Anticipating Breath, Dalek, Robots, Listen, Heist & Caretaker

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Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull looks ahead to the first six episodes. Plus poll results with your most anticipated.


Note: do bear in mind that all the information contained within this article has been lifted from various news sources around the internet – ranging from The Mirror to Doctor Who TV itself right here. Hence, a lot of information might be true and spoilerific so read this article at your discretion.

Good God, is that the time? It really is, isn’t it? Deep breath everyone – Peter Capaldi is just around the corner. Deep Breath is televised to the nations tonight and we’re all going weak at the knees waiting. Eight months has gone remarkably quickly, really and the premiere is something millions of people have been looking forward to.

Like last Christmas and the months before I’ve compiled all the information we know about this coming run of Doctor Who episodes and looked ahead at what we can expect.

The Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi

Capaldi Coleman Series 8 Parliament Square  (4)You have no idea how my joy typing that gave me. Peter Capaldi is an acting heavyweight and will bring gravitas to the show we love and cherish. How he will display his Doctor’s alleged darkness I don’t know but he’ll do it stylishly but, most importantly, subtly, too.

The jump, I feel, between the Eleventh Doctor and the Twelfth Doctor will be quite a leap. To go from this blabbering, youthful man to an older, more formal “snarling beast” is going to be hard for audiences. I speak for myself when I say that it will take a fair bit of time for me to acclimatise to such a different Doctor.

His relationship with Clara Oswald, too, will, hopefully, improve. While I agree that Clara is likeable, perky, etc., there’s no depth in the idea of her: the Impossible Girl. A self-confessed control freak, it’ll be interesting to see how she interacts with the new Doctor. Also, it might give Jenna Coleman to really stretch her acting abilities and all spoiler-free reviews (such as Doctor Who TV’s excellent one here) confirm this.

The Companions

Clara Oswald, played by Jenna Coleman

Series-8-TV-launch-trailer-(28)If the rumours are true (Capaldi, Coleman and the BBC’s statement on the matter suggest they are) then this will be the beginning of the end of Clara Oswald. Supposedly departing at Christmas, Coleman is said to be moving on for better things although while I have my reservations about Clara, it seems like we’ve only just said hello. If Clara really is leaving then she has some serious developing to do throughout series eight.

Her backstory, for me, never really settled. At first, there was all the leaf stuff and the Crude Dessert Metaphor and the Maitlands and then teaching at Coal Hill School and then her family at Christmas. If Clara’s background settles down and stop flicking between several different backgrounds then I’m hoping she will, too.

Jenna Coleman is a more than capable performer and I think that, if given the right scenes, she could wow us all. Here’s hoping there’s a few emotional whoppers in series 8…

Note: the following characters are not formally credited as companions but still feature throughout the forthcoming episodes, and work as the role of a companion.

Madame Vastra, played by Neve McIntosh

Doctor Who: Series 8: Episode 1There’s something incredibly elegant Neve McIntosh brings to the character of Madame Vastra. While the new Silurian makeup is a considerable step up from the poor blokes back in the 70s who had mounds of foam and rubber strapped to their faces, it can be restrictive. McIntosh leaps over this hurdle like a gazelle and delivers stellar performances every time the Great Detective appears. The Crimson Horror was more Jenny’s story and I don’t expect Deep Breath will be Vastra’s but I’m hoping we might see a great deal of her in the mammoth run-time.

Jenny Flint, played by Catrin Stewart

As I said before, Jenny owned The Crimson Horror, partly because she was sent on a solo mission into Sweetville thus proving Catrin Stewart’s talents. What she does is rather understated and that suits the housemaid of Paternoster Road rather nicely. After all the action up north, I’d expect Jenny to take less of a prominent role – like Vastra – but as long as Catrin Stewart gets a few moments to shine, I’m happy.

Commander Strax, played by Dan Starkey

Strax can be nice in small doses, in my view. Dan Starkey is always game in the role and delivers some of the potentially cringe-worthy lines with gusto. I’ll flat out assume that the Paternoster Gang won’t play much of a part in the events of Deep Breath, consoling Clara while the new Doctor reconsiders the colour of his organs, so I’ll assume that Strax will be on hand to provide some levity in an expectantly dark episode. That just suits me fine.

Danny Pink, played by Samuel Anderson

Samuel-Anderson-Danny-Pink-Doctor-WhoA long time ago when Samuel Anderson was announced as this series’ recurring character, Danny Pink, a former soldier and colleague of Clara’s, I suggested that he might be the latter’s boyfriend. This was instantly shot down and fans didn’t seem to like the fact that Danny might be Clara’s new man (“He won’t be Clara’s boyfriend or anything”, “3 things I don’t want Danny Pink to be: 1. To be a romantic interest” … you can see where it’s going”). Well, now he is but if you lump it rather than like it, some consolation is that Mr. Pink won’t be around for all that long. So far, we know he will be cropping up in Into the Dalek, Listen and The Caretaker (though not confirmed, given the Coal Hill setting, it seems likely). I’m looking forward to seeing what Anderson will bring to the role and how Danny will work with Clara’s character.

