Doctor Who’s Forgotten Genius: Delia Derbyshire 1937 – 2001

derbyshireDelia Derbyshire is most well-known, if she’s known at all, as the musician who transcribed Ron Grainer’s theme tune for the first Doctor Who into the electronic form we all remember. But she was also a pioneer in electronic music, producing effects on tape that weren’t replicated until synthesizers were invented.

Over the weekend, I’ve been blissfully wallowing in the 50th Anniversary programs, centred around The Day of the Doctor. It’s available on the BBC iPlayer for another 6 days. Just as interesting were a drama about the inception of Doctor Who in 1963, An Adventure in Space and Time, and a documentary about the Doctor Who phenomenon, Me, You and Doctor Who.

From the latter two I learned more about Delia Derbyshire, which prompted me to search out her other work. Here is her version of the theme tune. She was apparently much irked by later producers wanting to tweak it – she couldn’t understand why it should be changed on a whim.

Derbyshire should have had equal credit with Ron Grainer, who wanted it as well, but the BBC Radiophonic Workshop refused to credit the work of individual employees. This frustration was one of the reasons she left in 1973 after 11 years.

The soundtrack for a BBC documentary about the Tuareg people of N. Africa, Blue Veils & Golden Sands, is another example of her innovative genius. She used a bog-standard metal BBC lampshade to get the vibration effects, giving it a whack, then cutting off the first bit of the sound.

There was also some theatre work and a collaboration with David Vorhaus in a band called White Noise. In this 1969 track, Love Without Sounds, you can hear what an interesting singer she is.

Derbyshire left London in the early Seventies and gave up music, apart from a brief period in the Nineties. This is a BBC radio play about her life.

And here’s a Radio Scotland interview, in three parts, from 1997. She sounds so young.

Finally, here’s a clip from Me, You and Doctor Who, as well as some of her other music.

I’m very pleased that her work on the theme tune is at last recognized in the credits for The Day of The Doctor. Earlier recognition might have laid the foundation for a long and productive career.

Doctor Who: The Name of the Doctor (7.2.8)

Doctor Who PosterBBC Doctor Who Website

The Doctor has a secret he will take to the grave. It is discovered.

A stunning season finale that makes sense of this message, and explains the impossibility of Clara, wrapped up in a dark, complex, emotionally intelligent, and moving episode by Steven Moffat. It also features running glimpses of all the previous Doctors – William Hartnell in colour! – and some of their voices as part of the Doctor’s timeline. And if that’s not all you could wish for, it reveals another Doctor we’ve never seen before. This episode is about echoes in time, space, and the lives of these fascinating characters. Clara is the girl from Asylum of the Daleks, as we know when she tells Artie and Angie, “This time I will be souffle girl…a souffle is not a souffle, a souffle is the recipe.”

You know it’s going to get complicated when the opening scene is Gallifrey in the distant past, and William Hartnell’s Doctor is prevented from nicking a faulty Tardis by Clara. How did she get there? Well, it starts in 1893 London when Madame Vastra and Jenny receive the above message from a murderer. A dream conference call, with Trax, Clara, and River attending in spirit, literally in River’s case, is attacked by the white-faced,vampiric Whispermen, led by the Great Intelligence in the guise of Dr Simeon. They kill Jenny’s sleeping body, and take them to the Fields of Trenzalore, where Trax employs his medical skills to revive Jenny. River and Clara, lead the Doctor to them via a telepathic link with the Tardis.

Trenzalore is not a place the Tardis wishes to visit, since it’s a huge graveyard, site of the Doctor’s last battle and his final death. No wonder she refuses to land, and the Doctor has to make her fall to earth instead. Neither is the Doctor chuffed at the prospect – for a time traveller, it’s a place to be avoided at all costs – but he must rescue his friends.

Pursued by the Whispermen, they enter his tomb – the huge, grotesque ruin of the Tardis in the future – through a secret door in River’s gravestone. It has no business being there, but River knows about it, as she seems to know about so much. She prompts Clara with the information, apparently invisible to the Doctor, though he knows she’s there all along.

They’re re-united with Madame Vastra, Jenny, and Strax outside the control room of the Tardis/Tomb, where they are captured by the Great Intelligence. He wants to open the door, the key to which is the Doctor’s name, and he echoes Dorian the Blue Bloke when he asks, “Doctor Who? Doctor Who?” He tells his Whispermen to stop the hearts of the Doctor’s friends unless he gets an answer. River says the word that opens the door, but we don’t hear it.

