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Face the Raven was the tenth episode of series 9 of Doctor Who.

The episode saw the return of Rigsy from series 8's Flatline, and saw Ashildr make her third appearance in the series, as well as her first time meeting with Clara since The Girl Who Died.

Significantly, the climax of this episode marked the death of companion Clara Oswald. The situation that led to her demise dealt with the consequences of what happens when a companion starts thinking and acting too much like the Doctor, jeopardising herself by imitating his self-sacrificial actions. Clara had been shown to act more recklessly since the death of her boyfriend, Danny Pink, in the previous series.

The Doctor having to face the loss of Clara would set the stage for the climax of the Series 9 arc. Upon discovering the root cause of the events that led up to her demise, the Doctor would shift into a quiet but insurmountable fury, seeking answers and justice for his companion.

The Doctor was also transported inside his Confession Dial, which sets up for the next episode, Heaven Sent, and the finale of Series 9.


The Doctor, Clara and Rigsy are trapped on an alien street in London, that is hidden from the rest of the world.

Ashildr, the immortal hybrid-girl, is taking care of some of the most dangerous creatures in the universe. Not everyone will get out alive; one of them must pay the price and face the raven.


The Doctor and Clara enter the TARDIS after an adventure when they get a call from Rigsy, who says that a mysterious tattoo has appeared on the back of his neck and is counting down to zero. They arrive at his flat and find out he has a fiancee and a newborn daughter. He tells them he has no idea on how the tattoo got there, and that he doesn't remember any events from the previous twenty-four hours. His mobile phone's screen is cracked and Clara can't find evidence of any activity. The Doctor scans him and discovers that Rigsy has been in contact with alien life and that he will die when the tattoo's countdown reaches zero.

The Doctor and Clara attempt to help Rigsy by trying to piece together his movements over the last twenty-four hours. Looking at maps of London in the Great British Library to find where Rigsy may have been, Clara mentions something called a “trap street”; a street invented by cartographers to catch people who would copy their maps without giving the proper credit. They search for the street, finding it when Rigsy drops his phone and begins to remember what happened.

Entering the alley that contains the street, they find that it is occupied by "refugees" of various aliens species who appear human by use of a telepathic field. Soon they encounter Ashildr, who is “Mayor Me” of the street. She explains that the street is a refugee camp and that Rigsy is being sentenced to death for killing Anah, a two-faced Janus female. He had been retconned and given time to say goodbye to family. She also reveals that the tattoo is a chronolock that leads a Quantum Shade, which appears normally as a raven, to find him at the predetermined time – killing the victim when the countdown reaches zero.

The Doctor and Clara believe that Rigsy did not kill Anah and has been framed for the murder. Me allows them to investigate the case and attempt to convince everyone he did not commit the crime so that the street will remain at peace.

During their investigation, the Doctor and Clara witness the death of a man with a chronolock for stealing medical rations. Ashildr announces that she can remove the chronolock but she will not, as peace on the street must remain absolute. Everyone watches as the raven flies into the man and he dies in agony. Clara soon learns that a chronolock can be passed on to any willing recipient. She chooses to take Rigsy's chronolock, believing she is safe as Mayor Me has promised her absolute protection. Rigsy is reluctant, but Clara talks him around and he agrees to pass it on. He does so, leaving Clara with 33 minutes.

When asking others questions, the Doctor discovers that Rigsy tried to call the Doctor when he had found out he was in the trap street. This causes the Doctor to speculate that Me was trying to get him to come to the street. Clara also discovers that everyone except Anahson, the "son" of Anah, was looking at Rigsy in a different way to everyone else. The Doctor and Clara find out Anahson is really a girl dressed up as a boy in an attempt to keep her safe and hide her ability to see the past and future. Using her ability, she tells them that Me had made up a mystery to bring them here.

They all go to where Anah's body is and find out she is alive inside a stasis chamber which can be only unlocked by the TARDIS key. It appears that this was all a trap to allow Me to gain possession of the TARDIS. Despite this, the Doctor uses his key to open the chamber, as he refuses to deprive a girl of her mother. His wrist becomes trapped, and a teleport bracelet is wrapped around his arm. Me arrives and tells them that this was never about the TARDIS – Me was contacted and told if she wanted the street kept safe and secret she had to hand over the Doctor, who is to be teleported away. Me asks for his confession dial, which the Doctor hands over. She goes to remove the chronolock from Rigsy, but discovers that Clara now has it. Me is stunned and horrified at this. She protests, insisting that she never meant to harm anyone. Clara is confused at this, causing the Doctor to ask about how she knew how to remove it. She says that Rump told her that she can pass it on, but before she can say the rest, she suddenly pauses with dawning comprehension, so Me finishes with: "But you can't cheat it altogether."

