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.


Harry Houdini

Harry Houdini was a famous American magician and escapologist on Earth during the 20th century. He was born Erik Weisz. (AUDIO: Harry Houdini's War)


Before moving to America, Houdini was born in Hungary. He was later ashamed of his origins during World War I. (AUDIO: Harry Houdini's War)

Houdini first met the Doctor in 1890, when the Doctor was in his first incarnation, although this was not their first encounter from the Doctor's perspective. At the time, the Doctor was accompanied by Ben Jackson and Polly Wright. Together, the four of them defeated the Ovids. (AUDIO: Smoke and Mirrors)

At some point after this, Houdini met the Third Doctor, and travelled to the future with him and Jo Grant. (AUDIO: Smoke and Mirrors) They did not use the TARDIS. On his return, Houdini felt the need to update his birthday to account for the difference in his age from time travel. (AUDIO: Harry Houdini's War)

At one point before 1917, Houdini and the Doctor faced the Kleptons. At one point, he also saved the Doctor from a Selachian mine bomb. In 1917 the Sixth Doctor asked for his help, but he didn't trust him after apparently being betrayed to the Germans. He escaped a German base with Peri and wanted to go back to the West. The Doctor told him the truth and helped his plans. (AUDIO: Harry Houdini's War)

Between 1917 and 1920, Houdini, along with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, publicly announced the existence of fairies following the release of the Cottingley fairy photos. Gwen Cooper believed this was all an act of self-publicity. (TV: Small Worlds)

Young Houdini, as the Eleventh Doctor met him. (PROSE: Houdini and The Space Cuckoos)

In 1920, the Eleventh Doctor needed help defeating the Cuculus and decided to recruit Houdini during his act. When they were captured by the Cuculus, Houdini was easily able to break the locks holding him and the Doctor. After the Doctor defeated the Cuculus, they returned them to Earth and the Doctor returned him to his act. When people started getting sick, the Doctor realised that the Cuculus had infected them with a disease to wipe out humanity. Using a crystal from the Cuculus ship that Houdini had stolen, the Doctor was able to cure the disease. (PROSE: Houdini and The Space Cuckoos)

In 1925, Houdini was trapped in a computer program inside a crystal ball which simulated the theatres he had visited and begun feeding on his despair. He called the Twelfth Doctor for help, but the Doctor and Clara Oswald's minds were also trapped inside. The program set up theatrical death traps with no way out so their minds could be ripened for it, but the Doctor, Clara and Houdini escaped. The Doctor revealed the virtual environment with his sonic screwdriver, and the three of them thought of the things that made them feel the most free to break their minds out of the crystal, destroying it. Houdini lost hope in ever communing with the dead, but the Doctor and Clara assured him that his reputation would outlive him. (COMIC: Theatre of the Mind)

The Fifth Doctor, Adric, Nyssa and Tegan Jovanka later met Houdini when the Doctor answered a psionic distress call being sent from England in the 1920s. Unbeknownst to the Doctor and his companions, Houdini had been convinced by the Master that the Doctor was evil. Houdini's relationship with the Doctor, already tense due to the Time Lord's refusal to offer the performer any clues as to his personal future (in particular whether he would ever be able to communicate with his deceased mother in the spirit world), became strained as a result of the incident. (AUDIO: Smoke and Mirrors)

The Eighth Doctor also met Houdini when he was travelling with Lucie Miller. Houdini taught Lucie how to escape from handcuffs during this time. (PROSE: The Great Escapes)

At some point before his time on Destination, the Master met Houdini, and was taught escapology. (AUDIO: The Destination Wars)

At some point, Houdini taught the Doctor escapology, including a few tricks the Doctor used numerous times over many lifetimes to get out of a bind. (PROSE: The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Mission to the Unknown, AUDIO: Operation: Hellfire, TV: Planet of the Spiders, Revenge of the Cybermen, The Witchfinders, AUDIO: Summer, 1001 Nights, The Church and the Crown, The Mind's Eye, COMIC: Voyager, Façades, AUDIO: Project Twilight, PROSE: Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible, Independence Day, AUDIO: The High Price of Parking, PROSE: Frontier Worlds, TV: Dreamland, GAME: Shadows of the Vashta Nerada, TV: The Witchfinders)

Copies and imitations[]

In 1904, the Thirteenth Doctor sent 200 cyborg clones of Houdini into the subways of New York City. (PROSE: The Secret in Vault 13)


Houdini's name became synonymous with cheap tricks. In 2011, Rex Matheson told members of the CIA, "Who knows if Jack Harkness' immortality is a miracle, or he's Harry Houdini? Either way, it's news." (TV: The Gathering)

The Doctor would make many later references to the skills they learned from Harry Houdini.

