Can You Hear Me? was the seventh episode of series 12 of Doctor Who.

It extended on the ongoing story arc of "the Timeless Child" a bit further, by showing the Doctor in the middle of her vision previously seen in Spyfall: Part Two.

The episode touched on the subject of mental health, which prompted the inclusion of a BBC Action Line tag at the end of the episode upon its original broadcast.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

What connects the nightmares of a young girl from 1380 Aleppo to strange happenings in the present day? Who is the shadowy figure who appears in the night? And what have they got to do with a young woman in the far future, trapped in an impossible prison? Time catches up with the Doctor's friends, whose wants and dreams are set on colliding. They must now embark on a mission that will draw out their innermost fears, to be confronted.

Plot[edit | edit source]

"Can you hear me?", a woman's voice asks.

In Aleppo, Syria in 1380, a young woman called Tahira is chased through the city. Knocking on a door, an older woman called Maryam lets her back in. Tahira later explains that she has been stealing from local merchants in a misguided attempt to improve her mental wellbeing. As Maryam sends her to sleep, Tahira worries about taking precautions to protect the others from things that attack in the night, but Maryam enforces that they are not real. That night, something large and hairy with huge claws grabs Maryam as people panic. The creature approaches Tahira but she does not seem to be surprised.

In Sheffield, 2020, the Thirteenth Doctor lands her TARDIS outside Yaz's block of flats. The Doctor confirms that she has landed at the exact right time and tells Yaz, Ryan, and Graham to reconvene the next day while she does some work on her own. Realising she has landed 77 minutes late, Yaz rushes out, followed by the others. As the Doctor considers hopping forward in time to cut out waiting, the TARDIS lights cut out to the sound of a snarl. As this happens, a bald man briefly appears in the TARDIS, then disappears as the lights return. The Doctor tracks the noise to Aleppo and decides to investigate.

In the Khans' flat, Yaz enters to find her sister Sonya alone - their parents had left for a trip hours ago. Sonya surprises Yaz with having learnt to cook while she was gone and the two hug.

Meanwhile, Ryan approaches another flat. After undoing several locks on the door, Tibo answers, surprised that Ryan is talking to him after months of silence. Although he is not back for long, Ryan uses the offer of chips to enter the flat.

That night, Graham hosts a game of cards with his friends Gabriel and Fred. Graham wins easily, having had time to practice while away. Graham explains that he has been away on cruises and that travelling has helped both his health and coping with the loss of Grace.

The Doctor lands in Aleppo, disappointed that she does not have her friends to educate. She realises she is in Bimaristan, one of the oldest hospitals in the world that focused on early mental health treatment. Hearing Tahira crying in a nearby room, the Doctor visits her. The Doctor explains that the creatures took everyone except her but there is still one around. It drops down from the ceiling, snarls at the Doctor, then runs away, seemingly disappearing; even the sonic screwdriver picks up no trace of it.

Graham prepares another game of cards, but as he does so, he receives a strange vision. Seeing a white-haired woman in chains between two colliding planets, the owner of the mysterious voice, she begs to Graham by name for help.

Meanwhile, Ryan plays a FIFA video game with Tibo. After winning the match, he goes to make tea and is disturbed by how his friend has let his flat go to waste. Tibo admits he has had a hard time recently. Confiding in Ryan, he explains he has been having twisted, recurring nightmares featuring one man - a man who also has been appearing in and around his room at night. Tibo asks Ryan to sleep over for the night.

As Yaz and Sonya sit down to eat, Yaz explains she has been travelling and was in Gloucester recently when an incident happened, among other things. Meanwhile, Sonya has been sacked from her third customer service job. Yaz tells Sonya that they do not need to keep marking the event she is there for with an anniversary dinner, but they carry on. Later, as Yaz falls asleep in front of a film despite promising not to, Sonya thinks back to calling someone for help and Yaz dreams of a policewoman standing by a car in the countryside. She wakes suddenly only to see the man who appeared in the TARDIS. He disappears again.

