A star rating of 3 out of 5.

Two episodes into Ncuti Gatwa's reign as the Fifteenth Doctor in Doctor Who, Maestro (Jinkx Monsoon) has come to play.


As a new era of Doctor Who arrives, many of us will be refreshing iPlayer at midnight to watch Space Babies, a bizarre romp of a story, before clicking through, bleary-eyed but clamouring for more in the early hours of the morning, to The Devil's Chord.

Going in, we already know a lot about the episode – fresh from their first adventures together, the Fifteenth Doctor and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) venture back in time to the 1960s to watch The Beatles record their first album at the iconic Abbey Road. But things aren't quite right.

Enter Maestro, a force of nature and an all-powerful godlike figure who's changing history – resulting in London once again becoming a battlefield for the Doctor as he attempts to save the future of humanity.

Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson as the Doctor and Ruby Sunday in Doctor Who. They're dressed in 60s outfits outside the TARDIS and they're holding each toher looking frightened.
Ncuti Gatwa as the Doctor and Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday in Doctor Who. BBC Studios/Bad Wolf,Natalie Seery

With war raging across London, and a foe that the Doctor seemingly has no way of taking down, it sounds like a classic Russell T Davies tale – and it is for the most part.

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Of course, with that big old Disney budget, it's shinier, flashier, and very palatable to fans coming to Doctor Who for the first time (although that's not to say there aren't some glorious little references for seasoned Whovians).

Paul McCartney (George Caple), George Harrison (Philip Davies) and John Lennon (Chris Mason) in Doctor Who
Paul McCartney (George Caple), George Harrison (Philip Davies) and John Lennon (Chris Mason) in Doctor Who. BBC Studios/Bad Wolf,James Pardon

Curiously, Davies recently referred to the episode as almost having no plot, "just some subplots" and that's where some are likely to find fault with the episode. Story-wise, for better or for worse, it's incredibly simple – but that does leave room for some stellar performances.

We already know this but The Devil's Chord only secures it further; Gatwa is completely mesmerising as the Doctor.

Ncuti Gatwa as the Doctor in Doctor Who
Ncuti Gatwa as the Doctor in Doctor Who. BBC Studios/Bad Wolf,James Pardon

Every single line is delivered with an energy that will make you feel like you're a child watching the show for the first time. His chemistry with the brilliant Gibson as Ruby Sunday is unbeatable. Every movement is intentional, and every grin, every laugh, and every monologue will have you ready to follow him into the TARDIS for adventures across the universe at a moment's notice. Oh, and thanks to costume designer Pam Downe, he looks absolutely sensational doing it.

But his isn't the only stand-out performance in The Devil's Chord and there's one that might just outshine him this time around.

More than a decade after Jinkx Monsoon first graced our screens in RuPaul's Drag Race, they've done just about everything, continuing to hone their craft on Broadway and, oh, this is the role for them.

Maestro is a villain that feels like they could jump out of the screen and they're impossible to look away from. It's almost difficult to hate them because it's clear how much Monsoon relished bringing such a camp, theatrical and, in the best way, completely ridiculous villain to mainstream TV.

Is The Devil's Chord a perfect Doctor Who story? Absolutely not. But it's vivid, silly, gripping, and sees our brand new Doctor battle a larger than life villain across the streets of 1960s London. We could certainly be doing a lot worse.

Doctor Who will return on Saturday 11th May 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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