In which the Doctor gives Rose the choice of where they want to go on their first journey together. She initially opts to go one hundred years into the future, but the Doctor decides to take her much further. The TARDIS materialises in a viewing suite on Platform One, which is in orbit around the Earth in the year 5 Billion. It is 5.5/apple/26 to be precise - and today is the day that the Earth ends. The Sun is already expanding, and the planet is being maintained by gravity shields, but these are about to be switched off. The Doctor explains that the human race has long deserted the planet to travel out amongst the stars. He has a piece of psychic paper - which makes the reader see what the Doctor wants them to see. This is their pass to attend. Many rich and famous guests are assembling on the Platform to witness this historic event. They include the host - the Face of Boe (a huge head in a tank); the Moxx of Balhoon; the Adherents of the Repeated Meme; Jabe and her compatriots from the Forest of Cheem (bipedal tree people); and the last known pure human - the Lady Cassandra. She is obsessed with plastic surgery, and exists only as a piece of skin stretched on a frame, with her brain held in a jar at the base.
The Adherents distribute gifts of small metal spheres. The assembly of aliens proves too much for Rose and she runs off. She meets a plumbing engineer, one of the blue-skinned Crespallion service staff on the Platform - Raffalo. A short time later, Raffalo comes across metal spider-like robots in the ducts, and they kill her. The Doctor finds Rose and explains to her that the TARDIS has a telepathic field that allows her to understand the various alien creatures. He boosts her mobile phone so that she can speak to her mother back in the 21st Century. The spheres given out as gifts contain the robot spiders, and these have been programmed to sabotage the Platform. One kills the Steward overseeing the proceedings by lowering the sun filter in his office. Jabe knows what the Doctor is, and is surprised that he even exists. She decides to join him in his investigations as the Platform begins to suffer catastrophic systems failures. The Adherents knock out Rose and trap her in the viewing suite, whose sun filter is about to lower. The Doctor discovers the spiders, but realises that the Adherents are not their true masters. They are simply drones, controlled by the real villain.
This proves to be Cassandra. She has financial interests in all the assembled guests ans was hoping to engineer a hostage situation to raise money for her next surgical procedures. She teleports off the Platform. The Doctor and Jabe go to the engine room to restart the power as the shields begin to fail. Some of the guests are killed. Jabe sacrifices herself to help the Doctor. Enraged, he rescues Rose and returns to the main guest suite. He is able to locate Cassandra's teleport device and uses it to bring her back aboard. She quickly dries out in the hot atmosphere and splits apart. Rose is saddened as the Earth was destroyed when everyone was too busy to notice it. The Doctor takes her back to present day London, to show that Time is relative. The Earth will one day cease to exist, but it still survives throughout its history. He reveals to her that his people were all destroyed in a war. He is the last of the Time Lords.
This story was written by Russell T Davies, and was broadcast on 2nd April, 2005. Between the broadcast of the season opener and this second adventure, Christopher Eccleston had already announced that he would not be remaining in the role of the Doctor for a second year, should there be one.
RTD had decided that the first three episodes of the new series would showcase the range of the programme. The first story had been set on present day Earth, and the third would go back into history, whilst the second story would go into the future. This was a pattern he would use for all four of his series.
The End of the World was a chance to show off what CGI could do, as well as Neil Gorton's prosthetics team. We have a collection of alien beings, most of whom are merely window dressing. Some characters stand out. The Face of Boe will be brought back to form a story arc. Cassandra will get a return visit. Confined to this story are Jabe, and her colleagues from the Forest of Cheem, and the little blue Moxx of Balhoon. The Moxx and Jabe will be used heavily in the publicity for the show's return.
Some notable firsts. The Moxx is played by Jimmy Vee, who will return to the show as a number of other diminutive alien beings. His smoking habit will allow the tabloids and fans to get sneak peaks of some of these creatures over the coming years. Paul Kasey and Alan Ruscoe cement their status as monster performers by returning for a second week - having been Autons in Rose. They are Jabe's friends in this. The Doctor's companion gets Universal Roaming on their mobile thanks to the sonic screwdriver. The time-saving Psychic Paper gets introduced. It is firmly established that it is the TARDIS telepathic circuit that allows the companion to understand the aliens. Silas Carson provides his first alien voices - in this case the Adherents.
