Follow TV Tropes


Recap / Doctor Who S29 E2 "The Shakespeare Code"

Go To
Shakespeare's trademark ruff is actually a neck brace. We're just as surprised as you are.

The Doctor: When you get home you can tell everyone you've seen Shakespeare.
Martha: Then I could get sectioned!

Original air date: April 7, 2007

Production code: 3.2

The one where the Queen wants the Doctor's head.

Written by Gareth Roberts.

This episode contains a lot of very silly Shakespeare jokes, almost all of which are also very clever, very obscure Shakespeare jokes in disguise. We open in extremely Elizabethan London, where a young man courts a damsel via period song. The damsel (unlike Juliet) rejects the idea of waiting until marriage and invites the man up. She then pulls a Darla and toys with him a bit before putting on her witchy game face, inviting in her equally witchy mothers, and devouring her ardent swain. This is not about premarital sex or gay marriage being evil, though. It's just campy.

Post-credits, enter the Doctor and Martha, off to the Globe Theatre to see Love's Labour's Lost. Martha is concerned about stepping on a butterfly or encountering old-timey racism, but the Doctor shrugs these off. The Doctor riffs on the parallels between London then and now, including comparing a crazy doomsayer to "global warming". This isn't an attack on climate theory, though. It's just silly.

At Martha's instigation, Shakespeare comes out after the play to address the audience. The witches magic him into promising to perform the sequel, Love's Labour's Won, tomorrow night. The Doctor, knowing that this play is a Missing Episode, realizes something is afoot. The pair decides to stay the night at Shakespeare's inn and get to meet the dude. Shakespeare is a genius-level but bawdy empath, clever enough to be immune to psychic paper (although he does love the word "psychic"). He hits on Martha but blows it by constantly referencing her race. "It's political correctness gone mad," mutters the Doctor.

There Is Only One Bed. They both crawl in, their faces very close... and the Doctor tells her that there's something he's... missing. Something... staring right into his eyes. Something... close, but just out of reach. "Rose would know what to do", he sighs moodily, oblivious to the sexual tension. Martha looks extremely annoyed. Meanwhile, the witch has crept in at night in order to plant some words in Shakespeare's script, just in time for the landlady to walk in on her. So the witch kills her. Martha sees the witch flying off on her broomstick, and bemusedly IDs her.

This clue, along with the murder of the Master of the Revels, leads the Doctor and Martha to Bedlam, the insane asylum, note  with Shakespeare tagging along. They interview the architect who designed the Globe — fourteen sides, like fourteen lines in a sonnet — and realise the plan: the performance of Love's Labour's Won will be a spell to allow the witches to take over Earth. A witch shows up and kills off the architect... way too late, as the Doctor has worked out the witches' True Name... Carrionite. The mere word banishes her, and the trio split up: Shakespeare to stop the performance of the play, and the Doctor and Martha to find Witch Headquarters.

They don't succeed. Shakespeare bursts onto the stage and announces that the show must not go on, but is KO'd by witch magic. Will Kemp improvises an excellent triple-meaning couplet: if "Will" refers to Shakespeare, it's him dismissing the warning as drunken ramblings. If "Will" refers to Kemp, it's a mock-apology for his own silliness (emphasized with a goofy caper). If "Will" is the Elizabethan-era slang for penis, it's a joke about alcohol-induced sexual impotence. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Martha find the youngest witch and try the naming again, but it turns out It Only Works Once. The witch tries it on Martha, but Martha's anachronism saves her from permanent harm. The Doctor, of course, has no discernible name. So the witch vamps him instead, gets a lock of his hair and stops his heart; one of them, anyway. Martha wakes up, improvises some first aid to get the afflicted heart going, and they're off to back up Shakespeare.

But they're too late! At the play's end, two noblemen recite an odd invocation that allows the whole Carrionite race, sealed off long ago, to show up in the Globe. Shakespeare, the Doctor and Martha form an impromptu trio: Shakespeare improvises a counter-spell, flanked by the Doctor providing the right numbers and Martha providing "Expelliarmus!" The spell imprisons the witches in their own crystal ball and also destroys all copies of the play.

