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The Time of Angels was the fourth episode of series 5 of Doctor Who.

It was the first part of a two-part story. It saw the return of the enigmatic woman of the Doctor's future, River Song, and the Weeping Angels. Throughout the episode, hints are given about River's relationship with the Doctor in his personal future. It also showed the purpose the Church will serve in the 51st century.


The enigmatic River Song hurtles back into the Eleventh Doctor's life, but she's not the only familiar face returning — the Weeping Angels are back! Following River's calling card, the Doctor is recruited to help track down the last of the Angels, which has escaped from the Byzantium starliner and into the terrifying Maze of the Dead.


A man spins dazedly in a green field on a sunny day. There is a lipstick smear on his mouth. He is approached by two armed guards and a man in evening clothes. He tells them what a beautiful day it is. The man wipes the hallucinogenic lipstick off, revealing the dazed guard is actually standing in the metallic corridor of a spaceship. He states grimly, "She's here."

Elsewhere in the ship, a woman in high heels blasts through a steel door with a firearm; behind it, is a room with a black box suspended in the centre. She changes the gun's settings, and uses it as a torch, burning a message onto the box's face.

Meanwhile, twelve thousand years later, the Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond explore the Delirium Archive, the final resting place of the Headless Monks. Amy is bored. The Doctor promised to take her to a planet next, and the museum is on an asteroid. She wonders why they are at a museum while the Doctor announces that most of the displays are "wrong" until coming to one that he says is "one of mine". Amy deduces that this is how he keeps score.

The Doctor is fascinated by the box seen earlier. He says it's a home box, which works like an aeroplane's black box except it homes. He says the message scrawled on the box is for him. It is written in Old High Gallifreyan. Amy asks what the message says, and the Doctor exasperatedly replies, "Hello, sweetie." They steal the box and run to the TARDIS, pursued by guards.

The Doctor connects the home box to the TARDIS console, and explains that someone is trying to get his attention. Getting a visual, he sees River Song smiling at the camera. Changing the footage, River is now cornered in front of an airlock by the man in evening clothes and two guards. She explains coolly she needed to see what was in the vault and warns them that the ship will not reach its destination.

As the guards prepare to shoot her, River rattles off "7775/349x10,012/acorn" — coordinates — and requests an air corridor. The Doctor sets the TARDIS controls for River's location. Meanwhile, River tells the men they'd better find something to hold on to. They grab for handholds as alarms sound, and the airlock blows open. A calm River floats out into space just as the TARDIS materialises. She flies inside, knocking the Doctor to the floor. Surprised to see her again, the Doctor greets her. But the Byzantium's getting away. River yells "Follow that ship!"

As the TARDIS chases after the ship, River suggests using the stabilisers. The Doctor notes that the TARDIS doesn't have stabilisers... until she presses a blue button, and the TARDIS stops shaking. As River takes over the piloting, the Doctor sits down and complains about the "blue boringers". Amy asks him who River is and how she can fly the TARDIS, prompting the Doctor sneer at River's style of piloting. River says she had lessons from the very best. The Doctor looks smug until she adds, "A shame you were busy that day."

River announces that she's plotted all possible landing locations, and, with a soft thud, that she's parked the TARDIS next to the Byzantium. However, the Doctor protests to the TARDIS having landed; the dematerialisation noise didn't sound, so he's sceptical. River replies that it only makes that sound because he leaves the brakes on, though he insists it's a brilliant noise. The Doctor, grumbling, opens the door — despite River's warnings that they must do environmental checks — and announces they have landed on Alfava Metraxis, which has an oxygen-rich atmosphere, an eleven-hour day, and a chance of rain later. River sneers, "He thinks he's so hot when he does that."


The Doctor introduces Amy to River.

