The Name of the Doctor

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239 – "The Name of the Doctor"
Doctor Who episode
Official Poster from the BBC Website.
Writer Steven Moffat
Director Saul Metzstein
Script editor John Phillips
Producer Denise Paul
Marcus Wilson (series producer)
Executive producer(s)
  • Steven Moffat
  • Caroline Skinner
Incidental music composer Murray Gold
Series Series 7
Length 45 minutes
Originally broadcast 18 May 2013 (2013-05-18)
← Preceded by Followed by →
"Nightmare in Silver" "The Night of the Doctor" and "The Last Day" (mini episodes)
"The Day of the Doctor"

"The Name of the Doctor"[1] is the thirteenth and final episode of the seventh series of the British science-fiction drama Doctor Who and was broadcast on 18 May 2013 (2013-05-18). It was written by Steven Moffat and directed by Saul Metzstein.

The episode stars Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor and Jenna-Louise Coleman as Clara Oswald. It also features the return of Alex Kingston as River Song, Neve McIntosh as Madame Vastra, Dan Starkey as Commander Strax, Catrin Stewart as Jenny and Richard E. Grant as the Great Intelligence.[2] The episode also features new monsters called the Whisper Men.[3]


Mini-episodes and supplementary material

"She Said, He Said" is a mini-episode that acts as a prelude to "The Name of the Doctor", in which the Doctor and Clara each have a monologue about how little they know about each other and that they discovered each other's secret at Trenzalore. It was released on 11 May 2013 (2013-05-11) on BBC Red Button and online. Viewers using Red Button were able to access the prologue between 7:40 until midnight every evening, until "The Name of the Doctor" aired on 18 May 2013 (2013-05-18).[4]

A second mini-episode, entitled "Clarence and the Whisper Men", depicts the imprisoned Victorian murderer Clarence DeMarco being threatened by the Whisper Men (whom he believes to be a figment of his deranged imagination) into learning a set of space-time coordinates - promising him, in return, a "long, full life", though one overshadowed by his fear of them.

Also released to promote the episode were three "Strax Field Reports", in the first of which, subtitled "The Name of the Doctor", Strax informed the Sontarans of a great battle predicted to occur and admitting suspicions that it had to do with the Doctor's greatest secret. He informed Sontar that the operation was called "The Name of the Doctor".[5] The second, subtitled "A Glorious Day Is Almost Upon Us...", Strax discussed a 'glorious day' in which death was likely.[6] The final field report — "The Doctor's Greatest Secret" — discussed the cliffhanger, commenting that this new Doctor had the appearance of a warrior.[7] This was the only field report released after the episode.


In 1893, the Paternoster Gang (Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint, and Commander Strax) are given information concerning the Doctor by Clarence DeMarco, in return for a stay on his execution. They use soporific drugs to bring themselves, River Song, and Clara Oswald across space and time to a dream realm as a "conference call". Vastra repeats the man's words: "It is a secret he will take to the grave, and it is discovered." She reiterates the prophecy about the Doctor's name on the planet Trenzalore ("The Wedding of River Song"), as well as showing the planet's space-time coordinates. During their conference, strange faceless humanoids called Whisper Men attack the gang; River shocks the others to wake them out of the dream to save themselves.

Clara awakes in contemporary London to find the Doctor visiting her for their weekly outing. Clara tells him the events from the conference call; the Doctor, deeply shocked and disturbed, decides that he must go to Trenzalore to save his friends, even though visiting the location of his own grave is dangerous for a time traveller. The TARDIS resists the Doctor's efforts to land on Trenzalore, but they eventually arrive after the Doctor forces it into a crash landing. The planet is covered with tombstones, the result of a great war, according to the Doctor, while a future version of the TARDIS (having deteriorated and grown to enormous size due to its failing transdimensional circuits) stands above the graveyard. The duo are attacked by Whisper Men. River, still telepathically linked to Clara but apparently unseen by the Doctor, helps direct the two to an escape route, disguised as her own grave, that leads to the giant TARDIS. River also reveals that she died saving the Doctor, and is now only the echo saved by his tenth incarnation in "Forest of the Dead". Vastra, Jenny and Strax awaken by the structure and are surrounded by Whisper Men and meet their controller, the Great Intelligence, in the form of Dr. Simeon from "The Snowmen".

