Let’s be honest, there have been a few clunkers along the way. And if the BBC were still in the habit of junking Doctor Who episodes, here are the ten that I really wouldn’t care if we could never watch again.
The Mirror’s #1: Fear Hear, which happens to be the lowest rated in both recent fan mega polls.
It is a terrible episode, no doubt.
(I agreed with none of their other picks, btw)
Doctor Who Magazine #474 Poll Results
- The Day of the Doctor (10, 11)
- Blink (10)
- Genesis of the Daleks (4)
- The Caves of Androzani (5)
- City of Death (4)
- The Talons of Weng-Chiang (4)
- The Empty Child (9)
- Pyramids of Mars (4)
- Human Nature (10)
- Remembrance of the Daleks (7)
- The Robots of Death (4)
- The War Games (2)
- The Parting of the Ways (9)
- Terror of the Zygons (4)
- Dalek (9)
- The Web of Fear (2)
- The Eleventh Hour (11)
- Inferno (3)
- The Power of the Daleks (2)
- The Seeds of Doom (4)
- The Deadly Assassin (4)
- The Ark in Space (4)
- The Tomb of the Cybermen (2)
- Earthshock (5)
- The Five Doctors (5)
- The Curse of Fenric (7)
- Vincent and the Doctor (11)
- Spearhead from Space (3)
- The Girl in the Fireplace (10)
- The Green Death (3)
- Silence in the Library (10)
- Horror of Fang Rock (4)
- The Invasion (2)
- The Evil of the Daleks (2)
- Journey’s End (10)
- School Reunion (10)
- The Doctor’s Wife (11)
- The Dæmons (3)
- Turn Left (10)
- The Name of the Doctor (11)
- The Brain of Morbius (4)
- The Pandorica Opens (11)
- The Waters of Mars (10)
- Midnight (10)
- Doomsday (10)
- The Daleks (1)
- The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1)
- The Daleks’ Master Plan (1)
- Asylum of the Daleks (11)
- Doctor Who and the Silurians (3)
- The Three Doctors (3)
- The Impossible Planet (10)
- The Time of Angels (11)
- The Time Warrior (3)
- Last of the Time Lords (10)
- The Enemy of the World (2)
- The Christmas Invasion (10)
- The Impossible Astronaut (11)
- Terror of the Autons (3)
- The Sea Devils (3)
- The Aztecs (1)
- Logopolis (4)
- Kinda (5)
- Carnival of Monsters (3)
- Day of the Daleks (3)
- Father’s Day (9)
- The Angels Take Manhattan (11)
- The Snowmen (11)
- Fury from the Deep (2)
- Revelation of the Daleks (6)
- The Fires of Pompeii (10)
- Rose (9)
- The Mind Robber (2)
- The Stones of Blood (4)
- Enlightenment (5)
- The Mind of Evil (3)
- The Time Meddler (1)
- An Unearthly Child (1)
- Survival (7)
- Ghost Light (7)
- Planet of the Spiders (3)
- The End of Time (10)
- The Crimson Horror (11)
- Marco Polo (1)
- The Tenth Planet (1)
- The Unquiet Dead (9)
- The Abominable Snowmen (2)
- A Good Man Goes to War (11)
- Tooth and Claw (10)
- The Lodger (11)
- The Girl Who Waited (11)
- Planet of Evil (4)
- The Curse of Peladon (3)
- The Keeper of Traken (4)
- The Time of the Doctor (11)
- The Ambassadors of Death (3)
- A Christmas Carol (11)
- The Androids of Tara (4)
- Resurrection of the Daleks (5)
- The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve (1)
- The Hand of Fear (4)
- The Unicorn and the Wasp (10)
- The Ribos Operation (4)
- The Masque of Mandragora (4)
- Amy’s Choice (11)
- Partners in Crime (10)
- The Shakespeare Code (10)
- The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (7)
- State of Decay (4)
- The Visitation (5)
- Smith and Jones (10)
- Snakedance (5)
- The Moonbase (2)
- The Pirate Planet (4)
- Warriors’ Gate (4)
- Robot (4)
- Mawdryn Undead (5)
- The God Complex (11)
- Hide (11)
- The Bells of Saint John (11)
- Castrovalva (5)
- Image of the Fendhal (4)
- Planet of the Daleks (3)
- Rise of the Cybermen (10)
- Planet of the Ood (10)
- The Seeds of Death (2)
- Frontier in Space (3)
- The Crusade (1)
- The Wedding of River Song (11)
- The Face of Evil (4)
- The Romans (1)
- Cold War (11)
- The War Machines (1)
- The End of the World (9)
- Vengeance on Varos (6)
- Gridlock (10)
- Invasion of the Dinosaurs (3)
- The Two Doctors (6)
- The Claws of Axos (3)
- The Sontaran Experiment (4)
- The Ice Warriors (2)
- The Faceless Ones (2)
- Full Circle (4)
- The Sontaran Stratagem (10)
- The Myth Makers (1)
- The Android Invasion (4)
- Frontios (5)
- Death to the Daleks (3)
- The Next Doctor (10)
- The Macra Terror (2)
- Let’s Kill Hitler (11)
- Doctor Who The Movie (8)
- The Runaway Bride (10)
- Destiny of the Daleks (4)
- The Awakening (5)
- Black Orchid (5)
