Time Heist

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246 – "Time Heist"
Doctor Who episode
Doctor Who - Time Heist.jpg
Promotional image featuring the main characters facing the Bank of Karabraxos
Directed by Douglas Mackinnon
Written by Stephen Thompson
Steven Moffat
Script editor David P Davis
Richard Cookson
Produced by Peter Bennett
Executive producer(s) Steven Moffat
Brian Minchin
Incidental music composer Murray Gold
Series Series 8
Length 45 minutes
Originally broadcast 20 September 2014
← Preceded by Followed by →
"Listen" "The Caretaker"
Doctor Who episodes (1963–1989)
Doctor Who episodes (2005–present)

"Time Heist" is the fifth episode of the eighth series of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who, written by Stephen Thompson and Steven Moffat, and directed by Douglas Mackinnon. The episode stars Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman, with Keeley Hawes guest starring.


While at Clara's flat, the Doctor answers the TARDIS's phone; both are surprised to find themselves on an alien planet in a room with two others: Psi, a hacker with an augmented brain, and Saibra, a mutant that can shapeshift into any form by touch. They all suffer short-term amnesia. A recording includes messages from each agreeing to a short-term memory wipe, before giving instructions from "The Architect" to break into the Bank of Karabraxos and steal three items from its vault.

The Teller and its guards, shown here at the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular.

Saibra and Psi help them gain access to the Bank. It is secured by Ms. Delphox using a highly-telepathic alien called the Teller to detect those with criminal intent and destroy their brains; the Doctor believes the memory wipes were needed to avoid being caught. Within, they find six devices left by the Architect that appear to be disintegrators, to be used if they are caught by the Teller to avoid a painful long death. Both Saibra and Psi sacrifice themselves with these devices when they encounter the Teller, allowing the Doctor and Clara to reach the vault doors.

The doors appear impossible to open, but then a large solar flare strikes the planet's surface, triggering an automatic unlocking sequence; the Doctor realises this was a "time heist". They recover two items, a serum to stabilize Saibra's DNA, and a device to restore Psi's long-term memories lost from augmentation. They are caught by Delphox and two guards while trying to find the Karabraxos personal vault. She is called away, and the guards reveal themselves as Saibra and Psi; the devices are actually short-range teleports to a ship waiting in orbit. The two insist they leave as the solar flare threatens to destroy the Bank, but the Doctor wants to uncover the third item.

In the personal vault they meet Madame Karabraxos, who is hastily packing valuables and evacuating. The Doctor realises Delphox is her clone, and on hearing this, she orders her clone's destruction, and directs the Teller to the vault. Before Karabraxos departs, the Doctor, sensing her unease, gives her the phone number to the TARDIS to use when she has a moment of regret.

When the Teller arrives, the Doctor willing allows it to scan his mind, restoring his short-term memory. The call to the TARDIS was from a dying Karabraxos, regreting something she left in the vault. The Doctor became the Architect of the time heist to assemble Saibra and Psi and plant the devices to get them to this point. Freed from the Teller's scan, the Doctor shows them why they had six of the teleportation devices: that Karabraxos wanted him to rescue the Teller's mate that she had locked up to force the Teller's cooperation.

They evacuate the Bank in time, and the Doctor leaves the Teller and its mate on an habitable but unpopulated planet to live out in peace. The four enjoy a celebratory meal before the Doctor returns them to their proper times and worlds.


Memory worms were first introduced in the 2012 Christmas special, "The Snowmen".[1]

While being scanned by the Teller, the Doctor mentions the Fourth Doctor's "big scarf", and either the Second or Eleventh Doctor's "bowties – a bit embarrassing".

The Doctor notes that Clara got the TARDIS phone number from "a woman in a shop", connecting with the events of "The Bells of Saint John" and "Deep Breath".

When Psi tries to lure the Teller away from Clara by visualising some of the galaxy's most notorious criminals, the mugshots he is seen accessing include a Sensorite (from the 1964 serial The Sensorites), a Terileptil (from the 1982 serial The Visitation), a Slitheen, an Ice Warrior, the Gunslinger from "A Town Called Mercy", Captain John Hart from Torchwood, Androvax and the Trickster from The Sarah Jane Adventures, and Abslom Daak from Doctor Who Magazine.[1][2]


Speaking about the premise for the episode, director Douglas Mackinnon said “What we wanted to do was a heist movie for Doctor Who. I've watched virtually every heist movie there's ever been, and it incorporates things into it, but because it's Doctor Who, time travel is involved."[3]

