Sleep No More was the ninth episode of series 9 of Doctor Who. It was written by Mark Gatiss, directed by Justin Molotnikov and featured Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor and Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald.
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 served as a fourth wall break, without actually breaking the fourth wall; each time the characters are looking at the audience, they are being seen by someone who used Morpheus.
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 back to the TARDIS and escaping from danger. Although, back then the threats were usually not very dangerous and were contained; however, this episode's events threatens to come back and haunt the Doctor.
This also marks the first time in the Revived Series that the villain of the episode has succeeded in their plans. However, it was only because the Doctor was tricked into thinking a fake plan was really what the villain was trying to accomplish.
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.
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 involved. Hearing a strange groaning sound, Rassmussen once more addresses the camera, telling the viewers that they were warned.
The screen fills with static, as random red numbers and letters, (which include the words Doctor Who glowing bright pink) fill the screen. The static dies down, before a quick flash of static signals the beginning of the footage.
Chopra, is annoyed by someone looking at them, telling the person to stop. It turns out to be Grunt 474, whom Chopra notes looks at him like a lovesick puppy, when she's supposed to be a deadly killing machine. Deep-Ando emerges from a Morpheus pod, noting he could hear him inside. Their leader, Nagata asks if he feels refreshed; he confirms it. 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. The space station looms close.
The screen goes back to Rassmussen, who tells the audience that the quartet was sent by the city of Triton on Neptune to investigate the Le Verrier space station, which has been silent for over 24 hours. He then adds that the audience should not get attached to them, as they will die horribly. They came to investigate the space station and rescue the crew. However, there was no crew on the station, or rather no crew left.
The footage returns to the four as they enter 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; however, her back is to the quartet, leaving her unaware of their presence. The Doctor's voice is heard suggesting it could be a three-day week, or a night setting. Clara voices feeling like she's being watched, to which the Doctor just passes it off as paranoia; however, the irony is that she is being watched from behind by the quartet. She shines a torch at a decoration, stating that 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 as they are held at gunpoint. 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 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, realising 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 (thus the station is "Indo-Japanese" as he puts it). Clara is confused by this; the Doctor, usually getting the timeline mixed up, tells her that she has a lot to look forward to. However, the Doctor then notes that there happens to be a suspicious amount of dust in the space station, after just a day of no-one being around.
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 474 could have killed him, but Nagata says 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 it's how they roll in the 38th century; basically not following orders due to morality 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 admits that he 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 a completely different hallway. They run into a lab, where they try shutting the door. However, one of the creatures gets its arms in the doorway, blocking it. The Doctor, Clara, Nagata and Chopra hold the door; Nagata orders 474 to ram a cart against the door. The creature's arm is sliced off by the shut door, and dissolves into dust. Looking outside the window, everyone sees the creature is gone. This leaves Nagata confused as it was just there a moment ago, they should have seen it leaving.
Deep-Ando, meanwhile is searching through the corridors and falling to contact the group. Somehow his transmissions are being blocked.
In the lab, the Doctor takes a sample of the creature 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; 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 as the Doctor zaps the machine with the sonic screwdriver. The Doctor manages to force the machine open, finding an unconscious Clara wired into it.Clara awakes, confused, wondering if she just slept; Nagata confirms this. The Doctor asks Clara what she thought she was doing; however, Clara explains that the wires came alive like snakes and pulled her into the machine 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 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 very 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.
The footage resumes with a holographic announcer explaining 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 it's 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 third of their lives asleep and time is money; his machine sends an encoded wavelength into the brain to rewrite the parts that handle sleep.Despite being disgusted that Morpheus deprives humans of genuine sleep, the Doctor expresses his delight at having even encountered such technology. However, once the Doctor is done getting his enthusiasm out, he reverts to his matter-of-fact self. 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 despite his protests.
In the corridors, the Doctor explains the creatures are made of dead blood cells, mucus and dead skin, basically eye mucus. A confused Clara wonders how that is possible. The Doctor tells her that Rasmussen is to blame, because the Morpheus pods hyper-evolved the eye mucus into a carnivorous life form. When Rasmussen calls it slander, the Doctor tells him to ask the crew. Clara wonders where they are, to which the Doctor says "in digestion". The eye mucus consumed the crew when they used the pods, and then ate the rest once they finished. 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.
As the Doctor and Nagata argue, Rasmussen demands to be saved since he's what's left of the crew. Clara then wonders how Rassmussen is still alive, when the rest of the crew got eaten; he explains that he hid in a Morpheus pod because it would be the last place the creatures would think to look for him. At that moment, they are spotted by the creatures. The Doctor yells for everyone to run, and a chase begins 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.
Stopping the footage, 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 footage resumes, showing the group running into the kitchen, with the monsters trying to get in. the grav-shields go out, causing the station to begin crashing into Neptune. The Doctor demands the plans for the station from Nagata, so he can reactivate the grav-shields. Nagata is not willing to, but the Doctor tells her he's in charge. Clara yells at her to listen, and the Doctor begins messing the systems with the sonic. Unfortunately, a creature swallows Rasmussen whole. Chopra and 474 escape from the room, as the Doctor manages to fix the shields. 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, as a recorded voice says to keep away as there are hazardous materials in transit.
