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The Rings of Akhaten (TV story)

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RealWorld
The Rings of Akhaten
ClaraLeafAkhaten
Doctor: Eleventh Doctor
Companion(s): Clara
Main enemy: Akhaten
Main setting: Tiaanamat, Sun-singers of Akhet
Key crew
Writer: Neil Cross
Director: Farren Blackburn
Producer: Denise Paul
Release details
Story number: 232
Season/series: 7
Premiere broadcast: 6 April 2013
Premiere network: BBC One
Format: 1x45 minute episode
Production code: 3.7
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Production order
The Bells of Saint John Nightmare in Silver
Official trailer
Doctor Who The Rings of Akhaten - TV Trailer - Episode 2 Series 7 2013 - BBC One00:31

Doctor Who The Rings of Akhaten - TV Trailer - Episode 2 Series 7 2013 - BBC One

Another official trailer
Doctor Who The Rings of Akhaten - Next Time Trailer - Episode 2 Series 7 2013 - BBC One00:37

Doctor Who The Rings of Akhaten - Next Time Trailer - Episode 2 Series 7 2013 - BBC One

Memorable moment
DOCTOR WHO Origins of Clara 03:28

DOCTOR WHO Origins of Clara "The Rings of Akhaten" BBC AMERICA

Another memorable moment
Lullaby for a Sleeping God - Doctor Who - The Rings of Akhaten - Series 7 - BBC03:41

Lullaby for a Sleeping God - Doctor Who - The Rings of Akhaten - Series 7 - BBC

One more memorable moment
Time War Memories - Doctor Who - The Rings of Akhaten - Series 7 - BBC03:54

Time War Memories - Doctor Who - The Rings of Akhaten - Series 7 - BBC

Behind the scenes video
Behind the Scenes of The Rings Of Akhaten - Doctor Who - Episode 2 Series 7 2013 - BBC One03:56

Behind the Scenes of The Rings Of Akhaten - Doctor Who - Episode 2 Series 7 2013 - BBC One

The Rings of Akhaten was the seventh episode of the seventh series of Doctor Who produced by BBC Wales. In it, the Eleventh Doctor's new companion, Clara Oswald, took her first trip in the TARDIS to an alien planet. Clara's mother, Ellie Oswald, previously seen in The Bells of Saint John: A Prequel, was also shown to have passed away eight years before Clara met the Doctor.

Synopsis Edit

Clara Oswald wants to see something awesome, so Eleventh Doctor whisks her off to the inhabited rings of the planet Akhaten, where the Festival of Offerings is in full swing. Clara meets the young Queen of Years as the pilgrims and natives ready for the ceremony. But something is stirring in the pyramid, and a sacrifice will be demanded.

Plot Edit

The wind blows autumn leaves and a wooden gate closes. One large, reddish-orange leaf rattles on the tree. A young man with dark hair, dressed in a suit, fumbles with an unfolded map as he walks down a pavement. The Doctor peers out from behind a copy of The Beano Summer Special 1981. The young man looks around in confusion when suddenly a leaf falls from the tree into his face. He stumbles into the street and the path of an oncoming car, but is pulled aside by a beautiful young woman. She asks if he is all right and he smiles.

Some time later, the two are sharing an umbrella and stumble up to a doorway in laughter. He pulls out the leaf and she asks why he kept it. He explains that "this exact leaf had to grow in that exact way, in that exact place, so that precise wind could tear it from that precise branch, and make it fly into this exact face at that exact moment. And if just one of those tiny little things had never happened, I'd never have met you. Which makes this the most important leaf in human history." They kiss; the Doctor frowns and walks away in the rain.

Later, baby Clara is held by her father. While playing as a toddler, Clara's mother shows Clara her book, 101 Places to See. The Doctor is hit in the face by a football. He pops up with his hands in a defensive gesture as Clara's mother asks if he's all right. Among other things, he says that's he's possibly a touch embarrassed and seriously asks if that's dangerous. Clara's father brings her over and she's introduced.

A teenage Clara, holding her mother's book, stands with her father in mourning over the gravestone for "Ellie Oswald, beloved wife and mother, born 11th September 1960, died 5 March 2005" . The Doctor watches and returns to the TARDIS. He reviews her file on the scanner; he's been investigating her past to make sure she's just a human girl. He declares, "She's not possible."

Ellie Oswald young

Ellie first meets Clara's father.

