7.8. The Rings Of Akhaten

Series 7 - 2012/2013

Writer: Neil Cross
Series Producer: Marcus Wilson
Produced by: Denise Paul
Director: Farren Blackburn
Music: Murray Gold


A man, Dave Oswald, is walking down a street when a leaf is blown from a tree into his face. He stumbles into a road into the the path of an oncoming car. A woman, Ellie Ravenwood, pulls him back just in time. From a bus shelter the Doctor is watching. Sometime later, during a wet night, the man tells the woman he has something for her: the leaf - the most important leaf in history. Without it they would never have met. Around nine months later they have their first child. The Doctor is watching as the family grows - including their daughter Clara.

The Doctor still watches as Dave and Clara visit Ellie's grave. The Doctor can't work Clara out, but he knows one thing: she's not possible.

Back in the present day the Doctor returns to the house Clara is staying in as promised, and offers to take Clara wherever she wants to go. When asked outright where she wants to go Clara's mind goes blank, and tells the Doctor she would like to see something awesome. The Doctor takes her to see the Rings of Akhaten. After a few seconds the Pyramid of the Rings of Akhaten, a holy site for the Sun-Singers of Akhet, starts to glow yellow. Seven worlds orbiting the same all believe that all life in the Universe started at the Pyramid.

Clara asks to see it up close, and the Doctor materialises the TARDIS on one of the worlds in what appears to be a market, and the Doctor and Clara mingle with many different species from the local system. Clara tries some of the local produce - what appear to be glowing blue eggs which she is not keen on. The Doctor tells Clara that everyone is there for the Festival of Offerings, and event that takes place around every thousand years when the rings align. The Doctor wanders off and Clara runs into Dor'een, who starts barking at her. The Doctor comes to Clara's aid, and starts yapping back to Dor'een. The barks sounded bad, but Dor'een was asking Clara if she wanted to rent a moped.

Clara turns around and when she turns back the Doctor has gone. She goes looking for him, and is almost run into by a young girl. She asks if the girl is okay, but she runs off. Clara then meets two men who are looking for the Queen of Years. Clara follows, and catches up with, the young girl. The girl is frightened, but Clara puts her at ease. The girl asks Clara for help to hide. Three sinister figures teleport close to the girl, looking for her, and Clara says she knows the perfect box when they can hide.

Clara leans the girl back to the TARDIS, but it will not open for her. Clara thinks the TARDIS doesn't like her. The girl runs behind the TARDIS, and Clara follows her. The girl, Merry Gejelh, explains she is the Queen of Years, chosen when she was a baby after the last Queen of Years died. Merry is the vessel of history, and knows her people's every poem, and song. Merry has to sing a song to everyone, and to a God, and she is scared of getting the song wrong. After helping Merry overcome her fear Clara takes her to the two men who had been looking for her, and the catches up with the Doctor who is tucking in to one of the blue eggs.

In a temple, orbiting the sun, Rezh Baphix is singing a song to keep the Grandfather asleep. At the same time, in an amphitheatre, the Doctor and Clara sit with many other aliens to listen to Merry sing her song. The Doctor, reading from a programme, tells Clara they are singing to the Mummy in the Temple, known as the Old God, or the Grandfather. The song is a never ending song that feeds the God, and the song is handed over from chorister to chorister over generations. All around the people start to make offerings to feed the God. The people start to join in with the singing, but something goes wrong. A beam emits from the temple and starts to pull Merry towards it.

The Doctor, followed by Clara, goes to rent a moped from Dor'een to rescue Merry. Instead of currency sentimental gifts are traded; the more sentiment the more they are worth. The Doctor has nothing so Clara hands over her mother's ring. Soon afterwards they are pursing Merry across space. The space moped is quick, but not quick enough. The Doctor lands on the asteroid of the temple, and Merry is inside. Merry sees a mummy inside a glass case. It starts to awaken as the Doctor manages to use the sonic screwdriver to open the door to the temple.

Merry tells the Doctor to leave before the mummy awakens. As the Doctor holds the door open Clara talks to Merry. Merry tells them she got the song wrong and now he is awakening, and that they should leave before he eats their souls. As

Clara gets close to the case electrical energy traps her. The Doctor gets inside the temple as the door closes, and finds chorister Rezh Baphix still singing. The Doctor tells him there is nothing he can do to stop the mummy from waking, and Rezh Baphix stops.

