In Review: Doctor Who (S1 – EP8) Empire of Death

The Doctor has lost, his ageless enemy reigns supreme, and a shadow falls over creation.

Synopsis: In Empire of Death, The Doctor has lost, his ageless enemy reigns supreme, and a shadow falls over creation. Nothing can stop the devastation – except, perhaps, one woman.


The Story

Sutekh has returned and a storm of death has enveloped the universe. U.N.I.T. and all life on Earth has been wiped out and the only survivors are The Doctor, Ruby Sunday, and Mel Bush. Fearful for the future and in a state of despair The Doctor scoops up Ruby and Mel and takes them to a Memory Tardis, which has somehow made an appearance just when it was needed. Using Ruby’s memories of her travels with him. The Doctor can piece together how Sutekh has managed to defeat him and learns that Sutekh has essentially taken a piggyback ride on the Tardis since the end of their first encounter in ‘The pyramids of Mars’. However, in order to consolidate his victory Sutekh needs to find the identity of Ruby Sunday’s mother, which is a puzzle that both Ruby and The Doctor have been wrestling with for most of their adventures together. 


The Acting

It was brilliant to hear the voice of Gabriel Woolf as the voice of Sutekh, for those not in the know. Woolf did the voice of Sutekh in the classic episode ‘The Pyramids of Mars’, which this episode is essentially a sequel to. It was brilliant to hear Woolf reprise this role again, but this time in the actual Doctor Who series as opposed to the brilliant work he’s done with Big Finish Audio.

I was never a fan of Bonnie Langford during her original stint on Doctor Who during the 80s as I found her character to be extremely shallow and annoying. Thankfully, RTD and his team have redeemed her character and improved Mel tenfold. Langford relished the challenge and took every opportunity to show us Mel’s strengths as a character instead of reprising the annoying banshee that her character was in the classic run. I loved the scenes where Mel was struggling against the voice of Sutekh getting into her head. I also loved the scenes at the start where Mel and the Doctor run away from the sandstorm using her moped. In short, I love this version of Mel Bush and Langford did wonderful work here.



Empire of Death was a solid season finale, which resolved the Sutekh story for now and resolved the mystery of Ruby Sunday, but also left us with a few mysteries for the show to pick up on in season two. Like many fans, I am still curious to learn who Mrs Flood is and what her powers are as she isn’t human. There are a few theories about who she is, which range from her being a human avatar of the Tardis to her being The White Guardian. So I guess we’ll have to wait to find out.

Added to this is the fact that this series has seen the Doctor mention his granddaughter Susan. Indeed Sutekh used Susan in order to bait The Doctor. But I have to wonder if we’ll see The Doctor and Susan reunited at some point. I think it would be such a pleasing fan moment if the writers could do that.

Doctor Who (S1 - EP8) Empire of Death
  • Story
  • Acting
  • CGI & Stunts
  • Incidental Music

Ian Cullen is the founder of and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: When he is not writing for Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of You can contact ian at:
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