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New Series Episode 73:
The Lodger


A strange force affects the TARDIS, stranding the Doctor on modern-day Earth while Amy is trapped in the rapidly deteriorating time machine. The Doctor traces the mysterious influence to a seemingly ordinary home in Colchester, where the mysterious occupant of the top-floor apartment lures people up the stairs, never to be seen again. Fortunately, the downstairs tenant, Craig Owens, is advertising for a roommate. The Doctor answers Craig's ad -- and proceeds to turn the young man's life upside-down.


Although Gareth Roberts' first televised Doctor Who episode had been Season Twenty-Nine's The Shakespeare Code, this was not his first idea for a TV script. Earlier, Roberts had contemplated a story in which Rose Tyler and her mum, Jackie, become trapped in the TARDIS, forcing the Doctor to live with Mickey Smith. Roberts ultimately decided to use this idea for a comic strip in Doctor Who Magazine, and The Lodger was published in 2006. Doctor Who scriptwriter Steven Moffat recommended the tale to then-showrunner Russell T Davies, but by that point in time, Rose and Mickey were being written out of the series, so there was no possibility of adapting it for television.

Moffat did not forget The Lodger, however, and when he agreed to succeed Davies as executive producer of Doctor Who in 2007, he invited Roberts to write for his first season, suggesting The Lodger as a starting point. However, by the time Moffat and Roberts began serious discussions about the episode in September 2008, Moffat had other ideas he wanted Roberts to pursue. Roberts then began work on this alternative script; entitled “Death To The Doctor”, it was developed through to July 2009, only to be dropped at that point.

After starting The Lodger, Gareth Roberts worked on an alternative script entitled Death To The Doctor

In its place, Roberts suggested to Moffat that he revisit The Lodger. This was now particularly appealing because it could be written as a budget-conscious episode -- something that was always crucial late in the Doctor Who production slate. Furthermore, since it would involve the Doctor's companion (now Amy Pond) trapped in the TARDIS for most of the story, its filming could overlap that of another episode in case the shooting schedule needed to be compressed. Moffat gave Roberts the green light to transform The Lodger into a full television script.

In the comic strip version, the villains had been the alien Bandrigans, who were really a sidebar to the Doctor/Mickey shenanigans. For the TV version, Roberts knew he would need a more substantial threat. Because the narrative dealt with someone manipulating time and space, Roberts thought of the eponymous villain of Season Eighteen's Meglos. Moffat was amused by the idea of bringing back the little-loved Zolfa-Thuran shapeshifter -- the script would even see the Doctor admit to having forgotten their previous encounter -- and because the alien would be disguised as a little old lady, the episode became facetiously known as “Mrs Meglos”.

Unfortunately, two developments in early 2010 forced Roberts and Moffat to rethink Meglos' return. First, the final Tenth Doctor story, The End Of Time, introduced the alien Vinvocci, whose cactus-like appearance was similar to Meglos. Furthermore, Simon Nye's Amy's Choice, which would air earlier in Season Thirty-One, also featured extraterrestrials masquerading as pensioners. Happily, however, it had also been realised that there was more money available for Roberts' script than had originally been anticipated. With this in mind, Moffat suggested that Meglos be replaced with a grander climax involving a malfunctioning time machine and its metamorphosing Avatar.

Craig Owens replaced Mickey Smith as the Doctor's flatmate

Other changes to Roberts' script were less significant. The writer had initially included more scenes drawn directly from the comic strip version of The Lodger, such as the Doctor beating his flatmate Craig Owens (replacing Mickey Smith) in a first-person-shooter videogame by making peace with their intended targets, and the Doctor annoying the participants in a pub quiz by getting every answer right. One key scene that did survive was the Doctor joining Craig's football team. This very much played to Matt Smith's talents, since the actor had seriously planned a career as a professional footballer until a back injury ended this dream when he was 16 years old. There was originally a fourth victim of the Avatar, a middle-aged man named Martin who would leave behind a holiday magazine which would later serve as an additional clue that the Avatar is targetting people who want to get away. Craig's apartment was located on Aickman Road; this was an homage to Robert Aickman, author of numerous supernatural “strange stories”.

By the end of February, Roberts' script was known as “Something At The Top Of The Stairs”. It would replace Neil Gaiman's “Bigger On The Inside” as the eleventh episode of Season Thirty-One; budgetary issues had forced that story's deferral to the following year, where it would become The Doctor's Wife. “Something At The Top Of The Stairs” formed part of the seventh and final recording block for Season Thirty-One alongside Amy's Choice, under the direction of Catherine Morshead.

On March 5th, Matt Smith got to display his football prowess while taping the match between the Kings Head and the Rising Sun

Production began with the Aickman Road exteriors, filmed on Westville Road in Cardiff on March 3rd and 4th. The next day, Matt Smith had the chance to display his football prowess while taping the match which pitted the Doctor and his Kings Head team against the Rising Sun. The venue for these sequences was Cardiff's Victoria Park, which was also the location where the Doctor became separated from Amy and the TARDIS. The week ended at Lanelay Hall in Pontyclun, Llantrisant, which posed as Craig's workplace on March 6th. Around this time, the title of the episode reverted to The Lodger.

