No dilly dallying here, let’s proceed with the countdown and see what my favourite New Series moment is-
25) Four knocks- The End of Time
The End of Time is a flawed story, there’s no denying that. The flaws are brushed aside in this magnificent scene however, which sees the Tenth Doctor realise what he has been running from. It’s not the Master or Rassilon that will cause him to regenerate, but a simple act of kindness to save his friend. Hearing Wilf be the one to do four knocks is chilling, yet it turns into something amazing as the Doctor toils with his choices. If there’s any doubts about David Tennant’s skills as an actor, it’s proven wrong here. This is the performance of a lifetime. A perfect end for one of the best Doctors.
24) Davros opens his eyes- The Witch’s Familiar
In hindsight I think I may have looked past the flaws in this story too much when putting it on my best Twelfth Doctor episodes. However, the power of this scene holds up. After decades of conflict, the Doctor and Davros finally share a moment where they can be united in their thoughts. Davros is not the mad raving lunatic of the Series 4 finale, but instead he is a clever, humorous and complex character. It’s a slight shame that the message was somewhat undercut by the end, but what Davros says here is still profound and meaningful. The Doctor and Davros laughing reminds me of The Killing Joke, and that’s good company to be with.
23) Margaret’s speech- Boom Town
Boom Town is hideously underrated when great Ninth Doctor stories are discussed. It’s a compelling character study that gives backstory to the Slitheen and a chance for the TARDIS team to kick back and have fun. This dinner scene starts comedic with Margaret’s various assassination attempts, but turns dark when she analyses the Doctor’s psyche. The dialogue is multi layered- she isn’t just arguing to save her life, but is also trying to save the Doctor’s morality. In the end, it’s somewhat undone, but the questions raised by the episode are left unanswered, leaving multiple interpretations.
22) Three shows collide- The Stolen Earth
The pinnacle of the RTD Whoniverse comes when three very different shows come together to save reality from the Daleks. Seeing Sarah Jane and Captain Jack together is glorious, as is the use of elements from the Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood- Mr Smith, the Rift- all part of the world building and continuity that RTD created over four years, uniting in the epic finale. It’s kept together by Harriet Jones finally redeeming herself and an epic phone call that causes the Doctor to return to Earth and assemble the Children of Time. A scene that essentially did the Avengers on a TV budget.
21) “Nobody human has anything important to say to me today!”- The Beast Below
Why does no one like The Beast Below? It’s great, and this scene is a key reason why. This is Matt Smith’s second story and he is presented with a harsh dilemma with no easy answers. Unlike his predecessor, he cannot respond to this in a human manner, snapping at Amy and threatening to take her home. The answer comes through to him eventually, but he has been darkened by this experience. This is a key moment in Series 5, as it sets the blueprint for the darker Doctor that Eleven would become. The standout scene in a clever and underrated story.
20) The Doctor and Master have a phone call- The Sound of Drums
Top 20 here, and honestly it’s getting hard. The Series 3 finale is one of the show’s largest epics, yet it’s a simple phone call between the final Time Lords in the universe that’s the best scene. The tension is unbearable, the amount of backstory and mythology crammed into this basic exposition scene is unbelievable and the complex dynamic of the Doctor and the Master has never been better. David Tennant and John Simm are perfect here, each bringing subtlety and nuance to a scene where they don’t even meet face to face. This scene is one of the absolute best scenes Russel T Davies ever wrote.
19) Have a good life- The Parting of the Ways
Why did I used to dislike this story? The Series 1 finale is both subtle and epic, and this simple scene of the Doctor saying goodbye is heartbreaking. The scene starts with Rose in despair, until the hologram of the Doctor reassures her of how she will live out her life whilst he gives up his life for the safety of Earth. The music is perfect for the scene and Christopher Eccleston’s presence is felt even though he is not physically there. The dialogue is poetic and a nice interlude between the horrors of the Game Station. I think the story goes somewhat downhill after this scene but that doesn’t take away from the power of the scene.
18) Rory disappears- Cold Blood
As Chris Chibnall’s second script (also underrated) draws to a close, the Crack in Time reappears to menace the Doctor once more. This unfortunately happens at the same time Rory is killed by Alaya, and he is slowly erased from time. The drama in this scene is phenomenal, as the Doctor tries to get Amy to remember Rory. The audience knows she won’t and that makes the scene all the more brilliant. An already superlative story has suddenly become integral to the extraordinarily tightly written arc of the series, and the stage is set for the final episodes of the series.
