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The Witch's Familiar was the second episode of series 9 of Doctor Who.

It probed the reason why the Doctor had fled from Gallifrey and gave a needed explanation as to why Skaro had returned after it was shown to be destroyed in Remembrance of the Daleks; Davros comments that the Daleks rebuilt it. It also divulged how Missy had escaped her death in Death in Heaven, using the same technique to allow herself and Clara to survive the cliffhanger of the previous episode. In addition, it introduced the sonic sunglasses to replace the Doctor's sonic screwdriver.

This story was further notable for exploring several new narratives with Davros. For the first time, Davros was seen outside his chair, revealing both a lack of legs and Dalek technology hooking him into the chair, amongst them a reason why he only ever used his right hand. Davros also opened his own eyes for the first time on-screen, and the possibility of him dying an indisputable death--as well as him regretting his actions--was brought up. This story was also the first to show Davros cry, as well as sharing a moment where he and the Doctor genuinely find something funny and laugh together. It was also the first time Davros and the Master encountered each other on-screen.

How Missy manages to escape at the end of the story, despite lacking her vortex manipulator is never revealed.


The Doctor is trapped in the place that is the nightmare of all Time Lords: Skaro, the home planet of the Daleks. Forced to keep Davros company, the Doctor will be tempted by the dying madman to trying to do something for the greater good of the universe; however, is this really what Davros had intended, or does he have something else up his sleeve?

Elsewhere, the Doctor's best friend and Clara Oswald are figuring out how to rescue him.


On the outskirts of the Dalek City, Clara awakens to find herself suspended upside down in the air by rope and Missy sharpening a stick nearby. Missy tells her they'll probably have to hunt for food, hence the stick, Clara asks if that's the case, why is she tied up; Missy retorts with a mischievous wink "in case there's nothing to hunt". Clara is left confused as she's sure the Daleks killed them. Deciding it will help them pass the time, Missy begins revealing how she managed to save the both of them from being killed by the Daleks.

Missy thinks back to how the Doctor once faced 50 invisible Android Assassins without a TARDIS or companion, just his sonic screwdriver and a teleport device - "in short, the Doctor happy." As she can't remember which Doctor had this adventure, as they're all the same person to her, she decides to put the Twelfth Doctor in it. At the moment, Missy stops the story, asking Clara if she can figure out how the Doctor managed to live right when the androids fired on him.

Clara thinks it's because he's clever, to which Missy laughs and tells her to think. Clara mentally rewinds the story and gets the answer: where did the Doctor get the teleport device? Missy says the Doctor got it from one of the androids, prompting Clara to realise the Doctor used syphoned energy from the blasts to power the teleporter and escape. Clara is impressed with the trick: the Doctor escapes and the androids think he's dead. However, Missy points out this is the Doctor they're talking about—he's not that lucky. The Doctor ended up teleporting into a nest of vampire monkeys, "but that's another story!"

Clara realises Missy copied what the Doctor did when she turned the dead into Cybermen, teleporting away using the energy from the Brigadier's attack. She repeated the process to save herself and Clara from extermination; an easy task since their manipulators were linked. However, the Daleks' blasts fried their manipulators. Without them or a TARDIS, they are left stranded on Skaro. Missy frees Clara, albeit painfully for Clara, and both stare at the city; Missy states that standing between them and the Doctor is everything that the greatest empire in the universe can throw at them, but they have a pointy stick. She asks Clara where they start; Clara tells Missy it starts by believing they can win. Laughing, Missy agrees to go along with her idea but starts she was feeling a bit hungry. They walk off, with Clara asking if she can have a stick; Missy tells her to make her own.

Meanwhile, the Doctor searches the infirmary and finds a gunstick, grabs it and threatens Davros, aiming directly behind his head. Davros tells him it's ancient and inoperable; the Doctor quickly repairs the device, proving Davros wrong. The Doctor tells Davros to "get out"; Davros explains that he cannot leave. Increasingly angry, the Doctor yells for him to get out again.

The Daleks see Davros' signal leaving the infirmary; he calls for the Daleks to aid him. The Supreme Dalek orders that assistance is given, telling Davros to go back. However, Davros tells all Daleks to find the escaping Doctor. The Supreme Dalek orders the Doctor's capture, as Davros' signal arrives right outside of the command centre. Told to admit their creator, the Daleks beginning opening the door, which shows Davros' chair. A Dalek checks the infirmary, finding Davros on the ground, yelling for Sarff; the poor ancient madman lacks a lower body. Sarff slithers in to aid his master.

