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The Bells of Saint John was the sixth episode and mid-series premiere of series 7 of Doctor Who. It was written by Steven Moffat, directed by Colm McCarthy and featured Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor and Jenna-Louise Coleman as Clara Oswald.

It marked the debut of a new costume for the Eleventh Doctor. He changed to a purple cashmere coat with a black bow tie and darker-accented garb. As the first story broadcast in 2013, its marketing had a similar feel to that of a "series opener", but the BBC firmly maintained that it was merely the beginning of the second part of series 7. The episode also introduced the concept of "the woman in the shop" who was a mysterious person somehow keeping the Doctor and Clara together. This arc would be carried on well into Series 8 and would be touched upon in the Series 8 finale Death in Heaven.

Synopsis Edit

London, 2013. "Danger. This is a warning. A warning to the whole world. You're looking for Wi-Fi. Sometimes you see something, a bit like this. Don't click it. Do not click it. Once you've clicked it, they're in your computer. They can see you. If they can see you, they might choose you. And if they do... you die."

When Clara Oswald has problems with her Internet, she's given a telephone number: the number of the "best help line in the universe". When the Eleventh Doctor answers at the other end, Clara is pulled into a life of adventure and mystery. But danger is lurking in the signals, picking off minds and imprisoning them. "It's like immortality, only fatal." But can the Doctor save Clara before... "I don't know where I am!"

Plot Edit

Nabile warns anyone listening about the dangers of the Wi-Fi. He shows a placard with some odd symbols, and warns not to connect to any networks with writing like it. If you do, you may get chosen. And people who get chosen die within 24 hours. At least temporarily — their souls live on, trapped. Sometimes you can hear their cries, "I don't know where I am!" on the radio, on the telly, or on the net. Nabile says that he knows this because, "I don't know where I am." He's trapped in a screen, surrounded by a wall of other victims who are all calling out in fear and confusion, "I don't know where I am!"

In Cumbria in 1207, a monk named Paul pounds on the doors to an abbey, calling to wake the Abbot because - "The bells of Saint John are ringing." As they head into a cave, Paul asks the Abbot why they call the Doctor "the Mad Monk". The Abbot informs him that they should not, as the man is hardly a monk. They give their message to the Eleventh Doctor, who asks for a horse. As he goes to prepare, the monks discuss the painting in his room of "the woman twice dead", and her last message: "Run you clever boy, and remember." The Abbot observes that if the Doctor is mad, this is his madness.

In London in 2013, it is 3:30pm and Clara Oswald is having trouble with connecting her computer to the internet. She tells Angie that she's been ringing the help line but they haven't answered; Angie is also laughing at her for asking to use the internet after she was done using it, as more than one person at a time can use the wi-fi. George comes through on his way out, saying that the adverts to replace Clara are in. Clara catches sight of the book that Artie has, Summer Falls, by Amelia Williams. He tells her he's on chapter 10. She replies that, "Eleven is the best. You'll cry your eyes out." They head out, and Clara chants "pick it up, pick it up" as she goes upstairs to her computer and continues to try the help line.

Back in 1207, the Doctor and the monks arrive to find the TARDIS police box telephone, next to the St John's ambulance sticker, ringing. A very confused Doctor picks up the phone, to be told that the caller can't find the Internet. The Doctor slowly realises that the caller is in modern-day London. Clara was given his number by a "woman in the shop", and told that "it's the best helpline out there. In the universe, she said." The Doctor starts to explain he's not actually a help line, but gives up and asks if she's tried clicking on the Wi-Fi button. She first tries the Maitland_Family link, but needs the password from Angie, who gives her a mnemonic to remember it. She mutters the phrase aloud on the phone as she enters it. "Run you clever boy and remember." The Doctor recognises her voice and the phrase, and shouts, spoiling her concentration. She puts in the wrong password. She goes back to the screen this time choosing the open network with the strange symbols.

Other lines of symbols appear on her computer, and Clara's room appears in a wall of little screens showing people. Clara runs out of screen to answer her frantically ringing doorbell. The Doctor, outside the house and still in his Monk's robes, greets her in excitement. "Clara Oswin Oswald?"

