In the Dr Who episode 73 Yards (4th episode of the 15th Doctor, Ncuti Gatwa), the old woman who is "stalking" Ruby speaks to several people during the course of the episode, but we are never a party to those conversations. After each of these conversations, the people the old lady speaks to literally all run away. Later on when some are questioned as to why they ran, the response is a frightened "Ask her" - which I believe means ask the old lady.

What did the old lady say to each of these people that caused such a reaction? I can make some guesses based on the fact that

The old lady turns out to be Ruby herself at the point she dies of old age.

But they are purely guesses.

  • 1
    Possibly a dupe of scifi.stackexchange.com/a/288625/20774. That talks about her arm movements, but also the fact that her dialogue is intentionally inaudible
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 10 at 18:10
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    @Valorum I'd accept that as a dupe as it does answer my question, in that "we are not even supposed to know what she"
    – Peter M
    Commented Jun 10 at 18:16
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    I don't think this is a dupe at all. Not only is the question different, but the answer doesn't actually cover the question asked here, about what she says in-Universe.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Jun 10 at 18:37
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    Yeah, agreed - voting to reopen. The dupe is about the arm movements, this one is about the words said to people to make them run away in fear. Two completely separate questions
    – fez
    Commented Jun 10 at 18:50
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    @Pete I'm not seeing any downside there
    – Peter M
    Commented Jun 13 at 13:44

1 Answer 1


According to Russell T Davies, the writer and showrunner:

You will never know. I’m never gonna tell you what she says. It’s kind of up to you to sit there and think, 'well, what could someone say that would make a mother run away from her daughter forever?

You could look at yourself and think, 'What would make me do that?' And once you start to do that, you enter the real horror story. The dreadful things that are being said there, terrible things.

This is from the behind-the-scenes documentary Doctor Who: Unleashed, available on iPlayer and probably Disney+ in some regions.

  • There is an episode of the 1980's edition of the Twilight Zone in which there is a "secret" that, when any character learns it, they instantly assume a flat-eyed affect and no longer care about anything but spreading the secret to as many others as possible. Commented Jun 11 at 17:26
  • One possible phrase that could send Carla running is "I am your daughter"
    – Peter M
    Commented Jun 11 at 17:58
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    Seems like bad writing to me, and I liked his original Doctor Who run.
    – Prometheus
    Commented Jun 11 at 18:50
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    @DougWarren - That also reminds me of a 200AD story by Alan Moore, about a person on a spaceship who, after seeing no aliens, posits that the idea that an alien might take the form of an idea. He then HAS said idea, spreads it to everyone on the ship, and they head out to share it with others. Commented Jun 11 at 19:38
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    @Prometheus There writing for this Doctor has been mixed. Some episodes have been painful to watch, while others have tackled some great issues. IMHO the writing has lacking and some of the stories (such as this one) have huge plot holes. However, my biggest complaint is that they are setting up a "Bad Wolf" style heralding with Ruby, and to me that feels lazy as that has been done before. OTOH I'm still a fan of Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker era Doctor Who.
    – Peter M
    Commented Jun 13 at 13:54

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