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New Series Episodes 74 / 75:
The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang

Plot

A message transmitted down through history draws the Doctor and Amy to England in AD 102. There they find River Song waiting for them, with a warning that a legendary prison called the Pandorica, hidden beneath Stonehenge, is about to open. But the Pandorica is actually a trap set for the Doctor by a legion of his oldest enemies. And meanwhile, a mysterious force has seized control of the TARDIS, setting in motion an explosion which threatens to destroy the entire universe. With the Doctor imprisoned in the Pandorica for eternity, will silence fall across all time and space?

Production

Ever since the return of Doctor Who in 2005, each season had featured an ongoing plot which culminated in the final story. The preference of former showrunner Russell T Davies had been to seed ideas into earlier episodes which would foreshadow the climactic adventure, as with the phrase “Bad Wolf” during Season Twenty-Seven, the establishment of the Torchwood Institute in Season Twenty-Eight, the introduction of Harold Saxon throughout Season Twenty-Nine, and finally the lost planets and missing bees of Season Thirty.

For Season Thirty-One, new executive producer Steven Moffat wanted to continue this tradition, and planted appearances by the sinister crack in time throughout the year's stories. Conversely, Moffat also sought to incorporate elements from each of the preceding adventures into his two-part season finale, which meant that he had to start planning the serial at a very early stage. As such, Moffat was able to realise one concept he was keen to attempt, by including a scene in the season's fifth episode, Flesh And Stone, which (unbeknownst to viewers at the time) would actually feature the time-displaced Doctor of the finale.

The plan also required Moffat to script some material for the climactic adventure which could be filmed alongside various episodes throughout the production schedule, to take advantage of the availabilities of castmembers and locations. As a result, several scenes intended to form part of the pre-credits sequence for the season's penultimate episode were directed by Andrew Gunn during Block Two of recording. On August 26th, 2009, a scene featuring Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Edwin Bracewell from Victory Of The Daleks, set in Churchill's offices, was taped at the bunker of the Joint Resilience Unit in Swansea. This was followed on August 31st by a shot of Bracewell hurrying along a corridor, which actually took place at Brackla Bunkers in Bridgend. Then, on September 22nd, Gunn shot elements of a scene involving Liz Ten (from The Beast Below) and River Song in Buckingham Palace, at the Orangery in Margam Country Park, Margam. On December 3rd, during work on Block Five, an establishing shot of Vincent Van Gogh's Yellow House (as seen in Vincent And The Doctor) was captured by director Jonny Campbell in Vrsine, Croatia on December 3rd.

While all of this preliminary work was going on, Moffat and his fellow executive producers, Piers Wenger and Beth Willis, learned that their original plan for the season's shooting schedule was not feasible. The intention had been to make the two-part finale as Block Seven, the last recording block of the year. However, early in the autumn, it became clear that this would give effects house The Mill insufficient time to complete what would no doubt be an ambitious pair of episodes; instead, the finale would have to be made as Block Six. Effectively stripped of nearly two months' writing time, Moffat spent the remainder of 2009 busily completing his scripts, which became known as The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang. His drafts of the two episodes were completed on December 1st.

Part of Moffat's intention with the finale was to engage in a spot of wish-fulfillment by confronting the Doctor with an army of his past foes. (The Pandorica Opens would ultimately feature either appearances by, or references to, the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Sontarans, the Autons and the Nestene Consciousness, the Silurians, the Judoon, the Sycorax, the Hoix, the Roboforms, the Weevils, the Blowfish aliens, the Uvodni, the Zygons, the Draconians, the Slitheen, the Drahvins, the Atraxi, the Terileptils, and the Chelonians. The latter had never been seen on television in Doctor Who or its spin-offs, but had made several appearances in the Doctor Who: The New Adventures range of novels published by Virgin Books in the 1990s, starting with 1993's The Highest Science by Gareth Roberts.) Moffat felt that such an epic showdown demanded an equally epic setting, and this led him to situate the key events of The Pandorica Opens around (and below) Stonehenge.

In addition to referencing the season's various stories, Moffat also wanted the finale to play with the possibilities of time travel more directly than Doctor Who had attempted in the past. To this end, he incorporated a complex sequence in which the Doctor hopped back and forth through time in order to save Amy and then gain access to the Pandorica. Moffat acknowledged that this kind of paradoxical business could undermine the drama of Doctor Who, but felt that the universe-ending threat of the story warranted such rule-breaking by the Doctor. He also sought to make use of the notion of a character travelling backwards along his own timeline. This was a concept he remembered encountering in The Making Of Doctor Who, the milestone behind-the-scenes chronicle of the series written in 1972 by Malcolm Hulke and Terrance Dicks.

With Gunn and Campbell having made their contributions to The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang, the reins of the serial were now turned over to director Toby Haynes. Haynes was a lifelong Doctor Who fan whose previous credits included MI High, Spooks: Code 9, Being Human and Five Days. His first day of recording came on December 15th at Sutton Farm in Llandow, while Block Five was still in production. On this date, Haynes took the director's chair from Campbell after a day of work on Vincent And The Doctor to record the pre-credits scene involving Van Gogh.