In the end, Martha is revealed to be the Dark Lady, the unknown (and speculated to be imaginary) African woman to whom Shakespeare wrote several sonnets (not including, however, the Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? one, which he starts to recite to her). Oh, and he casually figures out that the Doctor is otherworldly and Martha is from the future. They are interrupted, though, by Queen Elizabeth I, who showed up to congratulate Shakespeare on his excellent special effects. A Whole Lot of Running ensues when it turns out that Elizabeth considers the Doctor her "sworn enemy" for something he hasn't done yet.


  • Actor Allusion: Of course the Doctor would be a fan of good ol' J.K., given he's served for Voldemort in the past.
  • All Part of the Show: The climactic scene takes place at the end of a performance of Love's Labour's Won, the ending of which was written by the Carrionites to call the rest of their race to take over the world. After the villains are defeated, the audience stands up and applauds. Martha assumes that they think it was all special effects.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Shakespeare directs his flirtatious comments not only to Martha but the Doctor as well.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • Because of poor lighting, among other things, in this time period, plays were performed during the day. That was why theatres like the Globe had no roofs, so that the sun could light up the stage. It wasn't until much later that performances became a night-time affair. (Of course, given that the play was completed under the influence of alien mind control, maybe the night staging was part of their plan.
    • The architecture of Bedlam Asylum is about 100 years out of date.
  • And I Must Scream: The Doctor's prison for the Carrionites is to be trapped not just in their mystic globe that looks into where the Eternals banished them, but under the Doctor's care.
    "I've got a nice attic in the TARDIS where this lot can scream for all eternity, and I've got to take Martha back to Freedonia."
  • Arbitrary Scepticism: The Doctor scoffs at the existence of witchcraft, but Martha reminds him that she just discovered that time travel is real.
  • Arc Number: This episode only, 14. It turns out to be because the witches' home is in a cluster with 14 stars.
  • Artistic Licence – Art: Near the end of the episode, Will starts reciting a new poem for his "Dark Lady." The Dark Lady is a title given to one of the two recipients of Shakespeare's sonnets whose identities are still hotly debated, the other being a young man known as the Fair Youth. The sonnet he begins is the famous Sonnet 18, which was addressed to the Fair Youth, not the Dark Lady.
  • Artistic Licence – History: The episode repeatedly shows plays being performed in the Globe Theatre at night. Plays in Elizabethan England were performed during the day, since several hundred years prior to the invention of electric lighting, they would have had no way to light the stage properly when it was dark. This one can be chalked up to the fact that all of the scenes at the Globe were shot in the real-life Globe, which, like the original which it is a replica of, stages its plays exclusively in the daytime, resulting in very limited daytime shooting time for the show to use.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...:
    Martha: [after the Doctor compares their situation to Back to the Future] The film?
    The Doctor: No, the novelisation. Yes, the film!
  • Asshole Victim: Lynley, the Master of the Revels, is a self-important, condescending, bullying jerk who tells Shakespeare that he will make sure that Love's Labour's Won will never be performed if it's the last thing he does, just because Shakespeare won't have the script ready until the following day, and plans to sexually exploit Lilith. He is murdered by the Carrionites by drowning his voodoo doll in order for the play to go ahead.
  • Author Appeal: Gareth Roberts is a big Shakespeare fan, having included him as a character in "A Groatsworth of Wit", a Ninth Doctor comic strip.
  • Badass Bookworm: William Shakespeare, the Word-Smith. He doesn't plan on fighting witches, but is quick to adapt to the changes brought forth by the Carrionites and the Doctor.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: When the Master of the Revels is killed, the Doctor quickly informs everyone that it's the result of "an imbalance of the humours", and asks for someone to remove the body. This is because he knows the actual answer would start a riot.
    Martha: Why are you telling them that?
    The Doctor: This lot have still got one foot in the Dark Ages. If I tell them the truth, they'll panic and think it was witchcraft.
