Doctor Who goes back in time this week to uncover a mystery. In Ancient Britain Rome’s Ninth Legion disappeared. This has baffled historians for centuries and in true Doctor Who style the TARDIS takes us back to tell a story based on that mystery. ‘The Eaters of Light’ is classic Doctor Who but in 2017.
Before Doctor Who Series 10 enters full blown finale mode, ‘The Eaters of Light’ provides one last, self contained story. The disappearance of the Ninth Legion of the Roman army is one of history’s great mysteries. Doctor Who has frequently dipped it’s toe in to retelling legendary myths. We have seen Daleks responsible for the abandoning of the Mary Celeste, the Fifth Doctor and Terileptils cause the Great Fire of London. More recently the ‘truth’ behind Shakespeare’s lost play and Agatha Christie’s 11 day disappearance have also been revealed. Now we have a typically Doctor Who style take on the mystery behind the Roman Army’s Ninth Legion.
Writer Rona Munro returns to Doctor Who (see our post on Survival) and delivers a tale which far surpasses ‘The Eagle’ the 2011 movie on the same subject starring Channing Tatum. Televised Doctor Who hasn’t delved into Roman Britain and the Celts before and so although the story fits into a rather traditional historical paradigm it feels fresh and different. A previous trip to Ancient Rome saw the First Doctor inadvertently inspire Emperor Nero to torch the city. This story however sees the Doctor visit Ancient Britain and also presents a new perspective on Roman conquest. Whilst many marvel at the achievements of the Roman army those they conquered are often overlooked. The Welsh landscape covers for ancient Aberdeenshire admirably, taking the viewer on one final TARDIS trip back in time before the series draws to what will inevitably be a very dramatic conclusion.
- This is Rona Munro’s first Doctor Who script since 1989’s ‘Survival’ which closed Season 26 and the classic era of the show. In the intervening years she has become established as an award winning playwright and has a number of film and television credits to her name.
- Director Charles Palmer’s second story of Series 10, after Oxygen, is his sixth Doctor Who episode overall. In 2007 he directed ‘Smith and Jones’, ‘The Shakespeare Code’ and the ‘Human Nature/The Family of Blood’ two parter.
- Fans of Game of Thrones may recognise Rebecca Benson, who plays Kar. During Season Six of the US show she appeared briefly as Talla Tarly in the episode ‘Blood of my Blood’.
- Brian Vernel who plays Lucius will also be recognisable to Star Wars fans taking the role of Bala-Tik in ‘The Force Awakens’.
“Everyone knows there are ghosts in the hill.”
“Now you all have a choice. You can carry on slaughtering each other till no one is left standing, or you grow the hell up!”
“and there’s music. Always music.”