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Time Heist was the fifth episode of series 8 of Doctor Who.

Writing his third story for Doctor Who, Steve Thompson borrowed concepts from the "classic heist movie", adapting them for science fiction. The Teller came from this notion as "the ultimate CCTV system" alongside Psi and Saibra as the motley crew, endowed with specialist skills. Thompson also made a different approach to his "monster". In The Curse of the Black Spot, he found that a CGI monster used up the entire special effects budget. For Time Heist, prosthetics were used, leaving room for CGI to create an alien world.

Written before the Twelfth Doctor was cast, Thompson expressed delight at being able to write for this new Doctor, scripting him, per Capaldi's description, as "less user-friendly". (DWM 478)


The Twelfth Doctor and Clara receive a mysterious phone call, and find themselves in a maximum security bank, memories wiped clean and two more recruited strangers to accompany them. Their mission: to rob from a bank that lives up to the reputation of impregnability, but will they be able to find out what they've been recruited to steal and why before they get captured?


The Twelfth Doctor tries to convince Clara to come with him for a day sightseeing via the TARDIS (suggesting the Satanic Nebula and the Lagoon of Lost Stars). However, due to his absent-mindness, the Doctor fails to notice Clara is getting ready for a date with Danny Pink; the most he's noticed is that she's taller from wearing high heels. Thinking she needs to put up a shelf, the Doctor continues following Clara to convince her until the TARDIS phone rings. Clara tells him he has someone else to play with now, but the Doctor is suspicious as only a few people in the universe have the number to his TARDIS and he is still wondering who "the lady in the shop" that gave Clara his number was. The Doctor goes to answer the phone, but is stopped by Clara, who warns him not to. Clara tells him that "a thing" will happen when he does, which usually involves him dragging her along for some kind of adventure. The Doctor is dismissive, telling Clara that nothing happens when a person answers the phone.

Suddenly, they find themselves in a strange chamber suffering from memory loss along with two others, an augmented human, Psi, and a mutant human, Saibra. Both have also suffered memory loss, with the likely culprit — memory worms — wiggling around on the table. As the four wake up, audio recordings start playing where each member of the group confirms that they have consented to the memory wipe willingly. A briefcase on the table opens to reveal plans by "the Architect", who instructs them to rob the Bank of Karabraxos, the most impregnable bank in the universe with numerous levels of security. There's no chance of backing out either — they're already in the bank and guards are trying to break into the room. When Psi initially refuses to follow the Doctor, he is reminded that he consented to the memory wipe; his reward must be something he considered more important than the risk he's taking. Finally agreeing, Psi downloads the instructions into his head as the group flees. The pursuit is slowed when the guards handle the memory worms, unaware of their abilities.

The group work their way back into the main floor of the bank, with Saibra — whose mutation allows her to shapeshift into any living thing she touches — using the identity of a bank customer whose DNA had been included in the case to get them in. As they walk, the Doctor wonders why they haven't been left the TARDIS, as breaking into any vault would be quick and simple with it. Clara points out they also don't know where the TARDIS is right now. The group then witness another customer, accused by the bank head of security, Ms Delphox, of intending to steal from the bank, having his brain scanned and then turned to "soup" by the Teller, an alien with powerful psychic abilities that's said to be the last of its kind. The Doctor explains that this psychic "sniffer dog" hunts guilt, and theirs was being drowned out by the customer's.

Getting into a deposit room, Saibra uses the breath security lock to bring up a case for them before returning to normal. The Doctor opens it to find a bomb, and asks Psi for the schematics of the bank; they can get into the maintenance area from the floor. Though everyone else is hesitant to go through with using it, the Doctor decides to chance it. The bomb goes off, with little sound, revealing a scorched hole where part of the floor was. The Doctor explains that it is a phase-shift bomb and that it has taken part of the floor out of phase with the rest of them. When they get below, they reverse the feature to block the security guards that have caught up to them.

The Doctor, Clara, Psi, and Saibra continue to follow the Architect's plan, finding more cases with useful items left by their mysterious boss as they get closer to the main vaults. At one point, they collect six devices whose purpose the Doctor claims he does not know, but Saibra points out that he's lying - having had so many faces, she knows how to read people better than most. The Doctor is forced to admit the devices are an "exit strategy".

Part of the plan requires them to pass through the cage where the Teller is kept in near-hibernation, but it picks up on Clara's brainwaves. The Doctor helps Clara break out of the Teller's scan and has the group flee the room, but Saibra is caught in the scan. The Doctor gives her one of the devices, telling her it is an atomic shredder, a more humane way to die than the Teller's brain scan. She activates the device and disappears.

