Robot of Sherwood
Doctor Who Logo 'Robot of Sherwood'
(Story Code 8.03)

by Mark Gatiss
The Doctor, Clara and Robin Hood

“Robin Hood, the heroic outlaw who robbed from the rich to give to the poor? …He's made up. There's no such thing.” – The Doctor

When the Doctor offers Clara the choice of where to go next, she picks seeing her childhood hero Robin Hood. The Doctor adamantly believes that the famous outlaw is just a myth, but still sets the TARDIS for Sherwood Forest in 1190 A.D.-ish. The space/time vessel lands in a forest glade by a river, and the Doctor steps out just as an arrow thuds into the side of the TARDIS – an arrow fired from across the water by a handsome man dressed in Lincoln Green tunic, tights and feathered cap: Robin Hood! Now dressed in a beautiful medieval frock, Clara has a fan-girl moment at meeting her childhood hero – and Robin is rather taken with her too! The Doctor is furious at the damage to his TARDIS, even more so when Robin declares the blue box to be his now. As the outlaw draws his sword the Doctor jumps onto a narrow log-bridge spanning the two river banks, dons a gauntlet and parries his opponent’s weapon with a spoon taken from his pocket. A spectacular sword/spoon-fight ensues, when ends when the Doctor trips Robin into the water; however, the outlaw gives as good as he gets, pushing the Doctor into the river after him. Elsewhere, in a nearby village, three Knights acting on the orders of the Sherriff of Nottingham capture a pretty young girl; when her guardian, Quayle, objects, the Sherriff runs him through with a sword and then takes the girl and all the villagers’ gold back to his castle… Back in Sherwood Forest, Robin has taken the Doctor and Clara to his camp. While the Doctor scans everything and everyone with his sonic screwdriver to check whether or not they are real, Robin introduces Clara to his Merrie Men: Will Scarlet, Friar Tuck, Alan-a-Dale and the diminutive Little John. Robin explains how he and his men are fighting against the tyranny of the Sheriff of Nottingham, who is in power while his brother King John is away on Crusade; Clara notes how Robin’s over-exuberance masks his sadness at having lost his true love, Marian. Robin tells how the Sheriff has organised a contest to find the best archer in the land; Robin knows it is a trap, but still wants to show off and win the prize of an arrow of pure gold. The next day Clara accompanies Robin to the tournament at Nottingham Castle; the outlaw is now disguised in a brown cloak and hat, and calling himself “Tom the Tinker”. After ten rounds the only contestants remaining are Robin and the Sheriff. After agreeing to Tom’s suggestion of moving back the target by twenty paces, the Sheriff easily scores a bull’s-eye; the crowd is impressed, until Robin’s arrow splits the Sheriff’s in two! As the crowd goes wild Robin steps forward to claim his prize… but then another arrow splits Robin’s in two – an arrow fired by the Doctor! The Time Lord accepts the golden arrow, but throws it aside and demands a prize of “enlightenment”. Then Robin fires another arrow, which splits the Doctor’s in two! Much one-upmanship and arrow-splitting ensues, until the Doctor gets cross and uses his sonic screwdriver to destroy the target! As the knights seize the Doctor, Clara grabs a pikestaff and Robin raises his sword, revealing his identity and sending the crowd bonkers. During the ensuing battle Robin cuts off one of the knight’s arms – exposing a mass of wires within! The crowd is stunned, the Doctor is triumphant at being proved right, and the Sherriff is exasperated. Pulling out a remote control the villain transforms his knights’ helmets into robot faces, which fire purple lasers into the throng of peasants. Seeing the carnage the Doctor orders Clara and Robin to surrender, and while the peasants and Merrie Men escape, the captured trio are taken to Nottingham Castle’s dungeons… In the castle vault, Quayle’s ward and some peasants are loading gold and stolen treasure for the Sheriff; one of the men, Walter, falters from fatigue and is promptly disintegrated by a robot knight. Stripped of his sonic screwdriver, the Doctor is now manacled together with Clara and Robin in a dirty dungeon. As the Doctor and Robin squabble yet again Clara finally explodes, yelling at them both to shut up; calming herself, she then asks if they have a plan, but neither has any useful idea of how to escape. A guard appears to take the trio’s leader to the Sheriff – and to the Doctor and Robin’s chagrin, the guard takes Clara! Back at Robin’s camp, the Merrie Men rest before planning the rescue of their leader the next day. Alan-a-Dale remarks how the Sheriff is only interested in gold, never the precious jewels of the realm... Elsewhere, in the castle vault, the robot knights work at a huge forge that sends molten gold flowing into a massive black slab, the liquid metal spreading across its surface into a network of patterns just like a computer’s circuit board… Clara is taken for an audience with the Sheriff, who is stuffing his face with a feast; he asks Clara if she is from the stars, but she counters with a comment about his robots, so the Sheriff explains how he saw a skyship crash to earth, and how the mechanical men inside saw him as their leader. The Sheriff plans to use his new allies’ power to take over the world – but first he wants Clara as his consort… The Doctor and Robin finally lower their level of bickering enough to trick the guard into coming into their cell; Robin head-butts the soldier into unconsciousness, but when he and the Doctor go to grab the keys to their manacles they only succeed in