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Blink (TV story)

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Blink
Blink main
Adapted from: What I Did on My Christmas Holidays by Sally Sparrow
Doctor: Tenth Doctor
Companion(s): Martha
Featuring: Sally
Main enemy: Weeping Angels
Main setting: London, 2007
Key crew
Writer: Steven Moffat
Director: Hettie MacDonald
Producer: Phil Collinson
Release details
Story number: 186
Season/series: 3
Premiere broadcast: 9 June 2007
Premiere network: BBC One
Format: 1x45 minute episode
Production code: 3.10
Confidential: Do You Remember the First Time?
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Memorable moment
Don't Blink! - Doctor Who - Blink - Series 3 - BBC04:21

Don't Blink! - Doctor Who - Blink - Series 3 - BBC

Another memorable moment
The Weeping Angels attack! - Doctor Who - Blink - Series 3 - BBC04:13

The Weeping Angels attack! - Doctor Who - Blink - Series 3 - BBC

Blink was the tenth episode of series three of Doctor Who. It was the first appearance of the Weeping Angels and was the Doctor-lite episode for this series.

Writer Steven Moffat had intended to write a two-parter earlier in the series, but was too busy writing and executive producing Jekyll. Believing he had "messed everything up", Moffat offered to "throw [himself] onto the grenade of the unpopular episode", referring to the Doctor-lite concept. In a 2008 interview, he immodestly admitted that he had only just started realising that Blink was in fact "a really great episode". As of June 2008, it remained the quickest piece of writing Moffat had ever done because of its late submission, having gone straight from the second draft with no notes to the script and tone meetings before going into production ten days later. The scriptwriting process took such little time to produce that Moffat claimed that Blink was such a "tiniest sliver" of his writing career that he couldn't remember making it. [1]

Synopsis

In an abandoned house, the Weeping Angels wait. The only hope to stop them is a young woman named Sally Sparrow and her friend Larry Nightingale. The only catch: The Weeping Angels can move in the blink of an eye. To defeat the ruthless enemy — with only a half of a conversation from the Tenth Doctor as help — the one rule is this: don't turn your back, don't look away and don't blink!

Plot

Young photographer Sally Sparrow breaks into an old house (Wester Drumlins) and takes photos of fallen chandeliers and moss growing in fireplaces. Entering a room upstairs, she sees peeling wallpaper and the letters "BE" exposed underneath. She pulls back the corner and finds the message "BEWARE OF THE WEEPING ANGELS". She tears off more wallpaper, revealing a message telling her to beware of the Weeping Angels, and telling her to "duck, Sally Sparrow." It is only when she reveals the words "duck now" that she actually does so, narrowly avoiding a rock that would have hit her head. She looks out the window, from where the rock was thrown, and sees the statue of an angel with its hands covering its eyes. She peels the rest of the wallpaper off to reveal the writer of the message — "Love from the Doctor, 1969."

Sally goes to the house of her friend, Kathy Nightingale. The television is on, playing a video of a man with glasses. The man tells the viewer not to turn away, not to look away, and not to blink — "Blink and you're dead." Hearing the toilet, Kathy asks if Sally has met her brother, warning her that she's about to. Sally turns to the hall to see Kathy's naked brother, Larry, who desperately hoped he was wearing pants.

The next morning, Kathy and Sally return to the house. Sally shows Kathy the message on the wall and the Weeping Angel, but thinks it is now closer to the house than before. Someone rings the doorbell; Sally answers it, and Kathy waits upstairs. Kathy notices another Weeping Angel in the room and stares at it before blinking.

Sally answers the door to discover a man who is looking for her. He says that he was told to come to this place on this exact date and time and give Sally Sparrow a letter. When Sally asks who sent him, he replies that it was his grandmother, Katherine Wainwright, known before her marriage as Kathy Nightingale. Sally presumes she has figured out the joke and calls for her friend, but Kathy does not answer.

Kathy gets up in a field, and asks a local lad where she is. He replies that she is in Hull, but she refuses to believe it until he shows her the local newspaper, which not only confirms her location but also shows the year to be 1920.

