Can You Hear Me? (Doctor Who)

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293 – "Can You Hear Me?"
Doctor Who episode
  • Ian Gelder – Zellin
  • Buom Tihngang – Tibo
  • Clare-Hope Ashitey – Rakaya
  • Sharon D. Clarke – Grace O'Brien
  • Bhavnisha Parmar – Sonya Khan
  • Aruhan Galieva – Tahira
  • Sirine Saba – Maryam
  • Nasreen Hussain – Anita Patel
  • Everal A Walsh – Gabriel
  • Michael Keane – Fred
  • Amanda Liberman – Mum
  • Willie Jonah – Old Tibo
  • Anthony Taylor – Andrew
Directed byEmma Sullivan
Written by
Script editorFiona McAllister
Produced byAlex Mercer
Executive producer(s)
  • Chris Chibnall
  • Matt Strevens
Music bySegun Akinola
SeriesSeries 12
Running time49 minutes
First broadcast9 February 2020 (2020-02-09)
← Preceded by
Followed by →
"The Haunting of Villa Diodati"
List of Doctor Who episodes (2005–present)

"Can You Hear Me?" is the seventh episode of the twelfth series of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who, first broadcast on BBC One on 9 February 2020. It was written by Charlene James and Chris Chibnall, and directed by Emma Sullivan.

From 14th-century Syria to modern-day Sheffield, the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and her companions Graham O'Brien (Bradley Walsh), Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole), and Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill) are stalked by a strange being who forces them to confront their worst fears.

The episode was watched by 4.90 million viewers, and received mixed reviews from critics.


The Doctor drops her companions off in Sheffield to spend time with friends and family, while she responds to an alert from Aleppo, Syria, in 1380. There, she saves Tahira, the last patient alive in the bimaristan Arghun mental hospital, from a threatening creature.

Meanwhile, the Doctor's companions have dark visions: Graham sees a trapped woman pleading for help; Yaz has nightmares about a man in dark clothes; Ryan sees the same man detaching his fingers and placing them in his friend Tibo's ears after which they both vanish. The three contact the Doctor simultaneously.

The Doctor uses the TARDIS's telepathic controls to track down Graham's vision, locating it near a spacecraft lodged between two planets, preventing the planets from colliding. Inside the craft is a small prison structure with a power source protected by a quantum fluctuation lock. They also find signals being sent from Earth to the prison via the detached fingers. The Doctor manipulates the lock while the others explore the craft, but are captured by the dark-clothed man. Just as the Doctor opens the lock, the man reveals himself to the Doctor as the immortal god Zellin, and thanks her for rescuing his ally, Rakaya, another immortal god that had been trapped in the prison. The two thrive in causing chaos and had turned the civilizations on the two planets against each other before their inhabitants learned how to trap Rakaya. To keep her sane, Zellin sent her nightmares from humans on Earth.

Zellin and Rakaya trap the Doctor and travel to Earth to feed off nightmares. The Doctor frees herself and her allies and discovers how to manipulate Zellin's fingers to engage the prison. Knowing that the creature in Aleppo is a nightmare from Tahira's own mind and cannot harm her, the Doctor lures the gods to Aleppo and then traps the gods and the creature in the prison.

After returning Tahira to her time, the others return to contemporary Sheffield to recover. Ryan promises to stay in better contact with Tibo. Yaz goes to thank a police officer who had talked her down from suicidal thoughts years prior. Graham opens up to the Doctor about his past cancer scares. Ryan talks to Yaz about the impact of their travels with the Doctor on their personal lives. As her companions discuss their future with the Doctor, she suddenly announces they are going to visit Mary Shelley.