There’s no body inside, just a column of raw pulsing energy where the central column of the Tardis would be. Because time travel causes damage, this is “the scar tissue of my journey through the universe, my path through time and space.” It is the Doctor’s time stream, peopled by all his past and future regenerations, singing with their voices.

The supreme prize for the Great Intelligence, who walks into it so he can destroy the Doctor’s work and happiness. (Cue more Doctors). As Madame Vastra says, “Simeon is attacking his entire timeline. He’s dying all at once. Dear Goddess, the universe without the Doctor! There will be be consequences.” And there are: Jenny is once more dead, Strax has reverted to being her enemy, before dying himself, and the stars are going out in a nod to Arthur C. Clarke’s story, The Nine Billion Names of God.

Clara steps into the timeline to rescue the Doctor in all of time and space. This is where she becomes the impossible girl, fragmented into echoes of herself, each one unaware of her past lives. While Dr Simeon is destroyed by his experience within the time stream, Clara is left lost and alone when her job is done.

Time now for the Doctor to enter his own stream and call her back with the leaf that brought her parents together in her current existence. Clara and the Doctor are re-united, just in time for her to see a figure with his back turned to them, also the Doctor

Doctor: The name I chose is the Doctor. The name you choose, it’s like a promise you make. He’s the one who broke the promise. He is my secret.
His Secret: What I did, I did without choice, in the name of peace and sanity.
Doctor: But not in the name of the Doctor.

This opens up endless possibilities. Could he be from the Time War, when Gallifrey was destroyed along with the Daleks? Then he turns round, showing himself as a ravaged old man, and the legend unfurls, “Introducing John Hurt as the Doctor.”

Well wham, bang, thank you ma’am, the Moff knows how to end on a cliff-hanger.

I hope you don’t mind the plot summary. So much is happening that I needed to get the bare bones laid out to think about it properly. Part of the reason for writing these reviews is to get my own thoughts about the series in order. I loved the way it brought so many themes together.

I’m glad the relationship between the Doctor and River has been resolved. It was all a little unsatisfactory that she disappeared from the series after their marriage. The Doctor made a copy of her in the Library after her death, and didn’t say goodbye, because “he doesn’t like endings.” He admits he did not visit her because “I thought it would hurt me, and I was right.” River wanted a proper goodbye and she gets one here, along with a good snog, in the Doctor’s promise to “see you around, Professor River Song.” I don’t think her echo will fade away.

There were other touching moments between Madame Vastra and Jenny. Madame Vastra is distraught at Jenny’s two deaths. Her reply to Strax, when he heals her the first time, is telling.

Strax: The heart is a relatively simple thing.
Madame Vastra: I have not found it so.

As for Strax, I laughed out loud at his idea of a good weekend off – having a brawl in a Glasgow pub – and Madame Vastra’s thoughts on the matter: “I wish he’d never discovered that place.”

The Doctor and Clara are now bound by deep ties of gratitude. While she has saved his life in all of time and space, he has rescued her from fragmentation within the time stream. What’s next for them, and will Clara feel the same way about John Hurt if he shows up as the next Doctor?

It’s a long time to November 23rd.

This post has been powered by Irn-Bru, the beverage of champions. It gets you through.

Doctor Who: Nightmare in Silver (7.2.7)

Nightmare in Silver Poster

BBC Doctor Who Website

The Doctor: Impossible girl. Mystery wrapped in an enigma, squeezed into a skirt that’s just a little too tight.

A family outing for Clara and her two charges, Artie and Angie, in this Neil Gaiman episode. Pity the greatest theme park in the universe is now abandoned, and the Cyberiad is using the place as a recruiting ground, after being almost wiped out in the last battle with the Empire. It’s almost a given that the Doctor never ends up in the place he intends to get to.

But the kids love it, especially the moon landing exhibit with the artificial gravity gizmo. Even the hard to please Angie grudgingly confesses that it’s all right. For a member of his school chess club, though, Artie really shouldn’t have fallen for the Fool’s Mate in his match against a supposedly defunct cyberman. Who is in fact operated by the AWOL Emperor, known as Porridge.

Chess is the metaphor in the battle against the cybermen, who can now run fast and upgrade themselves on the fly. Both players are the Doctor, part of him an upgraded Cyber Planner, held at bay only by the original Doctor’s threat to regenerate and destroy all the nasty implants. Great opportunity to show the Cyber Planner all the previous Doctors. Cyber Planner even tries to do impressions of Christopher Ecclestone and David Tennant. He has an engagingly quirky sense of humour, as you would expect from someone sharing the Doctor’s mind.

