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Recap / Doctor Who S27 E4 "Aliens of London"

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Series 1, Episode 04:

Aliens in London
A brilliant disguise, layered in fart jokes...
Written by Russell T Davies
Directed by Keith Boak
Air date: 16 April, 2005
Production code: 1.4

Rose: My mum's here.
The Doctor: Oh, that's just what I need. Don't you dare make this place domestic.
Mickey: You ruined my life, Doctor. They thought she was dead. I was a murder suspect because of you.
The Doctor: You see what I mean? Domestic!

The One With… fat people and farting aliens. Yes, really.

Also, the one where the show's timeline is set ahead of the year of broadcast by one year (owing to a Time Skip) until Series 5. Better remember that!

Also, the one with an ambitious MP from Flydale North. And if you don't know who she is, you will soon enough...

The Doctor takes Rose back home to visit her mother, materialising outside her flats seemingly twelve hours after she left. Or so he believes. However, while waiting for Rose to return, a flyer on a nearby wall catches his eye. To his surprise, it's a missing-persons flyer with Rose's picture on it. When Rose enters her flat and casually greets her mother, claiming to have spent the night with a friend, the stunned Jackie sweeps her daughter up in a desperate, unbelieving hug, and, over her shoulder, Rose sees a table covered with more missing-persons flyers and posters, all with her name and picture on them. The Doctor rushes into the flat, takes in the situation, and apologetically tells Rose that she hasn't been gone for twelve hours, but for twelve months! Yep, the TARDIS blew it... again.

Some time later, outside Jackie's flat, a young boy spray-paints the words "BAD WOLF" on the TARDIS and cycles off. Meanwhile, a police constable sits and listens patiently as Jackie lashes out at Rose for her thoughtlessness in vanishing for over a year without so much as a phone call. Rose claims that she's been travelling and simply forgot to call, but Jackie angrily points out that she left her passport behind. The Doctor steps in and explains that he's employed Rose as his companion (in a non-sexual sense, of course), but Jackie turns her anger on him, slapping him and accusing him of luring away her daughter for immoral purposes. Rose is embarrassed and remorseful, but despite Jackie's pleas, Rose can't even begin to explain where she's been for the past year.

Later, the Doctor sits with Rose on the roof as she ponders how to deal with having unwittingly traumatized her mother. The Doctor firmly states that Jackie's not coming with them if Rose decides to keep travelling. In passing, he reveals that he's 900 years old, and Rose realises that this is just another of the many things she can't discuss with anyone. She muses that it's frustrating yet also incredible... being the only person on Earth who knows that aliens really are out there.

Almost as if it was waiting for Rose to say it, the universe decide to laugh in her face as, promptly, an alien spacecraft sputters overhead and careens wildly across the London skyline, belching smoke. As they watch, the ship sweeps low to pass over Tower Bridge, pivots around St. Paul's Cathedral, clips Big Ben, and finally, crashes into the River Thames near Westminster Bridge. Delighted at being able to do what he does best and watch history literally being made, the Doctor rushes off to investigate, but the police and military have cordoned off the crash site and the streets are gridlocked. The Doctor wants to find out what's happening, but he can't get close to the crash site, and he doesn't want to attract the wrong sort of attention by materialising the TARDIS nearby. Rose thus suggests that he watch the news on TV like everyone else.

The Doctor returns to Rose's flat, where Jackie reluctantly lets him in for fear of alienating her daughter further. Jackie's friends and neighbours have joined her to discuss the UFO crash and Rose's return, and the Doctor has difficulty hearing the television over their conversation; at one point, he even finds himself fighting for the TV remote with a young boy who wants to watch a Blue Peter special in which they're making an alien spaceship cake. The world is on red alert, flights have been grounded in North American airspace, and the UN Secretary General has advised people to watch the skies. Divers remove a body from the wreck and transport it to Albion Hospital for examination by Dr. Toshiko Sato. She reveals her findings to General Asquith, who is startled by the alien pilot's appearance and orders Sato to keep it out of sight until the experts arrive.