In a speech to the Doctor, Zellin mentions other immortal beings including the Celestial Toymaker (from the First Doctor serial of the same name), the Guardians (from multiple serials in the Fourth and Fifth Doctor series), and the Eternals (from the Fifth Doctor serial Enlightenment).[1]

In Graham's dream, he remembers his late wife Grace, last seen in "It Takes You Away" who tells him his cancer has returned. Graham tells the Doctor in "The Woman Who Fell To Earth" about being in remission from cancer, and how Grace was his nurse.[2]



"Can You Hear Me?" was written by Charlene James and Chris Chibnall.[3]


Ian Gelder portrays Zellin in this episode, having previously appeared in the Whoniverse as Dekker in Torchwood: Children of Earth (2009) and voiced the Remnants in "The Ghost Monument" (2018).[4] Sharon D. Clarke reprises her role as Graham's late wife, Grace.[2]


Emma Sullivan directed the fourth block of the seventh and eighth episodes.[5]

Broadcast and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Rotten Tomatoes (Tomatometer)67%[6]
Rotten Tomatoes (Average Score)6.64/10[6]
Review scores
The A.V. ClubB−[7]
Entertainment WeeklyC+[8]
Radio Times[10]
The Independent[11]
The Telegraph[12]


"Can You Hear Me?" aired on 9 February 2020.[13]


"Can You Hear Me?" was watched by 3.81 million viewers overnight, making it the seventh most watched programme for the day in the United Kingdom.[14] The episode had an Audience Appreciation Index score of 78.[15] The episode received an official total of 4.90 million viewers across all UK channels and was the 36th most watched programme of the week.[15]

Critical reception[edit]

The episode received a 67% approval, and an average rating of 6.64/10, on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, based on 15 reviews from critics. The consensus on the website reads, "'Can You Hear Me?' has plenty of ideas and some decent spooks, but good intentions can't carry an episode to a satisfying conclusion."[6]

Near the end, Graham discusses the emotional impact of the nightmares he had with the Doctor, and says he is scared that his cancer could come back despite his recent checkup; the Doctor mentions being socially awkward and says she will stand by the console and hopefully think of the right thing to say. This scene was scrutinised by critics and fans, with some criticising the Doctor as dismissive and others praising it as being something they could relate to. In response to complaint emails sent to the BBC, viewers were told the scene "was never meant to be dismissive. The Doctor's friend was scared, and we see her struggling to deal with the severity of the situation", and that "The intention of the scene was to acknowledge how hard it can be to deal with conversations on this subject matter. When faced with these situations, people don’t always have the right words to say at the right time, and this can often lead to feelings of guilt. By showing the Doctor struggling to find the right words, the intention was to sympathise with all those who may have found themselves in a similar position."[16]


  1. ^ "Doctor Who: 10 big questions after Can You Hear Me?". Radio Times. 9 February 2020. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Doctor Who recap: series 38, episode seven – Can You Hear Me?". The Guardian. 9 February 2020. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  3. ^ "Doctor Who Series 12: writers announced". CultBox. 13 November 2019. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  4. ^ "Who is Doctor Who season 12's Zellin and how is he connected to the Timeless Child?". Digital Spy. 9 February 2020. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  5. ^ "Guy Murray-Brown". Gems Agency. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  6. ^ a b c "Doctor Who - Season 12 Episode 7". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  7. ^ Siede, Caroline (9 February 2020). "Doctor Who is all over the map in an episode about mental health". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  8. ^ Coggan, Devan (10 February 2020). "Doctor Who recap: Season 12, episode 7: 'Can You Hear Me?'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  9. ^ "Doctor Who series 12 review: Can You Hear Me? opens up the Whoniverse". Metro. 9 February 2020.
  10. ^ Mulkern, Patrick (9 February 2020). "Doctor Who Can You Hear Me? review: the stuff of nightmares fleshes out the companions and looks superb – but the mystery needs too much explaining". Radio Times.
  11. ^ Power, Ed (9 February 2020). "Doctor Who review, Can You Hear Me? – Latest episode is a series low-point featuring a Game of Thrones star and a giant space werewolf". The Independent.
  12. ^ Hogan, Michael (9 February 2020). "Doctor Who: Can You Hear Me? recap: a refreshingly creepy, un-PC return to form". The Telegraph.
  13. ^ Laford, Andrea (24 January 2020). "Episode 7 of Doctor Who Series 12 titled 'Can You Hear Me?'". Cultbox.
  14. ^ Marcus (10 February 2020). "Can You Hear Me? - Overnight Viewing Figures". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  15. ^ a b Marcus (17 February 2020). "Can You Hear Me? - Official Ratings". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  16. ^ Fullerton, Huw (12 February 2020). "BBC responds to Doctor Who fans upset by "awkward" Doctor and Graham conversation". Radio Times. Retrieved 12 February 2020.

External links[edit]