    Martha: Okay, what was it then.
    The Doctor: Witchcraft.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: While the other two Carrionites are portrayed as withered and wrinkled, Lilith, played by a young, very attractive actress, only shows her true form briefly at the beginning of the episode.
  • Bedlam House: Featuring the Trope Namer itself, Bethlem Royal Hospital.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy:
    • Will is involved with real witches.
    • Queen Elizabeth I turns up at the end, angry with the Doctor for something he hasn't done yet.
  • Big Bad: Lilith, the lead Carrionite.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The Carrionite witch Lilith uses her voodoo doll to stop one of the Doctor's hearts. He gets by well enough on the other one until Martha gets it going again.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: One of the Carrionites speaks to the camera about how her species will return — this is reference to the soliloquies that Shakespeare used in his plays.
  • Brick Joke:
    • As the Doctor shows Martha around turn- of-the-17th-century London, they pass by a doomsday preacher shouting "And the Earth will be consumed by flames!" In the climax, when the void opens and the Carrionites are being released, the same preacher is seen screaming with almost glee-like tones, "I TOLD THEE SO! I TOLD THEE!"
    • When handing out the scripts for Love's Labour's Won, Shakespeare tells the performers to give it their all, "Y'never know, the Queen might show up", before muttering that she never does. Cue the end of the episode...
    • The reverse joke: the Queen turns up, sees the Doctor, and yells "My sworn enemy. Off with His Head!!" with the Doctor having no idea what he'll do to upset her.
  • Broken Pedestal: Played for laughs. The Doctor goes into full-on fanboy mode at the prospect of hearing Shakespeare speak, and visibly deflates when what he gets is "SHUT YOUR BIG FAT MOUTHS!" Martha quips, "You should never meet your heroes."
  • Butterfly of Doom: The Doctor lampshades this to put Martha at ease in her first time time-travelling.
    Martha: It's like in those films. You step on a butterfly, you change the future of the human race.
    The Doctor: Then, don't step on any butterflies. What have butterflies ever done to you?
  • Celebrity Paradox: The Harry Potter books and films exist in the Doctor Who universe. We must assume that someone other than David Tennant played Barty Crouch Jr. in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, since otherwise Martha would probably tell the Doctor he resembles him.
  • Changed My Jumper: Lampshaded when the Doctor tells Martha to just walk about like she owns the place — it works for him. She gets some looks and comments about being black, but is otherwise fine. In particular, Shakespeare makes a comment about her "fitted" clothing, and it's implied her clothes were one of the clues that helped him figure out who Martha and the Doctor really were.
  • Clarke's Third Law: The Carrionites are three crones who appear to be witches that cast spells through incantations. When they use a spell to kill a man, the Doctor warns Martha to keep quiet, otherwise the townsfolk will think it's witchcraft. It turns out that the witches are aliens, who use science based on the power of words.
  • Comically Missing the Point: The Doctor cheerfully tells Martha she could tell everyone she knows that she's met Shakespeare. Martha sarcastically points out that if she did, she'd be institutionalized.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: When Lilith knocks him out, Martha starts trying to resuscitate the Doctor... and then she remembers he's got two hearts.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Shakespeare's stereotypical greeting to Martha was a straight-up punch in the jaw (as the Doctor notes, it is 1599).
  • Description Cut: The Doctor saying that Shakespeare is a wordsmith and bound to say something wonderful, only for the man himself to just rudely tell everyone to shut up.
  • Dirty Old Man: The Master of the Revels is accosted by Lilith, who's looking to get a hair sample from him to use her magic on. He assumes she's trying to get a feel and whispers that he'll come back later.
  • Doing In the Wizard:
    • Once again, the Doctor versus magic. He tries to rationalize Lilith's voodoo doll. She just brushes him off.
    • At the beginning of the episode, the Doctor himself accuses Martha of this when she asks how the TARDIS can fly.
  • Doomsayer: He's quite delighted that the end of the world is happening, crying: "I told ye! I told ye!"
