New Series Episode 82:
The Doctor's Wife


The Doctor receives a distress call from an old Time Lord friend, summoning him to a place beyond the universe. Clinging to the hope that there may still be Time Lord survivors, the Doctor pilots the TARDIS through a rift, only to find his time machine suddenly lifeless. Landing on a sentient planetoid called House, the Doctor discovers that he has been lured into a trap. But as House tries to devour the TARDIS -- and Amy and Rory along with it -- the Doctor finds an ally in Idris, a woman with whom he shares a deep, personal and unexpected connection.


An avowed Doctor Who fan, Neil Gaiman had first risen to prominence in the comic book industry, writing the seminal horror series The Sandman for DC Comics. Subsequently, Gaiman became a well-known novelist with works including Anansi Boys, American Gods and Neverwhere, the latter adapted from a television series Gaiman wrote for BBC2. Gaiman also scripted several movies, including MirrorMask and Beowulf, as well as feature film versions his novels Stardust and Coraline.

When Steven Moffat accepted the position of Doctor Who showrunner, Gaiman was one of the first writers he approached. Gaiman had long spoken publicly of his interest in contributing to the programme, so when the pair met in London on March 27th, 2008, it was virtually a fait accompli that Gaiman would accept Moffat's offer to write for Season Thirty-One, the first to feature Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor. Gaiman quickly decided that he wanted to spotlight the TARDIS, turning its environment into a deadly maze for the Doctor's new companion, Amy Pond. This soon led Gaiman to the notion of implanting the true consciousness of the TARDIS into a woman, with much of the story driven by her interactions with the Doctor. (This character would come to be called Idris, because it was an unusual but authentic name which resembled “TARDIS”.) Upon hearing Gaiman's ideas in April, Moffat was delighted with the adventure that soon gained the working title “The TARDIS Trap”.

House was an homage to the Great Intelligence from The Abominable Snowmen

In devising his storyline, Gaiman was keen to draw inspiration from Doctor Who history. One of his favourite stories was The War Games, leading to the use of the psychic containers seen in the ninth episode of that serial. The junkyard-like setting was suggested by the opening episode of 100,000 BC while House, the villain of the piece, was an homage to another disembodied antagonist, the Yeti-controlling Great Intelligence first encountered in The Abominable Snowmen. At this stage, House would be revealed as having grown from a spore which entered a bubble universe via one of the cracks in time which featured throughout Season Thirty-One. Gaiman intended the Doctor to glimpse the true House, an enormous mollusc-like entity concealed beneath the asteroid's mantle.

A key element of Gaiman's plot involved the appearance of a second TARDIS console room, inspired by the Fourth Doctor's brief adoption of an alternative control room in The Masque Of Mandragora and throughout Season Fourteen. It was already planned that a new console room would be introduced as part of the overhaul accompanying the debut of the Eleventh Doctor, and so it was agreed that the previous set -- as used by the Ninth and Tenth Doctors -- would be retained until after production had concluded on Gaiman's adventure.

Various changes had to be made as Gaiman's script developed. The title became “The House Of Nothing” and then “Bigger On The Inside” -- referring to the oft-used description of the time machine's inner dimensions. Gaiman was keen to explore the vast geography of the TARDIS -- something which had largely been avoided since the programme's return in 2005 -- and the reappearance of the swimming pool (deleted by the Doctor at the start of the story) was to have been evidence of House's manipulations. However, this sequence was removed when it was learned that actress Karen Gillan was unable to swim. Uncle, Auntie and Nephew were conceived as monstrous amalgams of various alien races, but the budget could not cover the extensive prosthetics necessary. As such, the physical changes to Uncle and Auntie were rewritten to be more subtle, while Nephew was made an Ood so that an existing costume could be pressed into service.

The makeshift TARDIS console was designed by a young fan via the children's programme Blue Peter

The makeshift console created by the Doctor and Idris -- inspired by the Third Doctor's travel via console to a parallel universe in Inferno -- was seen as an opportunity to engage young fans via the children's programme Blue Peter. Similar contests in the past had led to the design of the Abzorbaloff for Love & Monsters and the casting of John Bell as Creet in Utopia. This time, the episode broadcast on October 7th, 2009 challenged viewers to create their own version of the TARDIS console, using only everyday items.

Soon afterward, however, issues arose with “Bigger On The Inside”. Despite the amendments to Gaiman's script, it was clear that it would be an expensive production. Unfortunately, it was scheduled to be made as part of the seventh and final recording block for Season Thirty-One; it was initially intended to be the seventh episode of the year, and then the eleventh, leading into the season finale The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang. However, the budget would no longer accommodate such an ambitious episode, and rather than compromise Gaiman's vision, in December it was decided to defer “Bigger On The Inside” to Season Thirty-Two, replacing it with The Lodger. Nonetheless, the Blue Peter competition proceeded as scheduled, with Matt Smith choosing the work of twelve year-old Susannah Leah as the winning design.

