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New Series Episode 90:
Closing Time

Plot

Having left Amy and Rory behind for their own safety as he prepares for the end of his life, the Doctor pays a visit to Craig Owens. Craig is now a father, struggling to bring up baby Alfie, and barely aware of the strange events unfolding around him. People are going missing, unexplained electrical surges plague the neighbourhood, and a mysterious silver rat stalks the local shopping mall. Almost despite himself, Craig helps the Doctor uncover the Cybermen and their Cybermats at work. But is this an invasion, or something else?

Production

Ever since its return in 2005, a season of Doctor Who had always wrapped up with a two-part finale. For Season Thirty-Two, however, executive producer Steven Moffat instituted a number of changes to the season format, including a climax confined to single episode. The year's penultimate story would instead serve as something of a thematic prelude -- a “calm before the storm” in which the Doctor, preparing to face his apparently imminent demise, enjoyed a brief holiday visiting an old friend.

The old friend in question would be Craig Owens, who had been introduced in Season Thirty-One's The Lodger, written by Gareth Roberts. Moffat had been delighted with that episode's reception, and confirmed with actor James Corden that he would be willing to return to the role. As such, on July 8th, 2010 Moffat offered Roberts the opportunity to write a sequel. Roberts quickly began working on the new adventure, and had prepared a storyline by mid-September. Keen to place the Doctor and Craig's escapades in a mundane, everyday environment, Roberts considered settings such as a hospital, a police station and a supermarket before finally settling on a shopping centre.

The Cybermats had not been seen since 1975's Revenge Of The Cybermen

Roberts was instructed to include only a fleeting appearance for Amy and Rory, as his episode would be in production alongside another story (ultimately The Girl Who Waited) which would focus on the Doctor's companions. The involvement of Craig's wife Sophie in the plot would also have to be limited, due to actress Daisy Haggard's commitments to the play Becky Shaw. On the other hand, Roberts was eager to incorporate a classic monster, because he was aware that no other Season Thirty-Two adventure was doing so in any substantial manner. Although he settled on the Cybermen, Roberts felt that the nature of the story dictated that they should lurk in the background for much of the episode. As such, he also decided to resurrect the Cybermats, the Cybermen's rodent-like servitors not seen since 1975's Revenge Of The Cybermen.

Roberts' storyline soon acquired the working title “Three Cybermen And A Baby”, referring to the 1987 comedy 3 Men And A Baby starring Tom Selleck and Ted Danson. Craig and Sophie's child was originally a girl, first named Grace and later Tess. The disappearances were not a new phenomenon, but occurred every few decades, to be accompanied by strange graffiti. Much was made of the history of a market which had been held for centuries on the site of the shopping centre; the Cybermat would have been found entombed within its foundation stone. It transpired that the being responsible for the kidnappings was a Cyberscout -- referred to as “the Guardian” -- which had operated on automatic for centuries, with the graffiti part of its reconnaissance procedure. Over the years, the Guardian had gradually replaced its defective parts with human limbs and organs when it periodically awoke from dormancy. Now nothing was left of the original Cyberman, and it was protecting Colchester from the other Cybermen which lay underground in suspended animation. After an ending in which Craig destroys the Cybermen with a wrecking ball was dismissed, the climax subsequently hinged on the Doctor transmitting the Guardian's personality into the reactivated Cybermen, overwhelming them.

The Doctor's ability to converse with Alfie was a late addition suggested by Steven Moffat

Roberts' first draft was completed in early November. By the end of January 2011, the baby had become a boy named Alfie, and the historical element of the disappearances had been dropped. The episode was now untitled, after a decision to double the number of Cybermen effectively scuppered “Three Cybermen And A Baby”. One element which came late to the story's development was the Doctor's ability to converse with Alfie; Moffat had come up with the idea of the Doctor speaking “Baby” while writing A Good Man Goes To War, and now suggested its inclusion to Roberts. The final two scenes -- the three children remembering their encounter with the Doctor, and Madame Kovarian's reunion with River Song -- were left for Moffat to write, so that the conclusion would effectively segue into the season finale, The Wedding Of River Song.