- Dinosaurs on a Spaceship (11)
- Voyage of the Damned (10)
- Battlefield (7)
- Revenge of the Cybermen (4)
- Planet of Fire (5)
- The Sun Makers (4)
- A Town Called Mercy (11)
- The Power of Three (11)
- Closing Time (11)
- The Highlanders (2)
- The Vampires of Venice (11)
- The Trial of a Timelord (6)
- Mission to the Unknown (1)
- The Reign of Terror (1)
- The Rescue (1)
- The Happiness Patrol (7)
- Aliens of London (9)
- The Leisure Hive (4)
- The Chase (1)
- 42 (10)
- The Wheel in Space (2)
- The Hungry Earth (11)
- Boom Town (9)
- The Doctor’s Daughter (10)
- New Earth (10)
- The Mark of the Rani (6)
- The Edge of Destruction (1)
- The Ark (1)
- The Rebel Flesh (11)
- The Beast Below (11)
- Attack of the Cybermen (6)
- The Invasion of Time (4)
- Night Terrors (11)
- Nightmare of Eden (4)
- Planet of the Dead (10)
- The Keys of Marinus (1)
- Victory of the Daleks (11)
- The Smugglers (1)
- The Idiot’s Lantern (10)
- The Invisible Enemy (4)
- The Celestial Toymaker (1)
- The Savages (1)
- Colony in Space (3)
- The Lazarus Experiment (10)
- Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS (11)
- The Gunfighters (1)
- Nightmare in Silver (11)
- The Armageddon Factor (4)
- The Long Game (9)
- Silver Nemesis (7)
- The Krotons (2)
- Daleks in Manhattan (10)
- Terminus (5)
- Galaxy 4 (1)
- The Creature from the Pit (4)
- The Power of Kroll (4)
- The Mutants (3)
- Planet of Giants (1)
- Dragonfire (7)
- The Monster of Peladon (3)
- Delta and the Bannermen (7)
- Four to Doomsday (5)
- The Web Planet (1)
- Love & Monsters (10)
- Arc of Infinity (5)
- The Time Monster (3)
- The Horns of Nimon (4)
- The Underwater Menace (2)
- The Sensorites (1)
- Warriors of the Deep (5)
- The Curse of the Black Spot (11)
- The King’s Demons (5)
- The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe (11)
- Paradise Towers (7)
- Meglos (4)
- The Space Museum (1)
- The Rings of Akhaten (11)
- The Dominators (2)
- The Space Pirates (2)
- Underworld (4)
- Time-Flight (4)
- Timelash (6)
- Time and the Rani (7)
- Fear Her (10)
- The Twin Dilemma (6)
Doctor Who TV NuWho Poll
You’ve had the absolute best and you’ve had the ones that didn’t fare so well. Now here’s every episode of Doctor Who’s revival to date ranked from top to bottom all in one handy post.
Note: For any new readers, across February and March these episodes were scored by DWTV readers out of 10 and an average was taken to determine position.
- The Day of the Doctor 9.40
- Blink 9.33
- The Eleventh Hour 9.05
- The Empty Child 9.06 / The Doctor Dances 9.04
- Silence in the Library 9.00 / Forest of the Dead 9.01
- Human Nature 8.81 / The Family of Blood 8.93
- The Girl in the Fireplace 8.86
- The Pandorica Opens 8.95 / The Big Bang 8.76
- Listen 8.84
- Mummy on the Orient Express 8.83
- Dalek 8.83
- Vincent and the Doctor 8.81
- The Doctor’s Wife 8.76
- Waters of Mars 8.74
- Flatline 8.65
- Bad Wolf 8.40 / The Parting of the Ways 8.87
- The Impossible Astronaut 8.66 / Day of the Moon 8.55
- Midnight 8.57
- The Name of the Doctor 8.45
- Turn Left 8.34
- Dark Water 8.65 / Death in Heaven 7.89
- A Good Man Goes to War 8.25
- The Impossible Planet 8.23 / The Satan Pit 8.26
- Deep Breath 8.24
- The Time of Angels 8.23 / Flesh and Stone 8.12
- The Stolen Earth 8.36 / Journey’s End 7.95
- A Christmas Carol 8.13
- The Snowmen 8.11
- Utopia 8.45 / The Sound of Drums 8.24 / Last of the Time Lords 7.64
- Last Christmas 8.10
- The Girl Who Waited 8.05
- Amy’s Choice 8.04
- Asylum of the Daleks 8.02
- School Reunion 8.01
- Army of Ghosts 7.80 / Doomsday 8.17
- The Time of the Doctor 7.97
- The Angels Take Manhattan 7.86
- The End of Time Part One 7.78 / The End of Time Part Two 7.91
- The Christmas Invasion 7.80
- The Fires of Pompeii 7.77
- The God Complex 7.76
- The Lodger 7.69
- Father’s Day 7.65
- The Bells of St John 7.62
- Time Heist 7.56
- Into the Dalek 7.54
- Planet of the Ood 7.54
- Rose 7.49
- Hide 7.40
- Smith and Jones 7.38
- Partners in Crime 7.33
- The Crimson Horror 7.28
- Rise of the Cybermen 7.26 / The Age of Steel 7.30
- The Wedding of River Song 7.21
- The Runaway Bride 7.20
- A Town Called Mercy 7.16
- The Unicorn and the Wasp 7.15
- The Caretaker 7.11
- Tooth and Claw 7.11
- The Unquiet Dead 7.08
- Let’s Kill Hitler 7.06
- The Sontaran Stratagem 7.06 / The Poison Sky 7.04
