S33 (7) 7 – The Bells of Saint John

Home Forums Episodes The Eleventh Doctor S33 (7) 7 – The Bells of Saint John

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    ScaryB @scaryb

    OOoh I’ve missed this! And now we have a lovely comfy sofa to congregate on (1 size fits everyone… it’s a tardis-style as-big-as-it-needs-to-be sofa 🙂 ), fresh coffee bubbling away, @chickenelly‘s pipe puffing clouds of inspiration and @whohar‘s bath running in the background!

    @bluesqueakpip Awesome work on the numbers. Only one thing to add to that – the diary starts at age 9 eg 9th doctor (new series)?

    I agree with all above, inc @jimthefish and @haveyoufedthefish, suggesting we’re heading towards a massive reboot that will pull everything in last 50years into a different perspective, and leave a fresh new set up for the next 50! Interesting thought that he’ll end up battling his own dark self.

    @phaseshift Get well soon ya numpty! And keep a closer eye out for the pesky cybermats in future

    HaveYouFedTheFish @haveyoufedthefish


    Adventures … And still be home in time for tea

    … And that’s important, otherwise, “somewhere, someone’s tea is getting cold”?

    Maybe a tenuous link to far but given the birthday/filming date coincidence, not entirely improbable?

    HaveYouFedTheFish @haveyoufedthefish

    @scaryb – Clara/show’s adventures begin at/with 9? (also would that be roughly when she meets the doc on the swings?)

    That fits nicely. In 1998 (age 9) the virgin new adventures just finished so that’s sort of a milestone (ESP since many of the current writers started there, so that’s when they think of when nu who started gestating?)

    ScaryB @scaryb

    Fave moment: the revelation of Miss Kizlet’s reversion to childhood (beautifully played by Celia I) . What is it? About 15 secs of screen time, set up in 1 line in her scene with the GI – something like “you’ve been with me so long I don’t remember who I was before”   Cut to the computer operators, suggesting they’ve been there certainly for months, maybe a year or two, then to Miss K on the floor. Beautifully acted transformation from cold, completely in control baddie to lost, lonely child.

    Without any exposition, in 2 very short scenes and about 30 seconds of screen time we find out –

    1 The GI is the mastermind behind this

    2 The GI has been active since the late 60s and the Web of Fear (Presumably that’s why UNIT are brought in at the end, for the ref to WoF (oh yes, very old friends))

    3 Miss Kizet has been in the GI’s control for many many years, possibly about 50 (Using Richard E as the face of the GI is a masterstroke, as it immediately sets up the ref to his lonely little boy in the Xmas special – we know what the effect on him was of having the GI in his life for so long, it’s an easy project on to Miss K). We have to reevaluate her as someone who has been an albeit willing victim, but still a victim. A damaged child who lost her parents, and was adopted by an uber-controlling step-parent.

    4 Sets up that the GI has been building up his strength for that long and is presumably moving on to phase 2 of the masterplan. And the Doctor doesn’t know he’s involved; interesting patterns re the GI – it dissipates in 19th century (The Snowmen), presumably to astralplane off to Tibet; it dissipates at the end of the Abominable Snowmen and reappears in 60s London. Again it escapes. Now we know (some of) what it’s been up to in the meantime. Does it only have that close link with one person at a time or are there others under its control? (@jimthefish‘s theory re the GI having picked up a bit of Doctoryness?)

    For me those 2 scenes show Moffat at his best – he doesn’t explain, he shows you or makes you feel, can shock you with a reveal that changes how you look at a story/characters, which comes blasting in with a whole new set of resonances, questions. and understanding.  And it all spins on the head of a pin.  It can look like a throwaway if you’re not watching closely, but it unpacks like a TARDIS!




    ScaryB @scaryb

    @haveyoufedthefish I wouldn’t take ANYTHING as being “just coincidence” this year. There’s so much Who stuff around, even my non-geeky friends are aware of it, and Moff and the production team must be steeped in it! Not necessarily as being signifcant plot-wise but definitely for being little waves to the fans.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    If she is the show itself, why has she been killed and reincarnated twice, not just once?

    Doctor Who has ‘died’ twice. The first time was when the series itself was cancelled. The second ‘death’ was when the Paul McGann Special didn’t garner enough interest.

    So Clara has died twice (once in a Special). And yeah, the fact that Modern Clara’s book starts at 9 might be a reference to either the Three Doctors, or to her being ‘reborn’ with 9.

