Doctor Who: The Lodger


Rating 2¾

Written by Gareth Roberts

Directed by Catherine Morshead

Starring Matt Smith (The Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), James Corden (Craig Owens), Daisy Haggard (Sophie), Owen Donovan (Steven), Babatunde Aleshe (Sean), Jem Wall (Michael) and Karen Seacombe (Sandra)

“All I have to do is pass myself off as an ordinary human being. Simple. What could possibly go wrong?”

The TARDIS arrives unplanned in Colchester, but when the Doctor steps out it immediately dematerialises, leaving him separated from his companion Amy. The Doctor turns up on the doorstep of Craig Owens, announcing that he is the new lodger and producing a small brown paper carrier bag full of money. Something very strange is happening upstairs that is preventing the TARDIS from materialising and the Doctor needs to find out what it is, but he is also not blind to Craig and his friend Sophie and the obvious unspoken feelings they have for one another.


We arrive at episode eleven. The next two episodes will see the latest season reach its climax and be brought to a close, so ‘The Lodger’ might be described as the calm before the storm. This is an episode that perhaps could be equated to ‘Love and Monsters’ in season two of the revived series or ‘Blink’ in season three. From comments I have read, some fans are critical of ‘The Lodger’ because they say it is not Doctor Who. When the Doctor should be concentrating on the mysterious and disturbing events taking place upstairs, the disappearance and we assume death of innocent people, he is out playing football or fooling around at the office where Craig works. This I feel completely misses the point and assumes that Doctor Who is a soulless sci-fi series with no humour and no interest in people and the minutiae of human drama. ‘The Lodger’s is a comic diversion, the story of two people who are in love with one another but find it impossible to openly express their true feelings. The science fiction element, the strange events at the top of the stairs, is not entirely without relevance, but it is to some degree incidental.

‘The Lodger’ is an episode that, after one viewing, I think starts brightly, has countless funny and memorable moments, but perhaps does not quite add up to the sum of its parts. However, it’s affectionate and warm-hearted and benefits from a pitch-perfect performance by Matt Smith, who has proved himself to have exquisite comic timing. There are several references back to the “classic series”, a now familiar refrain in this fifth season of the revived show. When asked if he plays football, the Doctor says, “Football? Is that the one with the sticks?” It’s a funny line in itself, coming in an episode that coincides with the start of the 2010 World Cup, but also a clever reference back to the fifth Doctor, who is incidentally the favourite of executive producer and head writer Steven Moffitt.

From many of the comments I have read about this episode it does seem that I was not alone in being dubious of the involvement of James Corden, who would clearly seem to be a love or hate figure, perhaps more so after his recent childish spat with the actor Patrick Stewart. And like many others, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that he gives a restrained and likeable performance as the sweet natured and lovelorn Craig.

I enjoyed ‘The Lodger’ very much and it might just become more of a favourite in the fullness of time. For now it was a pleasant diversion that does not count amongst the best episodes of this season.

‘The Lodger’ was written Gareth Roberts, who has written several other episodes of the series and many episodes of its spin-off show ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’. His previous work includes the soap operas ‘Emmerdale’ and ‘Brookside’, as well as the Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer revival of ‘Randall & Hopkirk Deceased’, which starred the longest serving and most successful Doctor of them all, Tom Baker, in a supporting role.

Review posted 13 June 2010


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