12.8. The Haunting Of Villa Diodati

Series 12 - 2020

Writer: Maxine Alderton
Produced by: Alex Mercer
Director: Emma Sullivan
Music: Segin Akinola


Lake Geneva, June 1816: On a dark, thundery night, a group of people are confined inside a large house. To pass the evening Lord Byron reads a horror story: Tales of the Dead. As he reads there is a knock at the front door of the house. The valet, Fletcher, offers to send whoever knocks away, but Byron insists he should be the one to greet them. Dr. Polidori thinks it could be one of Shelley's tricks, and Byron insists there is nothing to be afraid of as he opens the door to the Doctor, Graham, Ryan, and Yaz.

The Doctor promised a trip for her companions to visit Byron and Mary Godwin (soon to be Shelly) on the night that inspired Frankenstein: as long as they obey the rules including not snogging Byron. Once they have dried out they Fletcher leads them to Byron, Mary, Dr Polidori, and Claire Clairmont where they learn to dance, and the local gossip. The Doctor notices there is something wrong: Shelley's missing.

After the dancing finishes Graham needs the toilet and heads off to look for one, missing odd things happening including a broken vase, when painting that falls off the wall a skeleton hand appears, and an apparition of a woman. Elsewhere in the house Yaz finds Claire breaking into one of Byron's offices. looking for letters. As she's talking there's a flash of lightening and she briefly sees the apparition of a woman.

Alone with Byron the Doctor starts talking to him, and asks about Shelley. Byron tells her he is currently indisposed.

In another room Ryan is talking to Mary whilst an angry Dr. Polidori watches. When Graham returns, after not finding a toiler (Fletcher does off the use of a chamber pot), he and Ryan start joking and inadvertently offend Polidori who challenges Ryan to a duel. When Polidori goes to fetch his good he stops when he spots a skeleton hand entering the room that attacks Ryan. Fletcher destroys the hand as the Doctor and Bryron enter after hearing a commotion. The Doctor scans the remains and finds its from the 15th century.

Byron admits he may have a skeleton in his chamber, and the Doctor insists he shows it to her. Leaving Graham and Polidori behind Byron shows them his collection of artefacts, including a skeleton from the Battle of Morat. Yaz and Byron notice the skeleton is missing two hands. The Doctor wants to talk to Shelley, and Mary says he has a chalet on the banks or the river. She, Yaz, and Ryan, head off to find him, but as they descend the stairs they emerge back at the top of them again. At the same time the Doctor, Byron, and Claire, try to leave Byron's chamber but end up re-entering it instead.

When William, Mary's son, starts crying, and Mary is trapped on the stairs unable to get to him, Elise enters his room and finds the window wide open. When she closes it she looks out onto the lake and sees a lit up figure.

In a drawing room downstairs Polidori is sleeping when Graham sees a woman and a girl. Thinking they are staff in the house he thanks them for food that has been left on a table. When Polidori gets up and starts to sleepwalk Graham tries to wake him as he walks through a wall. The Doctor manages to talk to Graham who tells her about Polidori walking through a wall. In the chamber Claire alerts the Doctor when Polidori walks through a wall into the chamber.

The Doctor realises that Polidori, being asleep, can't see the perception filter that is affecting them. When the Doctor tests the wall she is able to push her hand into it. When Mary closes her eyes she is able to find the hidden door and make her way to William's room. When she pulls back the cover there is only a skull and a skeleton hand. When Mary screams she wakes up Polidori. With Polidori awake, and now able to get out of the room, the Doctor leads Byron, Claire, and Byron, back to the hallway. But when she tries to leave the house the Doctor run's into an invisible shield, preventing anyone leaving the house.

Back in a drawing room the Doctor surmises they are trapped in a form of panic room. She wonders what it is that has trapped them when Mary sees a lit up figure on the lake. As the figure flickers it also appears in a corridor, trying to break into the house. When it finally breaks in the Doctor recognises a lone Cyberman. The Doctor needs to find what the Cyberman is looking for first, and orders Yaz, Graham, and Ryan, not to follow her.

The Cyberman is looking for the Guardian. After killing Fletcher it hears baby William crying and find Elise trying to comfort him. After killing Elise the Cyberman leaves William on the floor and continues its search. The Doctor finds the Cyberman. This Cyberman is different: it's mask is broken, and rather than just the brain inside the mask is a whole human head. The Cyberman also does not have an active emotional inhibitor, allowing it to feel irritated by the Doctor.

Pointing out that the Doctor only told them not to follow her Yaz, Ryan, Byron, and Shelley, look upstairs for the Cybermen whilst Graham, Polidori, and Claire, look in the cellar. Hiding in the cellar they find the Guardian: aka Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelley is trying to protect the Cyberium after it entered his body after he found it in the lake. After entering him the Cyberium hid itself, and Shelley, from everyone else. The Doctor tells Shelley to let the Cyberman have the Cyberium, despite Yaz reminding the Doctor about Captain Jack's warning (see Fugitive of the Judoon) about not letting the lone Cyberman have what it wants.

The Cyberium resists Shelley and refuses to leave: the only way to get the Cyberium out is to kill the host. Using a Time Lord trick the Doctor is able to trick Shelley's brain into thinking it was dead. When he collapses the Cyberium leaves Shelley enters the Doctor. When the Cyberman threatens to destroy Earth in 1816 the Doctor has no option but to release the Cyberium to the Cyberman, who teleports away instantly and the weather clears up to become a bright summer's day.

After giving the Cyberman the Cyberium the Doctor has to fix the mess she created and stop the Cyberman from creating a new Cyber-army.

Regular Cast

  • Graham O'Brien: Bradley Walsh
  • Ryan Sinclair: Tosin Cole
  • Yasmin Khan: Mandip Gill

Guest Cast

  • Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin: Lili Miller
  • Lord Byron: Jacob Collins-Levy
  • Claire Clairmont: Nadia Parkes
  • Dr John Polidori: Maxim Baldry
  • Ashad (Cyberman): Patrick O'Kane
  • Percy Bysshe Shelly: Lewis Rainer
  • Fletcher: Stefan Bednarczyk
  • Elise: Sarah Perles

Original broadcast on the BBC

Channel Title Date Viewers Rating
BBC 1 (HD) 8. The Haunting Of Villa Diodati Sunday, February 16, 2020 7:10 PM - 8:00 PM 5.07M 80

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