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New Series Episode 54:
Midnight

Plot

The sun of the planet Midnight is hostile to all life, but a leisure complex has been constructed there which filters out its deadly radiation. While Donna enjoys some rest and relaxation, the Doctor takes a shuttle to a famed Midnight attraction. But en route, the shuttle mysteriously comes to a stop and, impossibly, something begins banging on the exterior. As a strange intelligence infests one of the passengers, the Doctor finds himself fighting a losing battle against a rising tide of panic and paranoia.

Production

As had now become the norm, Doctor Who's 2008 season was designed to include two production blocks which would be “double-banked”, with each filming different episodes simultaneously. This practise had begun during the making of the programme's 2006 season, when the addition of a Christmas special to the production schedule meant that the team now needed to record fourteen episodes during a period originally intended for only thirteen. Previously, this meant that each year had featured a story which largely concentrated on a secondary character: Elton Pope in 2006's Love & Monsters and Sally Sparrow in 2007's Blink.

For 2008, however, executive producer Russell T Davies decided to try something different. His idea was to split up his main cast, so that the double-banked episodes would include one story focussing almost exclusively on the Doctor, and another showcasing Donna Noble. The latter would be Turn Left, made as the year's seventh recording block, while the Doctor-centric adventure was intended to be “Century House” by Tom MacRae, which would be paired with The Doctor's Daughter as Block Six. MacRae, who had previously written Rise Of The Cybermen / The Age Of Steel for Doctor Who's 2006 season, had originally been commissioned to write “Century House” for broadcast in 2007, but this had been deferred to the following year. The story followed the Doctor as he appeared on the reality programme Most Haunted, investigating a purported haunted house.

As preproduction on Block Six loomed, however, Davies became less enamoured of “Century House”. This was planned to be the season's eighth episode, following The Unicorn And The Wasp, and Davies was concerned about having two rather jokey stories back-to-back. Furthermore, the season's eighth episode would also be the fiftieth full-length episode since Doctor Who returned in 2005 (omitting the two brief mini-adventures which had aired as part of the Children In Need charity telethon in 2005 and 2007). Davies felt that this milestone deserved a truly original storyline.

Finally, in late September 2007, Davies began considering the possibility of writing a replacement script for “Century House” himself. He quickly devised the notion of a isolated band of accident survivors stranded in a shuttle, being infiltrated by a creature which steals their very words. Davies was inspired by the annoying habit of children to mimic others, as well as the 2003 horror film Jeepers Creepers II, about a high school basketball team trapped on a bus by an ancient monster, which happened to air on television while he was developing his storyline. Davies also drew upon the experience of writing the 2007 Christmas special, Voyage Of The Damned, in which a small group of people under siege behaved with the utmost courage and nobility. Now he wanted to explore what would happen to people in a similar situation who gave in to their fears and baser nature.

Davies wrote his script, which came to be called Midnight, very swiftly. The first draft was completed on October 18th, just a few days after it had been formally decided to replace “Century House” with Midnight. Unusually, Midnight would mark the first story since Genesis Of The Daleks in 1975 that the TARDIS would not be seen onscreen in any capacity. The shuttle that formed the principal setting of Midnight was originally referred to as Crusader 5 before Doctor Who Magazine columnist Benjamin Cook reminded Davies of the episode's milestone status. At this point, Davies renamed the vehicle Crusader 50.

The director assigned to Midnight and The Doctor's Daughter was Alice Troughton. In the role of Professor Hobbes, Troughton originally cast veteran actor Sam Kelly ('Allo 'Allo!), only to learn in mid-November that Kelly had suffered a broken leg in a traffic accident. At very short notice, the director was able to replace Kelly with another Troughton: David Troughton, the son of Patrick Troughton, who had played the Second Doctor. This would be David Troughton's fourth appearance in televised Doctor Who, and his first since portraying King Peladon in The Curse Of Peladon back in 1972. During the intervening years, he had amassed dozens of credits, including roles in Angels, A Very Peculiar Practice, Jericho and Casualty 1906. Just days earlier, he had recorded a Doctor Who audio play entitled Cuddlesome for Big Finish Productions.

Unusually for Doctor Who in the twenty-first century, virtually all of Midnight was recorded at Upper Boat Studios, beginning on November 27th. Even more unusually, Troughton chose to hew largely to the story order -- a practise which had not been common on Doctor Who since the early Seventies. The first week of filming ran until November 30th; the principal set on each day was the passenger section of Crusader 50, although part of the 28th was spent taping the material in the drivers' cabin.

Recording resumed from December 3rd to 7th. Billie Piper briefly joined the team on the 5th to record the shot of Rose which would be glimpsed on Crusader 50's screens. The last day of filming at Upper Boat was the 10th, which included the final scenes aboard Crusader 50 plus the initial sequence of the Doctor boarding the shuttle. Finally, December 11th was the lone location day for Midnight, with Dylan's Health Spa at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport providing the foyer of the Leisure Palace.

