Thin Ice

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    Avatar of CraigCraig @craig

    Doctor Who Thin Ice

    The Doctor and Bill arrive in London during the Frost Fair of 1814. They soon discover that revellers are disappearing, snatched through the ice covered Thames and pulled into the depths.

    Once again this has a slower pace than we have been used to in previous series and feels more like classic BG Who. There’s a mystery that needs solved and there is time spent with the characters, talking together and following the clues.

    Now that Bill has been introduced, this episode lets Capaldi’s Doctor take the limelight again. Written by Sarah Dollard, who wrote “Face the Raven” last series, Bill gets to learn more about the Doctor and, in addition, Capaldi gets to have one of those monologues he’s so good at. Another strong episode.

    Avatar of wolfweedwolfweed @wolfweed

    Pearl Mackie is excellent.

    Yellow marigolds are cool.

    Avatar of Anonymous @

    The Beast Below II: Son* of Beast

    *Daughter as of next Thursday week

    Avatar of NickNick @nick

    Continuing the run of what have been, overall,  a series of good stories. Peter and Pearl continue to be excellent with some very nice speeches from both of them. I’m not so sure about the quality of the story, even though the story telling itself has been good.


    What do we think the odds are that Little Lord Ragamuffin, or his descendants, will be back?

    Avatar of Anonymous @

    @pedant: Aye, I wondered about that…

    I liked the Doctor’s explanation that the butterfly effect happens anyway, even without time travel.

    Avatar of CraigCraig @craig

    @pedant Odds on there will be a multi-billionaire descended from him at some point. Also might discover Bill is descended from the girl. Butterflies, and all that… A lot was made of that, but could be a red herring, or a glowy alien fish.

    Avatar of MudlarkMudlark @mudlark

    That was another highly entertaining and very satisfying episode – a pudding with nicely balanced ingredients and richly studded with plums. Once again the real monster wasn’t Tiny, the loch-less monster, the gigantic creature beneath the water which, whether of alien or terrestrial origin, was only hungry, tormented and acting according to its nature, but the aristocrat who was exploiting it – and the exchange between him and the Doctor was a neat exposition of the ruthless side of the early industrial revolution for anyone who is tempted to romanticise it.

    There was more dialogue than action but, for what my opinion is worth, it was pin-sharp and there was scarcely a word which was superfluous as it revealed more of the Doctor to Bill and more of Bill to us, the audience; and there were some cracking lines along the way.

    Doctor: [as they exit the Tardis] ‘Your species hardly notices anything’  – cue cut to the Tardis screen and the unnoticed alert showing a life form detected along something like a mile of the snaking curve of the Thames.

    ‘It’s not really wrestling unless it’s in zero gravity – with tentacles’

    ‘Yeah, my hair was cringing’ [after the Doctor tried to get ‘down with the kids’]

    And, of course, the Doctor’s eloquent speech to Lord Sutcliffe, to which Sutcliffe responded like a tutor evaluating a pupil’s exercise in rhetoric, followed by,  ‘It’s enough to move anyone with an ounce of compassion  … so it’s really not your day, is it?’ – the response of a very self-aware sociopath.  It was a speech which nevertheless impressed Bill, as a counterbalance to her earlier glimpse of the Doctor’s dark side.

    When the Doctor has explained something of the Tardis’s unpredictable nature and that she is a bad girl who seems to seek out trouble, Bill’s response is that ‘I think I’m low key in love with her’; and I think I may be low-key in love with Bill.

    Random observations:

    Of course the Doctor would entertain the street urchins be reading to them from Struwelpeter 😈 – and the copy from which he was reading came, no doubt, from the same pocket as the cup of tea he produced in The Witches Familiar.

    Who spotted that at the point of decision when the Doctor wanted to attract Bill’s attention he absent-mindedly called her River, before correcting himself and addressing her as Miss Potts?

    The close parallel between the scene where the Doctor and Bill are tied up and trying to retrieve the sonic screwdriver and the scene in Deep Breath. where he and Clara were in a very similar situation.

    Since those diving suits were of a design getting on for a century later than 1814 and had no visible means of air supply, they were presumably provided by the Tardis who seems to have a liking for wrapping advanced technology in a retro design shell.

    And finally, just one little nit pick: since the Thames in the early 19th century was little more than a gigantic sewer, how did all those cute little bioluminescent angler fish, let alone the river/sea monster, survive in it?



    Avatar of BluesqueakpipBluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    since the Thames in the early 19th century was little more than a gigantic sewer,

    Which probably explains why the TARDIS provided a really heavy and totally enclosed diving suit. 😀

    Avatar of MirimeMirime @mirime


    The close parallel between the scene where the Doctor and Bill are tied up and trying to retrieve the sonic screwdriver and the scene in Deep Breath. where he and Clara were in a very similar situation.

