In the Forest of the Night
Doctor Who Logo 'In the Forest
of the Night'

(Story Code 8.10)

by Frank Cottrell Boyce
In the Forest of the Night

“D’you like the forest in Trafalgar Square? I think it’s lovely.” - Maebh Arden

A young girl named Maebh runs through a forest, eventually coming to a halt in front of the object of her search: the TARDIS. When Maebh asks after the Doctor by name, the Time Lord allows her inside his ship and learns that she knows ‘Miss Oswald’, who works with ‘Mr Pink’. The Doctor is puzzled because the TARDIS refuses to move, insisting that he has arrived at his destination of London, even though the ship is standing in the middle of a thick forest. Following Maebh outside, the Doctor is astonished to discover that they are actually standing in Trafalgar Square, which is now completely overrun with trees and foliage – somehow the whole of London as become a forest… Meanwhile, Danny and Clara have been supervising a group of Coal Hill schoolchildren on a sleepover at the London Zoological Museum. Once the night-watchman has unlocked the doors Danny, Clara and the kids have to push open the doors, because everything outside has been taken over by vegetation… All across the Earth, news reports cover the strangest invasion ever: the entire planet has become covered in trees… Clara calls the Doctor to tell him the news, but is disappointed to hear that he already knows about the “rapid inforestation crisis”. Learning that her friend is with Maebh, Clara deflects Danny’s exasperation at her calling the Doctor by telling him off for losing a member of his class. While Clara and Danny lead the ‘Coal Hill Year Eight Gifted and Tenanted’ kids to Trafalgar Square, Maebh’s mum prepares to collect her child, only to halt at the sight of trees and bushes taking over the road outside her house. Making their way through the over-leafy Knightsbridge, Danny notes the positive effect their situation is having on his and Clara’s pupils, boosting their confidence. The group soon arrives at Trafalgar Square, where they see the TARDIS – but the Doctor and Maebh have vanished. Just then the ground shakes, the tremor causing Nelson’s Column to wobble precariously; one of the children, Ruby, breaks off a tree root and shows it to Clara: the root has no rings of growth. The Doctor appears, bringing an explanation that the trees grew up overnight, the start of a new natural event: ‘The Tree Age’. Deciding that he needs to find a way to communicate with the trees, the Doctor rushes inside the TARDIS, closely followed by Clara, Danny and - to the Time Lord’s exasperation - the schoolchildren. Clara suspects that the trees are part of an alien invasion, but the Doctor is unsure. Seeing a pile of homework books (which Clara left inside the ship earlier), Danny picks one up and leafs through it; the Doctor stops him at a drawing of the sun sending out a huge burst of flame at the Earth. Setting the TARDIS scanner to show the sun, the Doctor sees a huge bust of flame forming on the star’s surface, just like in the picture. Seeing that the book is Maebh’s the Doctor turns to speak to her – but the girl is not with them, she is still outside! Clara is worried because Maebh is on medication for hearing voices, but the Doctor suspects that the girl has become attuned to something important. Using his sonic screwdriver and Clara’s phonebook the Doctor traces Maebh’s phone and locates her position. Leaving Danny in the TARDIS with the kids, Clara and the Doctor search for the missing girl, narrowly avoiding being squashed by Nelson’s Column, when another tremor causes the monument to topple over. Back at the TARDIS, the kids convince Danny to go after Clara, so they form a search party and set off into the trees... Maebh’s mum finds a bicycle and sets off to museum to get her daughter… Finding Maebh’s phone, Clara and the Doctor becomes unnerved by the fact that the path is disappearing behind them. Ahead of them, Maebh runs through the forest, her arms flailing about her head as if to ward off something; after leaving her pencil case to mark her trail, Maebh carefully avoids a governmental emergency team dressed in fireproof suits, who are preparing to burn a path through the forest. Following Maebh’s trail the Doctor and Clara are stopped by the emergency team; then men use a flamethrower on a nearby tree, but it stubbornly refuses to burn. The Doctor tells Clara that the trees have become flameproof using their control of oxygen: by withholding it they can smother the fire. The Doctor then tells Clara that according to the date on Maebh’s homework the planet is going to be consumed by a solar flare today! Hearing a howl, the Doctor tells Clara that wolves have escaped from London Zoo, and are now roaming the