The TARDIS lands in North London in 1953. The Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose (Billie Piper) notice that most of the houses have TV antennae, which they should not have at this time. They ask a local TV shop owner about it. Mr. Magpie (Ron Cook) says TVs are on sale to celebrate the coronation of Elizabeth II. They see someone being taken away by the police with a sheet over their head.
They ask the Connolly family what’s going on. The Mom and Dad (Debra Gillett and Jamie Foreman) are of no particular use. Son Tommy (Rory Jennings) seems brighter and Grandma (Margaret John) has no face. The police come to take her away and the Doctor follows them on his little scooter. Rose returns to Magpie’s shop, where she finds the Wire, an alien who turned into electricity to escape justice on its home planet. It is trying to consume enough TV-watching minds to recreate a body and will reach its goal during the coronation. Rose is seized before she can escape.
The Doctor locates a holding pen where the faceless victims are kept. He is speaking to Detective Bishop (Sam Cox) when Rose comes in without a face. With Tommy Connolly, the Doctor confronts Mr. Magpie. The Wire tries to consume them but frightened by the sonic screwdriver, it escapes into a TV. It is heading for the Alexandra Palace TV station. The Doctor and Tommy use materials from the TV shop and the TARDIS to create a device. The Doctor climbs the tower, connects to the transmitter and captures the Wire. The victims return home with their minds and faces restored. The Doctor transfers the Wire to a Betamax cassette, which he plans to tape over later. He gives his scooter to Tommy.
The story, which was pretty inconsequential, received mixed reviews. All the TV antennae are shaped like swastikas, just to give you a hint that something bad was happening. The Wire keeps repeating, “Feed me,” which is supposed to remind you of Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors. The dress that the Queen wore to the coronation was designed by Norman Hartnell, the cousin of William Hartnell, the First Doctor. Rose was quite spunky without Mickey or her Mom to worry about, and the Doctor was rather frightening in his rage when he found her without a face. The Connolly Family was unremarkable except Tommy (Rory Jennings), who was an excellent child actor. The Idiot’s Lantern is, of course, television.