TV Series

13 Greatest Escapes in Doctor Who History

By Paul Lang

The Doctor and friends tend to get tied up or imprisoned with alarming frequency, so they have to make more than their fair share of swift exits. To celebrate the launch of the Doctor Who escape rooms around the UK, here’s a look at some of the show's most brilliant break-outs…


The Witchfinders (2018)

The Doctor had no sooner rocked up in 17th-century Lancashire than she was in serious bother. The locals were dunking innocent women as witches. If they bobbed back up, they were definitely witches, and would be put to death. If not, they’d drowned but were found innocent (probably not much of a comfort). The Doctor passed herself off as the Witchfinder General, but was denounced by King James as an agent of Satan and duly ducked! But when the stool was raised, there was no sign of her… She’d managed to slip out of her chains thanks to a few tricks taught by her old pal, the great escapologist Harry Houdini.

Diamond geezer

Heaven Sent (2015)

The Doctor had carelessly got himself trapped in his own Confession Dial (a trinket designed to allow dying Time Lords to face their demons before their minds were uploaded to the Matrix supercomputer). He was trapped in a remote fortress, destined to live through the same events time and time again, always ending up in front of a wall of solid Azbantium. His only hope of escape was to keep going around and around until he’d chipped his way through it - a process which took over two billion years! He was in a pretty bad mood after that.

Breaking free

Last of the Time Lords (2007)

Things looked bleak for the Doctor after the Master enslaved the Earth and took all his friends prisoner about UNIT’s aircraft carrier, the Valiant. Martha Jones managed to get away and was working on the surface, but the Master aged the Doctor beyond recognition, leaving his tiny, shrunken form locked inside a golden birdcage. Martha spent a whole year walking the Earth telling people how amazing the Doctor was. The human race’s combined faith in him, channeled through a handy satellite network, restored the Doctor to his old self, freeing him from the cage in the process. Weird, but cool!

Devious Dalek

Resolution (2019)

When a Dalek turned up on 9th-century Earth, the humans who fought and defeated it were so terrified of it coming back to life that they destroyed its casing and cut the mutant inside into three bits, each buried at far-flung corners of the Earth, Well, two of them were – the third ended up in Sheffield, where it was accidentally reactivated by archaeologists Lin and Mitch. The rogue bit summoned its two mates and the creature reformed itself. But how was it going to solve the problem of being a giant squid thing that could only scuttle around in the sewers? Simple! The Dalek jumped onto poor Lin’s back and made her carry it out into the world. Sneaky!

Leading the blind

Flesh and Stone (2010)

Amy Pond found herself in a right pickle aboard the wreck of the Byzantium, a crashed spaceship crawling with Weeping Angels. She’d looked into an Angel’s eyes, accidentally starting a countdown from 10 to 1. When she reached 1, the Angel in her brain’s visual centre would become real and kill her, so the Doctor had to remotely guide Amy through the ship’s internal forest using only his voice. Oh, and she had to keep her eyes shut the whole time as well, just to make things extra-tricky. Eek!

Balloon escape

Planet of the Daleks (1973)

Picture the scene. You’ve been having a nosey around an underground lair, and discovered that it’s jam-packed with thousands of hibernating Daleks. You’ve locked yourself in a ventilation chamber to hide from some other Daleks, but they’ve almost cut through the door. The only way out is via the shaft above, but it doesn’t have a ladder. What do you do? If your first thought is “Well, I shall simply fashion a makeshift hot air balloon from this nearby plastic sheeting and use it to float right up through the shaft to freedom”, then congratulations. You are the Doctor, because that’s exactly what he did!

Express delivery

Kerblam! (2018)

The Doctor, Graham, Yaz and Ryan found some strange stuff going on behind the scenes at online shop Kerblam! People were going missing in the company’s giant warehouse, including their new mate Kira, but looking for them was tricky as everything was automated, with no human access routes. Ryan suggested a different approach – jumping straight down the chute that led to the dispatch system’s conveyer belts. Getting in was simple enough, but getting back out again was the real challenge! Ryan, Yaz and pal Charlie had to deftly navigate the maze of high-speed conveyers and deadly drops – not to mention disinfection and disintegration processes – to reach the foundation level.

