The Satan Pit

The Satan Pit
174b – "The Satan Pit"
Doctor Who episode
Satan Pit.jpg
The Doctor faces The Beast.
Writer Matt Jones
Director James Strong
Script editor Simon Winstone
Producer Phil Collinson
Executive producer(s) Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner
Production code 2.9
Series Series 2
Length 2nd of 2-part story, 45 minutes
Originally broadcast 10 June 2006
← Preceded by Followed by →
"The Impossible Planet" "Love & Monsters"

"The Satan Pit" is an episode in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It is the second part of a two-part story, following "The Impossible Planet". With the TARDIS seemingly lost, Rose and the remaining humans are trapped on the base with the possessed Ood, while the planet floats helplessly towards a black hole. Meanwhile, the Doctor is about to discover exactly what "Beast" is trapped in the heart of the impossible planet.

The episode was first broadcast on 10 June 2006.



While the Doctor and science officer Ida Scott investigate the strange door deep in the planet Krop Tor, Rose and the rest of the human crew flee from the advancing Ood, all possessed by The Beast, and regroup to come up with a plan. The group initially believe Toby to be possessed by The Beast, but when they observe a force leaving his body and return to the Ood, they conclude that he has regained his own will. The Doctor makes contact with the crew, revealing that while the door has opened, nothing came out of it. He offers to rappel down the sides to explore further.

As the crew struggles to fight against the advancing horde, attempting to free Captain Zack who is trapped inside the control room and making their way to an escape rocket, the Doctor descends into the open door into a seemingly bottomless pit. The Beast communicates with the Doctor and the rest of the crew through the Ood; the Beast explains he is the epitome of evil across many different religions, as he had been sealed in the planet's Pit since "before time" by the Disciples of the Light, and is seeking to escape. When the Doctor runs out of rope, he opts to drop down, causing Rose to be distressed over his fate. Ida finds herself unable to return to the surface and running short on air. As the Ood continue their attack, the crew is whittled down to just Zack, Rose, Danny and Toby, who board and launch the escape rocket.

The Doctor finds himself in a cave depicting the capture of The Beast, and discovers two jars on pedestals a few feet from each other. Touching them causes the cavern to fill with light, revealing the giant physical form of The Beast, complete with caprine head and humanoid body, chained to the walls of the cavern. The Doctor quickly deduces from the unintelligible grunts coming from The Beast that the consciousness of The Beast has already managed to escape. He also comes to understand that Krop Tor was a perfect prison for The Beast, as should he escape, the gravity field keeping the planet in orbit about the black hole would collapse, taking The Beast with it. The Doctor, aware that Rose will be put in danger by destroying the gravity field, proceeds to smash the jars, destroying the generators and causing the planet to fall into the event horizon, The Beast's physical form writhing in pain. The Doctor, though willing to sacrifice himself, manages to come across his TARDIS in another part of the cavern.

Meanwhile, the escape rocket struggles against the black hole's gravity with the energy source now destroyed. The Beast, defiant from being killed, reveals itself as still possessing Toby. Rose takes a yellow-stripped Boltgun and shoots out the rocket's viewscreen and disengages Toby's harness, causing the possessed being to be blown out into space and into the black hole. The cabin is shortly sealed by automatic shields, but the rocket still lacks the power to escape the gravity well. They suddenly find their ride has smoothed out and are being moved far away from the black hole; the Doctor, over a communications channel, reveals that he and Ida are both safe, and that he is using the TARDIS to tow the rocket to safety. However, the Doctor reports he did not have time to go back and save the Ood, innocent victims of the Beast's possession. Once safe, the respective crews regroup and then depart to go their separate ways. As they return to Earth, Zack reads off the list of personnel that died, including the Ood.


