The episode saw a return to the year 2012, not seen since Dalek in series one, this time focusing on the Olympic games as a backdrop to the events of the story, which (a first in the show) explored the issue of child abuse through the character Chloe Webber. The story also featured an unorthodox plot point by incorporating the prominent social issue of child abuse. Tardisode 11 served as its prologue.
It also served as one of the few times that the Doctor has been rendered incapacitated in some way and has to leave resolving the conflict to his allies. This theme had previously been used in World War Three, The Long Game and The Christmas Invasion, and would be repeated in Turn Left (albeit in an alternate universe), The Crimson Horror, Flatline, and The Pyramid at the End of the World.
Two kids Dale Hicks and Tom are playing football in Tom's yard on Dame Kelly Holmes Close. Elderly Maeve Griffiths walks by and tells them to get inside quickly, prompting Tom's dad to exit the house and demand to know why she's disturbing the kids. Maeve tells the father that 'it" likes seeing them play. Watching from her first floor room across the street is a little girl. With an ominous look to her, she begins drawing Dale with coloured pencils. As Maeve and the father keep arguing, Dale suddenly vanishes much to their shock. Elsewhere, the girl has finished her drawing of Dale, which comes to life and screams in horror: she's trapped him inside her picture!
Some time later, the TARDIS materialises on the day of the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. On the street, concern is divided between preparation for the Games, as the torchbearer will pass by on the final leg, and the continued disappearance of children from their garden. Rose also meets a ginger cat who walks into a cardboard box and disappears. Cars break down on the street. A council worker, Kel, states this has been happening all week.
The Doctor, in the meantime, has traced residual energy to the spot Dale vanished. Putting his had over the spot, he notes it 'tickles". Tom's father exits the house, hostilely demanding the Doctor explain himself, drawing a crowd and Rose. The Doctor yells for silence and pulls out the Psychic Paper, introducing himself and Rose as inspectors. After learning from Maeve about an unknown entity at work, the Doctor decides to send Rose to investigate the most recent dissappeance.
In her room, the girl sees her picture of Dale scowling in anger at her. She tells him that she tried to cheer him up by giving him a friend - the cat. However, he's still unhappy, just like all the other kids in her drawings. Apparently, she is too young to understand that she is holding people against their wishes and that all this anger she keeps seeing is for keeping them trapped. She furiously erases a scribble...
Wandering down one of the estate streets, Rose hears a noise from one of the garages and decides to investigate. As she opens the door, a fuzzy Scribble creature flies out, hitting Rose square in the face. Rose swats at it helplessly. The Doctor arrives and deactivates it with the sonic screwdriver. He deduces from residual energy and the carbon of the scribble that had attacked Rose that the problem is alien in origin. The take note of the little girl watching them from her window, deciding she might be connected.
The Doctor and Rose pass themselves as representatives of Child Services to Trish Webber, hoping to be of help to her daughter Chloe. Trish explains that Chloe is very much a secluded and quiet child, due to her horrible father, who became abusive when he was drunk. Rose heads upstairs to Chloe's room, but finds that she isn't in; seeing all the scowls from the pictures, Rose checks Chloe's closet. However, this is a poor choice as drawn on the wall is a demonic picture of Chloe's father. She promptly slams the doors. The Doctor comes into the room with Trish and Chloe. Rose tells him of the pictures and the Doctor decides that he needs to look inside Chloe's subconscious to find answers.
The Doctor uses his telepathy to put Chloe to sleep, asking that she tell him who she is. Chloe answers in a raspy, whispery voice that she's an Isolus, an alien life-form with four billion siblings, who had befriended Chloe when its ship crashed on the road; it has psychic powers, hence the trapped children and the scibble Rose wonders what the Isolus wants, to which the Doctor says is a surrogate family. However, because its a child, its throwing and tantrum and unwilling to accept what it's doing is wrong. The Doctor warns that the Isolus is desperate for love too, and will use the billions of people watching the Olympic opening ceremony to replace its family.
