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 ...
Margaret John ...
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 Idiot's Lantern was originally to have been the ninth episode of Series 2. See more »


This episode takes place on the day before and the day of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation (1 and 2 June 1953). However, at the start of the show (a scene set some time prior to the main events), the Connolly family are seen listening to an episode of BBC radio comedy series "Take It From Here" - an episode that was first broadcast on 15 June 1953, two weeks after the coronation. See more »


Eddie: [realizing that Doctor's getting information that he wants to keep confidential] Hold on a minute. Queen and country's one thing, but this is my house! What the... what the hell am I doing?
[advances on the Doctor]
Eddie: [angry] Now listen here, Doctor. You may have fancy qualifications, but what goes on under my roof is my business!
The Doctor: A lot of people are being bundled...
Eddie: [fiercely] I am talking!
The Doctor: [stands up and matches Eddie] AND I'M NOT LISTENING! Now YOU, Mr Connolly, you are staring into a deep dark *pit...
See more »


Features Muffin the Mule (1946) See more »


God Save the Queen
Music by Thomas Augustine Arne
Lyrics by Henry Carey
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User Reviews

Simply amazing
28 May 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I've been a little disappointed with the last couple of weeks of Doctor Who, the Cybermen story just didn't seem to cut it for me, especially after The Girl in the Fireplace, but The Idiot's Lantern just completely redeemed the series for me. I thought the way that this episode was put together was absolutely amazing, I'm a bit of an obsessive when it comes to 50s culture and music and stuff, and this managed to pull it off brilliantly. Maureen Lipman was fantastically cast as The Wire, she actually seemed to be like a genuine 1950s style television announcer. Mark Gatiss of "League of Gentleman" fame did an absolutely fantastic job of writing this episode, it was brilliantly done, enough to terrify millions of small kids into not watching TV for fear of having their faces sucked off!!! I thought David Tennant was amazing in this episode, as ever. He just seems to get better for me the further this series progresses, and The Idiots Lantern was no exception. His emotional range in this episode was superb, especially in the scene where he starts shouting and bawling at Eddie. Billie Piper was also great last night, I'm not particularly a big fan of hers but she excelled herself last night. Brilliant episode, lets just hope the rest of the series is at the same standard!!!

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