Doctor Who (2005– )
12 user 8 critic

The Idiot's Lantern 

As the coronation of Elizabeth II nears, the streets of London live in fear. Faceless people are stolen from their homes in the night and something evil is lurking in the television.


Euros Lyn


Mark Gatiss

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Episode complete credited cast:
David Tennant ... The Doctor
Billie Piper ... Rose Tyler
Maureen Lipman ... The Wire
Ron Cook ... Magpie
Jamie Foreman ... Eddie Connolly
Debra Gillett Debra Gillett ... Rita Connolly
Rory Jennings Rory Jennings ... Tommy Connolly
Margaret John ... Grandma Connolly
Sam Cox Sam Cox ... Detective Inspector Bishop
Ieuan Rhys ... Crabtree
Jean Challis Jean Challis ... Aunty Betty
Christopher Driscoll Christopher Driscoll ... Security Guard
Marie Lewis 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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Official Sites:

Official site [UK]





Release Date:

10 November 2006 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (50 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital (Dolby 5.1)


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Did You Know?


The story was originally set during the dawn of the rock 'n roll era of the late Fifties. However, it was eventually agreed that the idea of a living song did not translate sufficiently well to television. See more »


When the Doctor is gathering stuff from Magpie's a G10 Glass-Epoxy circuit board is shown (green board on top of the pile). The paper based phenolic (brown) boards were used until the 1970s when they were replaced by the more fire retardant glass-epoxy boards. See more »


The Doctor: Lost them. How could they get away from us?
Rose: I'm surprised they didn't turn back and arrest you for reckless driving. Have you actually passed your test?
The Doctor: Men in black? Vanishing police cars? This is Churchill's England, not Stalin's Russia!
See more »


Featured in Doctor Who Confidential: The Writer's Tale (2006) See more »


Muffin The Mule
Written by Annette Mills
Performed by Annette Mills
See more »

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User Reviews

Slightly Disappointing
6 May 2008 | by Theo RobertsonSee 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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