In the Forest of the Night

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251 – "In the Forest of the Night"
Doctor Who episode
In the Forest of the Night - Doctor Who.jpg
All of London is covered with trees that have grown overnight.
  • Samuel AndersonDanny Pink
  • Abigail Eames – Maebh Arden
  • Jayden Harris-Wallace – Samson
  • Ashley Foster – Bradley
  • Harley Bird – Ruby
  • Michelle GomezMissy
  • Siwan Morris – Maebh's mum
  • Harry Dickman – George
  • Jenny Hill – Herself
  • Eloise Barnes – Annabel
  • James Weber Brown – Minister
  • Michelle Asante – Neighbour
  • Curtis Flowers – Emergency services officer
  • Kate Tydman – Paris reporter
  • Nana Amoo-Gottfried – Accra reporter
  • William Wright-Neblett – Little boy
Directed bySheree Folkson
Written byFrank Cottrell-Boyce
Script editorDavid P Davis
Produced byPaul Frift
Executive producer(s)
Incidental music composerMurray Gold
SeriesSeries 8
Length45 minutes
First broadcast25 October 2014 (2014-10-25)
← Preceded by
Followed by →
"Dark Water"
Doctor Who episodes (2005–present)

"In the Forest of the Night" is the tenth episode of the eighth series of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who, written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce and directed by Sheree Folkson. The episode stars Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, and Samuel Anderson. It was broadcast on 25 October 2014 and received mixed reviews from critics.


Clara Oswald and Danny Pink chaperone several Coal Hill students on an overnight stay at the London Zoological Museum, and wake up to find all of London and the rest of the world has been covered by large forests. One of their students, Maebh, wanders off, but is found by the Doctor, who has landed his TARDIS in Trafalgar Square. Clara, Danny, and the other students regroup with him to recover Maebh and to try to understand what is going on, but the Doctor is unsure. Danny finds a pile of student notebooks aboard the TARDIS that Clara had accidentally left behind, and he realises she lied to him about forgoing future travels with the Doctor. Among the notebooks is Maebh's, each page having a picture of an angry sun striking down trees. Clara explains that after the disappearance of her sister Annabel, Maebh has exhibited strange tics and heard voices in her head, and has been on medication to calm these effects.

When Maebh wanders off again, the Doctor and Clara set off to find her, shortly followed by Danny and the other students. The Doctor explains that he believes a giant solar flare, similar to the one that destroyed the Bank of Karabraxos ("Time Heist"), is due to strike Earth that day, and that Maebh is central to the appearance of the trees. They find Maebh safe, but are soon surrounded by loose animals from the London Zoo, freed when their cages were torn asunder by the trees. Danny warns off the animals and rescues the three. As Maebh's last medication wears off, the Doctor examines her movements and thinks she might be communicating with something. He temporarily creates a gravity field around Maebh, revealing a number of glowing bug-like creatures. They speak through Maebh, explaining they have been on Earth since the dawn of time, and were called to Maebh after the disappearance of her sister. They claim responsibility for growing the forest, as they had done before in the north and in the south. The Doctor dispels the field when he finds the creatures are in pain due to it.

The Doctor mulls over this and regrettably believes that the Earth is doomed from the solar flare, and offers to take Clara, Danny, and the students safely away. Clara and Danny agree to stay on Earth with the students, and Clara tells the Doctor he should escape on his own given how many times he has saved the planet in the past. As the Doctor watches from orbit, he is struck by inspiration and returns to Earth. He tells Clara the creatures were referring to the Tunguska Event and the Curuçá impact, events that should have been catastrophic for life on Earth. The Doctor believes that the trees were created to buffer the effects of the solar flare as they had for these events. Danny reports that the world governments, unable to burn down the trees due to their ability to control oxygen near them, are planning on using defoliating agents on the trees, which would render them unable to stop the solar flare. The Doctor hacks into the global cellular network and Maebh reads off a message prepared by the other students to warn the governments of this plan, and to request Annabel return to her. The governments stop their plan in time. As Clara and Danny escort the children home, Danny tells Clara he knows she lied to him about her travels with the Doctor, but forgives her and allows their relationship to grow.

Later, the Doctor and Clara watch in orbit from the safety of the TARDIS as the solar flare harmlessly strikes the Earth. This event is also watched by Missy on a screen, calling the result a "surprise". The Doctor returns Clara to Earth as the trees start to dissipate; he explains that humanity will forget about the sudden appearance of the trees, as they have from the past events, but the memory will linger as part of fairy tales. Elsewhere, as Maebh meets with her mother outside their house, the last traces of the trees disappear, revealing Annabel hiding behind it. The family is happily reunited.


