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New Series Episode 29:
The Runaway Bride

Plot

While walking down the aisle on her wedding day, Donna Noble somehow vanishes, to reappear in the TARDIS console room. The Doctor is faced with solving the riddle of how this virtually impossible feat was achieved, while simultaneously trying to return Donna to the church. It soon becomes clear that Donna is the key to revivification of an ancient evil, the culmination of a plan older than the Earth itself.

Production

Executive producer Russell T Davies had been a lifelong fan of Doctor Who, and some of the ideas he brought to the series when he was given charge of the programme in 2003 could be traced all the way back to his childhood. One such notion was of the TARDIS pursuing a car: Davies could remember driving along highways with his family, fantasising about catching sight of the TARDIS whizzing past the other vehicles. In 2004, Davies discussed the feasibility of such a sequence with visual effects supervisor Dave Houghton, who agreed that it could be achieved.

During the early planning stages for the new Doctor Who series' second season, Davies suggested the chase scene's inclusion in Toby Whithouse's plot for School Reunion, with the Doctor rescuing Sarah Jane Smith. When it was found that this derailed Whithouse's script -- taking too much time away from Sarah's development -- Davies opted instead to use it as the centrepiece of its own episode. He began working on a story in which the Doctor and Rose are confronted by a mysterious bride who appears in the TARDIS. Entitled The Runaway Bride, this was intended to be the sixth episode of the 2006 season, following Rise Of The Cybermen / The Age Of Steel.

Meanwhile, the success of Doctor Who's debut in March 2005 had quickly prompted the commissioning not only of a second season but also the programme's first-ever Christmas special, The Christmas Invasion. So phenomenally popular was the remainder of Doctor Who's initial slate of adventures that at the BAFTA screening of The Parting Of The Ways on June 15th, 2005, it was announced that a third season and a second Christmas special had also been greenlighted. Davies therefore decided to postpone The Runaway Bride and expand it to become the 2006 Christmas special; Tooth And Claw was conceived instead to replace it in the season running order.

In scripting the special, Davies was faced with the challenge of how to handle the companion situation, given that Billie Piper was exiting Doctor Who in the second season finale, Doomsday. Davies did not want to introduce a new regular character in The Runaway Bride, preferring to defer this until the start of the 2007 season, and instead decided that the eponymous bride would herself make a suitable short-term companion, bridging the gap between Rose and her successor, Martha Jones. One element which Davies initially intended to include in The Runaway Bride was a climax set at the ancient stone monoliths of Stonehenge. Davies was unable to come up with a satisfactory rationale for Stonehenge's involvement, however, and so the idea was abandoned at an early stage.

Recording for The Runaway Bride began on July 4th, 2006. Catherine Tate, who had briefly played the then-unnamed Bride in the concluding scene of Doomsday, returned as the character now called Donna Noble. Assigned to direct the special was Euros Lyn, who had most recently helmed The Idiot's Lantern and Fear Her midway through work on the 2006 episodes. Unlike The Christmas Invasion, which was made as part of a larger production block alongside two adventures from the second season, it was agreed that The Runaway Bride should form its own recording block. (Nonetheless, this would still mark the start of the new filming schedule which would also encompass the entirety of the 2007 season, and it was thus labelled Block One, with the numbering of the subsequent blocks following accordingly.)

Production began in London, with the first day consumed with plate shots of the Thames Flood Barrier, and the next day by footage of the taxi on the Chiswick flyover. On the 6th, the Doctor and Donna's rooftop conversation was recorded at the IPC Building helipad. The team then returned to Wales. Doctor Who and its spin-off, Torchwood, had now been granted a dedicated studio home in Upper Boat, near Pontypridd. Although Torchwood had been recording there since the start of May, July 7th and 8th marked the first time that Doctor Who itself had filmed at Upper Boat, the material in question being scenes in the TARDIS console room. The 8th also coincided with the revelation of Tate's casting, as Doomsday brought Doctor Who's 2006 season to a close.

