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New Series Episodes 56 & 57:
The Stolen Earth / Journey's End
Davros, creator of the Daleks, is saved from the Time War by an insane Dalek Caan. At Davros' instruction, his resurrected race of Daleks transports the Earth and twenty-six other planets to the Medusa Cascade. Former Prime Minister Harriet Jones sacrifices her life to reunite the Doctor's past companions -- Martha, Jack and Sarah Jane -- while Rose searches desperately for the Doctor and Donna. Separately or together, they must find a way to stop the Daleks' plot to obliterate all of time and space.
From an early stage, it was known that the concluding two-part story of Doctor Who's 2008 season would be something very special. This adventure would mark the end of producer Phil Collinson's tenure on the programme, and would also be the last season finale overseen by executive producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner. Neither would be leaving Doctor Who for another year, but it was already planned that the next full season would be held over until 2010 -- when a new production team would take over -- with Davies and Gardner wrapping up their time on Doctor Who with a number of specials which would air in the interim.
As a result, Davies was keen to have the 2008 finale -- referred to as The Stolen Earth -- bring back a number of elements which had featured in the series since its revival in 2005. By early 2007, he planned to have the Doctor (and his companion, at this point intended to be a new character named Penny) joined by Rose Tyler, Martha Jones, Jack Harkness, Sarah Jane Smith, and Elton Pope (from Love & Monsters). He was also contemplating appearances by Mickey Smith and Jackie Tyler, and hoped that Catherine Tate might be willing to record a cameo appearance as Donna Noble, though there was skepticism that Tate's busy schedule would allow this.
As the villains, Davies earmarked the Daleks and their creator, Davros; although the Daleks had appeared in several Doctor Who stories since 2005, Davros had only been obliquely referenced, and had not been seen since on-screen since Remembrance Of The Daleks in 1988. He also planned to incorporate an intergalactic conference on a space station, which would allow him to include many other creatures from the show's past, including the Gelth, the Slitheen, the Krillitanes, the Isolus, the Judoon, the Bane (from Invasion Of The Bane, the debut episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures), the Graske (introduced in the interactive game Attack Of The Graske), and the Jixx of Balhoon (intended to be the brother of the late Moxx of Balhoon).
By summer, some of Davies' plans had changed; much to his surprise, Tate had consented to return to Doctor Who as the regular companion for the entire season, and while Elton was no longer being considered for the finale, Davies was now mulling the inclusion of Midshipman Frame from Voyage Of The Damned. Davies had been impressed by Russell Tovey, who had played Frame, and thought that the character could be reintroduced as an agent of the Shadow Proclamation, the secretive outer space police force alluded to in episodes as far back as Rose, the 2005 premiere.
In August, it was learned that Billie Piper would be unavailable throughout January 2008 while she went on her honeymoon. This was a huge blow to Davies' plans, because it coincided with the intended recording dates for The Stolen Earth. Davies hastily began rethinking his story -- reducing Rose's appearance to a short coda in which the half-human version of the Doctor arrives on Bad Wolf Bay in the parallel universe, and consequently eliminating Mickey and Jackie from the tale. Fortunately, Gardner was subsequently able to rearrange the Doctor Who recording schedules to accommodate Piper's absence, with the majority of The Stolen Earth now slated to be filmed in February. As a result, however, the story's original director, Euros Lyn, was shifted to Silence In The Library / Forest Of The Damned instead. His replacement would be Graeme Harper, who would move onto the finale immediately after completing its prequel, Turn Left.
Davies began writing The Stolen Earth on December 10th. By now, it was decided that castmembers from both Doctor Who spin-off series -- Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures -- would play supporting roles in the two-part story. In addition to Jack Harkness and Sarah Jane Smith, Torchwood's Gwen Cooper (played by Eve Myles, who had previously appeared in Doctor Who as Gwyneth in 2005's The Unquiet Dead) and Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd) would be seen, as would Sarah Jane's adopted son Luke (Thomas Knight), her computer Mr Smith (voiced by Alexander Armstrong) and K·9 (voiced, as usual, by John Leeson). Adjoa Andoh would also return as Martha's mother, Francine; her last Doctor Who appearance had been in the previous year's climax, Last Of The Time Lords.
By this stage, Davies had fleshed out his plans for Midshipman Frame. He would appear when the Doctor and Donna travel to the Shadow Proclamation, assisting them in dealing with his superiors there. He would then journey with them in the TARDIS to the Dalek Crucible, only to be exterminated, allowing Davies to sacrifice a returning character without having to kill off one of the show's better-established creations. However, it was soon discovered that Tovey already had commitments throughout the first quarter of 2008, meaning that he would be unavailable for The Stolen Earth.
