New Series Episode 96:
The Power Of Three


Amy and Rory awake one morning to find that the entire Earth is overrun with little black cubes. The Doctor is already investigating, suspecting an alien invasion, but the cubes are featureless and inert. Even the assistance of Rory's father, Brian, and UNIT's Kate Stewart -- the daughter of the Doctor's old friend, the Brigadier -- brings the Time Lord no closer to solving the mystery. And as the Doctor's stay stretches into weeks and then months, Amy and Rory are forced to confront their own future as adventurers in time and space.


It was always intended that Chris Chibnall would write two episodes for Doctor Who's thirty-third season. At an early stage of planning, he was scheduled to write Dinosaurs On A Spaceship for early in the season before the departure of Amy and Rory, and then a second story with the new companion which would air later in the run. At this point, it was planned to transmit four episodes in the autumn of 2012 (culminating in Amy and Rory's departure), introduce the new series regular in the Christmas special, and then broadcast the remaining nine installments in Spring 2013.

Around December 2011, however, it was decided to rebalance the two segments of Season Thirty-Three to bring an additional episode forward to the fall. Executive producer Steven Moffat wanted this fifth autumn story to focus on the way that Amy and Rory experienced life, with the Doctor randomly appearing to take them on adventures every few months. He had been pleased with Chibnall's portrayal of their relationship in the draft scripts for Dinosaurs On A Spaceship, and so offered him this episode on top of the story still planned to feature the new companion. Chibnall agreed, and began writing the tale -- which would be Amy and Rory's penultimate appearance -- around the end of January 2012. Soon thereafter, Chibnall learned that his mystery-drama series Broadchurch had been commissioned by ITV. As a result, while he would still be able to complete the Amy-Rory adventure, he would now be unable to complete his planned third script for the season.

Chris Chibnall drew upon his childhood love for the Jon Pertwee era, which suggested the involvement of UNIT

Moffat's starting point for the episode was to follow Amy and Rory over the course of a year, with the Doctor showing up haphazardly throughout. Looking for a plot which would sustain such an extent of narrative time, Chibnall thought in terms of a methodical invasion of Earth. This drew upon his childhood love for the Jon Pertwee era, in which the planet was the regular target of extraterrestrial forces. In turn, this suggested the involvement of UNIT -- the Unified Intelligence Taskforce -- which had been a major presence in many Pertwee stories under the leadership of Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart, as played by Nicholas Courtney.

Since the return of Doctor Who in 2005, UNIT had taken a largely peripheral role in the series, with the exception of a handful of adventures such as 2008's The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky and 2009's Planet Of The Dead. Now, Chibnall wished to pay tribute to Courtney -- who had passed away in February -- by introducing the Brigadier's daughter, Kate as the new leader of UNIT. As a twist, Kate Stewart would not be a soldier like her father, but rather the Head of Scientific Research. Effectively, then, she would inherit the roles of both the Brigadier and the Doctor within UNIT. Coincidentally, Doctor Who spin-off media had already introduced a daughter named Kate for the Brigadier (created by Marc Platt for the video Downtime), but Chibnall was unaware of this character.

For the manner of his story's slow invasion, Chibnall was inspired by a 2007 shipwreck along the Devon coast near his home, when people showed up in droves to claim merchandise which had washed up on the shore. This led to the notion of the public at large collecting alien items which might at first appear to be innocuous, but which would ultimately be revealed as having a more sinister purpose. These objects inspired the story's original title, “Cubed”, which also served as a mathematical allusion to the strength of the Doctor-Amy-Rory team.

In early drafts the Prime Minister barred the Doctor from the UK, resulting in his absence from the narrative

One major element removed from Chibnall's early drafts was the appearance of Prime Minister Stephen Carter. Suspicious of the Doctor, Carter would bar him from the United Kingdom, resulting in the Time Lord's absence from a long stretch of the narrative. Before being taken by android orderlies himself, Arnold Underwood was to make reference to a neighbour named Elizabeth Cracknell who had not returned home from the hospital. The abductee who led Rory to the Shakri ship was not Brian Williams, but instead a patient named Anne. At the story's conclusion, Amy and Rory decided to take “one more” trip in the TARDIS despite Brian's unease. Moffat suggested that this be changed to have Brian encourage them to go with the Doctor, providing a less sombre and more subtle lead-in to Amy and Rory's final story, The Angels Take Manhattan.

“Cubed” was made on its own as the third production block for Season Thirty-Three. The director was Douglas Mackinnon, who had previously worked on The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky; in the interim, Mackinnon had also helmed two Doctor Who minisodes which appeared on the DVD release for Season Thirty-Two under the banner Night And The Doctor. To play Kate Stewart, Mackinnon cast Jemima “Jemma” Redgrave, scion of the Redgrave family of thespians which included her father Corin, her aunts Lynn and Vanessa, her grandfather Michael, and her great-grandfather Roy. An accomplished actress in her own right, Jemma had appeared in films such as Howards End and the 2005 version of Lassie; her television credits included Bramwell, Fish and Cold Blood.

