Listen
Doctor Who Logo 'Listen'
(Story Code 8.04)

by Steven Moffatt
The Doctor

“What if it's not you you're talking to? Proposition: what if no one is ever really alone? What if every single living being has a... companion. A silent passenger. A shadow. What if the prickle on the back of your neck is the breath of something close behind you?” – The Doctor

The Doctor is deep in thought, contemplating the unsettling feeling of not being alone. Through observing nature he determines that evolution perfects survival skills: hunting, defence and hiding. He then hypothesises that if evolution were to perfect a creature whose primary skill were to hide from view, a creature that couldn’t be detected or even sensed, then how could you know it actually existed? Asking aloud what such a creature would want, the Doctor is shocked to see that his chalk has vanished, and a new word has been chalked on his blackboard: ‘Listen’… On Earth, Clara returns to her flat after a disastrous dinner date with Danny Pink. She really shouldn’t make references to Danny’s past as a soldier, as he is clearly over-sensitive about it: a row began, which quickly ended when Clara stormed off. Clara makes to enter her bedroom, only to find the TARDIS now parked inside. Tactless as ever, the Doctor comments on Clara’s date disaster and then tells his latest idea: when people talk to themselves, they are actually talking to an unseen companion, a silent passenger that everyone has, even him. The Time Lord has been studying accounts of dreams by different people throughout history, and has a theory that everybody, at some point in their lives, has the exact same nightmare: you think you wake up, you stare around your room but cannot see anyone, the room feels different somehow – and then something under the bed grabs your ankle! Clara has had the same dream, and so has the Doctor… Placing Clara’s hand on the console the Time Lord uses the TARDIS’ telepathic circuits to slave the ship to her timeline, so that he can travel back to the exact moment that she first had the dream and see what was under her bed. But when the TARDIS arrives in the West Country Children's Home in Gloucester during the mid-‘90s, the Clara realises they have gone off-course. She sees a young boy staring down at her from a window, a boy who looks very familiar, and realises that they are in someone else’s timeline... The Doctor meets a guard named Reg, who tells of strange events in the children’s home: his coffee mug inexplicably moves and the television turns itself off and on. Meanwhile, Clara slips upstairs to talk to the boy, Rupert Pink, who will eventually change his name to ‘Danny’. Seeing that the boy is frightened of something under his bed, Clara asks if he had the dream; Rupert clearly has, so Clara encourages him to get under the bed with her to prove there is nothing there. This assuages Rupert’s fears – until something sits on the bed above them. Knowing that no-one came in after her, Clara and Rupert climb out from under the bed and see the form of a small child squatting underneath the bedspread. Ignoring Clara’s questions, the shape under the sheet silently stands up; Clara and Rupert are terrified, until they see the Doctor sitting on a chair behind them. Encouraging Rupert to use his fear against the thing, the Time Lord makes him and Clara turn their backs and look out the window instead. When the Doctor tells the creature to go, Rupert weakens and turns round – to see the sheet-covered form standing right behind him! As the sheet falls to the floor to reveal some thing beneath the Doctor order the terrified Rupert to promise he will never look at it. At the sound of the door closing the trio spin round: the thing has gone, taking the bedspread with it… Unsure if that was something supernatural or just another child playing a trick on Rupert, Clara takes a box of the Home’s toy soldiers and arranges under the bed to protect the boy. She designates a broken figure as the Colonel, and to her surprise Rupert names him ‘Dan’. After the Doctor has made Rupert go to sleep, Clara asks for a favour: to journey back in time to the moment she stormed off from her date. The Doctor complies, and after watching her younger-self walk off, Clara re-enters the restaurant and resumes dinner with Danny. Unfortunately Clara messes up again when she refers to Danny’s original name, Rupert; Danny is weirded out because he has never told anyone that, and to Clara’s disappointment her date leaves the restaurant. Seeing a spaceman standing in a nearby doorway, Clara follows him inside the TARDIS, which is now parked in the restaurant’s corridor. Clara expects the suited figure to be the Doctor, and is completely thrown when he appears to be an older version of Danny – except this is Colonel Orson