River exits the TARDIS before the Doctor gets ready to leave. He tells Amy that River is his future, and can run away from it if he wishes to, but Amy reminds him that he promised her a planet and insists on spending 5 minutes there. The Doctor reluctantly accepts, though insists River is not dragging them into anything. They exit the TARDIS to see the smouldering wreckage of the Byzantium atop a stony plateau. On Amy's request, the Doctor introduces her to Professor River Song. Happy to learn that she'll be a professor one day, Rivers states her trademark, "spoilers"; the Doctor is annoyed he just gave away foreknowledge. River asks the Doctor to boost the signal of her radio with his sonic screwdriver, so that she can use it as a homing beacon for reinforcements in orbit. She also mentions there was one survivor of the crash, something that can never die; she notes that "now he's listening". She produces her diary, and asks the Doctor where she's landed in his timeline. The Doctor orders Amy to keep away from it, as it is "Her past, my future".

Before River can read off any past adventures, four men in combat uniform teleport in and approach them. Their leader, Father Octavian, is rather cross; River had promised him an army. However, she corrects him, saying that she promised the equivalent of an army. He takes back his complaint once introduced to the Doctor. They then reveal their enemy. Turning to the Doctor, River asks him what he knows of the Weeping Angels.

By nightfall, the Doctor is fed up with Amy's persistent questions about his relationship with River and with her disobedience of his order to wait in the TARDIS. River calls them to a drop-ship to show them footage of the Weeping Angel they're chasing. It is a four-second clip on a loop. The Doctor and River explain the nature of the Weeping Angel to Amy and Father Octavian, including their quantum-lock defence mechanism; the Doctor also briefly recounts his previous encounter with the Weeping Angels on Earth. The Angel that they're after had been patient and feigned dormancy since it was discovered. All but Amy depart the drop-ship as River offers the Doctor a book about the Angels; he reads the whole book in seconds. He is perplexed; something is missing, but he doesn't know what.

5x04 Time of the Angels 174

The Angel moves closer to Amy.

While the others make plans, Amy is left with nothing to do. Looking back at the tape, she realises the Weeping Angel has changed its position slightly. When she asks River if she has more than one clip of the Angel, River says no, it's just the one. When Amy looks back, the Angel has moved again; it now faces the camera with its arms spread out. The door behind her shuts without her noticing. Amy tries to turn off the television, but it quickly switches back on. She then tries and fails to unplug it. When she looks back up, though, the Angel's face has filled the screen. She tries to leave, but the door won't budge. She looks back again to find the Angel is now baring its fangs at her.

Outside, River wonders how early the Doctor is in his time stream. When he replies it is fairly early, she is amused because he doesn't know who she is yet. The Doctor wonders how she knows who he is as he doesn't always look the same. River says that she has all his faces in her diary, but he doesn't show up in order; River thinks she needs a spotter's guide. The Doctor then realises what the book of angels is missing: pictures. Why would there be no visual on what to look out for? River says there was a mention about images in the book. The Doctor returns to the sentence and reads it aloud: "Whatever takes the image of an Angel becomes itself an Angel." He ponders its meaning.

Back in the dropship, Amy looks away again. This time, when she looks back, the Angel has projected itself into the drop-ship as a hologram. Amy shouts for the Doctor. He runs to the door and tries to open it with the sonic screwdriver, but fails. River tries burning through the hull as the Doctor fails to cut the power; the Angel has added a deadlock seal, though, and neither succeed, River noting it's "not even warm". The Doctor warns Amy not to blink, then looks back into the book, and adds she is not to look into the Angel's eyes; however, Amy already has, though doesn't mention it. The Doctor explains to River the book says that the eyes are the "doors" to the soul, not windows.

Realising there is a blip in the loop where there's no picture, Amy freezes the recording at that moment, ending the "image" and shutting off the screen. The Doctor and River enter; the Doctor orders River to hug and comfort Amy because he's busy scanning the plug to the television. He explains that it was a projection of the Angel they're after, not the Angel itself; it was scoping out its foes, and remarks that "it's no longer dormant". An explosion sounds outside, and Octavian enters to tell them the Clerics have blasted into the structure. The Doctor departs, convinced things are going to get even worse. Amy rubs her eye. She tells River there's something in it.

5x04 Time of the Angels 219

The Maze of the Dead.