    “Anything that is remembered can be brought back.” I didn’t realise this at the time, but this is a meta-comment. The Doctor is talking about himself, his show, his universe. Doctor Who (the show) was remembered, and brought back. In television, any show which is remembered can be brought back.

    ScaryB @scaryb

    Why does the Dr lick the leaf he finds in Clara’s diary?  That seemed a very alien thing to do – almost like he was taste-testing it. I thought she’d maybe picked it up from the park the day she met the Dr at the swings, so it maybe has a timey-wimeyness thing going for it. So it’s in at the beginning (as @haveyoufedthefish mentioned her diary begins at 9, presumably the age she is when that encounter takes place)

    ScaryB @scaryb

    @bluesqueakpip I love love love your theory… but it’s turning my little brain completely inside out 🙂


    feralcat @feralcat

    Reposting this from the Series Blog over at The Guardian;


    So did anyone else notice the camels? – one on Clara’s desk, a picture of one on the hall stairs and then, when they are about to set off on the motorbike the Doctor promises the South Bank crowd, “Tomorrow, Camels”…

    I think the fluctuating accent is deliberate on Jenna-Louise’s part – she was after all masquerading in the Xmas special (bar girl / governess) and she is obviously not all (or rather not only) what she seems.

    ‘A leaf out one’s own book’ – or take a leaf out of my book perhaps? Certainly tasted wrong or out of place I suspect…

    Love the idea of a leaf being the start of a (all) books as in The Forest / The Library. Moffat just loves to use the book as a signifier, amongst all the techno-fear of wi-fi and ipads.

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    Anyone else wondering whether or not to return to the Gruniad? It’s never been more apparent as being mostly the place to vent personal Who-bigotry (i.e. – David Tennant is a god but RTD should have been killed at birth/old Dr Who is just bad costumes & bad actors whilst new Dr Who is just Buffy meets Douglas Adams at his worst).

    There’s only so much of the same shite you can read. I’ve only had the internet for a year but I rather think I’ve reached that point.

    Compare with the cerebral delights of this very site!

    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    @phaseshift – oh no, so sorry about the back! Hope it de-knots soon enough.

    Is everyone else sitting comfortably?

    Yes, @IAmNotAFishIAmAFreeMan aka @pedant we did indeed discuss Peter Pan back in the day, and I think it was @whisht who recently wondered if the audience will be asked to have a Tinkerbell/ Spartacus cross-over moment – “We believe in the Doctor”/ “I am the Doctor” to bring the Doctor back after he’s forgotten who he is (a la @bluesqueakpip‘s “anything which can be remembered…”) theory.

    @feralcat Hello! Yes, but what is the significance of camels? Are we heading into the desert?

    Agreed, I think the Doctor could taste that the leaf was somehow “time disordered”.

    I can’t wait for River to show up again. Still moping a bit that Captain Jack isn’t going to be in the 50th…

    Juniperfish @juniperfish


    I’m sorta feeling guilty about The Guardian. I prefer it over here, but we did “meet” over there and I’d like to keep a sort of exchange/ traffic going between here and there. There are a few folk over there who haven’t migrated here whose posts I always enjoy when they show up, like @HTPBET and @branfish.

    I think I’ll post there every now and again and also every now and again (without over doing it) mention the delights of this place as a sort of “after hours” continuation watering hole…

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    Moffat’s 3 stories of 2012 are each up for a Hugo award (Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form). I personally hope that The Snowmen wins one.

    Back to the Bells: Anyone else wondering where the Dr got that portrait of Clara from? Also the leaf, camels, any more puzzle objects to come? The Dr is the guardian to the repository of his history. 4-D!

    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    @wolfweed Ah ha – the leaf may be another “Pond” reference, when we recall that “the only water in the forest is the River”…

    Camels live in the desert, where there is no water? Last one is pure stretch…

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    Probably too hasty about Guardian. 1st day back is always a trollfest. They succeed in their purpose – my blood is boiled. Give me wi-fi death any day! Here is definately better though. How I bask in it’s relative shelter! Divided loyalties was an unforseen consequence.

    Here you don’t have to read: ‘In the next week trailer, the girl hits the stone which wobbles. This mistake has ruined my up til now flawless view of the show. As a result I shall never watch it again (but will comment).’

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    Where did Nabile get the pen & paper to write Danger and Warning? He must have already been uploaded by that point. This makes a nonsense of the plot & therefor the show. As a result I won’t watch Dr Who ever again. Listen out for my podcast on The Rings of Akhaten next week…

    feralcat @feralcat

    Looking at the Prequel again, it is most specifically Autumn – the camera makes a point of including a huge tree with reddish  leaves, leaves all around in fact;

    So it’s the first page because Clara brings it home that day from the swings, having met the doctor. Aged 9.