The rest of Morshead's shoot was confined to Upper Boat Studios, beginning with scenes in the rogue time capsule on March 8th. Material in Craig's flat and the hallway outside was then filmed from the 9th to the 12th, and from the 15th to the 20th; the TARDIS set was also in use on the 17th and 20th. This marked the end of filming for Season Thirty-One. Meanwhile, Roberts was still advocating for the episode to be called “Something At The Top Of The Stairs”, but there were concerns that this was too lengthy. In April, a compromise was attempted with “Don't Go Up The Stairs”, but in May, the title was finalised as The Lodger.

  • Doctor Who News.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #27, 16th March 2011, “The Lodger” by Andrew Pixley, Panini Publishing Ltd.

Original Transmission
Date 12th Jun 2010
Time 6.47pm
Duration 42'31"
Viewers (more) 6.4m (20th)
· BBC1 6.0m
· BBCHD 464k
· iPlayer 1.7m
Appreciation 87%

The Doctor
Matt Smith
Amy Pond
Karen Gillan
James Corden
Daisy Haggard
Owen Donovan
Babatunde Aleshe
Jem Wall
Karen Seacombe
Kamara Bacchus

Written by
Gareth Roberts
Directed by
Catherine Morshead
Produced by
Tracie Simpson

1st Asst Director
Kiaran Murray-Smith
2nd Asst Director
James DeHaviland
3rd Asst Director
Heddi-Joy Taylor-Welch
Nicola Eynon Price
Laura Jenkins
Location Manager
Gareth Skelding
Unit Manager
Rhys Griffiths
Production Co-ordinator
Jess van Niekerk
Production Management Asst
Claire Thomas
Production Runner
Siân Warrilow
Asst Production Accountant
Carole Wakefield
Script Editor
Lindsey Alford
Non Eleri Hughes
Camera Operator
Richard Stoddard
B Camera Operator
Ian Adrian
Focus Pullers
Steve Rees
Matthew Poynter
John Robinson
Camera Assistants
Tom Hartley
Jon Vidgen
Camera Trainee
Darren Chesney
Boom Operator
Dafydd Parry
Sound Maintenance Engineer
Jeff Welch
Mark Hutchings
Best Boy
Pete Chester
Ben Griffiths
Steve Slocombe
Bob Milton
Alan Tippetts
Stunt Co-ordinator
Crispin Layfield
Supervising Art Director
Stephen Nicholas
Assistant Art Director
Jackson Pope
Art Dept Co-ordinator
Amy Oakes
Production Buyer
Ben Morris
Set Decorator
Keith Dunne
Props Buyer
Catherine Samuel
Standby Art Director
Ellen Woods
Set Designer
Al Roberts
Storyboard Artist
James Iles
Concept Artists
Richard Shaun Williams
Peter McKinstry
Standby Props
Phill Shellard
Tom Evans
Standby Carpenter
Will Pope
Standby Rigger
Keith Freeman
Standby Painter
Clive Clarke
Props Master
Paul Aitken
Props Chargehand
Matt Wild
Dressing Props
Martin Broadbent
Philip Everett-Lyons
Art Department Driver
Tom Belton
Props Fabrication Manager
Barry Jones
Props Makers
Penny Howarth
Nicholas Robatto
Practical Electrician
Albert James
Construction Manager
Matthew Hywel-Davies
Construction Chargehand
Scott Fisher
Construction Workshop Manager
Mark Hill
Scenic Artists
John Pinkerton
John Whalley
BBC Wales Graphics
Title Sequence
Costume Supervisor
Bobbie Peach
Costume Assistants
Sara Morgan
Maria Franchi
Costume Trainee
Nikki Lightfoot
Make-Up Supervisor
Pam Mullins
Make-Up Artists
Abi Brotherton
Morag Smith
Unit Drivers
Sean Evans
Wayne Humphreys
Darren Crowlegroves
Assistant Editor
Becky Trotman
VFX Editor
Cat Gregory
Post Prod. Supervisors
Chris Blatchford
Nerys Davies
Post Prod. Co-ordinator
Marie Brown
Dubbing Mixer
Tim Ricketts
Sound Supervisor
Paul McFadden
Dialogue Editor
Darran Clement
Sound Effects Editor
Paul Jefferies
Jon Everett
On-Line Conform
Geraint Parri Huws
Jeremy Lott
Original Theme Music
Ron Grainer
Casting Director
Andy Pryor CDG
Production Executive
Julie Scott
Production Accountant
Ceri Tothill
Sound Recordist
Bryn Thomas
Costume Designer
Ray Holman
Make-Up Designer
Barbara Southcott
Murray Gold
Visual Effects
BBC Wales Graphic Design
Special Effects
Real SFX
Jamie Pearson
Production Designer
Tristan Peatfield
Director Of Photography
Simon Archer
Line Producer
Patrick Schweitzer
Executive Producers
Piers Wenger
Beth Willis
Steven Moffat

Working Titles
Mrs Meglos
Something At The Top Of The Stairs
Don't Go Up The Stairs

Updated 15th July 2014