TARDIS Index File

The Caretaker (TV story)

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The Caretaker
Doctor: Twelfth Doctor
Companion(s): Clara
Featuring: Danny, Courtney
Main enemy: Skovox Blitzer
Main setting: Coal Hill School, the 2010s
Key crew
Director: Paul Murphy
Producer: Nikki Wilson
Release details
Story number: 246
Season/series: 8
Premiere broadcast: 27 September 2014
Premiere network: BBC One
Format: 1x45 minute episode
Confidential: The Caretaker
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Doctor Who television stories
Time Heist Kill the Moon
Production order
Robot of Sherwood Kill the Moon
Official trailer
The Caretaker - Next Time Trailer - Doctor Who Series 8 - Doctor Who - BBC00:38

The Caretaker - Next Time Trailer - Doctor Who Series 8 - Doctor Who - BBC

Another official trailer
The Caretaker - Official Trailer - Doctor Who Series 8 - Doctor Who - BBC00:32

The Caretaker - Official Trailer - Doctor Who Series 8 - Doctor Who - BBC

Memorable moment
DOCTOR WHO Ep 6 Sneak Peek The Doctor's Working at Clara's School?! - Sept 27 BBC AMERICA01:33

DOCTOR WHO Ep 6 Sneak Peek The Doctor's Working at Clara's School?! - Sept 27 BBC AMERICA

Another memorable moment
He's Not The Caretaker! - The Caretaker - Doctor Who - BBC03:38

He's Not The Caretaker! - The Caretaker - Doctor Who - BBC

One more memorable moment
Defeating The Skovox Blitzer - The Caretaker - Doctor Who - BBC03:16

Defeating The Skovox Blitzer - The Caretaker - Doctor Who - BBC

Behind the scenes video
The Caretaker - Doctor Who Extra Series 1 Episode 6 (2014) - BBC10:33

The Caretaker - Doctor Who Extra Series 1 Episode 6 (2014) - BBC

More behind the scenes stuff
Introduction to The Caretaker - Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 6 (2014) - BBC One01:03

Introduction to The Caretaker - Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 6 (2014) - BBC One

Another behind the scenes moment
DOCTOR WHO Exclusive Inside Look at The Caretaker The Doctor Goes Undercover - BBC AMERICA00:31

DOCTOR WHO Exclusive Inside Look at The Caretaker The Doctor Goes Undercover - BBC AMERICA

The Caretaker was the sixth episode of the eighth series of Doctor Who produced by BBC Wales. It had the Twelfth Doctor and Clara Oswald deal with an alien threat to Coal Hill School, leading to both Danny Pink and Courtney meeting the Doctor and subsequently discovering his true nature.

It also contributed to the "Promised Land" arc by introducing an underling of Missy, and giving her location a new name, the Nethersphere.

Building on the experience of writing The Lodger and Closing Time, Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat tried to match the former for threat, feeling there was an excessive amount in Closing Time, which had included back-story for the antagonists at the expense of other themes. For this reason, it was decided that the first draft had the right amount of threat and that it would be unnecessary to add more later. (DWM 478)

Synopsis Edit

The Doctor's decision to use Clara's school at the centre of a trap for a wild Skovox Blitzer results in revelations in her personal life. Meanwhile, the Doctor's mechanical quarry, which has enough firepower to decimate entire planets, is running amok in the halls of Coal Hill.

Plot Edit

The episode begins with a montage of Clara balancing adventures in the TARDIS and her relationship with Danny. After an adventure on a desert planet, Danny notices she's developed a tan since he last saw her, while an encounter with fish people leaves seaweed in her hair during a date. These two lives collide one morning when Mr Armitage introduces Coal Hill School's new caretaker, John Smith — in reality, the Twelfth Doctor, who is clad in the kind of brown overall coat that a caretaker would wear, and carrying a rather worn-looking broom.

Meanwhile, CSO Matthew investigates a mysterious noise coming from a rundown building, caused by the Skovox Blitzer, which disintegrates him on sight.

When working on a substation, Danny and the Doctor conflict over what Danny teaches. Danny claims to have been a soldier who now teaches maths, while the Doctor instead thinks he teaches PE, as this would make more sense due to him being a soldier. But the Doctor doesn't realise Danny is Clara's boyfriend, instead thinking this is Adrian, who resembles his previous incarnation. The students are aware of their relationship, evidenced by graffiti mocking it.