Meanwhile, changes were being made to the 2008 schedule. Although Midnight was intended to be episode eight, falling in-between The Unicorn And The Wasp and Silence In The Library / Forest Of The Dead, Davies had realised that both Steven Moffat's Forest Of The Dead and the following story, his own Turn Left, would see Donna spend much of each episode trapped in a form of alternate reality. Finally, in early December, it was decided that Midnight should be shifted to tenth in the run, splitting up the two problematic adventures. Sadly, this meant that Midnight would no longer be the fiftieth full-length episode to air as part of the Doctor Who revival, and consequently Davies' Crusader 50 reference was deprived of its intended meaning.

Midnight was broadcast on June 14th. Its audience of 8.1 million placed it fifth in the weekly viewing charts. Not only was this already this sixth Top Ten placing for Doctor Who during 2008, it tied with The Ark In Space part two, which was Number Five in 1975, as the highest-charting regular-season episode of the programme. Only the 2007 Christmas special, Voyage Of The Damned, had placed higher, coming in second the previous December. And the success of Midnight was to mark the start of a trend, as Doctor Who surged towards its season finale...

Sources
  • Outpost Gallifrey: New Doctor Who Series News Page, edited by Shaun Lyon.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #20, 19th November 2008, “Episode 10: Midnight” by Andrew Pixley, Panini Publishing Ltd.
  • Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale by Russell T Davies and Benjamin Cook (2008), BBC Books, ISBN 978 1 846 07571 1.

Original Transmission
Date 14th Jun 2008
Time 7.10pm
Duration 43'47"
Viewers (more) 8.1m (5th)
· BBC1 8.1m
Appreciation 86%


Cast
The Doctor
David Tennant
Donna Noble
Catherine Tate
Rose Tyler
Billie Piper
(more)
Hostess
Rakie Ayola
Sky Silvestry
Lesley Sharp
Professor Hobbes
David Troughton
Dee Dee Blasco
Ayesha Antoine
Val Cane
Lindsey Coulson
Biff Cane
Daniel Ryan
Jethro
Colin Morgan
Driver Joe
Tony Bluto
Mechanic Claude
Duane Henry


Crew
Written by
Russell T Davies
Directed by
Alice Troughton
Produced by
Phil Collinson
(more)

1st Assistant Director
Gareth Williams
2nd Assistant Director
Jennie Fava
3rd Assistant Director
Sarah Davies
Location Manager
Gareth Skelding
Unit Manager
Rhys Griffiths
Production Co-ordinator
Jess van Niekerk
Production Secretary
Kevin Myers
Assistant Prod Co-ordinator
Debi Griffiths
Production Runner
Nicola Brown
Floor Runner
Heddi-Joy Taylor
Contracts Assistants
Lisa Hayward
Kath Blackman
Continuity
Non Eleri Hughes
Script Editor
Helen Raynor
Camera Operators
Joe Russell
Julian Barber
Focus Pullers
Steve Rees
Duncan Fowlie
Grip
John Robinson
Camera Assistant
Tom Hartley
Boom Operator
Jeff Welch
Gaffer
Mark Hutchings
Best Boy
Peter Chester
Electricians
Steve Slocombe
Clive Johnson
Ben Griffiths
Stunt Co-ordinator
Crispin Layfield
Chief Supervising Art Director
Stephen Nicholas
Art Dept Production Manager
Jonathan Allison
Supervising Art Director
Arwel Wyn Jones
Associate Designer
James North
Art Dept Co-ordinator
Amy Pope
Set Decorator
Tim Dickel
Props Buyer
Catherine Samuel
Standby Art Director
Ciaran Thompson
Design Assistant
Al Roberts
Storyboard Artist
Shaun Williams
Standby Props
Phill Shellard
Nick Murray
Standby Carpenter
Will Pope
Standby Painter
Ellen Woods
Standby Rigger
Keith Freeman
Property Master
Phil Lyons
Dressing Chargehand
Matt Wild
Senior Props Maker
Barry Jones
Props Maker
Penny Howarth
Construction Manager
Matthew Hywel-Davies
Construction Chargehand
Allen Jones
Graphics
BBC Wales Graphics
Costume Supervisor
Lindsay Bonaccorsi
Asst Costume Designer
Rose Goodhart
Costume Assistants
Barbara Harrington
Louise Martin
Make-up Artists
Pam Mullins
Steve Smith
John Munro
Casting Associates
Andy Brierley
Amy Rogers
VFX Editor
Ceres Doyle
Assistant Editor
Carmen Roberts
Post Production Supervisors
Samantha Hall
Chris Blatchford
Post Prod Co-ordinator
Marie Brown
SFX Co-ordinator
Ben Ashmore
SFX Supervisor
Danny Hargreaves
On Line Editors
Matthew Clarke
Mark Bright
Colourist
Mick Vincent
3D Artists
Jean Claude Deguara
Nicolas Hernandez
Bruce Magroune
2D Artists
Sara Bennett
Russell Horth
Bryan Bartlett
James Etherington
Lyndall Spagnoletti
Adriano Cirulli
Matte Painter
Alex Fort
VFX Co-ordinators
Jenna Powell
Rebecca Johnson
On Set VFX Supervisor
Tim Barter
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
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
Editor
Philip Kloss
Production Designer
Edward Thomas
Director of Photography
Edward Vincze BSC
Production Manager
Peter Bennett
Executive Producers
Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner


Media
DVD Release
Doctor Who: Series 4 Volume 3 (2008; single disc)
Buy: UK
Doctor Who: The Complete Fourth Series (2008; 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