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David Tennant
The Unicorn and the Wasp
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Synopsis


Donna Meeting Agatha
Donna Meeting Agatha
 In 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared for 10 days. Was it amnesia? A nervous breakdown?

 Or a Giant Alien Wasp..?

Source: BBC DVD


General Information

Season: Thirty (New Series 4)
Production Code: 4-7
Story Number: 194 (New Series: 38)
Episode Number:745 (New Series: 49)
Number of Episodes: 1
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Production Dates: August - November 2007
Broadcast Date: 17 May 2008
Colour Status: Colour
Studio: BBC Wales (Upper Boat, Pontypridd)
Location: Llansannor Court and Hensol Castle (Vale of Glamorgan), Tredegar House and Pen Y Lan Road (Newport) and Cefn Mably Lakes.
Writer:Gareth Roberts
Director:Graeme Harper
Producer:Susie Liggat
Executive Producers:Julie Gardner, Phil Collinson and Russell T Davies
Script Editor:Lindsey Alford
Editor:William Oswald
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:Jon Vidgen (Assistant), Tom Hartley (Assistant) and Steven Hall (Operator)
Incidental Music:Murray Gold
Special Sounds (SFX Editor):Paul Jefferies
Sound Recordist:Julian Howarth
Sound Supervisor:Paul McFadden
Visual Effects:The Mill
Special Effects:Any Effects
Stunt Co-ordinator:Abbi Collins
Title Music:Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Arranged by Murray Gold
Music Performed By: The BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Number of Doctors: 1
The Doctor: David Tennant (The Tenth Doctor)
Number of Companions: 1The Companion: Catherine Tate (Donna Noble) Guest Cast: Felicity Kendal (Lady Eddison) Additional Cast: Fenella Woolgar (Agatha Christie), Tom Goodman-Hill (Reverend Golightly), Christopher Benjamin (Colonel Hugh), Robina Redmond (Felicity Jones), Adam Rayner (Roger Curbishley), David Quilter (Greeves), Daniel King (Davenport), Ian Barritt (Professor Peach), Leena Dhingra (Miss Chandrakala), Charlotte Eaton (Mrs Hart)Setting: Eddison Manor, England (1926) Villain:Vespiform

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
(UK)
Duration Viewers
(Millions)
In Archive
745The Unicorn and the Wasp17 May 200844'43"8.4Yes

Total Duration 45 Minutes


Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 8.4
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2008)77.95%  (Position = 5 out of 11)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2009)71.97% Lower (Position = 83 out of 200)
Doctor Who Magazine Poll (2014)72.06% Higher (Position = 102 out of 241)


Archives


 This story exists and is held in the BBC's Film and Videotape Library.



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Notes


Gareth Roberts, a self-confessed fan of Christie's works, previously wrote the pseudohistorical story "The Shakespeare Code". He is reported to have based "The Unicorn and the Wasp" on his favourite Christie works: "Crooked House", which focuses on secrets within an aristocratic society, and the 1982 film adaptation of "Evil Under the Sun".

The story’s title was deliberately chosen to sound "vaguely Christie-ish", even though Christie never used 'the blank and the blank' construction. In writing this story, Roberts aimed to make it a "big, fun, all-star murder mystery romp".

The Doctor previously stated in the story "The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords" that he would love to meet Agatha Christie and in this story he says 'I was talking about you the other day'.

Agatha Christie really did disappear for ten whole days in 1926 when she drove away during the night and was found ten days later in a hotel in Harrogate - although her car was found in a chalk pit, not next to a lake. Some claim she had suffered a breakdown, while others said it was all a publicity stunt. Also the Harrogate Hotel where The Doctor leaves Agatha is fictitious. In actuality, the hotel where she was found was the Swan Hydro (now the Old Swan Hotel), a somewhat less imposing building than the one depicted in this story. After a hugely successful career and a very happy life Agatha died peacefully on 12 January 1976.

According to Guinness World Records, Agatha Christie is the best selling novelist of all time. She also comes second to William Shakespeare as the best selling writer of any kind.