While the Doctor is making the moves in the meta-game, the pieces are represented by Clara’s rag-tag punishment detail of Imperial troops, and an army of bright, fast, shiny cybermen. They’ve been kidnapping visitors to Webley’s World of Wonders and upgrading them, which has led to its demise as a wonderful place for a family holiday.

The end game is never in doubt. Clara’s army – she took to the whole commanding thing like a duck to water – is picked off one by one. Which is a shame because I was much taken by this bunch of misfits. The Doctor gives up his Queen to release Artie and Angie from cyber control. Then he bluffs Cyber Planner into using up all his computer processing resources to work out why it’s mate in three, thus halting the cyber army in its tracks. I seem to recall a Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk does the same thing to a defenceless computer.

All this leaves the Doctor free to zap himself with a hand pulser and knock the Cyber Planner out of his head. But the final mate takes Angie’s realisation that Porridge is in fact the Emperor, with the necessary code to destroy the planet. So they transmat up to his ship, the planet implodes, and the obligatory bit of cyber tech is left behind to ensure the survival of the cybermen for future episodes.

I like these upgraded silver machines. Just as zombies got a needed shot in the arm with 28 Days Later, and daleks learned to fly, so cybermen are now faster and meaner. I think there was even an implied reference to daleks in the episode.

Beautifully written, as you would expect from Neil Gaiman, and chockfull of character. The setting is perfect, redolent of abandoned amusement parks, with a dash of Victoriana in Webley and his eclectic collection of unrelated wonders. Porridge is a brilliantly complex character. He wears the depth of what you don’t know about him on his face, so it becomes entirely possible that he’s an Emperor on the run from the loneliness of power. And It’s great to see Artie and and Angie getting involved, just as Rose’s family and boyfriend were. I think this is indicative of the Doctor’s connection to Clara.

Which proceeds by leaps and bounds. There may be some truth under cover of Cyber Planner’s insincere blandishments. They do share the same mind.

Clara, I suppose I’m the only one who knows how I feel about you right now. How funny you are, so funny and pretty. And the truth is I’m starting to like you in a way that is more than just…

At which point Clara slaps him, as the Doctor hoped, on the the grounds that even if he did feel that way he’d never say it. As a test to see if he really is the Doctor, there’s this later exchange.

Clara: Do you think I’m pretty?
Doctor: No, you’re too short and bossy, and your nose is all funny.

Fair enough, but the Doctor is perhaps too eager to be involved in the resolution of the Emperor’s touching marriage proposal to Clara, as if he might have an interest. And right at the end, when Clara automatically assumes he’ll be there next Wednesday, the Doctor says this to himself. He’s a little shocked at the thought.

Impossible girl. Mystery wrapped in an enigma, squeezed into a skirt that’s just a little too tight.

I’m completely hooked on this story arc of finding out who Clara is, and discovering the nature of their relationship. Looking forward to the big revelation next week, something to do with the Doctor’s real name (which must never be spoken or Silence will fall). I imagine we’ll learn a lot more about Clara as well.

Doctor Who: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS (7.2.5)

Doctor Who - Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

BBC Doctor Who Site

Doctor: Running away with a spaceman in a box. Anything could happen to you.
Clara: That’s what I’m counting on.

I’m a little confused by this episode, written by Steve Thompson. It’s not at all clear how the magnograb thingy, with BIG FRIENDLY BUTTON carved on it, enabled the Doctor to rewind time back to before the Tardis is hauled aboard the salvage ship. But I suppose that doesn’t matter, given that Doctor Who regularly achieves the impossible, with as little explanation.

This week Clara gets to know the Tardis. The Doctor’s concerned that they aren’t hitting it off properly, so he wants them to talk to each other: “It’s important to me you get along. I can leave you two alone together.” That’s exactly what happens, but in exactly the wrong way, as the Van Baalen Bros. snatch up the Tardis when it’s in basic mode and the shield oscillators are turned off.

Clara is trapped inside, with the engine exploded and held in stasis, as the Doctor cons the salvagers into helping him find her. The carrot is salvage, the stick is the threat of auto-destruct in 30 minutes. So we have two journeys of discovery going on – Clara’s and the Van Baalen brothers.

