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New Series Episode 3:
The Unquiet Dead

Plot

The TARDIS materialises in Cardiff on Christmas Eve 1869. A reading by esteemed author Charles Dickens is interrupted by a walking corpse, from which issues an eerie gaseous phantom. Intervening, the Doctor and Rose -- together with a skeptical Dickens -- trace the supernatural occurrence back to the premises of undertaker Gabriel Sneed. During their investigation, Rose befriends Sneed's maid, Gwyneth, who is gifted with the “second sight”. And Gwyneth alone may be the key to unlocking the terrible secret of the mortuary.

Production

With the first two episodes of the new Doctor Who series boasting adventures set in the modern day (Rose) and the future (The End Of The World), executive producer Russell T Davies indicated in his fall 2003 pitch document that the third episode should take the Doctor and Rose back into the Earth's past. Informally dubbing the story “My Name's Dickens... Charles Dickens”, Davies suggested that it would involve the famous scribe of novels such as A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist investigating Miss Pendragon (a name Davies recycled from his 1991 science-fiction serial Dark Season) who purports to have invented an “Ectoplasm Machine” which can summon ghosts. The device turns out to be a weapon, while the ghosts are unveiled as aliens.

Despite outlining the entire season in his pitch document, Davies had no intention of writing every episode himself, and the Dickens story was one he had earmarked for another author. This was Mark Gatiss, an award-winning writer/actor best known as a member of the League of Gentlemen comedy troupe; he had also written scripts for the revival of Randall And Hopkirk (Deceased). Gatiss possessed an avowed interest in the Victorian era and a sense of the macabre, making him ideally suited for the type of adventure Davies had in mind.

Gatiss was also an established name amongst Doctor Who fandom. He had begun writing novels for Virgin Publishing's Doctor Who: The New Adventures series in 1992, contributing titles such as Nightshade and St Anthony's Fire. He continued his affiliation with BBC Books' “Past Doctors” range, penning The Roundheads and Last Of The Gaderene. Gatiss had written for Big Finish's series of Doctor Who audio plays as well, his credits including Phantasmagoria and Invaders From Mars. He also made his mark as an actor in the Big Finish range, even portraying the Master in the Doctor Who Unbound play Sympathy For The Devil. In 1999, Gatiss had joined his League of Gentlemen colleagues in cowriting and performing a series sketches for BBC2's Doctor Who Night -- including appearing as the Doctor himself!

With Davies' encouragement, Gatiss departed from the original outline of the episode. At an early stage, under the title of “The Crippingwell Horror”, the adventure was set at a “spiritualist hotel” owned by a Mrs Plumchute, and involved a psychic named Noah Sneed contacting the Gelth. The maid, Gwyneth (named for a character in the Desirous Of Change episode of Upstairs, Downstairs), was a much more minor character at this stage; her brother, Davy, was interred at the nearby Crippingwell Cemetery.

Subsequently, the setting was altered, with Sneed (now given the first name Gabriel) becoming the owner of a funeral home and Gwyneth assuming the role of the psychic. The character of Mrs Peace was christened after Victorian-era murderer Charles Peace. Several characters were introduced and subsequently excised, including Mrs Sneed (who became superfluous as Gatiss strived to focus on Gwyneth) and a fake medium named Gideon Mortlock (who survived only in Gwyneth's mention of learning how to conduct a seance from a Madame Mortlock). Gatiss also followed Davies' suggestion to leaven the grim nature of the story with his brand of black humour; the title became The Unquiet Dead.

In Davies' original conception, the story had been set in 1860; towards the end of the scripting process, it was decided to shift the timeframe to 1869, during Dickens' waning days. Davies had also envisioned a scene midway through the episode in which the Doctor responds to Rose's assertion that recorded history can't be altered by taking her to a devastated 2005, inspired by a similar scene in 1975's Pyramids Of Mars. Drawing the eerie depiction of George's travel through time in the 1960 film version of The Time Machine, Gatiss scripted this to show the TARDIS scanner filling with Gelth-animated zombies as time marched on. However, it was ultimately felt that the return to the TARDIS interrupted the flow of the story too much and so the scene was removed, with the threat to the future now established through dialogue between the Doctor and Rose.

Of the first five episodes of the season, only The Unquiet Dead and its immediate predecessor, The End Of The World, were not set on modern-day Earth, and so these were put together in the production schedule as the second recording block. The director was Euros Lyn. Work began on September 19th, 2004, at the New Theatre in Cardiff, posing as the interior of the Taliesin Lodge. Dickens' description of the Gelth as “phantasmagoria” was an intentional reference to Gatiss' Big Finish play of that title. Ironically, although The Unquiet Dead was set in Doctor Who's production home of Cardiff, the city had been modernised to the point that it was no longer suitable for the story's nineteenth-century setting, and so this was the only recording actually carried out in the city.