As the three continue to the vault, they find that Ms Delphox has released the Teller to chase them down. Psi stays behind to help cover their tracks and open the vault; he, too, opts to use one of the disintegrators when he is caught by the Teller. The Doctor and Clara eventually reach the main vaults, however Psi's hacking has failed to open the last lock. Just as the two prepare to be arrested, a solar storm begins to strike the surface of the planet The Doctor realises this wasn't just a bank heist, but a time heist — the Architect is from the future, and planned to bring them to the vault at this moment when the storm's activity would cause the main vault to automatically open. The storm's presence also explains why they weren't allowed to use the TARDIS, as the interference would prevent it from locking on. They locate two safe boxes indicated by a note from the Architect, one containing a neophyte circuit that can restore Psi's deleted memories, and the other a gene suppressant to stabilise Saibra's uncontrollable shapechanging. The Doctor and Clara realise these were Psi and Saibra's 'fees' for the heist, and wonder what they were offered. However, as they look for the final safe box location in the Private Vault, they are caught by the Teller and taken to Ms Delphox's office. Ms Delphox leaves to put the Teller back into hibernation to protect him from the worsening solar storm, ordering her guards to kill the intruders. The Doctor and Clara are surprised when the guards turn out to be Saibra and Psi - the disintegrators were really teleporters linked to a ship in orbit. The Doctor gives them the items from the vault as their payment but realises they still need to find the Private Vault. Psi leads them into the depths of the bank as the storm intensifies on the surface.

At the Private Vault, they find that it is the quarters of Ms. Karabraxos, surrounded by treasures from around the galaxy. The Doctor realises Ms Delphox is just a clone of Karabraxos, and she has no problem sending her clone to be incinerated for failure; "frankly, you're a career break for the right psychiatrist" the Doctor muses. Witnessing such self-loathing, inspiration strikes the Doctor, and he writes the number to the TARDIS telephone, and that he is a time traveller, on a piece of paper and gives it to Karabraxos, who is hastily packing her treasures before the storm wipes out the bank. She departs from the vault, but the Doctor reminds her to give him a call one day if she has any regrets. Shortly after she leaves, the Teller arrives, and the Doctor convinces him to scan his mind to find the memories that were blocked.

In a flashback, an elderly and dying Ms Karabraxos — now no longer the richest person in the universe — calls the Doctor on the TARDIS in Clara's flat, and tells him of her regret. The Doctor is then shown preparing all the elements of the time heist, revealing that he himself was the Architect. Because much of the bank's security was based on sensing a criminal's guilt, wiping the recent memories of the heist participants would reduce their chances of being caught. The ultimate goal of the plan was to bring the Teller, who was telepathically linked to Karabraxos, to the Private Vault after she left, so as to allow him to unlock a combination safe. Inside, they find another alien, a female member of the same species as the Teller, chained within the safe. The Doctor points out that they have six teleport devices, allowing them all to escape the bank before it is wiped out. The Doctor takes the creatures to an isolated planet to live out their lives free of telepathic "noise" and then returns Saibra and Psi to their respective times and places after having lunch. Finally, the Doctor returns them to Clara's flat moments after they have left to allow Clara to continue on her date. Right after she departs, he declares with a smug grin, "Ha! Robbing a bank! Robbing a whole bank. Beat that for a date..."


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[]

Millennium FX[]




Races and species[]




Story notes[]

  • This is the second episode, after Robot of Sherwood, to capitalise its title during the opening credits. Also, it shares the same pre-opening theme sting with Robot of Sherwood which, interestingly, is from Series 1 to 4's.
  • This episode features the first in-narrative use of the new Time Vortex.
  • The script and rough-cut of this episode were leaked online before it was broadcast.
  • Keeley Hawes (Ms Delphox) is not credited as Karabraxos.
  • Mr Porrima, the bank customer copied by Saibra to gain access to the safety deposit boxes, is only identified in the credits, not in dialogue.
  • The episode contains an image of Abslom Daak, a character who originated in comic stories. This is one of the few examples of a TV episode referencing a character who originated outside of the TV series itself. Daak's image appears among a number of other characters from past seasons of Doctor Who. There are also images of Captain John Hart from Torchwood and Androvax and the Trickster from The Sarah Jane Adventures.
  • The episode opens with imagery taken from the opening credits sequence that segues into the Doctor peering into a washing machine. It is the only episode of Series 8 to make use of the SFX footage.
  • Michelle Gomez was originally offered the role of Ms. Delphox, but she couldn't make the audition. She told Radio Times that she was such a fan of the series that she wrote to Steven Moffat saying that "if he ever needed someone for a razor-cheek-boned villainess then it’s me". She was then cast as Missy.
  • Speaking about the premise for the episode, Douglas Mackinnon said “What we wanted to do was a heist movie for Doctor Who. I've watched virtually every heist movie there's ever been, and it incorporates things into it, but because it's Doctor Who, time travel is involved."
  • Saibra was originally named Sabra and she originally gained her abilities by virtue of being half-Zygon. She was briefly the result of a laboratory experiment before becoming a mutant.
  • The Teller was originally confined to a wheelchair, and was more insectoid in appearance.
  • The bank was originally known as Fortuna-Vega. Its director was Victor Karabraxos III, and the notion of Ms Delphox being a clone had not yet been introduced.
  • The story originally began with the Doctor and co. dropped onto the premises from a space shuttle on autopilot. A key plot point was then Clara's loss of the communicator via which the Architect was meant to deliver his instructions, forcing the Doctor to extrapolate the scheme based on the briefcases which the Architect had planted for them to find.
  • In one draft, the script opened with vignettes which introduced Saibra and Psi and their respective talents.
  • At one point, Clara was to use thoughts of Danny as a defence against the Teller.
  • The episode formed Block Two of season eight alongside Listen.
  • The Teller's tentacular eyes were realised as a remote-controlled prosthetic.
  • Steven Moffat came up with the concept for this episode years earlier before handing it over to Steven Thompson when he found a way to utilise it.
  • The script was written before Peter Capaldi was cast.