- The End of the World 7.04
- The Shakespeare Code 7.02
- Gridlock 7.00
- Voyage of the Damned 6.97
- Dinosaurs on a Spaceship 6.89
- The Hungry Earth 6.87 Cold Blood 6.88
- Cold War 6.85
- Kill the Moon 6.81
- The Vampires of Venice 6.78
- The Rings of Akhaten 6.77
- The Beast Below 6.76
- The Power of Three 6.74
- 42 6.69
- The Doctor’s Daughter 6.68
- Closing Time 6.58
- Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS 6.55
- Robot of Sherwood 6.55
- Planet of the Dead 6.54
- The Rebel Flesh 6.49 The Almost People 6.53
- Boom Town 6.37
- The Next Doctor 6.33
- Nightmare in Silver 6.32
- Aliens of London 6.30/ World War Three 6.34
- Victory of the Daleks 6.20
- New Earth 6.20
- The Long Game 6.18
- The Lazarus Experiment 6.06
- Night Terrors 6.01
- Daleks in Manhattan 5.90 / Evolution of the Daleks 5.80
- The Idiot’s Lantern 5.76
- The Curse of the Black Spot 5.43
- The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe 5.38
- In the Forest of the Night 5.32
- Love & Monsters 4.52
- Fear Her 4.17
Of the top ones “The Eleventh Hour” is 3rd in the NuWho Poll but 17th over all in DWM poll where Empty Child was higher.
But the NuWho Poll also has Series 9 in it that the DWM poll was done before it aired.
It isn’t the best episode of the last 10 years by a long shot, but if you have never seen the show it’s the place to jump on board because it gives you everything you need to get started in the modern age.
My first episode as many who’d read this blog or know me personally, was “Ark in Space” Part 2. My intro was the Wirrn falling out of the medical closet.
That’s a terrific story, especially in 1982 when I started my Whovian Life. Followed by Genesis and the Hincliffe/Holmes “golden era” it was perfect.
But lots has changed in 33 years. Especially, that now 10 years on from the reboot Doctor Who is notn only a worldwide phenomenon but it’s cool to be a Whovian. That’s something I never get used to. :)
So let’s join Digital Spy in a retrospective of that first foray into NuWho…
It’s crazy to think now, 10 years on, that the reputation surrounding Doctor Who before the broadcast of series one episode ‘Rose’ – starring Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper – in 2005, was not what it is now.
In fact, in the pre-2005 Who landscape, it’s safe to say that in terms of the general public and especially in the media, the series was regarded as a bad joke. And not even a very good bad joke at that.
But before another lazy journalist had the time to type “wobbly sets” for the 13th time that hour, a masterstroke was pulled – the BBC presented Christopher Eccleston as the next actor to play the Time Lord – a statement of intent by Russell T Davies and his production team.
Eccleston, not known for his family roles, was an immaculate choice but it’s interesting to note that, despite having worked together on The Second Coming just a couple of years previous, RTD didn’t think Chris would be keen. It was, in fact, the Northern actor who contacted Davies asking to be considered.
How different things could have been had Hugh Grant said yes.
Opening episode ‘Rose’ is still a fascinating and thrilling story (and we’ll assume you’re watching it today to celebrate). Showrunner Davies invited the audience into the world of Doctor Who through Billie Piper’s hugely engaging and spirited London shopgirl, Rose Tyler.
The chemistry between the two was instant too. From “Run for your life!” to the easy-going chat in her council flat (and also that amazingly funny scene with Rose’s mom Jackie trying to seduce the stranger in her boudoir) to the Doctor explaining the turn of the Earth to the now legendary, “Lots of planets have a North!”, the Doctor and Rose were a charming couple from the get-go.
Writer Davies positioned them as the reason to watch, placing monsters and aliens and space and time-travel into second place as a base from which their relationship could grow and true drama unfold.
Rose’s quick in-and-out, run-around and then full entry was exquisite, and just how a first scene in the TARDIS should be for a companion (and a new audience) – full of wonderment, apprehension and magic. Kudos to the director for such a thrilling and dynamic shot as we all enter the ship to discover its Narnia-like qualities.