Later, the Doctor is working in the caretaker's room, when student Courtney Woods finds him and the TARDIS. She too conflicts with the Doctor, and on her way out makes a remark to Clara about Danny. Here, the Doctor shows Clara a hologram of the Skovox Blitzer. Knowing it will eventually attack to destroy Earth, he aims to send it away from the planet.

The tools he'll use to do this are an invisibility watch to prevent the Blitzer scanning him and as non-threatening alien technology to lead it to him, and chronodyne generators to send it billions of years into the future through a vortex.

Clara comes clean to Danny about the Doctor

Clara comes clean to Danny.

After Clara leaves the TARDIS, she and Danny make plans for after parents' evening in a few days, while the Doctor follows the Blitzer's signal. He and it meet in the hall, where the generators have been turned from green to red because of Danny's interference. While the Blitzer is sent through a vortex into the future, Danny's intervention means it will return in only three days. After the chaos, Danny realises Clara's lived a lie to him. She tells him the truth: she's human, but the Doctor's an alien. They travel through time and space in a TARDIS, which is disguised as a police box, but is bigger on the inside. The Doctor shows Danny the inside of the TARDIS, and Clara takes him home to deal with the shock.

Danny recaps what Clara's told him: the Doctor used to resemble Adrian, but changed into a Scottish caretaker. He travels with Clara in-between her time with Danny. He asks her why she travels with him, which she attributes mostly to the wonders that she experiences. Danny struggles to accept whether or not Clara loves the Doctor romantically, which she denies.

Parents' evening arrives, and Clara gives Danny the invisibility watch. He turns invisible, and she takes him with her into the TARDIS so he can watch her interactions with the Doctor. He has nearly finished building a device to fight the Blitzer. As Danny remains invisible, the Doctor suddenly suggests that he and Clara go off somewhere. She reacts worriedly, and Danny realises that the Doctor somehow knows that he is there. He turns off the watch, becoming visible. The Doctor reveals that the invisibility shield does not work on Time Lords. Seeing the Doctor's title as a Time Lord to be pompous, he mockingly responds to the Doctor's demand to leave the TARDIS like a soldier taking an order. This brings out the militant side of the Doctor, and the two men trade insults in a heated confrontation. Courtney sees Clara and Danny leave the TARDIS. She asks the Doctor what's really in the police box, which he shows her.

As the parents arrive, the Blitzer unexpectedly returns from the vortex one day early. The Doctor's device detects it. He summons Clara through the door, prompting her and Danny both to leave. Courtney's parents, who were talking to Danny, express that their daughter was right about the two teachers' relationship. Meanwhile, the Doctor discusses his plan: Clara attracts the Blitzer with the sonic screwdriver, and it chases her to the caretaker's room, where the Doctor speaks to it through the device he's built. It is a communication device that makes the Blitzer think the Doctor is its superior. He tells Danny to do one very important thing: keep out of their way. The plan seems to work, and the Doctor tells the Blitzer to deactivate. It obeys, pending a final authorisation code. The Doctor needs time to prepare the code. Instead of deactivating, the Blitzer has begun a self-destruct count down. He tells Clara to distract it while he hurriedly tries to prepare the code, but she is unsure what to do. Just then, Danny yells out to the Blitzer. He runs and jumps over it as it fires its lasers at him. This distracts it long enough for the Doctor to give the final code, deactivating the Blitzer. Danny reveals to Clara he was following her with the watch and vows to protect her. He tells her that he only needs to do one thing, which the Doctor confirms: to prove he's worthy of Clara.

The Doctor takes the Blitzer into space and ejects it from the TARDIS, taking Courtney on her first trip. Unfortunately, Courtney is unable to cope with the immensity of the universe and finds herself feeling rather ill — whereupon she rushes back inside and is sick. Back on Earth, Clara and Danny watch television. Danny tells her that the Doctor reminds him of previous commanders he has known, who push their soldiers to get them to do more than they realised they were capable of. Clara obeyed the Doctor without being scared. Danny worries that the Doctor might push her too far. He insists that Clara promises to tell him if that happens.

