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New Series Episode 63:
The Eleventh Hour

Plot

In the English village of Leadworth, a young Scottish girl named Amelia Pond is frightened by a strange crack in her bedroom wall. When the newly-regenerated Doctor crashlands in her back garden, he discovers that the crack is actually a fracture in space and time, through which an alien criminal has escaped. Before the Doctor can recapture Prisoner Zero, he's forced to leave to stabilise the TARDIS, and accidentally delays his return by twelve years. Now, with the help of the grown-up Amy, the Doctor has to deal not only with Prisoner Zero, but with its ruthless jailers as well.

Production

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first script that Steven Moffat began writing after accepting the position of Doctor Who's executive producer and showrunner was the Eleventh Doctor's debut adventure. This would introduce both the new Doctor and his companion -- at one point called Lucy Sparrow, but eventually named Amy Pond. It would also initiate a season-long story arc about cracks in time and space, an image which had been inspired by an eerily-shaped fracture on the bedroom wall of Moffat's son Louis.

Moffat began work on The Eleventh Hour around January 2008. He was keen that this story would be very different from The Christmas Invasion, the 2005 Christmas special which had introduced David Tennant's Tenth Doctor. Whereas the Time Lord had spent much of that episode in a regenerative coma -- and the script was carried by recurring characters Rose Tyler, Mickey Smith, Jackie Tyler and Harriet Jones -- Moffat wanted the Eleventh Doctor to be at the forefront of the entire adventure, especially since there would be no recognisable characters to engage the audience. This also led Moffat to the decision that the Doctor would initially encounter Amelia Pond as a young girl before he was reunited with the adult Amy. In this way, there would be at least one character in The Eleventh Hour to whom the Doctor would be familiar.

The setting for the script was deliberately chosen as a sleepy English village, which Moffat christened Leadworth and situated near Gloucester. Moffat felt that Doctor Who had become very London-centric since the programme returned in 2005, especially given that it was home to companions Rose Tyler, Martha Jones and Donna Noble. He felt that Amy's rural background would provide some interesting variety. In writing The Eleventh Hour, Moffat found his way into the Eleventh Doctor's character by tapping into AA Milne's 1928 childen's book The House At Pooh Corner -- specifically the scene in which Tigger claims to love a variety of foods, only to react with revulsion after being presented with each one.

To help new series stars Matt Smith and Karen Gillan acclimatise to their characters, the decision was made to defer The Eleventh Hour to partway through the production of Doctor Who's thirty-first season. As such, it became the lone episode made as part of Block Three; the director was Adam Smith, who had just completed work on The Time Of Angels / Flesh And Stone. Smith had some difficulty finding a red-headed actress to play the young Amelia Pond, especially since she would need to have an accent resembling Gillan's Inverness tones. Finally, Gillan suggested her nine year-old cousin, Caitlin Blackwood; although the two had never met, Gillan knew that she fit the production team's requirements. Blackwood had no prior acting experience, but her audition went well, and she was cast as Amelia. Indeed, Gillan and Blackwood would finally meet each other for the first time at the readthrough for The Eleventh Hour.

Meanwhile, another crucial piece of casting was the role of Rory Williams, a character who would recur throughout Season Thirty-One. This went to Arthur Darvill, who was a friend of Matt Smith's from their days as castmates in the 2007 stage play Swimming With Sharks. Born Thomas Arthur Darvill, he had gotten his start in show business at an early age: his parents were both entertainers, and he had appeared in youth theatre for much of his life. Latterly, Darvill had worked for Adam Smith on the 2008 TV version of Little Dorrit, and had also earned a small role in the feature film Robin Hood which would be released in 2010.

Recording for The Eleventh Hour began on September 24th, 2009 at Upper Boat Studios -- ironically, for the closing material on the new TARDIS set. The next day, scenes in Jeff's bedroom were also taped at Upper Boat. Into this footage would be incorporated specially-filmed material involving Doctor Who's latest celebrity cameo: Sir Patrick Moore, an astronomer who had hosted The Sky At Night for the BBC since 1957. On September 26th, Smith's team headed out on location, with St Cadoc's Hospital in Caerleon providing the exterior, locker room and reception area for Leadworth Hospital. More sequences on the hospital roof were filmed on the 28th, this time at the Johnsey Estates in the Mamhilad Park Industrial Estate, Pontypool.