They both discover the immensity of the Tardis, but Clara discovers the personal stuff. The swimming pool and library, the Doctor’s cradle, last seen at Demon’s Run, Amy’s model Tardis, a magnifying glass, and an umbrella, which I think belonged to Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor. Can’t place the magnifying glass, though. Clara also discovers the handsomely bound, History of the Time War, which contains the Doctor’s real name: “So that’s who.” The most important secret in the universe because once it’s revealed then Silence will fall. No wonder he’s alarmed, and no wonder time must be rewound so Clara will unknow it.

For the Van Baalen brothers, their greed-driven family dynamics are laid bare, and we discover the android is really human, their dead father’s choice for captain. His brother finds a spark of decency in the Tardis that survives the rewinding of time.

And the Doctor steadfastly pursues the mystery of Clara, even in the midst of disaster. It’s become obsessional. When the fiery zombies turn out to be future memories and echoes of Clara, the Doctor is guilt-stricken, and spills the beans about her past lives and deaths. He really wants to know who she is: “What are you, eh, a trick, a trap?” Clara doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and he finally seems to accept it: “You’re just Clara, aren’t you?” But is she? Moffat isn’t going to leave it at that.

The Tardis is the main character in the episode. We find out about her innards, moods, strengths and weaknesses, and the Doctor’s guilt at being unable to protect her from the salvagers. Loved the way he stroked and reassured the console when Clara called the Tardis an appliance. But you can understand Clara’s comment about their relationship: “You’re like one of those guys who can’t go out with a girl unless his mother approves.” It looks like Clara’s winning that approval, with the Tardis sheltering her inside the console room.

This worked as a gripping  action/adventure episode, but it also developed the relationship between the Doctor, the Tardis, and Clara. If there’s a mystery about Clara then it must surely involve all three. The leak in time, with the visual of the jagged break in a wall, harks back to Amy’s split in time.

Plenty to think about, with each episode so far a satisfying one-off.

Doctor Who: Hide (7.2.4)


BBC Doctor Who Site

Clara: To you I’m a ghost. We’re all ghosts to you. We must be nothing.
Doctor: You are the only thing worth solving.

Another brilliant episode by Neil Cross, this one inspired by The Stone Tape, a 1972 television play by Nigel Kneale. That was set in a castle and involved a group of scientists deploying all the tools of their trade to catch the screaming ghost of a Victorian servant girl. As in Hide, there was something really nasty chasing her, and it even had the detail of a cache of tinned food left by scared GIs.

Hide is a properly scary ghost story that turns into a love story for all the characters, even the skeletal monster, without losing any of its tension. The writing is as complex as you could wish for, and certainly expect from someone like Neil Cross. He teases out the tensions between that threesome, the Doctor, the Tardis, and Clara, and between Alec Palmer and his assistant, Emma Grayling. Nice in joke, that, making reference to it being 1974 so Emma would not have been his companion. But it also makes an implicit comparison between the Doctor/Clara and Alec/Emma, which is reinforced by Clara and Emma talking about their relationships with the Doctor and Alec, and Alec confiding in the Doctor. It ends with two threesomes, as Alec and Emma are joined by their many times great granddaughter, Hila.

The plot is simple and gripping. Alec is assuaging his guilt about sending agents to their death in WWII by trying to contact the screaming ghost who inhabits the house he’s bought. He’s assisted by Emma, an empathic psychic, who can detect what the spirits are feeling. Their work seems to have some official backing, judging by the Doctor being able to pass himself off as the Man from the Ministry.

The Doctor rescues the ghost, in fact a time traveller, from a collapsing pocket universe that echoes this one. Emma is the lantern to whom Hila is attracted, and she’s hauled in on a rope and winch through a wormhole between the worlds. But that leaves the Doctor marooned with the monster who’s been chasing Hila. So Clara has to confront the Tardis, in the form of her own image as the Tardis Voice and Visual Interface, and persuade her to trust Clara enough to rescue the Doctor. Reminds me of the Tardis falling in love with her Doctor in The Doctor’s Wife.

Clara carries out her mission with terrible driving and great panache. Hila turns out to be Alec and Emma’s distant granddaughter (“blood calling out to blood”), as the Doctor blunderingly assumes they already know. But there’s still the monster, who the Doctor realises just wants to get together with its counterpart in their own world. So he goes to fetch him with the rope and winch method (“Hello, you old Romeo, you,”) and they’re picked up by Clara in the Tardis. Lovely ending.

