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The Recurring Easter Egg In Doctor Who You May Have Never Noticed

Doctor Who has been referencing its earlier episodes since, oh, right around episode 2. It's a show that winks at its audience more than other favorite BBC programs, and since Doctor Who returned in all of its actually-getting-a-budget-this-time glory back in 2005, the Doctor and their revolving door of companions have kept this time-honored tradition alive.

Right from the get-go, Christopher Eccleston's ninth Doctor called back to the original series, reading books with a glance and battling the Nestene Consciousness first introduced in 1970. David Tennant breezed through his old selves' wardrobe, Peter Capaldi kept a picture of the character's granddaughter on his desk, and Jodie Whitaker donned a fez à la Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor. Simply put, Doctor Who isn't generally shy about its self referential streak, which makes sense, given that its whole audience is in on the joke.

But one particular Easter egg might have managed to sneak past even the most eagle-eyed fans, despite it popping up across several different seasons. It's a callback to season 2 of the Doctor Who revival, and a trip to post-war London that took place on the episode "The Idiot's Lantern." 

If your memory is a little hazy, we'll catch you up. The year was 1953, with the Doctor and Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) accidentally landing in the wrong hemisphere, missing a taping of The Ed Sullivan Show in New York for the Queen's coronation in London. There, through a series of misadventures, they discover a television shop called Magpie Electricals.

Magpie Electricals products are everywhere

True to Doctor Who form, Magpie Electricals is in the business of selling TVs connected to an alien energy being that intends to feast on the life force of Great Britain by draining residents through their television screens during the Queen's coronation. The Doctor, being a galavanting adventurer with a penchant for performing daring deeds, puts a stop to the extraterrestrial skullduggery, and the world is a safer place for his efforts.

While the shop's owner, Mister Magpie, is killed during the events of the episode, it appears that his shop managed to stay afloat. Magpie Electricals products have been popping up on Doctor Who ever since. 

When the Twelfth Doctor makes his entrance in the medieval courtyard on the 2015 episode entitled "The Magician's Apprentice," he's playing his guitar through a Magpie amp. On "The Sound of Drums," which aired in June 2017, it's shown that the Doctor's companion Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) owns a Magpie television set — just like Wilfred Mott (Bernard Cribbins) is revealed to own on "Voyage of the Damned." 

A Magpie store is seen briefly during the Monks' reign on season 10, River Song (Alex Kingston) uses a Magpie scanner on "Day of the Moon," and even the TARDIS itself has Magpie-brand components after its regeneration during "Eleventh Hour." The show's design team also managed to shoehorn the reference into a classic story, inserting Magpie instruments into the animated reconstruction of the lost episode "The Power of the Daleks."

The lessons here — and they're important ones — are that retail electronics sales are a sturdy, timeless business model, and that no big box department store will ever go bankrupt.