The Unquiet Dead is the third episode of the first series of Doctor Who. It was written by Mark Gatiss, directed by Euros Lyn and featured Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler.
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The Doctor takes Rose back in time to 1869. But in Victorian Cardiff, the dead are walking and creatures made of gas are on the loose. The time-travellers team up with Charles Dickens to investigate Mr Sneed. Can the stop the plans of the ethereal Gelth?
Late at night in the Victorian funeral parlor of Sneed and Company, Mr. Gabriel Sneed brings a client, Mr. Redpath in to pay respects to his recently deceased grandmother. Sneed comforts him over his loss and returns to lighting the lanterns; unbeknownst to him, wisps of blue gas enter the elderly woman's corpse and it suddenly springs into action, grabbing Redpath's throat and strangling him to death. Sneed hurries for a coffin lid and tries to keep her contained but she knocks him unconscious and walks off into the streets, making an unearthly scream.
In the TARDIS, the Doctor works frantically at the controls of the console, suggesting to his companion Rose that since they've been to the future, they should now try a trip to the past and he aims the ship for Naples, 1860. In the larder, Sneed calls his servant Gwyneth in and tells her of the event in the parlor, he orders her to get the horses ready to go and search for the wandering corpse.
Elsewhere, the TARDIS lands and Rose, dressed in contemporary clothing, steps out, completely wonderstruck. While roaming the streets, Sneed and Gwyneth find no sign of the dead woman, so Sneed orders Gwyneth to use her unnatural ability to sense her, under threat of dismissal. Using her sight, she finds that the old woman had gone to a theatre, as she had planned to do prior to her death, to watch a performance by famed author Charles Dickens.
In the theatre's dressing room, Dickens readies himself to go and perform his latest tale to the masses and he drearily addresses his exhaustion to the stagehand when he comes to summon him. While the Doctor and Rose explore, he grabs a newspaper and discovers that he'd slightly overshot both the time and place, landing them in Cardiff, 1869. In the theatre, Dickens presents himself to the audience and starts performing his recently written A Christmas Carol, when he sees the old woman in the crowd.
The woman's face starts to shine with a blue luminescence and a gaseous blue specter appears and starts flying around the theatre, scaring everybody into leaving. The Doctor and Rose hear the scream and hurry to the theatre; when they arrive, the Doctor watches the creature flying around with an incensed Dickens assuming him to be responsible. Rose spots Sneed and Gwyneth grab the woman's body and carry it off and runs after them.
Outside, Rose stops Gwyneth while the put the woman's body in the hearse; while her guard is down, Sneed comes up behind her and chloroforms her, ordering Gwyneth to put her in the hearse too. The gaseous creature in the theatre vanishes into a gas lamp. Leaving the theatre, the Doctor spots Rose being carted off by Sneed and Gwyneth and scurries into Dickens' coach with him in tow and orders pursuit. After the Doctor finishes gushing over Dickens and his works, he tells him about the situation and Dickens orders to driver to go faster.
Sneed and Gwyneth put Rose and the woman's body in the parlor while they figure out what to do with them. The Doctor and Dickens arrive and Sneed tells Gwyneth to send them away. Despite her best attempts, the Doctor hears the noises coming from the gas pipes. Rose wakes in the parlor just as a gas creature exits the pipes and possesses the body of Redpath; she tries to leave, but the other body wakes up. She screams to be let out and the Doctor breaks in the door of the parlor and rescues her from the corpses. He tries to question them, but the entities possessing them are unable to remain in the dead bodies and retreat into the pipes.
After Rose lays into Sneed for kidnapping her, he tries to explain that the problem of the dead rising again started occurring three months ago. Dicken's openly dismisses it as fantasy but the Doctor silences him out of irritation toward his skepticism. While Sneed explains the house's history, Dickens returns to the parlor for a reasonable explainable for the phenomenon when the Doctor finds him and apologises for telling him to shut up, but Dickens just voices his despondence that his lifelong fight to make the real world explainable and understandable may have been a waste.
