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New Series Episode 107:
The Name Of The Doctor
The Great Intelligence kidnaps Vastra, Jenny and Strax in order to lure the Doctor to Trenzalore -- the planet which, at some point in his future, will become his last resting place. There, the Doctor's timeline is laid bare, enabling the Intelligence to travel back and undo every good deed and heroic act the Doctor has ever accomplished. Soon, Jenny is dead and Vastra is menaced by a newly warlike Strax. It falls to Clara to sacrifice herself in order to restore her friend, save the universe... and uncover the Doctor's darkest secret.
From the outset, Doctor Who executive producer Steven Moffat knew that the final episode of Season Thirty-Three would have to accomplish two things. First, it needed to wrap up the mystery of Clara Oswald and how the Doctor could have met three different versions of this “Impossible Girl” (in the season premiere Asylum Of The Daleks, the Christmas special The Snowmen and the first 2013 episode The Bells Of Saint John). But perhaps even more importantly, the finale would serve as a launching pad for a special episode which would air later in 2013 and celebrate Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary. Moffat was keen that this event would not just look back on the programme's first five decades, but would also introduce original elements to its mythos and thrust the narrative into fertile new territory.
With this in mind, Moffat began to contemplate the Time War -- the apocalyptic conflict between the Time Lords and the Daleks devised by former showrunner Russell T Davies, which had taken place between Doctor Who's cancellation in 1989 and its return in 2005. The Time War had culminated with a heretofore unspecified act by the Doctor which had seemingly wiped out all of the Time Lords and the Daleks. In addition to relieving the revived Doctor Who of continuity baggage, the Time War had framed the character arc of the Ninth Doctor as played by Christopher Eccleston, who worked through his survivor's guilt with the help of his companion Rose Tyler. Echoes of the Time War continued to be felt throughout David Tennant's tenure as the Tenth Doctor -- most notably in his final story, The End Of Time, which saw the temporary resurrection of the power-mad High Council of the Time Lords. During Matt Smith's time as the Eleventh Doctor, however, the Time War had been only sparsely mentioned.
Moffat felt that revisiting the climax of the Time War would be an effective hook for the anniversary special. It had now played out its role in helping to make Doctor Who accessible to a wide audience, and he was concerned about the lingering implications for the Doctor's character. Fundamentally, Moffat found it difficult to envisage any incarnation of the Doctor resorting to genocide even in the face of overwhelming odds. He began to formulate a storyline wherein the Doctor's recollection of his actions at the climax of the Time War would not necessarily reflect what had actually occurred. The anniversary special would then see the Eleventh and Tenth Doctors travel back into the Time War to confront the Ninth Doctor in the moments leading up to his fateful decision.
The season finale, then, would see the Doctor visit Trenzalore, a planet which Moffat had referenced in the closing moments of the Season Thirty-Two finale, The Wedding Of River Song, in a prophetic statement about the Doctor's future. In Moffat's original conception, the Doctor would explicitly identify the time rift in his tomb on Trenzalore as leading back to the final day of the Time War. Once Clara had been splintered and scattered throughout the Doctor's life, he didn't enter the rift to save her. Instead, Clara emerged from it on her own, but then started screaming about knowing who the Doctor really is. This convinced the Doctor to return to the Time War via the rift, leading into the anniversary special.
The title of the finale was always The Name Of The Doctor, and Moffat's first draft was completed at the start of November 2012. To add to the building sense of celebration, Moffat was keen that it would bring back a number of elements of Doctor Who's past, most prominently in the form of clips from old episodes into which Clara could be inserted. The script also saw the return of the Paternoster Gang -- Vastra, Strax and Jenny -- who had last been seen in The Crimson Horror two episodes earlier, as well as River Song, whose most recent appearance was in the mid-season finale, The Angels Take Manhattan.
