It was the first episode since 2008's The Poison Sky to be written by a woman. It featured the return of Ashildr, now going by the name "Me", after her introduction in the previous episode, The Girl Who Died.
The Woman Who Lived explored the darker aspects of immortality—the relativity of time and the short period of human lives being key focuses. This is something the other immortal to adventure with the Doctor, Jack Harkness, had experienced as well. It once more shows how the Doctor feels about his ability to outlive those he travels with, and why he chooses young humans. As the Doctor tells Ashildr, the longer one lives, the more they look at the negatives and the bigger picture; it's thanks to the "mayflies" that they're able to put their years of experience to better use.
The episode is one of the few notable companion-lite episodes, which feature the Doctor travelling with no companions or with his companion on a brief "break." Other key examples are The Deadly Assassin and Midnight.
Adventuring on his own for a while, the Doctor seeks out an artefact of great power that could spell disaster in the wrong hands: the Eyes of Hades.
However, he soon comes face to face with consequences of one of his past acts of compassion, when he meets an immortal he created, who has now lost all hope with a heart filled with centuries of pain.
In 17th century London, a stagecoach belonging to Mr Fanshawe and Lucie Fanshawe is travelling through the woods; it is stopped by a highwayman. The coachman recognises the rogue as the infamous outlaw: the Knightmare. The rogue manages to scare them into not resisting by revealing the glowing eyes of a "demon" in the forest behind him; the Knightmare tells them it's his accomplice.
Back to the robbery, the Knightmare demands something specific of Mrs Fanshawe; she seems to know what the rogue wants. However, at that moment, the Doctor enters the carriage; he greets everyone in passing, saying he is tracking something. The Knightmare, annoyed, tells the Doctor that he's in the middle of a robbery. The Doctor says he wasn't paying attention and asks for the robber to repeat himself.
However, the Doctor ignores him again, going on to say, "Usually, someone hits me at this point, but she's taking the Year 7s for tae kwon do." The Doctor's scanner leads him to a case on the back of the carriage, which the Knightmare attempts to stake a claim on. However, the carriage races off the moment they're both behind it. The Knightmare tells the Doctor that he's ruined his robbery; however, the Doctor tells "Zorro" that he bungled his.
With nothing else to do, the Knightmare unmasks, revealing himself to be Ashildr, who can mimic a man's voice, thanks to years of practice. The Doctor is surprised to see her, but is more surprised that she has forgotten her original identity due to the centuries that have passed; Ashildr now calls herself "Me" as there is no one who can remember her now.
Ashildr takes the Doctor to her home, where she reluctantly agrees to let him help her steal the object they're both after from the Fanshawes; she now lives in a mansion thanks to hoarding treasure over the years. She vaguely informs the Doctor that she now has an accomplice, whose glowing yellow eyes watch the Doctor from the shadows. Ashildr repeatedly asks the Doctor to take her with him to see the universe, but is turned down; after all, it's a bad idea to keep company with yourself or in this case, someone too similar.
Ashildr reveals that she dislikes keeping company with other humans, as their lifespans are like smoke that can be blown away. However, the Doctor notes that she's tried to help humanity, even founding a leper colony; Ashildr points out that when she helped cure a village of scarlet fever, she was drowned as a witch by the small-minded people, but was able to swim away. The Doctor sees that Ashildr keeps several diaries, since her memory is still in its original human-limited form, thus keeping her from remembering everything that's happened. Ashildr asks the Doctor what it's like for a near-immortal like himself, to keep trudging through the centuries, losing all those who are important to him. The Doctor, seeing a foil to himself in the regard that he's lonely, explains about the pain; however, unlike Ashildr, he has come to live with it as living in isolation is much worse.
The Doctor takes time to read through one of Ashildr's diaries, where he learns that she attempted to have what any woman would want in a normal life: a husband and children. However, her immortality proved troublesome, as she returned years later to see an old, senile version of her beloved, and later lost children to the plague; the pain of these events was recorded, so she didn't have to keep reliving them through the centuries. However, the Doctor notices some pages were ripped out; there were some things Ashildr found too painful to remember. Outside, Ashildr takes to her accomplice, explaining that an alien like the Doctor would be useful in their plans.
