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David Tennant
The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky
Tenth Doctor Logo


Synopsis


General Staal
General Staal
 Martha Jones summons The Doctor back to modern-day Earth, but an old enemy lies in wait.

 As the Sontarans choke the Earth, The Doctor battles to keep Martha and Donna alive.

Source: BBC DVD


General Information

Season: Thirty (New Series 4)
Production Code: 4-4/4-5
Story Number: 192 (New Series: 36)
Episode Numbers:742 - 743 (New Series: 46 - 47)
Number of Episodes: 2
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Production Dates: October 2007 - April 2008
Broadcast Started: 26 April 2008
Broadcast Finished: 03 May 2008
Colour Status: Colour
Studio: BBC Wales (Upper Boat, Pontypridd)
Location: Margam Country Park, Usk Valley Business Park (Pontypool), Nant Fawr Road (Cardiff), Orion Electric (Margam) and Cardiff Docks.
Writer:Helen Raynor
Director:Douglas MacKinnon
Producer:Susie Liggat
Executive Producers:Julie Gardner, Phil Collinson and Russell T Davies
Script Editor:Nikki Smith
Editor:Mike Hopkins
Production Executive:Julie Scott
Production Manager:Debbi Slater
Production Designer:Edward Thomas
Director of Photography:Rory Taylor
Casting Director:Andy Pryor CDG
Costume Designer:Louise Page
Make-Up Designer:Barbara Southcott
Cameramen:Tom Hartley (Assistant (Episode 1 Only)) and James Moss (Operator)
Incidental Music:Murray Gold
Special Sounds (SFX Editor):Paul Jefferies
Sound Recordist:Brian Milliken
Sound Supervisor:Paul McFadden
Visual Effects:The Mill
Special Effects:Any Effects
Prosthetics:Millennium FX
Stunt Co-ordinator:Tom Lucy
Title Music:Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Arranged by Murray Gold
Music Performed By: The BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Sontarans Originally Created By: Robert Holmes
Number of Doctors: 1
The Doctor: David Tennant (The Tenth Doctor)
Number of Companions: 3The Companions: Billie Piper (Rose Tyler), Freema Agyeman (Martha Jones) (Rejoins) and Catherine Tate (Donna Noble) Number of Acquaintances: 1The Acquaintance: Bernard Cribbins (Wilfred Mott) Guest Cast: Jacqueline King (Sylvia Noble), Christopher Ryan (General Staal) Additional Cast: Ryan Sampson (Luke Rattigan), Rupert Holliday Evans (Colonel Mace), Dan Starkey (Commander Skorr), Eleanor Matsuura (Jo Nakashima), Clive Standen (Private Harris), Wesley Theobald (Private Gray), Christian Cooke (Ross Jenkins), Rad Kaim (Worker), Elizabeth Ryder (Atmos Voice), Meryl Fernandes (Female Student), Leeshon Alexander (Male Student), Bridget Hodson (Captain Price), Kirsty Wark (Herself), Lachele Carl (US Newsreader)Setting: London and a Sontaran spaceship (2009) Villain: Sontarans

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
(UK)
Duration Viewers
(Millions)
In Archive
742The Sontaran Stratagem26 April 200844'37"7.1Yes
743The Poison Sky03 May 200844'29"6.5Yes

Total Duration 1 Hour 29 Minutes


Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 6.8
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2008)76.28%  (Position = 7 out of 11)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2009)71.44% Lower (Position = 91 out of 200)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2014)68.67% Lower (Position = 144 out of 241)


Archives


 Both episodes exist and are held in the BBC's Film and Videotape Library.



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Notes


This two part story features the return of former companion Martha Jones, the alien Sontarans and the organisation UNIT to the show.

This is the Sontarans' first appearance since the 1985 Sixth Doctor story "The Two Doctors" and the fifth story to feature the clone warriors. As well as "The Two Doctors" they have previously appeared in "The Time Warrior" (1973-4), "The Sontaran Experiment" (1975) and "The Invasion of Time" (1978).

General Staal refers to the legend of The Doctor leading a major battle in the "Last Great Time War" and to the fact the Sontarans "weren't allowed" to participate in it.

Christopher Ryan, who plays General Staal, previously played Lord Kiv in episodes 5-8 of the 1986 Sixth Doctor The Trial of the Time Lord season. Chris is probably best known for his comedic roles, including Dave Hedgehog in Bottom and Mike in The Young Ones.