Furthermore, the main villain would be the Great Intelligence, whose return in the form of Dr Simeon had been foreshadowed by a cameo appearance in The Bells Of Saint John. As a reimagined version of a classic monster (having originally debuted in 1967's The Abominable Snowmen), the Great Intelligence was representative of both twentieth-century and twenty-first-century Doctor Who. Ever eager not to dwell solely on the past, however, Moffat also wanted The Name Of The Doctor to introduce a new monster, and this led him to associate the Great Intelligence with the macabre Whispermen.
The Name Of The Doctor was largely made as part of the eleventh and final production block for Season Thirty-Three under Saul Metzstein, who had recently completed The Crimson Horror. However, both scheduling concerns and the finale's complex requirements meant that the making of the episode would be unusual in several respects. First, it was decided to overlap Block Eleven with the final week of Block Ten (the season's penultimate story, Nightmare Of Silver). Furthermore, the concluding moments would not be recorded until Spring 2013, during the making of the anniversary special. For this reason, and because many major details of the special had not yet been finalised, when production began Moffat's script ended at the point where River disappears and the Doctor enters the rift.
The first day of filming for The Name Of The Doctor was November 16th, with Strax's pub brawl taking place in the Coal Exchange in Cardiff Bay. The next week -- spanning November 19th to 24th -- was confined to Doctor Who's usual studio home at Roath Lock. The first four days were alternately spent on sequences in the dreamscape and in the crypt entrance, while the final two saw work in the Doctor's burial chamber (a redressed version of the usual TARDIS set) and marked Richard E Grant's final performance as Dr Simeon. The 26th was largely concerned with scenes in the Maitland house, actually a residence on Beatty Avenue in Cardiff, although some inserts were also completed at Uskmouth Power Station in Newport.
The next day at Roath Lock, shots were captured of the various Claras who would now appear throughout the Doctor's timeline. This involved a combination of recording on sets with stand-ins representing various incarnations of the Doctor as well as his granddaughter Susan, plus greenscreen work to insert Jenna Coleman into archival Doctor Who footage. Also on November 27th, the first of two short prequels for The Name Of The Doctor was recorded. Entitled Clarence And The Whispermen (although the monsters' name was elsewhere spelt as two words), this depicted the serial killer Clarence DeMarco obtaining the coordinates for Trenzalore from the Whisper Men. The prequel, intended to be a DVD special feature, was directed by Stephen Woolfenden (who was also completing work on Nightmare In Silver) at Cardiff Castle in Cardiff. Vastra's meeting with Clarence was filmed there on the 28th, as were scenes in the catacombs. Earlier that day, material in Vastra's home had been recorded at Merthyr Mawr House in Merthyr Mawr.
All of the remaining work for The Name Of The Doctor took place at Roath Lock. November 29th was largely spent recording on the surface of Trenzalore; this work continued the next day, when sequences in the lower level of the tomb and in the TARDIS were also taped. The TARDIS set remained in use on December 1st, alongside the workshop on Gallifrey. More scenes of the splintered Claras were also completed, including the shot of Oswin looking out on a futuristic city. (This was simplified from a longer version in which Oswin tells her mother that she feels compelled to go out into space for a reason she can't explain.) This then brought principal photography for Doctor Who's thirty-third season to a close.
The Name Of The Doctor boasted a cornucopia of video and sound clips from throughout the programme's long history. Most notably, in the sequence where the Gallifreyan version of Clara prompts the First Doctor to steal the TARDIS, William Hartnell appeared courtesy of two colourised shots from the second and fourth episodes of The Aztecs, together with dialogue from part five of The Web Planet. Clara and/or Dr Simeon were also inserted into clips featuring the Second Doctor (from The Mind Robber and The Five Doctors), the Third Doctor (also from The Five Doctors), the Fourth Doctor (from The Invasion Of Time), the Fifth Doctor (from Arc Of Infinity), and the Seventh Doctor (from Dragonfire), with a Yeti appearing from The Web Of Fear. Emanating from the rift were the sounds of the First Doctor (from 100,000 BC), the Second Doctor (from The Moonbase), the Third Doctor (from The Time Monster), the Fourth Doctor (from Genesis Of The Daleks), the Fifth Doctor (from The Caves Of Androzani), the Sixth Doctor (from The Trial Of A Time Lord), the Ninth Doctor (from The Parting Of The Ways), the Tenth Doctor (from Voyage Of The Damned), and the Eleventh Doctor (from The Pandorica Opens).