    Yes, I liked that. And giving Bill the choice like with Clara in “Kill the Moon”.

    eta – Also liked the conversation when Bill is upset after the child dies and comparing it with the conversation with Clara at the end of “Mummy on the Orient Express”

    Avatar of wolfweedwolfweed @wolfweed

    Capaldi bust used in episode


    ‘Marvel at the Living Beast of Burden…’

    graphic design – posters & more by Matthew Clark & an interview with him: graphic design interview


    Thin Ice facts & stuff


    Yep – I suppose you could call those (Giant Fish – remember, Dr 12 likes fish socially) whale-song noises the River’s Song…

    Avatar of MudlarkMudlark @mudlark


    I agree that the story was relatively slight, if pared down to the discovery and subsequent resolution of the threat to London. It was, though, a sufficiently substantial and sturdy frame to support what I saw as the real substance of the episode; the widening of Bill’s horizons, with the Doctor as her sometimes unreliable guide and mentor, the development of her understanding of who and what the Doctor is, including a demonstration of the fact that he does not always practise what he preaches – as when he tells her that  ‘Passions fight, reason wins’ – then promptly decks Lord Sutcliffe for insulting her; and also, as in the previous episode, the examination of ethical questions raised by the situation. It is noteworthy that, as in Kill the Moon, it comes down in the end to a single decision: whether or not to save a creature when sparing it entails a potential threat to human life, and just as in the former case he left the decision to Clara, he places the burden of decision on Bill.

    The production values – the realisation of the scenes on the frozen Thames and the sheer amount of attention to period detail – were, incidentally, first rate (at least, as far as I am any judge)

    One further random and probably completely irrelevant observation which I forgot to mention in my previous post. In the last scene we got a first clear view of the whole of the doors of the vault. For some reason I was reminded irresistibly of the Bombe machine designed by Turing at Bletchley Park to help in cracking the Enigma code.

    Avatar of NickNick @nick


    Hi there.

    I don’t think I’d disagree with you that much. If you watched the first three episodes back to back (and for all I know the next and remaining episodes of this series) I think you can argue that we have watched the definitive introduction of a new Companion running through all of the intellectual and emotional questions that something like time travel and aliens ought to give rise to. As an introduction, I prefer it to Rose (which is the next nearest) perhaps because I soon came to dislike her characterisation. In fact, I hope we do and I also hope that this all leads through to the regeneration as part of one extended story arc of discovery and resolution. That would be quite an achievement for Moffat to end on. Of course, there will be layers on top, resolving the vault and the other elements introduced in episode 1 (and 3 as @craig mentioned).

    I agree with you that the three stories so far, although quite lame, have provided a sufficient platform to achieve this. The only thing I would have changed is for the first episode to done nothing else that introduce Bill and not left the university at all (in fact no resolution to the intelligent super liquid, which I would have left to episode 2 or later – right now I expect some further resolution to the nature and source of this material.

    Being <span data-dobid=”hdw”>curmudgeon</span>ly, when it comes to Moffat (and his story arcs), I do wonder where this will leave Chibnall, when he starts the next series with a new Doctor and a blank piece of paper (in theory). At least he will have a while to think it over.

    Avatar of wolfweedwolfweed @wolfweed

    Insomnia, so I’ll inflict this:

    Doctor Disco


    The resemblance is uncanny…



    then promptly decks Lord Sutcliffe for insulting her

    Apparently some corners of the internet (or Twitter anyway), favoured by the more simian tendency(1), are very upset at a) a reasonably accurate portrayal of the demographic make up of what was, already, one of the most important trading centres in the world and b) black Jesus.

    Which reminds us that it is never wrong to punch a fascist. Even a proto-fascist from a time when the concept has not been codified.


    although quite lame

    I don’t think any of the three has been lame. Quite the opposite – refreshingly free of some of the more baroque storytelling of yore, and a reminder of the two travellers discovering cool things and duffing up some baddies (while making sure that the falsely accused are not victimised).


    Loch-less Monster. LOL.

    I think the final scene somewhat arses up @brewski‘s splendid bit of bonkerising.




    (1) I realise this is grossly unfair. To monkeys.

    Avatar of JimTheFishJimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    Well, that was another nice solid episode. (Sorry, @nick, can’t agree with the ‘lame’ description.) I’m thinking this series is shaping up to be the strongest since s5. But I’d agree that SM has called it right in taking the time to develop Bill, and her relationship with the Doctor, with such care and grace. If the finale rumours are true, this is going to be quite an emotional ride. But I’ve got a funny feeling that Pearl Mackie will be being asked to sign on the proverbial dotted for another year.

    Once again, the episode looked great, the dialogue just sparkled. And nice to see the shades of darkness in Capaldi’s Doctor again and I think handled with subtlety. Interesting too that, as others have noted, we got an echo of Clara’s choice from Kill The Moon, which, to my mind, helps consolidate an intergral part of this Doctor’s outlook rather than treat KTM as some kind of aberrant episode.