The Doctor examines the case and tells Merry it was not her that caused it to wake. It was time. The figure wants to feed on the soul of the Queen of Years; Merry is sacrificing herself. The Doctor tries to convince her the mummy is not a God, just a vampire that feeds on souls. The ground starts to shake and Clara is able to free herself. Merry says it is the Vigil. If the Queen of Years is not willing to be feasted upon it is their job to feed her to Grandfather. The Vigil teleport into the temple. Using sound the Vigil throw Clara and the Doctor against the walls, and advance on Merry and lead her to the figure in the case. The Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver to fight back, and Merry runs back to Clara. Merry sings another song and a secret exit opens. Clara and Merry leave with the Doctor. The Doctor thought the mummy was the Old God, but realises that the mummy in the case is not the Grandfather - it was just acting as an alarm clock. The real Old God is starting to wake as the ground begins to quake.

The Doctor tells Clara to take the moped and Merry back to the planet whilst he stays to fight the waking god. Merry wants to help the Doctor, and she starts to sing a song. The rest of the crowd start to join in, and in the temple the Doctor can hear the song. The Doctor tells the Old God he knows what it really is - a parasite that feeds on people's emotions and memories of birth, joy, loss and of sorrow. The Doctor has many such memories and offers himself for the Old God to feed upon.

The Old God feeds, but the Doctor is too much. As the Old God stops the Doctor is left drained. Clara jumps back on the moped and heads to the Doctor. Clara shows the Old God the leaf that hit her father in the face. The leaf represents many moments of Clara's mother that were never lived; an infinite amount that is too much for the Old God to take.

The Doctor takes Clara back to Earth, and even manages to make it back to the same day. Clara remembers the Doctor being at her mother's grave and wants to know what he was doing there. The Doctor tells her that she reminds him of someone who died. As a parting gift the Doctor gives Clara her ring back; the people she saved wanted her to have it back.

Regular Cast

  • Clara Oswald: Jenna-Louise Coleman

Guest Cast

  • Dave: Michael Dixon
  • Ellie: Nicola Sian
  • Merry Gejelh (The Queen of Years): Emilia Jones
  • Rezh Baphix (The Chorister): Chris Anderson
  • The Mummy: Aidan Cook
  • Dor'een: Karl Greeenwood
  • Passers-by: Ryan Cloud, Debbie Cox, Zoe Alexander, Scott Stevenson
  • Double for the Doctor: Ian William George
  • Newborn Clara: Franklyn Lewis
  • One-Year-Old Clara: Poppie Grace Goldup
  • Eighteen Month Old Clara: Amira Roucliffe
  • Playground Passers-by: Victoria Thomas, Rhys Matthews, Sian Howells
  • Child: Oliver Davies
  • Four-Year-Old Clara: Cerys Anne Selby
  • Humanoid Aliens: Justin Beaver, Howard Howell, Ben Fido, Rhian Hatch, Mike Wendell, Tilly Harris, Patricia Dichler, William Jones, Andrew Hunter
  • Millennium Aliens: Dean Hennesey, Ian Hilditch, Darren Clarke, Rhiannon Ward, Azaria Frost, Kally Davies, Carolyn Jolliffe, Samantha Darling, Lisa Jones, Josh Green, Andrew Hunter, Mickey Lewis, Ian Hoyle, Jeremy Harvey, Meg Moussemenear, Sasha Latoya, Samantha Longville, Natie Marie Davies, Benjjamin Holmes, Nicholas Dunwell, Gwion Ap Rhisiart, Jack Ralls, Richard Husband, Sarah Anne Evans, Debbie Cox, Darren Swain, Luke Bailey, Patricia Dichler, Rhian Hatch
  • Choristers: Chester Durant, I-Kay Agu
  • Vigil: Jon Davey, Claudio Laurini, Matt Doman
  • Voice of the Vigil: Matthew Cox
  • Ten-Year-Old Clara: Emily Cooke
  • Stunt Double for the Doctor: Gordon Seed
  • Stunt Double for Clara: Dani Biernat

Original broadcast on the BBC

Channel Title Date Viewers Rating
BBC 1 (HD) 8. The Rings Of Akhaten Saturday, April 6, 2013 6:15 PM - 7:00 PM 7.45M 84

Click here to show repeat broadcasts on the BBC


  • BBC Roath Lock Studios: Studio 1
  • BBC Roath Lock Studios: Studio 2
  • BBC Roath Lock Studios: Studio 3
  • BBC Roath Lock Studios: Studio 4

Outside Locations

  • Beatty Avenue, Roath, Cardiff
  • Playground, Goldsmith Close, Newport
  • Rupert Brooke Drive, Newport
  • St Woolos Cemetery, Bassaleg Road, Newport