Geeks logo

Doctor Who: Counting Down The Five Best 'Doctor-Lite' Episodes

No Doctor? No problem!

By Kristy AndersonPublished 2 years ago Updated 10 months ago 4 min read

Sci-fi classic Doctor Who is set to make a big return on New Year's Day with it's latest festive special, 'Revolution Of The Daleks'. From what we've seen in the special's trailer, the Thirteenth Doctor still appears to be in prison, leaving her current companions to team up with Jack Harkness in order to thwart a Dalek Invasion. This has lead fans to believe that the special will be what is known as a 'Doctor-Lite' episode.

A Doctor-Lite episode is an episode in which the Doctor has a reduced presence in the story, although he/she is not usually entirely absent. Having The Doctor out of focus gives a chance for companions or other characters to step into the limelight, sometimes resulting in some truly great stories.

Let's countdown some of Doctor Who's best Doctor-Lite episodes.

5. 'The Crimson Horror', Series 7, Episode 11

Usually, a Doctor-Lite episode is a chance to focus on the companion, however, 'The Crimson Horror' is a rare example in which both The Eleventh Doctor and current companion Clara Oswald are out of action for a significant chunk of the plot. The episode begins with recurring characters Madame Vastra and the Paternoster Gang asked to investigate the Crimson Horror, a mysterious ailment which has already killed a number of people. The case becomes a lot more interesting when Vastra discovers an image of The Doctor captured in the retina of the Horror's latest victim.

The gang eventually link the victims to Sweetville, a new Utopian community lead by the strange Mrs. Gillyflower and her unseen partner, Mr. Sweet. Vastra's wife, Jenny, infiltrates Sweetville to look for answers, managing to rescue The Doctor and Clara. Eventually, the group discover that Mr. Sweet is a dangerous parasite from prehistoric times.

The episode is known for being seen mostly from the point of view of the Paternoster Gang, who had become firm fan favourites.

4. 'Flatline', Series 8, Episode 9

In 'Flatline', Earth's latest threat shrinks the outer dimensions of the Tardis, leaving The Twelfth Doctor trapped inside. Only able to fit his hand through the doors, he manages to slip his Sonic Screwdriver and Psychic Paper to Clara, tasking her with being Doctor for a day. With the help of street artist Rigsy, Clara must protect a group of community service participants and their supervisor from the evil interdimensional creatures, later dubbed the Boneless.

'Flatline' is one of the strongest episodes of Doctor Who series eight. It is especially memorable for this quote from The Doctor to Clara towards the end of the episode:

"You were an exceptional Doctor, Clara.. Goodness had nothing to do with it."

This continues a running plotline of Clara enjoying her adventures with The Doctor a little too much, eventually leading to her tragic demise.

3. 'The Girl Who Waited', Series 6, Episode 10

The Eleventh Doctor is taken out of the action relatively early in 'The Girl Who Waited', when it turns out the planet on which they have landed is in quarantine over a deadly plague that only affects two-hearted life forms. This leaves The Doctor acting as mission control in the Tardis while Rory sets out to rescue Amy, who has become trapped in a faster moving timestream within the quarantine facility.

At first, it appears they may be too late, as Rory encounters an aged, battle-hardened version of Amy who has been trapped in the facility for thirty six years. Old Amy reluctantly agrees to help save her younger self, on the condition that she be allowed to escape with them in the Tardis. The Doctor eventually reveals that this isn't possible, leaving Rory with a terrible choice.

The episode was heart-breaking, but memorable, with Karen Gillan earning critical acclaim for her performance as the older Amy Pond.

2. 'Turn Left', Series 4, Episode 11

In a world where he never met Donna Noble, The Tenth Doctor dies battling the Queen of The Racnoss. With the Earth left without it's greatest protector, things get progressively worse. Aliens attack, a poison gas clouds the planet.. And according to dimension-hopper Rose Tyler, only Donna, believing herself to be a simple Temp Worker from Chiswick, has the power to set things right.

"Donna Noble, you are the most important woman in the whole of creation!"

'Turn Left' gives fans a chilling look at what the world without The Doctor would be like. It also gives Rose Tyler her big return after a string of cameos, and perfectly sets things up for the conclusion of Series 4.

1. 'Blink', Series 3, Episode 10

In 'Blink', both The Doctor and companion Martha Jones are out of commission before the story even begins, having been trapped in another time period. The action centres around a brand new character, Sally Sparrow, as she searches for her missing best friend, Kathy Nightingale. Kathy has been sent back in time by the Weeping Angels, evil statues which feed on the futures they steal from people. Sally's only hope of defeating the Angels comes from Kathy's slacker brother, Larry, and a series of messages from The Doctor appearing as Easter eggs on her favourite DVDs.

Known for introducing the now iconic Weeping Angels, 'Blink' is not just one of the best Doctor-Lite episodes, but one of the best Doctor Who stories of all time. In 2007, it won Doctor Who Magazine's vote for the best story of all time, and has remained near the top in later years, only losing the 2014 vote to 'Day Of The Doctor'.

Only time will tell whether 'Revolution Of The Daleks' earns a spot in any future versions of this list.


About the Creator

Kristy Anderson

Passionate About all things Entertainment!

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.