    Looks also like @craig‘s thoughts on monsters not really being the monsters is continuing to be borne out. And wasn’t Lord B’Stard so very Cameron-like. Moving on from the political/economic discussion of last week’s episode, are we to take some kind of political theme(s) from this series? Or are we just noticing them more because of the times we’ve suddenly found ourselves living in?

    Avatar of JimTheFishJimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord


    Yes, depressing to see that The Graun is beset by the racist brigade BTL. God only knows what the Daily Heil is like.

    Avatar of wolfweedwolfweed @wolfweed

    oh Dr Disco…


    @pedant  @jimthefish  Here’s what’s required…


    Did ‘It’s okay to punch a fascist in the face’ trend on twitter tonight? If not it should have done…..





    Avatar of thane15thane15 @thane15

    loved it.

    I didn’t laugh as much.

    Which was a good thing: the Doctor in his stride perfectly. But then I thought that two-three years ago. :)

    Sutcliffe against the Doctor was a great foil as were the urchins and the Doctor’s “I love your work” (I had to admire hiding pies in top hat).

    @nick if you think they were a bit lame: could you elaborate? Thane (the 15 yr old one -Puro, the mumma here) loved Smile and liked The Pilot. I’ve loved all three. In going back over Buffy  – both @jimthefish and @pedant need a nod here and probably several others who ‘conspired’ to ensure we’d watch it! 😀  – I realise the best episodes are ones where relationships matter;  are explored; where big life issues connect and transact? Certainly you’re not alone @nick.  It’s a difficult sell isn’t it? We get a Doctor forged from misery and confusion newly regenerated and people think “too dark”;  we have a Doctor riding in on a tank with lots of banter in a two part opener which is considered “bleak” or “over compensating for the first series” and then people miserably complaining about 2015 despite the outstanding two-er Heaven Bent 😉  Hopefully you’ll really enjoy a lot of the future episodes. Capaldi aint done quite yet.

    I like the transactions between people though, in this new series. Whilst I loved Beast Below with Amy (first trip off world??) but there was a lot of hollering if I recall and not quite the gravitas from the Doctor that I see here. For whatever it’s worth, my Doctor was Number 11 and the best opener (with the weird eye guard/spaceship looking for Prisoner Zero) even though the entire episode was constructed around Rory, Amy and the new Doctor -and yet it worked from the get-go. Probably why The Pilot was a terrific reminder.

    @jimthefish @pedant. Are your serious? People on the Graun are complaining “London wasn’t really that black and neither was Jesus”  ?? Holy frickin heck -as Thane would say.

    @bluesqueakpip What are your thoughts, bearing in mind your study, regarding a darker skinned Jesus? If that’s way too out of the blue, forgive me, and delete this post! Indeed: the fully enclosed diving suit. I also loved the underwater grime. Rarely do we see clearly underwater (ah! “see clearly metaphor”). The occasional islands I used to explore, despite the plethora of aquatic creatures and happy snorkelers had a one metre sight line. Slightly worrying 25 feet under!

    @mudlark -yes, it had the right set didn’t it? I’m no expert texpert on 1800s London -but it had the  ‘feels’. Certainly liked all you had to say and if you heard “river” that was a very good spot. I must re-watch immediately!

    I’m interested in Bill. Related to Orson Pink? Via adoption and which then, years later, brings up Orson?  Does that work at all?

    @mirime welcome back! You’ve been missed. Good to see your avatar and moniker.

    I actually liked the (yes @pedant -never wrong to punch a fascist) “I serve at the pleasure of the human race” -a cute but rather serious reference to the “I serve at the pleasure of the president” who in turn “serves North America” concept -a worrying one considering the bloatiness of our times. Our own nutty PM with his even nuttier Immigration MP  and assistant Imm. Minister is on repeat: “Australian values. You must know the shape of a cricket ball and you HAVE to know Don Bradman’s batting average AND the AUS cricket captain” to which Germaine Greer (now on two passports incl the Aus one) said: “cricket? I understand that even less than soccer but I bet  you don’t know the AUS constitution end to end do you? Little man. Also the cricket captain changes too often.”

    She has a point.

    @wolfweed -wonderful links. Thank you from Thane and I. I shall continue to delve.

    I’m enjoying how the monsters want to eat people:  a real stretch I know. Heather didn’t want to eat anyone. But there was  consumption of a sort. The vardi didn’t really eat people. But they did put them in a garden where, possibly others would eat them…

    Who will be eaten next?

    And what’s in the vault? Three knocks….Am liking Lucas in this role. He’s definitely not wearing thin. Nice dark side whereas the Doctor seems less retrospectively reflective. A tad less, at least.

    Long post. Coffee now.



    In the past, growing up in South Australia, @JanetteB, I would hear “I et lunch” (spelled eat pronounced ‘et’). Does anyone know about this? Common in the UK?  -linguistic experts weigh in @juniperfish and Miss @mudlark ?

