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Sleep No More was the ninth episode of the ninth series of Doctor Who produced by BBC Wales.

It broke away from the traditional filming style of the series by featuring a unique and non-musical title sequence and depicting the events of the story through a found-footage style of direction, featuring all of its scenes in a manner that suggests they were being viewed through video recordings rather than in third-person.

It also was the first episode of Doctor Who to have its title given during the closing credits rather than the opening credits. The only other time that a television story did not feature a title during the opening titles was the 2005 Children in Need Special, which did not display any discernible title at all.

According to the Doctor Who Extra for this episode, head writer and executive producer Steven Moffat had commented that this episode also serves as a reminder that even the Doctor has his limitations; he can't or doesn't always win. This served as a refer-back to the Doctor's early adventures in the 1960s, where a victory for the Time Lord often just involved making to the TARDIS and escaping danger.

Synopsis Edit

The Le Verrier space station fell silent only a day ago. No-one really knows what happened. However, some footage of the attempted rescue mission was found. The station appears empty, except for two nosy time travelers: the Doctor and Clara.

Plot Edit

Professor Gagan Rassmussen breathlessly introduces a video he's assembled from found footage, warning would-be viewers of the recording's inherent (but unspecified) danger. Rassmussen explains that he's not quite sure what's been going on, but he's put together some footage from the security cameras and perspectives of the people in involved. Hearing a strange groaning sound, Rassmussen once more adresses the camera, telling the viewers that they were warned.  

The screen temporarily fills with random numbers and letters, before a flash of static marks the beginning of the footage. 

Nagata and her team (Chopra, Deep-Ando, and Grunt 474) have been sent by the city of Triton on Neptune to investigate the Le Verrier space station, which has been silent for over 24 hours. Deep-Ando emerges from a Morpheus pod, stating that he feels refreshed. Chopra repeatedly voices his dislike for it. Nagata and Deep-Ando mock him, saying he's a R.I.P., a person who refuses to use Morpheus. 474 tries calming Chopra, but instead annoys him because she can't speak proper grammar, missing out words.

They dock on the space station, hoping to find the crew. Instead, they find the station dim with emergency lights on; there is no sign of life on the station. According to their scans, there is nothing wrong with the engines or the gravity shields; the station is simply left on emergency lights. 474 guesses that the crew is playing hide and seek, annoying Chopra. However, she soon stops the group, informing them that she hears people ahead. The quartet hide, until they can determine if the voices belong to the crew or some kind of hostile invaders.

Clara walks into view, wondering why everything is so dim. The Doctor's voice is heard suggesting it could be a three-day week, or a night setting. When Clara voices feeling like she's being watched, the Doctor passes it off as paranoia. She shines a torch at a decoration, stating it looks like they're at a Japanese restaurant. Clara wonders if they ended up at a space restaurant, annoying the Doctor who walks into view with her.

The Doctor explains no-one puts the word "space" in front of something because it's in the future or not on a planet, listing several items that wouldn't make sense with the prefix "space". They walk down another corridor as Clara wonders about the word "spacesuit", to which the Doctor is dismissive.

Nagata leads her team after them, surprising the duo. She demands to know if they are crew. The Doctor calmly takes out the psychic paper, which causes Nagata and her team to think they are Engineering Stress Assessors. Nagata asks the Doctor what happened. Assuming that she means what happened from the beginning of time, the Doctor says "that's a long story". However, Clara clears her throat; the Doctor takes the signal, realizing that Nagata means the station.

The Doctor explains they haven't any idea as they've only just arrived; he asks Nagata for an explanation. Twenty-four hours ago, the station lost all communications. Nagata and her team are here to find out why the station lost power, assuming it to be a meteor strike or space pirates (which contradicts the Doctor's theory of not putting "space" before certain words). The Doctor correctly guesses Nagata and her team to be a rescue team of four; the small group is due to budget cuts. Nagata tells them to consider themselves under her command, but the Doctor finishes her sentence by singing "part of the furniture", before Nagata finishes her command. (The Doctor is subtly amused as he's the highest authority in the room).