There has been no sign of the Prime Minister since the state of emergency was declared, and due to the gridlock and the grounding of flights, most of the Cabinet has been stranded outside central London, leaving the central government in full crisis mode. Consequently, in a most unusual turn of events, Joseph Green, the rotund MP for Hartley Dale, and Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on the Monitoring of Sugar Standards in Exported Confectionery, has ended up being declared the acting Prime Minister by default. He seems to be having difficulty handling the pressure, and while junior secretary Indra Ganesh tries to brief him, Green breaks wind, complaining that the nerves are giving him an upset stomach. The equally rotund Margaret Blaine of MI5 and Transport Liaison Oliver Charles report that the PM boarded his car that morning, before the emergency, and has since disappeared. Ganesh gives Green a briefcase containing the emergency protocols to be followed in case of alien incursion, and Green takes Margaret and Oliver into the Cabinet room to discuss the situation... but once there, he drops the briefcase on the table, and all three begin to laugh at one another like naughty schoolchildren. In all of the confusion, nobody pays any attention to Harriet Jones, the backbencher MP for Flydale North, whose afternoon appointment has been cancelled as a result of the emergency.

Night falls over London, and the Doctor, frustrated by the mundane conversation between Jackie and her neighbours, tells Rose that he's going out for a stroll. He assures her that first contact with alien life is something the human race can and must be left to handle on its own. To assure her that he's not leaving her behind, he hands her a key to the TARDIS. Mollified, she returns to the flat — but despite his assurances, the Doctor heads straight to the TARDIS. Upstairs, Mickey emerges from his flat, catches sight of the Doctor, and bolts downstairs to confront him, but arrives just as the TARDIS fades away. Inside, the Doctor struggles to control the TARDIS' flight, even whacking the controls with a hammer in order to make his ship do what he wants.

Meanwhile, at 10 Downing Street, Harriet tries to convince Ganesh to let her speak with Green, but he refuses to interrupt Green's important meeting for her proposed scheme by which cottage hospitals don't have to be excluded from centres of excellence. When Green, Margaret and Oliver emerge from the Cabinet room, Harriet tries to speak with Green, but Green laughs in her face and walks off with the others. Nettled, Harriet slips into the deserted Cabinet office and drops the report she's prepared in Green's briefcase... and becomes suspicious when she notices he's left the emergency protocols behind, like he hasn't even bothered reading any of them. Curious, she sits down and begins to leaf through them.

The Doctor takes the TARDIS to a storeroom in Albion Hospital, and emerges cautiously — only to walk straight into a group of soldiers on tea break. The moment of mutual surprise is broken when they hear Dr. Sato screaming, and the Doctor instantly takes charge of the situation, leading the soldiers to the morgue to investigate. The alien has come back to life and burst out of its drawer, and the Doctor orders the soldiers to lock down the perimeter and sweep the building. However, he then hears movement in the morgue, and investigates to find the alien hiding behind a counter: a pig, in a spacesuit, walking on its hind legs. The Doctor tries to approach it, but it bolts, squealing in terror, and runs straight into a bewildered soldier, who shoots it in the head before the Doctor can stop him. The enraged Doctor insists that the creature was just scared, and watches, mourning, as it dies in front of him. He returns the body to the morgue, where he studies Sato's findings. It is indeed just an ordinary pig, that's been augmented with technology in order to make it look and act more alien. However, Sato points out that the technology used to augment the pig is itself alien, which means that real aliens are responsible for faking a false UFO scare. The Doctor returns to his TARDIS and dematerialises, leaving the confused Dr. Sato behind.

