The Pilot
Doctor Who Logo 'The Pilot'
(Story Code 10.01)

by Steven Moffat
The Twelfth Doctor, Bill and Nardole

“What, in the end, are any of us looking for? We’re looking for someone who’s looking for us.” – The Doctor

At St Luke’s University in Bristol, canteen worker Bill Potts is summoned to the rooms of a lecturer known only as the Doctor. After being shown in by a nervous bald man with a squeaky arm, and noting with puzzlement the presence of a big blue Police Box in the corner, Bill meets the guitar-playing Doctor. When asked why she has been sneaking into his lectures, Bill is more interested in questioning the Doctor about his lecturing at the university for the last seventy years, on whatever subjects he likes. Taken by Bill’s inquisitive nature, the Doctor offers to be her personal tutor, and instructs her to visit him every weekday evening. Over the next few days life continues as usual: the Doctor gives his lectures on the nature of time and space, while Bill continues to serve up chips to the university students (inadvertently fattening-up a girl she fancies) and sneaks in to see the Doctor during the day. But now Bill also visits her new tutor every evening and then studies hard at home (despite interruption from her foster mother, Moira); she even makes time to go out drinking with her mates, and meets a very pretty girl…

One day Bill sees the Doctor and Nardole sneaking around the campus. Deciding to see what they are up to, Bill follows the suspicious-looking pair down into the university cellar, watching while they try to open a mysterious vault; before she can learn more Bill inadvertently makes a noise, and is forced to bid a hasty retreat. Back outside, Bill meets the girl from the bar, sitting on a bench in a state of anxiety; after commenting that the girl has a ‘star’ in her eye, a defect in her iris, Bill offers to help. The girl, Heather, leads Bill across campus to a secluded area with a puddle on the ground, something that shouldn’t be there as it hasn’t rained for a week. Bill looks at her reflection and notices that something is wrong, but before she can work out what, Heather walks away. From inside the puddle, something is watching – and it has located ‘The Pilot’…

Christmas soon comes around: the Doctor makes a brave attempt at a festive evening tutorial and receives a gift of a rug from his student. Bill returns home and is given a box of photographs by Moira; inside she is astonished to find a treasure-trove of pictures of her late mother, and is even more surprised to notice the reflection of a camera-wielding Doctor in one of them…

