1.2. The Devil's Chord

Season 1 - 2024

Written by: Russell T. Davies
Executive Producers: Russell T. Davies, Julie Gardner, Jane Tranter, Joel Collins, Phil Collinson
Producer: Chris May
Director: Ben Chessell
Music performed by: BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Music conducted by: Alastair King
Music by: Murray Gold
Three Blind Mice performed by: Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra


1925: A boy, Henry, is having a piano lesson. The teacher, composer Timothy Drake, starts with a note, going to a tune, then to a melody. Henry find the music a little stuffy and asks for something more exciting. Timothy tells him about a tritone, known as the Devil's Chord, something previously banned by the Church in case it allowed the devil to enter the room. As he plays the lid on the grand piano collapses. When he hears knocking from within the piano Timothy lifts the lid - and Maestro is released.

In the TARDIS Ruby tells the Doctor she wants to see the Beatles recording their very first album. The Doctor is delighted by choice as usually people ask to go boring historic events such as the Titanic, or want to go Mars. The Doctor takes the TARDIS to 11th February 1963. Ruby asks the Doctor if her clothes are suitable for 1963, and both her and the Doctor change into more suitable outfits.

The TARDIS lands next to the zebra crossing used in the Beatles' album cover and after a quick dance on the crossing they reach Abbey Road Studios - still called EMI Recording Studios. Worried about getting caught Ruby spots a tea lady with a trolley and offers to take over. Using the tea trolley as a prop they are able to get anywhere - including the studio used by the Beatles. Ruby and the Doctor stand back as recording starts - only it's not a song they have heard before, and not a good song. In another studio they hear Cilla Black also recording an unknown, and terrible, song. Finally the Doctor any Ruby find an orchestra recording Three Blind Mice, only it is very sluggish and out of tune.

In a canteen later on the Doctor notices everything seems dull, and the people and performers seem almost depressed. Picking up a paper he notices a story about Russia threatening Finland, an event that never happened. With music gone everything is changing. In order to find out what is happening the Doctor says he will talk to Paul McCartney whilst Ruby should talk to John Lennon. 

The Doctor sits down at a table with Paul McCartney who admits that the songs he writes are not very good, but says that is the way it should be, and not like the days when the had waltzes and fandangos. Paul says singing is embarrassing, and that this is one last gasp to make a bit of money from a few rhymes before getting a proper job. At another table John Lennon is basically saying the same thing, and he just wants to get back to Liverpool.

After being pressed by the Doctor Paul does have music in his heart. When he sings a "I love you" Maestro's face appears in shiny surfaces such as john Lennon's glasses and a teaspoon dropped by the Doctor.

The Doctor wants to see what happens if music is brought back and arranges for a piano to be winched to the roof of the studio. He and Ruby make their way to the roof where the Doctor wants to see lets Ruby play. Ruby starts to play a waltz she wrote. From the roof the Doctor can see people in their houses reacting to hearing music. As Ruby plays there is a crash from the piano and the Doctor bundles Ruby off the roof when he sees Maestro appear - and hears "the giggle". Outside on the street the Doctor tells Ruby he can't fight what ever Maestro is, and that thy should hide inside a cellar. Outside the cellar Maestro is looking for whoever played the music. The Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to silence all sounds - including Maestro. Using tuning fork Maestro is able to reverse the sonic screwdriver and return sound. Maestro hears a piano being played by a old lady and goes off to stop her.

With Maestro gone the Doctor and Ruby emerge from the cellar, but the Doctor is worried about Maestro being related to the Toymaker. The Doctor tells Ruby that the lack of music could bring about the end of the world. When she says the world didn't end in 1963 the Doctor takes her back to 2024. There Ruby sees a ruined London on fire. Ruby doesn't believe it's real and the Doctor tells her this is what happens if Maestro isn't stopped.

Maestro appears and London is replaced with a black void. When the Doctor introduces himself, and Maestro realises this is the same person who trapped their father. When Ruby asks why Maestro destroys music, and the world, Maestro replies they are made stronger by every song that is sung, leaving only natural sounds and music, not made by people.

Maestro tells the Doctor a single man brought them into the world when he found the lost chord - and the Doctor realises a different chord would banish Maestro.

Back at Abbey Road Studios, in 1863, the Doctor starts the sonic screwdriver recording, hoping to record the chord that would banish Maestro. Using John Lennon's guitar the Doctor starts playing. As he does he and Ruby hear music. As Ruby turns musical notes appear, wrap around her legs, and drag her away. Grabbing his sonic screwdriver the Doctor follows and finds Ruby suspended in a room with Maestro. When the Doctor demands Maestro releases Ruby, Maestro tells him that Ruby is the last human alive with music in their heart.

Ruby starts singing, and Maestro is concerned. Maestro amplifies the singing and they all hear "Carol of the Bells" as snow falls. The song was playing on the night Ruby was born. Maestro is concerned at the power of the song, and worried that it came from the Oldest One. With a single swipe of Maestro's hand the singing stops and the music disappears. The Doctor just manages to catch Ruby as she falls.

The Doctor starts playing notes on a piano. As he does they appear above the piano, and Maestro starts hurting. The Doctor finds six notes, but then hits a bum note, and Maestro is refreshed. Maestro uses music to stop the Doctor and Ruby and push the piano out of the room into the corridor where it is found by John. He is joined by Paul and when they see the notes above the piano both start playing chords. Inside the music room musical notes start to drag Maestro back into the piano. Before Maestro disappears they leave a message: The One who Waits is almost here.

Regular Cast

  • Ruby Sunday: Millie Gibson

Guest Cast

  • Timothy Drake: Jeremy Limb
  • Henry Arbinger: Kit Rakusen
  • Maestro: Jinkx Monsoon
  • Tea Trolley Lady: Sherinne Kayra Anderson
  • George Martin: Ed White
  • Paul McCartney: George Caple
  • John Lennon: Chris Mason
  • George Harrison: Philip Davies
  • Ringo Starr: James Hoyles
  • Studio Producer: Chan Stoker
  • Cilla Black: Josie Sedgwick-Davies
  • Tea Lady: Susan Twist
  • Vinnie: Simon Jason-Smith
  • Elderly Woman: Laura June Hudson
  • Murray Gold: Himself
  • Shirley Ballas: Herself
  • Johannes Radebe: Himself

Original broadcast on the BBC

Channel Title Date Viewers Rating
BBC 1 2. The Devil's Chord Saturday, May 11, 2024 7:05 PM - 7:55 PM 3.91M

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