Eventually, the man persuades Sally to take the letter, which is from Kathy, who died twenty years ago in 1987. Kathy's letter explains that this man is her grandson, who promised to carry out her final request. In anger, Sally flings down the letter and heads upstairs to the room where she left Kathy, only to find three Weeping Angels in the room. One of them has a Yale key in its hand. She takes it and heads out, only to find Kathy's grandson leaving with his promise fullfilled.

In a coffee shop, Sally reads the letter fully, learning Kathy led a full and happy life (with Ben, the first man she met in Hull) and started a family. She includes photographs of her and her children (with her daughter named after Sally), and grandchildren. Sally reads Kathy's joke about living to an exceptionally old age and her request to tell Larry, who works at a local DVD shop, something; her parents are gone by this time, so he's really her only close family.

Don't blink

"Don't blink!"

When she gets to the DVD shop, she goes into the back to find Larry. She sees the man with glasses who gave her the blinking warning on a TV. Larry explains that the man is an Easter egg found on seventeen DVDs and no one, not even the manufacturers or the publishers, knows how it got there. As they are talking, the DVD keeps un-pausing itself, and the man with glasses says random phrases, one of which shockingly fits with something Sally commented. In the end, Larry gives her a list of the seventeen DVDs that have the Easter egg on them. She leaves the shop, having gotten an idea from Larry's co-worker ("Why does no-one ever go to the police?") about what to do next.

She goes to the police station, and after mentioning the house, meets up with DI Billy Shipton. He shows her a collection of cars with something strange in common: all of them were found outside the Wester Drumlins house (some with their motors still running) and all of their owners vanished without a trace. He shows her a fake police phone box, with a lock that will not open. Billy charms Sally to give him her mobile number before she leaves. After she leaves, he sees the Weeping Angels in the room with him, surrounding the phone box. While examining them closely, he blinks.

Outside, Sally finds the key she took from the Angel's hand in her coat pocket. She heads back to the garage to try it out, but Billy and the police box have gone, and the outside door is broken. Someone has broken through it with great force.

Billy doctor 1969

The Doctor welcomes Billy to 1969.

Billy gets up to see the Doctor and Martha, who tell him he is in 1969, because of the "touch of an Angel." The Doctor advises not to go swimming for an hour as time travel without a capsule is disorientating. Martha advises Billy to nod when the Doctor stops for breath. After they talk, the Doctor asks Billy to give Sally Sparrow a message, and apologises that it will take "a while" to get the message through.

Back in the present, Sally gets a phone call. She goes to visit a dying Billy at the hospital. His message from the Doctor is to "look at the list", the list being the DVD list Larry gave her. He mentions that he got into video production, and she realises that he was the one who put the Easter eggs on the DVDs. He also says that she will understand one day, but that he won't; the Doctor has told him that this is their last meeting, and that he has only as long as the rain stops before he dies. She decides to stay with him until the end.

After the rain has stopped, Sally calls Larry. She has realised what the DVDs on "the list" all have in common: they are all owned by her; specifically they are the only DVDs that she owns, which means that the Easter egg is meant for her. She asks him to bring a portable DVD player to the old house.

Larry does so, and brings the DVD with the best sound on the Easter egg. They play it, and see the full message from the Doctor. He makes the same random comments from the video store, but now they fit into what Larry and Sally are saying. Realising this, Sally thinks he can hear them, but Larry explains that he always says it and that he has got a transcript of the Easter egg with him. As the Doctor gives his message, everything Sally says seems to fit in, so Larry, now very excited, begins to add her words to the transcript.

The Doctor mentions that he has a copy of the transcript on his autocue. That is how he knows what she is saying. He warns of creatures from another world, the "Lonely Assassins", aka the Weeping Angels. They are incredibly fast, and they can send people back in time, which is how he got stuck in 1969. These aliens have a unique defence; if any living thing looks at the Angels, they immediately turn to stone until they are no longer looked at. He calls this a "quantum lock". This explains the "weeping"; they cannot look at each other, since it has the same effect. Since a statue can't look away or blink, the Angels who see each other never move again. These Angels feed off the days their victims never had, and now they are looking for the TARDIS, which is filled with time energy, which the Angels will feast on for a lifetime and since Sally has the key, the Angels are after her now. He says what Sally has already heard; she must keep her gaze on the Angels; she mustn't turn away, look away, or even blink – "Blink and you're dead."

