The Bells of Saint John (TV story)

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The Bells of Saint John was the sixth episode and mid-series premiere of series 7 of Doctor Who.

It marked the debut of a new costume for the Eleventh Doctor. He changed to a purple cashmere coat with a black bow tie and darker-accented garb.

As the first story broadcast in 2013, its marketing had a similar feel to that of a "series opener", but the BBC firmly maintained that it was merely the beginning of the second part of series 7, even threatening legal action against some sources that falsely claimed otherwise. The episode also introduced the concept of "the woman in the shop" who was a mysterious person somehow keeping the Doctor and Clara together. This arc would be carried on well into Series 8 and would be touched upon in the Series 8 finale Death in Heaven.

Notably, Clara is the first companion to not immediately jump on the chance to travel with the Doctor in the BBC Wales revival series, instead taking time to think and prepare.


London, 2013. "Danger. This is a warning. A warning to the whole world. You're looking for Wi-Fi. Sometimes you see something, a bit like this. Don't click it. Do not click it. Once you've clicked it, they're in your computer. They can see you. If they can see you, they might choose you. And if they do... you die."

When Clara Oswald has problems with her Internet, she's given a telephone number: the number of the "best help line in the universe". When the Eleventh Doctor answers at the other end, Clara is pulled into a life of adventure and mystery. But danger is lurking in the signals, picking off minds and imprisoning them. "It's like immortality, only fatal." But can the Doctor save Clara before... "I don't know where I am!"


Nabile and others trapped in the Wi-fi.

Nabile warns anyone listening about the dangers of the Wi-Fi. He shows a placard with some odd symbols and warns not to connect to any networks with writing like it. Those who do may get chosen, and the people who get chosen die, their souls trapped in the Wi-Fi "like ghosts". Nabile says that he knows this because he doesn't know where he is; he's trapped in a small video screen, surrounded by a wall of other victims who are all calling out in fear and confusion, "I don't know where I am!"

In Cumbria in 1207, a monk named Paul pounds on the doors to an abbey, calling to wake the Abbot because "the bells of Saint John are ringing". As they head into a cave, Paul asks the Abbot why they call the Doctor "the Mad Monk". The Abbot informs him that they should not, as the man is hardly a monk. They give their message to the Eleventh Doctor, who asks for a horse. As he goes to prepare, the monks discuss the painting in his room of "the woman twice dead", and her last message: "Run you clever boy, and remember." The Abbot observes that if the Doctor is mad, this is his madness.

In London in 2013, it is 3:30pm and Clara Oswald is having trouble with connecting her computer to the internet. She tells Angie that she's been ringing the help line but they haven't answered; Angie is also laughing at her for asking to use the internet after she was done using it, as more than one person at a time can use the wi-fi. George comes through on his way out, saying that the adverts to replace Clara are in. Clara catches sight of the book that Artie has, Summer Falls, by Amelia Williams. He tells her he's on chapter 10. She replies that "eleven is the best" and that he will "cry [his] eyes out". They head out, and Clara goes upstairs to her computer and continues to try the help line.

Back in 1207, the Doctor and the monks arrive to find the TARDIS police box telephone, next to the St John's ambulance sticker, ringing. A very confused Doctor picks up the phone, to be told that the caller can't find the Internet. The Doctor slowly realises that the caller is in modern-day London. Clara was given his number by a "woman in the shop" and was told that it was the best in the universe. The Doctor starts to explain he's not actually a help line, but gives up and asks if she's tried clicking on the Wi-Fi button. She first tries the Maitland_Family link but needs the password from Angie, who gives her a mnemonic to remember it. She mutters the phrase aloud on the phone as she enters it. "Run you clever boy and remember." The Doctor recognises her voice and the phrase, and shouts, spoiling her concentration. She puts in the wrong password. She goes back to the screen this time choosing the open network with the strange symbols. Other lines of symbols appear on her computer, and, elsewhere, Clara's room appears on a bank of small video screens showing people. Clara runs off-screen to answer her frantically ringing the doorbell. The Doctor, outside the house and still in his Monk's robes, greets her in excitement. "Clara Oswin Oswald?"

Revealing that Oswin's not part of her name, Clara states that she doesn't remember him. "Doctor who?" she asks. Amused, the Doctor asks her to repeat herself, twice and tells her that he never realised how much he enjoyed hearing that said out loud. Clara takes that moment to close the door in his face, locking it. She pauses on the stairs as he continues to pound on the door.

