New Series Episode 98:
The Great Detective


London in 1892 is protected by three mysterious detectives: the Silurian Madame Vastra -- the so-called “Lizard Woman of Paternoster Row” -- as well as her wife Jenny and the dimwitted Sontaran Strax. It is also home to a fourth enigma: the former traveller in time and space known as the Doctor. But, unlike Vastra, Jenny and Strax, the Doctor is no longer interested in defending the Earth...


Doctor Who had a long association with the BBC's Children In Need. In the past, the production team had contributed a variety of special material for the charity telethon, including two specially-filmed minisodes: first the untitled Children In Need (2005) which introduced David Tennant's Tenth Doctor and then, in 2007, Time Crash which paired Tennant with Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor.

In 2012, it was decided that the time had come for a third such special. Written in August by executive producer Steven Moffat, this would bridge the gap between the departure of Amy and Rory at the conclusion of The Angels Take Manhattan (to be broadcast in late September) and the start of the 2012 Christmas special, The Snowmen, in which the Doctor would be depicted as having become a reclusive figure. It would also remind audiences of the existence of his former allies -- Vastra, Jenny and Strax -- who had first appeared in A Good Man Goes To War the year before.

Mark Gatiss provided the introductory narration

The minisode, ultimately christened The Great Detective (a sobriquet often applied to Sherlock Holmes, but here referring to Vastra) was directed by Marcus Wilson, Doctor Who's producer. It was recorded on a street set constructed for The Snowmen in two sessions, on August 23rd and 31st, at BBC Roath Lock. Mark Gatiss (a frequent writer on Doctor Who who had also appeared in both The Lazarus Experiment and The Wedding Of River Song) provided the introductory narration.

The Great Detective was broadcast as part of Children In Need on November 16th, where it was introduced by Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman, who advised that a trailer for The Snowmen would air later that night. The 2012 edition of Children In Need wound up raising almost 27 million pounds.

  • Doctor Who News.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #37, Autumn 2014, “The Snowmen” by Andrew Pixley, Panini UK Ltd.

Original Transmission
Date 16th Nov 2012
Time t/b/a
Duration 3'09"
Viewers (more) 6.3m (12th)
· BBC1/HD 6.3m

The Doctor
Matt Smith
Madame Vastra
Neve McIntosh
Catrin Stewart
Dan Starkey
Mark Gatiss

Written by
Steven Moffat
Directed by
Marcus Wilson
Produced by
Marcus Wilson

Updated 6th June 2015