Originally aired: Saturday May 27, 2006 on BBC-1
Director: Euros Lyn
Show Stars: David Tennant (The 10th Doctor (Season 2)), Billie Piper (Rose Tyler)
Guest Stars: Jamie Foreman (Eddie Connolly) , Ieuan Rhys (Crabtree) , Margaret John (Grandma Connolly) , Rory Jennings (Tommy) , Ron Cook (Mr. Magpie) , Jean Challis (Betty) , Sam Cox (Bishop) , Christopher Driscoll (Security Guard) , Marie Lewis (Mrs Gallagher) , Maureen Lipman (The Wire) , Debra Gillett (Rita Connolly)
Production Code: NCFS091N
At Mr. Magpie’s electronic store, Magpie works while a storm brews outside. He listens to the TV where the female newscaster signs off, then realizes he is overdrawn. In another house, a family listens to the radio as the father returns home as his son Tommy asks him for a television. The father Edward Connolly makes a vague promise while the grandmother warns that TV rots your brain.
Edward goes to Magpie’s shop as electricity strikes the aerial. A dozing Magpie wakes up as the same female newscaster appears on the TV and talks to him directly. She says they’re to “begin” and then red tentacles of electricity extend from the TV and enter Magpie’s head, as the newscaster laughs.
Rose steps out of the TARDIS, dressed for the 1950s where they’ve arrived. The Doctor wants to see Elvis in the U.S. and roars out of the TARDIS on a moped. She mounts up with him and they drive off but soon realize they’re in England. They soon notice a lot of flags and talk to Mr. Magpie, who is loading up televisions and tells them about the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, pinpointing the time as 1953. Rose notes a lot of television aerials and Magpie boasts about how many that he’s selling. Two men come out of a door with a man bundled up as the wife wants to know what’s going on. The boy, Tommy, mentions that people have been turning into monsters and his father calls him back into the house. The Doctor and Rose chase the departing vehicle but it quickly loses them with a carefully pre-planned operation. Rose suggests they go back to talk to the neighbours and the Doctor takes her advice.
Magpie talks to the newscaster who thanks him for his help. He asks her to leave and she’s “burning” him inside, but she doesn’t guarantee anything. She talks of the time being almost right and the hour cometh.
In his home, Tommy slowly climbs the stairs to his grandmother’s room as she pounds on the floor. He prepares to unlock the door but his father Edward tells him not to. He berates his son as the mother looks on, and Tommy protests how his grandmother has been locked up. Edward refuses to hear anything about it, but they’re interrupted when the Doctor and Rose arrive and get in using the Doctor’s psychic paper. The Doctor is unimpressed by Edward ordering his wife around and berates him into doing his own work rather than foisting it off on his wife.
The Doctor starts watching the TV while talking to Rita and Tommy. Rita asks the Doctor to help the grandmother but Edward tries to butt in. The Doctor shouts him down and demands to know what’s going on, as the grandmother pounds on her floor again. Tommy reveals that other people have “changed” as well and their families are hiding them away, but sometimes men show up to take them away.
Tommy takes them up to see the grandmother, whose face is entirely blank, covered over with skin. Outside a black car pulls up as the Doctor realizes the grandmother’s brain has been wiped clean. The men barge in, knock out the Doctor, and haul the grandmother away. The Doctor goes out after them but Rose pauses in the living room and sees tendrils of red energy surround the TV. The Doctor has no choice but to go after them alone as Rose investigates the TV and sees the Magpie Electricals label on the back. The men lose the Doctor the same way as before. He checks out the neighbourhood on foot and finds a warehouse that bears investigating. Slipping in, he finds that the men are holding all of their captives in cages. He opens the cages and finds that they are all missing their faces like the grandmother. They advance on him but before he can do anything the lights come on and one of the captors confronts him.
