‘The Shakespeare Code’ (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

William Shakespeare and the Carrionites

This episode is by Gareth Roberts. This is where ‘Doctor Who’ meets ‘Horrible Histories’, since the Doctor and Martha meet William Shakespeare in 1599 and they face against a horde of evil witches.

Martha Jones has her first trip in the TARDIS when the Doctor takes her back to the past. Martha is very excited, as she looks forward to seeing Shakespeare in person at the Globe Theatre in London.

But all isn’t pleasant as it seems in Elizabethan London, as evil witches called Carrionites makes plans to use Shakespeare for their own ends. Will Shakespeare’s ‘Love’s Labour’s Won’ cause this disaster?

I really enjoyed this episode and the historical connections made to Shakespeare, regarding him and his plays. I’m not sure if his personality is historically accurate, but it was pretty interesting to watch.

I had to study Shakespeare at school by reading his plays like ‘Romeo and Juliet’; ‘Macbeth’ and ‘King Lear’. Watching this episode reminds me of school days and finding those plays hard to understand.

There is a blend of humour and horror mixed in this episode. I liked some of the quotations taken from Shakespeare’s plays including ‘To be or not to be…’ and ‘Once more unto the breach…’ and all that.

Dean Lennox Kelly guest stars as William Shakespeare. I enjoyed his performance as Shakespeare by making him a genius with words and I did greatly enjoy how he meets the Tenth Doctor and Martha.

David Tennant is brilliant as the Doctor. I like his enthusiasm about Shakespeare and how he regards him as the ‘wordsmith’. He works things out here by finding out about the Carronites and their plans.

Freema Agyeman is great as Martha and it’s interesting how she copes in dealing with her first trip back in history. She clearly has a romantic interest in the Doctor, even though he doesn’t notice this.

I liked the banter shared between the Doctor and Martha in this. That ‘Back to the Future’ moment between them was so inspirational and also when Martha helps by punching the Doctor on the back.

There is a certain ‘Macbeth’ influence featured in this episode, especially with the three witches who attempt to unleash chaos with their Carrionites. This would inspire Shakespeare to write ‘Macbeth’.

The witches are Christina Cole as Lilith; Amanda Lawrence as Doomfinger and Linda Clarke as Bloodtide. Lilith is the leader and uses a beautiful disguise to hide her horrible ugliness underneath.

The key to this episode is a lost play by Shakespeare called ‘Love’s Labour’s Won’, which was a sequel to ‘Love Labour’s Lost’. There aren’t any copies for this play, which becomes a great mystery.

The plot unfolds as the witches use Shakespeare to write this play for them and unleash the Carrionites. It makes for a dramatic climax to the episode, as our heroes have to stop the monsters.

‘The Shakespeare Code’ has been an enjoyable episode to watch. I like how Shakespeare gets depicted in this story; the references to his plays and how the Doctor and Martha get to meet him. The episode also features Andrée Bernard (who’s been in ‘The Brittas Empire’) as Dolly Bailey.

The episode ends with a surprise as Queen Elizabeth I turns up and wants the Doctor’s head off! What?! The tale between the Doctor and Queen Elizabeth I gets revealed in ‘The Day of the Doctor’.

The DVD special features on this episode on ‘The Complete Series 3’ are as follows. On Disc 2, there is a trailer and a commentary with David Tennant and Christina Cole. On Disc 6, there’s the ‘Doctor Who Confidential’ episode ‘Stage Fright’.

‘The Shakespeare Code’ rating – 7/10

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2 thoughts on “‘The Shakespeare Code’ (TV)

  1. Timelord 007

    Yeah another excellent episode, you get the feeling this series a little darker in tone, David & Freema are awesome building up a nice but different chemistry to what he had with Rose.

    All in all “good ole J.K” lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon.

      Yeah I did like how the Doctor and Martha developed their chemistry in Series 3 of ‘Doctor Who’ which is certainly different compared to how the Doctor and Rose developed their chemistry. I hope there will be some Big Finish audios with David Tennant and Freema Agyeman as the Doctor and Martha soon. It’ll be a shame to miss out on those two in the Big Finish audio realm.

      Thanks for your thoughts on this episode Simon and glad you enjoyed my review.

      Tim. 🙂



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