The Lodge exteriors, in fact, were taped the next day at Cambrian Place in Swansea Marina. The outside of Sneed's mortuary was actually on Beaufort Arms Court in Monmouth, where material was recorded on the 21st. Cast and crew remained in Monmouth the next day for various street scenes, enacted on Church Street and St Mary's Street. A day in the studio at Unit Q2 in Newport followed for sequences in the TARDIS and in Dickens' coach. Production then moved to Penarth, where six days were spent at Headlands School from September 27th to October 2nd recording material set within Sneed's funeral parlour.

By this time, it appeared that The Unquiet Dead was running short, and so the script was extended: Sneed telling Gwyneth that they would pursue Mrs Peace was new, as was Rose's mention of her father (which now presaged the forthcoming Father's Day) and Dickens exhorting the Doctor about the longevity of his works. This material was taped at Headlands School on October 19th and 20th, alongside some sequences which Lyn had been unable to complete during the original shoot three weeks earlier. Filming concluded at Unit Q2 on the 22nd, with Zoe Thorne recording the Gelth's parts and various pick-up shots being completed.

Sources

Original Transmission
Date 9th Apr 2005
Time 7.00pm
Duration 44'48"
Viewers (more) 8.9m (15th)
· BBC1 8.9m
Appreciation 80%


Cast
Doctor Who
Christopher Eccleston
Rose Tyler
Billie Piper
Gabriel Sneed
Alan David
(more)
Redpath
Huw Rhys
Mrs Peace
Jennifer Hill
Gwyneth
Eve Myles
Charles Dickens
Simon Callow
Stage Manager
Wayne Cater
Driver
Meic Povey
The Gelth
Zoe Thorne


Crew
Written by
Mark Gatiss
Directed by
Euros Lyn
Produced by
Phil Collinson
(more)

1st Assistant Director
Lloyd Elis
2nd Assistant Director
Steffan Morris
3rd Assistant Director
Dan Mumford
Location Manager
Clive Evans
Unit Manager
Emma Reid
Production Co-ordinator
Pamela Joyce
A/Production Accountants
Debi Griffiths
Kath Blackman
Continuity
Non Eleri Hughes
Script Editor
Helen Raynor
Camera Operators
Mike Costelloe
Martin Stephens
Focus Pullers
Steve Lawes
Mark Isaac
Camera Assistants
Anna James
David Jones
Grip
John Robinson
Boom Operator
Damian Richardson
Gaffer
Mark Hutchings
Best Boy
Peter Chester
Stunt Co-ordinator
Lee Sheward
Stunt Performer
Lucy Allan
Art Department Co-ordinator
Gwenllian Llwyd
Concept Artist
Bryan Hitch
Production Buyer
Catherine Samuel
Set Decorator
Peter Walpole
Supervising Art Director
Stephen Nicholas
Standby Art Director
Arwel Wyn Jones
Property Master
Patrick Begley
Construction Manager
Andrew Smith
Standby Props
Phill Shellard
Adrian Anscombe
Graphic Artist
Jenny Bowers
Wardrobe Supervisor
Yolanda Peart-Smith
Make-Up Supervisor
Linda Davie
Make-Up Artist
Sarah Wilson
Claire Pritchard
Casting Associate
Kirsty Robertson
Assistant Editor
Ceres Doyle
Post Production Supervisor
Marie Brown
On Line Editor
Matthew Clarke
Colourist
Kai van Beers
2D VFX Artists
Sara Bennett
Jennifer Herbert
Simon C Holden
Alberto Montanes
Astrid Busser-Casas
David Bowman
3D VFX Artists
Chris Tucker
Chris Petts
Dubbing Mixer
Tim Ricketts
Dialogue Editor
Paul McFadden
Sound FX Editor
Paul Jefferies
Picture Publicist
Francine Holdgate
Finance Manager
Richard Pugsley
Original Theme Music
Ron Grainer
Casting Director
Andy Pryor CDG
Production Accountant
Endaf Emyr Williams
Sound Recordist
Ian Richardson
Costume Designer
Lucinda Wright
Make-Up Designer
Davy Jones
Music
Murray Gold
Visual Effects
The Mill
Visual FX Producer
Will Cohen
Visual FX Supervisor
Dave Houghton
Special Effects
Any Effects
Editor
John Richards
Production Designer
Edward Thomas
Director of Photography
Ernie Vincze BSC
Production Manager
Tracie Simpson
Associate Producer
Helen Vallis
Executive Producers
Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner
Mal Young


Working Titles
The Crippingwell Horror


Media
DVD Releases
Doctor Who: Series 1 Volume 1 (2005; single disc)
Buy: Canada · UK · USA
Doctor Who: The Complete First Series (2005; boxed set)
Buy: Canada · UK · USA
Doctor Who: Series 1-4 Box Set (2009; boxed set)
Buy: UK

Updated 17th October 2009