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Oxygen was the fifth episode of the tenth series of Doctor Who produced by BBC Wales.

Most notably, in this episode, saving Bill robs the Doctor of his sight, rendering the Twelfth Doctor, potentially, permanently blind.

This shows the risks he often places himself in, in order to save his friends, but also the danger in which he might be leaving Earth, should he not return, alive and in good health. Oxygen represents a tipping point in the St Luke's vault arc, as the Doctor finally faces the consequences of not having taken his vow seriously.

Nardole joins the Doctor and Bill on this adventure, for the first time since The Pilot.

Synopsis Edit

The Twelfth Doctor, Bill and Nardole investigate a strange space station, but are interrupted by walking dead in spacesuits... will they make it out alive? And how much does air actually cost?

Plot Edit

The Doctor, Bill and an angry Nardole travel in the TARDIS to follow a distress call to a deep-space mining station. When the TARDIS is jettisoned by the station's computers, the trio are forced to wear "smartsuits", robotic spacesuits capable of independent operation tied to the station. The suits are also the only source of oxygen, as the mining company does not provide an oxygen atmosphere inside the station, and every activity is measured in breaths. The surviving crew warn them that some suits have received instructions to "deactivate" their "organic components", killing the wearer via an electrical discharge but remaining autonomous. This signal can be carried by touch, which has caused most of the crew to be turned into zombies, enslaved to the suits' programming. The Doctor and the others plan to walk outside the station to an uncompleted portion not updated in the computer systems to hide. Bill's suit malfunctions during depressurisation and forces her to remove her helmet. To save her, the Doctor gives her his helmet as they spacewalk. He survives the vacuum of space, but has gone blind from the ordeal.

The computer discovers their location, but as they flee, Bill's suit again malfunctions and will not move. The Doctor leaves her behind, assuring her she will not die. She is, however, electrocuted when they touch her. The Doctor reveals the limit of breaths is an algorithm to stop people "wasting" oxygen, part of the company's automated profit-making system; killing the wearers was just the logical endpoint of corporate profit over human life. He hacks the station's systems to cause the station to self-destruct if they are killed, and convinces the others this is a "good death" and revenge against the corporation. The computers recognise this threat and recalculates the suits' programming, and the zombies turn over their oxygen supplies to the survivors. The Doctor then revives Bill, knowing that her malfunctioning suit did not have enough power to lethally shock her.

The TARDIS is recovered, and they drop the survivors off at their head office to confront the company; the Doctor notes there was a successful rebellion six months later. Nardole restores the Doctor's eyes, but when they return to the university and Bill departs, the Doctor reveals that he "can't look at anything ever again. I'm still blind".

Cast Edit

Uncredited cast Edit

Crew Edit

General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics



General post-production staff

Special and visual effects


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 Edit

Physics Edit

Chemistry Edit

Biology Edit

Technology Edit

Medicine Edit

  • The Doctor claims he has "stuff in [the TARDIS] that'll cure anything".


  • The Doctor once told Nardole that the TARDIS can't go anywhere without the fluid link K57. However, he reveals this to be untrue (or, at least, no longer true).
  • The air shell room in the TARDIS can provide oxygen to enough of the space station for them to stroll around.
  • The Doctor is familiar enough with the layout of the console room that, despite apparently being blind, he is able to hide this and control the TARDIS as though he still had sight, including, it is implied, accurately piloting her both to Ganymede's head office and back to the university.

Travelling Edit

Units of measurement Edit

Locations Edit

Business and economics Edit

Currency Edit

Resources Edit

  • Chasm Forge is a station for mining copper ore.
  • The managers of Chasm Forge are seeking a bottom line for oxygen usage, and are seemingly prepared to kill off and replace workers if they're using too much of it.

Foods and beverages Edit

  • The Doctor says that in five whole minutes, "we could boil the hell out of an egg."
  • Bill mentions lasagna when giving examples of what a restaurant review is.
  • The Doctor sent Nardole out for crisps.
  • The Doctor tells Dahh-Ren he sent him out for a latté.
  • The Doctor says the phrase "the universe is your crustacean".

People Edit

  • Nardole recognises Bill's smartsuit's interface voice as his ex Velma, and remembers her as a "nice girl, actress. Bit orange, left me for an AI at a call centre."
  • As a result of saving Bill from dying through exposure to the vacuum, the Doctor has now become blind. An attempt to return his vision was made, but only the colour in his eyes returned.

Time Lords Edit

Literature Edit

Culture Edit

  • The Doctor uses the phrase "fun fact!" in his lecture.
  • The Doctor mentions, amongst other things the smartsuits can do, updating Facebook.
  • Dahh-Ren cannot understand why Bill would experience racism herself. He suspects her to be racist because of her reactions to his blue skin.
    • Nardole says that "some of my best friends are bluish".
  • The Doctor insinuates that the purpose of jokes, in general, is to distract people from whatever's about to kill them.
  • The Doctor jokes that "too many rescue ships" is a "first-world problem".
  • The Doctor quips that he thought he was just tweeting, rather than locking the crew out of the subroutine.
  • Bill wonders whether the (missing) man in the working suit has "his tunes on", when he doesn't respond.

Story notes Edit

Jamie Mathieson, Mimi Ndiweni & Kieran Bew - The Aftershow - Doctor Who The Fan Show

Jamie Mathieson, Mimi Ndiweni & Kieran Bew - The Aftershow - Doctor Who The Fan Show

This episode's Aftershow on Doctor Who: The Fan Show.

Series 10 Teaser - Doctor Who - BBC

Series 10 Teaser - Doctor Who - BBC

An early teaser with clips from this episode. The Doctor's eyes are not shown to be cloudy in his Oxygen scenes.

Cast Edit

Allusions Edit

  • Two references to Star Trek are made:
    • The Doctor makes a speech about space being "the final frontier", quoting the monologue that opens each episode of Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
    • Nardole mentions the "Swish Swish" sound the doors always make. The Doctor says he hates that noise.
  • While standing with Dahh-Ren, Nardole states that some of his best friends are "bluish". This joke, of calling a blue person "bluish" as if it is their race, was first seen in the 1969 Beatles animated film The Yellow Submarine, where it was used by a Blue Meanie in an attempt to identify if the Beatles were a member of their ranks. The original use was meant as a satire of the then-common phrase "you don't look Jewish", but it was not intended to be derogatory.

Ratings Edit

  • 3.57m (UK overnight)
  • 5.27m (UK final)

Filming locations Edit

Production errors Edit

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.

to be added

Continuity Edit

Tied to you

The Fifth Doctor makes his way through the vacuum of space, in TV: Four to Doomsday.

Home video releases Edit

DVD releases Edit

to be added

Blu-ray releases Edit

to be added

Digital releases Edit

to be added

External links Edit

  1. BBC Doctor Who website (13 May 2017). Oxygen: The Fact File. BBC Doctor Who. Retrieved on 14 May 2017.