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Ncuti Gatwa
The Devil's Chord
Fifteenth Doctor Logo


Synopsis


Maestro
Maestro
 The Doctor and Ruby meet The Beatles but discover that the all-powerful Maestro is changing history.

 London becomes a battleground with the future of humanity at stake.

Source: BBC Website


General Information

Season: Forty One (New Series 14)
Production Code: 14-2
Story Number: 306 (New Series: 150)
Episode Number:877 (New Series: 181)
Number of Episodes: 1
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Production Dates: April 2023
Broadcast Date: 11 May 2024
Colour Status: HD Colour
Studio: Wolf Studios (Cardiff, Wales)
Location:
Writer:Russell T Davies
Director:Ben Chessell
Series Producer:Vicki Delow
Producer:Chris May
Executive Producers:Jane Tranter, Joel Collins, Julie Gardner, Phil Collinson and Russell T Davies
Production Executive for BBC Studios:John Hamer
Executive Producer for the BBC:Rebecca Ferguson
Commissioning Editor for the BBC:Lindsay Salt
Co-Producer:Ellen Marsh
Script Supervisor:Nicki Coles
Script Editors:Scott Handcock and Rosheed Bello (Assistant)
Editors:Chris Roebuck BFE, Emily Lawrence (Assistant), Joseph Keirle (Assistant) and Matt Nathan (VFX)
Colourist:Gareth Spensley
Production Executive:Steffan Morris
Junior Production Executive:Charlotte Cox
Production Manager:Adrian Devane
Post Production Producer:Ceres Doyle
Post Production Supervisor:Liv Duffin
Location Manager:Baljinder Sidhu
Supervising Location Manager:Iwan Roberts
Studio Manager:Richard Balshaw
Unit Manager:Kyle Yates
Production Designer:Phil Sims
Director of Production:Emily Russell
Director of Photography:Jamie Cairney BSC
Casting Director:Andy Pryor CDG/CSA
Online Editor:Christine Kelly
Line Producer:Mark Devlin
Costume Designer:Pam Downe
Hair & Make-Up Designer:Claire Williams
Cameramen:Martin Stephens (Operator), Andrea Jovanovska (Trainee), Chai Lee Tan (Trainee) and Kudzai Dzokamushure (Trainee)
Visual Effects:Windmill Lane
VFX Producer:Will Cohen
VFX Supervisors:Fred Burdy and Sean Varney
Additional VFX:BBC Wales Graphics
Special Effects:Real SFX
Stunt Co-ordinator:Derek Lea
Stunt Performers:Christina Petrou, Jessica Barfoot, Lucy Fowl, Paul Joseph, Rachel Holifield and Stuart Boother
Puppeteers:Arran Glass, Benjamin Dowden, Eliot Gibbins, Josh Elwell and Rowan Elwell
Choreographer:Jack Murphy
Incidental Music:Murray Gold
Sound Recordist:Alex Thompson
Re-recording Mixer:Paul McFadden
Music Conducted By:Alastair King
Music Performed By:BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Music Supervisors:Ollie White and Marnie Davidge (Assistant)
Title Sequence:Painting Practice & Realtime Visualisation
Title Music:Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Arranged by Murray Gold
Three Blind Mice Performed By: Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra
Doctor Piano Double: Michael Howell
Ruby Piano Double: Anna Grieve
Maestro Piano Double: Eleanor Whittam
Number of Doctors: 1
The Doctor: Ncuti Gatwa (The Fifteenth Doctor)
Number of Companions: 1The Companion: Millie Gibson (Ruby Sunday) Guest Cast: Jinkx Monsoon (Maestro) Additional Cast: Jeremy Limb (Timothy Drake), Kit Rakusen (Henry Arbinger), Sherinne Kayra Anderson (Tea Trolley Lady), Ed White (George Martin), George Caple (Paul McCartney), Chris Mason (John Lennon), Philip Davies (George Harrison), James Hoyles (Ringo Starr), Chan Shoker (Studio Producer), Josie Sedgwick-Davies (Cilla Black), Susan Twist (Tea Lady), Simon Jason-Smith (Vinnie), Laura June Hudson (Elderly Woman), Murray Gold (Himself), Shirley Ballas (Herself), Johannes Radebe (Himself)Setting: 1925 and London (11th February 1963) Villain:Maestro

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
(UK)
Duration Viewers
(Millions)
In Archive
877The Devil's Chord11 May 202449'48"3.9Yes

Total Duration 50 Minutes


Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 3.9


Archives


 This story exists and is held in the BBC's Film and Videotape Library.