Martha says that she is engaged to Thomas Milligan, who previously appeared as a medical doctor in "The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords".

Donna Noble’s grandfather, Wilfred Mott, recalls how he met The Doctor in "Voyage of the Damned", where The Doctor disappeared before his eyes on Christmas Eve. Donna's mother also recalls how he attended Donna's wedding reception in "The Runaway Bride".

The Doctor's reference to working for UNIT "Back in the 70s - or was it the 80s" refers to inconsistencies in the dates for the previous UNIT stories. It was generally believed that the UNIT stories were set slightly ahead of the day they were first broadcast. This is confirmed by Sarah Jane Smith's claim she was from 1980 in the1975's Tom Baker story "Pyramids of Mars". However, the 1983 Fifth Doctor story "Mawdryn Undead" confused things somewhat, by featuring a retired Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (aka The Brigadier - the former head of UNIT's UK operation) in 1977!

UNIT first appeared in the 1968 Second Doctor story "The Invasion", in which the military organisation fought the Cybermen. In this story UNIT has been rebranded as the "Unified Intelligence Taskforce", having previously been known as the "United Nations Intelligence Taskforce". This followed a request by the United Nations shortly after the show returned to our televisions in 2005.

When communicating with each other, UNIT use call signs that are mostly based around greyhound racing. Personnel are usually designated a Greyhound call sign, whereas a base of operations is known as a Trap.

The Doctor tells Donna of the "fifteenth broken moon" of the Medusa Cascade. The Medusa Cascade was previously mentioned in "The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords" and in "The Fires of Pompeii".

During the second episode, just as Donna moves towards the TARDIS screen while The Doctor contacts the Sontarans, Rose Tyler can be seen on the screen, silently calling out. This follows a similar silent cameo appearance in "Partners in Crime".

The idea of "ATMOS" has been around since the start of Season Twenty Eight - reference to it first appeared on the windscreen of the taxi that arrived to pick up the doomed Tracey in "Partners in Crime".

In 1974 Third Doctor story "Invasion of the Dinosaurs", another group of humans believed they were going to start a new life on a new planet. Sadly the truth was that evil politicians and scientists planned to roll back time on Earth, deleting all of Human history.

When The Doctor cut's off Staal's speech on the video screen in mid flow, a clip from CBeebies eco adventure cartoon Tommy Zoom is featured. The original plan was to use a clip from Shaun the Sheep.

Mention is made of the Sontarans' ongoing war with the Rutans - green jellyfish like creatures from Ruta 3 – who have the ability to shape-shift and impersonate creatures they have killed. The only story to actually feature a Rutan was the 1977's Fourth Doctor story "Horror of Fang Rock".

As in many previous stories of the revived show, supposed BBC News 24 footage is used featuring reports of unfolding events. However, as with the more recent appearances of such footage in Doctor Who, the channel is simply captioned on screen as News 24 devoid of the BBC logo. Since this story was produced, the BBC News 24 channel was rebranded in real life as BBC News, thus rendering its fictional counterpart as an even more distorted depiction of the channel. As well as UK supposedly news coverage foreign news was shown. For this story Lachelle Carl reprises her recurring role as the US Newsreader seen previously in the stories"Aliens of London/World War Three", "The Christmas Invasion" and "The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords" and in Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures story (which featured Sarah Jane Smith and the Slitheen) "Revenge of the Slitheen".

Unlike previous double episode stories in Season Twenty Eight (New Series 2) and Season Twenty Nine (New Series 3), the first episode of this story does not include the usual title card reading "To be continued...". Instead there is just, after the credits, a trailer for episode two. The ending of the second episode of this story includes a trailer for the next story - This being "The Doctor's Daughter".

Before the title sequence in episode two there is a brief recap of the main events that took place in the first episode.

Following on immediately after each episode of this story, on BBC3, were the fourth and fifth chapters of the fourth series of Doctor Who Confidential. These being "Send in the Clones" and "Sontar-Ha!". Both were presented by Anthony Head.



First and Last

The Firsts:

 The first appearance of The Sontarans in the revived television series and the first for 23 years - since the 1985 Sixth Doctor story "The Two Doctors".

 The first story for companion Martha Jones (played by Freema Agyeman) since she left the show at the end of "The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords".

 The first appearance of UNIT in the revived television series and the first for 19 years - since the 1989 Seventh Doctor story "Battlefield".