Clara is sitting on the stairway with her book. She hears the TARDIS land, the door open, and she smiles and jumps up as the doorbell rings. In the TARDIS console room, she asks about the nature of time ("not made of strawberries"), and if the TARDIS can go anywhere ("within reason"). The Doctor asks her where she wants to go, and she freezes, admitting that the breadth of options makes it difficult to think of one. The Doctor prompts her until she smiles and says she wants to see "something awesome".

Welcome to The Rings of Akhaten - Doctor Who The Rings of Akhaten preview - Series 7 2013 - BBC One00:38

Welcome to The Rings of Akhaten - Doctor Who The Rings of Akhaten preview - Series 7 2013 - BBC One

"Welcome to the Rings of Akhaten."

The Doctor walks her out of the TARDIS, with her eyes closed, into the light of an alien sun, and bids her open her eyes so that he can welcome her to the Rings of Akhaten. A golden pyramid comes into view. It is the Pyramid of the Rings of Akhaten, a holy site for the Sun-singers of Akhet. This is a system of seven worlds, orbiting the same star, and they believe that all life in the universe originated on Akhaten. Clara asks to go to it.

They wander an alien market. The Doctor says that most of the people around are local species, and points out some. He does a ritual greeting with a Terraberserker of the Cadonian Belt, mentioning that they're not common. He says he forgot how much he liked it there — he'd been there a long time ago with his granddaughter. Clara's a bit shocked at this, but the Doctor's moving fast. She runs after him and he presents her with a glowing blue fruit. She takes a bite as he scans it with his screwdriver. She shakes her head at the taste.

DoctorClaraAkhaten

The Doctor points out species in the market.

The place is crowded because of the Festival of Offerings, and a creature comes up to Clara, barking and growling at her. The Doctor returns, barking himself to communicate, and introduces Dor'een to Clara. Dor'een had been asking if they want to rent a moped. Clara asks what it costs and the Doctor explains that they don't use money, here. They use objects of sentimental value as currency. "Psychometry. Objects psychically imprinted with their history." She dislikes the idea, thinking it's terrible to have to give up something important to you in trade. The Doctor says it's better than bits of paper, so she says that he should pay, as someone who's a thousand years old should have something that he cares about. The Doctor pulls out his sonic screwdriver, then shakes his head and puts it back.

Dor'een

Dor'een in the market.

Clara turns her back for a moment, then goes looking for him. A little girl, wearing crimson robes, bumps into her and runs off. Shortly afterwards, two men wearing similar robes, presumably monks of the religious order of that system, ask Clara if she'd seen the Queen of Years. Clara shrugs and they search on.

Clara goes to look for the young girl, and finds her in the back corridors. The girl runs, and Clara slowly follows. They startle each other and laugh. The girl says she's hiding and is confused and sceptical that Clara doesn't know her. The girl says she needs help to hide, and Clara knows the perfect box. Three men wearing black uniforms with brass buttons and facial masks appear and start whispering, calling out for the girl. Clara takes the little girl to the TARDIS and tries to open the doors, but they are locked. She rattles the doors a bit, then states that the blue box just doesn't like her.

Clara gets a little angry, but she forgets it when the little girl ducks behind the TARDIS. She tells Clara that her name is Merry Galel, and she's the Queen of Years. She was chosen to become this as a baby, when the previous Queen died. She knows every story, poem, legend, and song of their culture. She's scared because she has to sing a special song to their god to keep him from waking. Clara tells her that everyone's scared when they're little. She had been scared of being lost, until she'd gotten lost once. Her mom found her and took her home, and told her that no matter how lost she was, her mom would always find her. Afterwards, Clara was many times scared, but never of being lost.

Merry believes Clara when she tells her she'll get the song right, and Clara takes her back to the men in red robes who were looking for her. The Doctor comes up, eating the glowing blue fruit.

In a room in the pyramid, a man in red robes sings to a mummy. He switches out with the Chorister.

Merry singing to the Old God

Merry continues the Long Song.

Clara and the Doctor arrive to view a ceremony. The Doctor shushes Clara when she tries to ask if they're supposed to be there. There is some grumbling, then silence as Merry looks at Clara before she begins to sing a duet with the man in the pyramid. The Doctor reads the program and tells Clara that they're signing the Long Song, a lullaby to keep the Old God, or Grandfather, asleep. There has been a Chorister singing this endless song for generations. Others in the audience hold up offerings, gifts of sentimental value, to feed the Old God. The viewers, including the Doctor, join in the song.