Angel bares fangs

An Angel bares its fangs.

The Doctor is stuck in 1969, so he is relying on Sally to send the TARDIS back to him. When she asks how, he mentions that he has run out of transcript, but he can guess why: he surmises that the Weeping Angels are closing in, forcing her to flee and so left the transcript unfinished. Indeed, Larry has stopped writing, and they both notice at the same time that neither is looking at the Weeping Angel. They look up. This Angel has its clawed fingers stretched out towards them, and is baring sharp teeth. Sally tells Larry to stay in the room while she searches for a way out. As she tries all the doors in the house, Larry looks away for a split second, and the Angel moves to right in front of him. Keeping his eyes on it, he leaves the room.

Sally has found the unlocked door to the cellar. Larry and she descend to find a way out. They find the TARDIS, along with the other three Weeping Angels. They head towards the door, keeping their eyes on the Angels. As they get to the TARDIS, the fourth Angel has appeared by the stairs and is pointing at the light. The light starts to flicker. Larry and Sally cannot see in the darkness. The Angels move towards Sally and Larry with their claws out and their teeth showing as the humans frantically try to unlock the TARDIS door. At the last minute, they open it.

As they look around, a hologram of the Doctor says that the TARDIS has detected an authorised control disc, valid for one journey only; it is the DVD that Larry played for Sally. It is glowing, but the Angels are shaking the TARDIS on each side, looking for a way in. He puts it into the console and the TARDIS begins to dematerialise.

Weeping angels trapped

The angels are eternally trapped.

Sally realises the TARDIS is disappearing and she and Larry are not going with it. She screams at the Doctor to help them, even as the TARDIS fades, leaving them crouching in the middle of the circle of Angels.

Sally yells to keep looking at them, but Larry stands up slowly and realises that the Doctor tricked the Angels into looking at each other, freezing them permanently.

A year later, Sally and Larry are running the DVD store together, but Sally cannot let all that has happened go, and she cannot move on until she discovers who gave the Doctor the transcript and everything else she recorded. When Larry goes out to get some milk, she sees the Doctor and Martha getting out of a taxi, and realises in shock that it was she who gave the Doctor all the information: the transcript, the photos she took of the wall, everything. She rushes outside, but the Doctor does not recognise her. Sally remembers that since the Doctor is a time-traveller, it "hasn't happened yet". The Doctor asks what that means and Sally warns the him that he will get stuck in 1969 and that that is where it all starts. The Doctor asks her name and she tells him. Larry returns right at that moment with the milk and can only stare at the Doctor and Martha in stunned amazement. The Doctor is in a hurry and cannot stay, so he and Martha eventually head off to see "four things and a lizard", while Sally clasps Larry's hand and goes back into the shop, Sparrow and Nightingale's antiquarian books and rare DVDs.

However, the scene shifts to montage across the public statuary, punctuated with the Doctor's recorded warnings, as though to warn us that there might be other Angels lurking among the statues...

"Blink and you're dead. Don't turn your back. Don't look away. And DON'T. BLINK. Good luck."

Cast

Crew

General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics

Movement

Casting

General post-production staff

Special and visual effects

Sound







Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.


References

  • While trapped in 1969, the Doctor builds a timey-wimey detector that "goes ding when there's stuff". The machine can also boil an egg at thirty paces, "whether you want it to or not". (The Doctor learned to keep away from hens, as "it's not pretty when they blow".)
  • The Weeping Angels are quantum locked, meaning that they cannot move when within anyone's sight.
  • Larry compares Wester Drumlins to "Scooby Doo's house".
  • When Kathy suggests she and Sally partner up as "Sparrow and Nightingale", Sally jokes that its "too ITV", a playful dig at BBC's rival network, which often produced television series with similarly formatted titles.
  • Sally's disc triggers Security Protocol 712 in the TARDIS.

