“It’s Doctor Who from Amy and Rory’s point of view,” says writer Chris Chibnall, priming us for his second episode this season (after the riotous Dinosaurs on a Spaceship). “It’s really what life is like to travel with the Doctor if you’re Amy and Rory.”
The Power of Three is structured differently from most episodes. Taking place over almost a year, it unfolds like a John Wyndham sci-fi page-turner, constantly keeping you guessing as the Earth deals with an invasion by stealth. And, Chris promises, “It’s genuinely packed with stuff. Lots of little moments and little surprises.”
The whole world is surprised to wake up and find that millions of little black cubes have appeared out of nowhere. They’re inert, impenetrable and indestructible. But what are they? Where are they from? Who created them? Are they part of some covert marketing ploy? Every home and office must have one, but are they truly benign? This is what the Doctor and his friends must find out – only their surveillance of the cubes takes months so the restless Time Lord has to move in with the Ponds…
Look out for some amusing cameos by very famous TV faces – who we can’t possibly name in advance. And there are wonderful star turns, too. Mark Williams is back as Rory’s dad, Brian, and really earns his companion/assistant badge. Steven Berkoff – surely always destined to be a Doctor Who villain – appears all too briefly and is somewhat subdued but brilliant.
The standout performance is from Jemma Redgrave. Sheer class. You’ll definitely be rooting for a return for Kate, the sympathetic new leader of Unit.
Yes, Unit (the Unified Intelligence Taskforce) is back. This semi-top-secret military-scientific outfit has featured in the Doctor’s life since the 1960s; it employed him long ago as well as several of his most popular companions: the Brigadier, Liz, Jo, Mike Yates, Benton, Harry and much later Martha… Chris chuckles: “Unit may have an important role, or they may have a completely sidelined role. Who knows…”
Stop teasing, Chris! He admits The Power of Three was “a really great chance to use Unit. There’s a strange invasion going on, so Unit is the best thing to deal with that. As a writer you’re eternally grateful to everyone back in 1968 who came up with that idea because it’s a brilliant storytelling mechanism. Unit is embedded into the family history of the show. And it’s nice because Matt’s Doctor hasn’t had a Unit episode until now.”
If you’ve enjoyed Chris Chibnall’s two episodes this year, look out for his new project coming next year. He’s created, written and is executive producer of Broadchurch, an eight-part drama for ITV. “It’s the story of how a death affects a small town,” he says. “It’s shooting now and stars David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Arthur Darvill, Andrew Buchan, Vicky McClure and Jodie Whitaker.”
Patrick first joined Radio Times as a teenager in the black-and-white days of 1984. A career in journalism led to ES Magazine, Time Out, rival TV guides and Doctor Who Magazine. The Tardis returned him to RT in 2005, since when he’s been reviewing Nordic noir and Sicilian vice, saucy sitcoms, the BBC Proms and the further adventures of the Time Lord. He lives in the Smoke but prefers a sea breeze.