  • In the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood, the episode "End of Days" features a creature called Abaddon, which is also described as "son of the great beast". It also was sealed away "before time" similarly to the Beast.
  • Zack identifies the expedition as representing the Torchwood Archive.
  • Jefferson remarks that he was "a bit slow", echoing Rose's words as she tried and failed to escape from the Dalek in "Dalek".
  • The Beast claims that Rose is destined to die in battle. While this does not come to pass in the episode, it foreshadows events in the season finale, "Doomsday". Russell T Davies mentions this statement from the Beast in the downloadable episode commentary, stating that everything else the Beast said about the characters' fears was true.
  • The Doctor says it is "impossible" for the Beast to have existed before Time. In the Virgin New Adventures, a number of Doctor Who monsters were said to be Great Old Ones from the universe before this one and radically transformed by the shift to the present universe.
  • Danny says that the broadcast flare will cause a "brain storm" in the Ood. This term was used by the Doctor in "The Age of Steel" to explain why it was dangerous to simply disconnect the entranced humans from the EarPods that were controlling them.
  • When the Doctor abseils into the Pit, he lists some planets and races whose mythologies have horned demons, speculating that they are inspired by the Beast. Among the planets he mentions are Draconia (Frontier in Space) and Dæmos, planet of the horned Dæmon Azal (The Dæmons). In The Dæmons, the Third Doctor speculated that the Dæmons inspired the stories of demons in Earth mythology. In this episode, the Doctor also makes reference to the Kaled god of war (The Daleks, Genesis of the Daleks). Davies stated in the Doctor Who Confidential episode "Religion and Myth" that they aimed to create a "Russian doll" effect, wrapping this episode around The Dæmons.
  • The shot of the rocket flying into space resembles Maitland's ship leaving the planet of The Sensorites, which was the first ever exterior shot of a spaceship in flight in space in Doctor Who. In the previous Doctor Who Confidential episode "You've Got the Look", Davies said that he wanted the Ood to resemble the Sensorites, and that he likes to think that they come from a planet near the Sense Sphere. This was later confirmed on screen in "Planet of the Ood".
  • The Doctor said that he believed in Rose. In the serial The Curse of Fenric, the Seventh Doctor was able to psychically repel a force of Haemovores using his faith in his past companions.
  • The TARDIS is shown towing the rocket by means of an unseen and unspecified force, capable of doing this against the pull of a black hole or by nullifying the hole's gravitational attraction. In The Creature from the Pit the TARDIS uses its "gravity tractor beam" to hold a neutron star and in Delta and the Bannermen a similar function is used to cushion the fall of another spacecraft disguised as an old bus. This TARDIS ability is also seen in Journey's End as a means to "tow" the Earth back into place.
  • Ida briefly travels in the TARDIS. Her later words imply she was largely unconscious for the duration of her trip, as she is unable to remember the TARDIS's interior.
  • The Doctor refers to how his race "invented" black holes. This is a reference to the Eye of Harmony, the black hole-derived power source used by the Time-Lords as established in the original series.
  • The Beast calls the Doctor the "killer of his own kind", suggesting explicitly the Doctor's involvement with the destruction of all the Time Lords in the last great Time War. This is later alluded to in "The Sound of Drums", "Journey's End" to a lesser extent, and "The End of Time."
  • Gravity globes would reappear in "The Time of Angels".


  • In this episode's Doctor Who Confidential, Davies said that in order to inspire the design of the Beast, he sent the visual designers at The Mill images of paintings by Simon Bisley, a comics artist known for muscular grotesqueries.
  • The scenes with the Beast and the Doctor were filmed at Clearwell Caves, last seen as the Sycorax ship in "The Christmas Invasion".
  • In the episode commentary, Davies said that an early draft of the script called for the role of the Ood to be filled by the same species as the Slitheen. Their race would have been enslaved and they wished to awaken the Beast, whom they believed to be a god that could free them.
  • Davies claims credit for naming the Ood in the accompanying episode of Doctor Who Confidential as a play on the word "odd".
  • Davies also mentioned that one of many unused ideas for a creature in this episode would be used in series three, this turned out to be the Toclafane from "The Sound of Drums"/"Last of the Time Lords" as revealed via Davies comments in Doctor Who Magazine Series Three Companion.
  • The Sanctuary Base 6 corridor set was recycled to become the entrance to the set for Totally Doctor Who.
  • According to the DVD commentary, the final scene in the TARDIS where the Doctor says "the stuff of legend" was the last major scene shot for the 2006 series, and the last to feature Billie Piper (whose actual final episode had been filmed weeks earlier). It was not, however, the very last scene filmed for the season, which was the "cliffhanger" scene at the very end of "Doomsday".

Outside references

  • During the TARDISODE for this episode, the letters "SB6" (presumably standing for Sanctuary Base 6) are seen on a display changing into the numbers "666".
  • While considering human curiosity, the Doctor quotes "[For fools rush in] where angels fear to tread", from Alexander Pope's An Essay on Criticism.

Broadcast and DVD release

  • Overnight ratings for "The Satan Pit" came in at 5.5 million viewers. While these are the lowest to date, the good weather, combined with the first England game of the 2006 World Cup are factors to be considered. Moreover, "The Satan Pit" had an audience share of 35%, meaning that its overall share has remained static and it was the third most watched programme of the day, after the England vs. Paraguay game and Casualty.[1] The audience Appreciation Index for the episode was 86. The final consolidated rating was 6.08 million.
  • This episode was shown the Saturday after 6/6/06, with the first part airing the Saturday before, hence it bookmarked a week full of Devil-related stories in the media.
  • This episode and "The Impossible Planet" were released in the UK, together with "Love & Monsters", as a basic DVD with no special features on 7 August 2006.


  1. ^ The Satan Pit Overnights (Outpost Gallifrey)

External links


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