    And, she has a marked accent at that age – the one she slips back into on occasion, aged 24.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @wolfweed: You’ve missed out the people who announce ‘This is a kids show’ with the air of saying something clever and original. 🙂

    ScaryB @scaryb

    Haha, agree with all above re the Gruniad blog – it doesn’t help when it’s also showing double-identity symptoms with a review AND a blog of the same episode. If it was hard to follow 1 CiF with nesting, keeping up with 2 is impossible. And too many of the comments @wolfweed points out

    @juniperfish Noticed your post – I think that’s the way to do it.

    <waves @feralcat> Welcome. And nice spot re the camels. No idea what they mean 🙂

    And was there not something in a recent Matt Smith interview about paintings? Did the Dr paint the one in this epi? Add it to the list with the Van Gogh and Nick Cave doppelganger in the Lodger.

    ScaryB @scaryb

    So Bells of St John – updated Web of Fear?  With internet/web replacing the physical web that spread thro the tube tunnels in 1967?

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @feralcat Welcome! And good catch. Yes, the leaf may very well be from the first time she meets the Doctor. And he doesn’t meet her – she runs to him. And speaks to him in spite of prohibitions about talking to strange men.

    If she’s saved the leaf from the day she met the Doctor, and knows it’s the ‘first page’, then it does suggest Victorian Clara’s ‘Pond’ was no accident. At some level she knows the Doctor.

    feralcat @feralcat

    @ScaryB – yep, very much so. Although it required the Doctor to mention the ‘World Wide Web’ somewhat anachronistically when really it was wi-fi networks and the net generally that had been co-opted. Loved that Facebook status updates was the ‘we’d have gotten away with it if it was wasn’t for those darn kids’ moment…

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    Okay I’ve calmed down now! Sorry to hear about your reverse Carol Vordeman @phaseshift. I hope you’ve got servitors tending your every need. Back pain can be nasty.

    I thought The Bells of Saint John was a very good ep. Everyone’s forgetting who the Dr is, including himself but the GI knows him (& he doesn’t know the GI any more). The enemy is located using social networking. Then super-intelligent Clara is fully integrated with the GIs datacloud foodsource. Is this why the GI & Clara are so linked (e.g. why she could defeat the snow)?

    Craig @craig

    Hey all, loving all the contributions. Just got back home after seeing my folks for Easter, and running off out again in about 10 minutes, so will post properly tomorrow. But the leaf struck me. I did think it was little Clara’s from the prequel, then I remebered she’s also holding a similar leaf in the poster for Rings of Akhaten. May be just coincidence, but I doubt it.


    feralcat @feralcat


    Agreed – I thought that ‘pond’ being the only word to get the Doctor’s attention was the perfect example of Moffat setting up any/all/none of the following; a good joke (since the old governess was in a pond), a potential plot line that could extended or forgotten, part of a running gag and a hint that Clara has access to information that she can use but doesn’t necessarily comprehend.

    The last bit we’ve seen in detail during the recent episode; she finds him aged 9 and tells him to wait in a room until he remembers/finds what he’s lost, doesn’t appear to remember him aged 24 (fair enough) having called him in that room, and uses the code phrase (RYCBAR123) without being aware of it’s significance, just like she did ‘pond’.

    So  Clara has sprung up 3 times now (her consciousness we might say), without the Doctor having any say in the matter (even when he was looking for her) and she has no direct access to the information with which she attracts him.

    I liked the way he mentioned ‘destiny’ and she shot him down – the jokes are certainly many layered in modern Who.


    wolfweed @wolfweed


    Oh that’s a leaf in the poster. I was wondering why she was holding up a naan bread!

    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    Hello webmaster @craig and Happy Easter!

    Did anyone else enjoy the Doctor’s bad dancing on the bijou roof-top cafe? I do love Matt Smith’s physical comedic abilities so very much.

    ScaryB @scaryb


    Clara has sprung up 3 times now

    Actually 4 if we include the prequel in the park

    At this stage we don’t know if this version is a split or the original. If the latter, it suggests something nasty is about to happen to her, probably in the next few epis, or maybe in the last one which results in her being fragmented. The fact that she has only just acquired the computer-whizz skills she needed in Asylum suggests this MAY be the first Clara. And TWO of her incarnations is a child-carer, of 2 kids who have recently lost their mum.