17) Colonel Runaway- A Good Man Goes to War
And the Oscar goes to… Matt Smith! That is a sentence that will happen one day, as this scene from Steven Moffat’s Series 6 opus shows. The slapstick, jokes and niceties of the Eleventh Doctor drops as he confronts Colonel Manton. In this scene, the Doctor is scared of himself and what he is turning into, yet he is unstoppable in his crusade to save his friends. The fury of a Time Lord indeed. This scene is a turning point of the story, as the Doctor becomes an immovable force who will stop at nothing to achieve what he wants. In this scene, the Doctor is the villain. And it’s perfect.
16) The Face of Boe dies- Gridlock
Gridlock is Who perfection. What could have been a dull story becomes a character piece, a thesis on religion, satire and a set up for the finale all at once. The greatest scene in this masterpiece is the death of the Face of Boe. Murray Gold’s score for this episode is one of his best and nothing complements this scene more than his music. As the Face dies, the Doctor mourns the loss of one of the only beings in the universe who understands him. The Face dies for a purpose, setting the motorists free and being able to pass on his story. The beauty of this show can be captured in this scene, and indeed the whole story.
15) The Silence are defeated- Day of the Moon
Do not mess with Eleven. In the immensely satisfying climax to the epic Series 6 opener, the Doctor turns the Silence against themselves, giving them one final warning to leave Earth. The tables are turned for the Silence as the Doctor makes the whole world turn against them, brilliantly tying real history in to the madness of the show. The genius of this scene is how it uses everything about the Silence against them, whilst showing how ruthless the Eleventh Doctor is. I cannot think of a more audience pleasing finale in a television show. This is pure spectacle and is all the better for it.
14) The Doctor and Mr Finch talk- School Reunion (that thumbnail!)
Two beings of immense power talk to each other, not as enemies but as equals. In a story that may as well been on the list in its entirety, this staggeringly good piece of writing by Toby Whithouse demonstrates the mighty acting talents of David Tennant and Anthony Head. Finch offers the Doctor power but the Doctor refuses, threatening Finch in almost nonchalant fashion. Keep in mind that this was only David Tennant’s fourth story, and it’s this scene that solidifies him as the Doctor. The age, anger and ferocity is all there, waiting to be released. This story is perfect, and this scene is a key reason why.
13) The War Doctor revealed – The Name of the Doctor
Who saw this coming? A secret incarnation of the Doctor is big enough, but having John Hurt, one of the most acclaimed actors of all time, playing the Doctor? This scene gives me goosebumps. It was a bumpy season but the finale was excellent, all building up to this majestic reveal. All of the Eleventh Doctor’s hidden darkness and secrets are finally revealed, as we see the secret he has been hiding. Not his name, but the one who broke the promise. The final line is chilling- “But not in the name of the Doctor”- and John Hurt turns around. Now that’s how you end a series.
12) Breaking the wall- Heaven Sent
This episode has gone down in Who history, and rightly so. The climax of this brilliant story comes as the Twelfth Doctor discovers his way out is blocked by a giant wall. He breaks down, but what starts as the Doctor’s lowest moment turns into something triumphant. The montage is perfect, the speech is perfect, the editing is perfect, the direction by Rachael Talalay is perfect, the music is perfect and Peter Capaldi is perfect. This isn’t just about breaking a physical wall, this is breaking through grief. It’s a perfect metaphor, and no memory wipes or space diners can detract from the power of this scene.
11) All thirteen- Day of the Doctor
Another scene that needs no introduction. 50 years of time and space leads to this triumphant moment when all thirteen incarnations of the Doctor save their planet. Having Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt together at all was brilliant, but to hear the First Doctor and see the others fly in, before Capaldi’s eyebrows steal the show, was utter genius. It’s the encapsulation of the whole show- the Doctors set aside their differences and unite to save Gallifrey. Would it have been nice if Doctors 4-8 voiced over their incarnations? Sure, but I feel like the scene is perfect as is. It never fails to make me happy.
10) Save someone- The Fires of Pompeii
We’ve reached the top ten now, and these scenes are the top of the pile. Fires of Pompeii was great before this, but this one scene turns it into a classic. As Donna watches Pompeii burn, the Doctor refuses to help and is willing to leave her behind. The scene turns into something deeply personal, as Donna reminds the Doctor of all the lives he could not save. In an act of selflessness, the Doctor saves Caecillius’s family, turning the episode into something truly magnificent. The acting all around stands out, but once again Catherine Tate proves her skills, begging the Doctor to be kind. This is the kind of scene the show was made for.
9) The fury of a Time Lord- The Family of Blood
How do you end the greatest two parter of the revived series? It’s simple really. This scene is perfect in every way. From the triumphant way the Doctor reveals himself to the darkness of his actions, this scene captures the melancholic vibe of the two parter in the best way possible. Son of Mine’s narration is perfectly matched over the downright horrifying punishments the Doctor gives to the Family. It is this scene where the Doctor’s choices in the story are justified- he was saving the Family from him, until they forced his hand. The dark side of the Doctor is shown and the episode does not hold back.