Harriet is disrupted from her reading of the protocols when she hears voices approaching the Cabinet office, and is forced to hide in a nearby closet. Moments later, General Asquith enters with Green, Margaret and Oliver, berating Green for his appalling lack of leadership. He isn't returning the White House's phone calls, he hasn't started any of the emergency procedures outlined in the protocols, and he's cancelled the airlift that would have brought the senior Cabinet ministers into central London. To Asquith's fury, Green, Margaret and Oliver begin giggling and farting like this is all a silly game, revelling in it having taken so long for Asquith to figure out this whole job has been a hoax. A fed-up Asquith finally snaps, and declares that he's using his emergency powers to remove Green from power and place London under martial law. This is a threat that Green takes seriously, saying it's quite hair-raising...quite literally. He, Margaret and Oliver promptly unzip their foreheads to reveal their true alien forms, and advance on the startled General Asquith.

Mickey enters the Tylers' flat, and is furious to see Rose sitting with the rest of his neighbours. Rose apologizes for not visiting him, but that's not nearly good enough; when she disappeared with no explanation, Mickey was nearly charged with her murder. He's been questioned five times in the past year, and even when Jackie blamed him, Mickey couldn't tell her the truth, as he knew she'd never believe him. He now demands that Rose admit the truth; she might as well, because the Doctor's gone without her. Rose refuses to believe this, but when she goes out to see for herself, there is indeed no sign of the TARDIS. She insists that the Doctor wouldn't have left her behind, and as she speaks, the TARDIS key begins to glow in her hand. Jackie has followed Mickey and her daughter, and although Rose tries to bundle her back inside, it's too late. To Jackie's shock, the TARDIS materialises before her eyes.

The Doctor is irritated when Jackie and Mickey follow Rose into the TARDIS, and as Mickey angrily accuses the Doctor of ruining his life, Jackie stares about in shock and bolts out of the ship in terror. Rose follows, trying to assure her mother that everything's all right, but Jackie runs back to the flat, and the frustrated Rose returns to the TARDIS to find out what the Doctor has to say. Jackie huddles up in her flat, trying to cope with what she's seen, and when the emergency alien hotline number reappears on the TV, she calls it up and blurts out her story, claiming that her daughter is in danger because of an alien called the Doctor, who travels in a blue box called the TARDIS. These key words trigger an automated alert which Ganesh receives at 10 Downing Street, quite probably because it's U.N.I.T tech and they're always on the lookout for the Doctor, just in case they need to be prepared for the world ending disaster he'll inevitably bring with him.

Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor — who insists on calling Mickey "Ricky" rather than admit he can't remember his name — explains to Mickey and Rose that the crash landing was faked, but by other aliens. Mickey points out that putting the world on red alert is an odd way to start an invasion...a point that the Doctor acknowledges is very valid. The Doctor starts fiddling about with the circuitry beneath the console, but refuses to explain what he's doing, pointing out rather rudely that Mickey doesn't have a hope of understanding it anyway. Rose apologises for the Doctor's behaviour, and assures Mickey that she did miss him, even though she's only been gone for a few days from her perspective. He tells her that he spent the whole year looking for her, and that he never dated anyone else (though, to be fair, most people think he murdered Rose and hid her body somewhere). Now that she's back, she realises that Mickey wants to pick up where they left off... but as they're about to lean in to kiss, the Doctor announces that he's finished his work. He's looped back the TARDIS radar 12 hours to follow the ship's flight path, and the trio thus discover another interesting detail: the ship launched from elsewhere on Earth, made a slingshot, then crashed in the Thames. It too was faked by the aliens, who have obviously been here for a while... but what they're up to is still a mystery.

In the Cabinet room, the alien that had been posing as Oliver Charles has now shed his skin and assumed General Asquith's identity. Like the other aliens, he must break wind frequently to fit into his tight disguise (Margaret insists they should do something about the gas exchange that comes with their disguises, but Green retorts it's a rather human thing to do). "Asquith" tosses his former skin inside the closet where Harriet is hiding, while lamenting having to give up Oliver's wife, his mistress, and the young farmer he was seeing on the side. As Green, Asquith and Margaret leave, Ganesh intercepts them and tells them that the government's automated surveillance software has detected someone speaking about "the Doctor", who is apparently the ultimate expert in extra-terrestrial affairs. Harriet listens from hiding as Ganesh tells the others that they'll have to enlist the Doctor's help.