forest... Maebh stops in a clearing, but two wolves creep out of the foliage and stalk towards her. Hearing the girl’s screams, the Doctor and Clara race towards the sound and arrive at metal fence – with Maebh and the wolves on the other side! Maebh quickly finds a gate, but as she joins the Doctor and Clara, the wolves continue to advance… and then flee in terror. The Doctor, Clara and Maebh soon find out why, when a huge tiger strides out of the forest and roars at them! Luckily for the terrified trio, Danny comes to the rescue, frightening off the tiger by shining a torch into the animal’s eyes. When the Doctor asks Maebh why she is flapping her hands, the girl runs off, stopping at a cobweb-covered clearing, as the sky turns the colour of fire. Maebh tells the Doctor that she started the forest: she has been bothered by “thoughts”, and it was while thinking of her lost sister, Annabel, that she thought of the global forest, and somehow bringing it into being; curiously, it was a different through that sent Maebh to the Doctor… The Time Lord uses his sonic screwdriver to make Maebh’s ‘thoughts’ visible, causing a cloud of sparkling lights to appear in the air around the girl. Speaking through Maebh, the lights describe themselves as an ancient force, “the life that prevails”, who have been called by the sun. Deactivating the sonic to the let lights go, the Doctor discusses the cryptic message with Clara - could it mean that the trees want revenge on humanity for chopping them down? Out in space, the sun finally releases an enormous burst of flame which heads straight at the Earth… When Clara asks the Doctor how the imminent solar flare can destroy the Earth when she has seen the planet in the future, the Time Lord explains that the future can be changed. Clara tells the Doctor that they can save some people by using the TARDIS as a life boat, so they lead Danny and the kids back to the ship; however, this is really a trick to get the Doctor to the TARDIS – Clara wants to stay with Danny, who won’t leave until he has taken the children back to their parents. After leaving in the TARDIS the Doctor watches the solar flare on the ship’s scanner, as it reaches out towards the planet below; thinking of the flameproof forest, the Time Lord suddenly realises that he has made a mistake... As they lead the Coal Hill schoolchildren home, Clara and Danny are stopped by the return of the Doctor, who orders everyone back inside the TARDIS. Showing them the scanner image of the devastating solar wind approaching the Earth, the Time Lord explains that the trees are actually protecting the planet, pumping oxygen into the atmosphere to create a shield that will deal with the sun’s flames; the trees have done this before, at extinction events such as Tunguska in 1908. When Danny recalls a news report that the government is about to start dropping defoliation chemicals on the forest, the Doctor uses the TARDIS controls to dial every phone on the planet; he then gives Maebh the opportunity to tell everyone not to be scared and to leave the trees alone, and also give a plea for her sister to come home. Seeing her mum arrive in Trafalgar Square, Maebh rushes outside for a happy reunion; looking on, all the other kids suddenly realise that they want their parents too. Danny shares a kiss with Clara, and then escorts his charges home; Clara joins the Doctor in the TARDIS, so they can watch events from space… Sometime later, the Doctor and Clara watch from the safety of the TARDIS doorway as the massive solar flare engulfs the Earth, only to be diffused into nothingness, as the trees harvest the firestorm. [In the Netherverse, Missy watches the spectacle too, and registers her surprise…] Later, Clara stands on her balcony next to the Doctor, watching as the spurious trees in London transform into glowing lights that dissipate into the air. Returning home, Maebh and her mum are overjoyed to find they have someone waiting for them: Annabel has come home at last…

Peter Capaldi (The Doctor), Jenna Coleman (Clara), Samuel Anderson (Danny), Abigail Eames (Maebh), Jaydon Harris-Wallace (Samson Jaydon Harris-Wallace), Ashley Foster (Bradley), Harley Bird (Ruby), Michelle Gomez (Missy), Siwan Morris (Maebh's Mum), Harry Dickman (George), James Weber Brown (Minister), Michelle Asante (Neighbour), Curtis Flowers (Emergency Service Officer), Jenny Hill (Herself), Kate Tydman (Paris Reporter), Nana Amoo-Gottfried (Accra Reporter), William Wright-Neblett (Little Boy), Eloise Barnes (Annabel)

Directed by Sheree Folkson
Produced by Paul Frift
Executive Producers Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin
A BBC Wales production

TX (BBC 1 & BBC 1 HD):
25th October 2014 @ 8.20 pm

*Featuring the Twelfth Doctor, Clara and Danny