Listen (Doctor Who)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
245 – "Listen"
Doctor Who episode
Listen Doctor Who.jpg
Promotional image for the episode
Directed byDouglas Mackinnon
Written bySteven Moffat
Script editorDavid P Davis
Produced byPeter Bennett
Executive producer(s)Steven Moffat
Brian Minchin
Incidental music composerMurray Gold
SeriesSeries 8
Running time48 minutes
First broadcast13 September 2014 (2014-09-13)
← Preceded by
"Robot of Sherwood"
Followed by →
"Time Heist"
List of Doctor Who episodes (2005–present)

"Listen" is the fourth episode of the eighth series of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who, first broadcast on BBC One on 13 September 2014. It was written by Steven Moffat and directed by Douglas Mackinnon.

In the episode, alien time traveller the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) attempts to track down a creature with the perfected ability to hide, while his companion Clara (Jenna Coleman) struggles with a date with former soldier Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson).

"Listen" was watched by 7.01 million viewers in the UK and received critical acclaim for its script, direction and performances.


Clara, on a dinner date with Danny, gets into an argument on Danny's army career. She leaves him not wishing to aggravate the situation. At her flat, she finds the Twelfth Doctor, who wants her help to explore the idea of an entity with the perfect ability to hide, and how it may be tied to a childhood fear everyone has of a hand grabbing them from under one's bed.

Young Danny's costume, and the figure under the bed, on display at the Doctor Who Experience.

Clara uses the TARDIS' telepathic circuits to take her to her childhood, but her thoughts wander, and she lands the TARDIS at the children's home where Danny, then known as Rupert, grew up. Rupert is frightened by something under his bed spread.[N 1] The Doctor suggests he use his fear to empower him, and Clara suggests he protect himself with his toy soldiers. Rupert is comforted and falls back asleep, and the Doctor scrambles his memory, giving Rupert dreams of being "Dan the soldier man", one of the toy soldiers.

In the present, Clara returns to apologise to Danny, but her familiarity with his past troubles him, and he leaves. She is beckoned back to the TARDIS by a space-suited figure called Orson Pink, who has Dan the soldier man as an heirloom. While using the telepathic circuits, the Doctor had found Orson, one of humanity's first time travel pilots, stranded in his ship at the end of the universe. The Doctor returns to the ship in an attempt to observe the entity, while Clara and Orson wait in the TARDIS. An air seal ruptures and the Doctor falls unconscious.[N 2] Orson rescues him, and Clara uses the telepathic circuits to try to return home.

The TARDIS ends up in a barn, with a boy fitfully sleeping inside. Clara goes to investigate, but hides under the boy's bed when two adults enter, speaking of the child being unfit to be a Time Lord. She realises the boy is the Doctor and subsequently on Galifrey itself. When the adults leave, the boy tries to leave the bed, but Clara grabs his ankle, recognising she created this fear in the Doctor. She repeats the Doctor's advice on fear to the boy and sees him to sleep. Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor recovers. Clara makes him promise not to learn where they are. The Doctor drops Orson and Clara off to their respective times. Clara and Danny mutually apologise for their behaviour before sharing a kiss.


The reason for the War Doctor choosing an abandoned barn for his activation of 'The Moment' in 2013's "The Day of the Doctor" is revealed, as the barn is shown to be the Doctor's childhood home on Gallifrey.[1]

The Twelfth Doctor, upon awaking in the TARDIS, mentions "Sontarans perverting the course of human history" to Orson Pink, repeating his first words as the Fourth Doctor in Robot (1974–75).[2] The line itself is a nod to the Third Doctor serial The Time Warrior (1973–74).[3] There are similar nods to previous stories within the dialogue. The Twelfth Doctor states there is nothing to hear, "not a click or a tick" – a Third Doctor line from Death to the Daleks (1974). The episode's final line, whispered by Clara to the young Doctor, is "Fear makes companions of us all" – a line originally spoken by the First Doctor in the third episode of the very first Doctor Who serial, An Unearthly Child (1963).[2]

Douglas Mackinnon found a photo of First Doctor actor William Hartnell as a child, and had the hair team style the actor playing the young Doctor to resemble him.[4]