The Doctor, Rose and Mickey watch more news footage from inside the TARDIS, and see a group of experts from UNIT, the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, being escorted into 10 Downing Street. Mickey, who's spent the last year researching the Doctor's past appearances, reveals that the Doctor once worked for UNIT; however, the Doctor decides not to offer his help, as he's changed a lot since the old days and his arrival would just confuse matters. He decides to check out the wreck of the ship instead. However, as soon as he, Rose and Mickey step out of the TARDIS, they find themselves surrounded by police, soldiers and helicopters. Mickey bolts in panic and hides behind the dustbins as the police close in on them, and Jackie protests in vain when her daughter is apparently taken into custody alongside the Doctor.

Actually, the Doctor and Rose are not being arrested; they're just being escorted to 10 Downing Street. As they are driven through the streets, the Doctor admits to Rose that he's visited Earth a lot, and these days, his arrival tends to be noticed. He and Rose arrive at 10 Downing Street, where they wave and pose for the paparazzi before entering the seat of government. Inside, Harriet Jones is trying to mingle with the visiting experts, but before she can speak to any of them, Ganesh arrives and ushers them all out to the briefing room. He gives the Doctor an ID card, but refuses to give one to Rose, who doesn't have sufficient security clearance. Harriet offers to take care of Rose while the Doctor is busy, and escorts Rose out into the hall — where she breaks down in tears and tells Rose about what happened to the real Asquith.

Harriet takes Rose to the Cabinet office, where they study the abandoned skin-suit of the late Oliver Charles and try to decide what to do about it. Hoping to find some evidence of alien technology, Rose opens up a nearby closet — and a body tumbles out. When Ganesh storms in to take Harriet to task for continually getting in the way, he finds Rose and Harriet staring, appalled, at the body of the Prime Minister. Margaret Blaine then strolls into the office behind them and admits to the bewildered Ganesh that she lied about escorting the PM to his car that morning. She then closes the door, unzips her forehead and removes her skin-suit...

Back in her flat, Jackie is being questioned by Commissioner Strickland, a rather rotund and gassy man who seems uncomfortable inside his own skin. Strickland sends the other police away so he can question Jackie alone about the Doctor, and although Jackie insists that she knows nothing about the man, that isn't good enough for Strickland. This Doctor means trouble, and that means anyone associated with him is trouble. And Strickland's job is to eliminate trouble. He unzips his forehead and removes his skin-suit...

The Doctor walks into the briefing room, flips through the agenda within seconds and immediately picks out the most important point. Before Asquith can begin the briefing properly, the Doctor speaks up, pointing out that a satellite detected an anomalous blip of radiation beneath the North Sea three days ago, but that the faked crash-landing has distracted everyone's attention from it. Worse, as he speaks, the Doctor realizes that everyone who could have investigated the radiation blip is currently in this room. The crash wasn't just a distraction; it's a trap. As he speaks, Green passes wind loudly, and when the Doctor turns on him for the interruption, Asquith unzips his forehead and removes his skin-suit, revealing who he and his fellow aliens really are: gigantic, corpulent, baby-faced bipedals with extended necks, claws, elongated arms, and sideways-blinking eyes, who call themselves the Slitheen.

In the council estate, the Slitheen that was Strickland advances on the terrified Jackie. In the Cabinet office, the Slitheen that was Margaret Blaine grabs Ganesh by the throat and lifts him up to the ceiling, killing him, as the horrified Harriet and Rose watch. And in the briefing room, Green activates the charges in the delegates' ID cards, electrocuting every one of the gathered alien experts. The Doctor seizes up in agony as the Slitheen burst out laughing...


