The Eleventh Hour (Doctor Who)

The Eleventh Hour (Doctor Who)
203 – "The Eleventh Hour"
Doctor Who episode
Eleventh Hour (Doctor Who).png
The newly regenerated Doctor confronts one of the Atraxi.
  • Karen Gillan (Amy Pond)
Writer Steven Moffat
Director Adam Smith
Script editor Lindsey Alford
Producer Tracie Simpson
Executive producer(s) Steven Moffat
Piers Wenger
Beth Willis
Production code 1.1[1]
Series Series 5
Length 65 minutes
Originally broadcast 3 April 2010 (2010-04-03)
← Preceded by Followed by →
The End of Time "The Beast Below"

"The Eleventh Hour" is an episode of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was first broadcast on BBC One and BBC HD on 3 April 2010.

The first episode under Steven Moffat's tenure as head writer and executive producer, "The Eleventh Hour" is also the first full episode to star Matt Smith as the Doctor, and introduces Karen Gillan as Amy Pond and Arthur Darvill as Rory Williams. Amateur astronomer and The Sky at Night presenter Patrick Moore makes a guest appearance as himself.




The newly regenerated Doctor (Matt Smith) crash-lands his damaged TARDIS in Leadworth, in 1996.[2] He meets seven-year-old Amelia Pond (Caitlin Blackwood), who shows him a scary crack in her bedroom wall. The Doctor discovers it is a crack in time and space itself, briefly opening it to discover an Atraxi prison. The Atraxi send a psychic message to the Doctor that "Prisoner Zero has escaped". Then the TARDIS's cloister bell is heard; the Doctor races back to his machine, promising Amelia that he will be back in five minutes.

The Doctor returns, unaware that he's 12 years late. On searching the house, he is knocked out and wakes up handcuffed. He discovers his assailant is a much older Amelia, now going by the name Amy (Karen Gillan). Amy, having believed in the Doctor's return and created toys and stories about him, has been ridiculed by others in the village. She finds the Doctor's damaged sonic screwdriver, dodging Prisoner Zero, and they flee the house.

Shortly afterwards, the Atraxi arrive in orbit, alerted by the Doctor's arrival, and issue an ultimatum: if Prisoner Zero is not found, the Earth will be destroyed. Meeting Amy's boyfriend Rory (Arthur Darvill), the Doctor realizes that Prisoner Zero, a multiform (shapeshifter) that can take the form of any unconscious being it has come in contact with, is borrowing the forms of a nearby hospital's coma patients. The Doctor uses a laptop to gatecrash an online meeting of scientific experts and relay specific instructions to them.

The Doctor races to the hospital, and arrives in time to save Amy and Rory from Prisoner Zero. The Doctor reveals his plan: he has created a computer virus that will broadcast the number "zero" across the world. It is tied to Rory's phone, which contains images of the coma patients, identifying Prisoner Zero in whatever form it may take. Prisoner Zero reveals it has one more form that is not on Rory's phone. Prisoner Zero knocks out Amy and transforms into the Doctor and young Amelia, whom it was able to bond with during the Doctor's absence. The Doctor realizes that Amy can hear him speaking and manipulates her subconscious to remember the form of Zero she saw in the house, which forces Zero to reveal its true form; it is identified by the Atraxi and transported away. Zero again warns the Doctor that "the Pandorica will open... silence will fall." The Atraxi fleet leaves the Earth, but the Doctor calls them back and he tell them he is the Earth's protector.

As the Atraxi leave, the Doctor finds the TARDIS, and departs before Amy or Rory can catch up. The Doctor returns back to Amy's house, finding that another two years have passed. Though Amy is still upset with the Doctor, she readily accepts his offer to travel with him, as long as he can return her the next day. As the TARDIS dematerializes, the viewer is shown Amy's bedroom, where, alongside her toys and drawings of the "raggedy Doctor," is her wedding dress.


