And so we start the final series before the 50th special, with a whole host of treats promised for the coming eight weeks, including the return of both the Cybermen and the Ice Warriors. The new start was almost overshadowed by the announcement of David Tennant and Billie Piper’s appearance in the special – but this series opener removed memories of them, at least for the time being.
It’s one of those patent Moffat madcap episodes, where everything bar the kitchen sink is thrown at the screen, but at its heart is the Doctor’s search for Clara and his determination not to let anything get in the way of finding out the answers about her. The link to the Great Intelligence was pretty obvious early on, and it’s good to see that Richard E. Grant wasn’t just involved at Christmas.
The Bells of Saint John is unlikely to go down in anyone’s list of the Top 10 episodes of all time: it’s got too many other agendas to serve for its own self-contained story to be strong enough for that. However, as a grabber for the audience for the new season, it definitely does its job (and there’s even a little shout out to Rory and Amy!)
Verdict: A solid start to the season. 7/10