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Sunday, 27 May 2007 - Reviewed by Simon Fox

I have a sneaking suspicion the current makers of Doctor Who have a How To Make A Classic handbook and not only that, they've been following it step by step, and have read it backwards with a test afterwards to make sure it has really sunk in. Involving intriguing plot? check. Multiple engrossing subplots? check. Aliens signified by a glowing green light? Check. Asides for the fans, scary monsters and an accurate BBC-made period setting? Check, check and check.

The third series, so far, has been brimming with confidence with the way that even when it gets it wrong, it doesn't matter, like a dinner guest who misquotes Wilde but you forgive him because he's so entertaining. This is not only Doctor Who by numbers, but Doctor Who as it always should have - and on occasion - has been. They kind of story that justifies a fan's belief in the series.

The casting was just right from the scary high-cheekboned pupil overtaken by the aliens, the brilliant Jessica Stevenson as Joan Redfern and the psychic kid with the big eyes who is, as tradition would have it, bullied by his elders and lessers. Doctor Who is at its best when examining the endurance of Human Nature, as luck would have it, and this episode has it in bucketloads, proving that the show has long since transcended from a mere kids show into the stuff of cultural phenomenon that will never be forgotten. And quite right too.

It is here that I should mention the two leads, David Tennant and Freema Agyeman. DT revels in his change of role as the humanised John Smith, as does Freema in her anguish over losing the Doctor first as a Time Lord and secondly as he falls for Joan. In the climax, when the aliens figure out who the Doctor is, it is then his absence is most keenly felt and then that we realise how much we really do need the Doctor - after all these years - to still save the day. A lesson in our need for a hero, surely.

Ten out of ten. A sheer classic. Well done to all involved.

FILTER: - Series 3/29 - Tenth Doctor - Television