Steven Moffat discussed the episode in an interview, saying: "my impulse starting in that was just the idea, 'What does he do when he’s got nothing [to] do?' Because he’d throw himself off a building if he thought it’d be interesting on the way down ... he’s fascinated by anything. And here he’s with nothing to do, so he just goes out poking things with a stick until something bites it. And I think that’s quite interesting, isn't it? Sort of, there’s a thrill seeker aspect."[5] In a Doctor Who Magazine interview, Moffat revealed that the episode originated with the decision, "I'm going to do a chamber piece, with no money, in the middle [of the eighth series], because I haven't done one in ages and I'd like to prove that I can actually write."[6]

The read-through for the episode took place on 11 February 2014, with filming beginning on the 17th,[3] and taking place at The Rest in Porthcawl.[7] Filming continued at the Mimosa restaurant in Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay, on 24–25 February 2014.[7][8] Filming also took place in Bute Park and Whitchurch, Cardiff.[3] The actor portraying the child Doctor is left uncredited in the episode, but was later identified in Doctor Who Magazine as Michael Jones.[9]


As part of the series 8 leaks, "Listen" was one of five scripts to leak online from a BBC Worldwide server in Miami.[10] This was followed on 23 August 2014 by the leak of the episode itself – missing automated dialogue replacement and visual effects.[11] The leak followed similar leaks of the preceding episodes "Deep Breath", "Into the Dalek", and "Robot of Sherwood", and the following episode "Time Heist".[12]

Broadcast and reception[edit]


Overnight, the episode garnered 4.81 million viewers in the UK – a live audience share of 23.5%.[13] Adjusted for non-live viewings, the episode was watched by a total of 7.01 million viewers,[14] which led Doctor Who Magazine to tweet, nine days after broadcast, that in the UK, "Doctor Who: Listen was the seventh most watched TV show of the week, behind only Bake Off, Χ Factor (×2) & Corrie (×3).".[15] In the United States, the original broadcast earned a total of 1.13 million viewers.[16]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
The A.V. ClubA[17]
SFX Magazine4.5/5 stars[18]
TV Fanatic5/5 stars[19]
CultBox5/5 stars[20]
New York Magazine5/5 stars[23]
Digital Spy5/5 stars[24]
The Daily Telegraph5/5 stars[25]
Daily Mirror4/5 stars[26]

"Listen" received critical acclaim from critics, with many praising Moffat's script, Mackinnon's direction, and the performances of Capaldi, Coleman and Anderson. The episode achieved an Appreciation Index of 82 out of a possible 100.[14]

Labeling the episode as "possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode to date", Neela Debnath of The Independent praised Coleman's performance, stating that "Clara was back on the top of her game". They called it "the most powerful episode of Doctor Who from Moffat to date ... a moving piece of drama as well as a terrifying piece of Saturday night television".[27] Digital Spy praised the episode, awarding it a perfect 5 out of 5 and summing it up as "smart, scary [and] superb". They praised Moffat's script and the development of Clara's character, and closed their review by stating, "Intelligent, romantic and just scary enough, 'Listen' is either a moody tale of the supernatural or it's a clever reflection on the mind's own ability to fool and govern itself, but either way it's brilliant".[24] Radio Times labelled the episode as "the most conceptual episode in the entire history of Doctor Who", and stated, "You're blowing our minds, Moffat".[28] Writing for The Guardian, Dan Martin called the episode "phenomenally good", and suggested its script was one of Moffat's best ever.[6]

The A.V. Club awarded the episode an "A" grade, calling it "the best episode in years" and saying that "[they] might run out of superlatives for this one". They stated that "it is the best story Steven Moffat has written for the show since "The Eleventh Hour", and [that they] might be willing to go still further back than that in search of an episode of his that outdoes tonight's entry". They praised the analysis and development of the Doctor's character, and closed their review, saying, "'Listen' is just about the most honest exploration of the Doctor we've seen in 51 years. That it does all this without judgment, but rather with love and understanding, is what makes it special. It's what makes it Doctor Who."[17] Daily Mirror awarded the episode a 4 out of 5, stating, "Doctor Who should be about tapping into your fears, making you hide behind the cushion on the sofa. And 'Listen' delivers this in spades."[26]

Mac Rogers of Slate praised "Listen" as "the best Doctor Who episode in years", arguing that it "proves that, deployed cleverly enough, Doctor Who can do anything."[29] Similarly, writer Paul Cornell praised the episode's interrogation of the Doctor's character and inversion of series clichés, suggesting that it "might be the best Doctor Who story ever."[30]

In 2015 the episode was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award, becoming the first Doctor Who episode to be nominated for the award.[31] "Listen" was also nominated for the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form).[32]


  1. ^ The episode is ambiguous as to whether the entity under the bed spread is the same as the hiding entity the Doctor is looking for, or if it is one of the children at the children's home playing tricks on Rupert.
  2. ^ The episode is ambiguous as to whether the Doctor is knocked out by the entity the Doctor is looking for or an object sucked into space by the rupture. The cause of the rupture is also unstated.