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Notes


This story sees The Doctor and Ruby travel back to London in 1963 so as to witness The Beatles recording an album at the famous Abbey Road Studios. But they discover a world that has lost interest in music as they are confronted by the mysterious Maestro.

"The Devil's Chord" was written by Russell T Davies and directed by Ben Chessell. It stars Ncuti Gatwa, as the Fifteenth Doctor, with Millie Gibson as his travelling companion Ruby Sunday, while American drag queen Jinkx Monsoon guest stars as Maestro, this story’s baddie. The teaser trailer hints that Jinkx Monsoon promises to deliver a suitably camp and creepy performance using music to a sinister end.

As well as Jinkx Monsoon appearing as Maestro, Shirley Ballas and Johannes Radebe both make cameo appearances and former Doctor Who costume designer June Hudson makes a cameo appearance as an elderly woman who is killed by Maestro.

In this story it is revealed that The Doctor can speak Turkish when he is heard saying ‘Hadi ama’ which translates to ‘Come On’ in English.

The Doctor confirms that he has children and that he had a granddaughter called Susan. This is the first mention of Susan by name in the revised show.

The Doctor mentions to Ruby that in 1963 he was living nearby in Shoreditch with Susan, a reference to the first story of the show, "An Unearthly Child", where the First Doctor and his granddaughter lived in the TARDIS in a junkyard in Shoreditch.

The Doctor contemplates the fate of Susan following the genocide of the Time Lords by The Master in "Ascension of the Cybermen/The Timeless Children". The Doctor reveals in this story that he is unaware of what became of Susan (see "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" and the Big Finish Productions audio story "The Shoreditch Intervention"). He believes she may have been killed in a cellular explosion when the other Time Lords were murdered (see "Spyfall").

Ruby confirms she was born in 2004.

The existence of the mysterious group known as The Pantheon is confirmed. The Doctor theorises that Maestro is one of the Pantheon of Discord and that these are a group of transcendental beings that sought to alter reality and cause chaos. Sarah Jane Smith previously faced one of their member, called The Trickster, in "The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith".

Before broadcast there was myth that Maestro was to be an incarnation of The Master. This was proven false. Instead, it is revealed that Maestro is The Toymaker's child - and so the first of The Toymaker's legions arriving on Earth (see "The Giggle").

Maestro plans to ultimately steal the Music of the Spheres; the music created by the universe’s motion (see "Music of the Spheres").

Maestro mentions ‘The One Who Waits’ (see "The Giggle").

Russell T Davies has teased that this story would be the first of many to feature gods at war.

The Doctor confirms that the TARDIS still looks like a Police Box because the Chameleon Circuit is still broken (see "Logopolis").

The Maestro briefly plays the Doctor Who theme song on the piano and it is briefly heard on the TARDIS jukebox. The Twelfth Doctor could play the song on his guitar (see "The Magician's Apprentice/The Witch's Familiar").

The Maestro also plays the Saxon Theme to control the TARDIS' Cloister Bell and the TARDIS lights.

The music heard when The Doctor and Ruby wander through 1963 is called California Soul by Ashford and Simpson.

The Beatles first entered the recording studio in real life on Monday the 11th February 1963. They appear to be recording the album Please Please Me and Abbey Road Studios indeed was not yet named as The Doctor states.

Ruby mentions that her family owned a copy of The Beatles albums Revolver and The White Album when she was ten years old.

No actual songs of The Beatles were used in this story due to the cost. Beatles music has though been heard previously in the show (see the 1965 First Doctor story "The Chase" and the 1967 Second Doctor story "The Evil of the Daleks").

Cilla Black was a singer/entertainer/television presenter who was a friend of The Beatles and sometimes they sang together. The Beatles wrote the 1970 song Love of the Loved for Cilla.

The old woman is head playing the Claude Debussy song Claire de Lune on her piano.

The song that The Doctor and Ruby play on the piano is called The Life of Sunday - Ruby's Theme. It was written by Murray Gold.

The Doctor mentions he saw Ruby perform earlier in December 2023 at the King's Arms where she sang a song called One More Sleep (see "The Church on Ruby Road").

The Mrs. Mills Piano exists in real-life. It was used by pianist Gladys Mills. The Beatles used the piano for their 1967 songs Penny Lane and With a Little Help From my Friends.