The Doctor responds to Clara's suggestion that he save himself and abandon the Earth with her words to him in "Kill the Moon": "This is my world, too. I walk your Earth. I breathe your air".[1]

Outside references[edit]

The title is from the second line of William Blake's The Tyger: Tyger Tyger, burning bright, In the forests of the night[2]. (The forests appear overnight and a tiger appears in the episode). This episode contains many elements of fairy tales, as explained in Doctor Who Extra. For example, Maebh in a red coat getting chased by wolves ("Little Red Riding Hood").[3][4] Maebh's last name is Arden, a reference to the forest in William Shakespeare's play As You Like It.[1]

Broadcast and reception[edit]

Overnight viewing figures were estimated at 5.03 million viewers.[5] The episode was watched by a total of 6.92 million viewers. On BBC America this episode was seen by 1.06 million viewers, being the most watched episode since the airing of "Listen". It also received an Appreciation Index of 83.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
The A.V. ClubB[7]
SFX Magazine4/5 stars[8]
TV Fanatic4.4/5 stars[9]
CultBox4/5 stars[10]
New York Magazine2/5 stars[12]
Radio Times3/5 stars[13]
Digital Spy2/5 stars[14]
The Daily Telegraph4/5 stars[15]

The episode received mixed reviews from critics, with some praising its poetic, unique feel and contrasts with the darker episodes of the series, while some were critical of the lack of threat. Ben Lawrence of The Daily Telegraph gave it four stars out of five and called it "powerful". He was positive of the Doctor's character development and Capaldi's performance.[15] It was described as "a slightly wooden episode" by Wales Online.[16] It was also said that the story "lacks any real threat or tension for the most part"[17] and was said to be "fable and poetry under a canopy of nonsense" by Radio Times.[13] Neela Debnath of The Independent said that it wasn't "the strongest instalment", but the "witty dialogue and young guest cast make up for it". She felt that it was "a novel concept that starts off well but unravels fairly quickly",[18] whereas Jamie McLoughlin of Liverpool Echo gave an overwhelmingly positive review, giving it five stars, calling it a "masterclass".[3]

However, Morgan Jeffery of Digital Spy gave a negative review, granting it two stars out of five. He called the script "unsophisticated" and "an utterly disappointing experience". However, he was positive of Capaldi, Coleman and Anderson's performances.[14] Matt Risley of IGN gave a mixed review of 7.4 out of 10. He felt it worked far better than the previous light-hearted episode of the series, "Robot of Sherwood", and that it was a refreshing change from the dark undertones of the series, but felt that Anderson was underused and criticised the disparate narratives.[11]

Steven Moffat defended the episode saying it was "beautifully and elegantly written," and added, "I think will grow in stature over the years."[19] It hasn't.[20]


  1. ^ a b "In the Forest of the Night: The Fact File". Doctor Who. BBC One. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "Review: In The Forest of the Night is a Doctor Who masterclass from Frank Cottrell-Boyce". The Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  4. ^ "Doctor Who Extra: In the Forest of the Night". Doctor Who TV. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  5. ^ "Saturday night ratings". UK TV Ratings. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  6. ^ "Series 8 Ratings Accumulator". Doctor Who TV. 27 October 2014. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  7. ^ Wilkins, Alasdair (25 October 2014). "Doctor Who: "In The Forest Of The Night"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  8. ^ Berriman, Ian (29 October 2014). "Doctor Who S8.10 In the Forest of the Night Review". SFX Magazine. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  9. ^ Pavlica, Carissa (25 October 2014). "Doctor Who Season 8 Episode 10 Review: In the Forest of the Night". TV Fanatic. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  10. ^ Lewis, David (25 October 2014). "'Doctor Who' review: 'In the Forest of the Night'". CultBox. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  11. ^ a b Risley, Matt (25 October 2014). "Doctor Who: "In the Forest of the Night" Review". IGN. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  12. ^ Ruediger, Ross (19 October 2014). "Doctor Who Recap: Physical Graffiti". Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  13. ^ a b Mulkern, Patrick (25 October 2014). "Doctor Who: In the Forest of the Night review — fable and poetry under a canopy of nonsense". Radio Times. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  14. ^ a b Jeffery, Morgan (25 October 2014). "Doctor Who series 8 'In The Forest of the Night' recap". Digital Spy. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  15. ^ a b Lawrence, Ben (26 October 2014). "Doctor Who, review, In the Forest of the Night: 'powerful'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  16. ^ "In the Night of the Forest is a slightly wooden episode of Doctor Who". Wales Online. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  17. ^ "Doctor Who 8.10 - In the Forest of the Night Review". The News Hub. Archived from the original on 26 October 2014. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  18. ^ "Doctor Who, In the Forest of the Night - review: Peter Capaldi shows no signs of warming up any time soon". Independent UK. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  19. ^ Paul Jones. "Doctor Who series 8: Steven Moffat names In the Forest of the Night as his favourite episode: "It will grow in stature over the years"". RadioTimes.
  20. ^

External links[edit]