The group climbs down into the temple, finding a gravity well inside. The Doctor says it is the perfect hiding place for the Angel. He kicks a gravity globe high into the air. With the space lit, the interior is revealed: hundreds of disintegrating stone statues. Finding the Angel is going to be like finding a needle in a haystack. The Clerics wonder how they are going to neutralise the Angel. The best strategy the Doctor can think of is to "Find it, and hope."

The Doctor and Amy rush off to explore, but Father Octavian holds River back, warning her they need the Doctor on their side; the Doctor must never know why she's imprisoned, or he won't help them. As she leaves, Octavian sends Clerics Christian and Angelo to investigate the one exit visible from the chamber.

In one of the tunnels, Amy has stopped some distance away from the Doctor to rub her eye. This time, dust runs between her fingers; Amy is shocked by this, but the dust vanishes. River appears behind her and gives her an inoculation to protect her from the radiation from the ship. Amy asks River about her relationship with the Doctor. River is evasive and Amy continues to believe they are married. The Doctor hears them but denies it. River points out that he's holding a device upside-down. This reassures Amy that she is right; River doesn't confirm this, but simply says Amy is "good".

Elsewhere, Christian and Angelo are complaining about the mission, even preferring to go back to hunting lava snakes. Christian decides to investigate another passage but soon finds his torchlight flickering. He turns to call for Angelo to come to him, but the Weeping Angel kills him. Oddly, Angelo receives a transmission from the now-deceased Christian to come and see something. When he does, he also finds his torchlight flickering. He turns to see the Angel just as it kills him as well.

The Doctor, Amy and River explore the maze. He remembers the Aplans who built the crypt, saying he had dinner with the chief architect. According to him, the species had two heads. He changes the subject, asking River about the last line in the book — it's a rather ominous prophecy: "What happens when ideas have thoughts of their own? What happens when dreams no longer need dreamers? When these things have come to pass, the time will be upon us. The Time of Angels." The Doctor grimly tells River he hoped he mis-remembered that.

Cleric Bob

Bob listens to the Doctor's encouragement.

They hear gunfire and return to the main chamber. Cleric Bob has fired at a statue, thinking it looked at him. Octavian berates him, telling Bob that according to the Doctor, they are facing an enemy of unimaginable evil and it would serve them best not to be scared of decor. However, the Doctor insists Bob's fear will keep him alert and fast; "anyone who isn't scared is a moron." The Doctor becomes embarrassed when he realises he insulted the cool-headed Octavian. Octavian orders Bob to guard the entrance with Christian and Angelo, while he and the four other Clerics join the Doctor's exploration.

As they ascend to the second-to-last level, River tells the Doctor that something's wrong, but doesn't know what. The Doctor's feeling the same. He then tells Amy that they should go meet the Aplans some time; Amy counters that they're dead. "So is, Virginia Woolf. I'm on her bowling team." the Doctor laughs. The Doctor explains that the Aplans were a relaxed happy race, and then the Church prevented self-marriage. Examining a statue while Amy points out that divorce of self-marriage must have been messy, the Doctor and River have a terrifying epiphany. As they explain, the Aplans had two heads... So why don't the statues?

Gathering everyone behind him, the Doctor has them turn off their torchlights. When they turn back on after a second, all of the statues have turned to face them; every single statue is an Weeping Angel! River wonders how they didn't notice, to which the Doctor says it is either because of a low level perception filter or because they were too thick to notice the oddity. Amy notes how slow the angels are, as they should've had them by now; the Doctor puts this down to starvation after being there for centuries without a supply of energy.

Elsewhere, Cleric Bob gets a call from Angelo over his radio, begging him to come and see something. Angelo becomes increasingly annoyed that Bob won't come, telling him it's something he has to see. Finally, Bob does so, and he's killed by the same Angel.

Back to the Doctor's group, he's deduced the angels are slowly being restored by the radiation leaking from the wreckage; the Byzantium was crashed by the healthy Angel to save its species. Apparently, the Angels caused the extinction of the Aplans by displacing too many of them in time, leaving hardly enough left to reproduce and keep the species alive. Octavian radios Bob to warn him. Bob says he's on his way and that the others are dead; the Angels have broken their necks.

