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New Series Episode 40:
Utopia

Plot

When the TARDIS lands in modern-day Wales, Captain Jack Harkness hitches a ride, inadvertently sending the time machine to the very end of the universe. In that time, the vestiges of humanity are marooned on the planet Malcassairo, where they are preyed upon by the savage Futurekind. The elderly Professor Yana is trying to perfect a rocketship which will take his people to a fabled utopia beyond the dying stars -- but the Doctor may discover too late that there is more to Yana than even the professor realises.

Production

Ever since the new Doctor Who series was greenlighted in 2003, executive producer Russell T Davies had been adamant that he was not interested in resurrecting the Master, the Doctor's Time Lord archnemesis who had bedevilled him (in various guises) since 1971's Terror Of The Autons. In reality, Davies was a fan of the Master and had every intention of bringing the character back, but he was determined to keep this a secret. In late 2005, empowered with the knowledge that Doctor Who had been renewed for both a second and third season, Davies began to lay plans for the Master's return late in the 2007 season. This would follow on the heels of the Daleks' revitilisation in 2005 and the reintroduction of the Cybermen in 2006.

Davies began seeding references to a man called Mr Saxon into episodes as early as 2006's Love & Monsters (in which a newspaper headline read “Saxon Leads Polls With 64 Per Cent”). In The Runaway Bride, the British military was seen to be acting on Saxon's orders, while Saxon's name was mentioned in both a news broadcast and on an election poster in the 2007 premiere, Smith And Jones. (The election poster could also be seen in the Torchwood episode Captain Jack Harkness.) Agents of Mr Saxon (now given the first name Harold) began influencing Francine Jones in The Lazarus Experiment and 42. Meanwhile, in Human Nature / The Family Of Blood, a critical plot point revealed that Time Lords can alter their genetic structure to become human through the use of a device called a chameleon arch, with the Doctor placing his true identity in a receptable resembling a fob watch. And Gridlock provided the culmination of an event foreshadowed in the previous year's New Earth, with the Doctor learning from the dying Face of Boe that he was not the last surviving Time Lord after all.

Davies' plan was to reveal that Harold Saxon was, in fact, the Master -- his presence undetected by the Doctor because he had become human via a chameleon arch. This meant that Davies could initially introduce the Master as a friendly character in order to explore his relationship with the Doctor. Drawing upon the Face of Boe's prophecy to the Doctor (“you are not alone”), this character was called Professor Yana, and would appear in Davies' prologue to the two-part season finale, The Sound Of Drums / Last Of The Time Lords. Entitled Utopia by December 2006, this was Davies' first script since Smith And Jones, exemplative of his gradual decrease in writing duties on Doctor Who.

In addition to introducing the Master as Professor Yana, Utopia was also designed to bring Captain Jack Harkness back to Doctor Who. Played by John Barrowman, the character had appeared in the final five episodes of the 2005 season, and since then had been the central protagonist in Torchwood. Davies had always intended to revisit Jack in Doctor Who, however, and at the conclusion of End Of Days (the final episode of Torchwood's first season) Captain Jack had vanished after hearing the sound of the TARDIS materialising. This had been designed to segue directly into Utopia. Barrowman confirmed his return to Doctor Who on November 26th. Jack would bring with him the Doctor's hand (severed in The Christmas Invasion) which had been on display in the Torchwood Hub throughout the spin-off's first season. At one point, Jack was to explain that the hand had been recovered from a newsagent's roof.

Meanwhile, Doctor Who had once again entered into a partnership with long-running children's programme Blue Peter to hold a special contest. The year before, the Abzorbaloff in Love & Monsters had been the winning design of a Blue Peter viewer; this time, the two production teams decided to one-up themselves by actually giving away a speaking role in Doctor Who for a youth aged 13 years or less. Beginning on October 16th, a wide field of entrants was winnowed via audition down to a single winner selected by Davies. This was nine year-old John Bell, who would now play Creet in Utopia.

Two pivotal pieces of casting -- the two faces of the Master -- fell into place for Utopia. As the kind, elderly Professor Yana whose true personality of the Master would ultimately reassert itself, the production team secured the services of storied actor Derek Jacobi. A protege of Laurence Olivier, Jacobi had earned plaudits for his Shakespearean work before giving the performance which would cement his reputation, as the title character in the 1976 television production of I, Claudius. Jacobi had since gone on to win BAFTA, Tony and Emmy awards, while appearing in films such as Gosford Park and TV series including Cadfael, Marple and the revival of Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased). In addition, Jacobi had already played a robotic simulacrum of the Master in the BBC webcast Scream Of The Shalka, as well as writer Martin Bannister (a version, of sorts, of the Doctor) in the Doctor Who Unbound play Deadline for Big Finish Productions.

