Doctor Who (2005– )
11 user 8 critic

The Idiot's Lantern 

In 1950s London, the police are hunting down strange, mute creatures. The people of Britain gather around their new-fangled "tele-vision" sets to celebrate the new Queen's coronation - but is something affecting the signal?




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Episode complete credited cast:
Debra Gillett ...
Rory Jennings ...
Sam Cox ...
Jean Challis ...
Aunty Betty
Christopher Driscoll ...
Security Guard
Marie Lewis ...
Mrs. Gallagher


It's 1953, the Coronation year of HM Queen Elizabeth II, and the people of Great Britain huddle round their television sets to witness the great event. But behind the celebrations there are rumors of monsters on the streets, and the tormented Mr Magpie is hiding a strange and alien secret. Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

10 November 2006 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs


| (50 episodes)

Sound Mix:

(Dolby 5.1)


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Did You Know?


The Doctor makes a reference to the song "Never Too Late" by Kylie Minogue. Incidentally, Minogue herself later made a starring role in the episode Doctor Who: Voyage of the Damned (2007). See more »


During the showdown at the transmitter tower, Tommy replaces the burnt out vacuum tube on the device and plugs it completely in. In the next shot, the plug is not completely in and Tommy's hand is seen plugging it in again. See more »


Eddie: [Loud] I AM TALKING!
The Doctor: [Louder] AND I'M NOT LISTENING!
See more »


Featured in Doctor Who Confidential: Monsters Inc. (2007) See more »


God Save the Queen
Music by Thomas Augustine Arne
Lyrics by Henry Carey
See more »

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User Reviews

Slightly Disappointing
6 May 2008 | by (Isle Of Bute , Scotland) – See all my reviews

I remember looking forward to this since it was written by THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN'S Mark Gatiss who wrote the previous years story featuring Charles Dickens and gas zombies . But after seeing the episode I felt rather disappointed and it's down to one very simple reason . The entire plot is summed up in the pre title sequence . After this - which I do agree is effective enough - we still have to endure a story which we know will end up with the Doctor defeating the alien and it's just a question of how . There's little surprise involved and this week's obligatory dysfunctional family subplot is more irritating than usual .

There is one other aspect conspicuous by its absence and that is Gatiss is a big fan of the QUATERMASS serials . For some reason the story is set at the Queen's coronation which was no doubt a big national event at the time but surely 1950s television was the decade where Nigel Kneale as a household name . Imagine if the audience had been watching an episode of QUATERMASS ? Wouldn't that have been a brilliant post modernist tour de force ?

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