"The End of Time" is a two-part Doctor Who special and the final story for David Tennant, as the Tenth Doctor, prior to the character's regeneration into his eleventh incarnation, played by Matt Smith.
This is the last Doctor Who story written by Russell T Davies – who has been the shows Executive Producer and chief writer since Doctor Who’s return to our television screens in 2005. Russell T Davies has described this story as being ‘huge and epic, but also intimate’. Including this story Russell T Davies will have written, or co-written, no less than 31 episodes over 25 stories - an unprecedented accomplishment in the history of the show.
As well as being Russell T Davies’ last involvement in Doctor Who this is also Julie Gardner's last job as Executive Producer for the show.
This story sees the return of The Master (as played by John Simm). The Master was last seen dying in The Doctors arms at the end of the 2007 story "The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords". While on his funeral pyre The Master’s ring was seen falling to the ground and then being picked up by some unknown person.
The story also sees the return of the Time Lords (except for The Doctor, The Master and brief flashbacks) after a twenty-three years absence. This is their first appearance onscreen since 1986 in The Trial of a Time Lord season except for a flashback in "The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords".
The Time Lords’ home planet was first seen in the 1969 Second Doctor story "The War Games" although we didn't learn it was called Gallifrey until the 1973 Third Doctor story "The Time Warrior".
The President of the Time Lords is played by Bond actor Timothy Dalton. This is not the first time an actor who has played James Bond has appeared on Doctor Who. In the 1986 The Trial of a Time Lord season of stories The Valeyard was played by Michael Jayston who starred as 007 in a BBC radio production of "You Only Live Twice".
The Doctor at one point is heard to address the Lord President as 'Rassilon', although the character is only identified in the credits as 'The Narrator/Lord President'.
Bernard Cribbins, who first appeared in the 2007 Christmas special "Voyage of the Damned" and then, throughout Season Thirty (New Series 4), returns as Wilfred Mott, grandfather of former companion Donna Noble.
The special story also features the return of many other actors to the show, including: Catherine Tate (as Donna Noble), Jacqueline King (as Sylvia Noble), Billie Piper (as Rose Tyler), Camille Coduri (as Jackie Tyler), John Barrowman (as Captain Jack Harkness), Freema Agyeman (as Martha Smith-Jones), Noel Clarke (as Mickey Smith), Elisabeth Sladen (as Sarah Jane Smith), Tommy Knight (as Luke Smith), Alexandra Moen (as Lucy Saxon), Lachele Carl (as Trinity Wells), Paul Kasey (as Ood Sigma) and Russell Tovey (as Midshipman Frame).
This story also includes a special guest appearance by Comedy legend June Whitfield as Minnie Hooper. June Whitfield is famous for playing the wife, in the classic BBC sitcom Terry and June, alongside the late Terry Scott. She previously worked with Bernard Cribbins on Carry on Columbus, a comedy which also featured Jon Pertwee (the Third Doctor), Maureen Lipman (The Wire in "The Idiot's Lantern") and Richard Wilson (Doctor Constantine in "The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances").
Also appearing in this story is Barry Howard who is more famous for his role as Barry Stuart-Hargreaves in the long-running BBC sitcom Hi-de-Hi!.
There is a break in traditional for the Christmas Specials with no celebrity cameos appear in the story. Instead, a stand-in plays US President Barack Obama with stock audio dubbed in from an actual speech.
Despite this being David Tennant's last regular Doctor Who story, he filmed scenes for The Sarah Jane Adventures story "The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith", after the production of this story.
This story was directed by Euros Lyn. He also directed David Tennant's first big scene as The Doctor in the 2005 "Children in Need Special".
For the first time since the shows revival in 2005, both episodes, of a story, have the same overall title, followed by "Part One" and "Part Two". The original title for "Part One" was "The Final Days of Planet Earth", while "Part Two" was always referred to as "The End of Time". It was decided however, that both episodes needed the same title, differentiated by part numbers. This is the first story, which has more than one episode, since the 1989 Seventh Doctor story "Survival" to have one overarching title rather than separate titles for each episode.
The opening credits list David Tennant, John Simm and Bernard Cribbins. The inclusion of John Simm makes this the first time the opening credits include a credit for an actor playing a villain.