The Chorister in the pyramid falters, and they all stop singing, looking around in confusion. The Chorister raises his hood and continues. The ground shakes at the pyramid and in the viewing room, and a golden energy seizes Merry and starts moving her towards the pyramid. She screams and Clara asks if anyone is going to help her. She follows the Doctor, who is already leaving, saying he can't just walk away because Clara talked Merry into doing this. He replies: "Listen, there is one thing you need to know about travelling with me. Well, one thing, apart from the blue box and the two hearts. We don't walk away."

He walks up to Dor'een, barking, then pats his pockets and looks back to Clara. He tells her he needs something. She's confused, saying that he must have something himself. He pulls out the screwdriver, saying, "I don't want to give it away because it comes in handy." She looks down and quietly takes her mother's ring from her hand and hands it over. They take the moped and fly it out to the glowing ball carrying Merry. Clara almost takes her hand, but the little girl flies into the pyramid.

Clara and the Doctor land at a doorway protected by a frequency-modulated acoustic lock. He says that he really can't open it, as it changes too quickly, but he'll try anyway.

MerryScreams

Merry screams.

The Chorister continues to sing. Merry walks closer, saying that she doesn't know what to do. She screams. The Doctor manages to open the door, but it's very difficult and heavy to hold up. As Merry won't leave, the Doctor is unable to do anything other than hold the door up. Merry won't leave, as she believes that it is her fault the Old God is waking, and she doesn't believe Clara any more because Clara was wrong. Now the Old God will eat their souls. She telekinetically pins Clara to the glass around the Old God, and then says that he doesn't want Clara, he wants her, but if the others don't leave the God will eat them too. The Doctor says they're never going to leave, then hums a bar and lets go of the door. Clara asks if they've just been locked in with the soul-eating monster, and the Doctor says yes.

Chorister Rezh Baphix closeup

Chorister Rezh Baphix declares the Long Song has ended with him.

The Chorister is still trying to sing the god back to sleep, and the Doctor advises he run. He stops, and declares that the Long Song has ended with him. He presses a button on his wrist band and disappears. The mummy begins to move, and the Doctor tells Merry that they didn't wake him, he woke because it was time to wake up.

He tells Merry that she was intended as a sacrifice for the monster, because if she's going to do this voluntarily she should know why. He tells her a story about how she is unique and he believes that her sacrifice would be a waste. Merry lets Clara go and they begin to run. The Vigil appear, and Merry says it is their job to feed her to the Old God. They knock the Doctor and Clara unconscious and lead her to the mummy. Clara rouses first and gets the screwdriver to the Doctor. He holds off the Vigil with the screwdriver. Merry sings the secret song, opening another door. They run, but Clara goes back for the Doctor. He holds back the Vigil again as the mummy breaks the glass, and a beam of light shoots from him into the planet.

The Vigil disappear, and the Doctor says they're gone because Grandfather is awake and they're no longer needed. He declares that he's made a tactical mistake. He thought that the Old God and Grandfather were the same thing (the Mummy), but "it was just Grandfather's alarm clock". Akhaten itself is the Old God. Merry declares that the entity will eat everyone in the system and then continue across the stars. Clara and the Doctor talk about going somewhere else but she knows he's going to stay to fight it.

He sends Clara off to save Merry, and turns to confront the planet. Clara returns Merry to the viewing room. Merry wants to help, so she stands and begins singing a new song. The Doctor smiles, and begins to tell a story to the Old God, a story about the people singing to him, and about the things that the Doctor is and knows. His intention is to overwhelm it with his life experience. The planet begins to recede. The Doctor slumps to the ground.

The entity eats but swirls back again. Clara takes the moped back. She asks if it's still hungry, then feeds it the most important leaf in human history, which is full of her mother's lost life, a whole future that never happened. The entity feeds on the infinite possibilities represented by the leaf. The Doctor, reviving, declares that he must be full, as infinity is too much, even for his appetite. The planet recedes again, this time seemingly asleep for good.

The Doctor returns Clara to her home. She realises that she'd seen him at her mother's grave. He confesses that she reminds him of someone he knew, someone who died. He gives her back her mother's ring, saying the people that she had saved wanted her to have it back. She leaves the TARDIS.

