Spoilers are precisely defined here. Rules vary by the story's medium. Info from television stories can't be added here until after the top or bottom of the hour, British time, closest to the end credits roll on BBC One. Therefore, fans in the Americas who are sensitive to spoilers should avoid Tardis on Sundays until they've seen the episode.



Falling from Xi'an was the fifth short story in the Short Trips anthology Short Trips: The Centenarian. It was written by Steven Savile. It featured the Fifth Doctor, Tegan Jovanka and Turlough.


Edward Grainger has joined three other men, Carter, Ambrose and Bryce Convey, in a search for the tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi in China. They are helped by a peasant family of four. Edward is attracted to Mai Ling, one of the peasants.

When they find the tomb underground in a pit, they discover thousands of terracotta soldiers. The peasants help with the difficult job of removing one of the soldiers and stowing it in the plane. To keep the find a secret, Carter takes the family some distance from the others, and Edward hears three shots. He is appalled and can only hope that Mai Ling escaped.

Because the statue is so large, only two can fit in the plane. Ambrose and Convey will make their way to Calcutta on foot, while Carter and Edward take the plane. However, en route the plane begins to break up and crashes.

In the TARDIS, the Doctor tries to interest Tegan and Turlough with their destination. Unfortunately for him, the TARDIS has taken them somewhere unexpected. As he and Tegan exit the TARDIS, they see a plane crash. As they reach the scene, one man is dead and the other is badly burned. The Doctor rescues him with some difficulty and recognises him. He also sees a blue "ghost" escaping into the undergrowth.

They take the man to the TARDIS and tend his burns. The Doctor and Turlough discuss the "ghost", with the Doctor describing it as a life force emitting energy. Edward joins them and takes the blame and explains the theft. When he gives his name, the Doctor remembers who he is.

The Doctor realises they have to stop this one soldier before he can wake the others. The TARDIS materialises inside the pit, and they find Mai Ling hiding there. Suddenly several of the statues start to crack, releasing their blue energy. The Doctor uses a pin-turned-tuning fork and a sonic prodder he has built to change the harmonics of the clay in the ground. The ghost soldiers become trapped in the mud, but so does the TARDIS. The Doctor holds the note as long as he can, then jumps into the TARDIS before it is completely submerged. As he does so, one last soldier enters as well. It heads for Edward, but Mai Ling jumps in front of it, and she inadvertently traps the life force inside her.

The Doctor thinks that for now the life force is safely trapped inside Mai Ling. They take Edward and Mai Ling back to the plane wreckage.





  • Edward remembers seeing a police box in his home when he was five years old. (PROSE: Echoes)
  • The Seventh Doctor would later later recruit Edward to help him in rescuing Mai Ling. (PROSE: Log 384)
  • Tegan recalls her earlier meeting with Edward in the 1950s, which takes place later in his timeline. (PROSE: First Born)