The Doctor is surprised; Angels normally displace their victims in time, unless they need bodies for something. He asks Bob how he got away, but Bob explains the Angel killed him as well. River and Amy share a grim stare. The Doctor asks how he can be talking to him, and learns that the Angels stripped the cerebral cortex from Bob and reanimated a copy of his consciousness to speak to them as it cannot speak their language. When Bob said that "he" is on his way, he really meant the Angel. The group flees to the Byzantium while the Doctor chats with Bob, confirming he is speaking to the original Angel; thus as it's not in the ship, it's the safest place..

5x04 Time of the Angels 348

The Angels approach.

As the Doctor runs to join the others, he finds Amy frozen in the corridor. She tells the Doctor that, because she looked into the Angel's eyes earlier, her hand has turned to stone. He must leave her. Her hand is not stone, though, and it's just the Weeping Angels playing with her mind. As the lights in the cavern flicker and the Angels approach, the Doctor apologises, but Amy tells him she understands why he must leave her; he doesn't mean for that, and bites her hand, taking her out of the trance. They meet up with the others, who are standing on a rocky ledge some fifty feet beneath the Byzantium wreckage; they're trapped.

"Sacred Bob" radios the Doctor again. He says there is nowhere for the Doctor to go and the Angels will kill them all. The Angels are also keen to have him know that the real Bob was afraid when he died; the Doctor had assured Bob that his fear would keep him fast, but he died alone and afraid. They are trying to make the Doctor angry, and angering the Doctor is a very bad move.

The Doctor Aims a Gun at a Gravity Globe

The Doctor prepares to outwit the Angels' trap.

The Doctor tells Bob that he's sorry for his death, promising what's left of him that the Angels will pay. But they're trapped with no chance of escape. The Doctor tells Bob that there is something wrong with the trap: a great, big mistake. He asks the group if they trust him. He takes Octavian's sidearm and orders them to jump on his signal. The Doctor warns the Angels, "There's one thing you never put in a trap, if you're smart, if you value your continued existence, if you have any plans about seeing tomorrow, there is one thing you never, ever put in a trap."

"Me!" The Doctor then shoots the gravity globe with Octavian's sidearm, plunging them into total darkness...


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.

Reza Karim and Jill Reeves were interviewed on the accompanying Doctor Who Confidential, credited as "Prosthetics Supervisors". Likewise, Ailsa Berk is clearly seen providing choreography for the Weeping Angels in Confidential. However, none of these people were listed in the end credits of The Time of Angels as originally broadcast on BBC One.



  • Berger was in charge of laying the explosives.
    • This is an incorrect hearing. "Berger" is not the person's name -- the individual is addressed by his title, the clerical position "verger", just like the commander is a "father".
  • The Doctor is on Virginia Woolf's bowling team.
  • Amy guesses that River Song is the Doctor's wife in the future. River doesn't tell the truth to keep the established timeline from being polluted. However, she notes Amy is good for being able to figure this out from their interactions.
  • Everyone in the service of the Church is given a Sacred Name.


  • The Doctor states that humans are like rabbits, spreading out across the universe.
  • Over hundreds of years Weeping Angels lose their form.
  • The Aplans are a two-headed species.
  • The Doctor had dinner with the Aplans' chief architect.
  • The Aplans are said to have died out over 400 years before the Byzantium crashed on Alfava Metraxis.
  • The Delerium Archive is the final resting place of the Headless Monks.
  • There are over 6 billion human colonists on Alfava Metraxis.
  • In the book the Doctor reads about the Weeping Angels, it states "that which holds the image of an Angel becomes itself an Angel".
  • One of the Clerics talks about chasing lava snakes.
  • River says the Angel was retrieved from the ruins of Razbahan.


  • The TARDIS is capable of creating and extending an air corridor.
  • River Song says the TARDIS has brakes.
  • According to River Song, the TARDIS isn't supposed to make the classic materialisation/dematerialisation noise; she says it's because the Doctor always leaves the brakes on, which he counters by saying he likes the sound the TARDIS makes.
  • The TARDIS can operate like a spaceship, following the Byzantium through space before jumping through time to reach the crash site.
  • The TARDIS has blue stabiliser buttons the Doctor seemed unaware of; however, he then says that they are "boring".





