Doctor Who has a long history of spooky ghost stories and almost as a sub-category to those spooky stories set in buildings where corridors and rooms move. The Haunting of Villa Diodati definitely falls into sub-category, and shares a lineage with the McCoy era Ghost Light and Matt Smith’s The God Complex. Even the Detained episode of the short lived spin-off Class is cut from a similar cloth.
There is always a danger with Doctor Who ghost episodes that they can end up being a little cynical; because ghosts aren’t real are they, or are they? The Haunting of Villa Diodati was in no way inflicted with cynicism. In fact it felt close to tone to the 2018 Netfilx series The Haunting of Hill House. There were genuine scares and even one horrifying moment.
The Lone Cyberman was also somehow more terrifying than they usually are. Cybermen are usually frightening, but not evil; they always feel they’re doing the right thing. Patrick O’Kane’s Lone Cyberman was evil, vindictive, and without mercy. This was made all the better by a strong performance.
For all the scares the episode was not light on humour. The Doctor and her companions all had some great lines. The supporting cast were also all well served by a strong script. Although it was not funny lines that won the night, Stefan Bednarczyk’s, as the valet Fletcher, well timed eye rolls and sighs had me laughing out loud numerous times.
As a run in to a two part end of season story The Haunting if Villa Diodati also had echo’s of the Tennant era Utopia, which also ran into the two part end of season story. Like Utopia this never felt like just a prologue and as an episode could happily stand on its own two feet.
This will go down as a classic episode. For those who still hate Jodie’ Doctor, it must becoming pretty hard to point at anything else but her gender when there is quality like this in her era. Let’s hope the final two episodes of the series carry on with the same calibre.
Marks out of 10: 10