Doctor Who (2005– )
15 user 8 critic

The Idiot's Lantern 

As the coronation of Elizabeth II nears, the streets of London live in fear. Faceless people are stolen from their homes in the night and something evil is lurking in the television.


Euros Lyn


Mark Gatiss




Episode complete credited cast:
David Tennant ... The Doctor
Billie Piper ... Rose Tyler
Maureen Lipman ... The Wire
Ron Cook ... Magpie
Jamie Foreman ... Eddie Connolly
Debra Gillett Debra Gillett ... Rita Connolly
Rory Jennings Rory Jennings ... Tommy Connolly
Margaret John ... Grandma Connolly
Sam Cox Sam Cox ... Detective Inspector Bishop
Ieuan Rhys ... Crabtree
Jean Challis Jean Challis ... Aunty Betty
Christopher Driscoll Christopher Driscoll ... Security Guard
Marie Lewis Marie Lewis ... Mrs. Gallagher


It's 1953, the Coronation year of HM Queen Elizabeth II, and the people of Great Britain huddle round their television sets to witness the great event. But behind the celebrations there are rumors of monsters on the streets, and the tormented Mr Magpie is hiding a strange and alien secret. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Official site [UK]





Release Date:

10 November 2006 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (50 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital (Dolby 5.1)


See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Rose corrects Mr. Connolly who calls the British flag a "Union Jack" Rose says it's a Union Jack only when it's flown at sea and called the Union Flag otherwise. However in an earlier episode (Doctor Who: The Empty Child (2005)) Rose refers to the Union Flag on her shirt as a "Union Jack" without correction See more »


When The Doctor goes to chase the undercover police car for the 2nd time on his scooter (when Grandma Connelly is taken) he is briefly seen with Rose's pink helmet in his hands, as if to put it on himself, but when next we see him (turning the corner into the fake 'dead end' street) he's wearing his own white helmet. See more »


Magpie: What do you think you're doing?
The Doctor: I want my friend restored, and I think that's beyond a little backstreet electrician, so tell me, who's really in charge here?
The Wire: Yoo-hoo! I think that must be me.
See more »


Featured in Doctor Who Confidential: The Writer's Tale (2006) See more »


God Save the Queen
Music by Thomas Augustine Arne
Lyrics by Henry Carey
See more »

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User Reviews

You don't have to be idiots to enjoy this pretty fun episode.
1 December 2018 | by A_Kind_Of_CineMagicSee all my reviews

I think this episode is more unpopular than it deserves. I found a lot of it pretty good with a mixture of fun and some tougher drama which is well acted and with some spooky elements to enjoy.

It is certainly not the greatest story as the way the plot is carried out is not that convincing and the cries of "hungry" and "feed me" etc are a bit silly and annoying. The reactions of people and the authorities are also not that convincing.

On the plus side most of the episode is entertaining. I thought the boy was a well acted and endearing character and the 1953 Coronation setting was a nice aspect. The humour is very good in places and the subplot of the bullying father and struggles of his wife and son is quite affecting and touching. The faceless people are done well and are suitably creepy. Rose being attacked and the Doctor's reaction provide quite powerful moments. Maureen Lipman is perfect for her role as the TV face of the adversary despite it not being the best idea for depicting the threat. The idea of a being using a surge in TV viewing to gain power from a TV mast is perfectly OK but it is just not written in the most effective way by Mark Gatiss. The human drama, creepiness and entertainment are fine, it just falls short on being a believable story overall. It is an acceptable filler episode, flawed in terms of how the plot is developed but quite fun.

My rating: 7/10

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