In early 2010, Gaiman began the work of redrafting “Bigger On The Inside” to make it appropriate for the 2011 season, where it was planned to be the second or third episode. The most prominent change was the addition of Rory Williams to the TARDIS crew. Moffat had offered to write Rory out of Gaiman's episode in order to simplify the revisions, but the author enjoyed the character, and felt that his inclusion would make the scenes in the House-possessed TARDIS flow more smoothly since Amy would now have someone to converse with. Gaiman had to account for the different story arcs running through the two seasons, with discussion of the Doctor's apparent death in The Impossible Astronaut taking the place of references to the cracks in time. In particular, when Amy was sent back to the TARDIS to fetch the sonic screwdriver, she originally found her engagement ring -- a version of which ultimately appeared in The Lodger). Moffat also asked Gaiman to include Idris' cryptic message that “The only water in the forest is the river,” presaging the events of A Good Man Goes To War.

Neil Gaiman had to drop scenes in the TARDIS swimming pool and Zero Room due to expense

Despite the move to Season Thirty-Two, Gaiman had to continue to exercise caution with regards to the episode's budget. He hoped that the inclusion of Rory might mean that he could reinstate the sequence involving the TARDIS swimming pool, but this was now deemed too expensive. Similarly, Gaiman had to drop a TARDIS scene in which Rory becomes trapped in the Zero Room (previously seen in Castrovalva), and another involving House toying with Amy and Rory's perceptions as they traverse a hallway lined with mirror-like walls. In the TARDIS graveyard, one draft depicted Idris deactivating the chameleon circuits of all the other time machines, resulting in the sight of dozens of everyday objects suddenly metamorphosing into their default TARDIS state. And, at a late stage, Gaiman had to alter the story's opening moments. This would have seen the Doctor, Amy and Rory about to be sacrificed to rain gods on a primitive planet, before the arrival of the Corsair's psychic container scares the locals and affords the time travellers a chance to escape back to the TARDIS.

“Bigger On The Inside” was scheduled to be made as part of the first production block for Season Thirty-Two alongside Night Terrors. At this point, the two were intended to be the year's third and fourth episodes. The director would be Richard Clark, who had previously helmed 2007's Gridlock and The Lazarus Experiment.

Filming began on September 22nd and 23rd at Dragon Studios in Pencoed, where the TARDIS corridor sets had been erected. Plate shots were captured there on the 24th, while the main unit had relocated to Doctor Who's regular base at Upper Boat Studios for the material in Idris' cell. From September 27th to 29th, scenes on the asteroid surface were recorded at Taffs Well Quarry in Taffs Well. The last day there included the on-screen debut of the “junkyard” TARDIS console, with Susannah Leah present to witness her creation in action.

The rest of the work on “Bigger On The Inside” then took place at Upper Boat, running from September 30th to October 7th (with the exception of the 3rd) and primarily dealing with interior sequences on the asteroid together with material in both TARDIS console rooms. In addition, more footage in the asteroid junkyard was taped on the 4th, while the Doctor and Idris piloting their makeshift console was recorded on the 7th alongside some inserts. One additional day, October 12th, was then spent completing outstanding shots in the current TARDIS console room.

October 12th was the last day on Doctor Who for interim producer Sanne Wohlenberg

The 12th was also the last day on Doctor Who for interim producer Sanne Wohlenberg, who was returning to Wallander. The programme had now found a permanent producer in the form of Marcus Wilson, who had previously produced Taggart, Paradox, Whitechapel and True Dare Kiss, and who had also been a line producer and co-producer on Life On Mars.

In December, the running order for Season Thirty-Two underwent a number of alterations. It was already planned that the thirteen episodes would be split into two runs, to be broadcast in the spring and autumn. Moffat was concerned that the length of a Doctor Who season was inviting viewer fatigue, and thought that positioning a massive cliffhanger at the end of episode seven, leaving viewers in suspense for the entire summer, would bolster interest in the final six installments. However, he now worried that several of the stories making up the first half of the season -- particularly “Bigger On The Inside”, Night Terrors and The Rebel Flesh / The Almost People -- were too alike in their dark storylines and visuals, and their predominantly interior settings. As such, Moffat elected to bring the intended ninth episode, The Curse Of The Black Spot, forward to become episode three. This pushed “Bigger On The Inside” to the fourth position, while Night Terrors became the new episode nine.