Jacobi would actually play Yana as the Master only briefly, however, because Davies intended for him to regenerate at the climax of Utopia into the incarnation which would feature prominently in The Sound Of Drums / Last Of The Time Lords. This would be played by John Simm, who had recently garnered acclaim for his starring role as a time-tossed police detective in Life On Mars, commissioned by Doctor Who executive producer Julie Gardner. (Ironically, Simm's character was called Sam Tyler, the surname having been accidentally pinched from that of former Doctor Who companion Rose Tyler.) Simm's other credits included episodes of Spaced, Cracker and State Of Play. The offer to play the Master came on the heels of several previous efforts by Gardner and Davies to cast Simm in Doctor Who.

For this version of the Master, Davies wanted to draw parallels with Tennant's portrayal of the Doctor, but viewed through the prism of an utter sociopath, which he felt would make the Master a more dangerous and interesting character. For this reason, Davies gave Yana a “companion” in the form of Chantho, whom he would murder once he had metamorphosed back into the Master. Davies also gave tacit acknowledgment to the final fate of the evil Time Lord in the previous Doctor Who series, which had ultimately seen the Master -- having exhausted his regenerations and effectively existing as a parasitic lifeform -- engulfed by the black hole which powered the TARDIS in Doctor Who (1996). However, the explanation for his survival (that he had been resurrected by the Time Lords to aid in the Time War against the Daleks) would not appear until The Sound Of Drums.

Assigned to direct Utopia was Graeme Harper; the episode would be made together with 42 as Block Seven of the Doctor Who production slate. At one point, Utopia was scheduled to be filmed before 42, but Jacobi's availability ultimately precluded this. Meanwhile, a key element of Davies' conception of the Futurekind -- that they would be seen to traverse the surface of Malcassairo on quad bikes -- had to be abandoned due to safety issues.

The first piece of filming for Utopia was TARDIS material featuring the Doctor and Martha, conducted at Upper Boat Studios on January 15th, 2007. Two weeks later, cast and crew gathered at the old NEG glass site at Trident Park in Cardiff Bay, which would serve as the radiation room and various corridors. In addition to the presence of John Bell, the team was also joined by the runners-up in the Blue Peter contest: Davies had been so impressed by Lizzie Watkins and Jonathan Wharton that he arranged for them to serve as extras in the production. Taping at NEG began on January 30th -- John Barrowman's first day on Doctor Who in twenty-two months -- and wrapped up on February 2nd.

The team then repaired to Upper Boat for several days from February 5th to 9th. This largely dealt with scenes in Professor Yana's laboratory, but also encompassed greenscreen work for Captain Jack holding onto the TARDIS exterior and additional material in the TARDIS console room. This included Jacobi's half of the Master's renewal, which used the same effect as the regeneration from the Ninth to the Tenth Doctor (as seen in The Parting Of The Ways) in order to telegraph what was happening. Sequences on the surface of Malcassairo were then filmed, at Argoed Quarry near Llanharry on February 12th and 13th, and at Wenvoe Quarry in Wenvoe (which represented the area immediately outside Silo #16) on Valentine's Day.

Much debate had surrounded the issue of whether Simm's Master should sport a goatee (as had been the case with both previous long-running versions of the Master, played by Roger Delgado and Anthony Ainley). Davies and Simm each changed their minds on the issue several times, before ultimately deciding that it was unnecessary. Simm's debut as the Master came on the TARDIS set at Upper Boat on February 20th. The opening TARDIS sequence was then performed on the 23rd. This left only Captain Jack's dash to the TARDIS to be recorded; this was completed at Millennium Square in Cardiff Bay on March 1st.

Unlike John Barrowman's original tenure on Doctor Who, it was decided that he would now be credited in the opening title sequence alongside David Tennant and Freema Agyeman -- the first time this had been expanded to include three names. Meanwhile, Davies decided to give a nod to the past by having clips of previous Masters heard emanating from Yana's fob watch. These included Delgado as the original Master, exhorting Azal for power in The Daemons, as well as an iconic chuckle from Ainley, who played the Master during the Eighties.