Another way in which ‘Rose’ grabbed the audience in was the immediacy of its location filming. London had been used in Who’s past to excellent effect in William Hartnell’s ‘The War Machines’ and Patrick Troughton’s ‘The Invasion’, but, for the first time, the Doctor and his companion were inhabiting London, and indeed the Earth, with the rest of its population.
It felt real as the world whizzed by around them (again, used to great effect in the Slitheen two-parter later that same year) and added veracity to the alien invasion, complementing the drama – and of course, the location shooting gave rise to that wonderful Ninth Doctor gag involving the London Eye. Fantastic.
It has to be said, however, the episode is not perfect. The lighting and almost soft-focus camera work dates the first series somewhat and certainly juxtaposes when you watch the more crisp HD episodes since 2009.
And the CG work with a certain burping bin doesn’t quite hit the mark in the same way that the space station scenes in just the following episode, ‘The End of the World’, or the landscape of World War II London in ‘The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances’ do. A small point, though.
The response to New Who was incredible. Over 10 million people in the UK alone watched the return of the Time Lord, and reviews were unanimously positive. Overnight, the sour reputation Doctor Who was lumped with had disappeared completely. It had become a national treasure once more, with everyone talking about it, not just the online community.
So, happy 10th anniversary, new Doctor Who, and a heartfelt thank you to Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper, Russell T Davies, executive producer Julie Gardner and all the rest of the team who not only brought back the world’s greatest television show, but restored it to shine like never before.
The 80’s bible of Doctor Who Episode Guides is Back!
In the days before the Internet was widespread and fast there was Jean-Marc Lofficier!
The grand tome of episode knowledge from the mist of time itself. And now it’s back!
A new programme guide is to be published in April, picking up from where the originals left off in 1989 …
Written by Paul Smith, with a foreword by Jean-Marc Lofficier
In 1981, the publication of Jean-Marc Lofficier’s original Doctor Who Programme Guide was a seminal moment in the history of Doctor Who reference books (and in many young fans’ enthrallment by the series). This and the updated edition in 1989 — which covered up to what turned out to be the end of the Classic era — became the series bible for fans throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
Now the legacy of that original guide continues. Picking up where the 1989 edition left off, The New Who Programme Guide covers the revived series from the debut of the Eighth Doctor to the passing of the Eleventh. Every television adventure, plus the many mini-episodes and prequels produced for broadcast and DVD, is detailed in the same clear and concise format.
Each has a full cast list featuring both credited and notable non-speaking roles; the names of the writer, director and producers; and a brand new synopsis of the storyline. There is also a rundown of in-character appearances by the regular cast outside the main programme, and indexes of every actor, writer, director and producer to have worked on the show.
Presented in the same compact and easy-to-use form as the original Doctor Who Programme Guide, the book is the perfect companion to Lofficier’s original and a handy quick-reference guide to the New Series.
Today is the 10th Anniversary of NuWho. (the first 10th Anniversary was in 1973 so how many shows do you know that get 2 10th Anniversaries!) Today, a TV legend was reborn. No one knew if it would work. Many thought it couldn’t work.
The old fans wouldn’t watch because they were over it, that was something they watched as a kid.
The younger fans wouldn’t watch because it was something their parents’ liked when they were kids.
Then there’s US, the Americans. We were not considered too much back then. If you watched the first episode 10 years ago, you were downloading it or had access to Canadian TV. Wink Wink Nudge Nudge. That was it.
I didn’t have hi-speed internet back then, dial-up took 24 continuous hours to download “Rose”!!
BBC America wasn’t very “british” back then in my opinion and the Sci-Fi Channel was getting less Sci-Fi by the day.
Technically, Series 1 didn’t premiere on these shores until 2006 and on The Sci-Fi Channel no less!
Where it wasn’t shown much love.
“Initially, the Region 1 DVD release announced for 14 February 2006 was limited to Canada, with the US release delayed until a broadcaster could be found. When none seemed forthcoming, BBC Worldwide announced that the US DVD release would be available at the same time as the Canadian one. In the interim, however, Series 1 was picked up by Sci Fi, so while the Canadian DVD release went ahead as scheduled the US DVD release was pushed back to 4 July 2006. Series 1 began airing on Sci Fi on 17 March 2006.”
In December of the same year it was announced that US PBS station KTEH 54, which services San Jose, California, had acquired the rights to broadcast the 2005 episodes.
Doctor Who went back to it’s American Roots, PBS, while languishing on the Sci-Fi Channel.
BBC America began airing Doctor Who on 17 April 2010.
BBC America aired A Christmas Carol on Christmas Day, 2010, making this the first episode of the revived series to be aired in North America on the same day as in the UK.
The first part of the sixth series of Doctor Who was broadcast on BBC America in the U.S. and Space in Canada on the same day as it was in the UK – on Saturday, 23 April – making it the first series since the show’s revival in 2005 to be broadcast on the same days in America and Canada as the UK broadcast.
We now know that Doctor Who is the #1 show on BBC America and has been for several years now. They bank on it. But it took them 5 frickin’ years to get on board.