  • When the Doctor tries to signal the Atraxi ship, his sonic screwdriver is destroyed, having been malfunctioning previously in the episode. He acquires a new screwdriver of a new design, with a green light, from the TARDIS console as the episode closes. This episode also marks the first appearance of the new interior and exterior TARDIS designs. The TARDIS exterior features the logo of the St John Ambulance, last seen in 1965.[3]
  • When the Doctor scans the crack in Amelia's wall with his sonic screwdriver, he says 'Wibbley wobbley, timey wimey', a statement used by the Tenth Doctor in Moffat's previous episode "Blink"
  • While inspecting the crack in Amy's wall early in the episode, he mentions that she's "had some cowboys in here", repeating a line from the Moffat-written "The Girl in the Fireplace".
  • When the Doctor calls back the Atraxi, he refers to their threat to incinerate the Earth as illegal under the Shadow Proclamation, a space government organisation first mentioned in "Rose" and seen in "The Stolen Earth". He states that Earth is a fully established Level Five planet by the Proclamation's standards.
  • When the Atraxi are then bidden to check Earth media records and so confirm the Doctor's threat that the planet is protected, flashbacks from both the revived and classic series are shown. These include previous Doctors and various monsters, including the Sea Devils, Sontarans, Cybermen, Hath, Ood and Daleks.
  • At the end of the episode, the Doctor and Amy talk in front of the TARDIS's monitor, showing a waveform with the same shape as the crack in time and space shown earlier in the episode, and which is also seen in later episodes. The Doctor, noticing this, turns off the monitor before Amy sees the crack.
  • The series finale, "The Big Bang", revisits two scenes from this episode. The opening scene of young Amelia praying (to Santa) for help with the crack on her wall is reproduced, though in "The Big Bang" the TARDIS does not arrive. In "The Eleventh Hour", after the Doctor leaves Amelia, she packs a suitcase and waits outside for his return; in "The Big Bang", Amelia has fallen asleep waiting, but the Doctor does return and tucks her in bed, telling a tale to her subconscious to assure her help in the future.
  • In the first episode of Series 6, "The Impossible Astronaut", Amy swears to the Doctor on fish fingers and custard that they are not being threatened. This is a reference to the scene in this episode where the Doctor and Amelia are trying to find food he will like in his new body.
  • The "fish custard" is also mentioned in "The Doctor's Wife", when Idris asks the Doctor, "What are fish fingers?", and, "Do fish have fingers?"



This is the first Doctor Who episode written by Steven Moffat as lead writer and executive producer of the show. The title of the episode is both a reference to the introduction of the Eleventh Doctor and his being there nearly too late, the meaning of the phrase.[4] Moffat was inspired by a crack in his son's bedroom wall and developed the idea into the main story arc of the series.[5] He also drew inspiration from A.A. Milne's The House at Pooh Corner, specifically the scene where Tigger claims to like everything, but then proceeds to reject all food offered to him until he finally finds that he likes extract of malt, to create a similar scenario with the newly regenerated Doctor and young Amy.[6][7]


Karen Gillan and Matt Smith on set of "The Eleventh Hour"

Scenes with Amy Pond in her police kissogram outfit and the Eleventh Doctor still in the Tenth Doctor's outfit were shot in Cardiff in October 2009.[8][9] Some scenes based in the fictional village of Leadworth were filmed on the Cathedral Green, Llandaff, Cardiff, on 7 October.[10][11]


The young Amy, known as Amelia, is played by Karen Gillan's cousin Caitlin Blackwood.[12] Patrick Moore appears as himself in the video conference with a brief speaking part, in an appearance similar to that of zoologist Richard Dawkins in "The Stolen Earth". Arthur Cox previously played Cully in the 1968 Second Doctor serial, The Dominators.


Overnight figures placed "The Eleventh Hour" as the most-watched programme of the night. At about 8 million combined BBC One and BBC HD viewership, it exceeded the second most-watched programme, Casualty, by almost 2.5 million viewers. This high rating placed the episode in the top ten programmes of the week, ranking at number eight; all of the other top ten programmes are soap operas.[13] The final BBC1 rating was 9.59 million viewers. This placed the episode at number two for the entire week on BBC1 and number four for the entire week across all channels.[14] Once viewers to the BBC HD channel were included, the BARB figure rose to 10.08 million in total, placing the show at number three.[15]

International broadcast

This episode was first broadcast in the US on BBC America on 17 April 2010[16] and in Canada on the same date on Space.[17] The episode was viewed by almost 1.2 million on BBC America, making it their highest rated telecast at the time.[18]

The episode aired in Australia on 18 April on ABC1.[19] It could also be viewed on ABC's website iView two days prior to the television air date, on 16 April.[19] The show was broadcast two weeks after airing in Britain, as the BBC required a fortnight to edit down the Doctor Who Confidential: Cut Down. There was no room for the equivalent Doctor Who Confidential "Call Me the Doctor" due to the hour running time, but ABC holds the rights and has made it available on iView.[20]

The episode aired in New Zealand on 2 May on Prime. This episode was broadcast in South Africa on 15 November 2010 on BBC Entertainment and in France on 12 February 2011 on France 4.


