1x13: The Taste of Fear

While on an errand for an injured Rose, the Doctor stumbles across a potentially deadly threat to the planet Earth in the unlikeliest of places.

Plot Summary

The Doctor has been hovering around Rose's sickbed, and he's driving her insane. He's too gunshy from the events of the last two episodes to try and use the TARDIS, and without it Rose's injuries are going to take a long time to heal.

In order to get him out of the house, Rose sends the Doctor out for cupcakes at a shop near Hyde Park Corner. While on the way there, he has a bit of an internal monologue about the unfairness of it all, causing him to forget his errand and wander around the park in a bit of a snit until it's too late to get the cupcakes.

The sun is setting, and soon the police will be out to enforce curfew. The Doctor is getting ready to leave when he spots something glowing in the water. He investigates and is shocked by what he sees.

Hiding behind some trees until the police pass, the Doctor calls Rose and tells her what he's found: Skimmymars. They are, essentially, alien fish who, as an invasive species, will choke out all the fish in Earth's freshwater rivers, ponds, streams, etc. Not only that, but Skimmymars are not capable of spaceflight—they had to have been brought to Earth.

Rose wants to send Torchwood to collect the Skimmymars, but the Doctor explains that would be a very bad idea. It turns out that Skimmymars are considered a delicacy by the Ude Shur. Not because of their taste, but because of a low-level telepathic cry that Skimmymars give out when they are caught or in pain. The Ude Shur eat Skimmymars raw because they like the taste of their fear; it's an intoxicant to them. If Torchwood tries to round up the Skimmymars en masse, the strength of their fear will basically get any Ude Shur in London incredibly drunk, turning them violent. Any humans in the area would be in danger.

With Rose's help, the Doctor locates a high-end electronics shop nearby, breaks in, and appropriates a number of items that let him hastily construct a sonic dampener to reduce the intensity and range of the Skimmymars' cry. Once it's built and tested, he gives the go-ahead for Rose to call in Torchwood, though he feels guilt over the fact that the Skimmymars' will surely all be killed in the process.

In the process, enough of the fear cry escapes that an Ude Shur is attracted to the scene. Tasting the fear, he becomes drunk and combative. The Doctor sees the Ude Shur coming and tries to stop it, but before he can, and before Torchwood can subdue him, the Ude Shur headbutts the Doctor.

The Doctor returns to the Tyler Estate slightly the worse for wear, but still pleased. His confidence has been restored. Working together, he and Rose stopped a possible alien invasion and ecological threat without anyone being killed (besides the Skimmymars, who would have been eaten anyway), or even hurt too badly. Also, the Doctor reveals, he nicked a few extra items from the electronics shop that will let him complete the repairs to the TARDIS, and possible make it more secure as well.

The Doctor tells Rose that like the Ude Shur, whoever was after them wants their fear more than he wants them, and that fear will keep them trapped on Earth. They've been too focused on the dark places lately, and have forgotten about all the wonder and beauty in the universe. The unknown doesn't always have to be frightening. It can be amazing and beautiful and hopeful, and he wants to see it all with her. He helps her out of bed and into the TARDIS, and together they head for the future.

Geographic/Historical Location Details


The episode takes place entirely on Earth in the present day, at the Tyler estate and in Hyde Park, at the Serpentine.

Species Involved


No new information.


Bioluminescent alien fish who emit a telepathic cry of fear when they are caught or hurt. They are a delicacy to the Ude Shur.

Ude Shur

A humanoid race from an unnamed world. They are generally unpleasant and violent, and are intoxicated by the "taste" of fear, especially that of the Skimmymar, which they eat raw.

Other Useful Canon


Dhazz is a planet whose entire economy is based on providing interdimensional laundry services. It's a giant space laundrette.

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