The Implausible Girl, or Why 'Face the Raven' Didn't Work


If, like me, you’ve been a Doctor Who fan since 1963, you will have developed your own ’ret-conn’ mechanisms for either wiping your memory of certain stories, episodes or bits of episodes as you have gone along. It seems essential: in a history spanning more than fifty years and dozens of writers, actors and ‘show-runners’, it would be a miracle if the show maintained high quality and consistency all the time. So serious fans do this themselves in their heads. It’s quite a skill.

It’s a shame that ‘Face the Raven’ has to be one of those stories that have to be ‘edited out’ of the show’s history in this way.

Why? Because it was contrived, ill-paced and had the main characters behaving in out-of-character ways in a stilted setting with little real human drama.

I should say here that I strive to like each and every episode of Doctor Who and rarely complain. It’s my favourite show and more than a television programme to me. I have connections with it that go back a long way and reach deep. That’s why it matters to me when it goes wrong.

Apart from the fact that the episode more or less died in terms of credibility and pace once we entered ‘Diagon Alley’ -sorry, the trap street (resurrected, it seems, from the set of A Muppet Christmas Carol)- there are so many frustratingly ill-judged moments. Ashildr’s re-entrance is as lacking in drama as Davros’s re-appearance was in the Fourth Doctor’s ‘Destiny of the Daleks’ adventure; the mix of alien races is confused and doesn’t work dramatically either (a Cyberman in a relationship with a pensioner?); but I think my biggest beef is the way that the Doctor stands by idly while his best friend is killed feet away from him.

How did that ever