    @craig interesting call on the thing Clara is holding in the poster – I thought it was maybe a fragment of a tablet (stone/chisel kind) but it does resemble the leaf

    wolfweed @wolfweed


    ScaryB @scaryb

    @juniperfish Yes, Matt’s physical stuff is great. In fact I’ve been so busy being bowled over by Celia Imrie that I forgot to mention how impressive I thought Matt was throughout – from apparently gormless, to sweet (little call-out to Rory in the bit about “are you guarding me? are you going to sit out there all night”?), to man of action on the bike, to suddenly being The Dark Protector – “download her now!”

    He seems such a loveable dither for much of the time – like when he’s in the cafe I was nearly shouting at the screen – get back out to her you idiot, never mind the cake! (in best Who tradition 🙂 ) but he can turn on authoritative 900+ yr old timelord remarkably well.

    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    @scaryb Yes – and I do find it a very difficult line to walk “squick”-wise (to use a fandom term) these days because, as @bluesqueakpip was discussing with someone over at The Guardian, an 1000 year old guy who keeps picking up young Earth women in their twenties IS sort of at the permanent edge of potentially creepy…

    I think that’s why I will forever love “Amy’s Choice” as an episode, because it addresses this modern problem head-on.

    Smithy, for me anyway, just manages to be hopelessly at sea enough not to be creepy in this new relationship. However (and no disrespect to Ms. Coleman, whom I love already) I do hope the future continues to bring us a variety of companions again, including older, such as Donna, and guys as well as gals etc.

    I’m so very much looking forward to more of Jenny, Vastra and Strax!

    ScaryB @scaryb

    @juniperfish “squick-wise”???

    Agree re Amy’s Choice. They also referenced it in The Bells so you’ve got set up of Clara with creepy robot on the stairs and apparently also-creepy mad monk on the doorstep (who we know can actually save her, but she doesn’t!). Loved how he came over as quite paternal, tucking her into bed and leaving her some jammy dodgers, inc one quirkily half eaten! Nice touch.

    ScaryB @scaryb

    I liked this episode. It’s essentially an introduce the new companion one, as well as being the 1st of a (almost) new series, and as such I thought it worked well. Relatively linear story but with lots of details that will bear MUCH analysis!

    Criticisms? Well, maybe a bit heavy on the teasers – Dr choosing new costume, Dr checking out the cakes and getting distracted in the cafe when Clara’s obv about to be in imminent peril – which meant it started and stopped a bit, but then it rolled out nicely at the end once Clara was properly uploaded.

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    Dear BBC, in the new trailer for next week’s episode, when the Dr flips backwards – if you freeze on one particular frame you can tell that it’s really the stunt double. Therefor I have decided to never watch Dr Who ever again. x

    ScaryB @scaryb

    @wolfweed – thanks for the trailer upload. Thoughts from that – is the girl child called the “Queen of Years”?

    one thing you need to remember when you’re travelling with me…don’t walk away

    Ref his comment in The Bells about Clara not walking out on people, and wishing he could be like that. And it’s “walk” not “run”

    ScaryB @scaryb

    Final thoughts for now – Books

    The Angel’s Kiss, Melody Malone is fairly obvious re its references

    Summer Falls?  Presumably significant because of the Amy ref, but it’s a strange phrase. Night falls, summer leads into fall, water-falls… but summer, not usually! Hmm, more caffeine required I think!

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @juniperfish– I loved the dancing. I’m not as a rule over-fond of physical comedy, but Matt Smith always plays it just right, with enough self consciousness to make it seem creditable.

    Having sobered up and watched again on iplayer, I’ve been thinking about the things I liked in this episode. I liked the reappearance of the Great Intelligence, Oswin turning out to be an internet identity, the reappearance of UNIT, the Wi-Fi code rycbar, the little mystery with the ages recorded in the book- @bluesqueakpip, that was some top draw, epic geekiness with the numbers, loved it. I like the thing with the scarf (which I didn’t notice first time) and chapter 11.

    I’m tempted to say that the best things about this episode are all the hints, tributes, suggestions and red-herrings, rather than the story itself. Which suits me find but I can see how people could feel underwhelmed or alienated.

    That said there were some great lines. ‘Why do you keep pointing at that blue box when you say ‘mobile phone’?’ ‘Because it’s a surprisingly accurate description.’ And the doctor busking for breakfast money.