  • 20 Minutes into the Future: This episode starts the pattern of the Russell T Davies era of the Earth episodes being a year ahead of the air date.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: The Doctor decides that if this really is first contact, then it's something humans have to work out for themselves. Once he confirms it's a trap, it's back to business as usual.
  • Aliens of London: Trope Namer.
  • Arc Words: A kid spray-paints "BAD WOLF" on the side of the TARDIS. As a Brick Joke, the kid is seen at the end of the next episode scrubbing it off.
  • Artistic Licence - Geography: The spaceship's approach to Big Ben shows it doing a sweep over Parliament Street, approaching Big Ben from the east, yet then hitting Big Ben from the northwest and landing on the east side of Westminster Bridge.
  • Artistic Licence – Politics:
    • There is no official line of succession to the office of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and there is no such post as acting Prime Minister, so even in the situation that the entire cabinet was unable to be contacted, an obscure backbench MP like Joseph Green would not become Acting Prime Minister. The official Doctor Who Wiki addresses this. And even if the Cabinet were stranded outside London it is rather ridiculous that a relatively minor MP would be pushed into this role and be able to cancel airlifting the Cabinet in. It is more likely that the civil service would temporarily take control.
    • Joseph Green's position of "Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on the Monitoring of Sugar Standards in Exported Confectionery" is bodged together from several real positions: a select committee chairman,note  the chair of an All-Party Parliamentary Group,note  and the House of Commons Commissionnote . The implication is that Green's position is as obscure as it can possibly get.
  • Attack Pattern Alpha: "Defence Plan Delta!"
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: The Doctor manages to get out of being held at gunpoint by a room full of soldiers by shouting "Defence Plan Delta! Come on!" after a scream is heard. He doesn't even flash his psychic paper! Then again they are UNIT soldiers, so the Doctor might be using an actual command from when he worked with them.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: General Asquith threatens to depose Joseph Green and his comrades after their response to his accusations of doing nothing is to laugh and fart a lot. Then they start unzipping their foreheads.
  • Big Bad: Joseph Green.
  • Board to Death:
    • The aliens posing as Joseph Green, Margaret Blaine and Oliver Charles (later General Asquith) conveniently discuss their plan in the Cabinet room while Harriet Jones (MP, Flydale North) is hiding in the closet. Harriet gets to see them murder Asquith.
    • Also the fate of the alien experts, once the Slitheen have them all together in the briefing room.
  • Calling Out for Not Calling: The Doctor brings Rose home after adventuring in space, saying it's only been 12 hours Earth time since they left. It turns out it's been 12 months. Her mother is quite relieved and upset when she just shows up, not knowing what the big deal is.
  • Cassandra Truth: When Jackie is chewing out the Doctor and Rose at the beginning. The Doctor and Rose are being 100% truthful, but of course, between time travel being a hard-to-believe explanation and Jackie's anger at Rose for disappearing, she doesn't believe a word they say.
    Jackie: The hours I've sat here, days and weeks and months, all on my own! I thought you were dead! And where were you travelling?! What the hell does that mean, "travelling"? That's no sort of answer! [turns to the police officer in the room with them] You ask her! She won't tell me. That's all she says, "Travelling!"
    Rose: That's what I was doing!
    Jackie: When your passport's still in the drawer! It's just one lie after another!
    Rose: I meant to phone, I really did! I just... I forgot.
    Jackie: What, for a year? You forgot for a year?! And I'm left sitting here! I just don't believe you! Why won't you tell me where you've been?
    The Doctor: Actually, it's my fault. I sort of, er, employed Rose as my companion.
    Policeman: When you say companion, is this a sexual relationship?
    The Doctor & Rose: [look at each other] No!
    Jackie: [gets in the Doctor's face] Then what is it?! Because you, you waltz in here all charm and smiles, and the next thing I know, she vanishes off the face of the Earth! How old are you then? Forty? Forty-five? What, did you find her on the Internet? Did you go online and pretend you're a doctor?