No wonder I was dependent on “the internet fairies”. :)
That’s how my experience differs from the British experience on this anniversary.
But it’s still a happy day because we old fans never thought it would come and then it did, and boy did it ever. It wasn’t that easy on this side of the pond, but it was still joyful nonetheless.
And it remains the love of my life, and always will be. That’s why it’s my life and the journey through it. :)
Donna Noble, 2006 – 2010
And now the current man of the hour:
The tenth anniversary of NuWho is tomorrow. I planned to do a top 10 list tomorrow (plans can change) so…
People can be very frightened of change.
I remember all of these whinings back in the day…A number of them were silly then and definitely silly now too.
Incredibly, when Doctor Who made its glorious return to television screens in 2005, there was a certain section of fandom who did not appreciate the new direction their beloved show had taken with Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper.
Here are just some of those complaints from the more old-skool viewers.
‘She’s a pop singer! And a faded one at that!’ cried forums.
Granted, these points were true but Piper had trained at the prestigious Sylvia Young Theatre School, and starred in a few films and the BBC’s well-received ShakespeaRe-Told: Much Ado About Nothing.
Given some of the actresses who’d taken the role of companion in the past, her pedigree was better than many.
Give me some Spock, I didn’t know Billie Piper from a hole in the ground because I’m not British. Sure I heard all the whinging but I had none of the baggage. I didn’t know her anymore than I knew Chris Eccleston.
When you look at some of the more ridiculous excesses and incongruous choices of the eighties, cricket motifs, question mark pullovers and the Sixth Doctor, it was a relief that Russell T Davies and co. went with a more subdued, realistic and battered look for the 2005 incarnation.
Bizarrely, this ruffled the feathers of certain fans who wanted a wacky look for the Time Lord, presumably with a dozen zany accessories and a million different costumed colours.
I had no dog in this fight either.
Where are all the cliffhangers?
Classic Doctor Who was well-known for its weekly cliffhangers, playing just as a big a role as the TARDIS and the Doctor.
That’s what many loved and remembered about the show. 2005 pretty much ditched the suspenseful denouement, with only three in the series.
But what it did add, in this respect, was a pre-title sequence cliffhanger. Before we get to the meat of any episode, we’re given the treat and excitement of a brief taster and then the sting of the theme tune.
TV had changed and if they had tried to do the traditional 25 Minute 4-Parts in the Internet instant gratification I-want-it-now age it would have failed miserably.
Burping bins and farting aliens
Ok, we’ll give them that one.
No new planets
Series one introduced no new additions to Doctor Who’s planetary oeuvre (aside from the odd mention of some exotic new worlds) and this riled fans brought up on sci-fi quarries and beaches.
Much was made of the ‘council estate’-centric nature of New Who but it was that very Earthbound feature that seemed to galvanise the general audience so much.
For the majority, it didn’t matter that focus of the show had shifted from outer space to the inner city (and it should be noted that Jon Pertwee’s first two years in the TARDIS saw him exiled on Earth).
Season 7 & 8 The first Pertwee years were Earth bound with UNIT and I love those. True, to get to real SF you need new planets, but you need to ground the series first, then you go off and be wild & crazy.
I think RTD hit the domestic side pretty well. Come on, Camile Coduri as Jackie Tyler was hilarious!
What’s with all the feels?
This new version of Who was big on emotions.
Never had the show really explored the effects of a companion leaving home (and the aftermath behind) or losing a parent (as in the excellent Father’s Day).
The Doctor himself shed a tear – for the very first time, it should be noted – when we learned he was the last of his kind (in the second ep, The End of the World) and even the solitary Dalek he met wasn’t averse to having emotions (thanks to Rose’s DNA).
But it was the heartbreaking finale that saw the tears flow from everyone as Christopher Eccleston sent Billie home back in time, saving her from the aforementioned pepper pots.
And if that weren’t enough, he only went and sacrificed his own life to become David Tennant.
I have no real problem with this because it gave the show more depth of character than it had in “classic” Who. It’s one of the reasons why Sarah Jane and Ace stick out so much in “classic” who they because they go beyond it’s norms for the companion.
And that’s always the exciting bit, Change.
This show is all about Change.And 10 years ago (in 2 days) the program changed again when it came back to our screens.
Nothing wrong with a little change. :)
Den of Geek:
From Autons to tribophysics via Kronkburgers, here’s a pick of the best nerdy in-jokes and references from the 2005 series of Doctor Who…
Ten years ago, the world was about to be re-introduced to one of the most enduring and exciting television characters of all time, Doctor Who. The programme’s new 2005 sheen brought with it a cheeky self-referential side (though it did do a bit of that in the 80s) and a knowingly raised pop culture eyebrow. From films such as E.T. to Barbarella to Star Trek to modern literature (The Lovely Bones) and icons (Michael Jackson) – everything was in the Time Lord’s gaze.
So let’s take our very own trip back in time and have a look at the more notable and interesting references and in-jokes from Doctor Who Series One, starring Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper.