Rigsy, shocked, says that Clara didn't tell him that and asks to have the chronolock back. But Me says that she had made an arrangement with the shade not to kill Rigsy, and Clara had broke that contact by accepting the chronolock. Me cannot take it off her or give it back to Rigsy. Clara is doomed to die.

The Doctor, refusing to accept this fact, admits to Clara he cannot save her. He then turns on Me and insists she can. Me says she can't, and the Doctor becomes furious, threatening to unleash hell on her for all of time and end the secret of Trap Street – promising to bring UNIT, the Zygons, Cybermen and even the Daleks. He promises he will see to it Trap Street and everyone on it is obliterated unless she saves Clara. Me tries to calm herself by pointing out the Doctor wouldn't do such a thing. He then furiously yells — "The Doctor is no longer here! You are stuck with ME!"

Clara is shocked by the Doctor's anger and tries to calm him down. She makes him promise that he will not harm, or take revenge on, anyone because of what happened, reminding him why he became the Doctor. As the Doctor starts to speak, Clara silences him with a hug, telling him that everything he is about to say she already knows. Clara touches the Doctor's face in sadness. The Doctor, in turn, tenderly kisses her hand.

When the chronolock counts down to zero, Clara goes outside to face the raven. The Doctor follows and watches her from afar in despair. As she stands there waiting for the raven, she asks herself to be brave. The raven strikes Clara, causing her to scream in pain. The black mist of the Quantum Shade comes out of her mouth, and she drops to the ground.

The Doctor returns inside and tells Me, in quiet fury, that what Clara said was not to save him but to save her. He says he will do what he can to follow Clara's wishes, but advises her to stay out of his way, saying that the universe can be a small place when he's angered. Numb at the Doctor's anger, Me teleports him away.

Sometime later, Rigsy is seen putting the finishing touches on his latest bit of graffiti - a mural dedicated to Clara on the front entrance of the now abandoned TARDIS.


Uncredited cast[]


General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics



General post-production staff

Special and visual effects


Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.






Cultural References[]


Story notes[]