Revealing that Oswin's not part of her name, Clara states that she doesn't remember him. "Doctor who?" He asks her to repeat herself, twice, and tells her that he never realised how much he enjoyed hearing that said out loud. Clara takes that moment to close the door in his face, locking it. She pauses on the stairs as he continues to pound on the door.

The wall of little screens is in a dark room full of computers and people, where an analyst approaches his superior. Alexei calls Clara borderline, meaning she's "very clever, but no computer skills". Miss Kizlet tells him to "upload" her anyway, and "splice" her a computer skills package. He responds that he'll activate the Spoonheads, which Kizlet complained were called "servers". As she returns to her office, Kizlet discusses him with Mahler, then decides that they should probably kill him, but only after he gets back from holiday — "let's not be unreasonable."

Mahler is worried that they're uploading too many people too quickly, that they'll get noticed. She tries to comfort him, calling this "immortality, only fatal". She then picks up a tablet with his name and picture, and sliders marked conscience, paranoia, obedience and IQ. She lowers the conscience slider, and he backs down. Mahler then realises that she hacked him, as reflected by his rising paranoia slider. He voices his concerns, to which Miss Kizlet coolly asks, "Because you changed your mind?" and lowers the paranoia until he's walked out of the office.

Back with Clara, the Doctor begs to be let in. Clara talks to him once more, during which he states that he was in the area "with his mobile phone", indicating the TARDIS as he says this. When asked why, he says, "Because it's a surprisingly accurate description." Clara cuts him off again and turns to go back upstairs. Suddenly, she hears footsteps. A little girl walks down the stairs. Clara asks if she's a friend of Angie's, and the girl repeats just that. When asked what she was doing upstairs, the girl replies that she was upstairs. Clara thinks she recognises her — and the girl repeats, "You know me, don't you?"

Clara realises that the girl is from the cover of Summer Falls, the book that Artie had. The girl's head turns around revealing a spoon-like indentation in the back of her head. Clara backs away, scared.

In the TARDIS, the Doctor decides that a change of clothes is in order, since "monks are not cool." He tries on a fez, then drops a tweed jacket in favour of a new purple one. With new clothes on, the Doctor opens up a compartment below the control room, and takes out a fancy box with a bow tie in it.

He walks out of the TARDIS, excited to make a better impression. He asks her to let him in through the intercom, but she instead responds, "I don't know where I am!" Using his sonic screwdriver, the Doctor enters the house, and finds Clara lying on the floor, unconscious. If she's not moving though, how can he can still hear her cries?

Looking up, he realises that her voice is coming from the Spoonhead; Clara's face can now be seen in the indentation. He uses his screwdriver on the little girl and it reveals the true form of the Spoonhead, a walking robotic base station. The upload halts and the Doctor thinks aloud that it is "hoovering up data. Hoovering up people." It used a camouflage based on its victim's thoughts. He quickly scans with the screwdriver, and finds Clara's laptop upstairs. He grabs it and brings it back downstairs. He begins to reverse the upload on the computer, fighting hard not to lose Clara again.

At the secret base, Alexei is working on Clara's acquisition when an alarm goes off. He, Mahler and Kizlet find that the download metre for Clara has halted and is going down rapidly. They marvel and Mahler reveals that such a reverse is possible, in theory. Alexei is typing rapidly, apparently attempting to block the reversal, but the Doctor prevails and the bar goes all the way down to zero. A pause, and then the Spoonhead transmits a pillar of light that returns to Clara. The Doctor checks her pulse.

At Kizlet's office, they find that their hacker has left a message: "UNDER MY PROTECTION - The Doctor." She shoos Mahler out, to contact her client. "Sir. The one you told me about. He's here. The Doctor is here."

In Clara's room, the Doctor is tidying up. He takes out Jammie Dodgers, half-eating one and leaving it on the plate. He then leaves the room. Waking up from her sleep, she pokes out the window, and the Doctor, outside guarding her, recounts everything that she'd missed. Clara reveals that she is a friend of the family who live in the house, and she looks after the children — similar to the "governess" role that her Victorian copy held.

