Face the Raven

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260 – "Face the Raven"
Doctor Who episode
Face the Raven.jpg
Clara finds the Quantum Shade.
Directed byJustin Molotnikov
Written bySarah Dollard
Script editorDavid P Davis
Produced byNikki Wilson
Executive producer(s)Steven Moffat
Brian Minchin
Incidental music composerMurray Gold
SeriesSeries 9
Length50 minutes
First broadcast21 November 2015 (2015-11-21)
← Preceded by
"Sleep No More"
Followed by →
"Heaven Sent"
Doctor Who episodes (2005–present)

"Face the Raven" is the tenth episode of the ninth series of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was first broadcast on BBC One on 21 November 2015. It is written by Sarah Dollard and directed by Justin Molotnikov. This episode presented the rare death of a companion, in this case Clara Oswald as played by Jenna Coleman.

Joivan Wade reprised his role as Rigsy from "Flatline" and Maisie Williams returned for her third episode in the series. This episode also featured a passing return of the Judoon, the Ood, the Ice Warriors, the Silurians, the Cybermen and the Sontarans.


Rigsy contacts the Twelfth Doctor and Clara for help. He shows them a number tattoo on his neck, counting down, with no memory of how he got it nor events of the last day. They trace his movements to a trap street in London that houses a small group of alien exiles, using technology to mask themselves as humans. Their mayor is Ashildr/"Me" ("The Woman Who Lived"), who warns them about breaking a frail truce that keeps peace on the street.

Me explains that they had sentenced Rigsy to death after he was accused of murdering Anah, a two-face Janus. They gave him the "Chronolock tattoo" which counts down with each passing minute. When it reaches zero, a Quantum Shade (a being that takes the form of a raven) is summoned to humanely kill him. However, they also had to give Rigsy a dose of Retcon to forget the trap street's existence. Me allows the Doctor and Clara to prove Rigsy's innocence. Clara learns that the Chronolock can be transferred to another willingly. Believing Me will not let her die, Clara takes Rigsy's Chronolock without the Doctor's knowledge.

The painted TARDIS exterior, as shown at the Doctor Who Experience.

The trio meet Anah's daughter, Anahson, and learn her death was intentional. The Doctor demands Me take them to Anah's body, stored in a stasis chamber. The Doctor finds a recession in the controls that the TARDIS key would fit, and he proceeds to do so. However, the device clamps a metal ring around his wrist and takes the TARDIS key from him. The chamber opens to reveal Anah is still alive, and Me explains she needed a means to lure the Doctor here by implicating Rigsy. The band is a teleportation device to send the Doctor far away as to keep the truce, and she demands his Confession Dial. Me then goes to remove the Chronolock from Rigsy only to discover Clara had taken it; Clara broke the contract Me had made with the Shade and she cannot undo it. The Doctor becomes angry, but Clara calms him down, asking him not to be upset nor avenge her death. Clara says her goodbyes and then steps into the street to face the Shade before it kills her.

The Doctor warns Me that Clara's caution was for Me's protection. Me apologises for her actions, and then activates the band, sending the Doctor away. In the post-script, Rigsy paints a tribute to Clara on the side of the abandoned TARDIS.


The Doctor once again consults his response cards, first seen in "Under the Lake", in "an effort to be nice" before breaking the news to Rigsy of his impending death.[1]

Rigsy is injected with Retcon, a substance introduced in the Doctor Who spinoff, Torchwood, to cause those that take it to lose their memory of meeting members of Torchwood and having alien encounters.[2]

Among the disguised aliens living on the trap street are a Sontaran, Judoon, an Ice Warrior and an Ood caring for a Cyberman.[3]

Ashildr asks the Doctor for his confession dial, first seen in "The Magician's Apprentice" and retrieved by the Doctor in "The Witch's Familiar".[4][5]

Clara mentions her deceased lover Danny Pink, saying that if he could face death (as he did in "Death in Heaven"), then so can she.[6]

As Clara entreats the Doctor not to take revenge on Ashildr, she tells him "don't be a warrior.... be a Doctor". This is the same plea she made to the Eleventh Doctor when he planned to destroy Gallifrey to end the Time War in "The Day of the Doctor".[7]

Outside references[edit]

Clara mentions having a romantic relationship with writer Jane Austen. In "The Magician's Apprentice", she even calls her "a great kisser". Earlier in "The Caretaker", the Doctor disputes with Clara about when Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice.[7]

As they prepare to investigate, Clara suggests that she and the Doctor employ the good cop/bad cop interrogation method, with her as the 'good' cop. When the Doctor asks why he can't play 'good cop', Clara says that his face won't allow him.[8][9]


The read through for this episode was on 28 May 2015 and filming ran from 8 June to 25 June.[10]

Cast notes[edit]

Joivan Wade originally appeared as Rigsy in "Flatline" in Series 8. Maisie Williams featured as Ashildr/Me in "The Girl Who Died" and "The Woman Who Lived". Robin Soans appeared as Luvic in The Keeper of Traken in Season 18.[11] Simon Paisley Day made an appearance in "The End of the World" from Series 1.[12]


