New Series Episode 64:
The Beast Below


Hundreds of years in the future, the population of Britain has fled an Earth ravaged by solar flares, aboard the mammoth Starship UK. But the Doctor and Amy discover that something about the enormous vessel is very wrong. The ship moves even though its engines aren't working, whole sections are closed off under mysterious circumstances, and the sinister robotic Smilers punish the disobedient. The Doctor finds himself assisted by an enigmatic female vigilante, while Amy learns the truth at the heart of Starship UK... but it's a truth that she can't bear to remember.


After writing The Time Of Angels / Flesh And Stone, Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat next turned his attention to the second story of the season. In particular, he wanted this episode to give Amy the opportunity to save the day, preventing the Doctor from making an understandable but terrible mistake, and thereby establish herself firmly as a worthy occupant of the TARDIS. Moffat was also keen to emphasise the fairytale nature of Doctor Who throughout the season. This adventure would embody that philosophy most fully, landing the Doctor and Amy in the midst of a fantastical, vaguely distorted and slightly sinister version of the real world. The script ultimately gained the title The Beast Below.

Assigned to direct the story, alongside Victory Of The Daleks, was Andrew Gunn. Gunn had begun his career making a number of short films; he eventually moved into television, directing for series such as The Bill, Life On Mars, Primeval and Survivors. The pair of episodes would be made as the second production block of the season. Cast in the role of Liz 10 was Sophie Okonedo, who had risen to fame after appearing in the dramatic feature film Hotel Rwanda. However, this was not Okonedo's first brush with Doctor Who. In 2003, she had provided the voice of companion Alison Cheney in the animated webcast Scream Of The Shalka, opposite Richard E Grant as a putative Ninth Doctor. At the time, it was planned that Scream Of The Shalka would inaugurate the official continuation of Doctor Who -- a plan that was quickly scuppered some months later following the decision to the bring the programme back to television.

Sophie Okonedo had played the Doctor's companion Alison in a 2003 animated webcast

Gunn planned to concentrate on filming Victory Of The Daleks early in the production block, and so the first scene shot for The Beast Below was Winston Churchill's cameo appearance, recorded at the bunker of the Joint Resilience Unit in Swansea on August 24th, 2009. This was the only footage completed for The Beast Below until September 7th, when the material involving the Doctor and Amy in the Star Whale's mouth was taped at ITV Studios in Cardiff. The next day, the team repaired to Upper Boat Studios to film the TARDIS scenes. On the 9th and 10th, Neath Abbey in Neath posed as the Tower of London.

The remaining location days for The Beast Below were spent at the Johnsey Estates, part of the Mamhilad Park Industrial Estate in Pontypool. On September 11th and 12th, scenes in the voting booth were recorded. A number of Starship UK settings were represented on the 14th, including Mandy and Timmy's classroom, where two of the pupils were played by Gunn's children. The remaining days -- spanning September 15th to 18th -- were chiefly spent on the mammoth London Concourse set erected on location.

September 21st took cast and crew back to Upper Boat, for sequences in the Vator, the Tower of London, the observation deck, and the overspill pipe. The next day, Gunn's team moved to the Orangery in Port Talbot, for material in Buckingham Palace. The 23rd was again spent at Upper Boat, mainly for a variety of insert shots.

After the end of principal photography, Moffat made a number of amendments to the script for The Beast Below. Gunn's schedule did not permit him to participate in the necessary reshoots, and so Doctor Who veteran Euros Lyn -- who had most recently worked on The End Of Time, the final story of the David Tennant era -- was pressed into service. On November 2nd, Lyn filmed an expanded opening TARDIS scene at Upper Boat, with Amy floating in space. Two days later, more material was recorded at Upper Boat for The Beast Below, most notably a new sequence involving the Doctor and Amy in the window room. Pick-up shots were the order of the day at Upper Boat on both the 5th and 16th. In between, on the 12th, additional material of the Doctor and Liz 10 in the stardrive corridor was taped: in Moffat's original script, the two did not meet properly until Liz 10 rescued him and Amy in the overspill pipe, but he now intended their first encounter to occur much earlier in the episode.

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

Original Transmission
Date 10th Apr 2010
Time 6.20pm
Duration 41'58"
Viewers (more) 8.4m (10th)
· BBC1 7.9m
· BBCHD 494k
· iPlayer 1.6m
Appreciation 86%

The Doctor
Matt Smith
Amy Pond
Karen Gillan
Liz 10
Sophie Okonedo
Terrence Hardiman
Hannah Sharp
Alfie Field
Christopher Good
David Ajala
Poem Girl
Catrin Richards
Jonathan Battersby
Voice of Smilers / Winder
Chris Porter
Ian McNeice

Written by
Steven Moffat
Directed by
Andrew Gunn
Produced by
Peter Bennett

1st Asst Director
Steve Robinson
2nd Asst Director
James DeHaviland
3rd Asst Director
Heddi-Joy Taylor-Welch
Nicola Eynon Price
Laura Jenkins
Location Managers
Gareth Skelding
Paul Davies
Unit Manager
Rhys Griffiths
Assistant Unit Manager
Geraint Williams
Production Manager
Steffan Morris
Production Co-ordinator
Jess van Niekerk
Production Management Asst
Claire Thomas
Production Runner
Siân Warrilow
Asst Production Accountant
Carole Wakefield
Script Editor
Brian Minchin
Non Eleri Hughes
Camera Operator
Martin Stephens
Focus Pullers
Steve Rees
Shirley Schumacher
John Robinson
Camera Assistants
Tom Hartley
Jon Vidgen
Boom Operator
Dafydd Parry
Sound Maintenance Engineer
Jeff Welch
Mark Hutchings
Best Boy
Pete Chester
Ben Griffiths
Steve Slocombe
Bob Milton
Alan Tippetts
Stunt Co-ordinator
Crispin Layfield
Supervising Art Director
Stephen Nicholas
Associate Designer
James North
Art Dept Co-ordinator
Amy Pope
Production Buyer
Ben Morris
Set Decorator
Arwel Wyn Jones
Props Buyer
Catherine Samuel
Standby Art Director
Dafydd Shurmer
Set Designer
Ben Austin
Storyboard Artist
Rod Knipping
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
BBC Wales Graphics
Title Sequence
Costume Supervisor
Lindsay Bonaccorsi
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
Samantha Hall
Chris Blatchford
Post Prod. Co-ordinator
Marie Brown
Dubbing Mixer
Tim Ricketts
Supervising Sound Editor
Paul McFadden
Sound Effects Editor
Paul Jefferies
Foley Editor
Helen Dickson
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
Millennium FX
Murray Gold
John Richards
Additional Editing
Mat Newman
Production Designer
Edward Thomas
Director Of Photography
Graham Frake
Line Producer
Patrick Schweitzer
Executive Producers
Steven Moffat
Piers Wenger
Beth Willis

Updated 4th August 2013