Due to the turbulence of the reentry, some of the station's piping breaks and a fire starts in the corridors. Trapped, Chopra tells 474 that they won't be able to get away as the creatures close in. 474 tells Chopra she likes him and punches him in the face, knocking him out. Chopra awakens later, finding the creatures on the other side of the flames and 474 fatally burned. Rather than feel useless, 474 feels happy to have saved Chopra as she likes him; as the creatures begin pushing through the fire, she tells him to go. Thanking 474, Chopra rushes off. To buy Chopra time to get away, 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." Clara wonders if he'd prefer "Dustmen", but the Doctor solemnly tells her that they'll go with her name. Realising something, the Doctor asks Nagata to repeat herself from a moment ago; "we don't have helmet cams." He tells them the Sandmen are blind and they can escape by letting them in and being quiet on 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 that 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. Thus the paranoia.
Clara begins worrying if she'll end up like the crew, consumed by her own eye mucus as it becomes a Sandman. However, 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 they spared 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, allowing 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!?" Apparently, even in the future, the military answer to a problem is to shoot the source of it until it's no longer a problem. 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.
- The Doctor - Peter Capaldi
- Clara - Jenna Coleman
- Rassmussen - Reece Shearsmith
- Nagata - Elaine Tan
- Chopra - Neet Mohan
- 474 - Bethany Black
- Deep-Ando - Paul Courtenay Hyu
- King Sandman - Paul Davis
- Sandmen - Tom Wilton, Matthew Doman
- Morpheus Presenter - Zina Badran
- Hologram Singers - Natasha Patel, Elizabeth Chong, Nikkita Chadha, Gracie Lai
Uncredited cast Edit
|Executive Producers Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin|
|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.|
- 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
- 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.
- It is also notable for being the first episode in the series to cast an openly transgender actress, Bethany Black.
- The Doctor states he sleeps "when [the audience] aren't looking." At the time, he was looking at Clara, whose point of view was being shown to the audience, cleverly getting around the normal fourth wall break.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
Critical reception Edit
The episode has built a reputation among fans for being one of the weakest stories of all the revived series.
Among critics, however, the episode was not considered to be as bad as the fans would have suggested. Critics applauded the ambition of the episode, but criticised the actual narrative. Tor.com wrote, 'The story contains ideas that are topical and fascinating,' but 'it's too bad the episode doesn't engage more (with these ideas).' Kyle Anderson of Nerdist gave a negative review, stating the episode is 'plainly just a stupid episode that tries to be clever.' Charlie Jane Anders of io9 generally liked the episode, but said 'I'm not sure it entirely gels.' The episode has the lowest average rating for a revived episode on IMDb with a rating of 6.1/10.
Filming location Edit
to be added
Production errors Edit
to be added
- The Doctor uses his psychic paper. (TV: The End of the World et al.)
- The Doctor suggests the station has very powerful anti-gravity shielding. The Doctor encountered such shields before. (TV: Horror of Fang Rock)
- The Doctor suggests the station is in night-time setting. The Drum used day and night time settings. (TV: Under the Lake/Before the Flood)
- The Doctor uses his sonic sunglasses. (TV: The Magician's Apprentice, et al.)
- The Doctor again confuses "what happened" as meaning from the beginning of everything. (TV: The Girl Who Died)
- The audience is given a warning prior to the beginning of the story, (TV: The Bells of Saint John) albeit not to watch the episode, rather than avoid a mysterious Wi-Fi icon.
- Nagata suspects the space station could be attacked by space pirates. (TV: The Space Pirates)
- The Doctor again uses his finger to tell time. (TV: The Time of Angels, Under the Lake)
- The Doctor says, "When I say run, run," which the Second and Fifth Doctors often said. (TV: The Power of the Daleks, The Tomb of the Cybermen, Castrovalva, Warriors of the Deep)
- The Doctor once before almost mentioned the Great Catastrophe, but never got to say it all. (TV: Frontios)
- The Doctor references his preference for being the one to name the monsters. (TV: Flatline) He also invokes the naming of the Silurians. (TV: Doctor Who and the Silurians)
- Despite her earlier actions regarding them, Clara has been entrusted with a TARDIS key. (TV: Dark Water) This is actually the first time Clara has been shown possessing one, which she keeps on a string around her neck, though one of her echoes, Clara Oswin Oswald, was previously given one. (TV: The Snowmen)
- The Doctor has heard "Mr. Sandman" performed before. (TV: Delta and the Bannermen)
- This is not the first time the Doctor's adventure becomes the subject of a recording that, if played, would infect and kill its audience. (AUDIO: Dead Air)
- Clara again tells the Doctor he doesn't need to hold her hand. (TV: Hide)
Home video releases Edit
DVD releases Edit
- The episode was released as part of the Doctor Who: Series 9: Part Two DVD.
- It was also released in Doctor Who: The Complete Ninth Series DVD set.
Blu-ray releases Edit
to be added
- ↑ http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1CH9nZhXykw4SGhrnkfXxDx/sleep-no-more-the-fact-file
- ↑ http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/doctor-who-casts-first-transgender-actor-bethany-black-10443832.html
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 McAlpine, Fraser. "'Doctor Who': Mark Gatiss's 13 Things You May Not Know About 'Sleep No More'". 15 November 2015. bbcamerica.com