11.5. The Tsuranga Conundrum

Series 11 - 2018

Writer: Chris Chibnall
Series Producer: Nikki Wilson
Director: Jennifer Perrott
Music: Segun Akinola


The Doctor, Graham, Yaz, and Ryan, are helping the Doctor search through the junk planet Seffilun 27, part of a junk galaxy containing many other junk planets. During the search Graham thinks he has found what they are looking for, but it turns out to be a live sonic mine which goes off when they move.

The Doctor is the last to awake inside a hospital ship where she is helped by two doctors, Astos and Mabli. She can see Graham, Yaz, and Ryan, and the doctors are concerned they can't find their medtags. Without the medtags the doctors don't the necessary medical histories of the Doctor and her team. The Doctor, still disorientated and in pain, is keen to get back to the TARDIS. Whilst trying to find the exit she stumbles into another assessment room and meets General Eve Cicero, her brother Durkas, and consort (android) Ronan. The Doctor has heard of General Cicero - but the General has also heard of the Doctor.

In another room they meet a Gifftan male, Yoss, who is pregnant, and is close to being induced at the space station Resus One. As Mabli finds the Doctor and her team to get them back to their room the Doctor realises the floor is vibrating. The reason they can't find an exit is because they are on a ship heading away from Seffilun 27 heading toward Resus One. The ship had been in flight for four days before they awoke.

The Doctor is keen to speak to the pilot, and despite Astos's efforts she finds a plan of the ship and heads to the control room, which is empty. Astos explains that rescue craft, like the Tsuranga, are automated and remotely controlled by Resus One. On a screen the Doctor can see the route is taking them close to a disputed territory. Astos tells her there is nothing to worry about then something collides with the ship and breaches the shields. Almost immediately she can hear something inside the walls. When alarms start sounding the Doctor can see something being tracked, and it moves through the systems very quickly.

Astos gives the Doctor a comm-dot and they both set off to sides of the ship to investigate. Astos tells the Doctor not to frighten the other patients, or Mabli, who is only on her second tour. Oblivious to danger Mabli is busy giving adrenaline blockers to a very insistent Ronan for the General. Ronan thinks his sister is hiding something and is caught trying to hack into her medical records by Graham. 

Whatever got into the ship came in through the portside escape pod, which the Doctor finds has been jettisoned. In the starboard escape pod Astos sees damage and when he investigates he is caught inside when that pod is also jettisoned. The Doctor runs round to the starboard side and finds a small creature tearing apart and eating bits of the ship. When it sees the Doctor it snarls. When Mabli, Graham, Yaz, and Ryan, arrive the creature growls but continues eating parts of the ship - including the Doctor's sonic screwdriver when she tries to scan it (which is spits out - but it's drained of power).

As the creature returns to the ship's internals everyone returns to the control room. Mabli tells the Doctor each medical has an implanted lense that records everything they do, for training, lawsutis, etc. When she uploads footage from the lense to the computer she is able to use it to identify the creature - a Pting. Not much is known about them as they are agressive and cannot be contained due to their ability to eat through anything (although they are non-carnivorous). They also have toxic skin and the computer warns them never to touch a Pting.

The Doctor tells Graham, Yaz, and Ryan, to get everyone together in the assessment room whilst she and Mabil work out how to get rid of the Pting. The Doctor notices there is a faster route than the pre-programmed one, but it would take them through an asteroid field. The ship keeps sending data back to Resus One - and the Pting has been detected. Resus One will not allow the Tsuranga to dock if the creature is still on board. Resus One asks the Tsuranga to confirm the "infection". If confirmed Resus One would destroy the ship, so the Doctor hits Deny. Mabilt tells the Doctor they will only accept threee denies before destroying the ship anyway.

The Doctor meets everyone in the assessment room a gives the quick briefing about what's happening. Eve tells the Doctor she has met Pting before - they massacred her fleet. Although Eve doesn't know much about the Pting she does say it will head for the power next - and the ship is powered by an anti-matter drive. The Doctor tells Eve about the faster route back to Resus One, and Eve offers to help. Due to the stress Yoss's waters break, and he asks Graham and Ryan to be his doulas - birth partners. As Mabil leaves with Yoss she suggests that the Doctor should examine Eve.

The Doctor leaves Yaz and Ronan - the only person who could touch the Pting - with basic stun guns to guard the anti-matter drive. In the control room Eve tells the Doctor she is a neuro pilot. Durkas, an engineer, starts to create an interface for Eve, whilst the Doctor takes her to one site to examine her. Eve claims she is being treated for Corton Fever, but the Doctor realises Eve has pilot's heart, hence the need for adrenaline blockers. With no more blockers available one adrenaline surge could kill her.

As Durkas helps his sister link to, and start piloting, the ship the Doctor realises what the Pting wants. As the ship is re-routing, and the Doctor hits deny for the third time, Resus One notices and starts the timer for the bomb. In the drive room the Doctor finds and removes the bomb, and leaves it armed inside anb airlock. The Pting is attracted by the energy building in the bomb. As the Pting eats the bomb the Doctor locks the airlock as the bomb explodes. The Pting contains the explosion and the Doctor opens the airlock into space.

Back in the control room the Doctor finds Durkas has had to take over from his sister and is guiding the ship in safely, as Ryan and Graham help Malbi deliver Yoss's baby.

Regular Cast

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

Guest Cast

  • Astos: Brett Goldstein
  • Mabli: Lois Chimimba
  • Eve Cicero: Suzanne Packer
  • Durkas Cicero: Ben Bailey-Smith
  • Ronan: David Shields
  • Yoss: Jack Shalloo

Original broadcast on the BBC

Channel Title Date Viewers Rating
BBC 1 (HD) 5. The Tsuranga Conundrum Sunday, November 4, 2018 7:00 PM - 7:50 PM 7.49M 79

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