The read-through for the episode took place on 11 February 2014. Filming began on 3 March 2014.[1] Filming took place at George Street in Bridgend on 5 March 2014, and in Roald Dahl Plass, Cardiff Bay on 13 March.[1][4] Filming continued at the Hadyn Ellis Building, part of Cardiff University, on 18 March 2014,[5][6] and at the nearby Bute Park the next day.[7] Media coverage of filming made note of a new monster that was spotted on set, with some calling it Doctor Who's "strangest monster yet."[5][8][9] Scenes were also filmed at the Uskmouth Power Station, previously a location for "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe" and "Into the Dalek". Filming concluded on 24 March 2014.[1]

A trailer for the episode was released on 15 September 2014.[10]


Overnight in the UK, "Time Heist" got a figure of 4.93 million with a 23.8% share. Its final ratings were 6.99 million. "Time Heist" came in second for the night behind the X Factor.[11] In the United States, the original broadcast of the episode reached 1.03 million viewers.[12]

The episode achieved an Appreciation Index of 84. The episode received generally positive reviews. Digital Spy said the episode "should have been 15 minutes longer" and "crammed too many ideas into 45 minutes." Ben Lawrence, writing in The Daily Telegraph noted that "in a show that is sometimes rather burdened by the need to maintain clever story arcs, Time Heist was a standalone episode that allowed some breathing space."[13] Den of Geek stated that it was "A solid, fun episode of Who... Not the best, but enjoyable. It came together well" and that it "had enough in the tank to keep us happily entertained for 45 minutes".[14] Writing for SFX, Nick Setchfield praised director Douglas Mackinnon's "visual flair", but felt the episode as a whole was "solid, mid-tier Who but... not the smooth criminal it could have been."[2] In a review for the Radio Times, Patrick Mulkern said the episode was "singularly unengaging" despite being based on an interesting concept. Mulkern did however, praise the performances of Jenna Coleman and Peter Capaldi, described as "the right man for the job but doesn’t always get the material he deserves."[15]


"Time Heist" was one of five scripts leaked online after being sent for translation to a BBC Worldwide server in Miami.[16] A rough cut of the episode was also leaked, on 21 August 2014, following the leaks of the first three episodes of the season ("Deep Breath", "Into the Dalek", and "Robot of Sherwood").[17] It was followed shortly by the leak of the fourth episode, "Listen".[18]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Time Heist: The Fact File". Doctor Who. BBC One. Retrieved 21 September 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Setchfield, Nick (20 September 2014). "Doctor Who 8.05 "Time Heist" review". SFX. Bath. Retrieved 21 September 2014. 
  3. ^ Kelly, Stephen (13 September 2014). "Doctor Who series 8 episode guide: Time Heist". Radio Times. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  4. ^ "Autumn 2014 Series: Series 8". Doctor Who Spoilers. Retrieved 21 September 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Duncan, Amy (19 March 2014). "Revealed: The new horny Doctor Who monster that looks like nothing you've ever seen before". Metro. Retrieved 4 September 2014. 
  6. ^ "Series 8 Filming: Sneak Peek at a New Monster". Doctor Who TV. 18 March 2014. Retrieved 4 September 2014. 
  7. ^ Owen, Cathy (19 March 2014). "Doctor Who: Cut and bruised Peter Capaldi climbs trees in Cardiff". WalesOnline. Retrieved 4 September 2014. 
  8. ^ Welsh, Daniel (19 March 2014). "'Doctor Who' Series 8: New Monster on Set With Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman Is Strangest Yet (pictures)". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 4 September 2014. 
  9. ^ Walker, Danny (19 March 2014). "New Doctor Who monster spotted on set as Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman share a moment during filming". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 4 September 2014. 
  10. ^ "Series 8, Episode 5 trailer". Doctor Who. BBC One. 15 September 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2014. 
  11. ^ "Time Heist overnight viewing figures", Doctor Who news, September 2014 .
  12. ^ "Top 25 Saturday cable originals", Show buzz daily, 20 September 2014 
  13. ^ "Doctor Who Time Heist review: a blunt parody of the banking crisis", The Telegraph .
  14. ^ "Doctor Who series 8 Time Heist review", Den of geek .
  15. ^ "Time Heist *". RadioTimes. 
  16. ^ 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 4 September 2014. 
  17. ^ "Doctor Who Series 8 Leak Update: Episode 5 Time Heist (But NOT Ep 4) Now Available". Combom. 21 August 2014. Retrieved 4 September 2014. 
  18. ^ "Doctor Who Series 8 Leak Update: Episode 4 Listen Now Available". Combom. 23 August 2014. Retrieved 4 September 2014. 

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