On July 11th, the Atradius Building in Cardiff Bay posed as the headquarters of HC Clements; also recorded on this day were flashback scenes of Donna and Lance's relationship, at the Water Guard Pub in Cardiff Bay and on a street in Riverside. Scenes at Donna's wedding reception were enacted at the Baverstock Hotel in Merthyr Tydfil on the 12th and 13th, followed by material at St John the Baptist Church in Cardiff on the 14th. The crucial TARDIS/car chase sequence was then completed on the Ely Link Road in Cardiff on July 15th and 16th. During the early hours of the morning, the production team was assisted by the police, who enacted a rolling roadblock.

Scenes outside the reception venue -- actually the New Country House Hotel in Cardiff -- were recorded on July 18th. The next day saw filming shift to Cardiff's Millennium Centre, the site of the secret corridors beneath HC Clements; another Donna/Lance flashback was taped outside the Centre as well. July 20th to 22nd were concerned with material in the Torchwood lab, situated in the Johnsey Estates factory near Pontypool. On the 24th, St Marys Street in Cardiff again provided the location for Henriks department store, as it had done since Rose. A fake automatic teller machine was erected there; this spat out mocked-up money bearing the faces of David Tennant as the Doctor (on the £10 bill, along with lines from The Christmas Invasion) and producer Phil Collinson (on the £20 bill, accompanied by a misquote of the beloved “being grown up” line from Robot).

The production team returned to St Marys Street on the 25th, this time for scenes of the military during the Webstar's attack. Also recorded were TARDIS exteriors at Churchill Way. July 26th saw the sequence outside Donna's parents' home filmed on Princess Avenue. Also that day, more TARDIS material was recorded at Upper Boat alongside special effects work. This continued to the 27th, which concentrated on elements needed for the TARDIS chase scene. Footage of the Empress in the Flood Chamber was then captured at the inpound station on the Newport Docks. This work began on the 28th, and continued from July 31st to August 2nd. A remount of material involving Donna's car was staged at Victoria Park Estate in Cardiff on August 3rd. Various inserts were recorded at Upper Boat the same day, as well as on October 19th.

Several cameo appearances were cut from The Runaway Bride in editing. Bella Emberg reprised her role as Mrs Croot (originally seen in Love & Monsters), and was to encounter the Doctor and Donna when they travel to the wedding reception by bus. Later, they were to reach the HC Clements building in Donna's SmartCar in a scene which would have featured David Tennant's parents, sister-in-law, and two young nieces as extras. In dubbing, Davies added a mention of the military receiving orders from a “Mr Saxon”. This name had also been glimpsed on a newspaper in Love & Monsters, and would loom large during the 2007 season.

Like The Christmas Invasion, The Runaway Bride was televised on Christmas Day as the lynchpin of the BBC's holiday line-up. Accruing only slightly fewer viewers than its predecessor, it once again rocketed Doctor Who into the week's Top Ten programmes. Ostensibly, this broadcast appeared to mark the end of Catherine Tate's involvement with Doctor Who. But with the actress having thoroughly enjoyed her time on the programme, audiences would soon be reminded that appearances can be deceiving...

Sources

Original Transmission
Date 25th Dec 2006
Time 7.00pm
Duration 60'16"
Viewers (more) 9.4m (10th)
· BBC1 9.4m
Appreciation 84%


Cast
The Doctor
David Tennant
Donna Noble
Catherine Tate
Empress
Sarah Parish
(more)
Lance Bennett
Don Gilet
Geoff Noble
Howard Attfield
Sylvia Noble
Jacqueline King
Vicar
Trevor Georges
Taxi Driver
Glen Wilson
Nerys
Krystal Archer
Rhodri
Rhodri Meilir
Little Girl
Zafirah Boateng
Robot Santa
Paul Kasey


Crew
Written by
Russell T Davies
Directed by
Euros Lyn
Produced by
Phil Collinson
(more)