Elsewhere, CSO Matthew is in a long white office corridor with many doors on either side of the hallway. He doesn't realise that he has been killed, and is talking to a person named Seb at an information desk. Seb tries to break the news gently, having encountered many new patrons to the afterlife because of the Skovox Blitzers. He tells Matthew that the place has many names, including the Promised Land. Seb personally prefers to call it the "Nethersphere". They notice Missy appear from one of the doors. She gives a stone-faced glance. Seb tells Matthew that Missy is quite busy at the moment, before asking him if he has any questions about his new existence in the Nethersphere.

Cast Edit

Uncredited 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

Individuals Edit

  • The Doctor spent a month living among otters after he and River Song had a fight that caused him to sulk.
  • The Doctor likes the school subject maths, but doesn't respect PE.
  • Clara wonders if the Doctor's previous companions allowed him to do whatever he wanted.
  • After the Doctor corrects her on when Pride and Prejudice was written, Clara assumes the Doctor is going to "name drop" about having met Jane Austen. The Doctor says he knows the year because he read the author's bio at the back of a copy of the book.
  • The Doctor tries to show Courtney the Olveron Cluster.

Cultural references from the real world Edit

  • The Doctor whistles the introduction to "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)" by Pink Floyd.
  • Clara is doing a lesson about Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. She and the Doctor argue over whether it was written in 1796 or 1797. In the real world, Austen started writing it in 1796 and finished in 1797. (Jenna Coleman also co-starred in Death Comes to Pemberley, a TV adaptation of P.D. James' sequel to the novel, in 2013.)
  • Adrian refers to The Tempest not being finished. It was written by William Shakespeare, who appeared in TV: The Shakespeare Code, also written by Roberts.
  • After receiving the invisibility watch from Clara, Danny complains that "it's not even a ring", a reference to the One Ring from The Lord of the Rings, which could turn its wearer invisible.
  • Clara mentions the Magic Circle, a UK organization dedicated to magic.

Technology Edit

Story notes Edit

  • Missy reappears after a three-episode absence. Her episodes of absence were previously Robot of Sherwood, Listen, and Time Heist.
  • A banner hangs on the wall saying "A Spirit of Adventure". This is a nod back to the First Doctor story The Sensorites, in which the Doctor tells then-companions Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton that their travels in the TARDIS with him and Susan Foreman turned out to be "a great spirit of adventure".
  • Oddly, the "Next Time" trailer for this episode also features footage from TV: Listen, specifically the moment where the Doctor asks Clara who she's having dinner with. No such scene plays out in The Caretaker, flashback or otherwise.
  • A few days after the broadcast of TV: The Time of the Doctor, Jenna Coleman had co-starred in the miniseries Death Comes to Pemberley, based upon a mystery-novel sequel to Pride and Prejudice. Coleman played Lydia Wickham; in this episode, Clara's students are heard reading a passage related to Lydia.

Ratings Edit

6.82 million (DWM 480)

Filming locations Edit

  • Stryd Bute, Cardiff
  • Lloyd George Ave., Cardiff
  • The Maltings, E Tyndall St.
  • St Illtyd's Catholic High School, Newport Rd.
  • Holton Primary School, Barry

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.
  • When The Doctor meets Courtney Woods in the Caretaker's shed, he hands the package of paper towels to her, but they reappear in his hand, and she walks off empty-handed.
  • When Courtney looks into the TARDIS, the Doctor's work bench, which he was sitting at just a few minutes ago, is no longer in the room. It returns later on.
  • When Clara leads Danny down the stairs and away from the TARDIS she is standing behind him and to his right in the closeup shot, but in the wide shot she is behind him to his left.
  • When the Skovox Blitzer deactivates, its eyes fade out from red until they are no longer shining. When the Doctor sends it floating into space, still deactivated and spewing sparks, its eyes are glowing blue.

Continuity Edit

Home video releases Edit

 DVD releases Edit

  • Doctor Who: Series 8 Boxset

Blu-ray releases Edit

  • Doctor Who: Series 8 Blu-ray Boxset

Digital releases Edit

  • The episode was released on Google Play, iTunes and Amazon Instant Video in HD or SD, also available as part of the Series 8 digital boxset. The digital boxset contains various features: trailer, interviews, The Ultimate Companion, The Ultimate Time Lord, Inside the World Tour and Doctor Who Extra episodes for each episode.
  • In the US, the series was released through digital streaming services Hulu and Netflix with a subscription.

External links Edit

to be added

Footnotes Edit

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