When Clara makes a tech-savvy joke about Twitter, they realise that she has gained greater knowledge of computers as a result of being partially uploaded. The duo spot another Spoonhead, presumably sent to re-upload Clara, before all the lights in the neighbourhood switch on. The Doctor realises that the residents are being compelled to do so via the Wi-Fi. The lights in the rest of London go off, and the Doctor and Clara see an aeroplane that is plummeting towards them. He rushes her into the TARDIS and they quickly travel aboard the plane, where the confused Clara watches the Doctor managing to pull the plane out of its dive and revive the crew and passengers, who had been rendered unconscious via the Wi-Fi.

The Doctor and Clara travel forward to the next morning, and travel on a motorbike to a local café, where Clara uses her laptop to hack into the organisation's webcams. She then searches for the staff on social network sites, where they have all detailed their work location — the Shard. In the café, the Doctor talks to several people who are being controlled remotely by Kizlet while Clara is re-uploaded by a Spoonhead replica of the Doctor. Upon realising what occurred, the Doctor sets off for the Shard on his motorbike and uses its anti-gravity setting to scale the building and crashes into Kizlet's office. He tells her to download Clara from the data cloud. Kizlet states this is only possible if everyone else in the cloud is downloaded too and only a small percentage will survive and the rest would simply die after being reloaded back into their bodies. He says he knows, and tells her to download everyone to release them from 'hell'. She refuses, so the Doctor finds a clever way to motivate her. As his head spins around, Kizlet realises that this is not actually the Doctor... but a Spoonhead.

It is then revealed that the real Doctor is still at the café and has reprogrammed the Spoonhead, saying, "You hack people. Me, I'm old-fashioned. I hack technology." The Spoonhead uploads Kizlet. Experiencing the fear that her prior victims felt, she then from a TV screen orders Mahler to download everyone. They initially do not, but the Doctor has the Spoonhead use Miss Kizlet's tablet to hack Mahler into obedience. They download everybody from the cloud. Clara wakes up at the café to find the Doctor gone.

Later, as UNIT troops begin to take over the base, Kizlet reports a failure to the organisation's leader, who is revealed to be the Great Intelligence — appearing via a large wall-mounted video screen. The Intelligence identifies UNIT as being "old friends" of the Doctor, and orders her to restore the members of the organisation to their "factory settings", stating "It is time for you to reduce." As a result, all the organisation members' memories after being inducted are wiped, with Miss Kizlet revealed to have been aiding the Great Intelligence for most of her life — she now has the mentality of a scared child.

Clara and the Doctor then talk inside the TARDIS, where the Doctor invites her to travel with him. She declines, but tells him to come back the next day to ask her again. She leaves, and the Doctor says, "Right then, Clara Oswald. Time to find out who you are."

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

Places Edit

  • The 65th floor of the Shard is the Great Intelligence's base.
  • A police box on Earl's Court is mentioned.

Communication technology Edit


  • Clara calls the TARDIS a "snogging booth" and a "snog box." She also states that it is "bigger on the inside."
  • There's a garage in the TARDIS.
  • "Mobile phone" is an accurate description of the TARDIS.

Time Lords Edit

  • The Doctor claims that Time Lords have two hearts and 27 brains. He then admits that he was exaggerating about the number of brains.

Vehicles Edit

Other Edit

  • George, Artie, and Angie's household Wi-Fi network is named "Maitland_Family".
  • Clara has skipped ages 16 and 23 in the list of ages she has written in 101 Places to See.
  • Clara didn't understand how the internet worked; she thought it could only be used by one person at a time, like a television or driving a car.
    • Additionally, her short-term memory seemed poor (as she couldn't remember the trick to remembering the Wi-Fi password RYCBAR123 after being startled by the Doctor shouting.)
  • According to Mrs Kizlet, no one loves cattle as much as Burger King.
  • In Japan, a poster for Rockbound Neighbours can be seen in the prologue.
  • Angie has a friend named Nina that she likes to hang out with, sometimes sleeping over at her friend's house.
  • Mrs Maitland died within ten days of Clara's planned departure to travel the world. She put her plans on hold to take care of the Maitland children and be there for the people who needed her.
  • In his downtime, the Doctor made himself a street performer and started doing a disappearing/reappearing "magic" act with his TARDIS as a weekly shtick.
  • The book Summer Falls was written by Amelia Williams.

