions at Bedlam, tries to neutralise her by speaking the name Carrionite, but Lilith mocks her, since naming only works once. Instead, she names Martha Jones, rendering her unconscious.

Lilith tries to do the same to the Doctor, but it fails to affect him, as she is unable to discover his real name. She attempts to weaken him by naming "Rose", but he assures her that that name keeps him fighting. Lilith then feigns an attempt at seduction, which brings her close enough to the Doctor to steal a lock of his hair. Taking flight through the window, she attaches the hair to a doll — which the Doctor explains is essentially a DNA replication module — and stabs it in the heart, whereupon the Doctor collapses. Assuming that he is dead, Lilith flies to the Globe. Martha wakes, and helps the Doctor restart his left heart before the duo race to the Globe.

The actors have already spoken the last lines of the play, a series of directions and instructions that have opened a portal allowing the Carrionites back into the universe. The Doctor tells Shakespeare that only he can find the words to close the portal. Shakespeare improvises a short rhyming stanza but is stuck for a final word. Martha comes up with "Expelliarmus" - a magic word coined by author J.K. Rowling in her Harry Potter books - and the Carrionites — together with all the extant copies of Love's Labour's Won — are sucked back through the closing portal. Martha, Shakespeare and the actors from the play are left to take the applause of the audience who believe it all to be special effects. The Doctor meanwhile finds the three 'witches' trapped, screaming in their own crystal ball and appropriates it for safe keeping in a "dark attic" of the TARDIS.

In the morning, Shakespeare flirts once more with Martha...and with the Doctor. He reveals his deduction that the Doctor is not of the Earth and that Martha is from the future, once again proving his genius. For his "Dark Lady", he produces the sonnet, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" in her honour, but is interrupted when two of his actors burst in, heralding the arrival of the Queen. Queen Elizabeth enters, recognises the Doctor as her "sworn enemy" and declares, "Off with his head!" The Doctor is surprised at her outburst, since he says he has not yet met the Queen, but comments that he is looking forward to finding out what he will do to offend her. He and Martha flee to the TARDIS, slamming the door just as an arrow embeds itself in the TARDIS' exterior before dematerialisation.



To be added


  • Lilith mentions the Eternals.
  • The Doctor mentions the Sycorax from Christmas Day (DW: The Christmas Invasion). Sycorax was the name of the witch mentioned in the Shakespeare play The Tempest, and Shakespeare says at the end of the episode that he would use the name.
  • Psychic paper doesn't work on Shakespeare. This is apparently proof he is a genius.
  • The Carrionites have several similarities to the Shadeys who were also involved with Shakespeare at one point.


  • There are numerous Harry Potter mentions and references; "Expelliarmus", as well as "Wait till you read the seventh book, I cried." (The episode was broadcast roughly three months before the book was released.) David Tennant also had a role in the fourth Harry Potter film.
  • The Doctor uses the 1980s film Back to the Future to explain the mechanics of the infinite temporal flux in relation to time travel to Martha.
  • The Doctor quotes a line from Dylan Thomas' poem "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night".
  • In attempting to explain Martha to Shakespeare, the Doctor claims that she comes from Freedonia, a country featured in the Marx Brothers film Duck Soup.
  • Near the climax, the Doctor admonishes Shakespeare that "We can all flirt later". Shakespeare coyly replies, "Is that a promise?" the Doctor, shocked, says "And 57 academics just punched the air." This is reference to current academic theories that claim that many of Shakespeare's sonnets were penned as love sonnets to a man, and that Shakespeare himself was either bisexual or homosexual.

Story Notes

  • The title appears to be a play on The Da Vinci Code, which is also a story based around a well-known figure of the Renaissance.
  • This episode's working title was 'Theatre of Doom' and 'Love's Labours Won'
  • Freedonia is a fictional country from the comedy film Duck Soup.
  • Shakespeare did use the word Sycorax in his play The Tempest


  • 7.22 million viewers - BARB final ratings
  • 6.8 million viewers - Overnight ratings
  • 1.039 million viewers - BBC3 Repeat ratings


to be added

Filming Locations

  • Ford's Hospital, Greyfriar's Lane, Coventry
  • Lord Leycester Hospital, Warwick
  • Newport Indoor Market (Basement), Newport
  • Chelesmore Manor House, Greyfriar's Lane, Coventry
  • Shakespeare's Globe, Southwark, London
  • BBC Studios, Upper Boat, Tonteg Road, Treforest Industrial Estate, Pontypridd
  • Stageworks, Unit H1, Colchester Industrial Estate, Colchester Avenue, Penylan, Cardiff
  • Black Horse Ltd, St William House, Tresillian Terrace, Cardiff

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • Plays in outdoor theatres like the Globe were performed during the day.
  • The Doctor acts like he has never met Shakespeare before yet he talks about having met him in the DW: City of Death. The Fourth Doctor may have met Shakespeare at a later point in Shakespeare's timeline; thus, it would be the first meeting from Shakespeare's perspective, and the Doctor didn't wish to confuse him.
  • In Turn Left, with the Doctor dead, wouldn't have the Carrionites succeeded in their plan? Just as Sarah Jane Smith and others deactivated the MRI in the alternate reality, perhaps similar circumstances prevented the Carrionites from succeeding or since the Trickster removed the Doctor from time, he would have stopped this event so he could removed the Doctor from time in the first place
  • Love Labour's Won in the real world was finished before 1599 when in this story it is finished in 1599. The Whoniverse timeline does not always coincide exactly with that of the real world.
  • EDA: The Gallifrey Chronicles suggests that (in the Whoniverse) there were 11 Harry Potter novels, not seven. Novels fall into a grey area in terms of canon; and at no point does the episode actually identify the seventh book as the final novel (nor is its title mentioned); in the real world, JK Rowling has not dismissed the possibility of writing more novels in the future.
  • How come Lilith has sharp teeth when her mothers have straight ones? They all have different characteristics.
  • When Lynley drowns, the Doctor claims he has never seen a death like it. However, he saw an almost identical death in The Mind of Evil.


  • Shakespeare has previously appeared: as a young boy in BFA: The Time of the Daleks, on the Space Time Visualiser in DW: The Chase, as an older man (who hitches a ride aboard the TARDIS) in BFA: The Kingmaker and MA: The Empire of Glass.
  • The Doctor also mind reads in DW: The Girl in the Fireplace and DW: Fear Her.
  • The arrow that is shot onto the TARDIS mimics similar occurences in DW: An Unearthly Child and DW: Silver Nemesis.
  • The arrow shot into the TARDIS is still there in the next episode and is removed by the Doctor after materialising. (DW: Gridlock)
  • Queen Elizabeth's anger at the doctor is possibly because he had married her and then left unexpectedly during an event that was later in episode timeline but in the past chronologically, as hinted in DW: The End of Time, when the Doctor mentioned he had met Queen Elizabeth and that 'there's one nickname that can't be used for her anymore', possibly referring to Elizabeth's nickname 'The Virgin Queen', referring to the fact that she never married.

DVD Releases

Series 3 Volume 1 DVD Cover

See also

to be added

External Links

Series 3
Christmas Special: The Runaway Bride

Smith and Jones  • The Shakespeare Code  • Gridlock  • Daleks in Manhattan  • Evolution of the Daleks  • The Lazarus Experiment  • 42  • Human Nature  • The Family of Blood  • Blink  • Utopia  • The Sound of Drums  • Last of the Time Lords

Animated serial: The Infinite Quest

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


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