  • The soldiers who accompany River Song are from the Church.
  • The Angels' use of the phrase, "Come and see", is a reference to the Horsemen of the Apocalypse in Revelation, specifically the Angel of Death.


  • A home box is like a flight recorder; if a ship crashed it would fly to the spacecraft's planet of origin.
  • The projection of a Weeping Angel is able to deadlock seal the landing pod, despite the pod not having the capability.
  • Perception filters are referred to again.
  • The new sonic screwdriver is as ineffective against deadlock seals as its predecessors.


  • The Byzantium is a spacecraft carrying a Weeping Angel. It crash lands when its warp engines suffer a phase shift.


Story notes[]

  • This was the first episode of Series 5 to be shot, and therefore the first episode featuring Matt Smith and Karen Gillan.[2] This was the second time that a new Doctor began his tenure by recording something other than his first adventure. Peter Davison had initially taped his second story, Four to Doomsday, while his introduction in Castrovalva was actually the fourth of his serials to be shot.
  • This is Amy's first meeting with River Song, who, unknown to her, is actually her daughter.
  • Amy Pond thinks her hand has turned to stone. Karen Gillan had previously appeared in TV: The Fires of Pompeii as a member of the Sibylline Sisterhood, a cult of soothsayers whose flesh was beginning to turn to stone under the influence of the Pyroviles.
  • This is the third appearance of the Weeping Angels if one counts non-TV appearances; they have previously featured in TV: Blink and in Captain Jack's Monster Files. (See WC: A Ghost Story for Christmas)
  • The Doctor ripping the strap off the ceiling of one of the small ships was originally an accident; the producers liked the idea so much that they filmed Matt Smith doing it again.
  • At one point in the episode, Bob shot one of the statues because he thought it looked at him. All the statues turned out to be Weeping Angels, so the statue probably did look at Bob.

The controversial cartoon.

  • During its airing in some parts of England, an animated advert for the talent show Over the Rainbow began playing over the cliffhanger. This sparked complaints to the BBC, who later apologised. The advert contained an animated Graham Norton, who later joked about it on his own show – saying he finally secured a role on Doctor Who. However, his voice had already been overheard during the first episode of the revived series, Rose, when an error in broadcasting began playing the audio of a trailer featuring Norton for another of his talent shows, Strictly Dance Fever. In referring to his "appearance" in "Time of Angels," Norton then played a version of the cartoon banner, with a Dalek exterminating his cartoon self; coincidentally, the same show also featured an appearance by Karen Gillan and they spoke further about the error.
  • This is the first episode of Series 5 not to feature one of the Cracks, but one does show up in the next episode. This is likely because it is the first of a two-part story.
  • One question commonly asked by fans regarding TV: Blink was why Sally Sparrow and Larry Nightingale did not try closing one eye at a time to keep the Weeping Angels at bay. When the Angel is attacking Amy, she tries this, but remarks on how difficult it actually is.
  • The episode ran short in its original cut because high tides at the beach location forced the abandonment of about three scripted pages — including the scene which had been used to audition Karen Gillan for the part of Amy Pond. In its place, Steven Moffat inserted the scene where River flies the TARDIS, filmed as a pick-up. (DCOM: The Time of Angels)
  • Matt Smith actually bit Karen Gillan's hand on several takes to provoke a proper reaction.
  • Most of the Weeping Angels are not statue props but young women wearing masks, costumes, and paint that took two to three hours to apply. Adam Smith called them "an absolute nightmare to film with" because it took a long time for them to get ready and they had to stand still for long periods of time.
  • In the script it was not written in that River would land on the Doctor when she flew into the TARDIS. It was an idea that Matt Smith came up with in rehearsal that proved difficult to film.
  • In the pod when River Song is showing the recorded film of the Weeping Angel, early in the scene a sealed suit helmet can be seen that is at least the same make/model used by Professor Song and her party in Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead.
  • Wet conditions constantly plagued the shoot during the crew's stay in Puzzlewood, forcing considerable rescheduling. One consequence was that Stephen Martin-Walters could not complete his scenes as the Cleric Crispin, and so many of his lines were shared between Crispin's colleagues Marco, Pedro and Phillip instead. Another rewrite saw Steven Moffat give the Doctor a line to explicitly acknowledge the incessant rain.
  • One of the clerics is named "Bob" and this is called a 'sacred name'. This may be a reference to the real life religion Church of the SubGenius.
  • For the scene in which sand pours out of Amy's eye as she rubs it, an eye patch containing sand that would be released when Karen Gillan rubbed it was placed over her eye.
  • Adam Smith wished River Song's entrance to be a shocking surprise to the audience. A stunt double was used for some shots of the scene where River flies out of the Byzantium's airlock, but Alex Kingston wished to do some of it herself. The scene was filmed on a greenscreen with Kingston hooked up on wires that pulled her up and backwards as a wind machine was blown to create the effect of the airlock. Kingston said she "absolutely loved" filming the scene.
  • Iain Glen would later play Ser Jorah Mormont on Game of Thrones. Matt Smith would later play Daemon Targaryen in the prequel series House of the Dragon.
  • Adam Smith was keen to help forge a close bond between Matt Smith and Karen Gillan, so he worked with them to develop the dynamics of their characters' relationship. Given the pulse-pounding situations in which the TARDIS would deposit them, he even encouraged the two actors to share an adventurous thrill ride. The result was a frenetic boat excursion off Cardiff Bay, which proved more to Gillan's liking than Smith's.