The Doctor tastes his finger twice to reveal that he and Clara are in the thirty-eighth century on a Tuesday. He tells Clara that India and Japan were sort of merged after the great catastrophe, which caused a realignment of the tectonic plates. Clara is confused by this; the Doctor, usually getting the timeline mixed up, tells her she has a lot to look forward to. The Doctor then notes that there happens to suspicious amount of dust in the space station, after just a day of no-one being around.

474 angry

Grunts are bred to respond with hostility if they are even the slightest bit attacked

Grunt 474 says "Eyes. Watch. Eyes in sky.", which confuses Chopra. 474 says that she will protect Chopra because she thinks that he's pretty. Chopra pushes her away, which causes her to react aggressively - because she is programmed to respond to physical threat - and get Chopra into a choke hold. After Nagata tells her to let Chopra go, 474 does so and crouches by the wall, apologising. Chopra complains that 474 could have killed him, but Nagata tells him that it's how grunts are grown. The Doctor tells a confused Clara that grunts are bred in hatcheries with cloned muscles, low intelligence and brute force, which makes for an instant army, much to Clara's disgust. The Doctor tells her that it's how they roll in the 38th century; basically the morality problem has been solved this way.

They continue down a hall, where two figures are seen. The Doctor tells Clara to hold his hand; though Clara's fine, the Doctor is scared. It turns out that figures are hostile creatures, which proceed to charge at them. Everyone runs, but Deep-Ando ignores Nagata's order to follow them and runs down the wrong hall. They try keeping the creatures from following them into the lab, getting 474 to smash the door on one of the arms of the creature. The arm dissolves, and the creature vanishes. This leaves Nagata confused.

Deep-Ando, meanwhile is searching through the corridors and falling to contact the group.

In the lab, the Doctor takes a sample of the creatures and begins scanning it. All the scan tells him is that it's organic. Nagata tries calling Deep-Ando, but gets static. Clara sees some Morpheus pods, which she and the Doctor begin investigating. However, when the screen turns away from them, Clara is heard screaming in horror; the screen returns to the pod, showing it now shut with Clara inside. The Doctor tries getting her free, only to be told to calm down as the machine is harmless. The Mr. Sandman song plays over the machine in hologram form.

The Doctor manages to force the machine open, to find an unconscious Clara wired into it. Clara awakes, confused, wondering if she just slept; Nagata confirms this. The Doctor asks Clara what she was doing; Clara explains that the wires came alive like snakes and pulled her in against her will. The Doctor examines the door, finding the machine is slightly sentient; it thought it knew what Clara needed - "clearly you needed 40 winks."

Rassmussen inside a Morpheus pod

Rassmussen enters the story

474 then says that there's someone in the last pod. They try forcing it open, but the occupant keeps the machine shut. While the soldiers prepare to react with force, Clara decides to politely introduce herself and the Doctor to coerce the occupant into exiting the pod. It opens to reveal a scared Rassmussen.

The footage stops again, to the present day Rassmussen, who explains that he wanted to leave the station right away, but the Doctor was demanding answers about Morpheus.

A holographic announcer explains that Morpheus was created to give human beings all the benefits of sleep, but in a five minute burst that would allow them to stay awake for a month; the primary reason being for businesses to try getting ahead of their competitors. The Doctor is not impressed, stating that everyone needs sleep; even he sleeps. When Clara asks when, he tells her its when she's not looking. Chopra is glad two more people find the Morpheus pods disgusting. Rasmussen takes credit as its inventor, explaining that humans spend an entire 1/3 of their lives asleep and time is money; his machine sends an encoded wavelength into the brain to rewrite the parts that handle sleep. The Doctor retorts "Congratulations, professor; you've conquered nature. But you've also created an abomination."

Rasmussen stops the the film again, stating that the group went to find Deep-Ando.

In the corridors, the Doctor explains the creatures are made of dead blood cells, mucus and dead skin, basicaly eye mucus. A confused Clara wonders how that is possible. The Doctor continues explaining that Rasmussen is to blame, because the Morpheus machines have hyper-evolved the eye mucus into a carnivorous life form. When Rasmussen calls it slander, the Doctor tells him to ask what remains of the crew. Clara wonders where they are, to which the Doctor says "in digestion". The eye mucus consumed the crew. Nagata is confused as nothing like this has happened on Triton; the Doctor explains that Rasmussen tried to enhance the process, but it backfired on him and created these monsters. Rasmussen demands to be saved since he's what's left of the crew. However, the monsters begin chasing them through the station.