In the larder, Rose helps Gwyneth with her work; they joke over the differences of the backgrounds from which they both came when Gwyneth starts making statements about Rose's deceased father and various aspects of the future. When she comes to her senses, she appears highly disturbed by the event when the Doctor walks in and suggests that they perform a seance to discover the cause. Joining together in Sneed's living room, the Doctor, Rose, Dickens, Sneed and Gwyneth start to perform the seance and they successfully summon the gaseous creatures before them.
The creatures identify themselves as the Gelth and explain that they were once a corporeal species who lost their bodies in the Time War, trapping them in their gaseous state and thus explaining why they can only exist in the corpses. They also ask that Gwyneth be brought to the weak point of the Rift, from where they first emerged, to allow the last of their race to come through. Before they can talk further, Gwyneth collapses from exhaustion, leaving the Doctor to ponder and everybody else exasperated.
Later, the Doctor tries to convince Gwyneth to help them save the Gelth, thinking that allowing them to occupy the bodies of the dead is the best means of saving their lives. However, Rose refuses to allow Gwyneth to fight to Doctor's battles and is horrified at the idea of allowing aliens to walk around inside of dead people. The Doctor explains that the use of a few bodies is simply a necessity to save the Gelth but Rose still refuses to let them have Gwyneth. Ultimately though, Gwyneth stands up for herself and makes her own decision to try and save the Gelth race. The Doctor asks Sneed where the weakest point in the house is and he directs them to the morgue.
Downstairs, Rose doesn't believe in the Gelth's success on account of her being from the future, but the Doctor tells her that time is in flux and that her future could be easily rewritten. Suddenly the Gelth appear and ask Gwyneth to stand beneath the arch to form the bridge to let the Gelth through. As soon as Gwyneth opens, however, the Gelth start to flood through in force and occupy the bodies in the morgue. Sneed tries to get through to Gwyneth but one of the Gelth-occupied bodies sneaks up behind him and breaks his neck, allowing another to enter his. Dickens flees the house in fear while the Gelth advance on the Doctor and Rose, trapping them in the back of the room.
Dickens gets out of the house and is chased away by a gaseous Gelth. As he flees, the Gelth passes a street light and is pulled back into it. In the morgue, the Doctor apologises to Rose for bringing her and putting her in danger, revealing that it's entirely possible for her to die over a century before she was born. Dickens returns to the house and starts putting out the lanterns but leaves the gas runnng; he rushes into the morgue as the Doctor and Rose accept their apparent fate and explains that if the room is filled with gas, the Gelth would be drawn out of the host bodies an into the gas-rich air. Breaking the house's main gas line, the Doctor forces the Gelth from their hosts.
The Doctor tries to get through to Gwyneth and he tells Dickens to get Rose clear of the house. Gwyneth admits she cannot send the Gelth back but says she can trap them and produces a box of matches. After Dickens and Rose are clear, the Doctor realises he cannot save Gwyneth, so he thanks her and flees the house. As soon as he's out, Gwyneth strikes a match and the house is engulfed in an explosion. From outside, the Doctor, Rose and Dickens watch the house burn and honor Gwyneth's fate, having saved the Earth while nobody will ever know.
Returning to the TARDIS, Dickens tells the Doctor and Rose that he has been given a new perspective of the world based on the night's events and plans to write about them after spending Christmas making amends with his family. After the Doctor and Rose step inside the TARDIS, Rose is worried that Dickens' plan may change history, but the Doctor sadly tells her that Dickens only has a few months left to live and won't get to tell his story but is happy to tell Rose that they've given him more life for his last few months and dematerialize in front of the baffled author, who heartily takes to the streets wishing a Merry Christmas to all.
- Doctor Who - Christopher Eccleston
- Rose Tyler - Billie Piper
- Gabriel Sneed – Alan David
- Redpath – Huw Rhys
- Mrs Peace – Jennifer Hill
- Gwyneth – Eve Myles
- Charles Dickens – Simon Callow
- Stage Manager – Wayne Cater
- Driver — Meic Povey
- The Gelth – Zoe Thorne
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Story Notes Edit
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Home video and audio releases Edit
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External Links Edit
- Official The Unquiet Dead page on Doctor Who Website