*Warning: Spoilers ahead for Doctor Who season 14 episode 73 Yards.*


As we reach the half-way point in Doctor Who season 14, the show's most mysterious episode in some time has now aired, with fans currently trying to wrap their minds around the ending of 73 Yards.

The new episode delves into Welsh folk horror, with the Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Millie Gibson (Ruby Sunday) arriving on the coast in the TARDIS. But quickly, after the Doctor steps into a fairy circle, Ruby sees a mysterious figure watching her from a distance and the Doctor disappears.

The rest of the episode sees Ruby left on her own, but how does she find out what the woman in the distance wants, and who she is?

Read on for everything you need to know about the ending to Doctor Who's 73 Yards. Buckle in!

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Doctor Who – 73 Yards ending explained: Who is the woman?

By the end of the episode, it's revealed that the woman in the distance is an older version of Ruby.

Early in the episode, the Doctor disappears and Ruby is left to her own devices. She leaves to go back home, with not only her mother, Carla Sunday (Michelle Greenidge), but also Head of UNIT, Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave) abandoning her.

We see Ruby at different stages in her life – all with the woman still following her, staying 73 yards away at all times.

A pivotal scene then takes place in a hospital, when Ruby is an old woman. The woman in the distance appears in the room, right in front of Ruby. As they see each other, we're transported to the clifftop to when the Doctor and Ruby first stepped out of the TARDIS – but this time we see things from the woman's perspective.

Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday in Doctor Who episode 73 Yards
Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday in Doctor Who episode 73 Yards. BBC Studios,Lara Cornell

Watching Ruby, the woman comments on how young she was, making it clear that, all along, the woman has been an older version of Ruby.

This time, Ruby manages to stop the Doctor from breaking the fairy circle. He doesn't disappear, and everything is set right. The older version of Ruby now disappears, with younger Ruby seeming to not remember anything – except the idea that she'd visited Wales a third time in her life.

Russell T Davies went some way to explaining this ending when speaking in a behind-the-scenes video on the Doctor Who YouTube channel.

He said of the episode's cyclical plot: "Something profane has happened with the disturbance of that fairy circle. There’s been a lack of respect. The Doctor, who’s very respectful of alien cultures and alien lifeforms and alien mythologies, he’s just walked through something very, very powerful. So something has gone wrong, and something has just corrected.

"It’s like Ruby had to spend a life of penitence, in which she eventually does something good, which brings the whole thing full circle, which kind of forgives them in the end."

What is the significance of 73 Yards?

This one is quite a logical answer. From what showrunner Russell T Davies has said, it seems that 73 yards is the perfect distance to be able to see the figure in the distance but not see any distinguishing features. It also had to be shorter than the length of a football pitch for the scene with Roger ap Gwilliam (Aneurin Barnard) to work.

Davies said on Doctor Who: Unleashed: "It’s 73 yards simply because, when I was writing this… I have no idea about distance, so to get the distance I went out to Swansea Pier. And on Swansea Pier the railings are three and a half feet long, so I could measure.

Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday in Doctor Who episode 73 Yards
Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday in Doctor Who episode 73 Yards. BBC Studios,James Pardon

"So I literally stood on Swansea pier until I could stare, just at people passing by, until a woman was eventually about 73 yards away. And I thought, 'That’s the right distance. She’s a blur, but she’s not a blur, I can just about see her.'

"And I handed the script in saying, 'It’s not exactly a very scientific method, I think that’s right. It might be 90, it might be 60'. Turns out, I was right! My scientific methods using railings on Swansea Pier were exactly right, and we’ve stuck with 73 yards."

Who is Mad Jack?

Mad Jack turns out to be Roger ap Gwilliam, played by Aneurin Barnard, who becomes Prime Minister during the episode. He's a dangerous politician, who Ruby gets close to in order to formulate a plan to get rid of him.

We first hear the name Mad Jack when Ruby reads a piece of paper in the fairy circle saying: "Rest in Peace, Mad Jack." During the 2040s, Ruby sees Gwilliam on TV revealing his nickname was 'Mad Jack'.

Aneurin Barnard as Roger Ap Gwilliam in Doctor Who episode 73 Yards
Aneurin Barnard as Roger Ap Gwilliam in Doctor Who episode 73 Yards. ,BBC Studios,James Pardon

During the episode, Gwilliam makes chilling political promises, as well as it being made clear that he's harassing staff members.

Ruby manages to force him to resign during a visit to a football stadium. Standing exactly 73 Yards away from him, she causes the woman in the distance to stand right next to him. Terrified, he runs away from her and resigns from his role as Prime Minister.

What did the woman say to Carla and Kate?

It's not clear what the woman says to older Carla to make her abandon the younger version of Ruby. During the episode. UNIT's Kate Stewart also rejects her after an interaction with the woman.

When Carla attempts to call Ruby while speaking to the woman, Ruby is unable to hear what she's saying.

Michelle Greenidge as Carla Sunday in Doctor Who
Michelle Greenidge as Carla Sunday in Doctor Who. BBC Studios

One theory is that she said anything she needed to in order to ensure that the younger version of Ruby stayed on her own, to keep her on the right path to one day go back in time and complete the loop.

It seems that theories are the best we will do on this question as well, as Russell T Davies said on Doctor Who: Unleashed that he never intends to reveal just what the woman was saying.

When asked this question, he responded: "You will never know. I’m never gonna tell you what she says. It’s kind of up to you to sit there and think, 'well, what could someone say that would make a mother run away from her daughter forever?'.

"You could look at yourself and think, 'What would make me do that?' And once you start to do that, you enter the real horror story. The dreadful things that are being said there, terrible things."

Doctor Who continues on Saturday 1st June on BBC iPlayer and BBC One. Previous seasons are available to stream on BBC iPlayer with episodes of the classic series also available on BritBox – you can sign up for a 7-day free trial here.


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