Most obviously, this opener saw the return of the Autons (though they were never actually referred to by name in the episode) and the Nestene Consciousness – both first seen in Jon Pertwee’s debut, Spearhead From Space.
That’s where the continuity pretty much ends for this instalment (apart from obvious facets like the TARDIS and Sonic Screwdriver), though there are a couple of amusing inferences. Clive, the “internet lunatic murderer”, is perhaps your archetypal Who fan (up until that point, at any rate). A man with a shed and conspiracy theories up the wazoo (though his about the Time Lord are actually true); his wife was even surprised that a girl turned up – “She’s read a website about the Doctor? She’s a she?” How the landscape of Doctor Who fandom has changed.
Eccleston himself manages to poke fun at his ears. Past Doctors upon regenerations had sometimes been irked by their new appearance – Tom Baker’s The Fourth Doctor also had an issue with his ears, and Jon Pertwee and Peter Davison had their disdainful mirror moments, though both Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy liked their new faces.
Perhaps one of the funniest moments in Rose, and certainly since the show’s return, was the debate on The Ninth Doctor’s regional accent – “Lots of planets have a North!” he defends himself against Rose’s incredulity. Doctor Who had always been the mainstay of RP when it came to the Gallifreyan’s accent, regardless of where that actor originated from, and so this was a neat prod at the past and a look to the future. (More observant fans will note that the 1979 story The Armageddon Factor featured a Time Lord by the name of Drax, whose accent was distinctly Cockney.)
There are some notable firsts for Rose too: it was the first episode to include the name of the companion in the story title (sorry, we’re not accepting The Feast Of Steven from The Daleks’ Master Plan); the “Next Time” trailer was introduced; and the inside of the TARDIS was visible when the door was ajar.
Doctor Who food fact fans will also no doubt be aware that Rose included the very first use of the word “pizza” in the history of the show.
The End Of The World
And just like pizza, “hell” is used here for the first in Doctor Who as a swear word. “What the hell is that?” comes courtesy of the new more brutish, more direct and less well-mannered Ninth Doctor. He even manages to do something no other regeneration did before him (on screen), shed a tear. When the Time War crops up in conversation (again, another first for the audience), Eccleston’s time traveller wells up. Though he probably needn’t have bothered shedding any tears given the events of The Day Of The Doctor.
This Russell T Davies tale also saw the start of mobile phones being used extensively in the series, a trope that continues ten years on. We also discovered that the TARDIS translates for the Doctor and his companion, though older readers will remember 1976’s The Masque Of Mandragora where the Fourth Doctor explained (later) to companion Sarah Jane Smith that her understanding of different languages was a “Time Lord’s gift.”
The Titanic gets a mention for the second week in a row (the Doctor had been pictured at its launch in Rose). The doomed ship had also been referenced in Robot (1974), The Invasion Of Time (1978) and would be the intergalactic star of the 2007 Christmas Special, Voyage Of The Damned.
The Unquiet Dead
Fascinatingly, in the audio commentary for this trip back in time to Cardiff, writer Mark Gatiss revealed that there was initially a reference to Time Lords being able to change sex. (We’d have to wait a few years for that to happen.)
Actress Eve Myles joined the rank of a number of Doctor Who stars who managed to return as a different character. Here, she’s Gwyneth but she would return to Doctor Who as Torchwood’s Gwen in the 2008 series finale. The Unquiet Dead set up the rift in Cardiff which became the home for the spin-off show, Torchwood. (And also gave The Doctor an excuse to pop back to Cardiff now and again.)
As an in-joke, The Ninth Doctor berates his hero Charles Dickens for the “American bit” in Martin Chuzzlewit (which was added in the novel for effect), a sly dig at the North American production of Doctor Who back in 1996. Starring Paul McGann in the lead role, it has a few fans though showrunner Russell T Davies was not one of them.
Aliens Of London / World War III
Continuity fans alerted those who care about such things that The Doctor got his age “wrong” in this two-parter. In Time And The Rani (1987), the Time Lord claimed he was 953 years old, yet here he tells Rose is but 900. Time wimey and all that.
Old skool fans also raised a cheer at the return of UNIT – the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce. Their first appearance was in the 1968 Cybermen classic The Invasion though their incursion with the Slitheen was to prove the last time their more familiar name was used, as future appearances would see the acronym changed to Unified Intelligence Taskforce.
Just like the previous ep, a Torchwood actor appears – Naoko Mori. Playing Doctor Sato here, she was better known as Toshiko Sato in the spin-off (which would reveal she was actually covering for her mischievous colleague, Owen Harper).
Another nod to the future was The Ninth Doctor’s insistence at calling Mickey Smith, Ricky. The following year we would meet his parallel Earth alter ego Ricky Smith in Rise Of The Cybermen where he was “London’s most wanted”, leader of The Preachers.
And look out for some graffiti, not BAD WOLF but Salford – the home town of Christopher Eccleston.
Surprisingly, in an episode called Dalek, one of the first things you see is the head of a Cyberman (sadly not one of the cool 80s ones). A more subtle wink to the past comes when Rose asks the title Skaro bad boy, “What do you expect?” The exact wordage and question was asked by Victoria Waterfield in the Patrick Troughton epic, The Evil Of The Daleks.
