6.14. The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe

Series 6 - 2011

Writer: Steven Moffat
Produced by: Marcus Wilson
Director: Nick Hurran, Marcus Wilson (uncredited)
Music: Murray Gold


In space a ship is preparing to fire on Earth - just before blowing up. The Doctor is hanging on to a piece of the wreckage in space. A space suit comes towards him and into space. He lets go and flies after it.

On Earth, 1938, Madge Arwell is cycling home at night when she hears something crash into a field. She finds a man in a space suit. The man thinks he is blind; in reality the helmet is on back to front. Madge returns to her home and tells her son - Cyril - to tell his father that she has found a man in a spacesuit, and that she has borrowed a neighbour's car to take him into town to find a police telephone box.

In town Madge drives the Doctor back to the TARDIS. The helmet is still on, backwards. It's an impact suit, and it is still repairing the Doctor and so cannot be removed, leaving Madge to guide him to the TARDIS. The Doctor can't get to his key, and even thought the TARDIS has a multi-dimensional triple encoded temporal interface Madge is able to pick the lock with a hair pin. The Doctor thanks Madge, and says if there is ever anything he can do she just needs to ask - or make a wish.

When Madge returns her husband, Reg, is waiting for her, reading about the war. Three years later Reg is a pilot aboard a bomber, lost somewhere over the channel. Madge receives a telegram informing her that her husband's plane has been lost. Madge, and her two children, and preparing to go to their Uncle Digby's house in the country. On Christmas Eve they arrive at the house. Mr Cardew is supposed to be their to meet them. Lily keeps asking if their father will be there, and Madge keeps reassuring them that he will. Inside they are met by the new caretaker - the Doctor.

Whilst waiting for them the Doctor had been making some repairs; in the sitting room chairs light up and dance around, and in the kitchen there is now a tap for lemonade. The stairs still seem to be broken meaning they have to walk up to the next floor. Madge's room is a usual boring bedroom, but Cyril and Lily's room is full of toys, games and lights. No beds, but it does have hammocks.

It's too much for Madge, and she tells the children to go downstairs while she explains to the Doctor that she is upset because their father died, and she cannot tell them because she doesn't want Christmas to be associated with the time their father was taken away from them.

Lily and Cyril call out to their mum about what they have found in the main sitting room. There are more toys, a Christmas tree, and a giant blue present. Cyril notices a strange glow coming from the present, and he can hear strange voices. During the night Lily and Cyril sneak around the house. Lily can hear the Doctor's sonic screwdriver, and Cyril is more interested in the present. Lily finds the Doctor, and his TARDIS, in an attic room repairing electronics. In the main sitting room Cyril opens the present, and finds it empty. When he climbs inside he can see through it - into another world covered in snow.

On one of the trees he sees a silver bauble. When he touchess it starts to grow, and he quickly runs back to the house. The silver ball has cracked open, and something has escaped into a frozen forest.

The Doctor senses something's wrong and sees Cyril going in to the present and follows him, followed by Lily. The present is a dimensional portal, and time runs at a different rate. By the time they get into the forest Cyril has gone. The Doctor tells Lily he has been there many times before, but has never heard the trees so active. Something is wrong.

Back in the house Madge is looking for her children and notices the open present and goes in search of her children.

In the forest Cyril has found his way to a building. He opens the door and finds himself in a tall room with a wooden King sat on a throne. He walks uo stairs as the wooden King begins to wake.

In the forest a huge machine makes the ground tremble, and a voice tells Madge that the tree farm is private property. Three armed people in protective suits appear. The wool of Madge's coat is interfering with the equipment, and the newcomers find if difficult to tell the difference between wool and a sidearm. Droxil asks Madge why she is there, and if she knows what is about to happen, and Madge breaks down. Droxil tells Madge that the are from Androzani Major, and the year is 5345. Madge tells them she is from England, 1941. As their is a war on at home she is armed. As the three people have lowered their weapons Madge raises her gun.

In the tower Cyril is still climbing. He makes his way to the top and finds a wooden girl standing behind a chair. The Doctor and Lily find their way to the tower and see the wooden King. Looking around the Doctor realises the tower is not a building - it has been grown. The tower is a trap for people. The Doctor and Lily make their way to the top of the tower looking for Cyril. They find a locked door, and the sonic screwdriver has problems getting through the wood.

