The Caretaker (Doctor Who)

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247 – "The Caretaker"
Doctor Who episode
Doctor Who - The Caretaker.jpg
Film style promotional image featuring the setting for the episode, Coal Hill School
  • Samuel AndersonDanny Pink
  • Ellis George – Courtney Woods
  • Edward Harrison – Adrian
  • Nigel Betts – Mr Armitage
  • Andy Gillies – CSO Matthew
  • Nanya Campbell – Noah
  • Joshua Warner-Campbell – Yashe
  • Oliver Barry-Brook – Kelvin
  • Ramone Morgan – Tobias
  • Winston Ellis – Mr Woods
  • Gracy Goldman – Mrs Woods
  • Diana Katis – Mrs Christopholou
  • Molly Griffiths - Angelina Christopholou
  • Jimmy Vee – Skovox Blitzer
  • Chris Addison – Seb
  • Michelle GomezMissy (uncredited)
Directed by Paul Murphy
Written by
Script editor
  • David P Davis
  • Derek Ritchie
Produced by Nikki Wilson
Executive producer(s)
  • Steven Moffat
  • Brian Minchin
Incidental music composer Murray Gold
Series Series 8
Length 45 minutes
Originally broadcast 27 September 2014 (2014-09-27)
← Preceded by Followed by →
"Time Heist" "Kill the Moon"
List of Doctor Who serials

"The Caretaker" is the sixth episode of the eighth series of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who, written by Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat, and directed by Paul Murphy. The episode stars Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, and Samuel Anderson.


Clara Oswald struggles to balance between the excitement of being the Doctor's companion, and the normalcy of teaching at Coal Hill School and keeping her relationship with Danny Pink.

The Skovox Blitzer, as shown at the Doctor Who Experience.

The Doctor alerts Clara he will need to go alone on his next outing under "deep cover", but Clara is surprised the next day that he has been hired as a temporary caretaker under the alias "John Smith". Privately, the Doctor explains that a murderous robot, the Skovox Blitzer, is near the school, and has already killed a community support officer. If he does not intervene, it could destroy the Earth. He has been planting devices around the school to create a time displacement vortex as to send the robot far into the future where it cannot harm anyone, and has an invisibility watch to help approach it.

Danny observes the Doctor's interactions with Clara and becomes suspicious of him. He inadvertently finds one of the devices the Doctor has planted and interferes with its settings. When the Doctor attempts to carry out his plan, Danny's change causes the Blitzer to only be displaced forward by 73 hours. After seeing the Doctor again approach Clara discussing this change in plan, Danny accosts Clara, believing she is an alien and the Doctor her father. Clara dismisses him and lets him use the invisibility watch to see how she interacts with the Doctor. However, the Doctor is aware of Danny's presence, and they get into an argument, during which Clara admits her love of Danny. Meanwhile, student Courtney Woods has come across the Doctor's TARDIS and starts following him around.

At Parents' Evening, the Blitzer rematerialises earlier than the Doctor expected. The Doctor and Clara inadvertently trigger the Blitzer's self-destruct mechanism, but Danny's timely intervention allows them to force it to stand down. The Doctor offers Courtney a trip in the TARDIS as he leaves the inactive Blitzer in deep space, but Courtney ends up getting sick and throwing up within the TARDIS. On Earth, Danny tells Clara he is impressed with her resolve under the Doctor but not to let him push her too far, or otherwise their relationship will be over.

Meanwhile, the community support officer awakens in the Promised Land. The interviewer, Seb, informs him of his death and their whereabouts, and states that Missy is too busy to deal with him.


Coal Hill School, at which Clara and Danny are both employed, was originally featured in An Unearthly Child, the first episode of Doctor Who. It later reappeared in the Seventh Doctor story Remembrance of the Daleks, and was recently seen in "The Day of the Doctor", "Into the Dalek" and "Listen".

The Doctor's opening the TARDIS doors by snapping his fingers was first demonstrated by the Tenth Doctor in "Forest of the Dead" and was done on occasion during the Eleventh Doctor's tenure, starting with "The Eleventh Hour". Clara's ability to do this was shown in the fiftieth anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor".

The pseudonym "John Smith" has been used by the Doctor multiple times throughout the show, starting in The Wheel in Space.[1] The name was most prominent as the Third Doctor's alias during his time with UNIT and the Tenth Doctor's usage in "School Reunion", "Human Nature" and "The Family of Blood".

The Doctor mentions River Song, who last appeared in "The Name of the Doctor".[1]

The Doctor believes that "artron emissions" may be the cause of the Skovox's appearance. Artron energy was first mentioned in The Deadly Assassin.


The read through for "The Caretaker" took place on 20 March 2014.[1] Filming began soon afterwards, on 24 March 2014 at Bute Street and Lloyd George Avenue in Cardiff. Filming continued at The Maltings in Cardiff Bay and the former St Illtyd's Boys' College, Splott on 4 April 2014. Scenes were also filmed at Holton Primary School in Barry on 5 April 2014. It was also filmed at Tonyrefail Comprehensive school which is located in the South Wales valleys on 8 April 2014.[2] Principal photography was concluded on 11 April 2014; the final scene with Seb (portrayed by Chris Addison) was shot on 11 June 2014.[1]

Broadcast and reception[edit]


Overnight viewing figures showed an audience of 4.89 million. The episode was watched by a total of 6.82 million viewers.[3] In the United States, the episode earned 0.96 million viewers.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

The episode received positive reviews. Richard Beech of The Daily Mirror gave the episode 4 stars out of 5, calling it "funny, lighthearted, and thoroughly entertaining," and praised Capaldi's comic timing.[5] Ceri Radford of The Daily Telegraph also gave it 4 stars out of 5 and praised Capaldi's performance.[6] Simon Brew of Den of Geek called it "arguably one of the best [of series 8]." He too praised the comedic elements of the episode, and praised Roberts' storytelling skills. He praised Coleman and Anderson, calling them "excellent," and saying it was their "best performance of the series."[7] Morgan Jeffery of Digital Spy gave the episode a positive review, calling it "Funny, warm and moving." However they were critical of the threat of the Blitzer. They praised Capaldi and his interpretation of the Doctor, saying he's "most complex and variable take on the Time Lord we've seen since Eccleston's." He gave it 4 stars out of 5.[8]

Matt Risley of IGN gave the episode a positive review, praising the characterisation of Clara in the current series. He called The Caretaker "satisfying despite the occasional slip into soap opera silliness." He praised the acting of the three leads, but he too criticised the Blitzer, calling it "a design evoking the lovechild of a pew-pewing Jetsons maid knock-off and a Roomba gone haywire." Overall, he gave the episode 7.9 out of 10 (Good), saying "'The Caretaker' was emotionally engaging with dynamic dialogue," and called it a "Who win."[9] Neela Debnath of The Independent gave the episode a negative review, calling it "A bland Earth-based adventure that failed to excite." However she did praise Ellis George, calling her "a star in the making," and her inclusion in the episode as "great."[10] The episode received an Appreciation Index score of 83.[3]


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