During early drafts of the script, writer Robert Shearman (who was loosely adapting his own Dalek adventure, the Big Finish audio adventure Jubilee) had to replace the intergalactic pepper pot with another race when it appeared that rights issues may have prevented their return. The race in question, as revealed by Russell T Davies, was the Toclafane, and they would have their day in the memorable Series 3 finale featuring the return of The Master (as played by John Simm).
In another first for naughty words in the history of Doctor Who, “goddamn” is used by Van Statten. Don’t be like him kids, don’t swear – it ain’t cool.
The Long Game
Comic strip fans raised a glass to a niche mention of “Kronkburgers” – the tasty delights were the snack of choice by soldiers in Doctor Who Magazine’s, The Iron Legion (1979). Just a few years later, Russell T Davies submitted an early version of this episode to the production team, then headed by the flamboyant John Nathan-Turner.
Without wanting to make you wretch slightly, this episode also featured the almost universally hated Adam (of course, there was a reason for this). He has the honour of being the only “companion” to be chucked out of Team TARDIS. Well, he was an asshat.
Doctor Who doesn’t often feature narration (though it’s more common these days) and this brilliant slice of time-changing consequences was only the third story to do so (the previous two being 1976’s The Deadly Assassin and the 1996 TV Movie with Paul McGann).
The ep features a snatch from a tune by one-time popular beat combo, The Streets – the band’s frontman Mike Skinner briefly appeared in the Matt Smith romp, The Time Of Angels.
The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances
Though there’s been a plethora of stories with “the Doctor” (and variations thereof) in the title post-2005, this was the first us since the first instalment of the William Hartnell adventure The Gunfighters, titled A Holiday For The Doctor.
This much-loved Steven Moffat World War II tale included numerous kisses to the past: the Time Lord’s “name” John Smith is resurrected; we learn that Captain Jack is a Time Agent, a position previously mentioned in The Talons Of Weng-Chiang (1977); and, from more recent times, Albion Hospital is back after its appearance in Aliens Of London.
As a kiss to the future, as it were, the phrase “It’s Volcano Day!” is coined. The Tenth Doctor would get to enjoy an actual volcano and use the same phrase three years later in The Fires Of Pompeii.
“Is that a tribophysical waveform macro-kinetic extrapolator?” asks Captain Jack whilst fans nod knowingly saying “tribophysics” to themselves. Pyramids Of Mars (1975) saw its only other onscreen mention in Doctor Who.
Bad Wolf / The Parting Of The Ways
The last episodes provided a few fine firsts for Doctor Who. Eccleston’s finale saw: the first mention of Torchwood (during The Weakest Link quiz segment); first same-sex kiss (between the Gallifreyan and Captain Jack); and the first “standing” regeneration (technically, it’s possible that Troughton was standing when he regenerated but we didn’t really see the full thing). Since then, standing regenerations have been the change du jour – Utopia, Journey’s End (sort of), The End of Time, Day of the Moon, Let’s Kill Hitler, The Day of the Doctor and The Time of the Doctor have all featured this modern style.
Sticking with regeneration, The Ninth Doctor mirrors The Fifth Doctor’s sentiments on the process – the latter commented, “That’s the trouble with regeneration, you never quite know what you’re going to get” (Castrovalva) whilst the former said, “I mean it’s a bit dodgy this process, you never know what you’re gonna end up with.”
In his pre-recorded message to Rose, the Time Lord asks her to leave the TARDIS, forget about it and move on. “Let it become a strange little thing standing on a street corner. And over the years, the world’ll move on and the box will be buried,” he holographically tells her. Of course, when Russell T Davies was writing this episode, the future for Doctor Who was an unknown quantity, and the writer has confessed he didn’t expect it to be successful let alone the ratings behemoth it became. The beautiful speech could almost have been a message regarding the show itself, an oddity that had no place in the Noughties – thankfully, of course, it did.
Oh, but my very favourite thing to look out for in this series is the credit that Christopher Eccleston receives at the end of every episode – he’s “Doctor Who”. That should settle a few arguments… :)
Regenerating is a tough gig. Filling the shoes of the most popular Doctor in the history of the world’s most popular sci-fi show is hard enough. When you have precisely 65 minutes to foil your first intergalactic threat, you need to hit the ground running.
“Yeah, no pressure,” laughs Matt Smith, the 27-year-old actor who came, appropriately enough, from nowhere to scoop the title role in the new series of Doctor Who. “My Doctor is like a newborn lamb, trying to discover what these limbs are on his body, but he’s straight into active service. It’s a bit like trying to save the world with flu.”
It seems a safe bet that eight-year-olds all over Britain will soon be plaguing their mums for a bow tie. There’s a fogeyish charm to the eleventh Doctor (Smith prefers “geek chic”) with his worn tweeds and flapping fringe. Smith’s own manner is a likeable blend of puppyish and professorial, with a tendency to talk in italics. Playing the Doctor, he points out, is a little like “giving your Hamlet”. You have to make the part your own.