Filming for “Cubed” began on April 30th in Penarth; the engagement party was held at Villa Napoli Restaurant, while the interior of Amy and Rory's home was, as usual, a residence on Church Road. Work at the latter location continued on May 1st, with Jemma Redgrave joining the cast. On May 2nd and 3rd, Mackinnon's team moved to Caerphilly Castle in Caerphilly; this principally served as UNIT HQ beneath the Tower of London, although the material in Henry VIII's bedroom was also taped on the first day. Recording on the 4th began at a house in St Nicholas, for the material in 1890 France as well as Brian's study. Cast and crew then relocated to Bute Esplanade in Cardiff Bay, where a private dwelling was once again pressed into service as the exterior of Amy and Rory's home. On May 5th, Rory's workplace was actually St Cadoc's Hospital in Caerleon.

May 11th marked the last filming for Doctor Who at Upper Boat Studios after being housed there for 6 years

It was back to Church Road on May 7th and 8th, for additional scenes in the Pond-Williams household as well as in the back garden. On the 9th, material in the UNIT laboratory was recorded at Neath Abbey in Neath. The sequences in the Shakri Sanctum were then taped at Upper Boat on the 10th and 11th; the set for Amy and Rory's kitchen was also in use on the first day, and the TARDIS console room on the second day. This marked the last filming for Doctor Who at Upper Boat Studios after being housed there for almost six years, as the transition to the new facilities at Roath Lock was now complete.

May 12th, in turn, was intended to bring Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill's time on Doctor Who to a close. The venue was again St Cadoc's for the remaining hospital footage, although the final scene to be recorded was a remount of the Doctor, Amy and Rory leaving in the TARDIS. However, it was already known that Gillan and Darvill would be appearing in the online mini-series Pond Life, which went before the cameras in early June. Simultaneously, Mackinnon was at work on various inserts for “Cubed”; these were captured at the house on Church Road on June 6th, and on Bute Esplanade and near Cardiff's Morgan Arcade on the 7th.

In post-production, however, it was decided to make major changes to the episode. In part, this was to introduce the slow invasion storyline earlier: originally, “Cubed” began with scenes such as the adventure with Henry VIII and Amy at the engagement party (in which she was specifically not asked to be a bridesmaid because she was unreliable and prone to vanish for extended periods of time), but much of the action was resequenced in editing. The other significant cut involved the climax. As recorded, there was an extended action sequence in which Rory took down the two orderlies. The Shakri was not a hologram, and instead was defeated when Amy and Rory attacked him with the syringes retrieved from the orderlies, and the Doctor used his sonic screwdriver on the Shakri's devastating ocular weaponry. However, it was felt that this part of the episode detracted from the focus on Amy and Rory's life together, and so Chibnall prepared new material to replace it.

June 28th was the end of Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill's tenure on Doctor Who

As such, on June 28th a number of new or amended scenes were recorded. These included a sequence outside Amy and Rory's house, which was taped at Belle Vue Park in Penarth; more material in their home, again at Church Road; and additional content aboard the Shakri vessel, now erected at Roath Lock. This, then, became the true end of Gillan and Darvill's tenure on Doctor Who.

But there was still more recording necessary to complete “Cubed”. Chibnall had been eager to feature some celebrity cameos in the episode, suggesting the judges of variety competition Britain's Got Talent or singing contest The Voice. It was the stars of another reality show, The Apprentice, who ultimately made an appearance. Recorded on that programme's boardroom set on July 29th, this clip saw Karren Brady and Nick Hewer look on as Lord Alan Sugar “fired” the hapless Craig, who was played by Mackinnon himself. A very different type of celebrity then filmed a segment on July 30th. This was astrophysicist Brian Cox, with work taking place outside the Holiday Inn Express London-Hammersmith.

Meanwhile, by early July, the title “Cubed” had fallen out of favour. Instead, a line of dialogue suggested an alternative: The Power Of Three. Chibnall initially resisted this change, but eventually agreed that it was an improvement. For the unique title sequence which accompanied the episode, the Doctor Who logo borrowed the texture of the mysterious cubes.

After leaving Doctor Who, Arthur Darvill was almost immediately cast in Chibnall's Broadchurch, and also took on the lead role in the West End production of the musical Once. Karen Gillan, meanwhile, relocated to Hollywood and soon found herself shaving her head for the role of the alien villainess Nebula in the blockbuster Guardians Of The Galaxy. She also appeared in smaller productions such as the horror movie Oculus, and won the lead role in the sitcom Selfie. Gillan returned to Doctor Who in the 2013 Christmas special The Time Of The Doctor, appearing to an Eleventh Doctor on the brink of regeneration.