    Avatar of thane15thane15 @thane15


    Did the quiz and embarrassingly got 8/10. Question 1 wrong and 4 -I missed the name of the pub!

    <runs away in shame>

    Avatar of winstonwinston @winston

    Hello everyone!  My computer has been ill  ( all better now) but I have been watching the show and I can now say how much I am enjoying this series. This episode was like watching a BBC historical mystery which just happens to have monsters and time travelling detectives. I liked the look and feel of the fair and I could almost smell it. The Doctor seems to be enjoying his role as teacher and Bill soaks up information like a sponge so they make a great team.

    Whatever is in the vault wants out. Thank goodness it wasn’t 4 knocks or I wouldn’t sleep for wondering.

    Avatar of NickNick @nick

    @thane15 @jimthefish @pedant

    Hi there

    Just the clarify, I said the stories were lame, not the episodes. If you take out the introducing Bill and Bill/Doctor relationship building parts of episodes 1 and 3 (especially), you’re left with poor largely unmemorable stories. As adventure stories, they could be dealt with in 20 minutes. What’s made them enjoyable has been all of the character development and the production values.

    The acid test for a good story is always, what will we remember in two or three years time. IMO it won’t be the adventure element of any of these stories. Will anyone actually remember the giant fish thing in the Thames next week.


    I haven’t watched much Buffy or Angel and what I have watched has largely been out of sequence. I agree what makes them great programmes is the interaction of the characters. What helps them achieve this is the fixed location. You can see the same thing at work in Star Trek (the episodes which revolve around the Enterprise or issues facing particular characters). The fixed location gives the writer a lot of air time within the story to deal with the personal drama as well as resolving the issue of the week.

    The problem Doctor Who has is a small main cast and the need to introduce the the location and the new characters who drive the story in the location of the week. This takes a lot of time to do, especially with an off world location. In a 4 part classic story, that would take up the first episode (about 22 mins), leaving 66 mins for the story and resolution. In a one part current series story of c50 minutes duration, the writers generally have to use a higher proportion of screen time setting the scene. I’d argue that the optimum duration for a single part who story is about 75 mins.

    If you analyse this story, there are three elements:

    • Setting/scene
    • Doctor/Bill relationship
    • The adventure

    How much time is given over to the story of the week ?

    In order, its the under water lights, the kid gets eaten, the dive, discovery of the bad guy and his rationale, a bit of explosive jeopardy, another dive, explosion, a few drownings and the fish think swims away. What that, about 15 minutes screen time ? The writer has no choice to have anything but a simple story.

    Avatar of CountScarlioniCountScarlioni @countscarlioni

    Four knocks on the soundtrack at the very end of the episode after we’d had a sequence of three knocks suggests that the bonkerising on what’s inside the vault would seem to be over. But it’s surely way too early in the series for us to be handed the answer in such a simple manner, so what’s going on??

    Another visually very impressive and I thought strong and engaging episode. The Doctor’s relationship with Bill is deepening nicely.  Using`Pete’ for the friend who stepped on the butterfly and ended up deleted is perhaps a little reference to Rose’s father.

    One more immediate thought: Along with the “whitewashing” of history comes downplaying the agency of the downtrodden and victimised, thereby making them seemingly passive. When the Doctor tells Bill to be passive in the meeting with Sutcliffe, he’s reduced her agency and then he promptly takes a swing at Sutcliffe, putting their lives in danger. The villain (enjoyably) gets thumped, but I’m still uneasy with that bit of the scene. However, the speech then delivered by the Doctor on the value of life and human progress is superb.




    Avatar of blenkinsopthebraveblenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    Tonight Mrs Blenkinsop and I went to a performance of Purcell at the early modern music society. It is probably a statement on my response to Purcell that I spent most of the performance thinking through my response to watching Thin Ice.

    My reading of it was that it was one of the most political episodes of Who–about property, theft and slavery. Clearly, the giant creature that was chained under the Thames so that it would consume the people in order to produce the fuel was emblematic of slavery. As Lord whoever he was said, I am helping develop the Empire, the point being of course that the expansion of the British empire was built on the foundation of slavery. That is what the creature represented. When the Doctor forces Bill to make a choice, and she decides to let the creature escape, she is given the opportunity to free the slave that Lord whoever is using to help build the British empire.

    And that is why we see so many black characters on the streets and on the ice–to draw our attention to the whole question of slavery, as Bill is so well aware of when she hesitates before stepping outside the Tardis in 1814. It is not supposed to be a documentary on the actual demographics of London in 1814, it is storytelling with a purpose.

