The Doctor (Matt Smith) finds a message on his psychic paper from George (Jamie Oram), an 8-year-old child asking for help with the monsters in his wardrobe. The Doctor, Amy (Karen Gillan), and Rory (Arthur Darvill) search for him in a council estate on Earth. The Doctor, pretending to be a social services worker, finds the flat and meets the boy’s father Alex (Daniel Mays) while his mother, Claire (Emma Cunniffe) is working the night shift. Looking through Alex’s photo album, the Doctor learns that George has been frightened all his life and puts his fears in the wardrobe to try to control them.
Amy and Rory, taking the lift, find themselves in an 18th Century house made of wooden props. Other people are there too, caught by life-size pegs dolls that change people into dolls. Amy becomes one and chases Rory with the others.
The Doctor opens the wardrobe and finds clothes and toys, including a doll house. Remembering the photo album, he realizes that Claire did not appear pregnant and was thought not to be able to have children. The Doctor thinks that George is a Tenza chid, an empathic alien playing Claire’s desired child. He actually does have the ability to lock his fears in the wardrobe. The Doctor and Alex are pulled into the dollhouse with Rory. As the dolls advance on them, the Doctor calls out to George to face his fears. It turns out George thinks his parents want to send him away, but when Alex embraces his son, everything returns to normal.
The writer, Mark Gatiss, had been afraid of dolls as a child and was surprised they had never been used in Doctor Who before. Reception was generally positive. The dolls stole the show and were creepy as hell. One of the things that terrified Gatiss as a child was a gym teacher, who inspired the landlord Purcell (Andrew Tiernan), who is eaten by a carpet. The Doctor remembers his own childhood tales from Gallifrey: Snow White and the Seven Keys to Doomsday, Three Little Sontarans, and the Emperor Dalek’s New Clothes. Just to make the dolls creepier, they recite a children’s rhyme. It appears again in later episodes and is revealed to be about the Doctor.