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The Caretaker

Story synopsis

The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara (Jenna Coleman) are trapped on an alien planet at the start of The Caretaker (2004).

”LISTEN, I’M SORRY BUT THERE’S GOING TO BE NO TRIP TODAY. I’M SORRY, I’VE GOT TO DO A THING. IT MIGHT TAKE A WHILE…” THE DOCTOR

The Skovox Blitzer; Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson).

The Doctor and Clara are chained up on a desert planet… … but they escape, and Clara makes her date with Danny. She’s having trouble keeping up her double life of adventuring with the Doctor and dating Danny, but she tells herself she has it all under control.

Back at Coal Hill School, Clara and Danny are about to leave the staff room when the headmaster introduces the new temporary Caretaker. The Doctor!

When asked by Danny, Clara denies knowing the Doctor. Later, when they are alone, the Doctor refuses to explain what he is doing.

A community support officer finds two children outside a derelict building. After they’ve gone, he hears something inside the building. He investigates… and is gunned down by an alien robot.

Clara sees the Doctor talking with Danny and a teacher with a bow tie called Adrian. The Doctor asks Clara if the person she keeps going on dates with is at the school – because he thinks she is going out with Adrian.

The Doctor places devices around the school, then returns to the storeroom where the TARDIS is parked. A girl called Courtney walks in looking for paper towels and the Doctor tells her to get lost.

Clara passes Courtney as she leaves then demands to know why the Doctor is there. He explains that he is scanning for a Skovox Blitzer, a deadly killing machine which has homed in on artron emissions.

The Doctor’s plan involves a watch that makes him invisible. He has set up a circle of time mines around the school which will suck the Blitzer into a vortex and send it billions of years into the future.

That night, the Doctor investigates the derelict building. The Blitzer detects his presence.

Danny returns to the school and removes one of the mines.

The Doctor also returns to the school, pursued by the Blitzer, but when he reaches the hall he discovers that his trap has been interfered with. Danny enters and the Blitzer fires at him; he drops the mine and the Doctor creates a vortex. Clara rushes in and grabs Danny as the Blitzer is sucked into the vortex. But it is only sent three days into the future.

Clara goes with Danny back to his flat. Danny wants to know what Clara is like when she’s with the Doctor, so the next day Clara gives him the Doctor’s invisibility watch.

Then she goes into the TARDIS, where the Doctor is building a new device. The Doctor knows that Danny is with them and, realising this, Danny makes himself visible and they have an argument.

After they have gone, the Doctor has to deal with Courtney who wants to know what is inside his police box.

Danny and Clara are in the middle of parents’ evening when the Doctor waves them outside. The vortex is opening early. The Blitzer reappears in the hall and Clara lures it to the storeroom using the sonic screwdriver. The Doctor uses his new device to make the Blitzer think he is its general. He orders it to shut down, but instead it prepares to selfdestruct. Then Danny appears and leaps over the robot. It fires at him, giving the Doctor time to use the override code to make the Blitzer abort its self-destruct.

The Doctor casts the robot into deep space. His passenger in the TARDIS, Courtney, throws up.

Danny and Clara cuddle up on his sofa. He makes her promise to tell him if the Doctor pushes her too far.

The community support officer is in an endless corridor with a man called Seb, who explains that they are in the afterlife…

The Doctor takes on the identity of a caretaker called John Smith – much to Clara’s alarm.

Pre-production

The Doctor climbs a ladder and talks to Clara as she’s giving a lesson.

Steven Moffat suggested to Gareth Roberts a story where the Doctor and Danny Pink meet properly, as Clara’s two different lives finally collide.

The school has become an unfortunate battleground because of its past history and because of things that are currently happening there. It’s become a place where bad things are going to happen…” writer Gareth Roberts told Doctor Who Magazine of The Caretaker, which took the Doctor into an adventure located back at his granddaughter’s alma mater of Coal Hill School, Shoreditch.

“A few years ago we did an episode called The Lodger where the Doctor just moves in with a bloke for a while. This, in a way, is the new version”, commented executive producer Steven Moffat in the online Introduction to The Caretaker. “This is the Doctor meets the real world and real world problems.” The Lodger – part of the 2010 series featuring the Eleventh Doctor – had been written by Gareth Roberts, a regular writer on Doctor Who since 2006, and had off ered a comedy thriller in which the Time Lord attempted to blend in with everyday contemporary life. The episode had proved very popular, spawning a sequel, Closing Time in the 2011 series.

Samuel Anderson as maths teacher Danny Pink.

What Moffat suggested to Roberts was a story about the Doctor working in contemporary England – specifically as the caretaker at Clara’s place of employment, Coal Hill School; this would allow a point mid-season for the Doctor and Danny Pink to meet properly as Clara’s two different lives finally collided.

Moffat’s directives to Roberts about the new Doctor was that he should still be fun, as with the previous incarnations, but should also feature some elements of early on in the Doctor’s fourth incarnation such as the stern perspective and remoteness demonstrated in The Ark in Space and Genesis of the Daleks (both 1975). Roberts took great pleasure in having fun with all the ways in which the new Doctor could be rude.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Doctor Who Magazine continues its exhaustive chronicle of the show’s production with a volume dedicated to four memorable episodes of Series 8: Time Heist, The Caretaker, Kill the Moon and Mummy on the Orient Express. Andrew Pixley’s meticulous behind-the-scenes coverage – reproduced in magazine format for the first time – examines every aspect of the stories’ development, from scripting through to transmission and beyond. Richly illustrated with rare and previously unseen images, this collectors’ edition is the essential guide to the series that charted a new course for the adventure in space and time…