Ah, it’s that time of year again. If you close your eyes and wish your hardest, you can just about hear them – the Tardis engines grinding in the sky. The Doctor is coming back.
When last seen, he tumbled down a chimney on Christmas Eve and saved a bad man’s soul, but darker days now lie ahead for the last of the Time Lords. The Silence, the unseen enemy who blew up his Tardis last year, have laid deeper plans and set the deadliest trap of all – one that has been ticking away in the Doctor’s life for longer than anyone knows.
Newlyweds Amy and Rory are caught up in a century-spanning scheme, and somewhere out there, in a storm-lashed prison, River Song is getting ready to tell the Doctor something that will change his life for ever.
By Lake Silencio, on the Plain of Sighs, a story will begin and end. A good man is going to die, an impossible life will begin, and our heroes will set out on the long road to the deadliest secret in the universe – and when it stares you in the face, you might just discover you’ve known about it all along.
This year Doctor Who happens twice. Seven episodes now, a cliffhanger that changes everything, then six more episodes after the summer. But that’s not all that is changing. Last year was a rollercoaster: Matt Smith’s amazing new Doctor came bursting out of the Tardis and tried every ride in the funfair – except one. It’s time to step aboard the ghost train.
Welcome to new monsters, new terrors and Doctor Who season six. Hold tight!
The Ultimate Episode Guide by Steven Moffat
1. The Impossible Astronaut
2. Day of the Moon
Writer: Steven Moffat
Director: Toby Haynes
Guest stars: Alex Kingston, Mark Sheppard, Stuart Milligan
For the first time since the show came back, we’re starting with a two-parter. I said to our genius director Toby Haynes (The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang and A Christmas Carol), “Start like it’s the finale”, and my God, that’s just what he’s done.
I’m not sure Doctor Who has ever felt bigger, bolder or madder. The Doctor, Amy, Rory and River in the Valley of the Gods, Nixon’s White House, Area 51 and a strangely familiar spaceship. Oh, and there’s Alex Kingston diving backwards off a skyscraper.
Look, what else do you want from your television? Well, monsters, I expect. And oh, we’ve got monsters. The Silence, revealed at last. And I’d like to tell you about them. I really would. But I can’t – I just can’t. You’ll see.
3. The Curse of the Black Spot
Writer: Steve Thompson
Director: Jeremy Webb
Guest stars: Hugh Bonneville, Lily Cole, Lee Ross
Pirates in Doctor Who! Hugh Bonneville in a beard! Matt Smith in a stupid hat! Ooh, this one’s got it all. Brilliant Steve Thompson (he wrote a Sherlock last year – good show, I hear) hinted to me he’d rather like to write a Doctor Who. And he hinted it every single day for the next six months. When I finally agreed (and he was kind enough to release my family from his garage), it was one of the smartest decisions I’ve made on this show.
This is Doctor Who in the grand tradition: spooky and clever and very funny. And new director Jeremy Webb did such a stellar job (on a real ship, by the way) that we locked the cutting-room door and told him he was staying to do another one straightaway. He’s still crying. Tears of joy, I expect.
4. The Doctor’s Wife
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Director: Richard Clark
Guest stars: Suranne Jones, Michael Sheen
“Fear me – I’ve killed hundreds of Time Lords.” “Fear me – I’ve killed all of them.” Remember those lines from the trailer? Well, this is the one they come from. At last Proper Writing God Neil Gaiman steps on board the Tardis.
Now if you know Neil’s work (and if you don’t, what’s the matter with you?) then you already know he’s a Doctor Who fan. You can just sense it in every line, every joke, every spooky moment – and look at his hair!
It’s funny, but as one of the most famous novelists in the world, writing an episode of a television show should feel like a big departure for him – but actually it feels like he’s coming home. And it’s a fact that of all the photos in existence of our studios, 82 per cent were taken by Neil on his one-day set visit.
Ah, but I don’t seem to have said anything about the plot or that title. Oh well!
5. The Rebel Flesh
6. The Almost People
Writer: Matthew Graham
Director: Julian Simpson
Guest stars: Raquel Cassidy, Sarah Smart, Marshall Lancaster
“Oh dear,” said Marcus Wilson, our steadfast and undefeatable new producer, looking at his BlackBerry. “The roof ‘s fallen in.” “What do you mean?” we asked. “Oh, what’s happened this time?” “No, it’s not a metaphor,” said Marcus, wearily. “It’s the roof. It’s actually fallen in!”
For a shoot that involved a collapsing location and, for a while, a director (hello, Julian Simpson!) on painkillers and a walking stick, this is a cracker of a two-parter.
Get behind the sofa now – reserve your place. If you, like me, have always longed for a movie about an alien shape-changer and an industrial dispute, this is the one for you.
Yes, it’s The Thing meets Made in Dagenham – and a brief but terrifying insight into the mind of that king among television writers, Matthew Graham (Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes). You’ll probably want a little sit-down afterwards.
7. A Good Man Goes to War
Writer: Steven Moffat
Director: Peter Hoar
Guest stars: Alex Kingston, Frances Barber, Christina Chong, Simon Fisher-Becker
Want to find the most dangerous place in the universe? Easy. Harm a hair on Amy’s head and just wait. But as the last of the Time Lords and the Lone Centurion blaze across galaxies to save the woman in both their lives, history is unfolding.
In her cell, in Stormcage, River Song knows the time has come at last. She has a secret, and this is the day she tells it. The battle of Demons Run has begun. And the Doctor’s darkest hour is now.