  • Doctor Who News.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #33, Spring 2013, “The Power Of Three” by Andrew Pixley, Panini UK Ltd.

Original Transmission
Date 22nd Sep 2012
Time 7.30pm
Duration 41'17"
Viewers (more) 7.7m (13th)
· BBC1/HD 7.7m
· iPlayer 1.4m
Appreciation 87%

The Doctor
Matt Smith
Amy Pond
Karen Gillan
Rory Williams
Arthur Darvill
Brian Williams
Mark Williams
Kate Stewart
Jemma Redgrave
Steven Berkoff
Selva Rasalingam
Alice O'Connell
Arnold Underwood
Peter Cartwright
Orderly 1
David Beck
Orderly 2
Daniel Beck
UNIT Researcher
David Hartley

Written by
Chris Chibnall
Directed by
Douglas Mackinnon
Produced by
Marcus Wilson

Stunt Coordinator
Crispin Layfield
First Assistant Director
Sarah Davies
Second Assistant Director
James DeHaviland
Third Assistant Director
Heddi-Joy Taylor-Welch
Assistant Director
Danielle Richards
Location Manager
Iwan Roberts
Unit Manager
Geraint Williams
Location Assistant
Iestyn Hampson-Jones
Production Manager
Phillipa Cole
Production Coordinator
Claire Hildred
Asst Production Coordinator
Gabriella Ricci
Production Secretary
Sandra Cosfeld
Production Assistants
Rachel Vipond
Samantha Price
Asst Production Accountants
Rhys Evans
Justine Wooff
Assistant Script Editor
John Phillips
Script Supervisor
Rory Herbert
Camera Operator
Joe Russell
Focus Pullers
James Scott
Julius Ogden
Gary Norman
Camera Assistants
Meg de Koning
Sam Smithard
Evelina Norgren
Assistant Grip
Owen Charnley
Sound Maintenance Engineers
Ross Adams
Chris Goding
Mark Hutchings
Best Boy
Stephen Slocombe
Bob Milton
Gareth Sheldon
Matt Wilson
Supervising Art Director
Paul Spriggs
Set Decorator
Adrian Anscombe
Production Buyers
Charlie Lynam
Adrian Greenwood
Art Director
Amy Pickwoad
Assistant Art Director
Richard Hardy
Art Department Coordinator
Donna Shakesheff
Prop Master
Paul Smith
Prop Chargehand
Ian Griffin
Set Dresser
Jayne Davies
Austin J Curtis
Standby Props
Phill Shellard
Helen Atherton
Dressing Props
Mike Elkins
Paul Barnett
Graphic Artist
Christina Tom
Graphic Designer
Chris Lees
Petty Cash Buyer
Florence Tasker
Standby Carpenter
Will Pope
Standby Rigger
Bryan Griffiths
Props Makers
Penny Howarth
Alan Hardy
Jamie Thomas
Props Driver
Gareth Fox
Construction Manager
Terry Horle
Construction Chargehand
Dean Tucker
Assistant Costume Designer
Fraser Purfit
Costume Supervisor
Carly Griffith
Costume Assistants
Katarina Cappellazzi
Gemma Evans
Make-Up Artists
Sara Angharad
Vivienne Simpson
Allison Sing
Casting Associate
Alice Purser
Assistant Editor
Becky Trotman
VFX Editor
Joel Skinner
Dubbing Mixer
Darran Clement
Dialogue Editor
Paul McFadden
Sound Effects Editor
Tom Heuzenroeder
Foley Editor
Jamie Talbutt
Peter Anderson Studio
Online Editor
Geraint Pari Huws
Gareth Spensley
With Thanks to
The BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Conducted and Orchestrated by
Ben Foster
Mixed by
Jake Jackson
Recorded by
Gerry O'Riordan
Original Theme Music
Ron Grainer
Casting Director
Andy Pryor CDG
Production Executive
Julie Scott
Post Production Supervisor
Nerys Davies
Production Accountant
Jeff Dunn
Sound Recordist
Deian Llŷr Humphreys
Costume Designer
Howard Burden
Make-Up Designer
Barbara Southcott
Murray Gold
Visual Effects
The Mill
Space Digital
Special Effects
Real SFX
Millennium FX
Mike Hopkins
Production Designer
Michael Pickwoad
Director Of Photography
Gavin Struthers
Script Producer
Denise Paul
Line Producer
Diana Barton
Executive Producers
Steven Moffat
Caroline Skinner

Working Titles

Updated 28th August 2014