Block Six proper got under way on January 14th, 2010 at Upper Boat Studios, the first of two consecutive days devoted to scenes in the TARDIS. Next, the National Museum housing the Pandorica was actually Brangwyn Hall in Swansea. Work there spanned January 18th to 23rd, and also included shots of the Doctor piloting the Pandorica. Caitlin Blackwood returned to play the young Amelia, as she had in The Eleventh Hour; this time, however, she actually got to share screentime with her cousin, Karen Gillan. Additional material in the National Museum -- particularly in the foyer -- was then taped, appropriately enough, at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff on the 25th. The same day, more Cardiff recording included the Stormcage sequence at Millennium Stadium, and River's meeting with Dorium in the Maldovarium, which occurred at the Crystal nightclub.

On January 26th, the Miskin Manor Hotel in Llantrisant provided the venue for Amy and Rory's wedding reception. Work there concluded on the 27th, at which point cast and crew relocated to the Vicarage in Rhymney, which was again serving as Amy's house in Leadworth. Haynes' team remained at the Vicarage until the 29th; on the last day, the scene in Rory's bathroom was also filmed there. On February 1st, the grounds of Margam Country Park were the site of the Roman encampment, and also afforded Haynes the opportunity to record the Doctor, Amy and River traversing the English countryside.

The centrepoint of the shoot came on February 2nd, the lone day that Haynes and his team would spend at Stonehenge, near Salisbury in Wiltshire. Because the stone circle was open to the public for much of the day, cast and crew had to take full advantage of the time in-between, and especially of the limited hour of daylight they enjoyed on the morning of the 3rd. That night, the Doctor Who team returned to Margam Country Park for additional Stonehenge footage, this time at a replica that had been constructed which the crew dubbed “Foamhenge”. Work there continued through to the 5th and allowed for shots forbidden at the real Stonehenge, such as the Doctor standing atop one of the megaliths. Also on the last day, the Orangery at Margam once again represented Liz Ten's Buckingham Palace, this time for River Song's half of her encounter with the future monarch.

The rest of principal photography was largely scheduled to take place at Upper Boat. On February 6th, scenes in the Centurions' tent were taped alongside further material in the TARDIS. Work on the 8th began with sequences inside the Pandorica, before proceeding to the massive “Underhenge” set -- this was the largest set yet created for Doctor Who, and was designed to evoke the feel of Steven Spielberg's 1981 blockbuster Raiders Of The Lost Ark. On the 9th, the cast was joined by actor Tim Baggaley who, as an amputee, was able to bring the one-armed Cyberman to life without the need for complicated effects work. On the 10th, both the Pandorica chamber and TARDIS sets were in use, and Haynes continued to record scenes in the Underhenge on the 11th, 12th, 15th and 16th.

The last day of Block Six was February 17th, which again saw filming take place on the sets for both the TARDIS and the Underhenge, along with several pick-up and effects shots -- such as the Doctor and Amy seeing River's message on Planet One. At the same time, a long shot of the Doctor, Amy and River on horseback was recorded using stand-ins at Gelligaer Common in Gelligaer. Haynes taped additional inserts -- largely involving the headless Cyberman -- at Upper Boat on March 3rd. This left only the scene of the Doctor watching as Amy leaves the note which will direct him to Craig Owen, as implied by the events of The Lodger. This was filmed in two parts, at Westville Road in Cardiff on March 4th and at Taff Terrace in Radyr on March 18th.

In keeping with the narrative, The Big Bang aired on the date of Amy and Rory's wedding -- June 26th -- and brought Doctor Who's thirty-first season to a close. Despite the complete changeover of cast and production team, the programme continued to be a massive success, regularly placing within the Top Twenty shows of the week in the UK. Even more remarkably, Doctor Who was tapping into new audiences, as it had become one of the most popular downloads via the BBC's iPlayer platform, and was also reaching unprecedented heights of popularity in North America. 2010 was a year of transition for Doctor Who, but its latest regeneration had simply secured its future for the years to come...

Sources
  • Doctor Who News.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #27, 16th March 2011, “The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang” by Andrew Pixley, Panini Publishing Ltd.