The episode was watched by 4.48 million viewers overnight in the UK, a 19.9% audience share.[13] It received an Appreciation Index score of 84.[14] The consolidated figures were 6.05 million viewers.[15]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Rotten Tomatoes (Average Score)8.69[16]
Rotten Tomatoes (Tomatometer)80%[16]
Review scores
The A.V. ClubA[17]
Paste Magazine8.5[18]
SFX Magazine5/5 stars[19]
TV Fanatic3/5 stars[20]
New York Magazine3/5 stars[22]
Daily Telegraph4/5 stars[23]
Radio Times3/5 stars[24]

The episode received highly positive reviews from critics. Jim Shelly, writing for the Daily Mail said that "Jenna Coleman was no Billie Piper. But her farewell episode was one of her best."[25] Patrick Mulkern's review for Radio Times was more critical, stating that the episode was "at best, pedestrian. It's mostly dull and uninvolving."[26] In The Independent, Jon Cooper praised the show, describing it as "A heady mixture of science fiction, Gothic whodunnit and emotional rollercoaster, it doesn't just leave you breathless – it leaves you wanting more."[27] On Rotten Tomatoes, the episode has a score of 80% based on reviews from 20 critics, with an average rating of 8.69 out of 10. The website's consensus reads: "'Face the Raven' delivers the much anticipated departure of a beloved Doctor Who character in a farewell handled admirably by both Coleman and Capaldi."[16]

In print[edit]

Pearson Education will publish a novelisation of this episode by Nancy Taylor[28]for students of English language reading in 26 July 2018.[29][30]


  1. ^ ‘Face the raven’ hits teasers set, UK: Doctor Who TV.
  2. ^ Fullerton, Huw (21 November 2015). "Did you spot the Torchwood reference in this week's Doctor Who?". Radio Times. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  3. ^ "Did you spot the hidden monsters in this week's Doctor Who?". Radio Times. 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  4. ^ "Doctor Who series 9: geeky spots in Face The Raven". Den of Geek.
  5. ^ "Face the Raven: Hints & Teasers (Set #2)". Doctor Who TV.
  6. ^ "Doctor Who recap season 9, episode 10 'Face the raven': Clara Oswald's finest hour is her last", Forbes, 2015-11-21.
  7. ^ a b Doctor Who series 9: geeky spots in ‘Face the raven’, Den of geek.
  8. ^ "Face the Raven: Hints & Teasers (Set #1)". Doctor Who TV.
  9. ^ Dan Martin. "Doctor Who series 35, episode 10 – Face the Raven". the Guardian.
  10. ^ "Face the Raven: The Factfile". BBC. 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  11. ^ "The Keeper of Traken". Doctor Who. BBC. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  12. ^ "The End of the World". IMDb. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  13. ^ Lee, Ben. "UK TV ratings: Jenna Coleman's Doctor Who exit watched by 4.5 million". Digital Spy.
  14. ^ "Face the Raven – AI:84". Doctor Who News. November 23, 2015. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
  15. ^ "Series 9 ratings". Doctor Who TV. 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  16. ^ a b c "Face the Raven". rottentomatoes.com. 3 March 2019.
  17. ^ ""Face The Raven" · Doctor Who · TV Review Doctor Who faces the raven, and heartbreak ensues · TV Club · The A.V. Club". avclub.com.
  18. ^ "Doctor Who Review: "Face the Raven"". pastemagazine.com.
  19. ^ Jordan Farley (21 November 2015). "Doctor Who S9.10 – "Face The Raven" review". GamesRadar+.
  20. ^ dferrel. "Doctor Who". TV Fanatic.
  21. ^ Scott Collura (21 November 2015). "Doctor Who: "Face the Raven" Review". IGN.
  22. ^ "Doctor Who Recap: Tattoo You". Vulture.
  23. ^ Catherine Gee (23 November 2015). "Doctor Who: Face the Raven - Clara dies, so will Maisie Williams be the new companion?". Telegraph.co.uk.
  24. ^ Patrick Mulkern. "Doctor Who Face the Raven review: a pedestrian dramatic cul-de-sac with a poignant dead end". RadioTimes.
  25. ^ Shelley, Jim (21 November 2015). "Jenna Coleman's final Doctor Who episode was one of her best". Mail Online.
  26. ^ Patrick Mulkern. "Doctor Who: Jenna Coleman's Clara Oswald dies in Face the Raven – review". RadioTimes.
  27. ^ Jon Cooper (21 November 2015). "Doctor Who – Face the Raven, TV review: Fans left reeling by shock ending to Gothic emotional rollercoaster". The Independent.
  28. ^ Taylor, Nancy. "Level 3: Doctor Who: Face The Raven : Nancy Taylor : 9781292206196". Book Depository.
  29. ^ "Pearson ELT Catalogue 2018" (pdf). p. 173.
  30. ^ "Level 3: Doctor Who: Face the Raven - Pearson Readers". readers.english.com. Retrieved 6 April 2018.

External links[edit]