Pink, a pioneer time-traveller from a hundred years in Clara’s future… and Danny's great-grandson . The Doctor takes them to the soldier’s spaceship, marooned on the last planet at the end of the universe, which the TARDIS found using Clara’s telepathic connection to Danny’s timeline. With a way home at last, Orson eagerly starts packing, but when the Doctor tells him that the TARDIS will need to recharge overnight he looks startled. The Doctor points out that the ship’s door is locked, even though there is nothing out there anymore –so what is Orson afraid of? Clara helps Orson put his things inside the TARDIS and is surprised when the plastic soldier falls out of his backpack; Orson explains it is a family heirloom, a good luck item from one of his grandparents, who once travelled in time too. He then gives Clara the soldier as a gift… That night, the Doctor and Clara sit in vigil in the command room, watching the door. As the light from the sun fades and the night-lights switch over, the words ‘DON'T OPEN THE DOOR’ appear: Orson’s reminder to himself. From outside the door can be heard a scratching and hissing. The Doctor wants to know what is out there – is it just the ship settling, or are all of the unseen creatures now converging on them because they are the last people in the universe? When a loud knocking sounds out, the desperately inquisitive Doctor unlocks the door with his sonic screwdriver – and then the hatch wheel begins to rotate: something outside wants to come in! The Doctor orders Clara back inside the TARDIS while he remains behind to see what happens. Watching on the TARDIS monitor, Clara sees the Doctor standing before the door as it finally opens… but before she can find out what lies beyond, the screen fizzles out. Then an alarm sounds – the air seal around Orson’s ship has been breached. In the control room, the Doctor, his forehead bleeding from a cut, grips onto a console for dear life as the air is sucked out into the vacuum, debris flying all around him. In the nick of time the space-suited Orson pulls him inside the TARDIS, where the Time Lord falls unconscious… As Clara and Orson check the Doctor they hear a loud thumping from outside the TARDIS – is something in the control room trying to get into the ship? Not wanting to find out, Clara reactivates the TARDIS’ telepathic circuits to make the ship take them to safety. Venturing outside, Clara finds herself inside a barn, where she hears a young boy crying from up in the hayloft; climbing a ladder, she sees a child hiding under the covers of a small bed. Just then two adults enter the barn, so Clara hides under the bed and listens as they tell the boy to stop crying and come back to join all the other children. When the boy refuses, the adults leave, commenting that the child will never join the Time Lord Academy with his attitude. Realisation suddenly dawns on Clara: this is the Doctor’s childhood! In the TARDIS, the Doctor wakes with a start, and heads outside to find Clara. In the barn, both Clara and the young Doctor hear him; knowing she must stop them meeting, Clara reaches out from under the bed and grabs the boy’s ankle! Seeing how terrified the child is, Clara tells him he is dreaming, and instructs him to lie down and go to sleep – and to her relief he does just that. But the young Time Lord still cries in his sleep, and Clara can’t just leave him… Afterwards, Clara joins the Doctor and Orson, refusing to give away where she has been; when she suggests that there was never anything under the bed, and that the Doctor was just scared of the dark, the Time Lord looks affronted, but Clara cuts him off and tells him to move the ship, making him promise never to look where they have been. Having taken Orson home, Clara gives the Doctor a big hug and then visits Danny at home; this time the couple get it right, and they finally kiss…

In the barn, Clara tells the young Doctor to listen to her as he sleeps; she explains how fear is a super-power that will make him faster, and cleverer, and stronger; how fear will help him to make the right choices when he returns to the barn in the future [in ’The Day of the Doctor’]; how fear is like constant companion, always there; and how fear can also bring people together. Then Clara departs, leaving behind Orson’s toy soldier to guard the young Doctor in his sleep…


Peter Capaldi (The Doctor), Jenna Coleman (Clara), Samuel Anderson (Danny Pink / Orson Pink), Remi Gooding (Rupert Pink), Robert Goodman (Reg), Kiran Shah (Figure), John Hurt (The War Doctor)

Directed by Douglas Mackinnon
Produced by Peter Bennett
Executive Producers Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin
A BBC Wales production


TX (BBC 1 & BBC 1 HD):
13th September 2014 @ 7.30 pm


Notes:
*Featuring the Twelfth Doctor, Clara and Danny