Block Six of the Doctor Who recording schedule (actually the seventh to go into production) would consist solely of Roberts' episode. The director would be Steve Hughes, who had originally written and directed short films before moving into television as an editor. More recently, Hughes had directed numerous episodes of Doctors alongside other shows such as Holby City. Executive producer Beth Willis had noticed Hughes' work on the three seasons of Land Girls, prompting his invitation to direct for Doctor Who.

Hughes would be working under a new producer, in the form of Denise Paul. Paul had been the show's line producer for most of Season Thirty-Two, but would now enjoy a temporary promotion so that regular producer Marcus Wilson could concentrate on The Girl Who Waited. Previously, Paul had worked as a script editor on programmes including Rebus and Taggart.

Work on the Cyberman story began on March 3rd at the House of Fraser department store in Cardiff for scenes in Sanderson & Grainger's. Previously branded as a Howell's, this was the same establishment which had posed as Rose Tyler's workplace, Henrik's, in 2005's Rose. March 4th at the House of Fraser was the only day Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill were needed for filming on the episode. Cast and crew then returned to the location on the 7th and 8th for recording which included the debut of the new Cybermat prop. Unlike the versions which had appeared in the Sixties and Seventies, the appearance of this model was directly patterned after the Cybermen themselves.

No fewer than seven babies were employed to portray Alfie

From March 9th to 14th (with the exception of the 13th), Hughes' team taped scenes set in and around Craig's house at a home on Church Road in Penarth. Craig and Sophie now lived on the fictional Sheckley Street, an homage to American science-fiction writer Robert Sheckley. By the time production wrapped at Church Road, no fewer than seven babies had been employed to portray Alfie.

On March 15th, shooting on the Cybership set began at Upper Boat Studios. At this point, Cyberman costumes originally created for their debut twenty-first century appearance in Rise Of The Cybermen / The Age Of Steel were still in use, although the wear and tear of the last six years had begun to take their toll. Fortunately, this ideally suited Roberts' script, and so the outfits eked out one more appearance. More Cybership sequences were recorded on the 16th and 17th. The latter day also saw material filmed in the tunnel leading to the crashed vessel, the lift, and the changing rooms, as well as some pick-up shots.

Additional inserts were completed at Upper Boat on March 20th, alongside the attack on Shona in the changing room area and an ultimately deleted scene in the stock room in which a warehouseman is killed by a Cyberman while assembling a mannequin. On April 6th, the effects shots of Craig being Cyber-converted were completed in studio. The next day, Hughes was back on location at Hensol Castle in Hensol for the scene of River Song being confronted by Madame Kovarian. The shot of River underwater in the NASA spacesuit was also captured there against a greenscreen. Finally, pick-ups of Alfie in Val's arms were taped at Upper Boat on April 21st.

In searching for a title for the episode, some consideration had been given to “The Last Adventure” in order to further presage the Doctor's putative death in the season finale. Meanwhile, after proving unable to come up with a satisfactory idea which would incorporate the word “Lodger”, Roberts instead began searching for something which would reflect the story's department store setting. It was his writing partner, Clayton Hickman, who finally suggested Closing Time.

Sources
  • Doctor Who News.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #31, 8th August 2012, “Closing Time” by Andrew Pixley, Panini UK Ltd.

Original Transmission
Date 24th Sep 2011
Time 7.10pm
Duration 45'05"
Viewers (more) 6.9m (20th)
· BBC1/HD 6.9m
· iPlayer 1.1m
Appreciation 86%


Cast
The Doctor
Matt Smith
Amy Pond
Karen Gillan
Rory
Arthur Darvill
(more)
Craig Owens
James Corden
Sophie
Daisy Haggard
River Song
Alex Kingston
Madame Kovarian
Frances Barber
Shona
Seroca Davis
Kelly
Holli Dempsey
George
Chris Obi
Val
Lynda Baron
Cyberman
Paul Kasey
Voice of the Cybermen
Nicholas Briggs


