New to Doctor Who or returning after a break? Check out our guides designed to help you find your way!



You may be looking for the planet with the same name.

Orphan 55 was the third episode of series 12 of Doctor Who.

It showed one possible future for Earth, in which global warming and nuclear warfare eventually lead to it becoming an orphan planet, with those human survivors left behind evolving into Dregs. Notably, the Thirteenth Doctor explains that the relative future is always in motion, with multiple timelines hanging in the balance, dependent on the decisions of those who act in the present.


After Graham O'Brien wins Team TARDIS a free holiday at the high-end alien resort Tranquility Spa, it becomes clear that not everything is as it seems — why is the staff so worried about oxygen levels in the Spa when the planet appears to be hospitable to humans? What are the monsters stalking the corridors? And why does the planet on which they're all standing bear the ominous name of "Orphan 55"?


In the TARDIS, the Thirteenth Doctor, Yaz, and Ryan are mopping up the tentacle of a deep-space squid. The Doctor apologises while Graham arrives, having collected the sixth and final coupon from the Bandohzi Herald to reward them with a free holiday. The group agree to it, as it may help the Doctor cheer up from recent events, but Graham gives them no time to prepare as they are all teleported away.

Team TARDIS appears outside the luxurious Tranquility Spa where they are met by a furry humanoid called Hyph3n. She insists that they can return to where they came from at any time, but they are booked in for two weeks, all-inclusive. As their rooms are prepared, Yaz visits the pool, Ryan looks inside, and Graham decides to do as little as possible, while the Doctor goes to explore alone. Meanwhile, the teleport station glitches as a computer tells the holidaymakers to relax.

Inside a dark technological command centre, a man called Vorm and a woman called Kane react to this. He focuses on the virus in the system while she is more concerned how "one of them's got in" and the two take weapons. Outside, an older man on oxygen called Benni and his partner Vilma enjoy the view. Benni prepares to propose to her after 46 years together but he is interrupted by the arrival of Yaz.

Inside the hotel lobby, Ryan prepares to get some free refreshments from a vending machine and the Doctor arrives as he gets hurt by it. She finds a hopper virus crawling under his skin and tells him to not panic. She uses her first-aid training to make him sneeze the virus out and leaves him with the advice to "suck your thumb until the hallucinations stop. And remember, they're not real bats."

In the command centre, the two workers are notified of a breach of the hotel perimeter and proceed to protect the guests. Yaz and Graham are forced to their closest muster zones. The Doctor decides to investigate while Ryan recovers with a young woman named Bella: a hotel critic also recovering. As Ryan bumbles, the two hit it off. Seeing Vorm walk past with a gun, the two decide to check it out.

The Doctor spots Hyph3n walking up to what she describes as a linen cupboard, but the Doctor is not convinced that such a room would need to be so heavily guarded. Questioning her about the hopper viruses, the Doctor uses her psychic paper to let herself in as a resort inspector, where she meets Kane inside the command centre. The Doctor questions why a spa would need a defensive ionic membrane as, down the corridor, Vorm witnesses a guest get dragged away by an unseen creature. Hyph3n insists on teleporting the guests out, but the Doctor explains that the hopper virus has entered that too, so they are stuck there. In the corridor, Vorm shoots at a ferocious, vaguely humanoid creature but gets outnumbered.

In a bar, Graham searches for a mechanic to fix the teleports and meets a man called Nevi and his son Sylas. As Kane's computer shows more guests dying, the Doctor uses the intercom to demand all remaining guests come to her. Ryan and Bella, however, hide in the steam room as some nearby guests are attacked. The two admit to each other that they lied about their jobs to impress each other.

Meanwhile, the Doctor writes up a debug script to sort out the hoppers, but notes it will take some time to work and installing a new ionic membrane and removing the creatures is more urgent. Hyph3n leads Yaz, Graham, and their acquaintances to the Doctor. However, Benni waits outside to recover Vilma's hat and Ryan and Bella still have not arrived. In the steam room, they both attempt to make a break for it just as the Doctor reinstates the ionic membrane, destroying all the creatures in the resort. Ryan finally stumbles upon Graham in the corridor and they hug.

Outside, Kane describes the creatures as Dregs, the locals which the shields are there for, but the hopper virus must have been the work of something else. Kane and Vorm display a grid in mid-air hiding an invisible wall, revealing the spa to be a "fakation" resort, with the wall hiding the real desolate environment, but is the first one to be held off-world, accessible only by teleport. Yaz and Vilma arrive, saying that Benni has made it past the shields, which should be impossible except for his oxygen tank. The Doctor orders Kane to arrange help. The group gets fitted up with oxygen canisters that refill themselves when in a breathable environment. As they leave, Kane names the planet as Orphan 55. The Doctor is horrified they would build on an orphan planet, but Kane insists "it's safe in short spells."

