London, 1941: an alien craft has crashed, and a mysterious child is
terrorising the homeless children of the city. The scariest episode yet by a
considerable distance.

Cast and Crew

Christopher Ecclestone as the Doctor
Billie Piper as Rose Tyler
Kate Harvey as the Nightclub Singer
Albert Valentine as the Child
Florence Hoath as Nancy
Cheryl Fergison as Mrs Lloyd
Damian Samuels as Mr Lloyd
John Barrowman as Jack Harkness
Robert Hands as Algy
Joseph Tremain as Jim
Jordan Murphy as Ernie
Brandon Miller as Alf
Richard Wilson as Dr. Constantine
Noah Johnson was the voice of the Empty Child
Dian Perry was the voice of the Computer

Written by Steven Moffat

Directed by James Hawes

Produced by Phil Collinson

Synopsis

After picking up a critical alert, the TARDIS follows an alien craft to
London, 1941. In the height of the Blitz, the crashed alien ship is under
army guard, and homeless children are being terrorised by a
mysterious child.

This episode was billed by the BBC as the ‘scariest episode yet’.
They were entirely correct, this is real hide-behind-the-sofa material,
scarier than any Doctor Who I remember from when I was a kid. It is
the first part of a two-part story.

High Points

  • Every appearance of the Empty Child. He never takes you by
    surprise, but he sends shivers down your spine without fail
  • The Doctor’s conversation with Dr. Constantine
  • Nancy’s dinner

Low Point

Although it was useful for the plot, why didn’t Rose let go of that
rope before it was too late?

The Review

This feels very original. Ghost stories set during the Blitz
aren’t the newest idea in the world, but this is a great – and terrifying –
take on it. Five out of six.

The effects were actually quite disappointing – Rose’s trip
outdoors during the air raid just didn’t quite do it. Of course, the
budget to make the raid look convincing would probably have been
about the same as that to make all the rest of the series, so we can
forgive them a bit. Four out of six.

As for the story… interesting, frightening and continually
throwing things at you with perfect pacing. Although it scared
frightened the wits out of me, I’m still eager to know what happens
next week. Six out of six.

The acting played up to the story and carried it well
without flaws or failures. Six out of six.

Does pure fright count as an emotional response? Yes, it
does. Six out of six for pure terror coupled with sympathy.

The production was good but not faultless. The look is
excellent – World War Two England as good as we ever see it. Some
things seem to have been skipped though – there is little evidence of
blackout precautions and not many people carrying gas masks. It
doesn’t hurt the story, but it doesn’t feel as authentic as it should be.
Four out of six.

Overall, any flaws this episode has are eclipsed by the
sheer quality of everything else – and the fear. Six out of six.

The grand total therefore is thirty-seven out of forty-two. If you
only get to see one episode of this series of Doctor Who, this one is the
one you should see. Next week’s will probably be as good, but without
this week’s it’s unlikely to mean anything.