The Doctor returns to the TARDIS and locates the Isolus pod in the Close. However, a frantic Chloe (either because she doesn't want the Isolus to go, or because the Isolus misunderstands the Doctor's intentions) draws the TARDIS and the Doctor, trapping them both in one of her sketches and forcing Rose to try to find the pod herself. She rationalises that the pod is located on the hottest spot on the street, and is able to dig it up with a pickaxe (to Kel's protestations). Meanwhile, Chloe has caused the entire crowd at the Olympic stadium to disappear and is now set on making everyone in the world disappear. Rose realises she needs to offer the pod heat and emotion, which she does by throwing the pod towards the torch, following a clue the Doctor left in the drawing of himself.
As the missing children start to reappear, and Rose realises that so will the demon-like drawing that Chloe had made of her father. Rose and Chloe's mother calm Chloe enough to destroy him. However, the Doctor does not reappear like everyone else, worrying Rose.
As the torch-bearer approaches the Olympic Stadium, he staggers, but the Doctor suddenly appears, completes the run and lights the Olympic Flame. The heat of the flame and the emotion of the crowd power the pod, allowing the Isolus to return home.
As the Doctor and Rose walk off to watch the Games, Rose remarks that however hard "they" attempt, nothing will ever split up the two of them. However, the Doctor does not seem so sure, as he surmises that a storm is approaching.
- The Doctor - David Tennant
- Rose Tyler - Billie Piper
- Trish - Nina Sosanya
- Chloe - Abisola Agbaje
- Maeve - Edna Dore
- Tom's Dad - Tim Faraday
- Kel - Abdul Salis
- Driver - Richard Nichols
- Neighbour- Erica Eirian
- Police Officer - Stephen Marzella
- Commentator - Huw Edwards
|Executive Producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner|
|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.|
- The first three children taken are Danny Edwards, Jane McKillen and Dale Hicks. Their parents, Mr Edwards, Mrs McKillen and Mrs Hicks, greet them when they're restored.
- Danny Fairweather carries the Olympic torch through Dame Kelly Holmes Close.
- Lord Coe is mentioned.
- The International Olympic Committee is mentioned.
The Doctor Edit
- The Doctor lists three things necessary to travel the universe: wormhole refractors, a warp drive and a hand to hold.
People from the real world Edit
- The Doctor tries to remember the name of the torch-lighter in 1948: Mark? John? Mark? It's John Mark.
- Shayne Ward's new album is advertised just next to where the Doctor parks the TARDIS.
- The Doctor claims to be reasonably adept at squash and jokingly mentions Snakes & Ladders when asked "what his game is".
- The Doctor marvels over edible ball bearings.
- When the Doctor is in the kitchen with Rose and Trish Webber, he eats orange marmalade.
Galactic Law Edit
- The Doctor invokes the Shadow Proclamation.
- The young Isolus begin their journey in the Deep Realms.
- Humanoid catkind are mentioned, and the Doctor cites them as the reason he's no longer a "cat person".
- The Doctor shows that he can do the Vulcan salute from the American science-fiction show Star Trek.
- Papua New Guinea surprises everyone in the shot put at the 2012 Olympics.
- The Doctor uses a binary dot tool.
- The Doctor mentions a copper's hunch.
Story notes Edit
- Fear Her replaced an unwritten script originally allocated to Stephen Fry.
- This is the first televised Doctor Who story to deal with actual child abuse, although there is a possible allusion to the subject in The Empty Child.
- This is also the first episode, since The Doctor Dances to have no casualties at all for the entire run time.
- Working titles for this episode included Chloe Webber Destroys the Earth and You're a Bad Girl, Chloe Webber.
- No characters die during this episode, a rarity for the series.
- In 2009, Doctor Who Magazine conducted a reader poll to rank the first 200 Doctor Who stories in order of preference. Fear Her ranked 192nd out of 200, earning it the dubious distinction of being the lowest-ranked story of the 2005-present revival. (DWM 413) In another DWM reader poll in 2014 where the first fifty years of Doctor Who stories were ranked, Fear Her was also the lowest-ranked story of the revival, this time ranking 240th out of 241st. (DWM 474)
- The London 2012 logo seen at the start is the bid logo, not the final logo of the games, which wasn't unveiled until after the episode was produced.
- The writer, Matthew Graham, noted on the DVD commentary that the scribble creature was never to be called a "scribble monster", as the Doctor would never call anything a monster.
- The idea of a child bringing things to life through drawings was also featured in the 1991 Eerie Indiana episode "Who's Who".