The wall of small screens is in a dark room full of computers and people, where an analyst approaches his superior. Alexei calls Clara borderline, meaning she's "very clever, but no computer skills". Rosemary Kizlet tells him to "upload" her anyway, and "splice" her a computer skills package. He responds that he'll activate the Spoonheads. As Kizlet returns to her office, she discusses him with Mahler, then decides that they should probably kill him, but only after he gets back from holiday — "let's not be unreasonable."

Mahler is worried that they're uploading too many people too quickly, that they'll get noticed. Kizlet tries to comfort him, calling this "immortality, only fatal". She then picks up a tablet with his name and picture, and sliders marked conscience, paranoia, obedience and IQ. She lowers the conscience slider, and he backs down. Mahler then realises that she hacked him, as reflected by his rising paranoia slider. He voices his concerns, but Kizlet lowers the paranoia until he walks out of the office. To ensure he doesn't question her again, she raises his obedience to the max.

Back at the house, Clara gives the Doctor another chance to talk, but he is unsuccessful in convincing her to let him inside. As she turns to go back upstairs, she hears footsteps; a little girl walks down the stairs. Clara asks if she's a friend of Angie's, and the girl repeats just that. When asked what she was doing upstairs, the girl replies that she was upstairs. Clara thinks she recognises her — and the girl repeats, "You know me, don't you?" Clara realises that the girl is from the cover of Summer Falls, the book that Artie had. The girl's head turns around revealing a spoon-like indentation in the back of her head. Clara backs away from it, scared.

In the TARDIS, the Doctor decides that a change of clothes is in order, since "monks are not cool"; also because it looks like he escaped a mental institution. Opening a compartment in the lower floor of the control room, he pulls out several clothes; he tries on a fez, deciding against it. He pulls out a tweed jacket and a purple one; he decides to go with something new, abandoning the tweed jacket. Now dressed in a new look, the Doctor realises something is missing from his ensemble; he takes out a fancy box with a bow tie in it, completing his 'cool" new outfit.

He walks out of the TARDIS, excited to make a better impression, and uses the intercom to ask Clara to let him in, but she instead responds, "I don't know where I am!" Using his sonic screwdriver, the Doctor enters the house and finds Clara lying on the floor, unconscious. If she's not moving though, how can he still hear her cries? Looking up, he realises that her voice is coming from the Spoonhead; Clara's face can now be seen in the indentation. He uses his screwdriver on the little girl and it reveals the true form of the Spoonhead, a walking robotic base station. The upload halts and the Doctor thinks aloud that it is "hoovering" up data and people. It used a camouflage based on its victim's thoughts. He quickly scans with the screwdriver and finds Clara's laptop upstairs. He grabs it and brings it back downstairs. He begins to reverse the upload on the computer, fighting hard not to lose Clara again.

At the secret base, Alexei is working on Clara's acquisition when an alarm goes off. He, Mahler and Kizlet find that the download metre for Clara has halted mid-way and is going down rapidly. They marvel and Mahler reveals that such a reverse is possible, in theory. Alexei is typing rapidly, apparently attempting to block the reversal, but the Doctor prevails and the bar goes all the way down to zero. A pause, and then the Spoonhead transmits a pillar of light that returns to Clara. The Doctor checks her pulse. At Kizlet's office, they find that their hacker has left a message: "UNDER MY PROTECTION - The Doctor." Mahler notes that it must mean Clara Oswald is now off limits. Kizlet shoos Mahler out to contact her client. "Sir. The one you told me about. He's here. The Doctor is here."

In Clara's room, the Doctor is tidying up. He takes out Jammie Dodgers, half-eating one and leaving it on the plate. He then leaves the room. Waking up from her sleep, Clara looks out the window and sees him outside guarding her. The Doctor recounts everything that she's missed; Angie is staying with her friend Nina, Clara's father called to complain about the government, he optimised the photosynthesises of the plants, organised the food pantry and reassembled a broken Quadricycle he found in the garage. Clara tells him that he didn't find a broken quadricycle. The Doctor smiles and laughs; he "just invented the quadricycle".

When Clara asks if he plans to stay outside all night, the Doctor confirms it; she tells him that she'll just have to come to him instead. She comes outside with a cup of tea and a folding chair, sitting next to the Doctor. Clara wonders if the Spoonhead no longer poses a threat, but the Doctor tells her that there have to be more out there. While talking, Clara reveals that she is a friend of the family who live in the house, and she looks after the children. When Clara makes a tech-savvy joke about Twitter, they realise that she has gained greater knowledge of computers as a result of being partially uploaded. The duo then spot another Spoonhead across the road, and suddenly, all the lights in the neighbourhood switch on. The Doctor realises that the residents are being compelled to do so via the Wi-Fi. The lights in the rest of London go off, and the Doctor and Clara see an aeroplane that is plummeting towards them.