    And the episode is also about property and theft. It is questioning how we regard both. Slavery turns humans into property, and it keeps the creature chained up. It is also theft–the theft of the individual’s liberty. On the other hand, the urchins’ lives depend on theft. As does the fish merchant. Theft is referred to constantly. But the point the episode is making, I would argue, is that we are being asked to think about the contingency of notions like “theft” and “property”. At the end, the Doctor intervenes to bring about another kind of theft–he falsifies the will to give a future to the urchins, and deprives the rightful heir. Is it wrong? By freeing the creature Bill has taken the property of Lord whoever. Is it wrong? Or is property itself theft? This might have been one of the most political episodes of all of Who.

    On a rather different level, and given that it was set in 1814, did all this happen on the day after the 12th Doctor had taken River Song ice skating on the Thames in 1814 when Stevie Wonder sings for them?

    Avatar of thane15thane15 @thane15


    Yes, a very apt observation. I was reminded of Proudhon’s ‘all property is theft’ -an anarchist’s view, of course.

    Ah, skating on the Thames with River. Now, combine that with @mudlark‘s reference to the Doctor possibly mentioning River and this makes perfect sense: Stevie Wonder. Beautiful and poignant.

    Purcell sounds delightful.

    @nick -thank you for that. I see what you mean. Yes indeed,  perhaps a longer time limit would be better: I recall early Who (BeforeGap) having six or seven episodes of 25 mins? But there were issues with the quality of the stories on occasion.

    @Winston glad your computer is over its flu.

    Kindest, Puro.

    Avatar of thane15thane15 @thane15


    Mmm, so it wasn’t a performance which entranced you? :( That isn’t good at all!

    Avatar of CraigCraig @craig

    Here’s the official aftershow, with the writer Sarah Dollard and, quite appropriately I think, costume designer Hayley Nebauer.

    Avatar of BluesqueakpipBluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    What are your thoughts, bearing in mind your study, regarding a darker skinned Jesus?

    That I seriously doubt he looked like Robert Powell? :) Probably more like James Callis, yes, and maybe even darker skinned. One of the things I like about the Gospels and Epistles is that we generally haven’t got a clue what colour the people were, even though some of them are named as coming from African towns. They never give a physical description: like most Greek biographies they’re primarily interested in the message, the deeds and the important events.

    There’s a very nice pack we sometimes use in classes for beginning Christians called ‘The Christ We Share’, and that has pictures of Jesus from all different cultures. They range from black to white to Chinese to our Western Victorian blonde bloke in a dress preaching to remarkably clean children. 😉

    My favourite is one I saw in The Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth. It’s a very beautiful mosaic of a Japanese Baby Jesus, with a Japanese Madonna, both in formal Japanese dress.

    Avatar of JimTheFishJimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord


    As adventure stories, they could be dealt with in 20 minutes. What’s made them enjoyable has been all of the character development and the production values

    I kind of get what you mean and agree that the stories are not what you’d call complex but I think the above has actually been the show’s mission statement pretty much from Rose onwards. Even the BG show was, with the occasional notable exception, pretty standard invasion/oppression narratives. For me at least, the moments of Who that have endured are the character-led ones. It’s Clara in the Dalek, it’s Madame de Pompadour, it’s Amy’s pregnancy, it’s Rose being trapped in an alternate universe. And, as @blenkinsopthebrave points out, this run of story, as well as being very strong as character studies, they’re also underpinned by some pretty weighty political themes.


    My reading of it was that it was one of the most political episodes of Who–about property, theft and slavery.

    Totally agree and I think was intended to a resonate with an audience that’s going through Brexit, austerity and risible chat about ‘Empire 2.0’. And I think that’s one that can be extended back to Smile too, and possibly even The Pilot. Was the intelligent oil also a sentient life that was also bound by others (first the show to which it belonged and then by its promise to Bill)? And then there’s the Doctor’s oath that limits his own freedom. Is the over-arching theme of series going to be ‘our responsibility to the rights and freedoms of others’.


    When the Doctor tells Bill to be passive in the meeting with Sutcliffe, he’s reduced her agency and then he promptly takes a swing at Sutcliffe, putting their lives in danger.

    Again, I see what you mean but I’d argue against it purely by mentioning his reasoning for doing so and the fact that Bill considers his reasons before agreeing. In other words, she makes a choice to let the Doctor take the lead. This is a considerable step up from say the Pertwee days when the Doctor would just arrogantly assume the lead and Jo/Sarah would be expected to go along with it. It’s possibly even a commentary on such tropes. That the Doctor makes such an arse of it is the icing on the cake.

    And I think the four knocks thing is going to prove to be such a massive piece of misdirection. We’ve already been primed for the Master’s return, I think he’ll come at us in an unexpected way rather than being foreshadowed like that. There could even be some mask action, which would be awesome.

    @wolfweed— That. Is. Excellent. It’s too bad you can’t embed images in the Graun’s threads because that really needs to be there….

    Avatar of thane15thane15 @thane15


    That I seriously doubt he looked like Robert Powell? Probably more like James Callis, yes, and maybe even darker skinned.

