Doctor Who (2005– )
18 user 9 critic

The Idiot's Lantern 

As the coronation of Elizabeth II nears, the streets of London live in fear. Faceless people are stolen from their homes in the night and something evil is lurking in the television.


Euros Lyn


Mark Gatiss




Episode complete credited cast:
David Tennant ... The Doctor
Billie Piper ... Rose Tyler
Maureen Lipman ... The Wire
Ron Cook ... Magpie
Jamie Foreman ... Eddie Connolly
Debra Gillett Debra Gillett ... Rita Connolly
Rory Jennings Rory Jennings ... Tommy Connolly
Margaret John ... Grandma Connolly
Sam Cox Sam Cox ... Detective Inspector Bishop
Ieuan Rhys ... Crabtree
Jean Challis Jean Challis ... Aunty Betty
Christopher Driscoll Christopher Driscoll ... Security Guard
Marie Lewis Marie Lewis ... Mrs. Gallagher


It's 1953, the Coronation year of HM Queen Elizabeth II, and the people of Great Britain huddle round their television sets to witness the great event. But behind the celebrations there are rumors of monsters on the streets, and the tormented Mr Magpie is hiding a strange and alien secret. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


A subplot in which Rose visits her aunt, who works on a game show for the BBC was deleted because Russell T. Davies feared that having the Corporation be too involved in the plot would make the episode difficult to take seriously. See more »


One of the programs on the new television set is "Animal, Vegetable, Mineral?". In 1953 this quiz show was broadcast on Thursdays. But, it's the eve of the coronation, which makes it Monday the 1st of June. "Animal, vegetable, mineral?" wasn't on that evening. See more »


The Doctor: Been burning the candle at both ends? You've overextended yourself, missus! You shouldn't have had a crack at poor old Magpie like that!
[the Wire electrocutes the Doctor through the portable TV]
The Wire: Hahahahaha!
The Doctor: [immediately fine] Rubber soles! Swear by 'em!
See more »


Featured in Doctor Who Live: The Afterparty (2013) See more »


Muffin The Mule
Written by Annette Mills
Performed by Annette Mills
See more »

User Reviews

You don't have to be idiots to enjoy this pretty fun episode.
1 December 2018 | by A_Kind_Of_CineMagicSee all my reviews

I think this episode is more unpopular than it deserves. I found a lot of it pretty good with a mixture of fun and some tougher drama which is well acted and with some spooky elements to enjoy.

It is certainly not the greatest story as the way the plot is carried out is not that convincing and the cries of "hungry" and "feed me" etc are a bit silly and annoying. The reactions of people and the authorities are also not that convincing.

On the plus side most of the episode is entertaining. I thought the boy was a well acted and endearing character and the 1953 Coronation setting was a nice aspect. The humour is very good in places and the subplot of the bullying father and struggles of his wife and son is quite affecting and touching. The faceless people are done well and are suitably creepy. Rose being attacked and the Doctor's reaction provide quite powerful moments. Maureen Lipman is perfect for her role as the TV face of the adversary despite it not being the best idea for depicting the threat. The idea of a being using a surge in TV viewing to gain power from a TV mast is perfectly OK but it is just not written in the most effective way by Mark Gatiss. The human drama, creepiness and entertainment are fine, it just falls short on being a believable story overall. It is an acceptable filler episode, flawed in terms of how the plot is developed but quite fun.

My rating: 7/10

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Official Sites:

Official site [UK]





Release Date:

10 November 2006 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (50 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital (Dolby 5.1)


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