The episode covers a lot of ground. The love story between Alec and Emma is beautifully told with lingering looks and unrequited sexual tension. Emma and Clara’s talk reveals that Clara is not in love with the Doctor, though she clearly likes his “big chin.” And her misgivings about the Doctor are brought into the open when a trip to the world’s beginning and ending doesn’t seem to bother him in the least. Hence her worry that “To you I’m a ghost.”

The Doctor’s reply, “You are the only thing worth solving,” continues the story arc of how do you solve a mystery like Clara. Emma warns Clara about not trusting him: “There’s a sliver of ice in his heart.” And Emma confronts the Doctor directly about his motives for helping them, understanding he had an ulterior motive. It was to ask her about Clara.

Emma: She’s a perfectly ordinary girl, very pretty, very clever, more scared than she lets on.
Doctor: And that’s it, is it?
Emma: Why, is that not enough?

Clearly not enough for the Doctor, judging by his expression.

A couple of niggles. For Alec to be an intelligence agent in WWII, he would have to be at least 55 in 1974. Doesn’t look anywhere near that. And the Earth is only 4.5 billion years old, not 6 billion.

Apart from that, a scary, gripping episode, with a lot of emotional meat, and the usual nuanced dialogue that has me watching each one several times over.

Doctor Who: Cold War (7.2.3)

Cold War

BBC Doctor Who Site

Viva Las Vegas!

Hair, shoulder pads, nukes. It’s the Eighties. Everything’s bigger.

This episode, written by Mark Gatiss, combines elements of Das BootAlienThe Thing, and probably other films I don’t know about, into a gripping cold war thriller. The setting is claustrophobic, a Soviet nuclear sub under the Arctic ice in 1983, during the height of the Cold War. The Doctor and Clara burst out of the Tardis expecting Las Vegas, only to find themselves in the sub’s control room, disrupting a training exercise in pushing the button for WWIII.

The Russians are understandably peeved at the interruption, particularly the gung-ho second-in-command, whose name I didn’t get. I have a thing about Russian names, my brain won’t process them properly. Never mind. He shall be known as General Ripper, from Dr. Strangelove. The Doctor and Clara are suspected of being spies, and it doesn’t help that the Tardis swans off on its own, leaving them in a dire situation. It gets worse. The sub hits a submerged reef and plunges out of control until fetched up by another reef. Then there’s the specimen the civilian professor on board has discovered trapped in ice, while searching for oil. A crewman, for inexplicable reasons, decides to melt the ice it’s encased in before they get back to Moscow. Revealing a thoroughly pissed-off ice warrior. And not just any ice warrior – this one is Grand Marshal Skaldak, a proud leader and a hero to his people. You insult him at your peril, because he will take out your entire planet to avenge the dishonour.

You could also apologise nicely and hope he’ll forgive you, but that’s no longer an option when General Ripper attacks him from behind with a cattle prod. They have to chain Skaldak up for everyone’s safety.

The rest of the episode is taken up with how Skaldak gets free and tries to launch a missile to start WWIII, because he thinks his brother ice warriors aren’t coming for him and he has nothing to lose. Being frozen for 5,000 years, he knows his daughter is “dust” and mourns her. General Ripper is also keen to start WWIII, offering to collaborate with Skaldak, who gets all the information he can out of Ripper and then kills him. As he does to another crewman to find out what his enemy is made of. Literally.

But he loves his daughter and can feel some empathy for these humans. Once again, it’s Clara who reaches out to the threat and neutralises it. She reminds Skaldak of what it is to lose someone you love (multiplied by billions where the Earth is concerned), and he disarms the weapon before flying off with his rediscovered brothers. True, the Doctor is prepared to destroy the sub and Skaldak’s ship in the Arctic version of a Mexican stand-off, but it’s hard to say which has the most weight in affecting Skaldak’s decision.

I like it that Clara is an equal in these adventures: “Saved the world then. That’s what we do.” This after a spontaneous hug with a slightly embarrassed aftermath. Clara is actively trying to live up to what she imagines as the Doctor’s expectations, seeking his explicit approval. And he trusts her to negotiate with Skaldak.

There are the usual grace notes in this as in most Moffat episodes. Great supporting characters, with the professor standing out as an Eighties pop music-loving, avuncular figure, who takes an interest in Clara and worries about her feeling unhappy after seeing the crewman’s body. I enjoyed the way he wanted her sing Hungry Like A Wolf, by Duran Duran, and she was too embarrassed to do it. Except at the end when everything depended on Skaldak changing his mind. I had to google it, but the song adds something to my appreciation of him.