Doctor makes a Dalek nightmare reality

"Admit it - you've all had this exact nightmare."

The door finishes opening, revealing the Doctor pulled Davros out of his chair and took it for himself. Riding into the room of surprised Daleks, the Doctor tells them to admit to having "this exact nightmare." The Daleks attempt exterminating the Doctor, but find him unharmed. Even more strange is that the Doctor is enjoying a cup of tea. He tells them "I'm the Doctor, just accept it." The Doctor explains "Davros is an insane, paranoid scientist who has survived centuries around trigger-happy mini tanks", and thus has a personal force-field to keep them from killing him. Even a lunatic learns from his mistakes. Amused, the Doctor says he's keeping the chair.

Threatening the Supreme Dalek with a gunstick, he asks if any Dalek is brave enough to admit Clara is dead; if she's not, she's to be brought to him. Davros appears on the monitor, telling the Doctor that it's good to see him learn; that this desire for conquest is an improvement in his character. The Doctor taunts Davros, asking how he is, as he's not getting his chair back as it's taken. Davros smirks, saying that the chair is indeed taken by someone else; just not the Doctor. At that moment snakes emerge from the chair, causing the Doctor to lose grip on the gunstick; Colony Sarff has left agents wherever Davros needs them. The snakes wrap completely around the Doctor, causing him to pass out from a lack of oxygen.

Meanwhile, Missy and Clara are standing in another area on the outskirts of the City. After having heard the Doctor's call for Clara, they enter the Dalek sewers. Unable to see the bottom, Clara suggests chucking a rock in; Missy agrees but pushes Clara in instead. Hearing Clara yell and then land with a thud, Missy concludes it was a 20ft fall. The lack of any moans of pain from Clara means that the landing knocked her out cold. Clara later awakens to find Missy standing in front of her, then grabs her stick and threatens her. However, Missy reclaims her stick and enters the main sewer area, explaining Dalek sewers are different from normal ones as "they are ever so slightly alive"; Missy pokes a wall covered in gunk and an echoing Dalek wail fills the tunnel. A scared Clara asks what that was; Missy explains that Daleks are designed to keep on living no matter what happens to them. This "sewer" is made of Daleks that have aged into mush are stored, effectively serving as a graveyard of sorts.

Back in the infirmary, the Doctor awakens to find Davros back in his chair. Davros tells him to be grateful and should feel privileged as this item was not easy to procure: the only other chair on Skaro. The Doctor quickly picks himself up, but Davros advises him not to try leaving again as the room has been sealed shut. Unbeknownst to the Doctor, Colony Sarff is hidden amongst the tubes of Davros' life-support. Examining the life-support system, the Doctor is able to deduce its function. Davros is "vampiring" off the Daleks; so long as the Daleks' hearts beat, so does Davros'. The Daleks allow this because of the one flaw Davros couldn't get rid of in them: respect for the one who gave them life.

Davros shows the Doctor that Colony Sarff confiscated the confession dial and sunglasses; the Doctor quickly takes his sunglasses, saying they are one of the few things that matter to him. Davros points out the Doctor still plays the part of the fool, which the Doctor counters by saying it should still make Davros nervous. Davros asks why the Doctor came; the Doctor explains that he came because a sick man asked him to. Wondering what the Doctor has confessed, Davros asks to be gifted with such knowledge before he dies; the Doctor points out Davros keeps claiming to be dying soon, but never ends up doing so. "Can you give it some welly?' the Doctor retorts.

Davros wonders why the Doctor left Gallifrey, to which they argue; the Doctor states he was bored there but is homesick. The Doctor then wonders how Skaro came back, which Davros explains was due to the Daleks wanting a homeland; the Doctor points out that was actually Davros' longing for Skaro, which is in the Daleks' DNA. Amused, Davros points out that while his home and children are alive, the Time Lords and Gallifrey were forever lost in the Last Great Time War. However, the Doctor explains that he saved Gallifrey, and it's safe from the both of them, somewhere out there. Surprised, Davros asks if it's true; once it's confirmed, Davros gives the Doctor a sincere congratulation on his success. Confused, the Doctor asks why. Davros tells him that a man should have a people, a species, an allegiance; Davros notes that he failed to save the Kaleds. He tells the Doctor, if he has truly redeemed the Time Lords from the fire, he should hold onto them. Even if it means taking the darkest path through the harshest hell, the Doctor must ensure the Time Lords live.

Davros opens his eyes

Davros sees the Doctor with his true eyes.

