Written by Toby Whithouse, directed by Nick Hurran, 2011
TWO IN A ROW! Well, bugger me.
I was quite a fan of Being Human… to start with… even if it did quickly degrade into humourless self-importance - so I’ve always hoped Toby Whithouse’d have it in him to deliver. Much like The Girl Who Waited, a relatively tight, small-scale setting and premise is a massive benefit, as is the fact that Whithouse isn’t working to some horribly hackneyed alien-invasion template. I can’t help thinking in some ways that DW is at its best when taking a slightly mental concept and running with it, rather than just indulging in bog-standard robots-and-spaceship sci-fi-ery.
There’s quite a comic book feel to the story’s premise – nightmares in hotel rooms! – so it’s especially striking that this is then built up into something with a certain amount of genuine emotional kick. The coda may seem a little out of nowhere but works because it fits thematically, while of all the new series’ would-be companion figures, Rita is quite lovely, and feels real, and as such there is a weight to her death that, say, a more contrived character like Lorna Bucket didn’t achieve.
Stylistically, the B&W CCTV footage and various other camera affects are perhaps slightly overegged, but are unusual enough to give the story a unique feel (and it’s certainly welcome to see the show developing a visual identity beyond soap-style point-and-shoot).
Also! ‘A distant cousin of the Nimon’! I love the strange sense of validation when obscure stories are referenced on primetime BBC1.