Time Heist was the fifth episode of series 8 of Doctor Who.

Set around a time travel-based bank robbery, Moffat had thought of the concept some years earlier before handing it over to Steve Thompson when he found a way to utilise it.

Writing his third story for Doctor Who, Thompson borrowed concepts from the "classic heist movie", adapting them for science fiction. The Teller came from this notion as "the ultimate CCTV system" alongside Psi and Saibra as the motley crew, endowed with specialist skills. Thompson also made a different approach to his "monster". In The Curse of the Black Spot, he found that a CGI monster used up the entire special effects budget. For Time Heist, prosthetics were used, leaving room for CGI to create an alien world.

Written before the Twelfth Doctor was cast, Thompson expressed delight at being able to write for this new Doctor, scripting him, per Capaldi's description, as "less user-friendly". (DWM 478)

Synopsis Edit

The Doctor and Clara receive a mysterious phone call, and find themselves in a maximum security bank, memories wiped clean and two more recruited strangers to accompany them. Their mission: to rob from a bank that lives up to the reputation of impregnability, but will they be able to find out what they've been recruited to steal and why before they get captured?

Plot Edit

The Twelfth Doctor tries to convince Clara to come with him for a day sightseeing via the TARDIS, but she is about to go on a date with Danny Pink. As she is about to leave, the TARDIS phone rings, despite both knowing that very few beings in the universe have access to that. The Doctor goes to answer the phone, and suddenly the two find themselves in a strange chamber suffering from memory loss along with two others, an augmented human, Psi, and a mutant human, Saibra. Both have also suffered memory loss, with the likely culprit — memory worms — wiggling around on the table. As the four wake up, audio recordings start playing where each member of the group confirms that they have consented to the memory wipe willingly. A briefcase on the table opens to reveal plans by "The Architect", who instructs them to rob the Bank of Karabraxos, the most impregnable bank vault in the universe with numerous levels of security. There's no chance of backing out either — they're already in the bank and guards are trying to break into the room. When Psi initially refuses to follow the Doctor, he is reminded that he consented to the memory wipe; his reward must be something he considered more important than the risk he's taking. Finally agreeing, Psi downloads the instructions into his head as the group flees. The pursuit is slowed when the guards handle the memory worms, unaware of their abilities.

They work their way back into the main floor of the bank, with Saibra — whose mutation allows her to shapeshift into any living thing she touches — using the identity of a bank customer whose DNA had been included in the case to get them in. As they walk, the Doctor wonders why they haven't been left the TARDIS, as breaking into any vault would be quick and simple with it. Clara points out they also don't know where the TARDIS is right now. The group then witness another customer, accused by the bank head of security, Ms Delphox, of intending to steal from the bank, having his brain scanned and then turned to "soup" by the Teller, an alien with powerful psychic abilities that's said to be the last of its kind.

The Doctor, Clara, Psi, and Saibra continue to follow the Architect's plan, finding more cases with useful items left by their mysterious boss as they get closer to the main vaults. At one point, they collect six devices whose purpose the Doctor claims he does not know, but Saibra points out he's lying - having had so many faces, she knows how to read people better than most. The Doctor is forced to admit the devices are an "exit strategy".

Part of the plan requires them to pass through the cage where the Teller is kept in near-hibernation, but it picks up on Clara's brainwaves. The Doctor helps Clara break out of the Teller's scan and has the group flee the room, but Saibra is caught in the scan. The Doctor gives her one of the devices, telling her it is an atomic shredder, a more humane way to die than the Teller's brain scan. She activates the device and disappears.

As the three continue to the vault, they find that Ms Delphox has released the Teller to chase them down. Psi stays behind to help cover their tracks and open the vault; he, too, opts to use one of the disintegrators when he is caught by the Teller. The Doctor and Clara eventually reach the main vaults, however Psi's hacking has failed to open the last lock. Just as the two prepare to be arrested, a solar storm begins to strike the surface of the planet The Doctor realises this wasn't just a bank heist, but a time heist — the Architect is from the future, and planned to bring them to the vault at this moment when the storm's activity would cause the main vault to automatically open. The storm's presence also explains why they weren't allowed to use the TARDIS, as the interference would prevent it from locking on. They locate two safe boxes indicated by a note from the Architect, one containing a neophyte circuit that can restore Psi's deleted memories, and the other a gene suppressant to stabilise Saibra's uncontrollable shapechanging. The Doctor and Clara realise these were Psi and Saibra's 'fees' for the heist, and wonder what they were offered. However, as they look for the final safe box location in the Private Vault, they are caught by the Teller and taken to Ms Delphox's office. Ms Delphox leaves to put the Teller back into hibernation to protect him from the worsening solar storm, ordering her guards to kill the intruders. The Doctor and Clara are surprised when the guards turn out to be Saibra and Psi - the disintegrators were really teleporters linked to a ship in orbit. The Doctor gives them the items from the vault as their payment but realises they still need to find the Private Vault. Psi leads them into the depths of the bank as the storm intensifies on the surface.