Davros requests to see the Doctor's face. The Doctor tells him he's seen it enough; however, Davros says he wishes to see it with his own eyes, shutting off the implant in his forehead and opening his true eyes. Showing genuine fragility, Davros asks the Doctor a tough question: was he a good man, was he right to create the Daleks? The Doctor realises Davros is indeed dying, telling him he did doubt it. Davros tells him that they have confirmed only one thing; the Doctor is not a very good doctor. Both genuinely laugh at the Doctor's failure to see this.

In the sewer, Missy and Clara find an orb-like device in the wall; Missy has Clara investigate, cuffing her to a rail next to it. The orb opens, revealing a Dalek eye; it announces an intruder. Out of its sight, Missy explains that they need to lure a Dalek, and hides behind the next corridor. A Dalek arrives to collect Clara when a hissing sound comes from behind it; Missy taunts the Dalek, saying she's putting holes in it, using a dark star alloy brooch, a gift the Doctor once gave Missy's daughter. Clara asks Missy what she's doing, to which Missy explains "murdering a Dalek. I'm a Time Lady; it's our version of golf." The Dalek states that the damage to its casing is inconsequential. However, Missy disagrees, as they are surrounded by old, angry Daleks - "Nothing hates like a Dalek"; the remains of the older Daleks start flowing into the casing, attacking the younger one. Missy un-cuffs Clara, rushing her into another corridor as the Dalek casing randomly fires in the Dalek's confusion; eventually, an explosion comes from it. Missy whoops hysterically.

Clara inside a dalek (TWF)

Missy plugs Clara into the Dalek shell.

They return to the casing, where Missy pulls the now-dead Dalek mutant out of its casing; she has Clara sit in the armour and sticks the telepathic circuits into her temples. Missy calms her by explaining nanotech is healing the wounds while the armour is connected to her; however, no-one knows what happens after the telepathic circuits are pulled out. Missy has Clara test moving the shell by thinking of it, then seals her inside of it. Missy asks if Clara is okay, to which Clara confirms; however, now that the shell is shut, a Dalek voice now repeats her. However, somehow Clara's own voice cannot be heard coming from inside of the Dalek casing.

Amusing herself, Missy has Clara attempt saying her name, but gets "I am a Dalek" instead; she then has Clara try to say "you are different from me" and "I love you", but they come out as "exterminate". She then has Clara say "exterminate", causing the shell to spin and fire rapidly; Missy laughs as Clara exerts more control. Missy explains that unlike the Cybermen, who cut out their emotions, the Daleks harness it to fire their weapons, and reload by saying "exterminate." Now understanding how the Dalek shell works, Clara heads back into the hospital with Missy. They are confronted by a Dalek, which questions Clara as to why an intruder in the city hasn't been exterminated yet. As Clara isn't able to think of a good excuse, Missy takes control of the situation, explaining that she's a Time Lady, and thus a prisoner of value; she tells the Dalek to inform the Supreme Dalek had better be informed that "the bitch is back".

Back in the infirmary, the Doctor connects Davros' chair to the life support system and maxing out the life it can give the ancient scientist. Davros wonders why the Doctor is helping him, to which he hears the Doctor is doing something for the little boy he abandoned. Reflecting on the past, Davros says he wishes he and the Doctor had been on the same side; smiling, the Doctor tells Davros they're on the same side now. Davros says all he wants is to see one last sunrise, but cannot open his eyes now. As the sun looms on the horizon, the Doctor asks Davros "not to tell anyone that I did this" as his hand starts to glow with regenerative energy. Commenting that what he's about to do will "probably cost me an arm or a leg somewhere down the line", or just result in him being smaller in one of his future incarnations, the Doctor approaches Davros' life support as Davros chuckles softly behind him.

Doctor Regeneration Energy Siphoned

The Doctor's regeneration energy is syphoned from him by Davros.

Grabbing one of the tubes with his glowing hand, the Doctor prepares to donate a tiny bit of regenerative energy to revive Davros long enough to see the sunrise. However, the moment he touches the life-support, Sarff binds him to the cables, and the machinery begins to drain more energy from the Doctor, transmitting it to the Daleks, renewing them. Davros laughs, commenting that regenerative energy is "The ancient magic of the Time Lords", and remarking that he thought he would have to vivisect the Doctor to take it from him. He gloats the Doctor's compassion drove him to open his veins willingly, allowing all Daleks to "Drink the blood of Gallifrey."