Throughout this story Agatha Christie's book titles were mentioned just in general conversation. For example "Murder on the Orient Express" and "Miss Marple" are mentioned by Donna Noble, both in front of Agatha Christie who had not, at the time of this story, written them.

Donna mentions that meeting Agatha Christie during a murder mystery would be as preposterous as meeting "Charles Dickens surrounded by ghosts at Christmas", making a reference - unbeknown to her - to The Doctor's previous adventure with Charles Dickens in "The Unquiet Dead".

Fenella Woolgar, who plays the part of Agatha Christie, previously appeared alongside David Tennant in the Stephen Fry film "Bright Young Things". Funnily enough, her character in that was also called Agatha.

Christopher Benjamin, who plays Colonel Hugh, previously appeared in the 1970 Third Doctor story "Inferno" and the 1977 Tom Baker story "The Talons of Weng-Chiang".

The Colonel's reference to Mafeking relates to a famous siege in Africa during the Second Boer War. It lasted 217 days, from October 1899 to May 1900. The Doctor implied that he was present at the siege in both episode 8 of 1966's "The Daleks' Master Plan" and in the 1978's "The Invasion of Time".

Possibly because this is the first story Catherine Tate recorded since her debut in "The Runaway Bride", Donna repeats the high-pitched squeak of surprise first heard when she is transported from her wedding to the TARDIS at the beginning of that story.

The Tenth Doctor has now kissed (or been kissed by) all his female companions. Cassandra (in the body of Rose) kissed him in 2005's "New Earth", he kissed Martha Jones in an attempt to confuse the Judoon's genetic scanners in 2007's "Smith and Jones", Astrid planted one on him in 2007's "Voyage of the Damned" - and now Donna uses a kiss to shock his system and reject a potentially fatal dose of cyanide.

Cyanide has been used throughout history as a poison. The Fourth Doctor even used a gaseous form of it in 1976's "The Brain of Morbius".

When Donna opens up Lady Eddison's sickroom, she finds a large teddy bear on the bed. The room itself had been locked and left undisturbed for 40 years before the 1926 setting of this story. The teddy bear was not invented until after 1902, when the cartoon of American president Theodore Roosevelt which inspired it was first published. Therefore it follows that it would have been impossible for a teddy bear to have been placed in the room in 1886, making its appearance, in this story, an anachronism.

At the end of the story, the Agatha Christie novel "Death in the Clouds" is produced from a chest in the TARDIS – The cover of which portrays a large wasp.

When looking through his trunk to find his Agatha Christie book, The Doctor unearths a Cyberman chest-plate and the crystal ball in which the Carrionites are trapped, in "The Shakespeare Code".

The end of this story contains a trailer for the first episode of the next story "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead".

Following on immediately after this story, on BBC3, was the seventh chapter of the fourth series of Doctor Who Confidential, "Nemesis" presented by Anthony Head.



First and Last

The Firsts:

 The first story Catherine Tate recorded since her debut in "The Runaway Bride".


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The Plot

WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
Donna Meeting Agatha
Donna Meeting Agatha

The TARDIS takes The Doctor and Donna Noble to a manor house owned by Lady Eddison. The year they discover is 1926 and they are about to meet the world's most famous crime fiction novelist Agatha Christie – who has been invited to a dinner party hosted by Lady Eddison and her wheelchair bound husband, Colonel Hugh.

Inviting themselves to the party The Doctor realises that they have arrived on the very day that it is reported that Agatha Christie disappeared – only to reappear 10 days later in a hotel in Harrogate.

The Doctor is obviously curious about this unexplained event in Agatha’s life but before he can start to investigate the body of one of the other guests – Professor Peach – is found in the library by Lady Eddison's friend and companion Miss Chandrakala. The Doctor, aided by Donna and Agatha, deduce that he was murdered with a lead pipe. The Doctor though also deduces that the murderer isn't human when he discovers morphic residue on the floor while examining the scene.

Lady Eddison
Lady Eddison

Aided by Agatha, The Doctor interviews the guests while Donna goes looking for more clues. She investigates a locked room, which Lady Eddison has had kept locked for forty years. Curious as to why Donna gets Lady Eddison’s butler to unlock the door. Inside Donna is attacked by a giant wasp after tracing a buzzing sound to a window. She manages to scare it off by using a magnifying glass to amplify the sunlight coming through the window. The wasp escapes just as The Doctor arrives. They make chase but it somehow disappears before they can catch up with it – not before it kills Miss Chandrakala along the way.