As the calendar advanced into 2013, plans for the anniversary special, The Day Of The Doctor, began to coalesce. In mid-February, however, Christopher Eccleston informed Moffat that he had decided to decline the offer to reprise his role as the Ninth Doctor. Moffat briefly considered positioning the Eighth Doctor as the Doctor who had ended the Time War, but felt that this was inconsistent with Paul McGann's portrayal of this incarnation in Doctor Who (1996).
Ironically, the solution to Moffat's conundrum was prompted by an earlier Doctor Who anniversary special: 1983's The Five Doctors, which had been envisioned as bringing together all of the Doctors who had appeared in the programme to that point. However, this intention was foiled from the outset by the fact that William Hartnell had passed away in 1975. The production team of the day elected to recast the role of the First Doctor, with Richard Hurndall taking over for Hartnell. However, Moffat felt that Hurndall was less successful in conjuring the First Doctor than he was in creating an entirely new and credible Doctor. This brought to mind the idea that Hurndall could have been playing a hitherto unknown incarnation. Applying this notion to The Day Of The Doctor, then, Moffat reasoned that the Doctor who ended the Time War could be one who was referred to nowhere else, and who had turned his back on being “the Doctor”, tying into the themes he had already seeded into The Name Of The Doctor.
Moffat saw this as an opportunity to cast a big name as this new Doctor -- bringing extra pizzazz to the anniversary special -- and to return to the classic image of the Doctor as an older man. Within a month, the role of the “War Doctor” had gone to John Hurt. Hurt had embarked on an acting career over the objections of his parents, who had wanted him to be an art teacher. However, Hurt quickly found acclaim as a thespian, becoming a household name in Britain following his landmark portrayal of Quentin Crisp in the 1975 telefilm The Naked Civil Servant. Over the next few years, Hurt enjoyed success both on television -- such as the miniseries I, Claudius -- and at the cinema, earning Academy Award nominations for both Midnight Express and The Elephant Man. Hurt also became a science-fiction icon as Kane, the man who dies when an alien bursts out of his chest in Ridley Scott's Alien. More recently, Hurt had appeared in films such as V For Vendetta, Indiana Jones and The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, the remake of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and the Harry Potter franchise (where he played the wandmaker Ollivander). He was also persistently in demand as a voice artist, both in films including Watership Down, Disney's The Black Cauldron and Ralph Bakshi's The Lord Of The Rings, and in television programmes such as Merlin.
Recording for The Day Of The Doctor was scheduled to begin at the end of March. Just beforehand, additional filming related to The Name Of The Doctor was undertaken. The first matter was a second prequel, She Said, He Said written by Moffat and directed by Metzstein. This took the form of two short monologues in which Clara and the Doctor each muse about the other's secrets, and was recorded at Roath Lock on March 25th on a “dreamscape” set which incorporated elements from many of the Season Thirty-Three stories featuring Clara or her splinter selves. The next day, most of the closing sequence from The Name Of The Doctor, with the Doctor rescuing Clara from his timestream, was recorded at Roath Lock. This left just the closing shot introducing Hurt as the War Doctor, which was completed during work on The Day Of The Doctor at Roath Lock on April 5th.
She Said, He Said was made available through the BBC's Red Button service after Nightmare In Silver aired on May 11th. The same day, it was discovered that a shipping error in the United States had resulted in some purchasers having already received their copies of the Doctor Who: Series Seven, Part Two Blu-ray. The BBC quickly took to social media to implore these fans not to reveal the surprise appearance of the War Doctor, and this request was respected. One week later, on May 18th, the broadcast of The Name Of The Doctor brought the protracted transmission of Season Thirty-Three -- which had been divided on either side of the fall and winter months -- to its conclusion. However, as the countenance of the War Doctor faded from television screens for the first time, it was clear that Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary celebrations were only just beginning...
|Updated 21st June 2015|
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