Meanwhile, Deep-Ando comes across a bulkhead door and tries to get in, but the computer tells him that he has to "do the song" since it was reprogrammed after the Christmas Party and finds the song very amusing. Deep-Ando doesn't know what the song is, but the computer assumes that he's being silly. A group of the creatures that attacked the group begin to advance on Deep-Ando, who eventually sings the Morpheus jingle and is let in. Just when he thinks he's safe, however, he turns away from the window and sees the gaping maw of one of the creatures.

Rasmussen informs us that Deep-Ando was the first member of the rescue team to die as they heard the scream, but they had their own problems.

The chase has landed everyone in the kitchen, with the monsters trying to get in. the grav-shields go out, causing the station to begin chasing into Neptune. The Doctor demands the plans for the station from Nagata, so he can reactivate the grav-shields; it works, after Clara yells for cooperation. Unfortunately, one of the creatures swallows Rasmussen whole. Chopra and 474 escape from the room, as the Doctor manages to fix the shields. However, with the creature blocking the way he, Clara and Nagata are forced to hide in a nearby freezer, with the creature trying to get in. The Doctor shows them footage he's come across, noting it came from their helmet cams. Nagata notes that her crew don't have any.

Elsewhere, a Morpheus pod is seen floating down the corridors.

A fire starts in the corridors, forcing 474 to knock out Chopra and carry him through the flames. Chopra awakens later, finding 474 fatally burned. Rather than feel useless, 474 feels happy to have saved Chopra as she likes him; as the creatures are approaching, she tells him to go. 474 goes into a kamikaze charge.

Back in the freezer, the Doctor becomes annoyed as Clara dubs the creatures Sandmen; he mumbles to himself that "it's the Silurians all over again." Realizing something, the Doctor asks Nagata to repeat herself; he realized that there is all this footage, but none of them have cameras. He tells them the Sandmen are blind and they can escape by letting them in and being quiet in the way out. They proceed to do so, with the Doctor informing them that they need to go to the engine room.

Chopra heads back to the ship, locking himself inside to wait for the others, but the Sandmen's howling startles him. He then notices something shocking outside.

Meanwhile, the Doctor leads Nagata and Clara back to the lab, where he uses his sonic sunglasses to hack into the footage already seen by the audience. He goes on to explain that there is all this footage, but none from Chopra's point of view; adding onto this is Nagata mentioned that she and the others didn't have helmet cams. The projection then shows him in an infinite loop of the screens; he explains they are now seeing things from Clara's point of view. He goes on to explain that anyone who used Morpheus is effectively a walking camera for the Sandmen, and the Sandmen's eyes are all over the station

Clara begins worrying if she'll end up like the crew. The Doctor assures her that there is no chance of that happening, but he'll undo the Morpheus process on her and Nagata and then the rest of Neputune to ensure the extinction of the Sandmen. Clara questions who is recording all of this, to which the Doctor says they had better ask "him."

The trio head back to the ship, where the Doctor sees Rasmussen's beginning message on a monitor; he realises Rasmussen's death was a trick to throw them off his trail. Entering from another room, Rasmussen explains that he thinks the Sandmen are better life forms, and that spare him to ensure they can get to Triton and feed on humanity. He then reveals that he has brought the first victim of the Morpheus machine, hoping it can spread and multiply once unleashed. He releases the King Sandman and traps them in the room with it.

The Doctor plays a hologram of the Mr. Sandman song to distract the monster, allow Nagata and Clara to head to the door, which they manage to get open. Rasmussen begins fiddling with the controls to get the ship to leave, but is shot by Nagata to stop him. An annoyed Clara demands "Is that your answer to everything?" However, the Doctor soon directs them to leave and head to "alternative transport" down the hall.

The Doctor and Clara begin running back to the TARDIS, with Nagata behind them. However, they are blocked by the Sandmen. The Doctor borrows Nagata's holographic interface and destroys the grav-shields, knowing that the Sandmen can't handle the rough reentry. However, even as they get into the TARDIS, the Doctor notices that none of these events make any sense.

