The Idiots Lantern
26 May 2006
Maureen Lipman (The Wire), Ron Cook (Mr. Magpie), Jamie Foreman (Eddie Connolly), Debra Gillett (Rita Connolly), Rory Jennings (Tommy Connolly), Margaret John (Grandma Connolly), Sam Cox (Detective Inspector Bishop), Ieuan Rhys (Crabtree), Jean Challis (Aunty Betty), Christopher Driscoll (Security Guard), Marie Lewis (Mrs Gallagher).
|Written by||Mark Gattis|
|Directed by||Euros Lyn|
|Produced by||Julie Garner and Phil Colinson|
It is late at night and a storm is brewing outside Mr Magpie’ electronics shop. He is sitting in the dark writing, whilst a television set stands in the corner, displaying a female newsreader addressing the camera.
As she signs off, announcing that programming is over for the day, her image is replaced by the broadcaster logo. Magpie leans away from his work, solemnly announcing he is two hundred pounds overdrawn, he needs a miracle.
He tears the page from his book and throws it away, as the national anthem rings out from the television set.
- What’s My Line?, which began in 1951 on UK television, is mentioned by the continuity announcer in the pre-credits sequence.
- The “Bat’s Wings ident” is seen on the television sets in this episode, but that particular ident did not see use until 2 December 1953, six months after this episode is set. Although the ident is seen the BBC logo is never shown clearly.
- Rose scolds Mr Connolly for not knowing the difference between the Union Jack and the Union Flag. However, this is an urban legend, which was debunked on Radio 4’s Today programme. The original 1902 naval regulation states that the flag can be referred to by either name on land. Rose herself refers to the flag as the Union Jack in “The Empty Child”.
- Muffin the Mule, clips of which feature in this episode, was also mentioned in the 1999 Doctor Who Night sketch, “The Pitch of Fear”, which was also written by Mark Gatiss.
- The phrase, “Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin,” was popularised by the 1950–1982 BBC Radio series Listen with Mother, which began each episode with those words. The Wire uses a paraphrase of this when first speaking to Magpie. Another paraphrased version was said by The Doctor at the beginning of “School Reunion”. The phrase “Goodnight children, everywhere,” used by the Wire as she feeds on Rose, was the catchphrase of Children’s Hour presenter Derek McCulloch.
- The Morris Jb van used in the filming is a 1957 van. The van has also been used in “Willy Wonka” and other film/TV work.
- The normal price for a Pye television set in 1953, including installation, was about £70, compared with the £5 Magpie was selling them for as part of the Wire’s plan.
- Throughout the story, several later developments in television technology are alluded to and shown: colour television, portable televisions, and video recording.
- The street in which the episode is set is Florizel Street, the original name of the long running UK soap Coronation Street.
- This story had working titles of Mr Sandman, Sonic Doom, and The One-Eyed Monster.
- Originally, The Doctor was supposed to have a line about having trouble with radio transmitters, which was supposed to be a reference to Logopolis, where the Fourth Doctor fell from the Pharos Project transmitter to his death.
- The Doctor flips his interrogation with Detective Inspector Bishop in a similar manner to the Seventh Doctor and the Chief Caretaker. (Paradise Towers)
- This is the second time The Doctor has tried to take Rose to a rock concert in the past, only to get the time and/or place wrong. (Tooth and Claw)
- Eddie Connolly fought against fascism.
- The Doctor uses his psychic paper to hurriedly convince a broadcast guard he is the king of Belgium.
- The Bell family were neighbours of the Connollys who had bought a television.
- The Connolly’s live on Florizel Street.
- r was found near Damascus Street.
- Magpie’s shop is located in Muswell Hill.
- The Doctor and Rose drink orange juice.