SNEAK PEEK – Doctor Who “73 Yards”

    The halfway point of this new Doctor Who series is upon us. Following last week’s adventure on a landmine, the show is taking us to Wales! Materialising on the coast, the Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby (Millie Gibson) embark on their strangest journey yet. In Doctor Who “73 Yards”, without the Doctor, Ruby arrives at a pub as it’s pelting down rain outside. The locals stoke fear of ancient folk monsters coming to life. Could there be truth to what they’re saying, or is it just a story?

    It looks to be a Doctor-lite episode, with the Doctor appearing in little promotional material. What is it that drags the Doctor away? And can he be brought back? It looks like a mysterious and pretty scary adventure, so let’s piece together what we can. In this preview of the upcoming Doctor Who episode “73 Yards”, I’ve delved into trailers, promotional pics, and cast lists to piece together what the episode could contain.

    WARNING – While there’s a healthy dose of speculation here, there is also a potential for some very real spoilers here as well.

    Ncuti Gatwa as The Doctor and Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday in Doctor Who: 73 Yards (via BBC Press Office)

    Preview Pics

    This week’s promotional pictures paint a very limited picture of what’s to come. There’s a heavy presence of their arrival at the clifftop, with the pair in yet more costumes. If there’s one thing to appreciate, it’s the constant outfit shifts. The diversity of outfits really makes them feel like real characters rather costumed heroes like a lot of other teams tend to feel like. It looks like at some point, Ruby’s going to find a note on the ground. Perhaps reading this triggers something in regard to the episode’s events?

    There’s a single shot of the mysterious woman (Hilary Hobson) off in the distance. It’s a little hard to tell, but she does look to be about 76 yards away. Perhaps that is of some significance. She looks set to be the villain of the piece, but the show’s playing its cards very close to its chest. What she does or the threat that she poses is totally unknown. Also around the cliff, it looks like Ruby’s going to lose the Doctor and be unable to open the TARDIS. One of the sides here looks white, a sign of long-term abandonment. What is going on here?

    There’s a good couple of shots of Ruby in the pub. It’s here that she meets Enid Meadows (special guest star Dame Sian Phillips). Meadows looks to be warning Ruby of some of the dangers that abound. It’s also nice to see some acting legends populating the series. Also around the pub is Lowri Palin (Maxine Evans) who looks to be just as shocked as Ruby by what Enid is saying. There’s also a lone photo of Roger ap Gwilliam (Aneurin Barnard) on the campaign trail. How he fits into anything is a total mystery.

    Next Time

    The next time trailer emphasises much the same sort of thing that the pictures did. There’s no trace of Roger ap Gwilliam anywhere, or any sense that there’s an election around. Instead, what we do get is the Doctor and Ruby happily arriving in Wales, soaking in the scenery. However, within seconds, the Doctor’s gone, and Ruby can’t get back into the TARDIS. She’s scared, and there’s that creepy woman in the distance again.

    This woman has no lines, and is so far away that we can’t get a good look at her face. I’m forced to wonder whether this is to hide something from the viewer. Not a big guest star, but perhaps an element of her costume that would give away one of the episode’s big mysteries. After Ruby’s moved away from the TARDIS, we see this mysterious woman standing around the police box. Something very, very odd is going on.

    We’re then back inside the pub, the woman standing out on the street in the rain. It’s only a brief shot, but she’s not moving, and doesn’t seem bothered by the rain at all. Ruby tells everyone that she’s being followed, with Lowri in particular trying to help. Scaring everyone with some perhaps made up Welsh folklore, Enid says that “Mad Jack is unbound”. Something that Ruby and the Doctor did has awoken an ancient evil.

    YouTube player

    76 Yards Theory Time

    I think there’s a lot here that we’re not being shown, things that have been deliberately left out that are major parts of Doctor Who “73 Yards”. Showrunner and episode writer Russell T Davies has called this one of his favourite creations, there’s something that we’re definitely not seeing. A single photo of Gwilliam but no mention or sight of him anywhere else. That bit is particularly worrying. Davies excels at political commentary, just look at Years & Years. Susan Twist is also on the cast, yet again this time as a Hiker. Hopefully after seeing her last week, someone recognises here.

    Gwilliam looks incredibly right-wing, so I’m looking forward to seeing which issues Davies tackles with him. Indications are that he’ll have some kind of recurring role and maybe even be one of the major villains of the series. With so many story arcs, I do wonder how the show will have time for this if he doesn’t tie-in to something else already. We also know that his casting was announced alongside the return of Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave). While not on the cast list, Ruby running into UNIT when the Doctor’s missing does make sense and would make for a cool surprise.

    Beyond that, I’m excited to see the show delve into folk horror. It’s been a long time since the show’s done a proper horror episode. Rapid shifts in genre between episodes is what this show’s all about. I hope this is an educational opportunity as well, I’m not from Wales and I’d love to learn about something new. I’d also love to be surprised or a little unnerved by something in this episode. Bring it on!

    Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday in Doctor Who: 73 Yards (via BBC Press Office)


    Russell T Davies’ “Doctor Who “73 Yards” marks the halfway mark in the series. I’d love it if this episode gave us some proper answers or nudges in the right direction, but we shall see what happens in the final product. It’s also definitely a Doctor-lite episode made around Gatwa’s Sex Education schedule. I can’t wait to see what Ruby can do to stop a powerful threat on her own. We caught glimpses of her independence last week while the Doctor was restrained, but this time the Doctor is gone, and some real horrors have been unleashed.

    Doctor Who started its new era on Christmas Day 2023 with “The Church on Ruby Road.” The episode saw Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson debut as the 15th Doctor and Ruby Sunday. Doctor Who premiered at midnight on Saturday, May 11th, on BBC iPlayer with a double-episode bill. The episodes will stream internationally on Disney+, Doctor Who‘s exclusive home outside the UK and Ireland, giving audiences a simultaneous global launch. Episodes will also air on BBC One each week in a primetime slot on Saturday evening.

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