Inside the truck, the large group moves out. The Doctor explains that an orphan planet is one where life is unsustainable, usually then sold off by the ruling elite. Kane says that she plans to terraform the planet, increase oxygen levels, and make the planet hospitable again, but the Doctor reasons she is only in it to get rich. Meanwhile, Benni has changed direction and Vilma forces Vorm to continue the mission. The Doctor reasons that the Dregs can adapt to anything, even gunfire, and she breaks up a moment between Ryan and Bella to share her deductions. As she does, the truck ends up stranded, leaving them trapped, with the surface only being safe to walk on for ten minutes. They decide their only chance is to make their way to a nearby tunnel as quickly and quietly as possible.

However, as they venture onto the surface, Vilma starts calling for Benni, and as the Dregs amass, they are forced to retreat to the truck. When there, the Dregs start attacking. Kane and Vorm plan to deal with them as the rest escape, but Benni's voice appears from outside. Calling to Vilma, he asks both to marry her, to which she agrees, and for someone to shoot him. As the Dregs attack the roof, everyone leaves from underneath, but both Hyph3n and Vorm are captured and killed in the process and Kane is injured. They barely make it to the tunnel.

Making it down, they check their oxygen as Kane plans to get them to teleport back to the resort, but it can only be used once. She also casually reveals she killed Benni like he asked, leaving Vilma horrified. Bella then grabs Kane's gun and threatens her to reveal the teleport. Bella states she wants to burn the resort to the ground now that her father is dead and her mother does not recognise her - her mother being Kane herself. Kane threatens her in return and as a Dreg approaches, Ryan accidentally teleports himself and Bella back to the resort. While he plans to help the rest get back, she continues her plan to destroy the spa.

In the tunnel, the group now plan to walk back to the resort, but the path takes them through a Dreg nest. As their oxygen falls dangerously low, Kane reveals she was planning on gifting Tranquility Spa to Bella - something the Doctor dryly notes she should have said earlier as Bella arms several bombs with twenty-minute fuses. As Vilma worries about slowing the group down, Kane makes the rest take cover. While there, the Doctor uncovers a sign in Russian. Their tunnel takes them through what used to be Siberia, and Orphan 55 is Earth. With no choice but to run, Vilma stays behind to buy them some time, and she is killed as the rest escape.

Meanwhile, Bella reveals herself as the cause of the hopper viruses, but Ryan tries to stop her as a smaller bomb in the bar blows up the resort's mainframe. As the Doctor's group returns to the resort, the Doctor stays behind with the Dregs to explore how they arrived on Earth. Realising they breathe out oxygen, she refills her tank and telepathically contacts them, revealing images of a modern-day Earth in crisis. Shaken, she is grabbed by a Dreg but helped out by Kane. As the Doctor escapes, Kane stays behind and tells the Doctor to pass on her apologies to Bella.

The remaining members of the group - the Doctor, Graham, Yaz, Nevi, and Sylas - return to find Ryan and Bella, with the Dregs in hot pursuit. Finding anything they can to block off the passage, Ryan notes a vending machine has "made in China" written on it and the Doctor's friends understand how the planet is future Earth and the Dregs are the mutated forms of the few remaining humans. The Doctor simply states "you had warnings from every scientist alive" and they run as fast as they can to the command centre.

Inside, Nevi attempts to secure the door but Sylas loses his temper over having to always cover for him. The Doctor turns to Nevi to fix the teleport, but the fuel they need to leave is absent - it can only be obtained via a hopper virus. Frustrated, Sylas locks himself out. The Doctor decides on a plan to overload the oxygen and keep the Dregs out. She tells Nevi and Graham to fix the teleport and Yaz and Ryan to keep the Dregs at bay while she and Bella go to find Sylas.

While Graham struggles to help and the Doctor tries to formulate a plan with Sylas in view, Yaz uses an air hose of oxygen to keep the Dregs out. Letting Bella take Sylas to safety, the Doctor distracts the alpha Dreg that she nicknames Wheezy. Sylas makes up with his father and gets to work on fixing the teleport. Meanwhile, the Doctor locks herself and Bella in a cage in the command centre so she can talk to Wheezy. She explains that both species need the existing air to keep each other alive, so their mutual survival is vital. Understanding, Wheezy steps back and enters the cage in their place.

At the teleport station, Sylas fixes the systems as the hotel blows up. However, there are too many people to teleport at once, and as the Dregs advance, Bella kisses Ryan and insists on fighting. Nevi and Sylas are first to leave, but Bella's weapon fails on her. However, she is saved by the rearrival of Kane and the two fend them off together. With no choice but to escape, the Doctor and friends teleport away as Ryan and Bella say goodbye by putting their thumbs in their mouths.

In the TARDIS, the group is shaken, not knowing how Kane and Bella will live. They are equally shocked about Orphan 55 being Earth, but the Doctor insists it is only one possible future. She cannot ensure Earth's safety but points out how 21st-century humans need to face the facts to avert that future from happening. She leaves them with a harrowing message: "Lives change worlds. People can save planets or wreck them. That's the choice. Be the best of humanity."


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.