  • 6.8 million viewers (UK overnight)
  • 8.59 million viewers (UK final)[3]

Filming locations[]


  • When River Song meant she had pictures of all the Doctor's faces, it meant she had pictures of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Doctor. This was proven false in both The Time of the Doctor when the Eleventh Doctor explained he was the last incarnation, and in The Husbands of River Song when we saw the photos of the faces.
  • Amy Pond's outfit is a deliberate reference to a similar outfit worn by Romana II in Warrior's Gate. While the outfit is superficially similar, to date no one on production has confirmed whether this is a deliberate callback.


  • A teaser from Digital Spy implied a data ghost device would appear in this episode.[1]
    This proved partially true. The same suits which have the devices were spotted in the episode, but were not used.

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.
  • When the Doctor is talking to Angel Bob over the radio, he doesn't have a torch in his hand. In the next shot, running past Amy, he is shown with one.
  • The warning on the dropship door reads "CAUTION: Trip Hazzard". The word is properly spelt "Hazard".
  • When River is in space, the TARDIS has white windows. The scene cuts to a close up of the Doctor, and the windows are black. Also, the St John's Ambulance badge is missing from the door. Steven Moffat admits on the DVD commentary that it is the "David Tennant police box", but falls short of laying blame at the feet of any particular production member.
  • When the Doctor asks River to read out the end of the book, she is clearly reading from the middle of it.
  • Steven Moffat notes in the in-vision commentary that there are massive continuity errors throughout the episode with respect to the length of Matt Smith's hair. Indeed, careful examination reveals that Smith's hair has several different lengths, sometimes within the same scene.
  • At the end when the Doctor is seen shooting the gravity globe, he does not actually move his finger, but the pistol still shoots.


Home video releases[]


Series 5, volume 2 DVD cover.

DVD & Blu-ray releases[]

  • Series 5, Volume Two was released on DVD and Blu-Ray in region 2/B on 5 July 2010 and region 4/B on 5 August 2010. The volume features The Time of Angels, Flesh and Stone and The Vampires of Venice, and the featurette The Monster Diaries.
  • The episode was later released in the Complete Fifth Series boxset on both DVD and Blu-ray, in region 1/A on 9 November 2010, in region 2/B on 8 November 2010 and in region 4/B on 2 December 2010.
  • A DVD-only release of Series 5, Part One, containing the first six episodes of the series, was released in region 1 on 15 March 2016.

Digital releases[]

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

External links[]