    Thank you for that. I had no idea that the Gospels avoid mentioning colour, as it were. Yes, I think most churches here, at least, have the long haired, blonde and striking blue eyed version */*



    Avatar of MiapatrickMiapatrick @miapatrick

    Has anyone seen the Guardian thread? So much positivity! People really like Bill. I do. What are the chances she’ll get a second season? I really think she’d be a great transition into a different Doctor and showrunner.
    I wouldn’t change the last few seasons, but I like the idea that Moff is producing a straightforward, classic who season here. I mean, obviously, what’s in the vault. But again, after doubling down with Sherlock, I’m intrigued with his approach on this season. Maybe its a transition for people like us. It’s still Moffat who, but not quite the Moffatie moffatist Who he’s ever done.
    Though it might have the unfortunate effect of taking any shine out of a back to the basics RTD/classic style that follows him leaving…

    Avatar of RedlemonsRedlemons @redlemons

    Hi all, I don’t write or even speak as well as the rest but I loved this episode. Loving PC more now than ever. Telling Bill not to lose her temper than punching  the lord was great. The reference to black Jesus was perfect. Someone on here said Bill might be a descendent  holds up if you see the coming attractions. Ok getting ready to watch again, I will now pay more attention to the detail rather than the story.

    Avatar of thane15thane15 @thane15


    It’s still Moffat who, but not quite the Moffatie moffatist Who he’s ever done.

    True. But I wish it was!  Love your expression there. LOL.


    Avatar of MirimeMirime @mirime

    @thane15 Thanks for the welcome back. Had a bit of a difficult year last year healthwise, and of course no Doctor Who.

    Liking this series so far, and like Bill a lot more than I thought I would. Still love Capaldi as the Doctor and don’t want him to go!

    Horrified at some comments on the Guardian blog – I mean the BBC should be impartial about racism?

    Avatar of MudlarkMudlark @mudlark


    And that is why we see so many black characters on the streets and on the ice–to draw our attention to the whole question of slavery … It is not supposed to be a documentary on the actual demographics of London in 1814.

    The theme of slavery in one form or another was certainly a thread in the narrative, but the setting was the Thames, close to the London Docks, and I agree with @pedant that the portrayal in this episode of the ethnic mix in that district and at that time was pretty accurate. It would have been much the same in the dock region of any large port in Britain, but London in particular was already a becoming a cosmopolitan city. There seems to be a vague but widespread perception that the population everywhere in Britain was pretty much lily-white until the arrival of MV Empire Windrush in 1948, hence Bill’s surprise that London was blacker than she expected. But as the Doctor said, history has been whitewashed.

    Whatever her initial fears, Bill was in no danger of being seized and carried off into slavery, only of encountering racism – as indeed she did, though, significantly, not amongst the poor. Although the wealth of several cities – Bristol in particular – and of many prominent families was founded in the slave trade and/or in the profit from sugar plantations worked by slaves in the Caribbean, chattel slavery had not existed as a recognized institution in England since soon after the Norman Conquest. For a time there was a certain amount of ambiguity surrounding the status of slaves brought to Britain by their owners, but that was eventually resolved in the case of Somerset v Stewart in 1772, when the King’s Bench ruled that chattel slavery was not supported by either common law or statute law.  Any slave who set foot on English soil was de facto free from that point on and could not be reclaimed by their former owner. *


    As regards my observation that the Doctor called Bill ‘River’ at one point, there seems to have been something odd going on. It turns out that my hearing was not at fault when I watched the broadcast on my TV yesterday evening. This this was an episode which I felt deserved an immediate re-watch, and it was equally clear, though not stressed, in my recording of the broadcast. I even replayed the sequence to make doubly sure that my ears had not deceived me (it was when the Doctor asks Bill to make the decision as to whether or not to free the monster fish).  In the light of morning I decided to check it again on iPlayer, on my computer, with subtitles, and equally clearly he says ‘Bill … Miss Potts’  so, thinking that I must after all have been hallucinating  I went back to my recording of the broadcast, which confirmed that I *had* heard it correctly. I guess therefore that it was simply a case of Capaldi fluffing aline, which has now been redubbed, and it was not intentionally significant.

    * As a side note, there were two famous bare-knuckle boxers in Britain who were black, Bill Richmond and Tom Molyneux, both of whom had been born into slavery in the USA. Richmond was given by his owner to the 2nd Duke of Northumberland and thus, by implication freed, and Molyneux was freed by his owner after winning substantial sums from him through his prowess as a boxer. Neither managed to beat Cribb, the then champion in Britain, but Richmond prospered, married an Englishwoman and eventually bought a pub. Molyneux, sadly, succumbed to alcoholism and died young.



    @Mudlark @thane15

    Indeed – Cardiff has had a resident black population for at least 350 years. And, of course, recent evidence suggests that Chinese traders were present in Roman London. That’s the thing with port cities. Ships turn up from all over the place.

    BTW, puro and @jimthefish – nice to see, over on the Graun, a certain @bluesqueakpip of this parish gave the racist trolls a right shoeing.