    As for the main plot- does this mean the GI was partly responsible for the internet age? Or was it just taking advantage of human nature, like the exterminators in the power of three? And what would the GI have thought of the black boxes and possible extinction of its food source? And if the GI was basically eating their minds, why was it necessary that the minds have computer skills?

    Regarding Clara’s accept. I think it’s probably deliberate. 11 pointed out how odd it was that Amy could grow up in Leadworth yet retain her Scottish accent. As a rule accents do change a little over the years.

    ScaryB @scaryb

    LMAO @wolfweed

    We’ve missed you 🙂

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    Dear BBC, in the new trailer the Dr & Clara are seen riding a vehicle in space with no spacesuits or protection. I know you’ll probably say it’s a gravity bubble or something but it’s impossible & as we all know Dr Who is about science fact. Therefor I shan’t be tuning in again.

    Whisht @whisht

    ah – hi all!

    finally saw the show time-shifted (alarmingly appropriate).

    I actually liked it (but more through just enjoying it being back on rather than it being especially good).
    And I do have a (completely inappropriate) soft spot for JLC.
    (intelligent, funny, attractive….)



    in terms of two Drs (ie Valeyard) there have been others…. Zagreus? (actually I don’t think Zagreus is relevant other than showing how doubles-of-the-doctor are interesting for writers. as is memory loss etc and this year “remembering” is especially key for a 50th!).

    Agreeing a lot with thoughts as to Clara being ‘the show itself’ (nanny, dates etc), though I’m unsure how this nod to the fans will get written into her in-show character narrative.

    still think the Dr finally trying to remember “what kind of person am I?” (as in ‘who am I?’) will be key.

    Really liked Celia Imrie – great actress, and her final bit was more moving than it might have been (though I think they doubled a child’s voice over her own – how annoying must that’ve been to her as an actress??!?).

    @wolfweed – I’m liking this nu-stance! “I too hate this [insert thing] and will never watch again, but will be back to say so!”

    twice weekly!!

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    Dear BBC, The Bells of St John has clearly confirmed Dr Who to be blasphemous. Clara = the divine figure, a sort of holy trinity who is reborn at Easter.

    Also – a thought – when Jesus visited his disciples after his death he appeared in the form of  a different man yet they knew it to be him – remind you of anyone? (Time Lords)

    Next you’ll be telling me that the GI is in fact The Papal Mainframe!

    Dr Who has had an Atheist agenda since it’s return. So Clara’s similarities to Christendom are obviously a further mockery. And by the way, monks ARE cool!

    Anyway, for these reasons I opt out from viewing Dr Who in any of it’s formats again.

    HaveYouFedTheFish @haveyoufedthefish

    @bluesqueakpip – so one of the times Clara died she was the most vile, terrifying, hideous, soulless, pitiless and feared things in the universe … An ill conceived, low budget American TV movie?

    Yeah, that works.

    ScaryB @scaryb

    @wolfweed You missed out Clara naming him Dr Who 3 times (like Peter denying Christ 3 times). Clearly blasphemous

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    @haveyoufedthefish – Thanks. Now whenever I watch Clara fall to her death I will also remember Eric Roberts being sucked into the vortex (along with the notion of the Dr’s human mother).

    @scaryb – Alleluia!

    HaveYouFedTheFish @haveyoufedthefish

    Camels – well in the snowmen, the doc certainly seemed to have the hump.

    I thank you.

    Also, why don’t the Hugo’s just give moffatt his own category and have done with it?

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    Also, why don’t the Hugo’s just give moffatt his own category and have done with it?

    At one point there were a lot of jokes about creating a category for ‘Female Person From Colorado’.

    (Connie Willis, in case you don’t know, who has won Hugos and Nebulas under an amazing variety of categories. )

    ScaryB @scaryb

    A wee thing that made me smile as it fits in with @bluesqueakpip‘s Clara is the programme theory – when she says come back tomorrow (at the end) – a wink to the fans that it’s the end of this week’s episode and we have to take the slow road to the next one.  The doctor could have aged 200 years and regenerated 6 times by then!

    (New Hugos cateory – best Moff story – gets my vote)

    HaveYouFedTheFish @haveyoufedthefish

    @wolfweed – when you think about it, its astonishing that Eric Roberts only got sucked into the vortex given the remarkable number of things that sucked in that particular production…

    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    Oh and I forgot to mention that, on the hints and parallels front, we do of course, have a doppleganger Doctor in this very episode <cue Hitchcock-ian music>

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    Neat parlaying of my foot-stamping into an advert for this forum, btw 😀

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