8) You would make a good Dalek- Dalek
This episode was the turning point for the series. After the lone Dalek kills everyone, it demands an audience with the Doctor. Christopher Eccleston gives a phenomanal performance as the two survivors of the Time War confront each other. This isn’t a Doctor who will try to understand or sympathise with the Dalek- he just wants it dead. He lets loose with all the rage of a Time Lord, before the Dalek gives the Doctor the killer line that makes him rethink his actions. Both are slowly turning into the other, and the Doctor is terrified at what he’s becoming. It is a magnificent scene.
7) The Long Song- The Rings of Akhaten
This one is just spine tingling. Rings of Akhaten is a very underrated and fun story that deals with some heavy themes, which comes to a conclusion here. Keep in mind that Matt Smith is talking to a green screen without music, and he’s still incredible. The Doctor tries to drown out Akhaten’s greed with his infinite story, and he almost succeeds, recalling his age and wisdom gained over a thousand years. The song is magnificent and the speech is just glorious. If there was any doubt that Matt Smith was my favourite Doctor, I got reminded here why he is. The Long Song is the best song in Doctor Who and this scene is one of the best.
6) The Doctor’s speech to the Masters- The Doctor Falls
Finally, after four years, a Twelfth Doctor story that reached my personal favourite stories of all time. Peter Capaldi is one of the best actors to ever play the Doctor who was often underserved, and this speech shows him at his full potential. It’s the ultimate statement, not just of Twelve but of the character in general. He may not succeed in his plan and he may not save everyone, but he will save someone. The story as a whole is restrained yet epic, and this scene exemplifies that. The Doctor is merely talking to the Masters, but what he is saying is so important and character defining that it is impossible to stop watching. The highlight of the magnificent Series 10 finale.
5) The Pandorica speech- The Pandorica Speech
Let’s return to the greatness that is Series 5. This speech is the defining Eleventh Doctor speech- epic, boisterous and intimidating. This is a Doctor ready to fight the combined forces of the Alliance with words alone. Like with Twelve’s Masters speech this is defining for the character. The music blares to a victorious climax and every spaceship retreats, in awe of the Doctor. This sets up the finale as something epic, yet Moffat’s genius writing flips the tables and makes it intimate. This scene portrays the Doctor as unstoppable and the stuff of legends. No wonder this speech is so loved by the fandom.
4) Time Lord Victorious- The Waters of Mars
The Doctor has reached breaking point. Alone and desperate, the darkness emerges. All the Strange, Strange Creatures plays but this isn’t the Doctor victorious, but the Lord of Time inside him. As if the brilliance of Waters of Mars couldn’t get better, RTD and Phil Ford gives us a scene of a man tired of losing everything, rejecting the laws of time itself to save a crew he barely knows. The scene is scary, but not because of the Flood but because of the callous, alien nature of his victory. The smile on Ten’s face as he pilots Gadget Gadget is the point of no return, and it takes Adelaide Brooke to stop him.
3) Vincent sees his life fulfilled- Vincent and the Doctor
If Doctor Who could be summed up in a single scene, it would be this. What makes this one of the greatest stories in the show’s history is the focus on character, with Vincent being alone and rejected by society. The Doctor and Amy takes him to see his work appreciated, and he is seemingly saved from his fate. Dr Black’s speech is beautiful, the performance by Tony Curan is amazing and the scene is just the perfect way to end the episode- until it isn’t. The message of the scene, and the episode, is that mental illness is too big of an issue for a simple trip to the future to heal- but the experience is worth it.
2) The anti-war speech- The Zygon Inversion
Yup, you knew this was coming. Any grievances fans may have with the Capaldi era are not shared with this magnificent, ten minute monologue by Peter Capaldi that has acted as one of the defining moments of the entire show. This speech will never not be relevant for the real world and it works brilliantly in the episode too, with the Doctor dissecting Bonnie’s confused ideologies. The scene is an encapsulation of the Doctor’s values and why he is an icon- never cruel or cowardly, always wise. The passion and meaning behind the scene has made it go down in Who history, and for good reason.
1) Lose faith in me- The God Complex
This could very well be my favourite scene in anything ever. 25 episodes of build up to the emotional arc of the Eleventh Doctor to conclude with the realisation that the only way to save Amy is to lose her. He loses faith in himself, no longer the Raggedy Man but merely a madman in a box who had gone too far. Their relationship was too toxic and dangerous to continue, as the events of Series 6 showed. Amy realises that the Doctor cannot always win, and that the real world with Rory is the better one. The Doctor drops his facade and his true self shows. The Eleventh Doctor looked young, but was ancient and alone. By the end of this scene, he is alone again.
So those were the 50 greatest scenes in New Who. My only wish is that many more scenes will soon join. Series 11 cannot come soon enough.