The Doctor and Clara arrive at the TARDIS, and the Great Intelligence threatens to kill the Doctor's allies unless he says his true name to open the TARDIS doors. The Doctor refuses, but River — still only visible to Clara — says the Doctor's true name (unheard by the viewer) and opens the doors. Inside, a pulsating column of light representing the Doctor's traversal of time and space sits where the console would usually be. Crossing his own time stream sends the Doctor into convulsions. The Great Intelligence sees the light as an open wound in the fabric of space and time, and enters it in order to undo the Doctor's past as revenge for all the defeats it has been dealt. The Doctor warns that this will prove fatal to the Intelligence, but it sees its own death as a peaceful release, while the Doctor will be forced to suffer. The Great Intelligence and its Whisper Men disappear into the timeline, and Vastra notices that the stars in the sky are going out as the positive effects of the Doctor's travels are nullified by the Intelligence's interference. Jenny and Strax both disappear.

Clara, who has had recollections of the erased timeline from "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" due to the telepathic link with the TARDIS, realises that she has helped the Doctor in other places in time and space ("Asylum of the Daleks" and "The Snowmen"). She decides to enter the column of light to restore the Doctor's timeline by preventing all the damage the Great Intelligence is trying to deal. The Doctor and River try to stop her, but she calls back "Run, you clever boy, and remember me" before disappearing into the light. Clara is seen falling through space and time, and appearing throughout the Doctor's past incarnations. She saves the various incarnations of the Doctor but most of them did not notice her, except for the First Doctor - suggesting he should steal a different TARDIS because although its navigation system is "knackered" he'll have "more fun" — and the Eleventh, in the lives he has previously encountered.

The Doctor, Jenny, Strax, and the universe are restored to normal. The Doctor prepares to save Clara, instructing the others to get away in the TARDIS in case he fails to return, but River yells at him to stop, as it is perilous for him to enter his own time stream. The Doctor finally reveals that he could hear, see, and even touch River all along, but did not acknowledge it because it was too painful for him, saying that she was an "echo" just like Clara. Only the Doctor can see River in the room and they share a passionate kiss, before River asks for the Doctor's goodbye to be spoken as if they will see each other again, which the Doctor grants her. But she does point out that she was linked to Clara, and since she's still here Clara must still be alive. After River fades, the Doctor enters the column of light to save Clara.

Clara lands in a cavernous place where she sees several previous incarnations of the Doctor running past her. Unseen, the Doctor calls out to her, informing her that she is caught in his timeline, which is now collapsing in on itself since he is inside it. He provides her with the leaf that was responsible for her existence ("The Rings of Akhaten") from his memories to guide her to him. Reunited, the two spot another figure in the shadows which Clara does not recognise from the Doctor's past. The Doctor tells her that it is yet another version of himself, but not as "The Doctor". He explains that his chosen name is a promise he made to himself, and that the stranger is his secret: "The one who broke the promise". Clara suddenly collapses from exhaustion, and as the Doctor picks her up the stranger addresses the Doctor, saying "What I did, I did without choice... in the name of peace and sanity", to which the Doctor replies angrily "But not in the name of 'The Doctor'." As the Doctor carries Clara away, the stranger turns around to reveal an elderly bearded man (played by John Hurt); an on-screen caption identifies him as 'The Doctor'...


Imagery of the Doctor's prior incarnations is used during scenes in which Clara and the Great Intelligence interact with the Doctor. Footage of the First (from The Aztecs), Second, Third (both from The Five Doctors), Fourth (The Invasion of Time), Fifth (Arc of Infinity), and Seventh (Dragonfire) Doctors was shown. Stunt doubles were used for some other brief appearances, including the Sixth Doctor walking past Clara while she is in a corridor, and the Eighth Doctor who can also be seen[citation needed] moving in front of Clara just before she sees the Second Doctor. The Ninth Doctor can also be seen running past her in the Doctor's time stream.[8] The opening scene also includes a representation of Susan Foreman and reference to the Doctor's original departure from Gallifrey (as a globed city, previously seen in "The Sound of Drums", and later seen destroyed in The End of Time).

Audio of the First (from An Unearthly Child and The Web Planet), Second (from The Moonbase), Third (from The Time Monster), Fourth (from Genesis of the Daleks), Fifth (from The Caves of Androzani), Sixth (from The Ultimate Foe), Ninth (from "The Parting of the Ways"), Tenth (from "Voyage of the Damned"), and Eleventh (from "The Pandorica Opens") Doctors is also heard.