Another change occurred in March 2011, when it was observed that calling the episode “Bigger On The Inside” immediately telegraphed the fact that Idris was the TARDIS. Cheekily, it was decided to rechristen the story The Doctor's Wife. This was a title originally concocted by former producer John Nathan-Turner, who posted it in his office as part of an otherwise legitimate list of titles for the then-forthcoming Season Twenty-One. Nathan-Turner had grown concerned about information being leaked to fans, and planned this subterfuge as a way of ferreting out the offenders. The title “Bigger On The Inside” was not completely discarded, however, as it was ultimately used as the name of the accompanying episode of Doctor Who Confidential.

  • Doctor Who News.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #29, 14th December 2011, “The Doctor's Wife” by Andrew Pixley, Panini Publishing Ltd.

Original Transmission
Date 14th May 2011
Time 6.30pm
Duration 45'48"
Viewers (more) 8.0m (14th)
· BBC1/HD 8.0m
· iPlayer 1.3m
Appreciation 87%

The Doctor
Matt Smith
Amy Pond
Karen Gillan
Arthur Darvill
Suranne Jones
Michael Sheen
Paul Kasey
Adrian Schiller
Elizabeth Berrington

Written by
Neil Gaiman
Directed by
Richard Clark
Produced by
Sanne Wohlenberg

1st Assistant Director
Mick Pantaleo
2nd Assistant Director
James DeHaviland
3rd Assistant Director
Heddi-Joy Taylor-Welch
Assistant Directors
Janine H Jones
Michael Curtis
Location Manager
Nicky James
Unit Manager
Rhys Griffiths
Location Assistant
Geraint Williams
Production Manager
Steffan Morris
Production Coordinator
Claire Hildred
Asst Production Coordinator
Helen Blyth
Production Secretary
Scott Handcock
Production Assistant
Charlie Coombes
Asst Production Accountant
Rhys Evans
Script Executive
Lindsey Alford
Script Supervisor
Caroline Holder
Camera Operator
Bob Shipsey
Focus Pullers
Steve Rees
Jon Vidgen
John Robinson
Camera Assistants
Simon Ridge
Svetlana Miko
Matthew Lepper
Assistant Grip
Owen Charnley
Sound Maintenance Engineers
Jeff Welch
Dafydd Parry
Mark Hutchings
Best Boy
Pete Chester
Ben Griffiths
Bob Milton
Alan Tippetts
Stephen Slocombe
Stunt Coordinator
Crispin Layfield
Supervising Art Directors
Stephen Nicholas
Karl Probert
Set Decorator
Julian Luxton
Production Buyer
Ben Morris
Standby Art Director
Ciaran Thompson
Assistant Art Director
Jackson Pope
Concept Artist
Richard Shaun Williams
Props Master
Paul Aitken
Props Buyer
Adrian Anscombe
Props Chargehand
Rhys Jones
Standby Props
Phill Shellard
Katherine Archer
Dressing Props
Martin Broadbent
Kristian Wilsher
Graphic Artist
Christina Tom
Julia Jones
Junkyard Console Designer
Susannah Leah
Petty Cash Buyer
Kate Wilson
Standby Carpenter
Will Pope
Standby Rigger
Bryan Griffiths
Standby Painter
Helen Atherton
Store Person
Jayne Davies
Props Makers
Penny Howarth
Nicholas Robatto
Props Driver
Medard Mankos
Practical Electrician
Albert James
Construction Manager
Matthew Hywel-Davies
Construction Chargehand
Scott Fisher
BBC Wales Graphics
Assistant Costume Designer
Caroline McCall
Costume Supervisor
Bobbie Peach
Costume Assistants
Jason Gill
Yasemin Kascioglu
Emma Jones
Make-Up Supervisor
Pam Mullins
Make-Up Artists
Vivienne Simpson
Allison Sing
‘Old Rory’ Prosthetic
Hybrid Enterprises
VFX Producer
Beewan Athwal
Casting Associate
Alice Purser
Assistant Editor
Becky Trotman
VFX Editor
Cat Gregory
Post Production Supervisor
Nerys Davies
Post Production Coordinator
Marie Brown
Dubbing Mixer
Tim Ricketts
Dialogue Editor
Paul McFadden
Sound Effects Editor
Paul Jefferies
Foley Editor
Jamie Talbutt
Online Editor
Jeremy Lott
Mick Vincent
Online Conform
Mark Bright
Ood created by
Russell T Davies
Original Theme Music
Ron Grainer
Casting Director
Andy Pryor CDG
Production Executive
Julie Scott
Production Accountant
Dyfed Thomas
Sound Recordist
Bryn Thomas
Costume Designer
Barbara Kidd
Make-Up Designer
Barbara Southcott
Murray Gold
Visual Effects
The Mill
Special Effects
Real SFX
Millennium FX
Peter H Oliver
Production Designer
Michael Pickwoad
Director Of Photography
Owen McPolin
Line Producer
Diana Barton
Executive Producers
Steven Moffat
Piers Wenger
Beth Willis

Working Titles
The House Of Nothing
Bigger On The Inside

Updated 5th July 2014