Rasmussen appears on screen again, during the reentry. He goes on to explain that the Morpheus process has been broadcast with this message, stating that he did warn whoever watched to have not done so. He rubs his eye, revealing that the Sandmen have been impersonating him; in a deep voice, he invites the victims to join him and the other Sandmen before dissolving.

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

  • The Morpheus pods play a hologram of four female singers performing the song "Mr. Sandman", and is used as a key on the security system. Clara also hums the first few bars as she tells the Doctor where she got the name "Sandmen" from.
  • The Doctor recites the lyrics "Part of the furniture?" from the song "Consider Yourself" from the musical Oliver!
  • The Doctor argues with Clara's naming of the Sandmen, saying that he does the naming. He complains that "it's the Silurians all over again."
  • The Doctor quotes from Macbeth, and mentions Shakespeare.
  • The sleep deprivation pods are named Morpheus after the Greek god of dreams.
  • The presenter says there will be no more Rip Van Winkles, referring to the syndrome of too long sleep, and there will be a new generation of Wide-Awakes.
  • The Doctor can tell the century and the week-day by wetting his finger and touching his ear.
  • The Le Verrier space station is in orbit around Neptune.
  • The Doctor mentions "the Great Catastrophe".
  • Grunts are artificially grown human soldiers.
  • The rescue crew are all from Triton.
  • Rassmussen said he would transmit his video to the whole Solar system.

Story notes Edit

Sleep no more title card

The Doctor Who title logo used for the episode.

  • This is the first televised episode of Doctor Who to carry no opening titles. The episode title and writer credit were instead placed at the start of the closing credits. The Big Finish audio story LIVE 34 previously utilised a similar format of presentation, with no titles or credits whatsoever. However, when Rassmussen's initial video footage ends, the series title appears in the form of a code. All characters' names as well as the space station's name all appear in the code, as does the word "Who". The words "Doctor" and "Who" (which are highlighted) intersect with that of Clara Oswald.
  • The story is notable for using the found footage format, and for using elements of first person monologue told by Professor Rassmussen.
  • The Doctor states he sleeps "when [the audience] aren't looking." At the time, he was looking a Clara, whose point of view was being shown to the audience, cleverly getting around the normal fourth wall break.
  • It is also notable for being the first episode in the series to cast an openly transgender actress, Bethany Black.[2]
  • The Radio Times programme listing was accompanied by a small colour head-and-shoulders shot of a helmeted Nagata, with the accompanying caption "Doctor Who / 8.15 p.m. / Found footage shows what fate befell the rescue mission led by Nagata (Elaine Tan)".
  • Writer Mark Gatiss had visited the countries Japan and India prior to writing this episode, which in turn inspired the use of them in this episode.[3]
  • This is the first TV story written by Mark Gatiss to be set in the future rather than the past or present.
  • The Doctor mentions "The Great Catastrophe". After the airing of this episode, writer Mark Gatiss confirmed it was a reference to Frontios.[3]
  • The space station in this story is named after French mathematician Urbain Le Verrier.
  • This is the only episode in series 9, that isn't be considered part of a two-parter or three-parter.
  • The scene involving a fire on the space station was shot by controlling the fire off-set and removing part of the set to allow the heat to rise. This was first indicated on 27 February 2016 in an enhanced version of the episode as part of The Doctor's Notes promotion that aired on BBC America.
  • Discounting cliffhangers and stories that form part of ongoing story arcs, this is the first stand alone episode in which a villain actually prevails over the Doctor.
  • This is the first episode since TV: The Girl Who Died in which the Doctor and the real Clara have significant interaction (Clara only appears in one scene of TV: The Woman Who Lived; in TV: The Zygon Invasion they do not meet at all (the Doctor interacts with Bonnie, who is impersonating her); and they only directly converse in the epilogue of TV: The Zygon Inversion).
  • According to an interview she gave on the US chat show Conan in September 2015, and later during her June 2016 Q&A panel with Peter Capaldi at the Washington, DC, AwesomeCon (as well as in numerous interviews in 2016), Clara's TARDIS key is now in the possession of Jenna Coleman.

Ratings Edit

Filming location Edit

to be added

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

Home video releases Edit

DVD releases Edit

to be added

Blu-ray releases Edit

to be added

External links Edit

Footnotes Edit

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