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“I’m not sure if it’s Marxism in action or a West End musical” May 30

How great is this? Just when you thought New Who couldn’t get any better, we’re treated to another great episode. There’s no doubt at all that this really is Doctor Who – and it’s great.

The dramatic opening of The Empty Child quickly gives way to a build-up of spookiness. The ringing TARDIS phone is eerie as is the titular child. (Although when he called to the Doctor through the letter box, he could’ve been asking “OK. Is Dave there?”)

The sonic screwdriver now seems to be acting as a tricorder (which Russell Davies justifies in the Doctor Who Confidential following the story’s conclusion) and the Doctor’s “damp island” speech is touch on the Land of Hope and Glory side – although only a touch. Oh, and the Union flag on Rose’s t-shirt is wrong, but that may well be intentional and just makes it an authentic t-shirt…

For the first time this series, the episode feels perfectly structured: neither two fast or two slow at moments, but just right. The child actors are uniformly good and Richard Wilson proves that guest stars in Doctor Who can be excellent.

The dialogue is great throughout. The exchange between Rose and Jack about her “cellphone” is amusing and well-observed. The scene in the bar is a nice touch but there are moments of darkness, especially the suggestion that the evacuated children were victims of abuse.

An excellent cliffhanger leaves you wanting more and the second-half will determine whether the story as a whole is a great as the promise of The Empty Child.

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