|176 – "Fear Her"|
|Doctor Who episode|
The Doctor and the TARDIS trapped inside a drawing.
|Script editor||Simon Winstone|
|Executive producer(s)||Russell T Davies
|Incidental music composer||Murray Gold|
|Originally broadcast||24 June 2006|
"Fear Her" is the eleventh episode of the second series of the British science-fiction series Doctor Who, first broadcast on BBC One on 24 June 2006. It was written by Matthew Graham and directed by Euros Lyn.
The episode takes place on the day of the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, almost exclusively on a fictitious cul-de-sac named after the British athlete Kelly Holmes. While originally only intending to visit the ceremony, alien time traveller the Doctor (David Tennant) and his companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) investigate Chloe Webber (Abisola Agbaje), who has the ability to make people disappear by drawing them.
The episode was brought in to be a low-budget replacement for a script by Stephen Fry that had been pushed back, and was filmed mainly in the Tremorfa area of Cardiff at a housing estate. Graham was asked to write an episode primarily for children which would soften the much darker finale that would be broadcast after. The episode was watched by 7.14 million viewers in the UK, and was given an Appreciation Index of 83. Though Graham received letters from children who enjoyed the episode, it did not generate a positive response from adult fans and critics.
The TARDIS materialises on the day of the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. The neighbourhood is preparing for the passing of the Olympic torch bearer, but the mood has been dampened by the disappearances of several children in the prior week. A council worker named Kel also mentions that cars have been breaking down momentarily for the same period. The Doctor and Rose investigate and realise that the source of the problems is a solitary 12-year-old girl named Chloe Webber. She has the unique ability to cause people to disappear by drawing them. The Doctor hypnotises Chloe and finds out that she is possessed by an immature Isolus, an alien life-form that travels through space with a family of billions. This particular Isolus crashed its pod to Earth due to a solar flare. The Isolus relates to and befriends Chloe, who had a troubled childhood. The Isolus has also caused Chloe to draw a life-sized, exaggerated figure of her late father, who is strongly implied to have abused Chloe when he was alive.
The Doctor explains that if they can find the Isolus pod and provide it power, the alien will leave Chloe. A frantic Chloe draws the TARDIS and the Doctor, trapping them both in one of her sketches and forcing Rose to try to find the pod herself. She rationalises that the pod is located on the hottest spot on the street, a patch of freshly laid tar, and is able to dig it up. Meanwhile, Chloe has caused the entire crowd at the Olympic stadium to disappear and now is set on making everyone in the world disappear. Rose tries to find out how to power the pod, and uses visual indications from the Doctor's picture to understand that the pod needs heat mixed with emotion. Rose throws the pod towards the Olympic Torch - a symbol of hope, courage, and love - as it passes down the street. The missing children and the crowd at the Olympics reappear, and Rose realises that the drawing Chloe had made of her father will similarly come to life. Rose and Chloe's mother are able to calm Chloe by singing the Kookaburra song, causing the unseen monster - having fed off of Chloe's emotions and fears - to disappear.
As the torch bearer approaches the Olympic Stadium he collapses, and the Doctor promptly and suddenly appears, picks up the torch, and completes the run to light the Olympic Flame. The heat of the flame and the emotion of the crowd power the pod, allowing the Isolus to leave Chloe and return home. The Doctor and Rose walk off to watch the games, and Rose remarks that nothing will ever split the two of them up. The Doctor becomes uneasy and muses that a storm is approaching.
Torchwood is again mentioned, by commentator Huw Edwards after the Olympic crowd disappears. The Doctor again invokes the Shadow Proclamation, the intergalactic police force first mentioned in "Rose". The Doctor mentions that his dislike of cats stems from being "threatened by one in a nun's wimple", a reference to the events of "New Earth". In a bit of non-series continuity, The Doctor asks Chloe to identify a Vulcan salute, then uses a Vulcan mind meld to put Chloe into a trance that allows communication with the Isolus within her.
"Fear Her" was an overcommissioned episode, which replaced a planned but unproduced script by Stephen Fry. Writer Matthew Graham was told by showrunner Russell T Davies that it was going to be an inexpensive episode and had to take place on a housing estate, but Graham was nevertheless thrilled to be asked to write an episode. Graham stated in 2011 that they "set out to do right from the start" making the episode more aimed at children, rather than adults and older Doctor Who fans, as the much darker finale would be broadcast following it. Davies specifically asked Graham to write for his seven-year-old son.
Graham originally suggested a story about a man who had the ability to drain Earth of its beauty, but Davies preferred his own idea about the eerie nature of paintings or illustration. The Isolus was inspired by the villains in the 1978 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Early drafts of this episode were titled "Chloe Webber Destroys the Earth", and later, "You're a Bad Girl, Chloe Webber", with one such draft having the episode take place on another planet. Both of these titles were rejected by Davies as they were too long.
