Doctor Who, In the Forest of the Night - review: Peter Capaldi still shows no signs of warming up

The Doctor remains as irascible as ever

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Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.

Peter Capaldi’s Doctor remains as irascible as ever after he is confronted with a bunch of children from Coal Hill School this week. In the most comic episode of the series, the Doctor once again shows his disdain for children and humankind (“pudding brains”) in general.

“I’m a Time Lord, not a child minder,” he grumbles to Clara over the phone.

From herding kids away from the Tardis console to having a rant about “tree Facebook”, it's no wonder the Malcolm Tucker comparisons come up so often.


Even William Hartnell, who played the first (and grumpiest) Doctor, eventually thawed but the twelfth Time Lord remains resolutely curmudgeonly and shows no signs of warming up anytime soon. Yet there's a longing for him to soften just a smidgeon – he is the Doctor, after all.

After upping her game last week, Clara is back to her usual irritating self. She is lying to Danny, forgetting her responsibility as a teacher and is more preoccupied about her boyfriend than the huge solar flare heading for Earth. It’s a wonder why Danny puts up with her – is a break up imminent? Let’s hope so, he could do far better.

Writer Frank Cottrell Boyce serves up a warm, sweet slice of family adventure this week. While it's not the strongest instalment of the series, the witty dialogue and young guest cast make up for it.

From Abigail Eames, who plays the traumatised schoolgirl Maebh to Jaydon Harris-Wallace as Samson, the naughty schoolboy who nettles other students, they are a talented bunch.

The inclusion of lots of young guest stars in this series has given the show a new lease of life, breaking away from the tired, old formula of Doctor and companion.   

'In the Forest of the Night' is a novel concept that starts off well but unravels fairly quickly. Too much time is spent to-ing and fro-ing between the Tardis, while the explanation for why trees have mysteriously taken over the Earth feels a bit muddled. Perhaps it's a generational thing that grown ups just "don't get".

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Meanwhile Missy’s appearance at the end signals that her time to meet the Doctor is nigh. With two more episodes left after tonight, audiences will be entering the Nethersphere soon.