Spyfall Originally Included the Horrific Death of Noor Inayat Khan

Two-part series opener Spyfall certainly packed a lot into its running time, what with the shock return of the Master, high-profile guest stars, and a plot which spanned both continents and dimensions as the Doctor encountered figures from history.

It’s perhaps not surprising that some material got left on the cutting room floor, and we now know that this was the fate of a scene depicting the death by of Noor Inayat Khan, the real-life Second World War British agent. Khan was shot by the Nazis in Dachau concentration camp in 1944 after being captured the previous year.

Aurora Marion, who played Khan in Spyfall part 2, revealed that the scene had been filmed in a post-transmission Instagram update covering her experience being part of Doctor Who. She commented:

“And now the episode is out I can finally tell you…. In March last year I left a low to no budget set in Mani (Greece) to get to London for a last minute casting call. Landing in Brussels a week later to play at the European Parliament, I get the one and final « yes » from my agent and the production. I was Noor Inayat Khan for the BBC production of doctor who [sic]! She is the first female British spy to be sent to Paris during the second world war [sic]. My first time as a period character, my first time on a show of this scale, my first death by guns on set (Noor got shot by the Nazis, not in the final cut though)… I feel ever so grateful to have spent a few days in Cardiff to shoot these impressive scenes and to have met all these incredible beings there. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to meet the non-human and the special effects were…waow…of another planet!!! My few days in Cardiff back and forth were a blast! Thank you thank you @bbc for giving me this exciting opportunity!”

The revelation poses the question of where in the episode the scene would have featured, given that Khan’s encounter with the Doctor concluded with her memories of their meeting being wiped before her arrest and imprisonment. It would also be interesting to know why the scene was cut – whether it was down to timing, or because it would strike too much of a downbeat note after the Doctor’s words of encouragement to Noor that the fascists wouldn’t win, or some other reason.

We may well have to wait for a release of the original script, or an Andrew Pixley making-of article in Doctor Who Magazine to get the full low-down. In the meantime, why not take a moment to read up on the life of Noor Inayat Khan, one of the countless individuals who died in the fight against the Nazis?