In the middle of a rain storm, Mr Magpie, the owner of Magpie Electricals, does his books while on the black and white television set in the background a female continuity announcer speaks. Outside, odd pink lightning strikes the telelevision aeriel, and she begins speaking to him. More of the lightning grabs hold of his face, and pulls him at the screen towards the announcer(pictured above).
The Doctor and Rose soon land the TARDIS nearby, intending to see an Elvis Presley concert, but then realise that they have landed in London rather than in New York, on the day before the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Meanwhile, a family named the Connollys watch television in their house, while the mother, Rita, worries about the grandmother, saying something about her face. Rose and the Doctor pass by a house and see a man covered by a blanket being loaded into a police van. Tommy, the Connolly boy, comes out to see what is happening, and says that people are turning into monsters all over the street. His father, Eddie, drags him back into the house. Curious, the Doctor uses his psychic paper to pose as a representative from the government, and he and Rose enter the Connollys' house.
Tommy takes them to the grandmother's room. Her face is gone, completely devoid of any features. Scanning her with his sonic screwdriver, the Doctor finds barely any neural activity left, like someone has wiped her brain clean. Suddenly the police burst into the house, knock out the Doctor, and take the grandmother away. Rose is accidentally left behind as the Doctor gives chase, and discovers pink lightning on the Connollys' television before Eddie chases her out. Going to Magpie's shop to investigate, Rose encounters the television announcer, who introduces herself as the Wire, and steals Rose's face as well.
Meanwhile, the Doctor discovers where the faceless people are taken, but is interrupted by the police. He manages to persuade the police to let him help, just as the faceless Rose is brought in. The Doctor and a policeman go to the Connollys' house where the enlist the help of Tommy. They rush to Magpie's shop and break in. The Wire appears on the screen, and says her people executed her, but she managed to escape in the form of the lightning. Once she has devoured enough minds, she will be able to regain her true form, and is planning to use a large transmitter to access all of the houses in London. She attempts to consume Tommy, the Doctor, and the policeman, but when the Doctor attempts to use the sonic screwdriver, she realises he is armed and "withdraws". Transferring herself to a small portable television, Magpie brings the set to his van, and drives off towards the Alexandra Palace transmitter.
The Doctor and Tommy awaken and gather various machinery before following. As the nation watches the Coronation on television, Magpie climbs up towards the transmitter tower, the Wire urging him on. The Doctor and Tommy fool their way past a guard with the psychic paper and reach the control room at Alexandra Palace, plugging in the device they have built. The Doctor tells Tommy to leave it switched on as he grabs a coil of copper cable from a shelf and heads for the tower, trailing the cable all the way.
The Doctor climbs after Magpie, but Magpie plugs the portable set into the tower, and the lightning arcs out across London as the Wire begins to feast on everyone watching the coronation. The Wire kills Magpie, just before the Doctor plugs in the cable and the tendrils of energy are drawn back into the tower, releasing her intended victims and restoring her previous ones. The Doctor reveals to Tommy that he has trapped her in a video cassette recorder, and recorded her onto a Betamax cassette, which he later explains to Rose he will record over to remove her permanently.
After the Doctor and Tommy reunite with Tommy's grandmother and Rose, Rita throws Eddie out of the house, and the Doctor and Rose pause to enjoy the festivities for a while before leaving as well.
Doctor David Tennant (Tenth Doctor)
Companion Billie Piper (Rose Tyler)
Maureen Lipman – The Wire
Ron Cook – Mr. Magpie
Jamie Foreman – Eddie Connolly
Debra Gillett – Rita Connolly
Rory Jennings – Tommy Connolly
Margaret John – Grandma Connolly
Sam Cox – Detective Inspector Bishop
Ieuan Rhys – Crabtree
Jean Challis – Aunty Betty
Christopher Driscoll – Security Guard
Marie Lewis – Mrs Gallagher
Writer Mark Gatiss
Director Euros Lyn
Script editor Simon Winstone
Producer Phil Collinson
Executive producer(s) Russell T. Davies
Production code 2.7
Series Series 2
Length 45 minutes
Originally broadcast 27 May 2006