Story notes Edit

  • The title of this episode is a reference to the phone incorporated into the TARDIS police box disguise, and to the "St John Ambulance" logo on the door of this version of the TARDIS. The "Bells" part is referring to the police box phone ringing. It is also a reference to the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons. It is the only time the logo is directly acknowledged on the show.
  • The Eleventh Doctor's old costume briefly appeared in this episode (when The Doctor dropped the costume in favour of the new one). This is the last episode to include the costume.
  • The title was originally announced as The Bells of St John, in keeping with the actual abbreviated spelling of "St John" on the logo. The uncommon use of "Saint" spelled out in this context may have been due to the discrepancy in how different countries spell "St" -- in the US, Canada and elsewhere, it is commonplace for a full stop to be used: "St."
  • This story gives a new logo for the second half of series seven, a weathered metallic texture. Unlike the first half of the series, in which the logo changed from episode to episode, the logo remained constant for the remainder of Series 7.
    • Similarly, the new theme tune of the series is slightly modified from its previous arrangement, omitting the "shimmering" musical flourishes and electrical hissing noises heard in its first variation. This can be compared to the theme tune arrangement that debuted in the 2007 Christmas special TV: Voyage of the Damned, which was edited into a new, rearranged version of itself that played in each episode for the remainder of David Tennant's era.
  • To keep the reappearance of the Great Intelligence a surprise, Richard E Grant was not credited in Radio Times. He was, however, originally listed on the BBC website, but was subsequently taken down.
  • The password for the Maitland family's wi-fi, 'rycbar123' is both an acronym of 'run you clever boy and remember' and a reference to the fact that this is the third version of Clara to appear.
  • Small grated sections have been added to the floor of the TARDIS console room's main platform.
  • This episode also features the only time the Doctor uses the TARDIS control panels around the edge of the deck as well as the console.

Ratings Edit

  • Initial Broadcast: 8.44 million viewers
  • BBC Three repeat: 390,000 viewers

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.
  • The initial Spoonhead the Doctor meets—the girl from the front cover of Summer Falls—is photographed in a way that ruins the illusion. For reasons obscure, either director Colm McCarthy or editor Mark Davis allows an unnecessary shot of her legs at about 13'48". The curvature of her calves clearly shows that her body is pointed up the stairs. Once this is noticed, it's obvious that the girl is standing away from the Doctor and that she merely has her dress on backwards.
  • When Clara regains consciousness after the Doctor first rescues her from the Spoonhead, a member of the crew can clearly be heard coughing. If this cough is meant to be Clara (upon coming back to consciousness), her mouth does not move.
  • When the Doctor and Clara are talking during the Romeo and Juliet-esque scene after she wakes up, there's a standby props continuity error. He sets the laptop on the ground. Between takes, however, the position of the screen radically changes, so that when the editor put the shots together the screen goes from being perpendicular to the ground to being parallel—with no apparent way that the Doctor could have effected the change.
  • When the TARDIS has travelled to the aeroplane, just before the Doctor gets out, a scene change is visible and the wall position changes.
  • During the motorcycle scene, a crew member and camera can be seen reflected in the Doctor's helmet.
  • After the little girl under Mrs Kizlet's control says, "Stop", and everybody freezes, the people in the room have a special effect super-imposed over them. However, the barista, seen on the cut back to the Doctor, illogically has no such SFX.
  • When the Doctor comes out of the TARDIS on a motorcycle, the doors of the TARDIS are wide open but when the camera is zoomed out the doors are shut, without enough time given for the doors to shut by themselves.
  • Clara is shown swinging her coffee cup around on the plane without apparently spilling a drop, and she is then shown drinking from it after returning to the TARDIS, with no suggestion given that she might have refilled it along the way.

Continuity Edit

Home video releases Edit

Series 7b UK DVD Cover

Series 7, Part 2 DVD cover.

DVD releases Edit

The Bells of Saint John was released as part of Doctor Who Series 7 Part 2 on May 22, 2013, and as part of The Complete Seventh Series on September 24, 2013.

Blu-ray releases Edit

to be added

External links Edit

Footnotes Edit