 Nikki Smith's first involvement in the show as Script Editor.

 The first Doctor Who story to be directed by Douglas Mackinnon.


The Lasts (Subject to Future Stories):

 Nikki Smith's last involvement in the show as Script Editor.


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The Plot

WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
A Call for Help
A Call for Help

UNIT is investigating ATMOS, a new carbon-cleaning car filter/GPS navigation system that has been fitted to millions of cars across the whole world, and their newest recruit - Martha Jones, now a fully-credentialed physician - calls The Doctor back to Earth for assistance as they need his help in determining if the ATMOS system, in the factory they have just raided, is alien in origin. Though it is much more advanced than human technology should be, The Doctor confirms that it is entirely human-made. However, his current companion, Donna Noble, soon realises that while the system may be man-made, the factory workers don't seem to be human, as not a single one has ever taken a sick day.

While they prepare to examine the workers, two UNIT soldiers stumble upon a cloning facility in the basement. There they are confronted by a Sontaran, who disables them and has them hypnotically converted into loyal servants. They in turn kidnap Martha, who is cloned by the Sontaran and kept prisoner so the clone can access her memories.

Meanwhile The Doctor is checking out Luke Rattigan, a child genius who is purported to have invented ATMOS. At Rattigan's school The Doctor discovers that Luke Rattigan is working with the Sontarans when he spots a teleportation device which, when he uses, teleports him to the Sontaran's battleship. Realising the danger he is in he quickly teleports back and then disables the device – but not before a Sontaran follows him through. It is then that The Doctor discovers the Sontarans plan to use ATMOS to turn four hundred million cars into deadly weapons.

Martha Jones
Martha Jones

The Sontarans on realising they are dealing with The Doctor attempt to make the UNIT ATMOS-equipped jeep drive into the river, but he uses a logical paradox to overload the system. The Sontarans then accelerate their plans and so they activate converters in each ATMOS system which starts to pump out poisonous gas.

Realising what is happening The Doctor tries to warn UNIT, but since it is the Martha clone he calls, they remain uninformed. Meanwhile, Donna's grandfather is trapped in his car, and despite their best efforts The Doctor and Donna cannot free him. The Doctor finds himself powerless as hundreds of cars release the poison into the atmosphere.

The Doctor and Donna
The Doctor and Donna

The Doctor though is more concerned about what the Sontarans are up to especially as it is not like them to fight their battles in this way. The Doctor is about to find out what the Sontarans are planning to do with the Earth once the human population has been dealt with.

How is The Doctor going to stop the death of billions of people and to stop the Sontarans from turning the planet into a giant breeding world for more clones? First though he has to stop UNIT from using nuclear weapons against the Sontarans, rescue Donna - who is now in the TARDIS which has been teleported aboard the Sontaran’s space ship – and to find out what has happened to the real Martha?

But before The Doctor can do anything a battalion of Sontarans teleport to the planet so as to secure the ATMOS factory. With the Sontarans' ability to jam most conventional firearms by expanding the copper-lined bullets, the UNIT troops are quickly slaughtered and the factory is back in control of the Sontarans.

Martha is Back
Martha is Back

As UNIT begins a counterattack, loading their weapons with non-copper bullets and using the aircraft carrier Valiant to clear the gas, The Doctor is able to use the distraction to make his way to the cloning room where he severs the cloned Martha’s connection to the real Martha - so killing the clone.

The Doctor then builds his own atmospheric converter, igniting the atmosphere to clear out the poison gas just before it gets to a critical density. However, he is in a race against time as he knows that the Sontarans won't accept defeat so easily and so he teleports to their ship with the converter, planning to give them the choice between retreat or death. The Sontarans choose the latter, forcing The Doctor to sacrifice himself. Help though is at hand when Rattigan decides to make amends for the damage he has caused, by assisting the Sontarans, when he teleports himself to the Sontaran ship and brings The Doctor back to Earth, sacrificing himself instead so as to destroy the Sontaran’s space ship.

With the Sontarans finally defeated, and the world saved, The Doctor and Donna return to the TARDIS along with Martha. But Martha has no intention of continuing her travels in the TARDIS. But as The Doctor and Donna say their goodbyes the TARDIS springs to life and begins piloting itself before Martha can leave.