Cast Edit


Crew Edit

General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics

Movement

Casting

General post-production staff

Special and visual effects

Sound







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

Alien species Edit

Food Edit

Cultural references from the real world Edit

  • The Doctor references "The Walrus and The Carpenter" by Lewis Carroll when he tells Merry how the elements came together to form "shoes, and ships, and sealing-wax, cabbages, and kings".
  • The Doctor says, "Home again, home again, jiggedy jig" when they return home, which is part of a famous nursery rhyme known as "To market, to market".
  • The Hooloovoo is a 'very intelligent shade of blue' in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Individuals Edit

  • Clara tells Merry that she hated history.
  • The Mummy and the Old God (references to the two are confused in legend) are also referred to as "Grandfather".
  • The Doctor tells Clara she reminds him of someone who died, which Clara says she is not her (ironically, since the Doctor is talking about an echo of Clara from Victorian London, she is her). This is similar to what the Tenth Doctor said to Martha Jones in Smith and Jones when Martha was travelling with The Doctor the first time, in which she said she's not a replacement of his former companion

Places Edit

The Doctor Edit

  • The Eleventh Doctor tells Clara that he's been to Akhaten with his granddaughter before.
  • The Doctor tells Clara that the one thing she needs to know about travelling with him, "aside from the blue box and the two hearts", is that they never walk away. He later clarifies that, if holding onto something precious, they will run away until being out of the shadow of danger.
  • Clara mentions the Doctor being 1,000 years old.
  • The Doctor indicates that his sonic screwdriver is the only thing he has on him that has sentimental value. He doesn't want to give it up as currency as it "comes in handy".

Story notes Edit

  • Unlike the previous episodes of Series 7, this episode does not introduce a new variation of the Doctor Who logo.
  • This is the first episode since her departure that does not have Amy Pond referenced and inadvertently affecting the plot or story. The word 'Pond' was what got the Doctor to come out of retirement in TV: The Snowmen and an image on the cover of the book she wrote, Summer Falls, became a manifestation for a Spoonhead in TV: The Bells of Saint John
  • The basic plot has commonality with the Doctor Who Magazine comic story, Thinktwice. As in this story, the Tenth Doctor in Thinktwice fights an enemy that takes memories, and he proposes to defeat that enemy, the Memeovax, by "overloading it" with his own memories.
  • This story features the debut of the incidential music track "Infinite Potential", a melancholy version of "The Long Song". It was later reused with a small sampling of "The Sad Man in a Box" to frame the Eleventh Doctor's regeneration scene in TV: The Time of the Doctor.

Rumours Edit

  • The Doctor would regenerate or give away his regenerations. This turned out to be false. The golden light the Doctor was connected with was his memories, not regeneration energy.
  • Clara's mother was killed in the Auton attack shown in TV: Rose. This was neither proven nor disproven.

Ratings Edit

"The Rings of Akhaten" was first broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC One on 6 April 2013. Overnight ratings showed that it was watched by 5.5 million viewers live, a 28.8% audience share. When time-shifted viewers were factored in, the final rating rose to 7.45 million, making it the sixth most-watched programme of the week on BBC One. In addition, "The Rings of Akhaten" received over two million requests on the online BBC iPlayer in April, coming in first for the month on the service. The episode also received an Appreciation Index of 84.

Filming locations 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.
  • The crack on the glass case containing the mummy disappears and reappears between shots.
  • The leaf that Clara has in this episode appears to be shaped differently, possibly even having come from a different type of tree than the leaf shown in the episode's pre-credit sequence.
  • When Clara tastes the exotic fruit, it is rather obvious that Jenna Louise-Coleman is simply touching the prop to her mouth, not actually eating it.
  • Just before the wipe from the scene, in which Clara tells the Doctor to bring her somewhere awesome, to the scene where the Doctor brings Clara to the Rings of Akhaten, Matt Smith accidentally tears open a control panel.
  • Just before Clara gets onto the moped to rescue the Doctor, and just after the flash back in which the Doctor says "We don't walk away," the scene cuts to the Doctor doubling over in pain. All though this does not appear in the closed captioning, the Doctor can be heard mumbling "What more can you want?" The music and sound effects cover this up, and it appears that the producers may have tried to erase this dialogue in post production. The volume must be turned on extremely high in order to hear this remark.
  • There are numerous instances in the episode where extras wearing dressed as aliens had little or no make-up around the eyes, making the masks obviously look like masks.
  • When The Vigil throw Clara into the wall, the wall moves when her back collides with it.

Continuity Edit

Home video releases Edit

Series 7b UK DVD Cover

Series 7, Part 2 DVD cover.

DVD releases Edit

The Rings of Akhaten 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

to be added


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