Sleep No More (Doctor Who)

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259 – "Sleep No More"
Doctor Who episode
Doctor Who Sleep No More.jpg
The episode uses found footage, with Rassmussen (Reece Shearsmith) narrating
  • Reece Shearsmith – Rassmussen
  • Elaine Tan – Nagata
  • Neet Mohan – Chopra
  • Bethany Black – 474
  • Paul Courtenay Hyu – Deep-Ando
  • Paul Davis – King Sandman
  • Tom Wilton – Sandman
  • Matthew Doman – Sandman
  • Zina Badran – Morpheus Presenter
  • Natasha Patel – Hologram Singer
  • Elizabeth Chong – Hologram Singer
  • Nikkita Chadha – Hologram Singer
  • Gracie Lai – Hologram Singer
  • Nikki Wilson – Voice of the computer (uncredited)[1]
Directed byJustin Molotnikov
Written byMark Gatiss
Script editorDavid P Davis
Produced byNikki Wilson
Executive producer(s)Steven Moffat
Brian Minchin
Incidental music composerMurray Gold
SeriesSeries 9
Length45 minutes
First broadcast14 November 2015 (2015-11-14)
← Preceded by
"The Zygon Inversion"
Followed by →
"Face the Raven"
Doctor Who episodes (2005–present)

"Sleep No More" is the ninth episode of the ninth series of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was first broadcast on BBC One on 14 November 2015.[2] The episode is framed around the concept of found footage, and consists of recordings recovered from the wreckage of Le Verrier Space Station.[2]


The viewer is addressed by Gagan Rassmussen, a researcher aboard the Le Verrier Space Station in orbit around Neptune in the 38th century, through a glitch-filled video. Rassmussen warns the viewer not to watch the video, but says its found footage will explain the events that have occurred.

Hours earlier, a rescue ship is dispatched from Triton when communication with Le Verrier is lost. Aboard, the four soldiers, Nagata, Chopra, Deep-Ando, and 474, discover the station empty save for the Twelfth Doctor and Clara, passing off as assessors. The group is chased by "Sandmen", humanoid forms composed of dust that are impervious to weapons.

The Sandmen, as shown at the Doctor Who Experience.

They take safety in a lab filled with large pods, and discover Rassmussen. He explains they were testing the next iteration of Morpheus, a device that uses electrical impulses to the brain to compress a month's worth of sleep into a few minutes, when the Sandmen appeared and devoured the rest of the crew. Chopra notes that Morpheus is controversial and has refused to use it. The Doctor suspects that Morpheus and the Sandmen are connected, the latter formed from rheum. Sandmen flood the room and appear to consume Rassmussen; the others escape when a fluctuation in the station's gravity shielding temporarily disintegrates the Sandmen.

Chopra, Deep-Ando, and 474 are killed during their escape. In safety, the Doctor monitors the Sandmen and realises they are blind and are receiving some type of video signal, which he views through his sonic sunglasses. The video shows the various points-of-view of all but Chopra, and the Doctor confirms the Sandmen are being controlled by the Morpheus signal.

They make their way to the ship but Rassmussen is alive, trapping them in a room with a Sandman. Rassmussen plans to use the ship to return to Triton and release Morpheus there. The Doctor engineers their escape and forces the gravity shielding to fail while Nagata kills Rassmussen, sending the station and ship into Neptune. The Doctor comments that the situation seems too contrived for them to have been in any real danger before they leave in the TARDIS.

Aboard the ship, Rassmussen reveals to the viewer he is also a Sandman, being affected by the gravity well. Before disintegrating, Rassmussen explains he wanted to ensure the video the viewer is watching was seen by others, as its glitches contain the Morpheus signal and will allow it to spread.


When debating with Clara about naming the creatures, the Doctor mutters "It's like the Silurians all over again", referring to an old adversary that first appeared in Doctor Who and the Silurians (1970).[3][4]

According to writer Mark Gatiss, the Doctor's mention of "the Great Catastrophe" that befell humankind is referring to the collision between the Earth and the Sun described in the Season 21 serial Frontios.[5]

Outside references[edit]

The title is in reference to the Shakespeare play, Macbeth: "Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep" which the Doctor quotes during the episode.[4][6]

Clara asks if the Morpheus Machine is actually named after Morpheus, the god of dreams. The Morpheus hologram also uses the term 'in the arms of Morpheus', a phrase meaning to be in a deep sleep.[4]