The Villains and Monsters

Clockwork Droids and the Half-Made Man

Series-8-TV-launch-trailer-(12)It was first mooted back in January that the tick-tock robots of Steven Moffat’s preeminent series 2 episode, The Girl in the Fireplace would be returning in some appearance. While I don’t imagine they’ll come to the party dressed in their French finery, they might make an appearance in Capaldi’s debut, Deep Breath. The recent plot details Steven Moffat told the Radio Times was that we will “see the Doctor confronting a long-forgotten foe” so there might be some truth in the, at present, thin rumour.

Revealed by the publicity for Deep Breath is the mysterious Half-Made Man, a gruesome robot – or augmented human? – dressed in Victorian formalwear and stalking the streets of London. There’s also been word of some strange spontaneous combustions in Olde London so could the Half-Made Man have a part to play in this? We’ll see… not long now.


Series-8-TV-launch-trailer-(30)This is sheer speculation but I heard it on the grapevine that the Daleks might be appearing. Don’t take my word for it but if the Doctor’s greatest enemies do reappear – or at least one of them – then, surely, they’ll do it with style for the new incarnation of the Time Lord. I’ll say it again: this is wholly rumour but I wouldn’t be surprised. My guess is that they might have a cameo in Phil Ford’s episode, filling in the second slot of series 8. But you never know.


Series-8-TV-launch-trailer-(26)After the tragic box office success of Transformers: Age of Extinction, the Transformers have taken a holiday to Doctor Who, dropping into medieval Nottingham to aid Ben Miller’s sheriff. Glimpsed every so briefly in one of the recent trailers (there’s been so many, I’ve forgotten which one), the purple robots will rally against Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest. Their controller will, it seems, be Ben Miller as the Sheriff of Nottingham and while Mark Gatiss’ episode is suggested to be one of the comical episodes, I don’t doubt that the robots will send many a shiver down many a spine. Likewise, Miller’s Anthony Ainley-inspired appearance will surely be an intimidating presence.

In the corner of your eye.

Series-8-TV-launch-trailer-(14)Steven Moffat’s Listen has already been heralded as the new Blink. The folks that read the scripts have kindly not spoiled it but just said that it’s very, very good. This, in itself, is good. There’s not all that much to say on Listen but the villain is said to be old school but effective. Not knowing is terrifying me, actually!

Ms Delphox

Keeley-Hawes-doctor-whoNot long after the second, propulsive series of Line of Duty finished, it was announced the the magnificent Keeley Hawes would make an appearance in Doctor Who as a banker with an “out-of-this-world” secret. The banker is Ms Delphox (or Ms Delfoxy as I call her) and just from her initial promo photo, it seems she’ll be up there with Miss Foster and Madame Kovarian in Doctor Who’s long list of Stylish Evil Businesswomen.

Hawes is a sublime actor and I can’t wait to see her. Speaking of Miss Foster, Sarah Lancashire’s outstanding performance in the recent Happy Valley has actually made her seem wasted in Partners in Crime – let’s hope the same doesn’t apply to Hawes and she’s given plenty to work with.

Skovox Blitzer

Series-8-TV-launch-trailer-(13)Outlined in the brief plot points Moffat gave to the Radio Times, Skovox Blitzer is the antagonist of Gareth Roberts’ episode six, The Caretaker. Roberts is known for the comedy episodes, providing the paper-light The Lodger and Closing Time. The Caretaker seems to follow in this vein with instant comparisons to made with Roberts’ series 5 episode – i.e. the Doctor goes ‘undercover’ on Earth in a mundane setting. Skovox Blitzer is the blue-eyed, eagle-like robot glimpsed in the trailers and played by Jimmy Vee. While the villains in all of Gareth Roberts’ stories tend to be fairly tame – hence the vitriol aimed Roberts’ way after Closing Time with the Cybermen – the description of Blitzer’s plan: “to destroy humanity” seems much darker. A darker episode from Roberts to fit a darker Doctor and a darker series? Yes please!


Before I give an overview of the forthcoming six episodes, I can reveal the results of the recent poll on the most anticipated story.

  1. Deep Breath 29%
  2. Listen 27%
  3. Into the Dalek 22%
  4. Time Heist 9%
  5. Robot of Sherwood – 7%
  6. The Caretaker 6%

Deep Breath, written by Steven Moffat

Series-8-TV-launch-trailer-(27)Firstly, I’m rather surprised this evening’s opener made it to first place with 29% because from the comments I could tell plenty of people had gotten tired of all the publicity. Evidently not and this is no bad thing, I’m really looking forward to seeing Capaldi’s first episode myself just to get an answer to the question on everyone’s lips – how will he fare?