Later, they break into the Fanshawe estate and find their prize: the Eyes of Hades, a glowing purple jewel. Escaping, they accidentally awaken Mr Fanshawe, who looks for them in the wrong direction. Ashildr is ready to kill for her escape, but the Doctor convinces her to escape through the chimney; she is less than happy with the idea but complies and continues prodding the Doctor with questions. Escaping into the forest, they are surrounded by other highwaymen, lead by the Knightmare's rival — Sam Swift the Quick. Swift thinks the Doctor is the Knightmare's sidekick and father, which annoys the Time Lord, who taunts the thief for the redundant title. Ashildr quickly disarms her rival, ready to kill Sam; she sees no point in his life anyway. However, the Doctor tells her not to, as it will make her an enemy of HIM; knowing what that means, Ashildr lowers the weapon in fear. Sam and his cronies flee.
Back at Ashildr's mansion, the Doctor wishes to meet her accomplice. He learns its a fire-breathing alien from Delta Leonis called Leandro. Ashildr and Leandro want to use the Eyes of Hades to open a portal to leave Earth, but it requires the life energy of someone to work. They considered using Ashildr's aged butler Clayton, but soon learn Swift has been captured and will be hanged that day. Tying the Doctor up, Ashildr sees luck favouring her when authorities arrive to check on "Lady Me"; she claims the Doctor is the Knightmare's sidekick and leaves, asking the Doctor just be imprisoned due to his advanced age.
The Doctor tries passing himself off as an undercover officer from Scotland Yard but realises it hasn't been founded yet. Seeing Ashildr leave with Leandro in her carriage, the Doctor tells the guards that the Knightmare is escaping and that he wishes to go to the hanging. The guards inform him there's a 20-pound bounty on him, which is a treasure compared to their pay, so they'd rather not take him to be hanged. The Doctor tells them where they can find Lady Me's treasure; they let him go and give him a horse in exchange.
At the hangman's noose, Swift is making jokes to buy himself a few more minutes; some of them are insulting but still funny. Leandro waits impatiently in Ashildr's carriage, yelling for Swift to hang already. The Doctor arrives, assisting with Swift's delay; Ashildr manages to overrule the comedy and get the hanging to begin. Swift asks for a kiss as his last request, prompting all the ladies to shout "Me!" With that Lady Me complies, with Swift noticing she's familiar somehow. She places the Eyes of Hades on him. Leandro reveals himself, breathing fire in triumph.
A portal opens, revealing Leandro was an advanced scout for his people, the Leonians, to invade Earth. To her own shock, Ashildr finds that she still cares; she asks the Doctor what she should do. The Doctor has Ashildr use the Mire repair kit he left with her on Swift, healing him; the excess of life energy causes the Eyes of Hades to backfire and closes the portal. Leandro is vaporised by his fellow warriors for his failure.
In a pub later, Ashildr wonders if Swift is now immortal like her. The Doctor guesses that the excess that would have caused this may have been burned out in the portal closing, but is unsure himself; just in case Swift is immortal, he asks Ashildr keep an eye on him. It's at that moment that Ashildr realises why the Doctor won't take her with him; it's because her viewpoint is too much like his own, and he needs someone who sees things differently. The Doctor mentions having travelled with another immortal named Captain Jack Harkness, and that she may be running into him in the future. Ashildr then says she'll take the role most of the others that have met the Doctor have, protecting the world from his good intentions.
