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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Doctor Who: Flux, episode 4 review: a pleasingly creepy Weeping Angels episode – at least to start with

Weeping Angels in a Devon village circa 1967. A World War Two veteran helping the Doctor fight them off, armed only with a cricket bat and old-fashioned British pluck. What’s not to enjoy? 

Yet, this atmospheric episode of Doctor Who (BBC One) began brilliantly before disappearing up its own time vortex. The recurring problems of the Chris Chibnall/Jodie Whittaker era came back to haunt it. 

Six-part story Flux continued with a pacy period instalment titled Village of the Angels. A 10-year-old girl had gone missing. Somebody was leaving notes telling residents to leave before it was too late. In the churchyard, there was one gravestone too many. It was a pleasingly creepy horror film set-up – and that was before the Exorcist-esque voices and monsters appearing in bathroom mirrors.

When a Weeping Angel hijacked the Tardis, the Doctor and her companions were catapulted to 21st November – in a neat flourish, the date of this episode’s transmission – 54 years ago. After a spooky moonlit encounter with a “scarecrow”, Dan (John Bishop) and Yaz (Mandip Gill) were flung further back to 1901, where they found missing schoolgirl Peggy (Poppy Polivnick). In a poignant but guessable twist, it turned out the doom-mongering old lady in 1967 was Peggy grown up.

Meanwhile, local boffin Professor Eustacius Jericho (the superb Kevin McNally) was conducting psychic experiments on the enigmatic Claire (Annabel Scholey, equally excellent). This duo effectively replaced the companions, teaming up with the Doctor as Weeping Angels surrounded the Professor’s house – the siege of Jericho, you see? But what did the army of sinister statues want? As Claire’s tears turned to dust and her hands to stone, was she becoming one?

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