Instead, Davies decided to follow Gardner and Collinson's requests to bring back Harriet Jones, the former Prime Minister of Great Britain who had not been seen since The Christmas Invasion in 2005. That adventure had seen the Doctor topple Jones' government is retaliation for her destruction of the retreating Sycorax battleship, and both Gardner and Collinson felt that the character deserved a return appearance in which the consequences of that act could be explored. It was not initially certain that Penelope Wilton would be free to reprise the role of Harriet, however, and so Davies was also prepared to replace her with Mr Copper, the alien played by Clive Swift in Voyage Of The Damned. Fortunately, Wilton confirmed her willingness to return to Doctor Who in early January.
Unlike past seasons, when a single phrase or character had been seeded throughout several episodes to lead into the final story, Davies had to pay off no fewer than three different mysteries in The Stolen Earth. Most obviously, there was the return of Rose, presaged in Partners In Crime, The Poison Sky, Midnight and Turn Left. Several stories had also made reference to missing worlds: Adipose 3 (Partners In Crime), Pyrovillia (The Fires Of Pompeii) and the Lost Moon of Poosh (Midnight). The twenty-seven worlds captured by the Daleks were a tremendous increase from Davies' initial conception, in which only six planets were needed for their scheme. Finally, there had been frequent allusions to the disappearance of Earth's bumblebees, including Partners In Crime, Planet Of The Ood, The Unicorn And The Wasp and Turn Left.
As production loomed at the end of 2007, Davies was keenly aware that Harper urgently needed the scripts for both installments of the finale. Working feverishly, he even cancelled his appearance at Piper's wedding on December 31st in order to allow himself more time to write. Davies was finally able to complete his first draft of the penultimate episode in the wee hours of New Year's Eve morning. This script included a scene in which Wilfred Mott attempts to blind a Dalek using a paintball gun, a sequence which had been suggested by Bernard Cribbins himself.
The script for the second episode -- which would come to be known as Journey's End -- was begun on January 11th, 2008. As Davies worked, though, he became concerned that there was no way to conclude his story within the confines of a standard fifty-minute episode. He began to contemplate the necessity of cutting a major element of the story -- such as the scenes in Torchwood or involving Sarah Jane -- and contacted Gardner to discuss the problem. On January 19th, Gardner was able to convince Jane Tranter, the BBC's Controller of Fiction, to extend Journey's End by ten minutes, making it the longest regular-season Doctor Who episode ever. Reinvigorated, Davies completed the initial draft of Journey's End three days later.
Various changes were made to The Stolen Earth / Journey's End in the lead-up to production, many of them a result of budgetary considerations in the face of the scripts' enormous ambition. Most notably, the scene at the Shadow Proclamation featuring various returning aliens -- which had now grown to include Sycorax, Hath, Vespiforms, and even a giant adult Adipose -- was substantially cut, with only the Judoon being retained. (Davies would later return to this notion for a sequence at the end of Tennant's swansong, The End Of Time.) This meant that dialogue already recorded by Annette Badland -- reprising her role as the now-juvenile “Margaret Slitheen” from Aliens Of London / World War Three and Boom Town -- would have to be dropped. Davies also excised a lengthy flashback chronicling Davros' youth on Skaro, his experiments on Kaled soldiers, and the explosion which disfigured him.
Filming for The Stolen Earth / Journey's End began on January 31st, when the material featuring the newsreaders was recorded in the C2 News Studio at BBC Broadcasting House in Cardiff, alongside similar footage for Turn Left. Production resumed with a week at Upper Boat Studios, from February 18th to 22nd. TARDIS scenes were filmed on the first day, whereafter cast and crew moved to the Torchwood Hub set from the 19th to the 21st. On the 22nd, taping was split between the TARDIS console room and the Hub. More TARDIS material was completed on the 25th. Harper's team then moved out on location for the next two days, with sequences in the Noble household taking place in their usual venue on Nant Fawr Road in Cardiff. Yet more TARDIS scenes were then recorded on the 28th and 29th.
The production team's focus from March 3rd to 7th was filming on the sets for the Dalek Crucible vaults at Upper Boat. The exception was the 5th, when Southerndown Beach near Bridgend once again posed as Bad Wolf Bay, as it had done in Doomsday two years earlier. On March 8th, Cardiff University's School of Optometry served as the headquarters of the Shadow Proclamation, while the remaining scenes in the Crucible vaults were completed at Upper Boat on the 10th and 11th. The latter day also encompassed material in the Crucible corridors, plus filming in Tonteg for the scenes in which the Doctor and Donna initially arrive on Earth, and Rose later materialises following the planet's theft.