The Doctor is heard joking that people he travels with always want to go to the Titanic, Mars or Bethlehem. The Doctor previously visited the Titanic (see "Rose") and Mars (see "The Waters of Mars"), and once recounted a tale to his granddaughter Susan, and her son Alex Campbell, of how Leonardo da Vinci begged to visit Bethlehem to witness the birth of Jesus Christ (Big Finish Productions audio story "Relative Dimensions"). The Tenth Doctor had previously implied that he was present in Bethlehem during the birth of Jesus (see "Voyage of the Damned").

The Doctor taking Ruby back to her own time in 2024, which now consists of a destroyed London, in order to prove to her the world will end in 1963 unless they defeat Maestro mirrors a similar scene, in the 1975 story "Pyramids of Mars", when the Fourth Doctor does a similar thing with Sarah Jane Smith in order to prove to her that her world will end in 1911 unless they defeat Sutekh.

The Eleventh Doctor previously took Amy Pond to London in July 1963 only to find it destroyed by a Dalek invasion. Amy had also desired to meet John Lennon while visiting in the City of the Daleks game.

A rooftop billboard can be seen that advertises Chris Waites and the Carrollers. This band was previously mentioned, in "An Unearthly Child" by Susan in conversation with Ian Chesterton, having had the same singer as John Smith and the Common Men.

The ending sequence of The Doctor and Ruby dancing on the streets of Abbey Road (including the famous zebra crossing) serves as a double homage: the first is to the famous piano dance from Big (which Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson acknowledge in this story’s episode of Doctor Who Unleashed), and the other is the film Singin' in the Rain.

This story’s title was revealed in December 2023, in issue 596 of the Doctor Who Magazine, before the reveal of the rest of this season’s stories on the 31st March 2024.

The end titles include the caption: ‘Produced with the support of Incentives for the Irish Film Industry provided by the Government of Ireland’.

This story was broadcast on BBC One on the 11th May 2024, immediately following the main season opening story, "Space Babies". This is the first time that two stories (or even two episodes) were broadcast on the same day. Both stories were given an early screening exclusive for critics on the 6th May 2024.

This story was simulcast on BBC iPlayer at midnight on the 10th May in the UK and on Disney+ internationally.

Overnight viewing figures estimate that this story was watched by 2.6 million people on its BBC One broadcast, 200,000 less than the preceding story. Writing for the Radio Times, Louise Griffin attributed the low ratings to this story’s launch on BBC iPlayer nearly 20 hours previously.


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The Plot

WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
The Music Lesson
The Music Lesson

In 1925, during a piano lesson, Henry Arbinger asks his music teacher, Timothy Drake, to play something exciting, and is introduced to a melody called ‘The Devil’s Chord’. But as Timothy Drake plays the piano’s lid suddenly drops and then knocking is heard from inside the piano. Maestro then emerges from the piano and reveals that Henry’s name is short for Harbinger before disposing of the young lad. Maestro then announces that Timothy Drake is a genius for unlocking ‘the lost chord’. Maestro then consumes the music from his soul.

In the TARDIS, Ruby asks The Doctor to take her to see the Beatles record their very first album. When the TARDIS materialises on Abbey Road in London, on the 11th February 1963, they venture out and start exploring and enter the EMI Recording Studios that will become the famous Abby Road Studios. Inside they take over a tea cart allowing them to enter one of the recording studios where they come across The Beatles in the midst of a recording session. But as the Beatles start to play The Doctor and Ruby are disappointed and confused by a poorly composed song about Paul McCartney's dog. They also peek into separate sessions with Cilla Black, and an entire orchestra, who are also performing very poorly composed music.

Sometime later in the studio’s cafeteria The Doctor theorises to Ruby that music’s sudden disappearance is leading humanity to a dark future. They discover from John Lennon and Paul McCartney that the band, as well as the rest of the world, has stopped caring about music since the early 20th century and they plan on finishing the album before retiring to normal everyday lives. The Doctor fears this loss of interest in music will alter humanity's future. But John and Paul react angrily when The Doctor and Ruby try to reassure them of the importance of music.

Maestro
Maestro

The Doctor has a piano taken up to the studio’s roof and he implores Ruby to play a tune, and so she plays a sad song she wrote for a friend. The music attracts the attention of Londoners, who emotionally react. However, as Ruby continues to play it also gains the attention of Maestro. As the piano violently shifts, interrupting Ruby’s playing Maestro emerges from the piano while laughing. The Doctor recognises this laugh as the same as The Toymaker's giggle. Petrified, The Doctor flees into a cellar, and uses his screwdriver to silence the environment around them as Maestro searches for them.