The Great Intelligence says that the Doctor has been cruel several times, talking about the leader of the Sycorax (whom the Tenth Doctor kills in "The Christmas Invasion"), Solomon the trader (whom the Eleventh Doctor sent to his death in "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship"), the Daleks, and the Cybermen. The Great Intelligence also states that the Doctor will be known as the Valeyard before the end of his life. The Valeyard appeared in the 1986 serial The Trial of a Time Lord, where he is described as an amalgamation of the darker sides of the Doctor's nature, somewhere between his twelfth and final incarnations.[9] Vastra mentions the Doctor dying on Androzani, a reference to The Caves of Androzani, in which the Fifth Doctor regenerates.


Lead writer Steven Moffat stated that he wanted to have a new monster in the finale, after the series had seen the reappearance of old monsters such as the Ice Warriors, Cybermen, and Daleks. The idea of the Whisper Men came from "the thought of stylish, whispering, almost faceless creatures" which seemed frightening and appropriate for "an episode that looks forward and back".[3]


On 12 May 2013, a week before the official premiere of "The Name of The Doctor", it was announced that 210 Doctor Who fans in the USA had received their Blu-ray box set of the second half of the seventh series early due to a production error.[10][11][12][13] After successfully requesting that they not reveal the plot, the BBC sent the recipients copies of an interview with the cast.[10][11][12][13] Moffat later complimented the "210 of them, with the top secret episode in their grasp – and because we asked nicely, they didn’t breathe a word."[14]

Broadcast and reception

"The Name of the Doctor" received overnight ratings of 5.46 million viewers on BBC One.[15] When viewers who watched the episode later on were taken into account, the figure rose to 7.45 million, making Doctor Who the third most-watched programme of the week on BBC One.[16] The episode received an Appreciation Index of 88.[17]

The episode received positive reviews. Mark Snow of IGN gave the episode 9.1/10, praising the final conversation between the Doctor and River Song, as well as the revelation about Clara; however he noted that the Great Intelligence was "a little underwhelming" and "not very threatening", and that while the Whispermen impressed initially, they did not "[make] a great villain."[18] Michael Hogan of The Daily Telegraph said that the episode was "even better" than the previous two. He noted that it was "momentous, moving and thrilling". However, he also noted that the episode had "a tad too much clunking exposition, the odd spot of creaky CGI and some unconvincing metaphors about soufflés and leaves." Despite this, he called it a "breathless, brilliant finale".[19] Some advance coverage of the story assumed the Doctor's name would actually be revealed in the episode.[20]

Home media

As well as being released on DVD and Blu-ray in a box set alongside the rest of the Series 7 episodes on 28 October 2013, the episode was announced as being a part of a limited edition 50th Anniversary Collection on 23 July 2014. This special DVD and Blu-ray box set was released on 8 September 2014.[21]


  1. "The Name of the Finale". British Broadcasting Corporation. 19 April 2013. Retrieved 19 April 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "FIRST LOOK: The Vigil and the Whispermen". 26 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Steven Moffat on the Finale, New Monsters and More!". BBC. 27 April 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Jones, Paul (3 May 2013). "Doctor Who finale prequel starring Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman to screen via BBC Red Button". Radio Times. Retrieved 8 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Strax Field Report: The Name of the Doctor". BBC. 16 May 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Syrac Field Report: A Glorious Day Is Almost Upon Us..." BBC. 18 May 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Strax Field Report: The Doctor's Greatest Secret". BBC. 24 May 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "The Name of the Doctor Past References". The Doctor Who Site.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Johnston, Rich (18 May 2013). "Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: The Name Of The Doctor". Retrieved 19 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Doctor Who Official". 12 May 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Production error in US means DW bluray shipped early. Let's hope no one spoils it for those who want to enjoy it together on Sat. Please RT". 12 May 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 "BBC America Official". 12 May 2013. Retrieved 13 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. 13.0 13.1 Rigby, Sam (12 May 2013). "'Doctor Who' finale 'The Name of the Doctor' leaked in US error". Digital Spy. Retrieved 29 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Moffat Thanks Fans for not Spoiling Finale".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Golder, Dave (19 May 2013). "Doctor Who "The Name Of The Doctor" Overnight Ratings". SFX. Retrieved 19 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Top 30 Programmes". Broadcasters' Audience Research Board. Retrieved 27 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Name of the Doctor AI: 88". Doctor Who News Page. 20 May 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Snow, Mike (18 May 2013). "Revelations, secrets and show-shaking twists". IGN.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Hogan, Michael (18 May 2013). "Doctor Who: The Name of the Doctor, BBC One, review". The Telegraph.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Ryan, Benjamin (18 May 2013). "Doctor Who? Finally an Answer".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Doctor Who: 50th Anniversary DVD Collection". Doctor Who TV. Retrieved 23 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links