  • Drives Like Crazy: Martha is a little alarmed at her first TARDIS trip, and asks if you have to pass a test to fly it. The Doctor replies that you do, and he failed it.
  • The Exit Is That Way: When the Doctor and Martha stumble out of All Hallow's Way to get to the theatre, Martha tells the Doctor he's going the wrong way. He claims he isn't... cue a quick shot of him running in the opposite direction, yelling "we're going the wrong way".
  • Fate Worse than Death: Bedlam Hospital, where the mentally ill of Elizabethan London are sent. As Shakespeare explains, fear of being sent there after his son died cured him of his grief pretty damn quick (he takes this as proof it works, rather than it being horrific).
  • Flying Broomstick: Lilith takes Dolly Bailey's broom as an escape vehicle before killing her. Martha sees her flying away on it.
    "I'll take that to aid my flight, and you shall speak no more this night."
  • Foreshadowing:
  • Game Face: Lilith reveals her true Carrionite face after her unfortunate swain kisses her.
  • Grandfather Paradox: The concept is discussed. Along with the Butterfly concept.
    Martha: What if I kill my grandfather?
    The Doctor: Are you planning to?
    Martha: No.
    The Doctor: Well, then.
  • Greater-Scope Paragon: The absent Eternals were the ones who sealed the Carrionittes away long ago. They don't show up in the revived series (since according to the Manual, they left reality after the Time War, never to return).
  • Have We Met Yet?: Inverted — the Queen immediately recognizes the Doctor from a meeting that hasn't happened to him yet.
  • The Hecate Sisters: Played with, having a trio of witch-like aliens, two Evil Witch Mothers, and the Maiden would appear to be calling the shots.
  • Historical In-Joke:
    • Love's Labour's Won is a lost play today because it was commandeered into a spell to release the Carrionite race. When the spell is reversed, the play vanishes along with the Carrionites.
    • The Doctor feeding Shakespeare his own lines. Specifically, it resolves the Brick Joke of the Sycorax set up in "The Christmas Invasion"; Sycorax is an unseen witch mentioned in The Tempest. Where Shakespeare got the name is a bit of an academic mystery. As far as anyone can find she's not a figure from mythology, and if it's supposed to be a Meaningful Name, it's far from obvious what the meaning is. "The Christmas Invasion" used it as the name of an alien species, with no explanation/comment, and in this episode Shakespeare hears the Doctor talking about them and likes the sound of it.
    • Shakespeare wrote many sonnets about a "Dark Lady" that scholars have puzzled over for ages. It turns out to be Martha Jones.
      • One of these (Sonnet 130, a satire of the flowery love sonnets prevalent in his era) has Shakespeare complaining of his Dark Lady's bad breath. Turns out his own breath is nothing to boast about!
      • Other sonnets complained about his "Fair Youth" stealing away his Dark Lady. Hmm...
    • When Shakespeare flirts with him, the Doctor's line about "57 academics" doesn't refer to a number of people, but to the Bard's Sonnet 57, which several Shakespeare scholars have interpreted as homoerotic.
  • Historical Person Punchline: Shakespeare teams up with the Doctor and Martha. During the episode Shakespeare opens up about the death of his son and how it almost drove him mad and made him question Life, death and everything. At the end we have the punchline:
    Shakespeare: I got new ideas. Perhaps it is time for me to write about fathers and sons. In memory of my boy, my precious Hamnet.note 
    Martha: Wait, Hamnet?
    Shakespeare: That's him.
    Martha: Hamnet?
    Shakespeare: What's wrong with that?
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Queen Elizabeth I in the end. While she really did have her faults, ordering her soldiers to murder a man on sight in her presence without a trial was not among them. Of course, given what the Doctor will have done to her...
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Carrionites are defeated by Shakespeare using language, their own source of power, against them.
  • I Know Your True Name: The Carrionites, who are implied to be the inspiration for the witches in Macbeth and possibly this whole true-name thing. Unfortunately, with them, It Only Works Once. Apparently it also works in reverse, as the Carrionites try to overcome the Doctor by this means, but are unable to discover his true name.
  • Immune to Mind Control: Zig-Zagged. The psychic paper doesn't work on Shakespeare, but he is still susceptible to the Carrionites' influence.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: The ending includes William Shakespeare using words to stop the Carronites. The last episode in the season, "Last of the Time Lords", took that concept and turned it Up to Eleven. The relationship between the Tenth Doctor and Elizabeth I is later explored in the "The Day of the Doctor".