Then in the distance an elderly lady begins playing Claire de Lune, distracting Maestro who kills the elderly lady. The Doctor suspects Maestro to be part of The Toymaker’s legions: The Pantheon. Ruby tries reassuring him, but The Doctor fears Maestro’s powers. To convince Ruby of the effect Maestro will have on humanity, The Doctor takes Ruby back to 2024, where they find London has been devastated by a nuclear war.

The Zebra Crossing
The Zebra Crossing

Before they can return to 1963 London they are interrupted by Maestro, who it is revealed is a child of The Toymaker with similar powers and who is growing stronger by consuming all music. Maestro’s ultimate aim is to steal The Music of the Spheres.

During this confrontation it is revealed that the only way to defeat Maestro, is for The Doctor to find the correct chord. Maestro reveals this information believing The Doctor is incapable of doing so. Maestro then plays tunes that affect the TARDIS. The Doctor though is able regain control allowing them to return to 1963.

Back in Abbey Road Studios, The Doctor plugs his sonic screwdriver into a control booth and uses John Lennon’s guitar to try and find The Notes of Banishment. But then Maestro uses physical music notes to kidnap Ruby, disabling the sonic screwdriver, and threatens to consume her music. Ruby begins singing Carol of the Bells and it starts to snow inside the studio. This confuses Maestro due to the power from deep within her soul. The Doctor realises that this is because this is the Christmas song that was being played when Ruby was left outside the church. To stop the music Maestro frees Ruby, who falls to the ground but is caught by The Doctor. The Doctor then uncovers a piano (known as the Mrs Mills Piano) which he uses to fight Maestro. They engage in a music battle, The Doctor on piano, Maestro on violin.

The Beatles
The Beatles

Ruby joins The Doctor on the piano and between then they force Maestro to break the violin. The Doctor then discovers The Notes of Banishment, but plays a bum note, allowing Maestro to regain full power. Maestro flings the piano down a corridor, and traps The Doctor and Ruby in instruments. In the corridor John Lennon and Paul McCartney come across the piano, with The Doctor’s partially played rendition of The Notes of Banishment floating above it. They are able to complete the chord, causing the piano to drag Maestro inside so freeing The Doctor and Ruby. But Maestro, before the piano lid closes, announces to The Doctor that ‘The One Who Waits is almost here’.

With music returned to the world, everyone starts to sing and dance - including The Doctor and Ruby who engage in a musical number before leaving in the TARDIS. But they are unaware that they are being watched by the young Henry Arbinger.

 
Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney
John Lennon
John Lennon
On the Roof
On the Roof
Ruby Playing the Piano
Ruby Playing the Piano
 
Ruby is Captured
Ruby is Captured
Maestro Plays the Violin
Maestro Plays the Violin
The Notes of Banishment
The Notes of Banishment
Maestro is Defeated
Maestro is Defeated




Quote of the Story


 'I’m sorry. But the power of these creatures is so vast. The whole world could slide into the pit.'

The Doctor



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Release Information

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)Code NumberCover ArtRemarks
Video
DVD
The Complete Fourteenth Series Box SetDue: August 2024Photo-montageDVD boxed set containing 7 stories from New Series 14 along with the 2023 Christmas Special "The Church on Ruby Road"
Video
Blu-Ray
The Complete Fourteenth Series Box SetDue: August 2024Photo-montageBlu-Ray boxed set containing 7 stories from New Series 14 along with the 2023 Christmas Special "The Church on Ruby Road"
Video
Blu-Ray
The Complete Fourteenth Series Box Set (Limited Edition Steelbook)Due: August 2024Photo-montageLimited Edition Blu-Ray Steelbook boxed set containing 7 stories from New Series 14 along with the 2023 Christmas Special "The Church on Ruby Road"


In Print

No Book Release
Doctor Who Magazine - PreviewIssue 603 (Released: May 2024)

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The Doctor and Companion

 
Ncuti Gatwa
The Fifteenth Doctor

   

 
Millie Gibson
Ruby Sunday
 
   




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Blu-Ray Steelbook Cover
Blu-Ray Steelbook Cover

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Doctor Who Magazine - Preview: Issue 603
Doctor Who Magazine - Preview: Issue 603

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