And Cardiff's Temple of Peace makes the first of many, many appearances - not just in Doctor Who but in the spin-off series as well.
RTD claimed that the inspiration for Cassandra came from watching the Oscars ceremony - seeing so many beautiful women ruining their looks through excessive plastic surgery and dieting. Cassandra is realised through CGI for the face, plus the vocal talents of Zoe Wanamaker. A dummy skin was also employed for long shots, and for the cast to act against in rehearsal. You will notice that when Rose and Cassandra speak together, Cassandra's lips move when seen from the front, but not when viewed from the rear - even though Cassandra is still talking. Due to the heavy CGI needs in this story, Cassandra only appears for 4 out of 42 minutes screen time.
Story Arc Hints:
- The Doctor tells Rose about the destruction of the Time Lords in a war, after Jabe has told him she is surprised he still exists. He reveals that he is the "Last of the Time Lords".
- The Face of Boe first appears.
- The Moxx of Balhoon mentions a "Bad Wolf scenario"...
Overall, visually stunning and fast paced. Some of the guest aliens are a bit Star Trek, but the featured ones are good. It's a story that does what it set out to do - show a 21st Century audience what the programme is now capable of doing.
Things you might like to know:
- It is not clear how much forward planning RTD made in the first year or so. That the Face of Boe would be significant was certainly not planned, as his inclusion in New Earth came late in the day.
- "Bad Wolf" hadn't been established yet as a story arc, so the Moxx's reference to it was added later in post-production.
- There are more CGI shots in this story than the whole of Series 1 put together.
- Rose's phone call to her mum takes place before she has even met the Doctor in Jackie's time frame, as she mentions the lottery money to her.
- According to Julie Gardner, exec-producer, it was the scene with the Doctor and Rose back on contemporary Earth, talking about chips, that made her finally get what RTD's vision of the programme was about.
- The main chamber where the guests assemble is called the Manchester Suite - in honour of RTD's adoptive home city. This was filmed in the Temple of Peace, which we will be seeing a lot more of over the years.
- When the episode was found to be under-running, the scenes with Raffalo were added.
- The design of the spider-robots was based on a juicer.
- The Steward is played by Simon Day. This caused a lot of people to assume it would be the Fast Show performer who would be guesting. This particular Simon Day has since added the middle name Paisley, and was recently seen in Face The Raven.
- Contemporary music is featured, as Cassandra plays a couple of discs on her i-pod (really a 1950's style jukebox. These include Tainted Love by Soft Cell, and Toxic, by Britney Spears. The Doctor has a little dance to the former. He'll be doing a lot more dancing before this series is over.
- The story opens with a recap from Rose, before introducing the pre-credits sequence which has now become standard for most episodes. After this, recaps will only be used when the series is referencing something from much further back - like the clips from Day of the Doctor that began the recent Zygon two-parter.
- It was director Euros Lyn's idea that the story should begin immediately after the events of Rose, so RTD added the opening TARDIS sequence.
- In the last episode, the Doctor had helped to save a family from travelling on the Titanic, but in this he suggests he did not heed his own advice and ended up clinging to the iceberg.
- The Moxx of Balhoon was originally going to be a bowl of blue jelly, with eyeballs floating in it. His buggy was supposed to be remote controlled, but in the end Jimmy Vee either moved it along with his feet or it was puled by wires.
- The BBC dreadfully mismanaged Eccleston's resignation after it was leaked. The Press Office said it was because he was afraid of typecasting. His agent got them to withdraw that. The full reasons have never been fully stated. Workload was certainly part of it. The series went way behind schedule in the initial weeks. Eccleston has since talked about certain working practices which he disliked - basically bullying by senior member(s) of the production team.
- Who would replace him? All the names that had been trumpeted before his casting was announced were trawled out - like Bill Nighy and Alan Davies. Meanwhile, on BBC3, a young Scottish actor and life-long fan of the show was narrating Doctor Who Confidential...