Doctor Who: Season 3, Episode 2

The Shakespeare Code (7 Apr. 2007)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Family
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 2,747 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 6 critic

The Doctor takes Martha to London in 1599, where William Shakespeare's new play is being used by three witches in an evil plan.


(as Charles Palmer)


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Episode complete credited cast:
Dean Lennox Kelly ...
Sam Marks ...
Amanda Lawrence ...
Linda Clark ...
Jalaal Hartley ...
Andrée Bernard ...
Dolly Bailey
Peter Streete
Robert Demeger ...
Angela Pleasence ...


As The Doctor and Martha travel for the first time together in the TARDIS, they land unexpectedly in 1599 Tudor London, where the world is under threat from the evil Carronites, and only history's most notorious playwright William Shakespeare can help to save the world Written by Anon

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Release Date:

7 April 2007 (UK)  »

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Did You Know?


The Doctor says that Martha Jones is from the country of Freedonia. This is the name of the fictional country in Duck Soup (1933). See more »


The architecture of Bedlam is about 100 years out of date. See more »


The Doctor: Come on! We can have a good flirt later!
William Shakespeare: Is that a promise, Doctor?
The Doctor: Oh, fifty-seven academics just punched the air. Come on.
See more »


Featured in Doctor Who Confidential: Is There Life on Mars? (2009) See more »


Doctor Who Theme
Written by Ron Grainer
Arranged by Murray Gold
Performed by BBC National Orchestra of Wales
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User Reviews

A visually stunning episode of the series
7 April 2007 | by (England) – See all my reviews

"The Shakespeare Code" marks the lovely Martha Jones' first trip in the TARDIS. Rather than a trip to a space station or a faraway planet, the Doctor and his companion go back to Shakesperean England where they meet the bard himself. Dean Lennox Kelly plays Shakespeare like a Tudor rock star, including high-kicks and Noel Gallagher-like comments to the audience. Kelly's performance is excellent and his Shakespeare is a very likable fellow.

The beautiful Christina ("Hex") Cole plays the youngest of three "witches" who set out to destroy earth. Cole is always watchable and she does a great job here. The pre-titles intro will have many older male viewers grinning at the suggestion of naughty goings-on with Ms. Cole. Meanwhile, kids will run for cover behind their nearest settee as the considerable "fright factor" is introduced.

This episode is truly impressive in the visual effects department. Filmed partly in the re-built Globe theatre and on location, there's a real sense of scale. Everything is lit beautifully and the effects are gorgeous to look at. The CGI-produced Carrionites are a great design, reminding me a little of the terrifying Reapers from Eccleston's "Father's Day".

The script is superb and will have schoolchildren throughout the land rummaging through Shakespeare plays for a reference to a Sycorax. Here's a clue...they should start with "The Tempest". Thankfully, the episode doesn't try sticking to continuity with previous stories where the Doctor's meetings with Shakespeare have been mentioned. This would have simply made things messy and unnecessarily confusing.

Despite its strengths, there are one or two areas where the episode didn't gel as well as it could have done. Perhaps I'm being unsympathetic but I'm growing a little tired of the Doctor's references to Rose. Hopefully, these will soon become a thing of the past. Also, Tennant can be just a tad annoying at times. Having said this, he's a great Doctor and every incarnation of the Time Lord has had the ability to be a little annoying in certain situations.

Overall, an enjoyable episode and a strong 8 out of 10. This is big-budget television and proper family entertainment.

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