TARDIS Index File

Sleep No More (TV story)

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Sleep No More
Doctor: Twelfth Doctor
Companion(s): Clara
Main enemy: Sandmen, Rassmussen
Main setting: The Le Verrier space station, 38th century
Key crew
Writer: Mark Gatiss
Director: Justin Molotnikov
Producer: Nikki Wilson
Release details
Story number: 258
Season/series: 9
Premiere broadcast: 14 November 2015
Premiere network: BBC One
Format: 1x45 minute episode
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Doctor Who television stories
The Zygon Inversion Face the Raven
Production order
Heaven Sent Hell Bent
Official trailer
Sleep No More Trailer - Series 9 Episode 9 - Doctor Who - BBC00:27

Sleep No More Trailer - Series 9 Episode 9 - Doctor Who - BBC

Memorable moment
Doctor Who Season 9 - Who does the naming? (Ep 9 Spoilers)00:38

Doctor Who Season 9 - Who does the naming? (Ep 9 Spoilers)

Another memorable moment
The Sandmen Attack - Sleep No More - Doctor Who - BBC04:14

The Sandmen Attack - Sleep No More - Doctor Who - BBC

One more memorable moment
DO NOT WATCH THIS! - Sleep No More - Doctor Who - BBC01:51

DO NOT WATCH THIS! - Sleep No More - Doctor Who - BBC

Behind the scenes video
Enter The Sandmen - Sleep No More - Doctor Who Series 901:49

Enter The Sandmen - Sleep No More - Doctor Who Series 9

More behind the scenes stuff
Doctor Who Extra Through Fire and Flame - BBC America01:34

Doctor Who Extra Through Fire and Flame - BBC America

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, Steven Moffat had commented that this episode also serves as a reminder that the Doctor doesn't always win; referring back to his early adventures in the 1960s, a victory for the Doctor often just meant getting back to the TARDIS and escaping.

Synopsis Edit

From footage in the Le Verrier space station, the Doctor and Clara are shown to be up against terrifying Sandmen in a situation which involves sleep and lots of death.

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 then says he gave fair warning to the viewer, and begins playing the footage. 

Nagata and her team (Chopra, Deep-Ando, and Grunt 474) dock with the Le Verrier space station, armed and ready to execute a rescue mission.  The soldiers' personal equipment apparently includes helmet-cams which — in addition to the station's security system — document their unsuccessful search for Le Verrier's personnel.

474 tells the group that she hears people talking. The voices belong to Clara and the Doctor, who are wondering why the lights are off in the station, debating several ideas. Clara walks into view of the group, with her back to them, noticing a decoration; Clara assumes that the Doctor has brought her to a space restaurant. The Doctor walks into view, annoyed; he explains that nobody puts the word "space" in front of something just because it's the future. They walk off into the next corridor as Clara asks about the word "space-suit".

Nagata and her team rush after them, holding the Doctor and Clara at gunpoint. The Doctor holds up his psychic paper, which makes Nagata believe that 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 that they haven't any idea as they've only just arrived; he asks Nagata for an explanation if she knows what's happened.

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.

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.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 thirty-eighth century.

Suddenly, they hear something moaning nearby. The Doctor tells Clara to hold his hand; though Clara's fine, the Doctor is scared. Two humanoid creatures appear, forcing the Doctor, Clara and the rescue team to run. Deep-Ando goes down a different route from the others, who manage to shut themselves in a laboratory, but not before one of the creatures manages to get its arm through the gap in the door. 474 pushes the door shut, which slices off the creature's arm, causing it to dissolve into dust. Nagata wonders what the creatures are and where they came from.

Meanwhile, Deep-Ando continues to search for his fellow teammates in the corridor.

The Doctor picks up a sample of the sand from the creature's arm and he finds out that they're actually eye mucus. Clara sees some large white cabinets with the word "Morpheus" on them.

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.

In the lab, everyone is trying to figure what created these creatures. Clara and the Doctor manage to open one of the cabinets, to investigate. However, the moment the Doctor walks away, Clara is heard screaming; the cabinet shuts with her inside. Nagata tells the Doctor to clam down as its only Morpheus; 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 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."

474 then says that there's someone in the last cabinet. 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 to coerce the occupant into exiting the pod. It opens to reveal Rassmussen.

The Doctor demands explanations, so a holographic announcer is played. The woman 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. Rasmussen takes credit as its inventor; the Doctor retorts "Congratulations, professor; you've conquered nature. But you've also created an abomination." The Doctor explains that the monsters stalking them are the result of Rasmussen's attempt to improve the machine; instead of prolonging the effects of the machine, it hyper-evolved the eye mucus into carnivorous monsters.

They head to find Deep-Ando, but are chased by the monsters into the kitchen. At that moment, the gravity shields holding the station in orbit go out. 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 the room, while the Doctor, Clara and Nagata hide in the freezer.

A fire starts in the corridors, forcing 474 to knock out Chopra and carry him through the flames. Chopra recovers, finding 474 fatally burned; she tells Chopra to go, offering to hold off the advancing creatures. 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." He then realizes something; Nagata's crew don't have helmet cams, and neither does Clara; the creatures are blind because their eyes are all over the station, and that anyone who used a Morpheus machine is effectively a walking camera for them. This explains the paranoia that everyone was feeling; the Sandmen's eyes are all around them. They quickly trick the Sandmen in, and lock them inside the freezer. They head back to Nagata's ship, where they find a dead Chopra.

The Doctor sees Rasmussen's beginning message on a monitor; he realizes Rasmussen's death was a trick to throw them off his trail. Rasmussen explains that he thinks the Sandmen are better life forms, and that spare him to ensure they can get to Triton. He then reveals a Morpheus capsule next to him; it holds the very first patient, who hasn't slept in five years. He opens and releases it; Rasmussen prepares them ship, but is shot by Nagata. The Doctor and Clara begin running back to the TARDIS, with Nagata behind them. The Doctor 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.
  • 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.
  • The story is notable for using the found footage format, and for using elements of first person monologue told by Professor Rassmussen.
  • 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 couldn't be considered a part of 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.

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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