    The Doctor: I am a doctor!
    Jackie: Prove it! Stitch this, mate! [slaps him hard across the face]
  • Catchphrase: "Harriet Jones, MP Flydale North."
  • Chekhov's Gun: The flatulence produced by the Slitheen.
  • Costumes Change Your Size: This story finally offers an explanation for why some aliens in the Classic Series (e.g. Scaroth and the Foamasi) could fit into human disguises noticeably smaller than their true forms: the Slitheen use compression fields to squeeze into human skins (though require more heavyset people since the tech can only do so much), and it's implied that this was the case for previous aliens as well.
  • Deconstruction: The Doctor takes a young teenage girl up into space, as usual. She leaves her loved ones behind without saying goodbye, as usual. The TARDIS doesn't listen to the Doctor and returns to the wrong time, as usual... and suddenly, we get to see what happens when all three of those things combine. Rose's mother is deeply traumatized, the police suspect Mickey of murdering her, and the Doctor has to explain to the police that his relationship with Rose is not sexual. However, this doubles as a slight Call-Back to "Survival", where Ace finds her mother had her listed as a missing person and some people thought she had died.
  • Dramatic Drop: The Doctor brings Rose back to London after her first journey in the TARDIS. Problem is, he overshot the return date. He intended to drop her off only twelve hours after they left, but they arrive twelve months into the future. Jackie is so stunned at her daughter's sudden return (while Rose has no idea of how much time really passed), she drops her coffee mug and it smashes into pieces...
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Although the Doctor is clearly not impressed with Mickey at all, when he points out how strange it is for the invading aliens to immediately put the entire planet on red alert, he admits this is a good point.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: In retrospect: Tosh is there to perform the autopsy on the pig-alien.
  • Early Instalment Weirdness. Dr. Sato appears here as a medical doctor, as opposed to the technical scientist the character becomes in Torchwood. "Exit Wounds" finally explained that she was filling in for a hungover Owen Harper.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: An alien ship crashing through Big Ben before landing in the Thames. The Doctor then deduces that this is a staged event just by the fact that this is too perfect a crash landing in terms of cinematography for just this reason. Deliberately hitting Big Ben draws the public attention the Slitheen want.
  • Fat Bastard: All the Slitheen in their human suits; they're eight feet tall in their natural forms, so they have to use big people.
  • False Flag Operation: The Slitheen stage a First Contact situation using a hot-wired pig as part of a plan to destroy the planet.
  • Gasshole: The whole Slitheen family, due to how they compress themselves to fit into their meat suits. (Blaine implies this is actually an unintentional side-effect or result of an equipment malfunction, saying they've "got to fix the gas exchange", although it doesn't come up again.)
  • Genuine Human Hide: The Slitheen turn the skins of their victims into suits they can wear as disguises.
  • Human Disguise: The Slitheen kill people and use compression technology to fit inside their skins. Due to their size, the Slitheen have to use large humans because their compression fields only shrink them down so much, limiting their plans as they can't, for example, simply impersonate the incumbent Prime Minister. The main Slitheen are disguised as Margaret Blaine of MI5, Oliver Charles (transport liaison), Joseph Green (MP for Hartley Dale, and Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on the Monitoring of Sugar Standards in Exported Confectionery), and General Asquith (for the Slitheen posing as Oliver Charles).
  • Impersonating an Officer: One of the Slitheen is pretending to be Commissioner Strickland of the Metropolitan Police.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Rose complains/brags about being the only person on Earth who knows about aliens, only for an alien spaceship to come crashing in right over her head.
  • Invisible President: Well, Invisible Prime Minister. The episode was broadcast close to a General Election — when the Doctor asks Rose who the PM is, she points out that she missed a year. When they find the PM's corpse, we never see his face in detail.note 
