Doctor Who Logo 'Oxygen'
(Story Code 10.05)

by Jamie Matheson
The Twelfth Doctor

“The endpoint of capitalism. The bottom line where human life has no value at all. We’re fighting an algorithm. A spreadsheet. Like every worker everywhere, we’re fighting the Suits.” – the Doctor

In orbit around Jupiter, two helmetless, space-suited bodies tumble through the blackness towards the mining station Chasm Forge. On the station’s hull, a worker named Ellie worries that her oxygen supply has reached critical, while her boyfriend Ivan works on bypassing the airlock controls. But then the two corpses in space-suits reach the hull, attacking Ellie and removing her space-helmet; as it floats past Ivan, he turns to see the zombies and Ellie’s corpse walking along the hull towards him…

On present day Earth, Bill and Nardole join the audience of the Doctor’s latest lecture, as he goes off-topic from crop rotation to explain the dangers of being in space without a protective suit. Afterwards, Nardole voices his concern that the Doctor is missing his adventures in space, now that he has committed to guarding the Vault under St. Luke’s university. The Doctor ignores him, choosing instead to take Bill in the TARDIS for a trip into space, specifically to answer a distress call he has detected. Before they can leave they are stopped by Nardole, who has seen through the Doctor’s ruse to waylay him with a request for crisps; but the Doctor is undaunted, and takes the protesting Nardole along for the ride too. The TARDIS transports them into the future, materialising aboard the Chasm Forge. The space station is devoid of oxygen, so the Doctor uses the air in his own ship to provide enough atmosphere to allow him and his friends to explore. After the Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to unseal a bulkhead door the trio discover a man’s corpse, kept standing upright by his space-suit; the cause of death seems a mystery, as his suit’s oxygen supply is full and its forcefield still up. Checking the ship’s systems, the Doctor notes that thirty-six of the forty-strong crew are dead; Nardole and Bill are creeped out at the prospect of so many corpses walking around, and are all for making a hasty retreat to the TARDIS, but the Doctor insists they stay to rescue the four remaining survivors. Exploring the mining station, the Doctor, Bill and Nardole find another crewman moving crates – or rather, an empty space-suit working on automatic. When the Doctor questions the suit’s A.I. (voiced by Nardole’s ex-, Velma) he learns that there has never been any oxygen in the station – the economy has reached a point when all air for personal use must be purchased. As the A.I. explains that any unlicensed oxygen will be expelled to protect the market value, the station starts to vent the air from the TARDIS; the airlocks open and the station starts to decompress, forcing Nardole and Bill cling on for dear life while the Doctor uses his sonic to seal the nearest bulkhead door. The trio are now safe – but the TARDIS is on the other side of the bulkhead. A message from Drill Chief Tasker comes over the comm system, demanding to know who has come aboard the station; before the Doctor can reply, the space-suited cadaver magnetically pulls the Time Lord’s sonic screwdriver from his grasp and crushes it, frying the suit’s systems in the process. Checking the suit’s log, Nardole learns that the space-suits all received a command to “deactivate their organic components” at the same time. With more space-zombies approaching across the station’s exterior, the Doctor instructs Nardole and Bill to don smartsuits, which he assures them have been taken offline; the trio now have two-and-a-half-thousand breaths each, so must keep calm to make their air last. Answering Tasker’s call, the Doctor receive directions away from the pursuing zombies; he, Nardole and Bill race through the corridors, only to reach another sealed door; luckily for them it opens just as the space-suited corpses can close in, allowing them to join Tasker and his fellow survivors: Ivan, Abby and the blue-skinned Dahh-Ren. After the Doctor uses his psychic paper to explain that they are from the miners’ union, Bill’s suit glitches, locking her arms up; while Ivan repairs her smartsuit, the Doctor learns that the suits worn by him, Tasker, Abby and Dahh-Ren were all off-network when the kill-command was sent, as they made repairs to the mine’s conveyors. The Doctor ruminates on the reason for the suits’ system hack, but Nardole’s theory regarding the theft of the Chasm Forge’s copper ore is ruled out by the miners, as their productivity was at its lowest point ever. The miners’ employers are too far away for a rescue, and with the suits taking down the radio, Ivan only got out the distress call by boosting a suit’s radio through the comms dish. Out in the corridor, the corpses’ suits listen to the conversation and start repairing the door lock; this