The Doctor rushes Clara into the TARDIS, saying that they are going to make a short trip. Clara worriedly asks if they have moved away from the plane, but that is not the case. The Doctor opens the doors, revealing he landed inside the plane. The Doctor manages to pull the plane out of a nosedive and revive the crew and passengers, who had been rendered unconscious via the Wi-Fi.

At Kizlet's office, she is looking dumbfounded at the image of where the TARDIS had just been. She wonders where it went. With a furious yell, she demands her workers 'find that box!"

In the TARDIS, Clara drinks her tea to calm her nerves; she asks the Doctor when he's going to explain things to her. He says at breakfast, to which she says she doesn't want to wait that long. He tells her the TARDIS is a time machine; she doesn't have to wait. He lands the TARDIS and walks outside into daylight, taking applause from a crowd who seem to think the materialisation was a performance art. He has Clara hold a hat to collect money for their meal. He goes back into the TARDIS, looking for the garage; he arrives outside the TARDIS moments later on a motorbike.

Clara and the Doctor ride the motorcycle to a café for breakfast. Whilst there, Clara questions the Doctor and they try and figure out who is controlling the Wi-Fi. The Doctor is able to hack their lowest level of security, but can't find their location. Clara decides to use the computer skills they gave her to get back at them, telling the Doctor to get two more coffees. With incredible speed, she hacks the webcams at Kizlet's office and cross-references them on Twitter, Facebook, etc. to find out who was stupid enough to put where they work on their pages. It works — they work at the Shard.

In the café, the Doctor talks to several people who are being controlled remotely by Kizlet, who explains her client feeds of the neural energy of humanity and that what she's doing isn't any different than a farmer slaughtering their cattle once they're ready to be harvested. She then taunts the Doctor, implying Clara is not as safe as he thinks. Realising what Kizlet is implying, the Doctor runs off.

The Doctor seems to get back moments after Clara finds out where Kizlet's group is hiding; however, he just repeats everything that Clara tells him - it's another Spoonhead. Soon after, the real Doctor arrives, finding that this time Clara has been successfully uploaded.

Moments later, images from phones show Kizlet that the Doctor is riding towards the Shard on his motorbike. She takes control of a man eating chips on the street, noting this really doesn't seem like him. The Doctor replies that he rode his motorbike in the 2074 Anti-Grav Olympics and ended up finishing in last place. Kizlet/the man tells him the building is in lockdown, prompting the Doctor to reply "Did you even hear the word 'anti-grav'?" He smacks a button on the bike and rides towards the Shard and up the side of the building. Moments later, glass is heard breaking in Kizlet's office.

Kizlet enters her office, where the window is broken and the motorbike is lying on the floor with the front wheel slowly turning. The Doctor is at her desk, and he demands that Kizlet return Clara from the data cloud. Kizlet states this is only possible if everyone else in the cloud is released too. He tells her to do so; those with bodies still around will be free, and the others will be released from their "living hell" and allowed to die. Kizlet refuses and asks why the Doctor even bothered to come here, but the Doctor tells her that he didn't; he's still at the café, enjoying his coffee.

The real Doctor presses a button and the Doctor with Kizlet removes his helmet as his head slowly turns around. It's the Spoonhead that uploaded Clara. Kizlet backs away in terror, begging him to stop, but the Doctor ignores her pleas and the Spoonhead uploads Kizlet. Experiencing the fear that her previous victims felt, she hysterically orders Mahler from one of the small screens to return her to her body. They initially do not, as they would have to download the entire cloud, but the Doctor has his Spoonhead use Miss Kizlet's tablet to hack Mahler into obedience. The download process is started, and the small screens start to go blank as the victims are released from the cloud; because Kizlet was the latest victim, she is naturally the last to be freed.

At the café, Clara wakes to find the Doctor gone.

Later, as UNIT troops begin to take over the base, Kizlet reports a failure to her client, who is revealed to be the Great Intelligence — appearing via a large wall-mounted video screen. The Intelligence identifies UNIT as being "old friends" of the Doctor, and orders her to restore the members of the organisation to their "factory settings". As a result, all the organisation members' memories after being inducted are wiped, with Miss Kizlet revealed to have been aiding the Great Intelligence for most of her life — she now has the mentality of a scared child.