1st Assistant Director
Peter Bennett
2nd Assistant Director
Steffan Morris
3rd Assistant Director
Sarah Davies
Location Managers
Patrick Schweitzer
Gareth Skelding
Unit Manager
Rhys Griffiths
Production Co-ordinator
Jess van Niekerk
Production Secretary
Kevin Myers
Production Assistant
Debi Griffiths
Production Runner
Victoria Wheel
Drivers
Wayne Humphreys
Malcolm Kearney
Floor Runner
Barry Phillips
Contracts Assistant
Bethan Britton
Continuity
Non Eleri Hughes
Script Editor
Simon Winstone
Focus Puller
Steve Rees
2nd Camera Operator
Siân Elin Palfrey
Grip
John Robinson
Boom Operator
Jon Thomas
Gaffer
Mark Hutchings
Best Boy
Peter Chester
Stunt Co-ordinator
David Forman
Stunt Performers
George Cottle
Tina Amskell
Richard Hammett
Gary Hoptrough
Rob Hunt
Nina Armstrong
Chief Supervising Art Director
Stephen Nicholas
Art Dept Production Manager
Jonathan Marquand Allison
Art Dept Co-ordinator
Matthew North
Chief Props Master
Adrian Anscombe
Supervising Art Director
Arwel Wyn Jones
Associate Designer
James North
Set Decorator
Tristan Peatfield
Standby Art Director
Lee Gammon
Design Assistants
Peter McKinstry
Ben Austin
Storyboard Artist
Shaun Williams
Standby Props
Phil Shellard
Clive Clarke
Standby Carpenter
Paul Jones
Standby Painter
Louise Bohling
Standby Rigger
Bryan Griffiths
Property Master
Paul Aitken
Props Buyer
Joelle Rumbelow
Props Maker
Barry Jones
Construction Manager
Matthew Hywel-Davies
Graphics
BBC Wales Graphics
Asst Costume Designer
Rose Goodhart
Costume Supervisor
Lindsay Bonaccorsi
Costume Assistants
Sheenagh O'Marah
Kirsty Wilkinson
Make-Up Artists
Pam Mullins
Steve Smith
John Munro
Casting Associate
Andy Brierley
Assistant Editor
Ceres Doyle
Post Production Supervisors
Samantha Hall
Chris Blatchford
Post Production Co-ordinator
Marie Brown
Special Effects Co-ordinator
Ben Ashmore
Special Effects Supervisor
Paul Kelly
Prosthetics Designer
Neill Gorton
Prosthetics Supervisor
Rob Mayor
On Line Editor
Matthew Clarke
Colourist
Mick Vincent
3D Artists
Paul Burton
Nick Webber
Matthew McKinney
Mark Wallman
Andy Guest
Chris Tucker
Nicolas Hernandez
Jean-Claude Deguara
2D Artists
Sara Bennett
Russell Horth
Melissa Butler-Adams
Bryan Bartlett
Astrid Busser-Cassas
Adam Rowland
Simon C Holden
Greg Spencer
Joseph Courtis
VFX Co-ordinators
Jenna Powell
Rebecca Johnson
On set VFX Supervisor
Barney Curnow
Model Unit
Lucas FX
Dubbing Mixer
Tim Ricketts
Supervising Sound Editor
Paul McFadden
Sound FX Editor
Paul Jefferies
Finance Manager
Chris Rogers
Vocals
Neil Hannon
Original Theme Music
Ron Grainer
Casting Director
Andy Pryor CDG
Production Executive
Julie Scott
Production Accountant
Endaf Emyr Williams
Sound Recordist
Julian Howarth
Costume Designer
Louise Page
Make-Up Designer
Barbara Southcott
Music
Murray Gold
Visual Effects
The Mill
Visual FX Producers
Will Cohen
Marie Jones
Visual FX Supervisor
Dave Houghton
Special Effects
Any Effects
Prosthetics
Millennium FX
Editor
John Richards
Production Designer
Edward Thomas
Director of Photography
Rory Taylor
Production Manager
Tracie Simpson
Executive Producers
Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner


Media
DVD Releases
Doctor Who: The Runaway Bride (2007)
Buy: UK
Doctor Who: The Complete Third Series (2007; boxed set)
Buy: Canada · UK · USA
Doctor Who: Series 1-4 Box Set (2009; boxed set)
Buy: UK
Doctor Who: The David Tennant Years (2011; boxed set)
Buy: Canada · USA
Doctor Who: Series Three, Part One (2014; two discs)
Buy: Canada · USA

Updated 6th July 2014