In Tibo's flat, the same man materialises in Tibo's bedroom. Detaching his fingers, the man levitates them over to Tibo where one settles in his ear and begins sucking things out of his head. Ryan wakes up from the sofa and runs over to the man, but he disappears with Tibo in tow.

The Doctor calms Tahira as she realises the creatures must have been deliberately attacking the hospital. Realising the other patients must have been taken, Tahira explains she has been in the hospital for a few weeks, providing safety as her family was killed when she was seven years old. As she talks, the Doctor's phone rings with a call from Ryan. Explaining his situation, calls also come through from Yaz and Graham. As she and Tahira leave, the Doctor notices the fur of one of the creatures left behind in the scraped stone.

Later, the Doctor introduces Tahira to her friends as the TARDIS inspects the hair. She argues with it as it insists that the fur does not exist as the creatures it came from will never exist either. Ryan and Yaz realise they have met the same strange man but Graham explains his vision was from a woman. Wanting to visit the planets that the woman was stuck between, she makes Graham wear a headpiece to connect to the TARDIS' telepathic circuits. Graham focuses on the image and the TARDIS takes off.

The group lands on a space station in deep space in the distant future - completely different to what Graham saw. The Doctor describes the station as being in geostationary orbit in an area that is no longer populated just as the main control area lights up, with screens showing what Graham saw in his vision. The Doctor realises it shows two planets in the middle of mutually colliding, but something in the middle is stopping them. As the Doctor finds a tiny geo orb locked between the planets, the voice in Graham's head tells him that the woman is trapped in there.

Meanwhile, Yaz has found an area full of fingers, which the Doctor discovers are broadcasting to the trapped woman. As a piece of technology descends from the ceiling, the Doctor figures out the answer: a quantum fluctuation lock, changing its combination trillions of times a second, keeping the woman trapped, fed by the signal from the fingers. As they discuss this, Tahira discovers another area, full of the imprisoned people that were taken by the bald man, sleeping - including Tibo. At that moment, the man appears with the creatures that attacked Tahira, which he names the Chagaskas, which he claims to have created from their worst fears. However, they cannot go any further than that before he fires his fingers at the group.

Yaz finds herself on the long road where the policewoman was, with the voice of Sonya telling her how weak she is. In reality, she is dreaming and still trapped on the space station along with her friends. Ryan's dream sees him surrounded by flames, facing an elderly man who he realises is Tibo. Tibo says he has been waiting his whole life for Ryan to return as the planet burns, with the Dregs he encountered on Orphan 55 nearby. Meanwhile, Graham's dream finds himself on an IV drip in the hospital, and his doctor is Grace. Grace states that his cancer has returned and he only has a few hours left. She asks him why he did not save her life as he begs her to let him try again.

The Doctor, meanwhile, has not been affected as she figures out how to break the quantum lock with her sonic and TARDIS. The man approaches her and says that his original name is Zellin. The Doctor denies this, saying that Zellin was from another universe and thought to be a god, but he gladly takes the praise and explains that, being immortal, he has been spending his time playing a game with the universe. Having the power to mould molecules to his will, he has been using this to extract nightmares from humans, knowing that they will always have their minds subconsciously attacking themselves. As he talks, an alarm sounds, indicating that the Doctor has set the trapped woman free. However, Zellin reveals that he lured the Doctor there specifically to free the woman, a fellow immortal named Rakaya. To explain their ploy, Rakaya shows the Doctor a vision of their story.

Rakaya explains that after descending onto this universe, Zellin and her came up with a game when discovering two planets, to see which could get one of the planets destroyed first. Although the two planets waged war against each other, they eventually turned on the so-called gods, trapping Rakaya between the colliding planets for eternity. The Doctor wakes up, having been shackled with her friends. Zellin thanks her for freeing Rakaya for him and the two immortals turn their power towards Earth, and the source of all of Zellin's nightmares, as another finger flies at the Doctor.