Inside the wooden queen comes alive. Cyril backs away on to the chair, and is crowned by the queen.

On board the platform Madge has the Androzanians at gun point. The woman handcuffs the men, and then offers to do a scan when Madge says her children are still out their. Droxil tells Madge that the trees are about to be harvested as Androzani trees are the greatest fuel source The trees are five minutes away from being melted down by acid rain. The acid rain warning is transmitted, and the crew are teleported away.

In the tower the King is making his way up the stairs as the Doctor and Lily get into the room where Cyril is still on the chair, unconscious. From the tower the Doctor and Lily can see lights across the forest, as though the lifeforce is leaving. The King and Queen are in the room, and are using Cyril to communicate, telling them that the trees are scared, and that the trees are evacuating the planet. The crown on Cyril's head is in fact a relay, and the trees are using him as a lifeboat.

The queen tells the Doctor that Cyril is weak - and not just because he is a child. The Doctor is also considered too weak. The queen says that Lily is young - and strong. Outside it begins to rain. Madge has been able to hear the Doctor, Lily and Cyril in the Androzani harvester, and she is able to move the platform over to the tower through the rain. She runs inside the tower and upstairs to her children whilst the Doctor examines the harvester. At the top of the tower he finds Madge sat in the chair, and she is taking the lifeforce from all the trees inside her head. Suddenly the top of the tower lifts off into the time vortex.

The Doctor asks the king and queen how they can get home, and they say Madge only needs to think about home. Madge gains control of the capsule, and thinks about her husband, Reg. Her memories are forming a psychic link that the capsule can follow. The memories change and she can see her husband's plane, lost over the channel. From the plane he can see a bright light...

The capsule crash lands outside the house. Lily realises what they had been seeing... her father's death. The Doctor leaves Madge alone to talk to Lily and Cyril, but rushes back to tell them to look outside. Outside is a bomber plane... and a very confused Reg Arwell.

Later the Doctor is preparing to leave, and Madge tells him no-one should be alone at Christmas, and that he should not let his friends think he is dead. He drops in on Amy and Rory, around two years after he left them, for Christmas.

Guest Cast

  • Madge Arwell: Claire Skinner
  • Amy Pond: Karen Gillan
  • Rory Williams: Arthur Darvill
  • Cyril Arwell: Maurice Cole
  • Lily Arwell: Holly Earl
  • Reg Arwell: Alexander Armstrong
  • Co-pilot: Sam Stockman
  • Droxil: Bill Bailey
  • Ven-Garr: Paul Bazely
  • Billis: Arabella Weir
  • Wooden King: Spencer Wilding
  • Wooden Queen: Paul Kasey
  • Stunt double for the Doctor: Gordon Seed, Will Willoughby
  • Stunt double for Madge Arwell: Tracy Caudle
  • Double for Cyril Arwell: Alex Watkins, Jacob Lane
  • Passers by: Aled Evans, Mandy Foister, Ceres doyle, Nerys Davies
  • Children: Rhys Edmunds, Sacha Evans
  • Double for Wooden King: Paul Kasey
  • Baby Lily: Harry Thomas
  • Double for the Doctor: Matthew Humphries

Original broadcast on the BBC

Channel Title Date Viewers Rating
BBC 1 (HD) 14. The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe Sunday, December 25, 2011 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM 10.77M 84

Click here to show repeat broadcasts on the BBC


  • Upper Boat Studios: Studio 2
  • Upper Boat Studios: Studio 3
  • Upper Boat Studios: Studio 6

Outside Locations

  • Beechenhurst, Speech House Road, Broadwell, Coleford, Gloucestershire
  • Field, Merthyr Mawr, Bridgend, Mid Glamorgan
  • Gethin Woodland Area, Merthyr Tydfil
  • Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, East Kirkby, Spilsbury, Lincolshire
  • Pen y Dre, Rhiwbina, Cardiff
  • Stradey Castle, Cwmbach Road, Furnace, Llanelli
  • Uskmouth Power Station, West Nash Road, Newport
  • Y Groes Rhiwbina, Cardiff