Original Transmission
1: The Pandorica Opens
Date 19th Jun 2010
Time 6.39pm
Duration 48'50"
Viewers (more) 7.6m (10th)
· BBC1 6.9m
· BBCHD 635k
· iPlayer 1.4m
Appreciation 88%
2: The Big Bang
Date 26th Jun 2010
Time 6.06pm
Duration 53'41"
Viewers (more) 6.7m (10th)
BBC1 6.1m
BBCHD 578k
iPlayer 1.4m
Appreciation 89%


Cast
The Doctor
Matt Smith
Amy Pond
Karen Gillan
River Song
Alex Kingston
(more)
Rory
Arthur Darvill
Vincent
Tony Curran
Bracewell
Bill Paterson
Winston Churchill
Ian McNeice
Liz Ten
Sophie Okonedo
Claudio
Marcus O'Donovan
Commander
Clive Wood
Commander Stark
Christopher Ryan
Cyber Leader
Ruari Mears
Judoon
Paul Kasey
Doctor Gachet
Howard Lee
Dalek
Barnaby Edwards
Dorium
Simon Fisher Becker
Guard
Joe Jacobs
Madame Vernet
Chrissie Cotterill
Marcellus
David Fynn
Dalek Voice
Nicholas Briggs
Amelia
Caitlin Blackwood
Aunt Sharon
Susan Vidler
Christine
Frances Ashman
Stone Dalek
Barnaby Edwards
Dave
William Pretsell
Mr Pond
Halcro Johnston
Tabetha
Karen Westwood


Crew
Written by
Steven Moffat
Directed by
Toby Haynes
Produced by
Peter Bennett
(more)

Daleks created by
Terry Nation
1st Assistant Director
Marcus Catlin
2nd Assistant Director
James DeHaviland
3rd Assistant Director
Heddi-Joy Taylor-Welch
Runners
Nicola Eynon Price
Laura Jenkins
Location Manager
Gareth Skelding
Unit Manager
Rhys Griffiths
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
Lindsey Alford
Continuity
Non Eleri Hughes
Camera Operator
Rob Arrowsmith
Focus Pullers
Steve Rees
Matthew Poynter
Grip
John Robinson
Camera Assistants
Tom Hartley
Jon Vidgen
Camera Trainee
Darren Chesney
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
Art Department Co-ordinator
Amy Oakes
Production Buyer
Ben Morris
Set Decorator
Julian Luxton
Props Buyer
Adrian Anscombe
Standby Art Director
Ciaran Thompson
Set Designer
Ben Austin
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
Kate Meyrick
Props Master
Paul Aitken
Props Chargehand
Matt Wild
Dressing Props
Martin Broadbent
Philip Everett-Lyons
Art Department Driver
Tom Belton
Props Fabrication Manager
Barry Jones
Props Makers
Penny Howarth
Nicholas Robatto
Practical Electrician
Albert James
Construction Manager
Matthew Hywel-Davies
Construction Chargehand
Scott Fisher
Construction Workshop Manager
Mark Hill
Scenic Artists
John Pinkerton
John Whalley
Graphics
BBC Wales Graphics
Title Sequence
FrameStore
Costume Supervisor
Lindsay Bonaccorsi
Costume Assistants
Sara Morgan
Maria Franchi
Costume Trainee
Nikki Lightfoot
Make-Up Supervisor
Pam Mullins
Make-Up Artists
Abi Brotherton
Morag Smith
Unit Drivers
Sean Evans
Wayne Humphreys
Darren Crowlegroves
Casting Associate
Andy Brierley
Assistant Editor
Becky Trotman
VFX Editor
Cat Gregory
Post Prod Supervisors
Nerys Davies
Chris Blatchford
Ceres Doyle
Post Prod Co-ordinator
Marie Brown
Dubbing Mixer
Tim Ricketts
Sound Supervisor
Paul McFadden
Sound Effects Editor
Paul Jefferies
Colourist
Mick Vincent
Online Conform
Mark Bright
Lead 3D Artist
Matt McKinney
Lead Animator
Neil Roche
3D Artists
Jeff North
Darren Byford
Wayde Duncan-Smith
Adrian Bell
David Jones
Ruth Bailey
Serena Cacciato
Andy Guest
Dominic Anderson
Nick Bell
Zahra Al Nabib
Nick Webber
Lead Digital Matte Painter
Simon Wicker
Digital Matte Painters
Ron Bowman
Alex Fort
Charlie Bennet
2D Supervisor
Izzy Barber
Compositors
Greg Spencer
Joe Courtis
Arianna Lago
Bryan Bartlett
James Moxon
Lyndall Spagnoletti
Grainne Freeman
Tim Barter
Rosemary Chester
Frank Hanna
James Etherington
Sara Bennett
VFX Co-ordinators
Alex Fitzgerald
Lorna Dumba
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
Music
Murray Gold
Visual FX Supervisor
Dave Houghton
Executive Visual FX Producer
Will Cohen
Visual FX Producer
Jenna Powell
Special Effects
Real SFX
Prosthetics
Millennium FX
Editor
Mat Newman
Production Designer
Edward Thomas
Director Of Photography
Stephan Pehrsson
Line Producer
Patrick Schweitzer
Executive Producers
Piers Wenger
Beth Willis
Steven Moffat


Media
DVD Release
Doctor Who: Series 5 Volume 4 (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 4 (single disc; 2010)
Buy: UK
Doctor Who: The Complete Fifth Series (2010; boxed set)
Buy: Canada · UK · USA

Updated 4th August 2013