Part 2 of this story was just under 73 minutes long – 1 minute longer than the 2007 Christmas special "Voyage of the Damned" – so making it the third longest single episode made to date. The longest single episode was the 90 minute long Twentieth Anniversary Special "The Five Doctors" in 1983, while the 85 minute long 1996 television movie "Doctor Who: The Movie" is the second longest.
This story, along with the 1976 Fourth Doctor story "The Deadly Assassin", the 1996 television movie "Doctor Who: The Movie", "Army of Ghosts/Doomsday" and "Human Nature/The Family of Blood" are the only Doctor Who stories to feature a narration.
This story finally reveals the prophecy that was given to him by psychic Carmen at the end of "Planet of the Dead". Her words to him were ‘You be careful, because your song is ending, sir. It is returning, it is returning through the dark. And then... oh, but then... he will knock four times’. This evokes memories of another prophecy, ‘I think your song must end soon’, that was given to him by Ood Sigma in "Planet of the Ood".
In part 1, the Tenth Doctor lists off things he did instead of rushing to meet Ood Sigma; among them is an implied marriage with Elizabeth I. He also implies that one nickname for her can't be used anymore. The Doctor had previously encountered Elizabeth I in "The Shakespeare Code", at which point she treated him as an enemy by branding him has her 'sworn enemy'. At that point The Doctor had no idea what he had done to upset her. Elizabeth I also featured in the 1965 First Doctor story "The Chase".
Some of the early scenes on the Ood's home planet were shot at Wookey Hole in Wells, Somerset. The 1975 Fourth Doctor story, "Revenge of the Cybermen", also featured scenes recorded at the Wookey Hole caves and the nearby cathedral in Wells featured in the 2007 story "The Lazarus Experiment".
The Doctor mentions to Donna, about the amount of coincidence around Wilfred Mott and the sheer unlikelihood of the two meeting so many times, in the 2008 stories "Turn Left" and "The Stolen Earth/Journey's End".
In the scene where Donna starts to remember her time with The Doctor the following clips are shown: The Empress of the Racnoss, ("The Runaway Bride"), the Adipose ("Partners in Crime"), the Sybilline High Priestess ("The Fires of Pompeii"), the Ood ("Planet of the Ood"), the Vespiform ("The Unicorn and the Wasp"), the Sontarans ("The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky") the Suit Creature ("Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead") and to represent the Daleks - Dalek Caan, Davros and the Supreme Dalek - ("The Stolen Earth/Journey's End"). The Judoon can also be heard in her memories. While in the café, Wilfred Mott reminisces about his previous adventures with The Doctor in "The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky" and "The Stolen Earth/Journey's End".
Wilfred Mott is heard to mention ATMOS (a reference to "The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky") and planets in the sky (a reference to "The Stolen Earth/Journey's End").
Look out for the scene on the 'Sparrow Lane' minibus, as one of the women onboard was called Sally. A possible reference to Sally Sparrow who appeared in the 2007 story "Blink".
When The Master returns there are flashbacks to the events of "The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords".
Immediately after the opening titles of part 2 several crashed Dalek Saucers are seen next to a badly damaged Citadel. This is shown to be the Last Day of the Time War, before The Doctor destroys Gallifrey. A brief view of the Citadel was first seen, in the revived show, in the 2007 story "Gridlock".
According to Joshua Naismith, the ‘Immortality Gate’ was previously in the possession of the Torchwood Institute. The Immortality Gate was mentioned by The Trickster in The Sarah Jane Adventures story "The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith" – which also includes an appearance by David Tennant as The Doctor. The Gate was also mentioned in an interview given by Russell T. Davies with the Radio Times in 2008 for the release of the 2008 Christmas special "The Next Doctor". In the interview he states: ‘But oh, what a Christmas that’s going to be. Let’s just say that dark forces are gathering already. The Gate is waiting and life will never be the same again…’.
The Doctor, on seeing the appearance of the Vinvocci (the green-skinned aliens with spikes on their heads) comments on his previous encounter from "Voyage of the Damned" with Bannakaffalatta, a red spiky-headed being. The Vinvocci though are quick to differentiate themselves from Bannakaffalatta's race, the Zocci.