Deep Breath sees the TARDIS materialise(ish) in Victorian London to be reacquainted with the Paternoster Gang. But at the same time, there’s a rampaging dinosaur on the loose, strange spontaneous combustions and a creepy gentleman that doesn’t seem to be one hundred percent human. While it’s already been said that Deep Breath is not going to be a repeat of The Eleventh Hour, I must say it seems that Moffat played it safe with the plot – and quite rightly. For Deep Breath he needs to write an episode that appeals to both fans and newcomers so I understand his decision completely. And I still can’t wait for it.

Into the Dalek, written by Phil Ford and Steven Moffat

Series-8-TV-launch-trailer-(5)Coming in at third place with 22%, Into the Dalek features the return of the Daleks and that’s enough to have anyone excited so this is no surprise. Phil Ford and Steven Moffat’s script could have just played on the idea of the universe’s first morally correct Dalek but instead they give us something different – that the Doctor and Clara physically enter a Dalek. Had I not known anything about the second episode (other than the title), I could have easily guessed that Into the Dalek will feature much shouting, much moral ambiguousness and a major ‘Capaldi moment’ (definition: a moment when the Twelfth Doctor does something so extreme that it startles you, originated by Steven Moffat).

Robot of Sherwood, written by Mark Gatiss

tom-riley-doctor-who-rh-filmingWhile I’m sure plenty of people anticipate Mark Gatiss’ third episode, I expect not as much as the other few episodes so Robot of Sherwood clocks in the penultimate spot with 7%.

The Crimson Horror was my favourite story out of series 7 (and I know it has many flaws) so I expect another brilliant historical from Mark Gatiss. The casting of Tom Riley (well known for playing the titular character in Da Vinci’s Demons) and Ben Miller is inspired; they’re two strong performers who will hopefully bring lots to their respective roles. You don’t have to be a genius to work out that Gatiss’ episode will probably be a comedy episode (up there with The Caretaker) but with such a dark series promised I wonder if the light-hearted relief of the Matt Smith era will not be translated to Capaldi’s debut series. While I expect Robot of Sherwood (I prefer the original suggested title: Robots of Sherwood but it doesn’t bother me all that much) to be funny, I think it’ll have its fair share of dark moments to sit nicely with the supposedly gloomier run of episodes.

But the question is… will it be a Gatissterpiece?


Listen, written by Steven Moffat

Listen! – Series 8: Teaser trailerNot much is known about Listen and that’s no bad thing but evidently everyone’s looking forward to it as the fourth episode took second spot with 27%.

Filming was kept quiet so there aren’t that many photos circulating and no one knows who the villain is. Deep Breath we know… Into the Dalek we know… Robot of Sherwood we know… but Listen… nothing. I expect Danny Pink will appear as he was sighted in photos in the recent Doctor Who Magazine and from the Radio Times teasers it seems likely he’ll be the “little boy who doesn’t want to join the army”. Will Listen be a masterpiece of Blink­-like status?

Time Heist, written by Stephen Thompson and Steven Moffat

Series-8-TV-launch-trailer-(15)Third to last place, Time Heist’s lure is, presumably, because of Keeley Hawes, the creature glimpsed in the clips, a part-Moffat script and a seriously deadly bank… at 9%, I’m surprised Time Heist isn’t higher.

Keeley Hawes in the most secure bank in the universe with a creepy monster called the Teller – what’s not to like? Stephen Thompson is a divisive screenwriter in the Who roster so Time Heist will likely follow in the footsteps of Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS and divide the fans. Steven Moffat will be co-author of this one so he might have elevated it to something better – here’s hoping. From what we can tell, the plot of Time Heist is that the Doctor, Clara, a cyber-augmented gamer and a shape-shifter will break into the most high-tech bank in the universe – a Doctor Who heist movie? Count me in.

The Caretaker, written by Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat

capaldi-series-8-filming-sonicSadly, Gareth Roberts’ contribution to series 8 came in last place, drawing in a measly 6% but I’m sure many people look forward to it. You can see why Deep Breath is first and The Caretaker is last, really, and I’m sure it’ll be a joy as Roberts’ scripts are always laugh-out-loud hilarious.

It’s been said that Clara will attempt to maintain both her life aboard the TARDIS and with Danny Pink in Coal Hill School. Of course, at one point, these lives will connect and that seems to be in The Caretaker (unless the Doctor and Danny meet in Listen). The Doctor disguises himself as the school’s Scots janitor, pursuing an evil creature by the name of Skovox Blitzer, and Clara, Danny and one of their pupils, Courtney (played by Ellis George) will become embroiled in the whole affair. Putting it like that, I’m really looking forward to The Caretaker and what Gareth Roberts can bring to the new, dark Doctor, considering he has written jovial scripts for the recent, more jovial Doctors.

Not long now, folks – Deep Breath is imminent so get comfy, grab the jammie dodgers… ahem, deep fried Mars bars, and settle in for the first appearance of Peter Capaldi. Between you and me… I think he’ll be amazing.