Later, in the TARDIS, the Doctor is playing his electric guitar, deep in thought. Clara arrives, and the Doctor accepts her hug. Clara explains that the Doctor helping her student, Evie Hubbard, with an "imaginary" interview with Winston Churchill paid off; Evie got an A. The Doctor looks at the selfie taken of Evie and Clara, taking notice that Ashildr is the background; he pretends nothing is wrong. Clara wonders where they're going, to which the Doctor says it's her choice; she asks for somewhere new and magical. After explaining there's nothing new and magical under the sun, the Doctor tells her that they'll be checking above it. Clara hugs him again, saying she's not going anywhere.
- The Doctor - Peter Capaldi
- Clara - Jenna Coleman
- Me - Maisie Williams
- Sam Swift - Rufus Hound
- Coachman - Gareth Berliner
- Lucie Fanshawe - Elisabeth Hopper
- Mr Fanshawe - John Voce
- Clayton - Struan Rodger
- Pikeman Lloyd Llewelyn - Gruffudd Glyn
- Pikeman William Stout - Reuben Johnson
- Leandro - Ariyon Bakare
- Crowd 1 - Daniel Fearn
- Crowd 2 - Karen Seacombe
- Hangman - John Hales
- Voice of The Knightmare - Will Brown
|Executive Producers Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin|
|General production staff|
Camera and lighting 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.|
- The phrase "Stand and Deliver" is used by the highwayman.
- The Doctor refers to the Knightmare as Zorro.
- The Doctor mockingly calls Leandro "Lenny the Lion".
- The Doctor claims to be working undercover for Scotland Yard, before wondering if it has been invented yet.
- The Knightmare is known to be faster than Sam Swift the Quick and deadlier than Deadly Dupont.
- Ashildr states that life expectancy is 35 in 1651.
- Somewhere between the 9th century and the 17th century, Ashildr founded a leper colony, which the Doctor oversaw from afar.
- The Doctor uses a Curioscanner.
- Ashildr mentions backgammon.
- Ashildr once cured an entire village of scarlet fever; however, as a result, they attempted to drown her for being a witch.
- The Doctor mentions he meant to warn Ashildr about the Black Death in 1348. Ashildr lost her children due to it.
- Ashildr drinks pomace wine when having time for herself.
- Mr Fanshawe has a blunderbuss.
- Ashildr mentions Christendom.
- The Doctor references Hades, King of the Underworld.
- Ashildr mentions Kent.
- Leandro is from Delta Leonis.
- Ashildr and the Doctor compare humans to mayflies.
- Sam Swift was to be hanged in Tyburn.
- The Doctor tries to get himself out of trouble by claiming he has the Dunbar victory medal. He is told to tell it to the Newgate Prison gaoler.
- A Tryal of Witches at the Assizes and Heaven's Speedie Hue and Cry posters are hanging on a wall at the Tyburn hanging.
- The Doctor pardons Sam Swift with a fake message from Oliver Cromwell.
- Ye Swan With Two Necks is visited.
- The Doctor mentions sherbet lemon and Ferraris as potential good gifts.
- The Doctor plays a segment of the Pink Floyd song "Wish You Were Here" on his guitar.
Story notes Edit
- This marks the first full-length Twelfth Doctor story to feature Clara Oswald in a lesser role, only appearing at the end.
- According to an interview with writer Catherine Tregenna in DWM 492, the story is set in Hounslow.
- Ashildr mentions that she fought at the Battle of Agincourt. The episode was first broadcast the day before St Crispin's Day, 25 October 2015 - the 600th anniversary of the battle.
- BBC One Overnight: 4.34 million
- BBC America Overnight: to be added
- Final UK ratings: 6.11 million
Filming locations Edit
to be added
Production errors Edit
to be added
- The Doctor mentions that the Terileptils started "a big fire that tears through London". (TV: The Visitation)
- This isn't the first time an alien has claimed to have peaceful intentions to be on Earth but is actually planning a mass invasion. (TV: The Claws of Axos, The Unquiet Dead)
- Though not realising it at first, Me points out that the Doctor will only take on companions whose perspectives are different from his own. (HOMEVID: Meanwhile in the TARDIS)
- Clara wears her silver bird necklace. (TV: The Bells of Saint John)
- Clara is not with the Doctor because she is taking her Year Seven students to tae kwon do. Clara previously told the Doctor she had been taking taekwondo lessons. (TV: Robot of Sherwood)
- The Doctor uses the psychic paper. (TV: The End of the World et.al.)