knocking them down a grate. After pulling up the stone block attached to their manacles, the outlaw carries it as they look for a blacksmith's forge to help rid themselves of their bonds. Having gotten free, the duo search the castle and come across a curious metal door, which leads into the control room of an alien spaceship. At its centre is set a huge glowing hemisphere, obviously damaged. Looking through the ship’s data banks, the Doctor learns that its destination was the Promised Land – the same as that of the Half-Faced Man. But this vessel is more sophisticated than the one in Victorian London, and has camouflaged itself as the keep of Nottingham Castle; the radiation leaking into the local atmosphere is also creating a temporary micro-climate of staggering benevolence – which explains why it is too sunny and too green, and also accounts for the exaggerated behaviour of the evil Sheriff and the over-exuberant Robin Hood, whose characters have been created from the stories and legends held in the ship’s databanks. The door to the bridge explodes to reveal the Sheriff, his robot knights and his hostage, Clara. One of the robot knights fires at Robin, but the outlaw jumps out of the way and the blast takes out the window instead; when Clara blocks the knight’s aim Robin grabs her and together they plummet backwards through the window and into the moat below! Distracting the Sheriff to prevent him from seeing Robin carrying the unconscious Clara away from the bank, the Doctor notes how the villain is using his stolen gold to repair the ship’s engine circuitry. The gloating Sheriff reveals his plan: he and his “Mechanicals” will take the ship to London and obliterate the King, allowing the Sheriff to take his rightful place as ruler. But the Doctor just scoffs, telling the Sherriff that the ship is too damaged, and that he is actually stoking up a gigantic bomb; unfortunately, before he can continue the Doctor is knocked out by one of the robot knights… When the Time Lord comes to several hours later, he finds himself tied to a pillar in the vault, while all around the mechanical knights work on their repairs to the engine’s circuitry. The pretty ward is here too, and she frees the Doctor from his bonds. The Time Lord stirs up a revolt amongst the captured peasants, who counter the laser beams of the robotic knights by using the reflective surfaces of the stolen loot. Their battle is seen by the Sheriff on a monitor screen, interrupting the villain’s fun as he writes ‘mine’ all over a map of the country. Having destroyed their robotic oppressors with their own energy beams, the Doctor sends the peasants and the ward to safety, but before he can leave the Doctor is stopped by the Sheriff and more mechanical knights. The Doctor urges the Sheriff to stop his activation of the spaceship, explaining that it will wipe out half of England, but the Sheriff stubbornly refuses to listen. Then Robin Hood and Clara appear on the scene. Choosing to deal with his arch-enemy personally the Sheriff deactivates his knights, draws his sword and calls his enemy to fight. A spectacular duel ensues, and as their swords clash again and again, their battle eventually takes them high up into the wooden gantries. Gloating that he is actually part-man and part-Mechanical, the Sheriff slashes at Robin’s sword arm, making him drop his sword. But Robin is not defeated yet, and he uses the same move the Doctor did during their duel on the bridge – sending the Sherriff falling to his doom in the vat of molten gold below. Robin, the Doctor, Clara, the rest of the peasants and the Merrie Men all race out of the castle, just as it starts to rise up into the sky behind them. The Doctor is concerned the ship will not make orbit when its engines go critical, until Friar Tuck reveals that he still has the golden arrow – they still have a way to save the day! Robin has injured his arm, so Clara looks to the Doctor to fire the arrow towards the castle, but the Time Lord begrudgingly admits that he cheated by using a special arrow with a homing device to win the tournament. Working together, Robin, Clara and the Doctor fire the arrow straight into the spaceship’s ruptured engine pod, boosting its power enough for it to fly into space, where it explodes harmlessly. Some time later, Clara gets an archery lesson from the recovered Robin, and then makes her goodbyes. Robin bids farewell to the Doctor, pointing out how similar they actually are: both are noble men who are fighting the good fight, both heroes destined to become legends. Leaving in the TARDIS, the Doctor tells Clara that he has left Robin a present. Sure enough, as the blue boxes dematerialises Robin is overjoyed to see the pretty ward now standing behind it – none other his lost love, Maid Marian!

Peter Capaldi (The Doctor), Jenna Coleman (Clara), Tom Riley (Robin Hood [Robert, Earl of Loxley]), Roger Ashton-Griffiths (Quayle), Sabrina Bartlett (Quayle's Ward [Marian]), Ben Miller (The Sheriff of Nottingham), Ian Hallard (Alan-a-Dale), Trevor Cooper (Friar Tuck), Rusty Goffe (Little John), Joseph Kennedy (Will Scarlett), Adam Jones (Walter), David Benson (Herald), David Langham (Guard), Tim Baggaley (Knight), Richard Elfyn (Voice of the Knights)

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

TX (BBC 1 & BBC 1 HD):
6th September 2014 @ 7.30 pm

*Featuring the Twelfth Doctor and Clara

*Working title: 'Robots of Sherwood'

*The episode was edited shortly before transmission: in light of the recent murder of two journalists it was considered inappropriate to show the section of the sword fight when Robin temporarily beheads the cyborg Sheriff