  • It Only Works Once: The power of a True Name only works once. That's why Carrionites can only be banished once with their Name. It takes new words by Shakespeare to banish them once more.
  • I've Never Seen Anything Like This Before: The Doctor quotes this trope while examining a man who apparently drowned on dry land. An odd example, since he actually has seen an identical death in "The Mind of Evil".note 
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": The Doctor is pretty star-struck by Shakespeare.
  • Large Ham: The Carrionites.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The Doctor's comment about academics punching the air works for his own revelation, but also lampshading that academics watching the show who advocate that view are likely having that reaction.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: The two performers who cause a Carrionite to appear while rehearsing.
  • Literary Work of Magic: Shakespeare's lost play, Love's Labour's Won, was influenced by a trio of aliens to serve as a summoning ritual for their species.
  • Magic by Any Other Name: The Carrionites can fly on broomsticks, kill people by sticking pins in dolls and use chanting to work the effects of their "word-based science". This is basically magic.
  • Magic from Technology: Sort of. The Doctor points out that the Carrionites' powers only seem like magic because Earth's science is maths-derived, while the Carrionites instead learned how to manipulate words. The Doctor also recognizes the Carrionites' voodoo dolls as "DNA replication modules."
  • Magic Must Defeat Magic: The Carrionite race, due to Clarke's Third Law, use what is essentially witchcraft through the power of words. William Shakespeare is able to use this against them by improvising a counter spell through his own power with words, which seals them away.
  • Magical Incantation: The Doctor instructs Shakespeare to create a counter-spell that will re-seal the Carrionites. He comes up with the following.
    Close up this din of hateful dire decay.
    Decomposition of your witches' plot.
    You thieve my brains, consider me your toy
    My doted Doctor tells me I am not!
    Foul Carrionites fester, cease your show.
    Between the points — Seven six one three nine 0.
    Banished like a tinker's cuss,
    I sing to thee EXPELLIARMUS!
  • Meaningful Name: The Carrionites were specifically designed to be like carrion creatures.
  • Mind Rape: The Doctor gives an Elizabethan mental patient who had been subjected to this a nice soothing Mind Hug.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Shakespeare's landlady walks in on Lilith controlling him, and assumes that they're up to something. She's annoyed, since it's all but outright stated she and Shakespeare are having an affair already.
  • Moment Killer:
    • When the Doctor is sharing the same bed with Martha, she doesn't look like she'd mind the Doctor making a romantic pass. He starts rambling on about Rose instead.
    • One instance where it's not the Doctor doing it.
      Shakespeare: The Doctor may never kiss you; why not entertain a man who will?
      Martha: I don't know how to tell you this, oh great genius, but... your breath doesn't half stink.
  • Motive Decay: Bedlam House is a horrifying, Truth in Television example. The administration is so focused on getting the money to keep the place running that they use means that thwart the asylum's purpose!
  • Mr. Fanservice: Will Shakespeare himself. It helps that this story happens before he lost his hair. It's lampshaded immediately when Martha notes how different he looks from the portraits, and the Doctor telling him not to rub his hair too much, or he'll go bald.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Mother Doomfinger and Mother Bloodtide. The species name Carrionite as well.
  • Never Say That Again: The Doctor's reaction to Martha attempting Elizabethan speech.
  • No Equal-Opportunity Time Travel: Martha worries about being sold as a slave, but the Doctor assures her this wasn't actually an issue. In reality, there actually were some black people in England, none of whom were slaves, and the dialogue was actually meant to teach kids that England wasn't entirely white in the 17th century.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: Despite all their cackling and gloating, the Carrionites are ruthless in pursuit of their goal. They kill the master of the revels when he threatens the play, kill the landlady when she walks in on them bewitching Shakespeare, send Doomfinger to kill Peter Street and the others when he reveals their plan, and don't hesitate to kill both Martha and the Doctor when they interfere (with only the Doctor's biology and Martha's time displacement saving them). The only mistake they make is not killing Shakespeare once he's finished writing the play, allowing him to banish them with a spell of his own.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever got the Doctor to be named as Elizabeth's mortal enemy. Would later be elaborated on in "The End of Time" and "The Day of the Doctor".