  • The episode had the working title of Trap Street.
  • This is the first television story to feature the Twelfth Doctor in a burgundy velvet version of his navy blue Crombie coat, similar to the coat he was first seen wearing during COMIC: The Highgate Horror.
  • In the credits, the word "Oods" is used to denote more than one Ood, rather than the established "Ood", as used in TV: The Impossible Planet.
  • In one scene, there is a poster with a diagram of a flux capacitor, a direct reference to Back to the Future. It is accompanied by writings in Aurebesh, the main alphabet used in the Star Wars franchise. This writing spells out "Delorean", the car used in the Back to the Future franchise.
  • This marks the first Doctor Who episode to have a post-credits scene. Previously, Death in Heaven had a mid-credits scene.
  • Sometime between the filming of The Woman Who Lived and Face the Raven, Maisie Williams got a nose piercing, which resulted in Me also having a pierced nose despite her established healing factor.
  • Rigsy's portrait of Clara that adorns the TARDIS doors in the post-credit sequence is based upon a publicity photograph of Jenna Coleman used to promote her appearances at science fiction conventions.
  • Clara becomes the first ongoing, long-term companion to permanently die on-screen since Adric in TV: Earthshock. Circumstances in later episodes do not undo the fact her final death is depicted. Although her predecessors Amy Pond and Rory Williams appear to have been killed in their final regular appearance, they were actually sent back in time by a Weeping Angel, their actual deaths were off-screen and depicted as happening long after they left the TARDIS, with gravestones depicting their deaths in the 1980's.
    • This referenced, albeit obliquely, when the Doctor is counting steps on a street and stops to tie a kid's loose shoelace, telling the kid to "Remember 82." Earthshock was first broadcast in 1982.
  • The episode originally opened with Rigsy summoning the Doctor and Clara away from a poker game which also featured Jeremy Clarkson, Wild Bill Hickok, and Jane Austen. In a later draft, Clarkson was replaced with Russell Brand.
  • Access to the trap street was originally granted via a brick wall: any door sketched upon it became real.
  • There were originally Adipose living in the refuge, which was said to have existed for one hundred and eight years.
  • In the original script, the Doctor and Clara investigated the murder of Anah the Janus, whose species took its name from the Roman god of time and transitions, a figure often depicted as having a face on both the front and back of his head. In the process, they discovered that a Sontaran named Skarn was fomenting war with humanity, terrifying the refugees with grotesque fictions. He had killed Anah because she had learned of his plans via her ability to see through time. The insectoid Mayor refused to believe that Skarn was the murderer until Anahson, actually called Pae, revealed that she was also a female Janus and confirmed the truth about her mother's death. With seconds to spare, the Mayor removed the chronolock which would have compelled the Quantum Shade to kill Rigsy.
  • This was originally meant to be either the seventh or ninth episode of season nine. However, the initial draft was so well-received that Steven Moffat decided it should air tenth. As such, it was decided to be the episode to kill off Clara. (Originally, as Clara bade farewell to her friends, Rigsy revealed that his daughter Lucy's middle name was Clara).
  • To reduce the requirement for effects and prosthetics, Sarah Dollard significantly curtailed the amount of screen time during which the various aliens would appear in their true forms.
  • Sarah Dollard had been a fan of the series while growing up in her native Australia, and the ambition of the revival had helped inspire her decision to immigrate to the United Kingdom, where she could work in a television landscape with the capacity to produce programmes on such a scale. Having established her credentials in Britain, she won an invitation to meet with script executive Lindsey Alford. Dollard proposed an adventure about a trap street: a fictitious or misrepresented street included by a cartographer on a map as a watermark, allowing the identification of unauthorised copies. She suggested a narrative in which the Doctor discovered that a trap street actually marked the location of a hidden place where people lived in secret. Steven Moffat was excited by the notion; he imagined that it might inspire children to explore their own neighbourhoods, looking for places that had previously gone unnoticed. Moffat suggested that the residents of the trap street should be alien refugees, one of whom had been murdered. This approach appealed to Dollard, whose parents were avid mystery buffs. It was soon decided that an established character should be used to draw the Doctor and Clara into the story, with Alford suggesting Rigsy.
  • The coda of Rigsy painting Clara's memorial was also shot on the backlot for the Welsh-language soap opera Pobol y Cwm. This was originally a longer sequence, with his fiancee Jen and baby Lucy watching as the mural came together.
  • In the sequence where Clara takes the tattoo from Rigsy, she was scripted to reveal his full name while persuading him - Christopher Riggins.
  • A deleted scene saw the Doctor carrying Clara's body indoors and ordering Ashildr not to wipe Rigsy's memory, so that Rigsy can tell Clara's family and take care of her body.
  • A deleted scene saw a grief-stricken Rigsy reuniting with his wife after Clara's death
  • The episode comprised Block Ten of season nine. It was initially paired with Sleep No More as Block Five, until it was decided that they would be split up. At one point, it was deferred to Block Seven.
  • Jenna Coleman claimed that she hadn't yet been made aware of Clara's arc when she shot her death scene.
  • Clara stroking the Doctor's face and him then kissing her hand was reportedly not scripted, as Peter Capaldi forgot his line.
  • According to the published script, a scene was cut that would have suggested that Derren Brown was an alien and the Doctor didn't like him to the point of banning his name from being mentioned around him.
  • Peter Capaldi and Simon Paisley Day had previously appeared in The Musketeers episode "The Good Soldier".


Filming location[]

  • Intersection of Park and Westgate streets, Cardiff, where the pub Clara passes, the office building outside which the Doctor, Clara and Rigsy rendezvous (which is actually Cardiff University, revealed in an enhanced airing of the episode on BBC America entitled The Doctor's Notes on 27 February 2016), and even the gap leading to the trap street are all located.

Production errors[]

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.
  • The title sequence for this serial is out of sync with the theme music; the start of the melody, the "doo-wee-ooo" is supposed to be timed to the TARDIS entering the clockwork spiral, however it is timed to the fade-out of Peter Capaldi's credit.
  • The arrangement of Clara's hair changes noticeably between shots while she gives her farewell to the Doctor (in one shot her ears are visible, the next not, for example). And when she enters the street her hair is noticeably fuller than it was a moment earlier.
  • When Clara says they have twelve minutes left, her dialog does not sync with her lip movement, suggesting it was changed during post-production. Indeed, the shooting script has this line of dialog as "There’s nine minutes left."


Home video releases[]

DVD & Blu-ray releases[]

  • Face the Raven was released as part of the Series 9, Part Two DVD and Blu-ray boxsets in region 1/A on 26 January 2016, in region 2/B on 4 January 2016 and in region 4/B on 13 January 2016,
  • It was later released as part of the Complete Ninth Series DVD and Blu-ray boxsets in region 1/A on 5 April 2016, in region 2/B on 7 March 2016 and in region 4/B on 9 March 2016.

Digital releases[]

  • In the United Kingdom, this story is available on BBC iPlayer.

External links[]

Transcript of Face the Raven at Chrissie's Transcripts Site