Casting and filming
Dame Kelly Holmes, who was mentioned in the episode, was considered for the part of the torchbearer, but was committed to Dancing On Ice at the time. Nina Sosanya and Abdul Salis had both appeared in the 2003 film Love Actually. Abisola Agbaje, who portrayed Chloe, was discovered at an after-school drama club, where casting director Andy Pryor had held auditions for the part. Agbaje had to play both Chloe's normal character and her character while being possessed by the Isolus, which Agbaje felt was "weird". When performing as the Isolus she had to whisper, and an echo was added in post-production. Agbaje found it "a bit hard to whisper" because she had a husky voice. A hand double for Agbaje drew the pictures, while the series' storyboarder Shaun Williams drew the father in the cupboard.
Due to Fry's script being dropped, production of some episodes of the second series had to be rescheduled, with "Fear Her" being produced alongside "The Idiot's Lantern". The episode was filmed during late January and early February 2006, with the cold temperatures experienced during filming being explained in the plot as part of the Isolus' endothermic nature. The majority of the episode, including exterior shots and Chloe's home, was filmed in the Tremorfa area of Cardiff, with a majority of the remainder filmed in the Doctor Who studios in Newport. A storage yard by the Rhymney River off Newport Road in Cardiff was used for the location the TARDIS lands in. The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff was used for the Olympic Stadium.
Broadcast and reception
"Fear Her" was broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC One on 24 June 2006. Overnight UK figures for the first broadcast of "Fear Her" was 6.6 million viewers, with a 39.7% audience share. Final consolidated ratings rose to 7.14 million, making it the twelfth most-watched programme on the channel for the week. The episode received an Appreciation Index of 83.
Graham was happy with the episode himself and received letters from "loads of kids" who enjoyed it. When discovering that older fans had reacted negatively, he thought, "Well, it's a shame that they have, but it wasn't meant for them". IGN's Ahsan Haque gave the episode a 5 out of 10 rating, calling it "flat and formulaic" and everything about it was "slightly underwhelming", though he thought what did work was the mother-daughter teamwork at the end. He also noted "annoying self-aggrandizing moments that made no sense and served only to make the episode feel unnecessarily campy", such as the audience disappearing from the stadium and the Doctor carrying the torch. Comparing the episode to "The Idiot's Lantern" in terms of plot, he felt that the latter was "far more entertaining" and that "Fear Her" lacked originality and humour. Dave Bradley of SFX awarded "Fear Her" three out of five stars, describing the plot as "ordinary" but thought it was "a decent breather before grander adventures to come". He particularly praised the dialogue and thought "the claustrophobic effect of limiting the action to one household works". Arnold T Blumburg, writing for Now Playing, gave the episode a grade of B+. He felt that the guest cast were "only just adequate" and that the story "plods along in places", but the story worked because of the "delightful" interactions between the Doctor and Rose and the feel-good ending.
In 2011, SFX published an article stating arguments for and against the episode. The "Defence" stated that, while some minor roles were played "broadly", Nina Sosanya and Abisola Agbaje were "extremely good", and opined that the unusual things happening in a typical housing estate and the lack of appearance from a monster were effective. The "Prosecution", on the other hand, described it as a "cheap filler" with a "cheesy" finale and called the lack of a monster a "severe disappointment". Topless Robot named it the third worst Tenth Doctor episode. In a poll conducted by Doctor Who Magazine in 2009 which asked readers to rank all 200 stories that had been released, "Fear Her" fell at 192 out of 200, making it the lowest ranked story of the revived series. In another poll conducted by Doctor Who Magazine in 2014 asking readers to rank every story that has been broadcast in the first 50 years of the show, "Fear Her" fell to 240 out of 241 making it not only the lowest ranked story of the revived series, but the second lowest ranked story of all time, just coming above The Twin Dilemma.
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- Sullivan, Shannon Patrick (27 July 2006). "Fear Her". A Brief History of Time (Travel). Retrieved 29 August 2006.
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- "Confidential Desktop: Episode 11 - The Fright Stuff". BBC. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
- "Q&A: Abisola Agbaje". Newsround. 22 June 2006. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
- "Fear Her Locations Guide". BBC. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
- Lyon, Shaun (25 June 2006). "Fear Her Overnights, Army of Ghosts Trailer". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 23 March 2007. Retrieved 7 April 2007.
- "Top 30 Programmes". Broadcasters' Audience Research Board. Retrieved 27 March 2013. Note: Information is in the section titled "w/e June 19–25, 2006", listed under BBC1
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- Haque, Ahsan (18 December 2006). "Doctor Who: "Fear Her" Review". IGN. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
- Bradley, Dave (25 June 2006). "Doctor Who 2.11 Fear Her". SFX. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
- Blumburg, Arnold T (29 June 2006). "Doctor Who: Series 2 - "Fear Her"". Now Playing. Archived from the original on 3 July 2006. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
- Golder, Dave (26 February 2011). "Isn't It About Time You Gave Doctor Who's "Fear Her" Another Chance?". SFX. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
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|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Tenth Doctor|
- Fear Her on TARDIS Data Core, an external wiki
- TARDISODE 11
- "the thirtieth olympiad" - episode trailer
- Episode commentary by Euros Lyn, Abisola Agbaje and Steffan Morris (MP3)
- "Fear Her" episode homepage
- "Fear Her" at the BBC Doctor Who homepage
- "Fear Her" at Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- "Fear Her" at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- "Fear Her" at Outpost Gallifrey
- "Fear Her" at TV.com
- "Fear Her" at the Internet Movie Database