Filming locations[]

  • George Street, Bridgend
  • Roald Dahl Plass, Cardiff
  • Hadyn Ellis Building, Cardiff University
  • Bute Park, N. Road
  • Uskmouth Power Station, West Nash Road

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.
  • The "atomic shedder" is said to be painless, but Psi screams after he uses it.


  • When the TARDIS phone rings, the Doctor notes that Clara got his phone number from "a woman in a shop", wondering if the call is from that mystery woman. (TV: The Bells of Saint John, Deep Breath)
  • The Doctor, Clara and Saibra have their memories wiped by a memory worm. (TV: The Snowmen)
  • Seeing the Teller, the Doctor says he doesn't know what it is, and he hates not knowing things. His previous incarnation said the same thing. (TV: The Power of Three) Instead, the Tenth Doctor said knowing everything would be boring. (TV: The Fires of Pompeii)
  • The Doctor claims his eyebrows are why he is automatically made the leader. He has previously commented on how peculiar his eyebrows are. (TV: Deep Breath)
  • The Doctor shows no concern about Saibra's apparent death. He says to Clara; "[she's] dead, we are alive. Priorities, if you want to stay that way". This is similar to what he said to Journey Blue about her brother's death. (TV: Into the Dalek)
  • The TARDIS cannot be piloted properly in the wake of a solar storm. (TV: The Rebel Flesh)
  • The Doctor makes a remark that implies some ongoing degree of self-hatred. (TV: Amy's Choice)
  • The Doctor calls Clara his "boss," but unlike his previous self, does so sarcastically. (TV: The Crimson Horror)
  • A bank staffed by clones of its owner was encountered by the Doctor's former companion Bernice Summerfield, who, like the Doctor, came there to steal something. (AUDIO: Glory Days)
  • The Ninth Doctor encountered an atomic disintegrator which was actually a teleporter. (TV: Bad Wolf)
  • The Doctor recalls meeting Cesare Borgia. His previous incarnation also claimed to have met the Borgias. (COMIC: Sticks & Stones)

Home video releases[]

DVD & Blu-ray releases[]

Complete 8th Series UK Cover

Series Full Box-set Region 2

Digital releases[]

  • The episode was released on Google Play, iTunes and Amazon Instant Video in HD or SD, also available as part of the Series 8 digital boxset. The digital boxset contains various features: trailer, interviews, The Ultimate Companion, The Ultimate Time Lord, Inside the World Tour and Doctor Who Extra episodes for each episode.
  • In the US, the series was released through digital streaming services Hulu and Netflix with a subscription.
  • In the United Kingdom, this story is available on BBC iPlayer.

External links[]

to be added


  1. Coleman also plays Saibra, when she assumed the appearance of Clara.
  2. Sellers also plays Saibra, when she assumed the appearance of Mr Porrima.
  3. Anderson's credit is taken from TV: Into the Dalek et al.
  4. Hawes is only credited as Ms Delphox, who is later revealed to be a clone of Madame Karabraxos.
  5. Kevan Brighting on Twitter: “The Narrator was a bit miffed that he didn't get a cast credit on tonight's @bbcdoctorwho". Twitter (20 September, 2014). Retrieved on 21 September, 2014.
  6. Clem So - Timeline Photos | Facebook. Facebook (20 September, 2014). Retrieved on 13 October, 2014.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 Edwards, Graham (14 October 2014). Doctor Who – Timely Effects. Cinefex Blog. Retrieved on 16 October 2018.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Goodman, Christopher. The Teller – Doctor Who – Time Heist. Christopher Goodman. Retrieved on 6 November 2018.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Goodman, Christopher. Psi – Doctor Who – Time Heist. Christopher Goodman. Retrieved on 6 November 2018.