Story notes

  • This episode, like series 2's Love & Monsters, is a Doctor and companion 'light' episode.
  • The plot of this episode was based upon a short story Steven Moffat wrote for the Doctor Who Annual 2006 called What I Did on My Christmas Holidays by Sally Sparrow. The story involves Sally Sparrow (who is a child in the story as opposed to a young woman in the episode) writing her school assignment about being contacted by the Ninth Doctor through photographs and a videotape (like the episode, there is a sequence in which Sally has a conversation with the Doctor through a television) in which he gives her instructions to allow her to return the TARDIS to him (the Weeping Angels aren't present in the story; the Doctor being separated from the TARDIS was due to a "hic-cough"), knowing what to do thanks to an adult Sally (who is a beautiful spy who saves the Doctor's life) giving him the story which details the experience.
  • The story is ultimately an ontological paradox: the Doctor has all the information (the transcript of the conversation, the contents of the message behind the wallpaper, etc.) because Sally gives him that information at the end of the story — but Sally gets that information from seeing the wall the Doctor wrote, watching the DVD the Doctor made and so on. The information never really "starts" anywhere — the Doctor knows what to say in the conversation because he's reading Larry's transcript, which Larry made thirty-eight years later by watching the conversation. The information is in an endless loop.
  • Despite only appearing in cameos, David Tennant and Freema Agyeman are still credited as the main stars rather than Carey Mulligan in the episode's main role of Sally Sparrow.
  • Banto's DVDs included: Breakfast in the Rain, Dance of Days, Civilisation Zero, Angel Smile, Falling Star, One Oak Country, My Best Friend's Boyfriend, Mean Teens, Shooting the Sun. All of these were fake titles created for the episode, complete with DVD cover and poster designs.
  • This is the first episode to be directed by a woman after a twenty-two year interval. The previous one was The Mark of the Rani.
  • When Larry brings Sally the list of DVDs, a vintage White Star Line sticker can be seen stuck to the back of the folder; Titanic, the most famous White Star vessel, would later inspire the setting for Voyage of the Damned.
  • For reasons unknown, while the original BBC One broadcast and subsequent Region 2 DVD release of the episode include a "One year later" on-screen graphic prior to the epilogue scene, broadcasts of the episode in North America, as well as Region 1 DVD release, omit this.
  • In 2009, Doctor Who Magazine conducted a reader poll to rank the first 200 Doctor Who stories in order of preference. Blink ranked 2nd, surpassed only by the 1984 story TV: The Caves of Androzani. A similar poll was run earlier this year, with Blink again coming second overall, this time beaten by TV: The Day of the Doctor.
  • Billy can be seen in the police station with a patch on his jacket depicting a sparrow, a possible joke on the main character's last name.
  • A sequel to this story, A Ghost Story for Christmas, was released as a webisode on Day 24 of the 2009 Adventure Calendar on the official Doctor Who website. It was narrated by John Barrowman as Jack Harkness in the style of a ghost story and depicted the abduction of another woman by the Weeping Angels.

Ratings

  • 6.1 million - Overnight
  • 0.75 million viewers - BBC Three Sunday repeat
  • 6.62 million viewers - Final Rating

Filming locations

  • The abandoned house is on Fields Park Road in Newport, South Wales. It is currently being renovated.

Production errors

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • In the scene where Larry is trying to hold off an Angel, the left hand of the Angel changes position multiple times between shots. This is due to the fact the angels are portrayed by live actors under heavy make-up, and the scene was filmed multiple times during production.
  • When the TARDIS leaves and traps the Angels one of the Angels is not being looked at by the other three.
  • At the end of the Doctor's clips, he sometimes blinks but sometimes he doesn't, even though it is the same clip. [statement unclear] [disputed statement]

Continuity

Home video releases

Bbcdvd-s3-v3

Series 3 Volume 3 DVD Cover

  • This has been released along with Human Nature and The Family of Blood on the Series 3 Volume 3 DVD.
  • It is also part of the series 3 box set. In the disc which has the episode in it (disc 4) there is an Easter egg on page 2 of scene selection of "Blink". It has the Doctor's Easter egg from the episode, unedited. To access it, you have to highlight "Blink" in the page and select it. Unlike other bonus scenes and deleted footage, the Easter egg remains "filmized" rather than being rendered on video, in keeping with it supposedly having been filmed in 1969.

Footnotes

  1. Steven Moffat On Writing. INT. JASON ARNOPP'S MIND - DAY/NIGHT (Jason Arnopp's blog) (29 June 2008). Retrieved on 15 December 2013.

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