River runs free

Various stories

Stormcage Containment Facility was the one of the highest-security prisons in the 52nd century, plonked on a hostile ice planet, constantly patrolled by highly-trained guards, packed with high-tech motion scanners and surrounded by a Tesla binding field to prevent transmat beams. None of this made any difference to River Song, however – she treated the place like a hotel, coming and going pretty much as she pleased, because that’s just the kind of amazing person she was. She made one particularly brazen escape by snogging her guard with hallucinogenic lipstick, making him believe that a stick figure she’d drawn on the wall of her cell was actually her.

Plane crazy

The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion (2015)

The situation was deadly dangerous for the Doctor when the plane he was on was targeted by a shape-shifting Zygon called Bonnie, disguised as his friend Clara. Bonnie was on the ground toting a shoulder-fired land-to-air missile launcher, and kept the Doctor chatting to “Clara” while she took aim and fired. Luckily for him, the real Clara had a telepathic connection to Bonnie, so made her miss with her first shot. By the time she had another pop, the Doctor had jumped to safety with the aid of a handy Union Jack parachute. Phew!

Pest control

Arachnids in the UK (2018)

The worst thing most people have to deal with when checking into an unfamiliar hotel is a disappointing complimentary biscuit selection, or the room not having an ironing board. Not so at the snoot new hotel where Yaz’s Mum worked – the whole place was infested with giant spiders! In fact, there were so many that the Doctor and fam couldn’t get out. After lots of spider-dodging round the corridors, the eight-legged ‘orrors were eventually lured to bad guy owner Robertson’s panic room, leaving only the biggest one in the ballroom, to deal with. As the Doctor tried to work out how to help the dying arachnid, Roberston simply shot it dead and walked off. What a swine!

Pandorica puzzle

The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang (2010)

The Doctor had got wind of a secret prison hidden under Stonehenge called the Pandorica, said to have been built to contain a dangerous creature that would cause the destruction of the universe. When a load of his oldest enemies turned up there, he wondered which of them it was designed for, and was rather put out when they announced it was actually for him! He was duly sealed inside it, destined to a living death, trapped in a time lock for all eternity with no hope of escape. (Spoiler: he escaped).


The Girl in the Fireplace (2006)

The Doctor’s romance with Reinette, an 18th-century French aristocrat, lasted a very long time – from her point of view, at least. She was on one side of a time window, living life at normal speed over many years, while the Doctor nipped back and forth every few minutes from his point of view. A band of clockwork robots took Reinette hostage, thinking they need her brain to repair their ship. They sealed off the time window, situated in a mirror, leaving the Doctor trapped on the wrong side and unable to save Reinette. So he did the only reasonable thing in the circumstances – he jumped on a horse and crashed right through the window!

Multiple escapes

Day of the Moon (2011)

When the scary Silence infiltrated Earth in the 1960s, the Doctor, River, Amy and Rory spent months hunting them down, to no avail. The Doctor ended up wearing a straitjacket in Area 51, Rory was chased to the top of a huge dam with only one way to go (down), Amy was captured by the FBI, and River was pursued to the edge of a half-built skyscraper in New York. They all managed to escape their fates, but River did so in the most daringly stylish fashion – she chucked herself backwards off the edge of the building, into the open doors of the TARDIS hovering below, and landed with a splash in its swimming pool. And she did it all in full evening dress. Effortlessly cool!



Now you can take part in your own great escape with Worlds Collide, the first official Doctor Who live escape game playable at Escape Hunt venues across the UK from early 2019. Tickets are on sale now and are bookable via Escape Hunt.

More on TV Series

more from the whoniverse

More From Read and Watch

from the store

More from the store