forces the time-travellers and survivors to leave for the safety of the reactor core, but when Tasker opens another door, more space-suited corpses appear and grab him – his suit’s systems compromised, Tasker is electrocuted and becomes another walking cadaver. The Doctor rushes Bill, Nardole, Ivan, Abby and Dahh-Ren into the nearest airlock, planning to escape across the hull; but as the airlock cycles Bill’s suit malfunctions, and it removes her helmet. With Bill about to be exposed to the vacuum of space, the Doctor warns her to prepare for the worst – then the airlock opens, and Bill succumbs to the extreme coldness... Bill is groggily aware of walking across the hull while the crew shoot at the zombies, but as she reaches a helmetless Doctor, she passes out again… When Bill comes to she finds herself standing before a door that holds back several walking dead. To Bill’s relief Nardole and Ivan arrive, with the news that the Doctor hacked her suit to make it walk her to safety, and gave her his own helmet to wear; they are now hiding in Section 12, an area of the Chasm Forge that is not on the suits’ maps. Unknown to the trio, space-suited zombies on the other side of the bulkhead door have overheard their conversation… Bill is taken to the Doctor, and is shocked to learn that his walk in space without a helmet has rendered him blind. Reassuring Bill that it is only temporary, the Doctor starts thinking furiously. Detecting a Company transponder signal, the miners believe a rescue ship is on its way; but their relief is short-lived: space-suited zombies break in and compromise Dahh-Ren’s suit, which immediately electrocutes him. Fleeing again, the Doctor and the others race down a corridor, but are forced to stop when Bill’s suit malfunctions again, locking up and freezing her in place. To Bill’s distress the Doctor tells her he will have to leave her behind, but promises that unlike the others she won’t die. Promising to rescue Bill later, the Doctor, Nardole, Ivan and Abby run for their lives as the space-suited corpses close in on Bill; a touch from a suit causes Bill’s own to disable her central nervous system, and she becomes another walking corpse… Reaching the power core, the Doctor starts to meddle with the controls. Upset by Bill’s death, Nardole thinks his boss is planning to use electrolysis to extract oxygen from the water that cools the nuclear power core, a useless act that will only buy them five minutes of air. But instead the Doctor wires their smartsuits to the cooling system – a final act of revenge that will ensure the power core explodes the moment the space-suited zombies kill them. Ivan and Abby try to stop the Doctor, only to find he has locked them out of his suicidal subroutine. The Doctor reveals that there is no rescue ship on its way, and the space suits have not been hacked – they are doing exactly what they have been programmed to do: save the waste oxygen from the mine’s inefficient workers, to keep the Company from any losses. Furthermore, the approaching ship left before Tasker send the distress call – it doesn’t contain their rescuers, it is bringing their replacements. Sharing the Doctor’s defiance, Abby and Ivan open the door to allow Bill and the other space-suited walking dead to enter. When the blind Doctor warns of the massive loss to the Company they are about to cause, the advancing suits halt to check his claim; having confirmed that killing the survivors will cause the Chasm Forge to explode, the smartsuits hand over the remaining oxygen from their late owners. To Nardole’s delight the Doctor revives Bill: she was merely unconscious, her suit not having enough power left to kill her. Overjoyed to be alive, Bill gives the Doctor - and Nardole - a big hug… Later, in the TARDIS, Nardole uses a device to restore the Doctor’s sight, while the Time Lord explains how he couldn’t warn Bill about her ‘death’ for fear of her suit overhearing his plan. Also aboard the TARDIS are Ivan and Abby, who ask to be taken to Head Office so they can make a very loud complaint…

Back in his office at St. Luke’s university, the Doctor tells Bill that a rebellion in six months’ time will put an end to corporate dominance in space. After Bill leaves, a furious Nardole berates the Doctor for putting his mission to guard the Vault at risk – if anything happened to him on his reckless adventures, the consequences of whatever is inside getting free would be disastrous. But the Doctor has bigger concerns: he is still blind…

Peter Capaldi (The Doctor), Pearl Mackie (Bill Potts), Matt Lucas (Nardole), Kieran Bew (Ivan), Justin Salinger (Tasker), Peter Caulfield (Dahh-Ren), Mimi Ndiweni (Abby), Katie Brayben (Ellie)

Directed by Charles Palmer
Produced by Nikki Wilson
Executive Producers Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin
A BBC Wales production

TX (BBC 1 & BBC 1 HD):
13th May 2007 @ 7.15 pm

*Featuring the Twelfth Doctor, Bill and Nardole