In the Daleks' command room, Missy walks up to the Supreme Dalek, calling it her "special favourite" and not to tell anyone. The Supreme Dalek declares her to be an enemy of the Daleks, but Missy pokes fun of its logic; the Daleks considered anyone who isn't one of them to be an enemy, so that was an easy guess. Missy offers to reveal where Clara Oswald is (so they can control the Doctor) in exchange for an audience with Davros; this horrifies Clara. The Daleks endlessly chant for her to reveal her information; Missy refuses, dancing to their chanting (as they will not kill her if she has value). Suddenly, all the Daleks freeze, with their casings seeming to shut down. Missy wonders if this was because she was boring them. Missy reacts with horror as the regenerative energy that was stolen from the Doctor begins leaking from their casings. Telling Clara that she needs to find the Doctor, Missy runs off to find Davros' room.

The Daleks Regenerate

Missy watches in horror as the Daleks steal the Doctor's regeneration energy.

In the infirmary, Davros asks if the Doctor's true reason for leaving Gallifrey was because of a prophecy concerning the creation of a Dalek/Time Lord hybrid that he may now be the catalyst for. Before Davros can pursue this line of inquiry any further, Missy breaks in and zaps Colony Sarff with a gunstick, killing it. An exhausted Doctor is freed, though it is unclear if any of his remaining regenerations were consumed by Davros' attempt to harness his energy. Seeing Missy is alive, the Doctor knows that it means Clara is. Insulted, Missy tells him she's fine too. Elsewhere, the Daleks reactivate, gloating that they have been renewed, and begin chanting praise for Davros' experiment succeeding.

Davros gloats the Daleks have gained new strength, and that his own life has been prolonged; however, the Doctor pays no mind to him, reclaiming his confession dial as he counts down from three. Missy recognises the Doctor's face, wondering what her friend has done this time. At "one", the city begins shaking; Davros wonders what's happening. The Doctor has two words for him "Moron" and "Sewers". Missy begins laughing. The Doctor has used Davros' own plan against him; the regenerative energy Davros used to renew the Daleks was also distributed through the sewers beneath the city, and the decaying Daleks within have awoken "very cross" and started attacking the city. The Doctor sets off to find Clara, and Missy follows after informing Davros that it was a pleasure to finally meet him; she reaches to shake his hand. Instead, Missy pokes his eye implant, and runs off after the Doctor, laughing.

In the hall, Clara finds them, but cannot tell the Doctor that she's inside the Dalek shell, due to it not speaking what she wants. Missy lies, saying that Clara was killed by the Dalek casing in front of them, trying to goad the Doctor into using a gunstick to kill it; the Daleks are going to die anyway, so what's one Dalek dying to the Doctor? All Clara's attempts to tell the Doctor her identity come out "I am a Dalek" and "I am your enemy"; Missy says that "the Dalek" appears to be insanely gloating. Seeing the gunstick not firing, the Doctor asks the Dalek why it hasn't killed him. Begging the Doctor not to kill her, Clara causes the casing to say "I... show... mercy". The Doctor is perplexed as a Dalek shouldn't know that word. Clara gets the shell to repeat itself. Realising Missy might be tricking him, the Doctor tells Clara to open the casing; his suspicions are further confirmed when she asks how. He tells her to think the word.

The casing opens to reveal Clara, who was crying from fear. The Doctor glares at Missy for trying to trick him into killing Clara and tells her to run. Missy explains this is a metaphor as to why she gave Clara to the Doctor - to see the friend inside the enemy and vice versa. Reminding Missy to run after she concludes that "Everyone's a bit of both; everyone's a hybrid.", the Doctor is told that it was always him who ran; the Doctor begins helping Clara out. Continuing to run through the collapsing building, Missy is caught by the Daleks but tells them that she has an idea.

After freeing Clara of the Dalek casing, they head back to where the TARDIS was destroyed. The Supreme Dalek demands to know what's happening, to which the Doctor says "your sewers are revolting." The Doctor then reveals that the HADS broke apart the TARDIS to save it; all it will take to repair is using the sonic. Clara is surprised to hear this, noting she hasn't seen his screwdriver. The Doctor tells Clara he's over screwdrivers, putting on his new wearable technology, the sonic sunglasses. Activating them, the Doctor taunts the Daleks as he and Clara are sealed inside of the rebuilt TARDIS to flee.

The TARDIS materialises on a nearby hillside outside the Dalek city and the Doctor and Clara are standing, watching the city as it suffers damage. The Doctor wonders why the Dalek shell was able to say "mercy". He then realises what he must do. He returns to young Davros, shooting the Handmines with a Dalek gun, telling him it doesn't matter what side anyone's on so long as there's mercy. He then begins guiding Davros back home.