On March 12th, sequences outside the Noble home were captured in Hawthorn, while Megabyte City -- the looted computer store that Rose visits -- was actually Computing Wales in nearby Pontypridd. The next night, various scenes on the streets of London were filmed in Penarth; these included the ill-fated reunion of the Doctor and Rose. This work was then completed in Cardiff on the 14th, followed by the recording of material in and around the German castle, actually Castell Coch in Tongwynlais. The Traffic Management Wales Centre in Cardiff posed as the New York City version of UNIT headquarters on March 16th, while the footage of the Reality Bomb test was filmed the next day at the disused Alpha Steel facilities in Newport. Two locations were visited on the 18th: Harriet Jones' cottage was really Lower House Barn in Dinas Powys, while further scenes outside the German castle were taped at Castell Coch. On the 19th, the Doctor returned Sarah Jane, Mickey, Jack and Martha to Earth at Morgan Jones Park in Caerphilly, while Martha teleported away from UNIT HQ in the Wales Museum Collection Centre at Parc Nantgarw.
Upper Boat Studios was once again the venue on March 20th and 21st, with the closing TARDIS scenes -- including a cliffhanger ending leading into The Next Doctor, the forthcoming Christmas special -- recorded alongside material on the Dalek Crucible command deck. This marked the end of Catherine Tate's time as a Doctor Who regular, although Tate opined that, despite assumptions to the contrary, she would have been very interested in remaining on the programme. This was also Phil Collinson's final day working on Doctor Who. After four years on the show, Collinson was departing to become Head of Drama at BBC Manchester.
The Crucible command set was needed again on the 24th. On the 25th, two Penarth residences served as Francine Jones' house and Sarah Jane's home on Bannerman Road; the latter was the same location used in The Sarah Jane Adventures. More scenes in the Jones domicile were taped the next day. From March 27th to 29th, most of the remaining material was filmed at Upper Boat. This included the sequences in Sarah Jane's attic and the Osterhagen station, as well as various inserts.
Also on the 28th, the cameo appearance by Richard Dawkins was recorded. This role had been written as an unnamed scientist in Davies' initial drafts, but Doctor Who Magazine columnist Benjamin Cook -- who was corresponding with Davies as part of a book project later published as Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale -- suggested that Dawkins might be persuaded to appear. In addition to being an esteemed (and sometimes controversial) evolutionary biologist and author, Dawkins was also married to Lalla Ward, who had played the second incarnation of Romana, the Doctor's Time Lady companion, from 1979 to 1981. Dawkins was one of two celebrity cameos in The Stolen Earth, continuing a tradition for the season's penultimate episode which dated back to Bad Wolf in 2005. He was joined by entertainer Paul O'Grady, who filmed a segment on the set of his The New Paul O'Grady Show at The London Studios on March 31st.
During the past two seasons, the recording schedule for the year was comprised of a Christmas special, followed by thirteen episodes. To accommodate the run of specials which would bridge the 2008 and 2010 seasons, however, this now had to be changed, with the 2008 Christmas special being recorded directly after The Stolen Earth / Journey's End. However, Benjamin Cook pointed out to Davies that this meant that a cliffhanger leading into the special was no longer necessary; by the time Journey's End was broadcast, The Next Doctor would already have been filmed, so a normal preview could be assembled instead. Davies concurred with Cook's view that Journey's End would conclude more fittingly without its intended final scene, in which Cybermen suddenly loom behind the Doctor as he pilots the TARDIS away from Donna's home. As such, Davies quickly amended his script for Journey's End, and a new final sequence was recorded on the TARDIS set on May 1st.
Despite the extended running time of Journey's End, one substantial cut was still made: originally, before leaving Rose and his half-human self in the parallel universe, the Doctor was to give them a cutting from the TARDIS with which they could grow their own version of the time machine. Retained was a flashback sequence spotlighting individuals who had sacrificed themselves on the Doctor's behalf, spanning all four seasons since the 2005 revival. The characters featured included Harriet Jones (The Stolen Earth), Jabe (The End Of The World), the Controller (Bad Wolf), Lynda (The Parting Of The Ways), Robert MacLeish (Tooth And Claw), Mrs Moore (The Age Of Steel), the members of LINDA (Love & Monsters), the Face of Boe (Gridlock), Chantho (Utopia), Astrid Peth (Voyage Of The Damned), Luke Rattigan (The Poison Sky), Jenny (The Doctor's Daughter), River Song (Forest Of The Dead) and the Crusader 50 hostess (Midnight). A second flashback sequence reflecting upon Donna's travels with the Doctor included clips from all of Catherine Tate's episodes except Midnight.
When The Stolen Earth aired on June 28th, it tied Voyage Of The Damned as Doctor Who's highest-charting broadcast ever, placing second amongst the week's programmes. However, interest in the series was stoked to new heights over the ensuing week by both the regeneration cliffhanger -- which had not been included in copies of the episode sent out for review -- and press speculation about the imminence of Tennant's departure from Doctor Who. The contents of Journey's End had been kept a closely guarded secret, with no screening copies whatsoever sent out in advance, and Doctor Who rode the wave of the fevered intrigue to an unprecedented first-place finish when the season finale aired on July 5th. For the first time in its forty-five year history, Doctor Who was indisputably the most popular programme in the whole of the United Kingdom...
|Updated 6th July 2014|
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