  • No-Sell: Shakespeare is too brilliant for the Doctor's psychic paper.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Averted. The Carrionites are frequently called witches.
  • Oblivious to Love: The Doctor doesn't realise how There Is Only One Bed can be interpreted; even more what it means when a young attractive woman accepts.
    The Doctor: There's something I'm missing, Martha. [she turns to lie face-to-face with him, their eyes inches apart] Something really close, staring me right in the face and I can't see it. [pause] Rose would know. That friend of mine, Rose. Right now, she'd say exactly the right thing. [flops back over on his back] Still, can't be helped. You're a novice, never mind. I'll take you back home tomorrow.
    Martha: [hurt and angry] Great! [she turns her back on him and blows out the candle]
  • Old Magic: Referenced when the Doctor shows he can use the Carrionites' powers against them by banishing one via its true name.
    The Doctor: The power of a name. That's old magic.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: The Doctor manages to restart one of his hearts through a jury-rigged procedure, so he could have picked it up for real at some point, or he's simply better with Time Lord biology than human.
  • One Bad Mother: The older two Carrionites are both called "Mother" by the third.
  • One-Gender Race: The Carrionites are all female from what we see of them, and can apparently engage in Homosexual Reproduction.
  • Playing Possum: The Doctor does this to convince Lilith to leave after the first stab.
  • Political Overcorrectness: Shakespeare's attempts to flirt offend Martha because he keeps bringing up her skin colour as exotic (albeit using what, for the time, are very polite terms).
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Lampshaded when Shakespeare becomes smitten with Martha. She is initially offended by him calling her an Ethiopian and such things, until she realizes that he's trying to compliment her. The Doctor comments on all of this with "It's political correctness gone mad!"
  • The Power of Acting: The right word in the right time in the right place stirring the proper emotion can draw on a power as old as the Eternals themselves.
  • Present-Day Past: An example of present-day future — the Doctor babbles happily about Harry Potter, telling Martha that she's going to love getting to read the last book (which had not been released at that point and was at the time being heavily hyped). Problem is, Deathly Hallows was released in July 2007 in real life, and Martha's "home" time period is early 2008. Perhaps the book was released later in the Whoniverse?
  • Rebuilt Pedestal: By the end of the episode, the Doctor is again admiring Shakespeare because personality flaws aside, he really is that brilliant.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: The witches, whether they're incanting or not, do so in couplets.
  • Rhyming Wizardry: At the climax, the Doctor has Shakespeare come up with a sonnet to banish the Carrionites. With the help of the Doctor to provide coordinate information, the wordsmith stumbles on what to rhyme with, "a tinker's cuss" and Martha, the Doctor's companion, provides him with Expelliarmus.
  • Running Gag:
    • "No... no, don't do that." makes another appearance. In this case, Martha's attempt to speak ye olde English with ye shitey accent.
    • Within the episode, "I might use that!" when the Doctor gives William an idea or two.
    • Subverted with "Rage, rage against the dying of the light", which the Doctor says Shakespeare can't use because it's another author's — or will be in a few hundred years.
  • Sanity Slippage: The man who designed the Globe Theatre was driven mad by the Carrionites after they were done using him.
  • Saving the World With Art: The world is saved by iambic pentameter and a Harry Potter quote.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Carrionites on two occasions. The three in this episode are trying to release the others and then the Doctor, with help from Shakespeare, pulls all of them back into their can.