- The mini-episode Good as Gold takes place during the Olympic opening ceremony. However, the circumstances are shown to be clearly different, with an athlete carrying the torch and the Weeping Angels involved.
- This story idea of the Tenth Doctor's involvement in the 2012 Olympics sparked a petition from thousands of fans all over the world wishing David Tennant to carry the Olympic Torch. However, it was not Tennant, but Matt Smith who would carry the 2012 Olympic torch in Wales on 26 May 2012. Neither did the Tenth Doctor appear at the official opening ceremony, even though David Tennant himself claimed to be up for it, having heard about the petition.
- In the real world, it was the rower Sir Steve Redgrave who finally delivered the torch to the Olympic Stadium in London, and a group of seven young athletes who lit the Olympic Flame. However, newsreader Huw Edwards did provide the commentary on the ceremony, and during one of the elaborate production numbers prior to this, the sound of the TARDIS materialising was also heard. Also, the torch in this episode is at least similar to the actual one.
- 7.14 million (UK final)
Filming location Edit
- Temorfa, Cardiff
Production errors Edit
- When the Doctor and Rose walk down the lane, the road is perfect, with no blemishes. However, when the Doctor later picks up the Isolus pod, there is a clear paving spot.
- In a shot before the cat disappears, the white flowers in the ground behind Rose are obviously fabric.
- In the kitchen, the Doctor sticks one finger into a jar of marmalade and then into his mouth. Rose gives him a look and shakes her head and he freezes but is then seen to have two fingers in his mouth.
- When the Doctor rubs out part of the pencil scribble creature, the rubber on his pencil clearly does not touch the ball of graphite.
- In the shot after the Doctor rubs part of it out, the pencil scribble creature is whole again.
- The Doctor materialises the TARDIS facing a wall, in this case, the side of a rubbish bin. The Eighth Doctor previously materialised facing a wall in a broom cupboard. (AUDIO: The Starship of Theseus)
- The Doctor uses telepathy. (TV: The Sensorites, Terror of the Zygons, The Hand of Fear, The Girl in the Fireplace)
- The Doctor knew the Isolus was lonely due to him having had a lonely childhood, and therefore being able to sense it. (TV: The Empty Child, The Girl in the Fireplace)
- Rose previously visited the year 2012 with the Doctor's prior incarnation. It is the home era of Adam Mitchell. (TV: Dalek)
- The Doctor previously had a foreboding sensation in his hands during his first incarnation. (TV: The War Machines)
- The Doctor cites his confrontation with the Sisters of Plenitude as the reason why he is no longer a "cat person". (TV: New Earth)
- During his eleventh incarnation, the Doctor would visit the 2012 Olympic Games once again in the company of Amy Pond. (TV: Good as Gold) He had previously visited 2012 on at least one occasion during or prior to his sixth incarnation (AUDIO: The Raincloud Man) as well as during his seventh, (AUDIO: Frozen Time) eighth (PROSE: The Shadows of Avalon) and ninth incarnations. (TV: Dalek).
- In the far future, radio and television broadcasts concerning the 2012 Olympic Games could be accessed via the Gogglebox inside the Moon. (AUDIO: The Reaping, The Gathering)
- When the Doctor talks to Chloe about drawing, he says, "I'm rubbish. Stickmen're about my limit." He is apparently lying. He did skilled drawings in A Journal of Impossible Things, and when Joan Redfern asks where he learned to draw, the Doctor, as John Smith, says Gallifrey. (TV: Human Nature)
- The Doctor comments that he "used to be a dad once." (TV: An Unearthly Child, et. al.) In his previous incarnation, he similarly related to Dr. Constantine's remark about having been a father and grandfather in the past. (TV: The Empty Child)
- The ginger cat that Chloe drew reappeared in the video game Art Attack. There he was named Ginger.
- The Fifth Doctor previously attempted to take Nyssa and Tegan Jovanka to the 2012 Olympics but the TARDIS instead materialised in London in 1982. (AUDIO: The King of the Dead)
Home video releases Edit
- This story was released on a vanilla DVD (a DVD release containing no extra features) with Army of Ghosts and Doomsday.
- It was also released as part of the Series 2 DVD box set.
- BBC - Doctor Who - Episode Guide - Fear Her
- The Discontinuity Guide to: Fear Her at The Whoniverse
- Fear Her at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- Fear her at The Locations Guide