Skaldak is a superb character. Not a villain or a monster, but a lost, proud, lonely ice warrior, stressed beyond measure and forced to the greatest dishonour of all, being seen without his armour. This is where the new series is so much better than the episodes from the last century. Aliens get some respect as characters and some money spent on their portrayal. With his armour, Skaldak is troubling enough. Out of it, he becomes downright scary. First we see the hand, with its long, scaly, probing fingers, then the glowing eyes in shadow and a suggestion of mouth. Finally, in response to the Doctor’s taunt, “Look into my eyes, Skaldak, face to face,” we see the whole head. But he’s also allowed to be more than his features suggest.

I have a couple of niggles. Clara’s accent seems be wandering between northern and RP. I hope she settles on one or the other. Then there’s the Doctor’s pronouncement that “History’s in flux. It can be changed, rewritten.” Pompeii? Why couldn’t the Doctor get more people out, as Donna wanted, when Vesuvius erupted?

Beyond that, I think this episode is superb, one of the high points of the season. Perfect ending, too, with Clara making the Doctor admit that his tinkering with the Hazard Avoidance Detection System has sent the Tardis to the South Pole. Never mind, the sub will give them a lift.

Doctor Who: The Rings of Akhaten (7.2.2)

The Rings of Akhaten

BBC Doctor Who Site

This episode by Neil Cross is a welcome change from the enjoyable, but bloated, The Bells of Saint John. A proper alien location and much more focused. Touch of the Bondian theme in the business with the moped that nicely mocked the grandiosity of the previous episode. I’ll be looking out for a motorcycle/moped motif in the next one. Enjoyed the market, which is fast challenging the ubiquitous quarry in the classic series for favourite location, and loved the chocolate box selection of brilliant, unique aliens. As a nod to the 50th anniversary year, the Doctor reveals that he once visited the Seven Planets with his granddaughter. So that would be the original William Hartnell Doctor, with Susan.

This week we got a closer look at Clara’s past, with the Doctor becoming even more stalkerish, and investigating Clara’s parents in an attempt to solve the mystery of her apparent regeneration. The leaf on the first page of her book, 101 Places to See, is explained as the leaf that blew across her future dad’s face and almost got him run over in 1981, only to be saved by Clara’s future mum. Lovely scene, that. But the Doctor is no closer to solving the mystery – “She’s not possible” – and Clara explicitly warns him off: “I’m not a bargain basement stand-in for someone else. I’m not going to compete with a ghost.”

The Rings of Akhaten is all about stories and memories, which the Doctor equates with the souls the Old God wants to eat. One of best monsters yet, a stellar vampire feeding off the lives of those on the Seven Planets, who have evolved a religion where it’s sung to sleep by the choristers and the Queen of Years. To make Mary a child, lost and afraid like Clara was at Blackpool, comforted by Clara as an adult as she was by her mum, ties their stories together in a very satisfying way. Even the local currency is psychometric, any object of emotional significance that’s laden with stories.

But stories are more than about what’s actually happened, they’re also about what might have happened. As the Doctor says, “There’s an awful lot of one and an infinity of the other. And infinity’s too much.” This is what destroys the Old God. Clara, never one to walk away, goes to the Doctor’s rescue after the Old God drains him dry of his Time Lord memories. Her weapon is the leaf that brought her parents together, which also contains the life that might have been if her mum hadn’t died. Clara’s infinite yearnings are there, so many they can buy salvation from the monster who’s been holding the population in fear for millennia. A thoroughly satisfying way of defeating the Old God, much more so than anything the Doctor could have done with a sonic screwdriver or a spot of timey-wimey jiggery-pokery.

This episode is saying something interesting and paradoxical about religion. On the one hand, the Old God is a “parasite,” compelling worship in case it should wake and drink their souls. Yet the religion that evolves around it is extremely beautiful. The music is glorious, and the feeling in the arena one of awe and wonder. I think Moffat and Neil Cross want us to recognise the cognitive dissonance and think on.

There’s also an echo of the Great Intelligence from last week’s episode, a being who craves minds stuffed with stories, its food source being the social media. While the Great Intelligence is also a vampire, the festivals of offering it feeds on are rather more tawdry.

This is grown-up writing. I want to see more of Neil Cross’ work.