“I mean,” he says, “the Doctor has always been, and he always will be. But how many parts are there in world TV that could be played by a 27-year-old or a 60-year-old? It’s been wonder- ful, just exploring the multitudes of him, but it takes a while to evolve a strong identity.”
A graduate of the University of East Anglia, where he studied drama and creative writing, Smith has his own way of accessing this enigmatic character.
“I had the part six months prior to shooting anything on camera – and for much of that time it was all a big secret – so I had to find a way of channelling my energy and excitement, my lust, as it were, for creating this persona. I was thinking, ‘Who in the world has a brain and a silliness which is close to the Doctor?’ and then I saw that photograph of Albert Einstein poking his tongue out and it just clicked.
“I found this book of quotes by Einstein – which I recommend as a life choice, he was such an insightful man – and I started writing short stories about Einstein and the Doctor, where the Doctor was getting irritated with the great man’s buffoonery. He’d be saying, ‘Come on, Albert, keep up!’ and I think that, more than anything, was my way in to the part.”
With new head writer and executive producer Steven Moffat on board, the role could be tailored to Smith’s own personality as the season developed.
“There’s a slight sort of madness and a great tenderness to the Doctor. I don’t know if that’s me, but he’s also very clumsy and that’s definitely me,” says Smith. “It helps, too, that I’ve always been completely fascinated by the time/ space continuum. I was never that into sci-fi – I grew up in that barren age when Doctor Who was taken off the air – but I once shared a house with an obscenely clever guy who was doing his doctorate for Cambridge on the subject of time, and ever since, it has seemed to me the great, omnipotent force of the world.
“The new series plays so cleverly with the concept of time travel. I don’t know how Steven does it; you think there’s no way he’s going to be able to join those dots and tie the whole thing up but, by God, he does. For me, to go to work and be in touch, on a daily basis, with that crazy, time-bending magic is just incredible.”
Smith need all his enthusiasm–supplemented by weapons-grade Vitamin C – to carry him through the series’ seven-month shooting schedule at Cardiff HQ, where he featured in practically every scene. “If you’re ill, it’s just tough. I think your head would have to be falling off before you could take a day off.”
Fortunately, Smith is used to pushing himself to the limit. Long before he thought of acting as a career, he was set to be a professional footballer. Selected for Northampton Town under 11 and 12s, Nottingham Forest under 12, 13 and 14s and Leicester City under 15s and 16s, he was on course for the premier league – he remembers playing against Jermaine Pennant who went on to play for Liverpool – when a serious back injury knocked him out of the game.
“That was a difficult time for me, for sure. But you know, what doesn’t kill you… And my dad was always very keen to drill into me that it’s not the disappointment that counts, it’s how you react to it.”
Smith was switched onto acting by Jerry Hardingham, his drama teacher at Northampton School for Boys. “I can remember his first drama lesson,” says Hardingham. “He possessed this raw power and presence. I knew that if that power could be harnessed, he could go places. I cast him in Twelve Angry Men while he was holiday, without auditioning him. I rang his mum and told her to tell him he’s doing it; he hasn’t got a choice! He did and he loved it–he got a taste for it.”
In other words, Smith discovered his soccer skills were eminently transferable.
“So much of what I do, instinctually, as an actor, comes, I’m sure, from my footballing background,” he says. “There’s supposed to be this divide between art and physical culture, but I look at someone like Zinedine Zidane and I see the pure expression of artistic grace. The courage needed to be a great sportsman applies equally to art in general and acting in particular.
“So much of acting is about summoning courage and confidence and, as in sport, there are lots of elements of your life that have to be put on a back burner because there’s only one real focus. Not to mention the need for timing, rhythm and balance.”
Rising through the ranks of the National Youth Theatre, Smith appeared in the second run of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, the play that was a springboard for a new wave of British talent including James Corden, Russell Tovey and Dominic Cooper.
“They were in the first run,” Smith points out, scrupulously. “I’ve just been working with James [for episode 11 of Doctor Who] – God, he’s funny – and he’s constantly going on about how he was doing History Boys in New York and I was doing it in Milton Keynes. Nothing against Milton Keynes” – Smith seems genuinely concerned not to give offence – “there’s a wonderful theatrical culture there, but New York it ain’t.”
Does he hope to follow previous Doctors David Tennant and Christopher Eccleston to Hollywood?
“Why the hell not?” says Smith. “I could do with a bit of poolside. I’d take my mum – she’d love it.” Certainly he’s keen to pursue new projects in shooting breaks from Who, but he’s not going anywhere before mastering the sonic screwdriver.
“I’ve broken four of them,” he confesses. “I like to have it about my person at all times, just twirling it around and flicking it. It’s all part of the magic, isn’t it?”
For Smith, for now, Doctor Who is where he wants to be. “I feel very safe, literally safe, in the Tardis,” he says. “I can’t quite explain it. Maybe it’s because I know that once it lands, the adventure is about to begin.”