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Jackie waves off her persecution of Mickey with "Well what was I supposed to think?" Seeing as Mickey was the last person to see Rose before she left with the Doctor, and obviously can't explain what really happened without getting committed... (also, disappearances are usually murders, and murders are usually committed by someone close to the victim. In short, Mickey was the most likely suspect even if he hadn't been the last one to see Rose.)
  • Kill and Replace: The Slitheen murder certain people so they can disguise themselves as them, by wearing their skin.
  • Killed Offscreen: The real Joseph Green, Margaret Blaine, Commissioner Strickland and Oliver Charles have all already been killed some time before the story starts, their skins turned into skinsuits for the Slitheen (and they've been maintaining the act long enough that the one pretending to be Oliver, when assuming Asquith's identity, complains about having to give up Oliver's active sex life). So has the Prime Minister.
  • Malicious Misnaming: The Doctor insists on calling Mickey "Ricky".
    Mickey: I think I know my own name!
    The Doctor: You think you know your own name? How stupid are you?
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Joseph Green MP is Killed Offscreen and his skin is worn by a massive green alien.
    • Harriet Jones is the MP for Flydale North, as in a flyspeck, a very unimportant place.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: The Doctor compares the humanoid pig "alien" to P.T. Barnum's monkey/fish "mermaid".
  • Monumental Damage: An invoked trope on the Slitheen's part. They deliberately have the ship clip Big Ben before landing in the Thames to draw attention and make sure everyone sees it.
  • Never My Fault: When it's pointed out that Jackie (falsely) accused Mickey of murdering Rose, all she has to say is "Well, be fair! What was I supposed to think?!" To add insult to injury, she doesn't even apologize to him.
  • Not so Dire: It looks like the Doctor is being arrested in response to Jackie's tip to the emergency alien hotline. Turns out the government knows exactly who he is, and are having him and Rose escorted to 10 Downing Street.
  • Oh, Crap!: The Doctor has one when he notices a police-issued flyer near where he's landed the TARDIS, reading "Rose Tyler has been missing from her home on the Powell Estate since 6 March 2005. Rose is described as 19 years old, 5 feet 4 inches in height, slim build with shoulder-length blonde hair. Anyone with information regarding Rose should contact 0207 946000." He rushes up to the Tyler flat, where Rose has just noticed a table covered in more missing person flyers.
    The Doctor: [to Rose] It's not twelve hours, it's uh, twelve months. You've been gone a whole year. [turns to Jackie] Sorry...
  • Perception Filter: Given that no one notices the zippers the Slitheen have on their foreheads when disguised as humans unless they're actively unzipping them, it can be presumed this is in effect.note 
  • Pig Man: The pilot of the crashed ship, actually just an ordinary pig that's been put in a spacesuit and wired with alien technology to look and act like an alien.
  • Precision Crash: Subverted. The Slitheen hit Big Ben entirely on purpose, with a spaceship launched from elsewhere on Earth.
  • Pre-emptive Declaration: "Thank you for wearing your ID cards! They'll help to identify the bodies."
  • Really 700 Years Old: The Doctor casually reveals that he's around nine hundred years old. A bemused Rose can only say that it's one hell of an age gap.
  • Really Gets Around: The Slitheen who takes up Asquith's identity bemoans that this was why he enjoyed posing as Oliver.
    "Asquith": A shame. I quite enjoyed being Oliver! He had a wife, a mistress and a young farmer. [laughs as he tosses his old skinsuit into the closet] God, I was busy... [laughs]
  • Retcon: Toshiko Sato is called "Dr. Sato" in the script, although Torchwood eventually reveals she's not a doctor. The spinoff was able to effortlessly retcon it into "Tosh covering for Owen that day".
  • Revealing Cover-Up: The faked spaceship crash is organized by the Slitheen to cause worldwide panic and distract from events, such as the "disappearance" of the Prime Minister, that would be topping the headlines at any other time. While this does get them into power and allow them to wipe out the country's alien-invasion experts without arousing suspicion from the general public, it also alerts the Doctor and Rose to their presence.