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.

Uncredited crew[]

Milk VFX[2]



  • Missy mentions she had a daughter.
  • Missy has a brooch made of a dark star alloy, which was a gift from the Doctor.
  • Davros likens the Doctor's compassion to a cancer, that grows stronger in him and that will kill him in the end.
  • Missy references Elton John's The Bitch Is Back when telling a Dalek those exact words.
  • Davros has a Skarosian chair.


  • The Dalek sewers connect to the Dalek City via Lower Level Thirteen.


  • Davros, as a child, thinks that the Doctor might be a Thal.
  • Missy says that murdering Daleks is like golf to Time Lords.
  • Missy said that Cybermen suppress emotion whereas Daleks channel it through their gunsticks.
  • Davros mentions a Gallifreyan prophecy about a hybrid creature that was "half-Dalek, half-Time Lord".

Story notes[]

  • This episode sees the last regular use of the sonic screwdriver model introduced in TV: The Eleventh Hour, in exchange of sonic sunglasses.
  • Missy is seen in a sewer. Previously, in the mini-episode The Curse of Fatal Death also written by Steven Moffat, an incompetent version of the Master was shown falling into an absurdly vast sewer three times and taking 312 years to climb out each time.
  • Davros says the Doctor is privileged to be able to use the only other chair on Skaro. This was similarly brought up inThe Curse of the Fatal Death, where the Doctor and his companion, Emma, were tied to chairs by Daleks; when Emma asked why the Daleks had chairs, the Doctor promised to "explain later."
  • On 27 September, the day after the episode's broadcast, the two-part opener was broadcast on BBC One and BBC One HD as one single feature-length episode.
  • This episode saw a rare use of the mild expletive "bitch" on the series, spoken by Missy. This is notable as the episode premiered pre-watershed hours on BBC One and Doctor Who is often considered a family-friendly television series. To further denote the rarity of this language on the show, the expletive was last heard somewhat in the second episode of Series 1, in TV: The End of the World by Rose Tyler.
  • In Missy's story sequence the Fourth Doctor and the First Doctor are seen briefly as she attempts to recall which incarnation had the adventure in her story.
  • This story was not, contrary to what one might expect, the first licensed Doctor Who narrative to feature Daleks regenerating, as the idea had formed the backbone of the spoof comic strip Regeneration of a Dalek. Notably, in that story, the regeneration had affected the Dalek's entire casing, not just its inner organic self.
  • This is the first story since Inferno not to include the famous "sting" at the end of the episode.
  • The Doctor thinks he will be shorter in his next incarnation; which is proven right. The Thirteenth Doctor noted "these legs used to be longer" when she jumped from one crane to another in The Woman Who Fell to Earth.
  • As first conceived, the story told by Missy was intended to explain not only how she and Clara had escaped from extermination by the Daleks, but also how she had survived her apparent demise at the end of Death in Heaven.
  • This two-parter comprised Block Two of season nine.
  • For the scene of Davros opening his eyes, Julian Bleach donned a modified mask and consented to have his eyelashes trimmed so that make-up could be glued onto his eyelids.
  • Steven Moffat had previously used the line about murder being like golf in Coupling and Sherlock.


Filming locations[]

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.
  • Because of a reflection in the sonic sunglasses, a camera can be seen.
  • When the Daleks corner Missy at the end of the episode, none of their dome lights flash as they threaten her.
  • Some of the original Daleks seen in this serial have bright blue shoulder sections, whereas behind the scenes imagery confirms them to have been a greyish colour in the original 60s productions. Oddly enough, the Black-Domed Guard Dalek has the correct colours.


Home video releases[]

DVD & Blu-ray releases[]

  • The Witch's Familiar was released as part of the Series 9, Part One DVD and Blu-ray boxsets in region 1/A on 3 November 2015, in region 2/B on 2 November 2015 and in region 4/B on 4 November 2015.
  • It was later released as part of the Complete Ninth Series DVD and Blu-ray boxsets in region 1/A on 5 April 2016, in region 2/B on 7 March 2016 and in region 4/B on 9 March 2016.

Digital releases[]

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

External links[]


  1. That was my Dalek. That was my Dalek. Retrieved on 9 October 2015.
  2. Doctor Who Series 9 Episode 2: The Witch’s Familiar. Milk VFX. Retrieved on 18 October 2018.
  3. Ratings DW