On Avalon, the First Doctor used a trick he learned from Houdini to make an egg appear from Gramling's beard. (PROSE: The Sorcerer's Apprentice)

According to one account, the First Doctor used some of Houdini's tricks to escape when he was tied up by Bret Vyon on Kembel in 4000. (PROSE: Mission to the Unknown)

While in Scotland in April 1746 with the Second Doctor, Ben Jackson credited Houdini for himself being able to loose the ties in which he was bound by some slave dealers. (TV: The Highlanders)

The Third Doctor used Houdini's trick of contracting the muscles to escape from the Eight Legs on Metebelis III, though he had trouble remembering the magician's last name. (TV: Planet of the Spiders)

While tied up on Nerva Beacon, the Fourth Doctor used a trick to he learned from Houdini to escape from a Turk's head knot. (TV: Revenge of the Cybermen) He later claimed that Houdini kept several lock picks on his person. (AUDIO: The Wrath of the Iceni)

The Fifth Doctor used a trick he learned from Houdini to convince a jailer that he could turn a lead coin into gold, although Sir Isaac Newton saw through the trick. (AUDIO: Summer) He later credited Houdini for how he was able to free the Miaxa from his imprisonment. (AUDIO: 1001 Nights) In 1626 France, he wished he had listened to Houdini about lock-picking so he could escape his captors. (AUDIO: The Church and the Crown) In Erimem's Kyropite-induced dream on YT45, he mentioned that he had learned lock-picking tricks from Houdini. (AUDIO: The Mind's Eye)

The Sixth Doctor said that it would be more accurate to say that Houdini studied from him than vice versa. (AUDIO: The Ultimate Adventure) He tried, and failed, to use a trick he learned from Houdini to escape from a Pararachnid cocoon. (PROSE: Moon Graffiti) He later used a trick he learned from Houdini to escape when he was tied up by Astrolabus. (COMIC: Voyager) In 7214, in Antarctopolis, he used Harry's teachings in order to escape a straightjacket in an asylum the Master had recluded him. He mentally recalled the exact words of the escapist. (COMIC: Façades) He later wished that he had listened to Houdini when he was imprisoned by Reggie Mead. (AUDIO: Project: Twilight)

The Seventh Doctor, who had been placed in stocks, tried to remember what Houdini had taught him about compressing his foot to get it through a narrow gap. (PROSE: Timewyrm: Genesys) He attempted to use Houdini's trick of contracting the muscles to escape from the Process's cocoon, but it was too tight. (PROSE: Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible) On Mendeb Three, he told Bep-Wor that Houdini had taught him every trick he knew, but didn't have to use any of them to escape from his chains as they were not securely fastened. (PROSE: Independence Day) On Parking, he used the escapology that he learned from Houdini to free himself from the ropes that had been used to bind him. (AUDIO: The High Price of Parking)

The Eighth Doctor mentioned that he had taken lessons in escapology from Houdini. (PROSE: Frontier Worlds) The Doctor later referred to Houdini as "Handcuff Harry" and said he was Houdini's protégé. (AUDIO: Nevermore)

Whilst handcuffed, Donna questioned the Tenth Doctor as to whether he had ever met Houdini. The Doctor didn't answer this, instead, saying the handcuffs were very "good", implying that the escape trick could not be performed on that century's handcuffs. (TV: Planet of the Ood) In Area 51, when the Tenth Doctor, Cassie, and Jimmy were trapped on a 'table', the Doctor used a trick taught to him by Houdini to break out of the handcuffs and turn off the amnesia gas. (TV: Dreamland)

In Venice in 1580, the Eleventh Doctor entered an underground cellar and met five female "vampires". When he saw that they could not be seen in the mirror, he compared it to a trick by Houdini. (TV: The Vampires of Venice) On Poseidon 8, the Eleventh Doctor escaped from being bound by ropes to a railing, saying he learned the trick from a "long story" with Houdini. (GAME: Shadows of the Vashta Nerada)

The Twelfth Doctor claimed he taught Harry Houdini everything he knew. (COMIC: The Swords of Kali)

The Thirteenth Doctor made use of a technique she had learned from Houdini to escape the chains which bound her to a ducking stool, when she was put on trial as a witch in the 17th century. (TV: The Witchfinders)

Behind the scenes[]

Houdini actually never investigated the Cottingley photos, despite some correspondence from Doyle that suggested he visit. Houdini was shown to be involved in the events in the 1997 film FairyTale: A True Story starring Paul McGann.