At the Private Vault, they find that it is the quarters of Ms. Karabraxos, surrounded by treasures from around the galaxy. The Doctor realises Ms Delphox is just a clone of Karabraxos, and she has no problem sending her clone to be incinerated for failure. Witnessing such self-loathing, inspiration strikes the Doctor, and he writes the number to the TARDIS telephone, and that he is a time traveller, on a piece of paper and gives it to Karabraxos, who is hastily packing her treasures before the storm wipes out the bank. She departs from the vault, but the Doctor reminds her to give him a call one day if she has any regrets. Shortly after she leaves, the Teller arrives, and the Doctor convinces him to scan his mind to find the memories that were blocked.

In a flashback, an elderly and dying Ms Karabraxos — now no longer the richest person in the universe — calls the Doctor on the TARDIS in Clara's flat, and tells him of her regret. The Doctor is then shown preparing all the elements of the time heist, revealing that he himself was the Architect. Because much of the bank's security was based on sensing a criminal's guilt, wiping the recent memories of the heist participants would reduce their chances of being caught. The ultimate goal of the plan was to bring the Teller, who was telepathically linked to Karabraxos, to the Private Vault after she left, so as to allow him to unlock a combination safe. Inside, they find another alien of the same species as the Teller, chained within the safe. The Doctor points out that they have six teleport devices, allowing them all to escape the bank before it is wiped out. The Doctor takes the creatures to an isolated planet to live out their lives free of telepathic "noise" and then returns Saibra and Psi to their respective times and places after having lunch. Finally, the Doctor returns them to Clara's flat moments after they have left to allow Clara to continue on her date. Right after she departs, he declares with a smug grin, "Ha! Robbing a bank! Robbing a whole bank. Beat that for a date..."

Cast Edit

Uncredited 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.

Uncredited crew Edit

Milk VFX Edit

Millennium FX Edit

References Edit

Individuals Edit

Races and species Edit

Locations Edit

Technology Edit

Story notes Edit

  • This is the second episode, after TV: Robot of Sherwood to capitalise its title during the opening credits. Also, it shares the same pre-opening theme sting with TV: Robot of Sherwood which, interestingly, is from Series 1 to 4's.
  • The Twelfth Doctor wears a hoodie for the first time (but not as part of his main getup). This will become a common garment worn by this incarnation in his next two series.
  • This episode features the first in-narrative use of the new Time Vortex.
  • The script and rough-cut of this episode were leaked online before it was broadcast.
  • Keeley Hawes (Ms Delphox) is not credited as Karabraxos.
  • Mr Porrima, the bank customer copied by Saibra to gain access to the safety deposit boxes, is only identified in the credits, not in dialogue.
  • The episode contains an image of Abslom Daak, a character who originated in comic stories. This is one of the few examples of a TV episode referencing a character who originated outside of the TV series itself. Daak's image appears among a number of other characters from past seasons of Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures. An image of James Marsters as Captain John Hart, is also seen. There are also images of a Slitheen, Androvax and The Trickster from the Sarah Jane Adventures.
  • The episode opens with imagery taken from the opening credits sequence that segues into the Doctor peering into a washing machine. It is the only episode of Series 8 to make use of the SFX footage.

Ratings Edit

Filming locations Edit

  • George Street, Bridgend
  • Roald Dahl Plass, Cardiff
  • Hadyn Ellis Building, Cardiff University
  • Bute Park, N. Road
  • Uskmouth Power Station, West Nash Road

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 "atomic shedder" is said to be painless, but Psi screams after he uses it.

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

  1. Coleman also plays Saibra, when she assumed the appearance of Clara.
  2. Sellers also plays Saibra, when she assumed the appearance of Mr Porrima.
  3. Anderson's credit is taken from TV: Into the Dalek et al.
  4. Hawes is only credited as Ms Delphox, who is later revealed to be a clone of Madame Karabraxos.
  5. Kevan Brighting on Twitter: “The Narrator was a bit miffed that he didn't get a cast credit on tonight's @bbcdoctorwho". Twitter (20 September, 2014). Retrieved on 21 September, 2014.
  6. Clem So - Timeline Photos | Facebook. Facebook (20 September, 2014). Retrieved on 13 October, 2014.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 Edwards, Graham (14 October 2014). Doctor Who – Timely Effects. Cinefex Blog. Retrieved on 16 October 2018.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Goodman, Christopher. The Teller – Doctor Who – Time Heist. Christopher Goodman. Retrieved on 6 November 2018.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Goodman, Christopher. Psi – Doctor Who – Time Heist. Christopher Goodman. Retrieved on 6 November 2018.