With Zellin and Rakaya landing on a normal street on Earth, the Doctor dreams about her largest mystery - hearing the Master's story of the Timeless Child again, but this time picturing herself in her vision. She jumps awake and summons the sonic screwdriver to her hand, freeing herself followed by all her friends and the other innocents. With her friends awake, the Doctor sonics the fingers to follow their bio-organic code as Ryan goes to wake up Tibo. Meanwhile, the Doctor realises that the Chagaskas did not attack Tahira because they are the manifestation of her nightmares. Understanding that she cannot defeat two immortals, the Doctor works on a plan.

On the street on Earth, Zellin tries to convince Rakaya to take all of humanity in one go, but she decides to take it slowly. Nearby, Zellin appears inside a house to feed on the nightmares of a young boy and Rakaya absorbs the energy, but they are interrupted by the roar of the Chagaska, heard across time.

The Doctor's group has returned to Aleppo and the two immortals materialise in front of them. The Doctor tells Zellin that he was wrong about humans creating their own weaknesses and that they are stronger for living through it every day. To prove it, Tahira summons a Chagaska, being able to control it by overcoming her fear. The Doctor grabs Rakaya's quantum lock and sonics control of the floating fingers. Asking the immortals what their worst nightmares are, she sends the fingers at them, the Chagaska grabs them, and they are teleported into Rakaya's prison to live with the nightmares for eternity.

The next day, at Tibo's flat, Tibo says he had a perfect night's sleep. Ryan admits that he will be travelling again soon. Before leaving, he tells Tibo of something he discovered that might help. Later, Tibo attends a group therapy session and opens up about his internal problems, safe in the knowledge he is not alone.

Three years earlier. A younger Yaz sits by the side of a long road and is visited by a policewoman called Anita Patel. Yaz admits she is planning on going away, but Anita wants to check up on her as her family is worried. Hearing that Sonya has phoned the police, Yaz is told that feeling tormented is not necessarily a bad thing and could change in the future, with help available for her. Anita makes her a deal: if in three years her hunch is wrong, she will give Yaz £50, but if she is right and Yaz's situation has improved, Yaz owes her 50p. In the present, Yaz approaches a door, answered by Anita. Anita immediately recognises her as Yaz holds out a 50p coin.

Later, in the TARDIS, Graham opens up to the Doctor about his worries concerning his cancer returning, as even though his check-ups are fine, the fear is always there. The Doctor does not know how to respond. To prevent herself from saying the wrong thing, she simply chooses to make herself busy, but Graham is reassured in having talked. Elsewhere in the console room, Yaz and Ryan share their concerns about sharing their lives with the Doctor and growing older away from home. The Doctor interrupts them, claiming "I was thinking Frankenstein", and tells her friends to get a change of clothes as they take off, having grown closer as a family together.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Crew[edit | edit source]

to be added

References[edit | edit source]

Locations[edit | edit source]

The Doctor[edit | edit source]

TARDIS[edit | edit source]

Science[edit | edit source]

Individuals[edit | edit source]

Species[edit | edit source]

Food and beverages[edit | edit source]

  • Ryan brings chips to Tibo's flat.
  • After winning the FIFA game, Ryan goes to make tea.
  • Sonya has been cooking tikka masala and rice for herself and Yaz.

Medical ailments and remedies[edit | edit source]

  • Graham is afraid that his cancer could return.

Technology[edit | edit source]

Popular culture[edit | edit source]

Story notes[edit | edit source]

Ratings[edit | edit source]

  • 3.81 million (BBC overnight)[6]
  • 4.90 million (BBC overall)[7]

Filming locations[edit | edit source]

to be added

Myths[edit | edit source]

Production errors[edit | edit source]

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.

to be added

Continuity[edit | edit source]

Home video releases[edit | edit source]

to be added

External links[edit | edit source]

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

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