Leadworth itself would be largely represented by the village of Llandaff. Work there began on September 29th, when scenes in Mrs Angelo's living room were recorded at the White House. However, the rest of the week was spent elsewhere in Wales. On the 30th, Prisoner Zero's lair was actually located in The Vicarage, at Rhymney, while on October 1st and 2nd, the Leadworth Hospital coma ward and the corridor beyond were really Abertillery Hospital in Abertillery.

It was back to Llandaff from October 5th to 7th, for scenes in and around the village green. Unfortunately, the production was hampered by torrential rain, forcing some shots to be curtailed or reimagined. A major set piece on the 5th was the Doctor's point-of-view recall of the activity on the green. This was accomplished using a technique called Roaming Eye, which involved Anthony Dickenson and Dan Lowe of Partizan Lab taking hundreds of individual photographs which would be edited together to comprise the sequence. On the 6th, a brand-new Doctor Who logo was revealed -- part of a plan by Moffat and his fellow executive producers, Piers Wenger and Beth Willis, to completely refresh the programme's visual presentation. A centrepiece of the new design was that the “D” and “W” could be collapsed together to form a recognisable TARDIS shape.

Cast and crew next headed back to the Vicarage in Rhymney, where scenes inside and on the grounds of Amy's house were filmed from October 8th to 15th (omitting only the 11th), along with various inserts. From there, Smith's team paid a second visit to Abertillery Hospital on October 16th and 19th for the remaining material in and around the coma ward. For the recording there on the 19th, Smith cast Nina Wadia as Dr Ramsden, although Moffat had envisioned the character as male. Two pick-up days were then required, with footage of the Doctor driving the fire engine taped on November 18th at Upper Boat, and additional material for the Doctor's confrontation with Prisoner Zero on the Leadworth Green completed at Llandaff on the 20th.

This should have brought an end to principal photography on The Eleventh Hour. However, Moffat felt that there was a disconnect between the raucous conclusion of The End Of Time and the TARDIS appearing in Amelia's back garden. He felt that the Matt Smith era should properly begin with an exciting action scene, and late in 2009, it was decided to add a new opening sequence which would see the Doctor trying to control the crashing TARDIS only to be flung out the open doors. Moffat was writing the additional material in December, and on January 7th, 2010, the aerial view of London was captured by helicopter. Adam Smith then returned on January 10th to record Matt Smith on greenscreen and on the old TARDIS set at Upper Boat. Nikki Wilson served as the producer for this extra material; for Doctor Who, she had operated in the same capacity on 2009's The Waters Of Mars, and she was also the producer of The Sarah Jane Adventures.

The BBC planned a massive build-up to the broadcast of The Eleventh Hour, including a specially-filmed 3D cinema trailer and a bus tour on which Matt Smith and Karen Gillan hosted sneak previews of the episode for schoolchildren at a number of venues throughout the UK. On March 18th, Wenger unveiled the new TARDIS console room to the press; at the same time, he confirmed that Doctor Who would return for a Christmas special and then thirteen more episodes in 2011. One of the final elements to be added to The Eleventh Hour was the new title sequence, sporting a differently-textured time vortex to the version which had inaugurated the programme's return in 2005. This was accompanied by Murray Gold's latest rearrangement of the Doctor Who theme.

Finally, The Eleventh Hour debuted on Easter Saturday, April 3rd. The combined viewership of the BBC1 and BBCHD broadcasts exceeded 10 million viewers, besting Tennant's first outing in The Christmas Invasion. More impressively, The Eleventh Hour set a new record after being streamed 1.27 million times during the following week via the BBC's iPlayer internet service. The Eleventh Doctor's much-anticipated era was finally under way. Geronimo!

Sources
  • Doctor Who News.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #26, 30th December 2010, “The Eleventh Hour” by Andrew Pixley, Panini Publishing Ltd.