Back at the Maitlands' house, Clara sees the TARDIS outside and goes to knock on the door. The Doctor invites her to travel with him but she declines, telling him to come back the next day and ask her again because she "might say yes". After she leaves, the Doctor excitedly returns to the TARDIS controls, exclaiming "Right then, Clara Oswald. Time to find out who you are."



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.




  • Clara jokes about Twitter.
  • All the employees working in the Shard use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Google+, Habbo or Tumblr, and have posted the location of their workplace.
  • The trapped peoples' voices can be heard on the radio, on televisions and on the internet.
  • George, Artie, and Angie's household Wi-Fi network is named "Maitland_Family". Clara initially believes that only one person can use the Wi-Fi in the house at a time.

The TARDIS[[edit]]

  • Clara calls the TARDIS a "snogging booth" and a "snog box". She also states that it is "bigger on the inside".
  • There's a garage in the TARDIS.
  • "Mobile phone" is an accurate description of the TARDIS.

Time Lords[[edit]]

  • The Doctor claims that Time Lords have two hearts and 27 brains. He then admits that he was exaggerating about the number of brains.



  • Clara has skipped ages 16 and 23 in the list of ages she has written in 101 Places to See.
  • Angie has a friend named Nina.
  • Mrs Maitland died within ten days of Clara's planned departure to travel the world. Clara put her plans on hold to take care of the Maitland children and be there for the people who needed her.





Story notes[[edit]]

  • The title of this episode is a reference to the phone incorporated into the TARDIS police box disguise, and to the "St John Ambulance" logo on the door of this version of the TARDIS. The "Bells" part is referring to the police box phone ringing. It is also a reference to the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons. It is the only time the logo is directly acknowledged on the show.
  • The Eleventh Doctor's old costume briefly appears in this episode, when the Doctor drops the costume in favour of the new one. This is the last episode to include the costume.
  • The title was originally announced as The Bells of St John, in keeping with the actual abbreviated spelling of "St John" on the logo.
  • This story gives a new logo for the second half of series seven, a weathered metallic texture. Unlike the first half of the series, in which the logo changed from episode to episode, the logo remained constant for the remainder of Series 7.
    • Similarly, the new theme tune of the series is slightly modified from its previous arrangement, omitting the "shimmering" musical flourishes and electrical hissing noises heard in its first variation. This can be compared to the theme tune arrangement that debuted in the 2007 Christmas special TV: Voyage of the Damned, which was edited into a new, rearranged version of itself that played in each episode for the remainder of David Tennant's era.
  • To keep the reappearance of the Great Intelligence a surprise, Richard E Grant was not credited in Radio Times. He was, however, originally listed on the BBC website, but was subsequently taken down.
  • The password for the Maitland family's wi-fi, 'rycbar123' is both an acronym of 'run you clever boy and remember' and a reference to the fact that this is the third version of Clara to appear.
  • Small grated sections have been added to the floor of the TARDIS console room's main platform.
  • This episode also features the only time the Doctor uses the TARDIS control panels around the edge of the deck as well as the console.
  • Steven Moffat described the premise as "the traditional Doctor Who thing of taking something omnipresent in your life and making it sinister, if something did get in the Wi-Fi, we'd be kind of screwed. Nobody had really done it before, so I thought, 'It's time to get kids frightened of Wi-Fi!". However, he denied that his intention was to give a warning about technology, but rather tell an adventure story about a "new way [for aliens] to invade" based on something viewers were familiar with. Moffat said that the episode was "an action roller coaster" rather than a story intended to be scary.
  • Marcus Wilson suggested that the episode be an "urban thriller", as the story would already be set in contemporary London to introduce Clara and the Wi-Fi monsters.
  • At the time, wi-fi networks were still relatively new technology, but were fast becoming omnipresent, and Steven Moffat had been struck by the way they would pass in and out of the range of his laptop as he rode the train between London and Cardiff. This led to the notion of a rogue wi-fi network.
  • Originally, there was no explicit reference to the identity of Miss Kizlet's client. In subsequent drafts, however, the face of Dr Simeon confronted the Doctor via Clara's laptop. Only latterly was the Great Intelligence's involvement made known to the audience, but not the Doctor.
  • For a time, it was thought that the troops who arrested Miss Kizlet might be accompanied by Kate Stewart.
  • The book by Amelia Williams was initially called One Deadly Summer before becoming Summer Falls; its text would later be published online and then form part of a print anthology, ghost-written by James Goss.
  • Until a very late stage, the Doctor found a sheet of passport photographs in Clara's travel book rather than a leaf. This was changed to tie into The Rings of Akhaten, the next story in both the recording and transmission schedules.
  • The episode comprised Block Eight of season seven.
  • To afford Marcus Wilson time to begin planning for The Day of the Doctor, Denise Paul produced this episde. She had worked in the same capacity on Closing Time. Wilson would instead be credited as the series producer.
  • The first scene filmed was Nabile's video. It was taped at Roath Lock Studios while work on Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS was wrapping up.
  • Fady Elsayed was originally cast as Nabile. He would later play Ram Singh in Class. However, his scene needed to be reworked to incorporate some location filming and the role was recast with Manpreet Bachu.
  • The aeroplane was provided by eCubed Solutions at MOD St Athan.
  • Richard E Grant's cameo was recorded during production of The Name of the Doctor.
  • With the show's popularity growing outside the United Kingdom, the production team wanted to give the episode and international feel.
  • The rooftop scenes were filmed at Grange St Paul's Hotel. The location was intended to be in Covent Garden, but was changed to a location with a better view of The Shard.
  • One significant edit came towards the end. It saw the Doctor contemplating images of Oswin and the Victorian-era Clara when the TARDIS phone rang again, and a whispered female voice on the line implored him to trust Clara and take her with him. This sequence had replaced an earlier version which took place after Clara was attacked by the Spoonhead, with the voice telling the Doctor, “Run you clever boy. And save her".
  • While searching for the mysterious blue box, and spotting it in Southbank, Mahler says "Are we sure this time? Earl's Court was an embarrassment." In real life, there is a Blue Police Box outside the Earl's Court Underground Station - the only one left in London.
  • The inclusion of the Shard as the headquarters of Cloud Incorporated was intended to give the story a highly contemporary feel; the edifice would not be opened to the public until February 1st, 2013.
  • Calvin Dean was seen for a minor role.