 
Donna Receiving Advice
Donna Receiving Advice
General Staal
General Staal
Cloned Martha
Cloned Martha
Ready for Battle
Ready for Battle
 
General Staal
General Staal
Posion Fumes
Posion Fumes
Burning Skies
Burning Skies
Safe and Sound
Safe and Sound




Quote of the Story


 'It is said he led the final battle in the last great Time War. The greatest war in history and we weren't allowed to be a part of it! But this is excellent - the last of the Time Lords will die, at the hands of the Sontarans, in the ruins of his Precious Earth!'

General Staal



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Release Information

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)Code NumberCover ArtRemarks
Video
DVD
The Sontaran Stratagem - The Poison Sky - The Doctor's Daughter - The Unicorn and the WaspJuly 2008BBCDVD 2606Photo-montage
Video
DVD
The Complete Fourth SeriesNovember 2008BBCDVD 2609Photo-montageBoxed set containing all 11 stories
Audio
CD
Original Television Soundtrack - Series 4October 2008SILCD1275Photo-montageMusic by Murray Gold
Video
DVD
Series 1 - 4 Box SetOctober 2009BBCDVD 3058Boxed set containing all 43 stories on 23 Discs
Video
DVD
The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison SkySeptember 2013BBCDVD 3812Photo-montagePart of "The Monster Collection - The Sontarans" boxset
Video
Blu-Ray
The Complete Series 1-7 Box Set (Limited Edition)December 2013BBCBD 0242Photo-montageLimited Edition Blu-Ray boxed set containing all Series 1-7 stories at full 1080p high definition
Video
DVD
The Complete Fourth Series (2014 Re-release)August 2014BBCDVD 3968Photo-montageBoxed set containing all 11 stories
Video
DVD
The Complete David Tennant Years Box SetNovember 2014BBCDVD 4000Photo-montageBoxed set containing all 37 stories on 26 Discs
Video
Blu-Ray
The Complete Fourth Series Box SetAugust 2015BBCBD 0264Photo-montageBlu-Ray boxed set containing 11 stories
Video
Blu-Ray
The Complete Fourth Series Box Set (Limited Edition Steelbook)August 2019Photo-montageLimited Edition Blu-Ray Steelbook boxed set containing 11 stories


In Print

No Book Release
Doctor Who Magazine - PreviewIssue 394 (Released: April 2008)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArticleIssue 395 (Released: May 2008)
Doctor Who Magazine - ReviewIssue 396 (Released: June 2008)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArticleIssue 396 (Released: June 2008)
Doctor Who DVD FilesVolume 23 (Released: November 2009)
Doctor Who DVD FilesVolume 24 (Released: December 2009)

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Photo Gallery


The Doctor and Companions/Acquaintance

 
David Tennant
The Tenth Doctor

   

Billie Piper
Rose Tyler
Freema Agyeman
Martha Jones
Catherine Tate
Donna Noble
   
Bernard Cribbins
Wilfred Mott





On Release

DVD Cover
DVD Cover

BBC
VIDEO
DVD Box Set
DVD Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
Original Television Soundtrack Cover
Original Television Soundtrack Cover

BBC
AUDIO
Series 1-4 DVD Box Set
Series 1-4 DVD Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
   
The Monster Collection - The Sontarans Cover
The Monster Collection - The Sontarans Cover

BBC
VIDEO
Complete Series 1-7 Ltd Edition Blu-Ray Box Set
Complete Series 1-7 Ltd Edition Blu-Ray Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
Complete Series DVD Box Set<BR>(2014 Re-release)
Complete Series DVD Box Set
(2014 Re-release)

BBC
VIDEO
Complete David Tennant Years DVD Box Set
Complete David Tennant Years DVD Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
   
Complete Series Blu-Ray Box Set
Complete Series Blu-Ray Box Set

BBC
VIDEO
Complete Series Blu-Ray Limited Edition Steelbook Box Set
Complete Series Blu-Ray Limited Edition Steelbook Box Set

BBC
VIDEO



Magazines

Doctor Who Magazine - Preview: Issue 394
Doctor Who Magazine - Preview: Issue 394

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Article: Issue 395
Doctor Who Magazine - Article: Issue 395

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Review: Issue 396
Doctor Who Magazine - Review: Issue 396

Marvel Comics
   
Doctor Who Magazine - Article: Issue 396
Doctor Who Magazine - Article: Issue 396

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 23
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 23

GE Fabbri
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 24
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 24

GE Fabbri
   

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