A new Term begins, and Bill encounters Heather again. This time the girl seems much happier, and offers to show Bill what was wrong with her reflection in the puddle; however, despite her promise to wait for her, Heather vanishes before Bill can join her. As she goes, Bill fails to notice that Heather is now somehow trapped inside the puddle… When Bill visits the Doctor and mentions Heather and the strange puddle, her tutor immediately rushes off to look for himself; catching up with the Doctor as he examines the puddle, Bill tries to think of a “sci-fi” explanation for the star in Heather’s eye. The Doctor shows Bill what is wrong with her reflection: it is the right way around, even though it follows her movements – something in the puddle is mimicking Bill. After taking a sample of the liquid, the Doctor points out six scorch marks on the surrounding ground, and then urges Bill away from the area. As they leave, the voice inside the puddle notes that it has identified ‘The Passenger’; then the liquid flows away in pursuit of Bill and the Doctor… Returning home that night, Bill hears Moira running a bath; but when she receives a phone call from her foster mother, who is in a bar with one of her boyfriends, Bill realises that someone else is in their flat. Armed with an umbrella, Bill checks out the bathroom: inside she finds an empty bath, wet footprints leading to the shower – and an eye with a star staring back at her from the sinkhole. Terrified, Bill runs back to the university, only to see Heather standing under a nearby tree, her body soaked and dripping with water. Heather mimics Bill’s words through dead lips, sending the canteen worker fleeing for the safety of the Doctor’s rooms; but the puddle just flows under the door, reforming itself into Heather’s form in front of Bill and the Doctor. Reining in his fascination at the water creature, the Doctor bundles Bill into his Police Box; once inside he tries explaining his time/space machine to Bill, but she just sees it as a ‘knock-through’ in his university rooms, and asks for directions to the toilet. Nardole joins them in the control room just as the TARDIS comes under attack from the liquid creature. The Doctor moves his ship to the university cellar, where he and Nardole check the integrity of the sealed vault; they are interrupted by the arrival of the liquid creature, which flows down the cellar steps and reforms into Heather. Realising that the creature is not interested in the vault, and is instead following them, the Doctor rushes his friends back inside the TARDIS and takes them across the world to Sydney Harbour, Australia. Bill freaks out and seeks refuge in a bar’s bathroom, but the Doctor follows her to explain that he comes from another planet, and how the TARDIS works. When the liquid monster arrives on the scene the Doctor evacuates the bar and then takes the TARDIS away from Earth, to see how long it takes their pursuer to find them again. Arriving on a rocky planet at the other end of the universe, twenty-three-million years into the future, the Doctor and Nardole consider how the liquid creature must have been left by an alien shuttlecraft; stranded as a puddle like an oil-leak from a car, the shape-shifting liquid latched onto Heather because of her desire to always be on the move, her need to leave making her an ideal candidate for its new pilot. Seeing a crater of water, Bill peers in and sees Heather’s face staring back; mesmerised, Bill is helpless as the creature reaches out and grabs her face. Coming to Bill’s rescue, the Doctor and Nardole bundle her back into the TARDIS just as a huge plume of liquid erupts, forming itself into Heather’s face. Inside the ship, the Doctor decides to try sterilising the liquid creature by running it through the deadliest fire in the universe; Nardole is unhappy at this prospect, but the Doctor just chucks him a spare sonic screwdriver and orders him to run interference while he leads Bill outside the TARDIS and straight into a war zone: the inside of a Movellan space ship, its crew under attack from invading Daleks. ‘Heather’ still finds them, so the Doctor tricks a Dalek into firing at him, then dodges out of the way so that the deadly beam hits the liquid creature instead. When the blast has no effect, the Doctor and Bill run for their lives and meet up with Nardole, who has managed to quarantine the area from all but one of the Daleks. As this remaining Dalek closes in on the trio, they see that its eyestalk contains an eye with a star in it – the Dalek is just the liquid creature mimicking another form, and it dissolves into its puddle form before reforming into that of Heather. The Doctor offers the liquid creature the chance to leave, but it still wants Bill, because of the real Heather’s final promise to not leave without her friend, demonstrating the power of her crush – the creature hasn’t been chasing Bill, it has been inviting her to join it. Bill tries releasing ‘Heather’ from her promise, but it isn’t enough, and Bill finds herself drawn towards ‘Heather’. Failing to heed the Doctor and Nardole’s warnings, Bill touches ‘Heather’s hand and experiences a mental lure, which shows her the wonders awaiting her out in the universe. Luckily the Doctor’s words finally get through, and Bill releases her grip – ‘Heather’ dissolves into a puddle, as its occupant departs at last…

Back in the Doctor’s rooms at St. Luke’s, Bill voices her regrets at not going with Heather, and hints at joining the Doctor instead. But the Time Lord is more concerned that his real reasons for staying at the university could be discovered, and he makes to wipe Bill’s memory. Knowing what the Doctor is up to, Bill implores him to leave her mind alone; her pleas manage to strike a chord, and, after recalling what happened to his memories of Clara, the Doctor allows Bill to leave with her experiences intact. After his protégé has departed, the Doctor gets a guilt trip from the TARDIS (and his photos of Susan and River Song); giving in, the Time Lord materialises the ship outside the faculty building in time to stop Bill in her tracks, and then offers her the chance to travel with him after all…


Peter Capaldi (The Doctor), Pearl Mackie (Bill Potts), Matt Lucas (Nardole), Jennifer Hennessy (Moira), Stephanie Hyam (Heather), Nicholas Briggs (Voice of the Daleks)

Directed by Lawrence Gough
Produced by Peter Bennett
Executive Producers Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin
A BBC Wales production


TX (BBC 1 & BBC 1 HD):
15th April 2017 @ 7.20 pm


Notes:
*Featuring the Twelfth Doctor and Nardole, and introducing Bill Potts

*Working title: 'A Star in Her Eye'

*An extended version of the sequence where the Doctor and Bill meet a Dalek was originally shown on 23rd April 2016 under the title of 'Friend from the Future', to introduce Bill Potts as the Doctor's new companion

*Music heard in the episode: 'Beethoven's Fifth Symphony' by the Doctor, and 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' by Joy Division