Two teasers were shown on BBC Television for this episode prior to broadcast. One shows the opening scene, which features the Doctor hanging from the TARDIS doorway as it flies out of control over London with the sonic screwdriver between his teeth. A second shows the Doctor and a young Amy Pond with the TARDIS, explaining it is a time machine and telling her that he will be back in five minutes.[21]

DVD release

A Region 2 DVD and Blu-ray,[22] containing this episode together with "The Beast Below", "Victory of the Daleks" and special features was released on 7 June 2010.[23]


The Mail on Sunday reviewer Sinclair McKay called "The Eleventh Hour" a "deft first epsiode" that was "packed with one-liners and an even more fantastical feel than of late. But it had that old reassuring combination of intense Britishness, quirkiness and a sense of the macabre". He also praised Gillan's "winning" performance and Smith's adaption to the role, concluding, "Smith might turn out to be one of the best Time Lords of the lot".[24] Benji Wilson, for The Daily Telegraph, wrote "It was ridiculous but it felt right: mad, alien, brand-new but very old. A+ to the casting director. A+ to Smith". He also said that Gillan "110 per cent nailed it". Though he compared Prisoner Zero's low-budget CGI makeup to a "draught excluder", he said that Moffat "turned a weakness into a strength" by having Prisoner Zero take the form of humans.[25] Matthew Bell, in The Observer, said: 'From the moment he appeared, dangling from the doorway of his time machine, the new boy demonstrated that he can more than fill the shoes of his predecessor.' 'Matt Smith fights aliens. He wears tweed. He loves custard. He is the Doctor. And he might be more the Doctor than anyone who was the Doctor before.'[citation needed] Roland White for The Times wrote, "The previous doctor, David Tennant, smouldered his way across the space-time continuum. Smith is more of a geek-chic Time Lord...Smith is a much more quixotic, light-hearted Doctor than Tennant, who seemed to carry the cares of the universe on his shoulders".[26]


  1. ^ Doctor Who Magazine, issue 419, 4 March 2010
  2. ^ Doctor Who Magazine issue 421, page 24, 29 April 2010
  3. ^ "Four Decades of Police Box Modifications". The Mind Robber. Retrieved 24 June 2011. 
  4. ^ Wilkes, Neil (18 March 2010). "Video: Matt, Karen and The Moff talk 'Who'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 12 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "Call Me the Doctor". Doctor Who Confidential. BBC. BBC Three. 3 April 2010. No. 1, series 5.
  6. ^ "Doctor Who Team Hits New York". The Doctor Who News Page. 23 April 2010. Retrieved 23 April 2010. 
  7. ^ Milne, A.A. (1928). "In Which Tigger Comes to the Forest and Has Breakfast". The House at Pooh Corner. Methuen & Co. Ltd.. 
  8. ^ Lewis, Tim (6 October 2009). "Doctor Who new girl is spotted on the beat". Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales: Western Mail & Echo Ltd). 
  9. ^ "She fits the bill: Dr Who's new assistant makes an impression in police uniform". Hello magazine. 7 October 2009. Retrieved 25 December 2009. 
  10. ^ "Walesarts, Llandaff village, Cardiff". BBC. Retrieved 30 May 2010. 
  11. ^ "Doctor Who star Matt Smith on sonic screwdrivers, Steven Moffat and following David Tennant". The Daily Telegraph. 11 March 2010. Retrieved 26 June 2011. 
  12. ^ "Karen Gillan bags relative role". Teensay. 31 March 2010. Retrieved 24 June 2010. 
  13. ^ "Eight million watch The Eleventh Hour". The Doctor Who News Page. 4 April 2010. 
  14. ^ "Weekly Top 30 Programmes". BARB. 18 April 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  15. ^ "5.1 - Final BARB Ratings". Doctor Who Online. 12 April 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2010. 
  16. ^ "The Eleventh Hour". BBC America. Retrieved 3 March 2010. 
  17. ^ Frey, Warren (3 March 2010). "New Season. New Doctor. New Era". Space. Retrieved 16 October 2011. 
  18. ^ Seidman, Robert (25 April 2011). "'Doctor Who' Season Premiere is BBC America's Highest Rated Telecast Ever". Zap2it. Retrieved 27 July 2011. 
  19. ^ a b Geisler, Zennith (10 March 2010). "Doctor Who debuts on ABC's iView". CNet. Retrieved 11 April 2010. 
  20. ^ "Who Due in Two", The Wall of Lies, 123
  21. ^ "One Programmes - Doctor Who, Series 5, The Eleventh Hour". BBC. Retrieved 20 March 2010. 
  22. ^ "Matt Smith - First DVD release date". Doctor Who News Page. 2 March 2010. Retrieved 17 March 2010. 
  23. ^ "Doctor Who: Series 5, Volume 1 (DVD)". Retrieved 3 March 2010. 
  24. ^ McKay, Sinclair (4 April 2010). "Giant flying eyeballs, a kissagram for an assistant and maybe the best Doctor Who ever". Daily Mail. Retrieved 24 June 2011. 
  25. ^ Wilson, Benji (3 April 2010). "Doctor Who, BBC One, review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 June 2011. 
  26. ^ White, Roland (4 April 2010). "Doctor Who drops in from Planet Tweed". The Times. Retrieved 24 June 2011. 

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