Doctor Who Logo 'The Idiot's Lantern'
(Story Code 2.7)

by Mark Gatiss
The Doctor and Rose

“Ordinary people are being struck down and changed, and the only new thing in the house is the television...” - Rose

Muswell Hill, London, 1953. With the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II imminent, overbearing father Eddie Connolly decides to upgrade his family’s wireless radio to a new black and white television set. Elsewhere, Mr Magpie, the owner of a small electrical shop, falls asleep whilst working through his accounts; after a strange energy beam hits the television aerial on the roof, Magpie awakes to the sound of the BBC’s television announcer, who addresses him directly and then uses a stream of energy to pull the man’s face into the television screen… The next morning, the Doctor – now sporting a natty quiff – leaves the TARDIS on his scooter, setting off with Rose to join the audience of ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ so that they can see a performance by the King himself, Elvis Presley. However, as they drive along, they soon realise that instead of New York, they have in fact arrived in North London. At the Connolly house, the family worry about their grandmother, who has mysteriously changed ever since they got their new television. Out in the street, the Doctor and Rose meet Mr Magpie, busy delivering his cheap televisions to the neighbourhood; Rose’s surprise at seeing that every house has a television aerial quickly turns to concern when she and the Doctor witness two police officers bundling a blanket-covered man into a Black Maria. Ever suspicious, the Doctor and Rose give chase on their scooter; however, the police car ducks into a yard and two men camouflage the entrance with their market cart, effectively throwing their pursuers off the scent. Back at ‘Magpie Electricals’, Mr Magpie asks the television announcer to free him from her control, but she maliciously refuses. Tommy goes to help his gran, but his bullying father stops him; their argument is interrupted by the arrival of the Doctor and Rose, posing as government officials carrying out a survey. The Doctor quickly puts a stop to Eddie’s chauvinistic behaviour, talking him into putting up the Union Flag bunting in his living room instead of his wife, Rita. When Rita asks the Doctor to help her mother, Tommy reveals that many people in the area have changed, each of them subsequently taken away by the police. The boy takes the Doctor to his gran’s room, where the Time Lord discovers that the old lady no longer has a face, and hardly any sign of brain activity. At that moment the police arrive, breaking down the door and manhandling the old lady into their car, clouting the Doctor in the process. Recovering, the Doctor pursues them on his scooter, following them to the same alleyway where he lost them earlier; realising that he has been duped, the Doctor sneaks in the back way, where he finds a number of faceless people held captive in a caged pen. Having seen a strange electrical glow around the Connolly’s television set, Rose investigates ‘Magpie Electricals’. When she confronts the proprietor Rose is stopped by the television announcer, who introduces herself as ‘The Wire’; before Rose can react, she is attacked by energy beams, and her face is pulled into the Wire’s screen… Captured by the police, the Doctor is interrogated by Police Detective Inspector Bishop, who reveals that he has been ordered to round up the faceless victims in order to maintain the nation’s image at the time of the Coronation. Seeing that the Detective Inspector is out of his depth, the Doctor offers to help; at that moment a new faceless victim is brought in: Rose. The Doctor is enraged, and he and Bishop set off to uncover the source of the incidents. The next morning, at the Connolly residence, Eddie welcomes his guests, who have come to watch the Coronation on television. When the Doctor and Bishop arrive to talk to Tommy, Eddie tries to stop them; his outburst leads Tommy to realise that it was his father who tipped off the police about the recent victims in the neighbourhood, including his gran. On hearing this, an appalled Rita locks her husband out of the house. Tommy accompanies the Doctor and the Detective Inspector to Magpie’s shop, where the Time Lord finds a portable television set way ahead of its time, and a power source emanating from the many television sets on display. Using the sonic screwdriver, the Doctor sees the faces of several victims crying out for help from the screens – including the face of Rose. Magpie arrives, but before the Doctor can question him the Wire appears on the screens; as her image turns to colour, the Wire reveals herself to be an alien life form using the image of the BBC announcer, who survived execution by her people, and fled across the stars to Earth as an electrical beam; seeing a way to gain corporeal form by feeding on the electrical impulses of the human brain, the Wire plans to attack the population of London as they tune in to watch the Queen’s Coronation. The Wire attacks the Doctor, Bishop and Tommy, but when she sees the Doctor reach for his sonic screwdriver, she makes do with the police officer’s energy and then downloads herself into Magpie’s portable device. As Magpie escapes in his van, the Doctor and Tommy come to; the Doctor surmises that the Wire will be heading for a large transmitter: the nearby Alexandra Palace. Having ransacked both the shop and his TARDIS for electrical components, the Doctor set off in pursuit, constructing a device along the way. Meanwhile, across London, families settle down to watch the Coronation. Magpie draws up at Alexandra Palace in his van, slipping past the guards and heading for the transmitter. The Doctor and Tommy arrive, using the Time Lord’s psychic paper to trick the security guard to let them pass before making for the control room, where the Doctor plugs in his device; paying out a cable behind him, the Doctor then follows Magpie as he scales the transmitter. Protesting against the Wire’s control, Magpie reluctantly connects the portable television to top of the transmitter, enabling the alien to send out energy beams to all the television aerials in the city. In every home - including the Connolly’s - beams of power reach out from the television screens and suck in viewers’ faces, as the Wire begins to feast on their energy so that she can her manifest herself in a physical form. When the Doctor reaches the top of the transmitter Magpie asks for his help to free him from the Wire’s control; however, the callous alien simply blasts her pawn out of existence. The Doctor plugs his cable into the transmitter, but a valve blows on the device back in the control room; seeing the problem, Tommy replaces it with a new one, and as the device activates, the Wire’s energy beams cease, and the creature screams in agony before dissipating into nothingness. With the threat ended, everyone in the city is restored to normal. Returning to the control room, the Doctor tells Tommy that he imprisoned the Wire on a videocassette recorded in the Betamax machine he just built. As Elizabeth is crowned queen on television screens across the capitol Tommy is reunited with his gran, while the Doctor and a restored Rose enjoy a happy hug. Some time later, a determined Rita finally stands up to her husband, and throws Eddie out of the house. Planning to destroy the Wire by recording over her, the Doctor and Rose find Tommy sitting outside at a street party, Rose encourages the boy to put aside his anger and forgive his father. As Tommy leaves to make up with his dad, the Doctor and Rose join in with the patriotic celebrations…

David Tennant (The Doctor), Billie Piper (Rose Tyler), Maureen Lipman (BBC Announcer / The Wire), Ron Cook (Mr. Magpie), Jamie Foreman (Eddie Connolly), Debra Gillett (Rita Connolly), Rory Jennings (Tommy Connolly), Margaret John (Grandma Connolly), Sam Cox (Detective Inspector Bishop), Ieuan Rhys (Crabtree), Jean Challis (Aunty Betty), Chrsitopher Driscoll (Security Guard), Marie Lewis (Mrs Gallagher)

Directed by Euros Lyn
Produced by Phil Collinson
Executive Producers Russell T. Davies and Julie Gardner
A BBC Wales production

27th May 2006 @ 7.00 pm

*Featuring the Tenth Doctor and Rose

*Working titles: 'Mr Sandman', 'The One-Eyed Monster' and '1950s'

*The 'Torchwood' Files: while questioning the Doctor, Detective Inspector Bishop worries about Torchwood getting involved in his investigations

*TARDISODE: Little old lady Grandma Connolly looks forward to watching the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on her new television – only to be attacked by a strange force emanating from the set… [Cast: Margaret John (Grandma Connolly), Kevin Hudson (Delivery Man), Robert Booth (Voice)]