Writer Gareth Roberts took us back to school this week with episode six of Doctor Who series eight, 'Therecite-30999-1065305104-1m6f0vw_1 Caretaker'.  What followed was a fun and earth-bound adventure, and one of our favourites from the series so far.  We watched 'The Caretaker' with a die-hard Whovian (note, not Paul Cornell!), who has watched every single episode of Doctor Who since its inception back in 1963.  And thank goodness we did, as this modern episode contained several fan-boy references to that very first episode An Unearthly Child, including Coal Hill School which appears in both.

Each week we ask Doctor Who writer and author Paul Cornell to pick five brilliant things from this week’s episode. Here they are!

1: This was Doctor Who moved fully into position, just for one episode, as having the shape of a regular TV show, with the peril there purely as resonance for character development.  That's a revelation, adding even more depth to an already very serious season.  The scenes of Clara and Danny at home gave us distance, perspective, a slowing down that emphasises that this year is all about character.

2: The emotions of the Doctor and Danny weren't played as comedy, but as fault lines leading to a proper, bitter, confrontation.  Brilliantly, we're allowed to see that Danny is right: this season is about the Doctor as officer, sometimes sending soldiers across the minefield. The script tempts us to side with the Doctor by referencing the stereotypical geek hatred of sport, but the Doctor's bitterness is shocking.

3: Excellently, we don't feel he's justified by the ending.  Danny's warning to Clara indicates we don't have to be comfortable with a Doctor who's so judgmental, as does the final scene, showing the Doctor's karma literally piling up.

4: Clara and Danny's relationship is sketched in by body language, letting the actors tell us everything silently.  We weren't there for their first kiss.  Which lets the relationship be as huge as it needs to be, like a suggested alien world.

5: Courtney Woods!  Her final scene is so typically Gareth Roberts, irony taken as far as it can go, a precise and delightful bow tied atop this gift of a script.


Paul Cornell is a TV screenwriter for Doctor Who, as well as one of our favourite authors on the Tor UK list. His latest novel The Severed Streets is out now.

Read a review of Episode 5 here.