  • Schmuck Bait: While arguing with the Doctor, who insists his name is Ricky, Mickey states he thinks he knows his own name. The Doctor instantly seizes on this chance to insult him further.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Mickey smartly gets the hell out of dodge when the army shows up, pointing guns at the Doctor and the TARDIS.
  • Shaking the Rump: Feeling a build-up of gas coming on, "Margaret" does this as she lets off some exceptionally loud farts.
    Margaret: I'm... shaking my booty!.
  • Skewed Priorities: Everyone has to point out to Harriet Jones that her minor issue at hand has to be put on the backburner due to the emergency. At the same time, her skewed priorities lead her to discover the plotters behind the emergency.
  • The Slow Path: Everyone connected to Rose. Jackie is thrown when she explains it's only been a few days for her.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: The Doctor pulls one on Dr. Sato at Albion Hospital.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: The consequences of the TARDIS' notoriously dodgy choices of "time and place" are in full force. Jackie has had to spend a year living with the fact that her daughter vanished without a trace, assuming that Rose was quite possibly dead or worse. Mickey, meanwhile, has been repeatedly questioned by the police and become a social pariah on the estate as everyone believed he killed Rose and hid her body somewhere — particularly Jackie, who turned people against him even further. Both of them are furious at the Doctor when he and Rose finally get back, and Mickey in particular finds it hard to forgive Rose.
  • Take Me to Your Leader: The Doctor is rather excited about being taken to 10 Downing Street. So is Rose, for that matter.
    Rose Tyler: [taking in the front facade of 10 Downing Street] Oh my god...
  • Tempting Fate: Rose admits to the Doctor that it's pretty cool being the only human on the planet who knows aliens really do exist. Cue an alien spaceship flying overhead and crashes in the Thames.
    Rose Tyler: ...Oh that's just not fair.
  • Toilet Humour: The Slitheen and the entire matter with the gas exchange.
  • Tragic Monster: The poor little pig alien. Just a regular pig turned into an abomination against science, and crashes into the Thames. Poor thing gets shot dead by a spooked soldier.
    The Doctor: He was scared!
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The "Next Time" trailer for the following episode began immediately after the cliffhanger, and showed that all but one of the characters with lines (including minor ones who the viewers might have thought were going to die) would survive. Needless to say, many fans (and even casual viewers) were pissed off at the first Doctor Who cliffhanger in sixteen years being utterly ruined, and future episodes of the series would have the "Next Time" trailer moved to being after the end credits, giving viewers enough time to turn the channel.
    • The trailer for this episode after "The Unquiet Dead" shows which characters are actually the Slitheen, but this is less of a spoiler since the episode doesn't keep the identities of the Slitheen secret for very long.
  • Transformation Is a Free Action: Whenever a Slitheen unzips their disguise, the universal reaction of government officials, military officers, civil servants and random civilians alike is to watch in stunned passive silence.
  • Troll: Russell T Davies deliberately inserted a line of dialogue for Rose where she said to the Doctor, "You're so gay!" to set off a heated discussion about homosexuality within fan circles. For the record, Davies himself is gay.
  • Unexpected Successor: Part of the Slitheen's plan. They murder the Prime Minister, making it look like he's mysteriously vanished, and arrange for the Cabinet to be stranded outside London, making the most senior MP available to become acting PM one Joseph Green, the identity assumed by the Slitheen's leader. As seen above this does involve a lot of Artistic Licence.
  • The X of Y: "Aliens of London".
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: The episode opens with the Doctor and Rose returning expecting this trope, only to discover that it's been subverted and Rose has been missing for a year, complete with missing person posters and a police investigation, meaning it's actually...
  • Year Outside, Hour Inside: As Rose tells Jackie and Mickey, "It's only been a couple days for me."

Alternative Title(s): Doctor Who NSS 1 E 4 Aliens Of London