  • Initial Broadcast: 8.44 million viewers[2]
  • BBC Three repeat: 390,000 viewers

Filming locations[[edit]]

  • The Shard
  • Westminster Bridge
  • Beatty Avenue, Cardiff
  • Grange St. Paul's Hotel
  • San Francisco Vantage Point (footage in pretitles montage)
  • Caerphilly Castle (monastery exteriors)

Production errors[[edit]]

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 initial Spoonhead the Doctor meets—the girl from the front cover of Summer Falls—is photographed in a way that ruins the illusion. The curvature of her calves clearly shows that her body is pointed up the stairs. Once this is noticed, it's obvious that the girl is standing away from the Doctor and that she merely has her dress on backwards.
  • When the Doctor and Clara are talking during the Romeo and Juliet-esque scene after she wakes up, the Doctor sets the laptop on the ground. Between takes, however, the position of the screen changes from being perpendicular to the ground to being parallel with no apparent way that the Doctor could have affected the change.
  • The window that Clara opens in that scene also clearly has no locking mechanism beyond the handle.
  • When the TARDIS has travelled to the aeroplane, just before the Doctor gets out, a scene change is visible and the wall position changes.
  • During the motorcycle scene, various members of the crew can be seen reflected in the Doctor's helmet.
  • After the little girl under Miss Kizlet's control says, "Stop", and everybody freezes and blue flickering lights appear over their bodies. However, the barista seen on the cut back to the Doctor has no such lights.
  • Clara is shown swinging her coffee cup around on the plane without apparently spilling a drop, and she is then shown drinking from it after returning to the TARDIS, with no suggestion given that she might have refilled it along the way. It is also very obvious that the cup is empty.
  • After Clara hands him the fez containing the money, the Doctor puts it on the head of a nearby boy. No money falls out of the fez despite people having just put money in it and jangling of coins heard when Clara gives it to the Doctor. There was no sign of the Doctor emptying the fez of money, or really, any sign of what happened to the money at all.
  • When the lights in the windows start to turn on, one window brightens during a noticeable rain of mist that is not present in any other shot.


Home video releases[[edit]]

Series 7, Part 2 DVD cover.

DVD & Blu-ray releases[[edit]]

  • The Bells of Saint John was released on DVD and Blu-ray as part of Doctor Who Series 7 Part Two in region 1/A on 28 May 2013, region 2/B on 27 May 2013, and region 4/B on 22 May 2013.
  • Also, this episode was released as part of the Complete Seventh Series boxset on DVD and Blu-ray in region 1/A on 24 September 2013, in region 2/B on 28 October 2013 and in region 4/B on 30 October 2013.

Digital releases[[edit]]

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

External links[[edit]]