Original Transmission
Date 3rd Apr 2010
Time 6.22pm
Duration 64'28"
Viewers (more) 10.1m (3rd)
· BBC1 9.6m
· BBCHD 494k
· iPlayer 2.2m
Appreciation 86%


Cast
The Doctor
Matt Smith
Amy Pond
Karen Gillan
Rory Williams
Arthur Darvill
(more)
Amelia
Caitlin Blackwood
Dr Ramsden
Nina Wadia
Barney Collins
Marcello Magni
Ice Cream Man
Perry Benson
Mrs Angelo
Annette Crosbie
Jeff
Tom Hopper
Mr Henderson
Arthur Cox
Mother
Olivia Coleman
Child 1
Eden Monteath
Child 2
Merin Monteath
Atraxi Voice
David de Keyser
Prisoner Zero Voice
William Wilde
As himself
Patrick Moore


Crew
Written by
Steven Moffat
Directed by
Adam Smith
Produced by
Tracie Simpson
(more)

1st Asst Director
John Bennett
2nd Asst Director
James DeHaviland
3rd Asst Director
Heddi-Joy Taylor-Welch
Runners
Nicola Eynon Price
Laura Jenkins
Location Managers
Gareth Skelding
Paul Davies
Unit Manager
Rhys Griffiths
Production Manager
Holly Pullinger
Production Co-ordinator
Jess van Niekerk
Production Management Asst
Claire Thomas
Production Runner
Siân Warrilow
Asst Production Accountant
Carole Wakefield
Script Editor
Lindsey Alford
Continuity
Non Eleri Hughes
Camera Operator
Joe Russell
Focus Pullers
Steve Rees
Matthew Poynter
Grip
John Robinson
Camera Assistants
Tom Hartley
Jon Vidgen
Boom Operator
Dafydd Parry
Sound Maintenance Engineer
Jeff Welch
Gaffer
Mark Hutchings
Best Boy
Pete Chester
Electricians
Ben Griffiths
Steve Slocombe
Bob Milton
Alan Tippetts
Stunt Co-ordinator
Crispin Layfield
Supervising Art Director
Stephen Nicholas
Associate Designer
James North
Production Buyer
Ben Morris
Set Decorator
Keith Dunne
Props Buyer
Sue Jackson Potter
Standby Art Director
Ciaran Thompson
Set Designer
Rhys Jarman
Storyboard Artist
James Iles
Concept Artists
Richard Shaun Williams
Peter McKinstry
Graphic Artist
Jackson Pope
Standby Props
Phill Shellard
Tom Evans
Standby Carpenter
Will Pope
Standby Rigger
Keith Freeman
Standby Painter
Ellen Woods
Props Master
Paul Aitken
Props Chargehand
Matt Wild
Dressing Props
Martin Broadbent
Rhys Jones
Props Makers
Penny Howarth
Nicholas Robatto
Practical Electrician
Albert James
Construction Manager
Matthew Hywel-Davies
Construction Chargehand
Scott Fisher
Scenic Artists
John Pinkerton
John Whalley
Graphics
BBC Wales Graphics
Title Sequence
FrameStore
Roaming Eye SFX Directors
Anthony Dickenson
Dan Lowe
Costume Supervisor
Bobbie Peach
Costume Assistants
Sara Morgan
Maria Franchi
Make-Up Supervisor
Pam Mullins
Make-Up Artists
Abi Brotherton
Morag Smith
Casting Associates
Andy Brierley
Alice Purser
Assistant Editor
Cat Gregory
VFX Editor
Ceres Doyle
Post Prod. Supervisors
Chris Blatchford
Samantha Hall
Post Prod. Co-ordinator
Marie Brown
Dubbing Mixer
Tim Ricketts
Supervising Sound Editor
Paul McFadden
Sound Effects Editor
Paul Jefferies
Foley Editor
Helen Dickson
Colourist
Mick Vincent
On-Line Conform
Matthew Clarke
Mark Bright
Original Theme Music
Ron Grainer
Casting Director
Andy Pryor CDG
Production Executive
Julie Scott
Production Accountant
Ceri Tothill
Sound Recordist
Bryn Thomas
Costume Designer
Ray Holman
Make-Up Designer
Barbara Southcott
Visual Effects
The Mill
Special Effects
Real SFX
Music
Murray Gold
Editor
Jamie Pearson
Production Designer
Edward Thomas
Director Of Photography
Owen McPolin
Line Producer
Patrick Schweitzer
Executive Producers
Steven Moffat
Piers Wenger
Beth Willis


Media
DVD Release
Doctor Who: Series 5 Volume 1 (single disc; 2010)
Buy: UK
Doctor Who: The Complete Fifth Series (2010; boxed set)
Buy: Canada · UK · USA
Blu-ray Release
Doctor Who: Series 5 Volume 1 (single disc; 2010)
Buy: UK
Doctor Who: The Complete Fifth Series (2010; boxed set)
Buy: Canada · UK · USA

Updated 4th August 2013