The Morpheus machine theme song, "Mr. Sandman", was popularized by the group The Chordettes among others in 1954.[4][7]

Those like Chopra who refuse to compress their sleep via the Morpheus process are referred to as 'Rips'—a reference to the short story "Rip Van Winkle" by Washington Irving.[5]


Read Through[edit]

The read through for this episode took place on 23 July 2015 and filming took place on 27 July to 12 August 2015.[citation needed] A new title screen specially designed for this episode was shown instead of the usual opening sequence, the first such instance in the show's history.[8]

Planned Sequel[edit]

Gattis planned to write a sequel to this story when he was commissioned to write for series 10 which would have followed an expanse of the concept with world building, following the Doctor, Bill and Nardole on a bank planet following workers who plan to invest in the project as they want to avoid as much sleep as possible. Gattis pulled out however when he heard Capaldi and Moffat were leaving and wanted to leave with them. He did not feel the script was suitable for his finale and changed during pre-production.

Cast notes[edit]

Reece Shearsmith appeared in An Adventure in Space and Time as Patrick Troughton. Tom Wilton appeared as a Zygon in "The Zygon Invasion" / "The Zygon Inversion". Bethany Black is the first openly transgender actor to appear on Doctor Who.[9]

Broadcast and reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Rotten Tomatoes (Average Score)6.34[10]
Rotten Tomatoes (Tomatometer)61%[10]
Review scores
The A.V. ClubB[11]
Paste Magazine8.0[12]
SFX Magazine3/5 stars[13]
TV Fanatic3.5/5 stars[14]
New York Magazine1/5 stars[16]
Radio Times5/5 stars [17]

The episode received mixed reviews and was watched by 4 million viewers overnight in the UK, an 18.2% audience share. This rose to 5.61 in final figures, which made it the lowest of any episode of Doctor Who since the show was revived in 2005, until the episode "Oxygen" in the next series, which received 5.27 million viewers. It received an Appreciation Index score of 78, the lowest since the 2006 story "Love & Monsters", which received a score of 76.[18] The episode also received the lowest score of the ninth series on Rotten Tomatoes, reporting a 61% approval rating with an average rating of 6.34/10 based on 18 reviews. The website's consensus reads "Doctor Who's effective horror elements and unexpected cliffhanger save 'Sleep No More' from being a gimmicky found-footage episode."[10] John Hussey of Cult Fix gave the episode a positive review, praising Gatiss's writing and the acting of Reece Shearsmith.[19]


  1. ^ "Sleep No More: The Factfile". BBC. 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Doctor Who: Sleep No More". BBC.
  3. ^ "Sleep No More: Hints & Teasers (Set #2)". Doctor Who TV. UK.
  4. ^ a b c d "Doctor Who, Series 9, Sleep No More – Sleep No More: The Fact File". BBC One. BBC.
  5. ^ a b Gatiss, Mark. "13 Things You May Not Know About 'Sleep No More'". Anglophenia. US: BBC. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  6. ^ Martin, Dan (14 November 2015). "Doctor Who series 35, episode 9 – Sleep No More". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  7. ^ Dan Martin. "Doctor Who series 35, episode 9 – Sleep No More". the Guardian.
  8. ^ Fullerton, Huw (14 November 2015). "Doctor Who series 9: Sleep No More drops opening title sequence". Radio Times. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  9. ^ "'Doctor Who' Lands Its First Ever Transgender Star". 9 August 2015.
  10. ^ a b c "Sleep No More". 15 January 2020.
  11. ^ ""Sleep No More" · Doctor Who · TV Review Doctor Who uses found footage to scare the sleep out of you · TV Club · The A.V. Club".
  12. ^ "Doctor Who Review: "Sleep No More"".
  13. ^ Jordan Farley (14 November 2015). "Doctor Who S9.09 – "Sleep No More" review". GamesRadar+.
  14. ^ Whoncehead. "Doctor Who". TV Fanatic.
  15. ^ Scott Collura (14 November 2015). "Doctor Who: "Sleep No More" Review". IGN.
  16. ^ "Doctor Who Recap: Enter Sandman, Exit Reason". Vulture.
  17. ^ Patrick Mulkern. "Radio Times – TV news and guide, TV and radio listings, film reviews guide". RadioTimes.
  18. ^ "Sleep No More – AI:78". Doctor Who News. Nov 2015.
  19. ^ "Doctor Who: 909 "Sleep No More" Review". Retrieved 2015-12-09.

External links[edit]