Crew
Written by
Gareth Roberts
Directed by
Steve Hughes
Produced by
Denise Paul
(more)

Stunt Coordinator
Crispin Layfield
Stunt Performer
Gordon Seed
1st Assistant Director
Sarah Davies
2nd Assistant Director
James DeHaviland
3rd Assistant Director
Michael Curtis
Assistant Director
Harry Bunch
Location Manager
Iwan Roberts
Unit Manager
Jason Keatley
Location Assistant
Geraint Williams
Production Managers
Phillipa Cole
Claire Hildred
Asst Production Coordinator
Helen Blyth
Production Secretaries
Scott Handcock
Siân Warrilow
Production Assistants
Charlie Coombes
Ross Southard
Asst Production Accountant
Kristina Raschboeck
Script Executive
Lindsey Alford
Script Supervisor
Caroline Holder
Camera Operator
Joe Russell
Focus Pullers
James Scott
Julius Ogden
Grip
Clive Baldwin
Camera Assistants
Svetlana Miko
Becky Pesco
Kyle Brown
Assistant Grip
Gary Sheppard
Sound Maintenance Engineers
Ed Brookes
Laura Coates
Gaffer
Micky Reeves
Best Boy
Francis Sparey
Electricians
Geoff Holloway
Peter Scott
Scott Smallwood
Supervising Art Director
Stephen Nicholas
Set Decorator
Julian Luxton
Production Buyer
Ben Morris
Standby Art Director
Ciaran Thompson
Assistant Art Director
Jackson Pope
Concept Artist
Richard Shaun Williams
Props Master
Paul Aitken
Props Buyer
Catherine Samuel
Prop Chargehand
James North
Standby Props
Julia Challis
Dewi Thomas
Dressing Props
Phil Everett Lyons
Graphic Artist
Christina Tom
Draughtsman
Julia Jones
Design Assistant
Dan Martin
Petty Cash Buyer
Kate Wilson
Standby Carpenter
Paul Jones
Standby Rigger
Zac Henderson
Store Person
Jayne Davies
Props Makers
Penny Howarth
Nicholas Robatto
Props Driver
Medard Mankos
Practical Electrician
Albert James
Construction Manager
Matthew Hywel-Davies
Construction Chargehand
Scott Fisher
Assistant Costume Designer
Samantha Keeble
Costume Supervisor
Vicky Salway
Costume Assistants
Jason Gill
Frances Morris
Make-Up Supervisor
Pam Mullins
Make-Up Artists
Vivienne Simpson
Cathy Davies
VFX Producer
Beewan Athwal
Casting Associate
Alice Purser
Assistant Editors
Becky Trotman
Lee Bhogal
VFX Editor
Cat Gregory
Post Production Supervisors
Nerys Davies
Ceres Doyle
Post Production Coordinator
Marie Brown
Dubbing Mixer
Tim Ricketts
ADR Editor
Matthew Cox
Dialogue Editor
Darran Clement
Sound Effects Editor
Paul Jefferies
Foley Editor
Jamie Talbutt
Online Editor
Jeremy Lott
Colourist
Gareth Spensley
Cybermen created by
Kit Pedler &
Gerry Davis
Original Theme Music
Ron Grainer
Casting Director
Andy Pryor CDG
Production Executive
Julie Scott
Production Accountant
Dyfed Thomas
Sound Recordist
Helen McIlveen-Wilson
Costume Designer
Barbara Kidd
Make-Up Designer
Barbara Southcott
Music
Murray Gold
Visual Effects
BBC Wales Graphics
The Mill
Special Effects
Real SFX
Prosthetics
Millennium FX
Editor
Anthony Boys
Production Designer
Michael Pickwoad
Director Of Photography
Balazs Bolygo
Line Producer
Diana Barton
Series Producer
Marcus Wilson
Executive Producers
Steven Moffat
Piers Wenger
Beth Willis


Working Titles
Three Cybermen And A Baby
The Last Adventure

Updated 26th July 2014