Sources

Original Transmission
Date 16th Jun 2007
Time 7.14pm
Duration 45'52"
Viewers (more) 7.8m (14th)
· BBC1 7.8m
Appreciation 87%


Cast
The Doctor
David Tennant
Martha Jones
Freema Agyeman
Captain Jack Harkness
John Barrowman
(more)
Professor Yana
Derek Jacobi
Chantho
Chipo Chung
Padra
Rene Zagger
Lieutenant Atillo
Neil Reidman
Chieftain
Paul Marc Davies
Guard
Robert Forknall
Creet
John Bell
Kistane
Deborah MacLaren
Wiry Woman
Abigail Canton
The Master
John Simm


Crew
Written by
Russell T Davies
Directed by
Graeme Harper
Produced by
Phil Collinson
(more)

1st Assistant Director
Gareth Williams
2nd Assistant Director
Steffan Morris
3rd Assistant Director
Sarah Davies
Location Manager
Gareth Skelding
Unit Manager
Rhys Griffiths
Production Co-ordinator
Jess van Niekerk
Production Secretary
Kevin Myers
Production Assistant
Debi Griffiths
Production Runner
Siân Eve Goldsmith
Drivers
Wayne Humphreys
Malcolm Kearney
Floor Runner
Heddi-Joy Taylor
Contracts Assistant
Bethan Britton
Continuity
Non Eleri Hughes
Script Editor
Simon Winstone
Camera Operator
Roger Pearce
Focus Puller
Steve Rees
Grip
John Robinson
Boom Operator
Jeff Welch
Gaffer
Mark Hutchings
Best Boy
Peter Chester
Electricians
Clive Johnson
Ben Griffiths
Steve SLocombe
Stunt Co-ordinator
Abbi Collins
Chief Supervising Art Director
Stephen Nicholas
Art Department Production Manager
Jonathan Marquand Allison
Art Department Co-ordinator
Matthew North
Chief Props Master
Adrian Anscombe
Supervising Art Director
Arwel Wyn Jones
Associate Designer
James North
Set Decorator
Julian Luxton
Standby Art Director
Lee Gammon
Design Assistants
Ian Bunting
Al Roberts
Peter McKinstry
Storyboard Artist
Shaun Williams
Standby Props
Phill Shellard
Nick Murray
Standby Carpenter
Paul Jones
Standby Painter
Ellen Woods
Standby Rigger
Bryan Griffiths
Props Master
Phil Lyons
Props Buyer
Ben Morris
Props Chargehand
Gareth Jeanne
Practical Electrician
Albert James
Construction Manager
Matthew Hywel-Davies
Graphics
BBC Wales Graphics
Assistant Costume Designer
Marnie Ormiston
Costume Supervisor
Lindsay Bonaccorsi
Costume Assistants
Sheenagh O'Marah
Kirsty Wilkinson
Make-Up Artists
Pam Mullins
Steve Smith
John Munro
Special Effects Co-ordinator
Ben Ashmore
Special Effects Supervisor
Paul Kelly
Special Effects Technicians
Dan Bentley
Richard Magrin
Prosthetics Designer
Neill Gorton
Prosthetics Supervisor
Rob Mayor
On Set Prosthetics Supervisor
Pete Hawkins
Prosthetics Technician
Anthony Parker
Casting Associates
Andy Brierley
Kirsty Robertson
VFX Editor
Ceres Doyle
Assistant Editors
Tim Hodges
Matthew Mullins
Post Production Supervisors
Chris Blatchford
Samantha Hall
Post Production Co-ordinator
Marie Brown
On Line Editor
Mark Bright
Colourist
Mick Vincent
3D Artists
Nicolas Hernandez
Jean-Claude Deguara
Nick Webber
Paul Burton
Mark Wallman
2D Artists
Sara Bennett
Russell Horth
Bryan Bartlett
Joseph Courtis
Tim Barter
Greg Spencer
Adam Rowland
Visual Effects Co-ordinators
Rebecca Johnson
Jenna Powell
Digital Matte Painter
Alex Fort
On Set VFX Supervisor
Barney Curnow
Dubbing Mixer
Tim Ricketts
Supervising Sound Editor
Paul McFadden
Sound Editor
Doug Sinclair
Sound FX Editor
Paul Jefferies
Foley Editor
Kelly-Marie Angell
Finance Manager
Chris Rogers
Original Theme Music
Ron Grainer
Casting Director
Andy Pryor CDG
Production Executive
Julie Scott
Production Accountant
Oliver Ager
Sound Recordist
Ron Bailey
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
Will Oswald
Production Designer
Edward Thomas
Director of Photography
Ernie Vincze BSC
Production Manager
Patrick Schweitzer
Executive Producers
Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner


Media
DVD Releases
Doctor Who: Series 3 Volume 4 (2007; single disc)
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

Updated 14th August 2011