    Avatar of Anonymous @


    As adventure stories, they could be dealt with in 20 minutes. What’s made them enjoyable has been all of the character development and the production values.

    Indeed, and the pacing. From the opening shot of this series onward, and particularly in last night’s episode, I’ve frequently noticed that things are allowed to play out at a natural pace.

    I think it’s been a mission for a while to fix the frenetic pacing of the original reboot, but gradually. I recall Capaldi and Moffat talking about slower, longer scenes for season 8, and Moffat highlighting the length of scenes in the 50th.

    Lengthy, quieter character moments have been creeping in since at least Day of the Moon. It’s nice, and I hope they keep it up.

    Avatar of MudlarkMudlark @mudlark


    I would hear “I et lunch” (spelled eat pronounced ‘et’). Does anyone know about this? Common in the UK?

    Fairly common, I think, but it depends on where you are in the UK.  There is, as you are doubtless aware, a huge variation in regional accents, so much so that, for example, someone with an acute ear can pinpoint accurately which part of Norfolk a native of that county comes from, and even I, with my tin ear, can tell the difference between a rural Norfolk accent and the accent of a native of Norwich. For others it all gets lumped into one East Anglian accent. *   The same is true of any county in the UK.  As @pedant and I commented when we were discussing regional dialects an accents a few weeks ago, there has, though, been a smoothing out and merging of accents over the past few decades, and the true dialects seem to be disappearing rapidly

    On reflection, I think my pronunciation of ate is probably nearer ‘et’ than ‘eight’.  I have a slight but detectable regional accent which usually flummoxes people. Since people always said that I sounded exactly like my mother, to the extent that when we were together people couldn’t always tell which of us was talking unless they could see whose mouth was moving, I presume it is basically Cheshire, though I may have picked up a trace of Norfolk also. Someone once commented that my pronunciation of roof was pure Norfolk.

    While on the subject of accents, I presume that the translation function of the Tardis field was in operation, because the accents of both aristocrats and hoi polloi in Regency London would have been different enough for the speech of Bill and the Doctor to stand out and Bill, at least, would have found the 18th century/early 19th century cant used by thieves and ragamuffins largely incomprehensible.  Dickens conveys at least a flavour of it in the speech of Fagin’s gang of urchins in Oliver Twist, and other early novels of his portraying Londoners.


    * The only actors who I have ever heard producing anything approaching an authentic Norfolk accent were a woman who was a classmate of mine in school (played the Nurse in our final year production of Romeo and Juliet and went on to train as an actor in London) and, pleasingly enough, Patrick Troughton. Usually they resort to a generic yokel ‘mummerset’ accent.



    Avatar of MissRoriMissRori @missrori

    I was particularly excited for this episode and quite pleased with it — I think it’s the best of the season to date.  Bill grilling the Doctor over the death and destruction he’s seen and sometimes perpetrated, and his responses, near brought me to tears.  Looking forward to “Knock Knock” next week, and what’s that knocking in the vault anyway?  😉

    Avatar of NickNick @nick


    The frenetic pacing of some stories has always been something I disliked. I think, at least sometimes, this was caused by having to fit an awful lot of things into episodes in an attempt to close off plot items. It also seemed to suit Matt’s character style (and doesn’t Capaldi’s).

    The other thing is that quick cuts and pacing was fairly standard TV. I think things have changed following the Killing (series 1), which took 20 parts (hours) to investigate a murder. Slower TV seems to be quite normal now (Line of Duty, Broadchurch) as does more investigation into characters.

    on a slightly different point, this article makes some interesting points as well:



    Avatar of NickNick @nick


    Yes, BG Who often had more than 4 episodes. In the 1970’s this was driven by budgetary reasons (it’s much cheaper to use the sets for 6 parts than 4) in a 24 episode series. Given the 5.25 pm (or was it 5.15) time slot after Grandstand (an all Saturday afternoon multi-sports programme) the stories and format didn’t allow for much character development elements to fill the time. That’s what there were lots of chases (down corridors) and locking up and escapes etc.

    It was slightly different in the 1960s as the show was originally conceived as an episodic serial, akin to Flash Gordan, so the number of episodes per story was more flexible and perhaps based on what could be done with the story concept. Series 1 ran for 42 weeks for example. Of course no one ever watched them more than once.


    Avatar of NickNick @nick


    I sort of agree with you as well. If you were to rewrite The 10th Planet today, you might not change the story (which is very simple invasion concentrating the action at a base under siege) that much, but you would add an episodes worth of character discussion into the pro’s/cons of Cybernisation as an acceptable method for global humanity survival. You could also make the Cybermen more acceptable, before concluding that its a solution that you’d rather avoid.