- The Devil/Satan is mentioned by Fanshawe and the Knightmare. (TV: The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit et.al.)
- Ashildr/Me still has the second Mire repair kit but uses it to save Sam Swift. (TV: The Girl Who Died)
- The Doctor uses his sonic sunglasses. (TV: The Magician's Apprentice/The Witch's Familiar et.al.) They had previously been broken. (TV: The Girl Who Died)
- The Doctor mentions how much humans matter. (TV: The Ark in Space, The End of Time, The Power of Three, Deep Breath, et.al.)
- The Doctor, in an attempt to jog Ashildr's memory, mentions Einarr, and how the Doctor called him "Chuckles", as well as the Viking village. Later he said he just tried to save a terrified young woman's life. (TV: The Girl Who Died)
- The Doctor helps Clara's student on an assignment involving Winston Churchill. The Second Doctor, Sixth Doctor, Ninth Doctor, Tenth Doctor and Eleventh Doctors have previously met Churchill. (PROSE: World Game, Players, AUDIO: The Oncoming Storm, Hounded, Living History, TV: Victory of the Daleks, The Wedding of River Song)
- The Doctor says he is on record as being against bantering. (TV: Robot of Sherwood)
- The Doctor plays his electric guitar. (TV: The Magician's Apprentice, Before the Flood)
- Me asks the Doctor how many companions he has lost. (TV: Earthshock, AUDIO: Absolution, To the Death, et al.) She also asks how many "Claras" he has lost. (TV: Asylum of the Daleks, The Snowmen, The Name of the Doctor)
- Me asks if the Doctor ever thinks or cares what happens after he flies away from a place. Sure enough, this is not the first time he's left somewhere believing he did the right thing only to discover later he made things worse. (TV: Bad Wolf)
- Me mentions being present at the Battle of Agincourt. The First Doctor and his companions Susan Foreman, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright encountered Henry V in France shortly before the battle. (PROSE: The Reign Makers) The Fourth Doctor previously mentioned to his companion Leela that she would have loved Agincourt. (TV: The Talons of Weng-Chiang)
- The Doctor again demonstrates that he is a skilled horse rider. (TV: The Masque of Mandragora, et. al.)
- The Doctor refers to Jack Harkness and his immortality. (TV: Everything Changes, et.al.)
- Clara hugs the Doctor but this time he embraces it. (TV: Deep Breath, et al)
- Clara mentions to the Doctor, "I'm not going anywhere." Previous companion Rose Tyler had also said this to the Doctor. (TV: Army of Ghosts)
- The Doctor wonders if Clara may be giving him a gift because she is going to never travel with him again because he "said a thing". (TV: Kill the Moon)
- The Doctor had previously met a female highwayman who posed as a man. (AUDIO: Phantasmagoria)
- Me describes her immortal life as "hell". In a similar case, an alternate version of Amy Pond who grew older all alone in the Two Streams Facility and was left behind by the Doctor (though against his wishes as he actively tried to rescue her across their timelines while they were moving at varied speeds) made a similar biting remark about the circumstances she had gotten herself into making her life hellish, and also showed animosity toward the Doctor for owing some responsibility toward such happening. (TV: The Girl Who Waited)
Home video releases Edit
DVD releases Edit
The Woman Who Lived was released on DVD as part of "Doctor Who: Series 9, Part 1" on November 2 in region 2 and November 3 in region 1.
A subtitling error on some copies the Region 1 DVD release displays the Doctor's line, "Of course!" when speaking to Leandro and Me as, "Oh shit!".
Blu-ray releases Edit
The Woman Who Lived was released on Blu-ray as part of "Doctor Who: Series 9, Part 1" on November 2 in region 2 and November 3 in region 1.
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