  • Sex Equals Death: The young man at the beginning is lured into the witch's house thinking he's seduced the beautiful young woman. He gets torn to shreds instead.
  • Shakespeare in Fiction: He helps the Doctor save the world from (sort of) witches.
  • Sherlock Scan: Shakespeare is very good at picking out the unusual details of the Doctor and his companion, and by the end of the episode has worked out who they are.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To Harry Potter:
      • The Doctor tells Martha, "Wait until you read book 7. Oh, I cried." note  The fact the book ended up being an emotional read in real life was lucky guess on the part of the writer. It's also a bit of Writers Cannot Do Maths; the previous story was set in 2008, so for Martha the book would already be out.
      • The witches are finally destroyed with a shout of "Expelliarmus!" The Doctor reacts to the destruction by shouting, "Good old J. K.!"
    • There's one towards Back to the Future.
      Martha: The film?
      The Doctor: No, the novelisation. Yes, the film!
    • The Doctor says that Martha is from Freedonia.
    • The Doctor does the Vulcan mind meld to get Peter the architect to tell him about the witches.
    • Martha worries about stepping on a butterfly.
  • Shout-Out: To Shakespeare:
    • The Sycorax from "The Christmas Invasion" were in fact named for a character from The Tempest. Here, the Doctor mentions the Sycorax, giving Shakespeare the idea.
    • The Doctor quotes, "Once more unto the breach!" Shakespeare likes it, and quickly realises it is his own work.
    • The episode contained a veiled reference to Sonnet 57 (among many, many less subtle references, natch).
      The Doctor: Come on! We can have a good flirt later.
      Shakespeare: Is that a promise, Doctor?
      The Doctor: Oh, fifty-seven academics just punched the air.
  • Spare Body Parts: The Doctor has no idea how humans cope with just one heart.
  • Squee:
    The Doctor: Come on, we can all have a good flirt later.
    Shakespeare: Is that a promise, Doctor?
    The Doctor: Oh, 57 academics just punched the air.
  • Stable Time Loop: Several lines from Shakespeare's future works are uttered by the Doctor and Martha, prompting Shakespeare to say he'll borrow them.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: A pretty companion meets a handsome, intelligent, and famous historical figure... and won't snog him because oral hygiene was somewhat lacking in those days.
  • There Is Only One Bed: There's just one double bed in the room the Doctor and Martha share. The Doctor doesn't find this situation uncomfortable at all.
  • Touch of Death: The Carrionite known as Doomfinger displays the ability to stop the heart with a single touch... and she really seems to enjoy doing so.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Martha wants nothing better than to jump the Doctor's bones when they briefly share a bed together (for sleeping only) but he's having none of it.
  • Voodoo Doll: The Carrionites have two. The first one can be used on anyone so long as some of the intended victim's hair is attached, and is used by Lilith to drown Linley and attempt to kill the Doctor. Bloodtide later uses it to knock Shakespeare unconscious. The other one is a much more detailed puppet of Shakespeare, used when Lilith is making him write the last scene of the play the way they want it.
  • Wayback Trip: It's pointed out by Martha. The Doctor explains that it is similar to Back to the Future. Except this doesn't make sense either; Marty was the one who altered history, whereas in the episode, the witches existed totally independent of the Doctor's travels. The general Hand Wave is that things have gotten really screwy since the Time Lords died off.
  • Weapons-Grade Vocabulary: The witches are finally destroyed with a shout of "Expelliarmus!" The Doctor reacts to the destruction by shouting, "Good old J. K.!"
  • The Weird Sisters: There is a trio of witches consisting of one maiden and two crones. They are a Shout-Out to Macbeth.
  • Words Can Break My Bones: A Carrionite's strength and weakness is the power of words.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Martha tries this with "Verily! Forsooth! Egads!" The Doctor replies "No... no, don't do that."
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Faced with the burden of crafting words powerful enough to bind the Carrionites back into their prison, Shakespeare has a brief moment of crisis when the Doctor boosts him back up by telling him he is the one true genius capable of stopping them.
  • Young Face, Old Eyes:
    Shakespeare: Tell me, Doctor. How can a man so young have eyes so old?
    The Doctor: I do a lot of reading.

Alternative Title(s): Doctor Who NSS 3 E 2 The Shakespeare Code