Hello, and welcome to the first of several reviews for Doctor Who at UTF. The series has returned after a six-month break (if you don’t count the Christmas Special neatly plugging the gap between the halves of series seven, with a brand new companion, Clara. Well… not quite brand new. Tonight’s episode, The Bells of Saint John, introduces the third version of Clara, a more grounded and vulnerable modern-day version of the quippy junior entertainment manager on the Starship Alaska and the plucky Victorian governess.

The Bells of Saint John centred on the threat of the ‘evil Wi-Fi’. If that sounds a bit rubbish to you – well, it’s one of those rare concepts that doesn’t work on paper, yet works on screen. The threat of Miss Kizlet and the Spoonheads might not have been the most original of ideas, but it’s a fun idea that’s well executed nonetheless. Take a look at the networks next time you connect to Wi-Fi…

The episode has been hyped up as a modern-day urban thriller, and it certainly incorporates a lot of London into its story. From the Doctor riding a motorbike along the South Bank to the completely nuts yet thrilling bike ride up the Shard, Doctor Who can finally have an episode that’s set in London… and feels like it’s actually set in London. The excellent location filming also helped, ably directed by Who newcomer Colm McCarthy. McCarthy directs the episode with aplomb, taking a few tricks from fellow Moffat show Sherlock (floating text), and introducing a few fresh new ideas of his own.

Oh – and there’s the small matter of the mystery of Clara Oswald. There’s very little this week that will go towards scratching the surface of who the ‘impossible girl’ really is… but let’s just say that the leaf may pop up again, and that the missed out numbers in her book might be important later. I stress ‘might’, because I’m just as clueless as you are – I just happen to really like spoilers. Jenna-Louise Coleman, in her third appearance, is as confident and assured as ever, but brings a more nuanced, vulnerable side to Clara. It’s an altogether more likable and realistic version of the two Claras we’ve met already, and I for one am very excited to see the mystery unravel over the next eight weeks.

In other performances, Matt Smith is reliably excellent as the Doctor. Yes, it’s something you’ve heard repeated again and again, but in his thirty-fifth episode, Smith still continues to go from strength to strength. With the Ponds gone, he’s free to play off Clara (Steven Moffat’s always-great script bringing out the best in Smith and Coleman, bringing out his slightly more paternalistic and mature side… but there’s still all the recognisable quirks we know and love from the Eleventh Doctor. Celia Imrie, who plays Miss Kizlet, is the villain of the piece, and she more than makes up for the lack of an alien adversary, with an icy, casually evil turn.

As for the story? Well, it’s snappy, pacy and a complete blast… but it’s not entirely perfect. It’s not the most original of episodes (it’s more of a mix of elements from several previous episodes), and the episode suffers from the lack of a really great alien adversary… not that we’re going to be short-changed in that department this series, with the return of the Ice Warriors and the Cybermen, plus a plethora of new monsters. The Spoonheads are a nice gimmick, but they’re a little forgettable – while they do the job, and were never really intended to be the next great monster, it’s a far cry from the best that Steven Moffat can serve up.

Oh – and of course, there’s the final, clever twist. Yep, that Client that Miss Kizlet is working for is none other than our old friend The Great Intelligence, now in Richard E Grant form. It’s nice to see the GI back so soon – and I’d imagine that we’ll be seeing much more of the Great Intelligence this series…

Overall, this is an entertaining, confident opener, with cracking performances alongside a great script from Steven Moffat. There might’ve been a slight lack of aliens, but The Bells of Saint John is still a blast to watch.

What did you think of this episode? Tune in next Monday for a review of The Rings of Akhaten, and watch this space for more news on the upcoming 50th anniversary special, starring Matt Smith, Jenna-Louise Coleman, David Tennant, Billie Piper and John Hurt!