  1. ^ Mulkern, Patrick (13 September 2014). "Doctor Who Listen review: "A classy, creepy study of fear and loneliness"". Radio Times. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
  2. ^ a b Allen, Christopher (16 September 2014). "In Case You Missed It: Listen". BBC Worldwide. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
  3. ^ a b c "Listen: Fact File". Doctor Who. BBC One. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  4. ^ Mackinnon, Douglas [@drmuig] (20 May 2020). "I found this photo of William Hartnell as a child and got our hair team to match the hair of this little boy. #FearIsASuperpower @StevenWMoffat" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  5. ^ Rob Leane (27 August 2014). "Doctor Who update: Jenna Coleman on Clara, Moffat on Listen". Den of Geek. Retrieved 30 August 2014.
  6. ^ a b Martin, Dan (13 September 2014). "Doctor Who recap: series 34, episode four – Listen". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Autumn 2014 Series: Series 8". Doctor Who Spoilers. Archived from the original on 19 September 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  8. ^ "Series 8 Filming: A Night Out". Doctor Who TV. 26 February 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  9. ^ Cook, Benjamin (16 November 2017). "Double Bill". Doctor Who Magazine (519): 16.
  10. ^ Ben Dowell (7 July 2014). "Please don't share secrets of Doctor Who series 8 – BBC Worldwide "sorry" for five leaked scripts". Radio Times. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  11. ^ "Doctor Who Series 8 Leak Update: Episode 4 Listen Now Available". Combom. 23 August 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  12. ^ "Doctor Who Series 8 Leak Update: Episode 5 Time Heist (But NOT Ep 4) Now Available". Combom. 21 August 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  13. ^ Louis – TGT. "The Gallifrey Times – Bringing you the latest Doctor Who news daily!: Doctor Who: Listen – Overnight UK Viewing Figures".
  14. ^ a b "Doctor Who Series 8 (2014) UK Ratings Accumulator".
  15. ^ "Doctor Who Magazine on Twitter". Twitter.
  16. ^ "SHOWBUZZDAILY's Top 25 Saturday Cable Originals: 9.13.2014".
  17. ^ a b Wilkins, Alasdair (13 September 2014). "Doctor Who: "Listen"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
  18. ^ Farley, Jordan (13 September 2014). "Doctor Who S8.04 - Listen Review". SFX Magazine. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  19. ^ Pavlica, Carissa (13 September 2014). "Doctor Who Review: The Constant Companion". TV Fanatic. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  20. ^ Stewart, Malcolm (13 September 2014). "'Doctor Who' review: 'Listen'". CultBox. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  21. ^ Welsh, Kaite (13 September 2014). "Review: 'Doctor Who' Season 8 Episode 4, 'Listen,' Celebrates the Power of Fear (And Bad Dates)". IndieWire. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  22. ^ Risley, Matt (13 September 2014). "Doctor Who: "Listen" Review". IGN. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  23. ^ Ruediger, Ross (14 September 2014). "Doctor Who Recap: Fear Makes Friends of Us All". Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  24. ^ a b Jeffery, Morgan (13 September 2014). "Doctor Who series 8 'Listen' recap: smart, scary, superb". Digital Spy. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
  25. ^ Hogan, Michael (13 September 2014). "Doctor Who: Listen, review: 'bravery and brio'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  26. ^ a b Pyke, Chris (13 September 2014). "Doctor Who Listen review: Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and now Samuel Anderson on top form". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
  27. ^ "Doctor Who, Listen, review: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode". The Independent.
  28. ^ Jonathan Holmes. "Doctor Who series 8 episode 4 Listen: Is the monster real?". RadioTimes.
  29. ^ Rogers, Mac (16 September 2014). "How Steven Moffat Made the Best Doctor Who Episode in Years". Slate. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
  30. ^ Cornell, Paul (15 September 2014). "Five Brilliant Things About Doctor who – Series 8 Episode 4". Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  31. ^ Kanchan, Suman (25 February 2015). "Doctor Who: Listen Nominated For Bram Stoker Award". The Gallifrey Times. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  32. ^ "2015 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. 4 April 2015. Retrieved 5 April 2015.

External links[edit]