Realising that they are involved in a real-life murder mystery The Doctor, Donna and Agatha mull over the evidence they have gathered so far. It is then that The Doctor is poisoned with cyanide – luckily though it is not as fatal to him, as it would be to a human, so giving him time to use a combination of ingredients accompanied with a shock (in the form of a kiss from Donna) to detoxify himself.

Reverend Golightly
Reverend Golightly

Later at dinner The Doctor tries to discover who the alien murderer is by lacing the guests' dinner with pepper – which acts as an insecticide to wasps. This though fails when all the lights are blown out by a sudden gust of wind. When the lights are restored they not only discover that Lady Eddison's son has been murdered in the confusion but Lady Eddison's necklace, 'The Firestone,' has been stolen.

In the sitting room, The Doctor and Agatha are able to reveal several secrets about the remaining guests and hosts. First it is revealed that Robina Redmond is in fact a thief called the 'The Unicorn' who coveted the Firestone and stole it in the confusion. Then Colonel Hugh confesses that he is actually not wheelchair bound as he appears to be; he faked the condition to make sure Lady Eddison did not leave him.

The biggest revelation though is the reason for the locked room. It seems it was locked after Lady Eddison's used it after returning from India forty years previously to recover from what was thought to be a bout of malaria but was actually because she was made pregnant by an alien known as a Vespiform, who gave her the Firestone necklace. The necklace is psychically linked to her son, whom she had given up for adoption and never saw again. Her son is actually the Reverend Golightly, who had come to associate Agatha Christie's novels with the way the world must work because Lady Eddison had been reading one when his alien biology was awakened in a moment of anger, and had killed those who were working against him in the manner of one of her novels.

Robina and Roger
Robina and Roger

Reverend Golightly, enraged at being discovered, transforms himself into his wasp form and pursues Agatha who has snatched the Firestone. The Doctor and Donna follow after her and they catch up with her at a nearby lake, where Donna throws the necklace into the water. However, as he is linked to the gem Reverend Golightly follows it into the water and drowns.

Still linked to the necklace, Agatha also nearly dies as well, but Reverend Golightly chooses to release her as his last act. The trauma though causes her amnesia, and so The Doctor deposits her at a Harrogate Hotel ten days later, thus explaining her reported mysterious disappearance.

 
The First Death
The First Death
The Vespiform
The Vespiform
Donna is Attacked
Donna is Attacked
Who Done It?
Who Done It?
 
The Finger of Suspicion
The Finger of Suspicion
The Murderer Revealed
The Murderer Revealed
Agatha Possessed
Agatha Possessed
Mystery Solved
Mystery Solved




Quote of the Story


 'Chief inspector Smith from Scotland Yard, known as The Doctor. Miss Noble is the plucky young girl that helps me out'

The Doctor



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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
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 2019BBCBD 0467Photo-montageLimited Edition Blu-Ray Steelbook boxed set containing 11 stories


In Print

No Book Release
Doctor Who Magazine - PreviewIssue 395 (Released: May 2008)
Doctor Who Magazine - ArticleIssue 396 (Released: June 2008)
Doctor Who Magazine - ReviewIssue 397 (Released: July 2008)
Doctor Who Magazine - Time TeamIssue 475 (Released: August 2014)
Doctor Who DVD FilesVolume 25 (Released: December 2009)

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Photo Gallery


The Doctor and Companion

 
David Tennant
The Tenth Doctor

   

 
Catherine Tate
Donna Noble
 
   




On Release

DVD Cover
DVD Cover

BBC
VIDEO
Complete Series DVD Box Set
Complete Series 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
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 395
Doctor Who Magazine - Preview: Issue 395

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

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Review: Issue 397
Doctor Who Magazine - Review: Issue 397

Marvel Comics
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 475
Doctor Who Magazine - Time Team: Issue 475

Marvel Comics
   
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 25
Doctor Who DVD Files: Volume 25

GE Fabbri


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