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Ah, Doctor Who. We can forgive the BBC’s obsession with sports and soaps as long as this staple of our Saturday evenings continues to entertain young and old, diehard followers and casual viewers.

But how does it do that, exactly?

It seems that the public, and especially the Whovian fanbase, are hard to please. Even some of the show’s most critically acclaimed episodes have attracted a special circle of hatred amongst groups of fans.

It is very easy to complain about not enjoying a particular Doctor Who episode, or to commentate on a perceived lack of good episodes. But what makes a good episode? To find out, I’ve been looking around fan forums and consulting friends about this and I’ve complied a list of 10 do’s and 10 don’ts for writing a good Doctor Who episode. This won’t attack the writers at all; it will simply observe what tends to work and what doesn’t in the eyes of the public.

So if you’d ever like to write a Doctor Who episode (I know I’d certainly love to!), you could do worse than have a little look at this list. WARNING: as River Song would say, “SPOILERS!”


10. Appeal Across The Board

doctor who clara

This one may seem obvious but its importance cannot be overstated. Doctor Who is a primetime TV show, to be watched by all of the family. It should entertain both the children who watch for the excitement and the adults who watch for the character development and emotion. And excitement. The point is that neither should be excluded by the writing style.

I must say that the show has done this very well over the years. Well, aside from one minor reference to oral sex with a pavement slab. But I understand people don’t like talking about that one so…

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This article was first posted on June 15, 2013