FIVE BRILLIANT THINGS ABOUT DOCTOR WHO - SERIES 8 EPISODE 4

We don’t know about you, but we are still hiding behind the sofa after Saturday’s Doctor Who episode Listen inDoctor Who what has to be the scariest episode since Asylum Of The Daleks. With echoes of Poltergeist and Aliens, we will be having nightmares about this one for a long time to come.

The episode opened with the Doctor sitting astride the Tardis, talking to himself, as he mused on everything from evolution to survival to everything in between.  Meanwhile Clara was on a disastrous date with Danny Pink, and these two plots intertwined with a trip to the end of the universe to meet Danny’s younger self and great-grandson. The Doctor's home planet Gallifrey also made a rare appearance, as we discovered that our favourite Timelord is afraid of the dark.

In a new regular feature, our resident Whovian Paul Cornell shares with us his five favourite things about this week's episode.

1: This was a story about the Doctor being wrong.  He sought to confront the great and powerful 'other' and found only the frightened child inside him.  (It reminds me of when screenwriter Aaron Sorkin puts one of his characters in therapy, or of how the central evil vanishes when understood in The Sixth Sense and The Others, also stories that feature a child standing up under a blanket, waiting to be revealed.)  In interrogating the character like that, and turning the most cliched version of the series inside out, this might be the best Doctor Who story ever.  Certainly, it's a showpiece, central one.

2: The Doctor *is* right, though, in thinking someone is always with him when he's alone.  We the audience are.  He starts the story with 'listen', a word obviously on his mind, said to us, like at the start of Beowulf, the first story about a monster out there in the dark.  Then he writes it on a blackboard and forgets about it.  But we're the ones who are meant to listen, because this story has something to say to us about the nature of unknown evils.

3: The scene of the Doctor and Clara helping young Rupert Pink with his demons.  This is surely Capaldi's 'Ark in Space' moment, where we see the character clearly for the first time.  'The deep and lovely dark,' and fear as a good thing.  

4: It's directed as well as it's written.  Douglas Mackinnon frames the Doctor talking about the unseen menace as if something's continually going to walk into shot behind him.  When Clara talks about a hero who can keep the whole world safe, the camera's focused on the Doctor in the background.  

5: Clara as a proper lead character.  She's a real person here, a woman who's happy with who she is, a teacher who cares for and tends to both Danny and the Doctor.  She's also comfortable with how she looks: isn't it brilliant to have a female character who watches herself walk away and thinks she looks great?  This is a story about her considering her place in the flow of time.  The 'family heirloom' scene is as tense as any other.  

Altogether: I have a new favourite Doctor Who story, and one that I think's one of the very best the series has produced, in all its seasons, that defines Doctor Who and moves it forward at the same time.  

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Paul Cornell is a TV screenwriter for Doctor Who, as well as one of our favourite authors on the Tor UK list. His latest novel The Severed Streets is out now.