Rose goes to Magpie’s shop and says she wants to buy a telly. The newscaster appears on the screen, saying she’s “hungry.” Magpie tries to get Rose out but she demands answers and Magpie boasts that twenty million people will be watching the coronation. Magpie seems almost relieved to be given a chance to confess, saying he wants peace from the newscaster. The newscaster starts speaking directly to Rose, saying she’s The Wire and she’s hungry. She extends red tendrils to Rose, who asks for help but Magpie says he can’t do anything and is sorry.
The mysterious men interrogate the Doctor without much luck. The Doctor identifies him as Detective Inspector Bishop (from the name tag on his collar) and points out he’s working on orders from above and isn’t doing anything to solve the problem but just hide it. Bishop admits he’s understaffed due to the coronation and doesn’t know what’s going on. The Doctor asks Bishop to tell him everything and the Inspector relates that the faceless people first appeared a month ago in North London. His men bring in another one and the Doctor recognizes her as Rose… with a blank face. An angry Doctor vows that nothing will stop him from figuring things out.
The morning of the coronation dawns and everyone prepares to watch it on television. Edward Connolly tells his wife to keep quiet as his relatives show up to watch it as well. The Doctor and Bishop arrive and call Tommy out, but Edward intervenes and says they can handle it themselves, and is concerned his reputation will be hurt. Tommy accuses his father of reporting his grandmother to the police. Tommy points out that his father is just as bad as the fascists he fought in World War II. Rita overhears as Edward admits it’s true. Rita tells Tommy to do what he needs to do and then locks Edward outside.
Tommy tells the Doctor and Bishop that his grandmother was watching television when she changed. The Doctor realizes Magpie is involved and runs to his office, demanding answers. He spots a piece of advanced technology, a portable television, and notices another power source. The faces of all the victims appear (including Rose) on the television screens in the shop, sobbing in agony. Magpie enters from the back and the Doctor wants Rose and the others restored, and demands answers. The Wire appears on a television and threatens to eat them all so she can gain a corporeal form. She tells of how her people executed her but she fled across the stars and is trapped in television. The Bishop realizes that the Wire plans to use the Coronation to latch on to the mental energy of all of the viewers. The Doctor realizes the portable technology will give her the necessary power, and the Wire extends tendrils to him, Bishop, and Tommy. She begins to feed but the Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to break the circuit, although it is too late for Bishop.
Magpie takes the box and the Wire transfers itself into it. Magpie leaves in his van as the Doctor realizes that the shop is located near the biggest transmitter in North London. He grabs some equipment from the TARDIS and heads for the transmitter, where Magpie has already arrived with the Wire. Magpie ascends the tower with the Doctor and Tommy running along the streets loaded with equipment. A policeman tries to stop them but the Doctor bluffs his way past.
At the tower, the Doctor tells Tommy to await his signal while he goes to attach a wire to the tower. Magpie has reached the top of the tower and attaches the Wire’s box. Tendrils of energy spread out over the entire area, feeding on the mental energy of Rita Connolly and everyone else watching. The Doctor almost slips but manages to regain his grip. Magpie calls out for peace at last and the Wire grants it… by vaporizing him. The Doctor realizes it has overextended itself, grabs the box containing her, and plugs his cable into it. The device in the control cabin overloads, and Tommy works desperately to replace the fused vacuum tube. He succeeds and the energy tendrils disappear as the Wire calls out in agony then goes off the air… for good.
All of the people in the cage have been restored. The Doctor explains to Tommy that he turned the transmitter into a receiver and captured the Wire on a VCR tape. The coronation proceeds as planned while everyone watches, unaware of what happened. The former victims wander into the street and Tommy is reunited with his grandmother. The Doctor finds Rose and they embrace. Rita tells Edward to get out of the house she owns and he leaves.
At the street party, the Doctor and Rose celebrate over cake as the Time Lord explains that he plans to use his advanced knowledge to… tape over the Wire. Rose suggests Tommy go after his dad and after some reluctance he agrees. The Doctor and Rose toast with orange juice as father and son depart.