  • Due to the squids mating, they leave the TARDIS entrance in a sticky liquid mess, requiring Yaz, Ryan and the Doctor to clean up with sponges and mops.
  • The "six coupon" offer gets delivered through the coffee machine.


  • Graham says cockle.
  • Graham says an underground sign looks like it's in Russian, but the Doctor informs him that it is Novosibirsk.



  • Yaz says the Doctor is in a "mardy mood".
  • Kane and Vorm are security at Tranquility Spa.
  • Benni says to Vilma that he saw some newlyweds at the reception and that Tranquility is a good place for a honeymoon. He has a wedding ring prepared.
  • Tranquility have all sorts of different-species humanoid guests.
  • The Doctor once had hopper first-aid training.
  • Ryan tells Bella he's "a surgeon... pilot... surgeon for pilots". Bella tells Ryan she's a hotel critic.
  • Nevi is the maintenance guy at Tranquility Spa. He has a son Sylas who thinks the Spa is way more fun than his mother's house.
  • Ryan admits he's working in a warehouse. Bella admits she's unemployed.
  • The Doctor says that with crayons and half a can of Spam she could build Kane from scratch.
  • Bella was her father's carer until he died. She says her mother made Nevi look like Parent of the Year.
  • The Doctor says sometimes when she has a plan she only has 3/8s, sometimes 2/8s and sometimes just the letter "P", but that's all she needs.



Food and beverages[]

  • Graham says he's going to get cocktails.
  • Ryan gets himself a bag of crisps.


Medical ailments and remedies[]

  • The symptoms of a hopper virus in a human include wiggly fingers, which immediately signal the legs giving out, and hallucinations.
  • Graham briefly wonders if he is having a stroke after bumping his head on an invisible void panel.
  • Kane says she has stashed a medipack in the tunnel.


  • The Bandohzi Herald coupons are, when put together, a teleport cube.
  • Tranquility Spa has a computer tannoy that can be heard all over the Spa.
  • Vorm thinks there's a system virus.
  • Kane and Vorm have radios to contact each other.
  • Ryan thinks the vending machine gave him an electric shock.
  • Kane and Vorm have guns.
  • The Doctor uses her psychic paper to pretend to be a Pan-Galactic Standards and Practices Officer, Health and Safety, Security and Hygiene and Resort Inspector.
  • Tranquility is defended by an ionic membrane, which fails.
  • The Doctor installs a debug script to neutralise the hopper viruses.
  • Kane asks Vorm to uncloak Void panel SE9-13.
  • The Doctor figures that Tranquillity Spa is a Fakation.
  • Kane's gun is fitted with an exciplex modulator.
  • Bella has built bombs all around the Spa.
  • The teleports have bounce capacitors which need syrillium 4 to work.
  • Syrillium 4 mutates from syrillium 3 via the hopper virus.
  • The teleports have a drive core.
  • Nevi has a snap hammer and a crash wrench.

Story notes[]

  • Unlike Spyfall: Part One, and arguably Part Two, this episode lacks a cold opening.
  • Vilma's constant cries of "Benni!" throughout the story have gone viral as an Internet meme.
  • The revelation that Orphan 55 was really a ruined Earth and the Doctor's bleak summation of it at the end of the episode have become points of contention among fans.
  • An early version of this story was titled Safari and was planned for Series 11. It would have been set on an ex-military compound turned into a safari park on the planet Kryll, made for tourists to witness the local Blox/Damaje species. Vilma and Benni were named Edith and Albert and an alien hunter named the Dentist would have led the Doctor's group to rescue Albert from the creature he wanted to capture. (DWM 570 supplement)
  • This episode was ranked as Doctor Who Magazine readers' least favourite Thirteenth Doctor story in their 60th anniversary poll of 2023. (DWM 594)


  • 4.19 million (BBC overnight)[2]
  • 5.38 million (BBC overall)[3]

Filming locations[]

  • Gun club, Barry - tunnels and Dreg nest
  • Teide National Park, Tenerife, Spain - Orphan 55 wasteland
  • Carr, Tenerife, Spain - Orphan 55
  • El Faro, Tenerife, Spain - Orphan 55
  • Sendero del Chinyero, Tenerife, Spain - Orphan 55
  • Auditorio de Tenerife "Adán Martín", Tenerife, Spain - Tranquility Spa
  • Parque Marítimo César Manrique, Tenerife, Spain - Tranquility Spa
  • Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff - stairway, underground complex
  • Old Western Mill Printworks, Pacific Business Park, Cardiff - armoured truck
  • Barry - underground complex
  • Howell's School, Llandaff, Cardiff - pick-up shots

(All DWM 570 supplement)

Production errors[]

  • A Dreg is seen smashing its way into the vehicle through the roof. However in the next shot, it is not on the roof.
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.


Home video releases[]

DVD and Blu-ray releases[]

  • This story was released as part of the Complete Twelfth Series boxset on DVD and Blu-ray in region 1/A on 9 June 2020, in region 2/B on 4 May 2020 and in region 4/B on 3 June 2020.

Digital releases[]

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

External links[]