    But could you tell that story in a single 50/55 minute episode of AG Who and do full service to the idea ? I think you’d end up throwing the concepts out as an idea, but without really having time to investigate the issue. After all that’s what Thin Ice did yesterday. It picks up on the street urchin dregs of society (think Dickens), throws in an element of racism and as @blenkinsopthebrave highlights slavery and ownership of wealth without really dealing or investigating anything. You could quite easily make a 6 part sunday evening BBC historical story out of this episode if you wanted to. Isn’t this a problem with the one story per episode format of Who ?

    Avatar of NickNick @nick

    @mudlark @thane15

    Having grown up in industrial Cheshire (Macclesfield) “et” for ate was common speech at the time. Dropping the “H” was also pretty normal (eg ow’s that).

    Proper rural Cheshire accents were pretty rare when I grew up. I cant remember the guy’s name, but BBC North West often interviewed a local farmer who had the real thing. I cant remember his name. His accent was a sort of diluted Lancashire, probably a mixture between Lancs, Staffordshire and Shropshire. I understand why you say Norfolk, as that might not sound that different (although the dialect words probably would be).

    Avatar of CountScarlioniCountScarlioni @countscarlioni


    I’d argue against it purely by mentioning his reasoning for doing so and the fact that Bill considers his reasons before agreeing. In other words, she makes a choice to let the Doctor take the lead. This is a considerable step up from say the Pertwee days when the Doctor would just arrogantly assume the lead and Jo/Sarah would be expected to go along with it. It’s possibly even a commentary on such tropes. That the Doctor makes such an arse of it is the icing on the cake.

    I like that reading and at least his hearts are in the right place.

    And I think the four knocks thing is going to prove to be such a massive piece of misdirection. We’ve already been primed for the Master’s return, I think he’ll come at us in an unexpected way rather than being foreshadowed like that. There could even be some mask action, which would be awesome.

    Again, that makes good (Doctor Who) sense. So, in fact, by hearing four knocks, we’ve likely been told that it’s not the Master in the vault, so the bonkerising can get seriously underway.

    The sequence of three knocks at the end of Thin Ice and the oath: In Listen, we’ve already had a sequence of three bangs (knocks?) when the Doctor, Clara and Orson Pink are inside Orson’s `time ship’  at the end of the universe. In Listen too, the Doctor after getting knocked out, wakes up in a dazed state and blurts out  “Sontarans! Perverting the course of human history!” That I take as a reference to the Fourth Doctor story The Invasion of Time, which is the only other occasion I can remember the Doctor taking an oath, when he becomes President of the Time Lords and takes the oath to recover the Great Key of Rassilon. (Does anyone know of any other oaths taken by the Doctor?) At the end of the Invasion of Time, the Doctor is supposed to have had his mind wiped of the recent events on Gallifrey, but from the reference to Sontarans in Listen, he’s remembered. Don’t think this is going anywhere but it’s interesting!

    Avatar of MirimeMirime @mirime

    Different accents are a marvellous thing.  My husband and I had so many enthusiastic discussions on whether ‘book’ and ‘buck’ (or ‘look’ and ‘luck’) are pronounced the same or differently that he mentioned it in his speech when we got married. He’s from round Lincolnshire, I’m Welsh.

    For the record they do not sound the same and it’s ridiculous to claim they do 😀

    I do drive him nuts with saying I’ll do things ‘now’. Which to me means in a bit.

    Avatar of wolfweedwolfweed @wolfweed

    Another potential for who or what is in the vault.

    Who remembers this bit of intrigue from The Witch’s Familiar?

    (She removes the cameo brooch from her blouse neck.)
    MISSY: Dark star alloy. Goes through armour plating like a knife through people.
    CLARA: Missy. Missy. Missy, uncuff me now!
    MISSY: It’s pretty, though, isn’t it? Got it in the olden days on Gallifrey. The Doctor gave it to me when my daughter…
    (The lift arrives.)

    missy brooches her family

    ‘Sons and Daughters
    Love and laughter
    Tears of sadness and happiness
    We will find out our sons and daughters
    Are what, we too, were once about…’

    Avatar of RedlemonsRedlemons @redlemons

    @wolfweed thanks for that looked it up on you tube.  So was Missy a female before she was the master? Why would the Doctor give a man, the master a cameo pin? Oh space and time befuddles me. Yet as far as we know the doctor has always been a male.  Since River was with both men and women could one of her woman loves been the doctor as a female?  My head now spins.

    Avatar of blenkinsopthebraveblenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave


    Puro, the performance of Purcell was technically very good, but was, well, rather precious in the way it came across. I know Purcell was performed pubically in the Restoration, but this performance was more like something designed for a Court audience. It had the strange feeling of something more like the musical equivalent of the sumptuary laws, designed to draw attention to the standing of the Royal patrons who had commissioned the performance. If that makes sense.

    Avatar of wolfweedwolfweed @wolfweed

    @redlemons Perhaps Missy was  a man when she had a daughter…

    sex change

    period clothing

    Pearl’s guide to the frost fair


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