The Vinvocci's ship is unnamed onscreen but according to writer Russell T Davies it is called The Hesperus. This continues the theme established in "Voyage of the Damned" where an alien vessel is named after a famous but tragic ship from human history. In this case, The Hesperus is referenced in the poem, "The Wreck of the Hesperus" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1808 - 1882).
We finally get to see who Martha has married and it's not Tom Milligan, the man she was initially engaged to! Martha has tied the knot with Rose Tyler's ex-boyfriend - Mickey!
Midshipman Alonso Frame (Russell Tovey) from "Voyage of the Damned" shows up at a bar where Captain Jack Harkness is drinking. The Doctor gives Jack a napkin with His name's Alonso written on it, prompting Jack to chat him up. In this bar many previous creatures are seen. These include a Raxacoricofallapatorian the Graske, Slitheen, Adipose, Hath, Judoon and a Sycorax. Additionally, there are several unnamed new species present. The song heard playing is "My Angel Put the Devil in Me" from "Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks".
The scene, where Jessica Hynes signs a book titled ‘A Journal of Impossible Things’ by Verity Newman, is a direct reference to the 2007 story "Human Nature/The Family of Blood", in which The Doctor, transformed into a human with no conscious memory of his past adventures, wrote elements of his life as fiction in his ‘Journal of Impossible Things’. Jessica Hynes, who previously played Joan Redfern in this earlier story also plays the part of Verity Newman. Her character is a reference to Verity Lambert and Sydney Newman. This is the second time since the show was revived in 2005 that the show has honoured the two people who are considered among the primary creators of Doctor Who. The first time this occurred was in "Human Nature/The Family of Blood", where The Doctor, under his human guise of John Smith, says his parents were named Verity and Sydney.
An unconfirmed theory as to why the TARDIS explodes during The Doctor’s regeneration is that The Doctor clearly said he never wanted to go - his last words being ‘I don't want to go’ - and so he was fighting against the regeneration.
After much fan and media speculation as to what would cause the Tenth Doctor to regenerate it was his self-sacrifice, to save Wilfred Mott, and the resultant absorbing a massive amount of energy into his body. The cause of the Fifth Doctor’s regeneration was due to him saving the life of another (in this case his companion Peri after she unintentionally contracted the fatal disease Spectrox Toxaemiain the 1984 story "The Caves of Androzani"). The Ninth Doctor also regenerated when he saved the life of his companion Rose Tyler, when she suffered the consequence of looking into the Time Vortex, in the 2005 story "Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways". The Third Doctor previously also suffered near-lethal radiation poisoning in the 1974 story "Planet of the Spiders".
The TARDIS has become an enormously popular place to regenerate. The First, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth and Tenth Doctors have all regenerated within the TARDIS, whilst the Third Doctor regenerated just outside it. The Fourth Doctor's companion, Romana regenerated inside the TARDIS as did The Master in "Utopia".
Upon his regeneration in this story the Eleventh Doctor is heard to say ‘And I'm still not ginger!’. This is a reference to the 2005 Christmas special " The Christmas Invasion" – the first story for the Tenth Doctor – where he asked Rose Tyler if his (then new) incarnation was ginger.
An exclusive preview of this story (consisting of footage from scenes 4 and 5 of the first episode from just after the opening titles) was shown during the 2009 edition of Children in Need on the 20th November 2009. It shows The Doctor arriving at the Ood Sphere after some procrastination (including marrying Queen Elizabeth I), being welcomed by Ood Sigma and observing how unnaturally quickly their settlement has been constructed (100 years). He then shares the bad dreams of the Ood elders which ends with The Doctor receiving a vision of The Master and exclaiming ‘That man is dead!.
The BBC One continuity announcement before the second episode was voiced by the David Tennant, and was the last time the Christmas indent, featuring the Tenth Doctor, was used.
Following on immediately after each episode of this story, on BBC3, were the usual behind-the-scenes chapters of Doctor Who Confidential. These being titled "Lords and Masters", for Part 1, and "Allons-y!", for Part 2. Both were presented by Anthony Head. This programme was released in full in The Complete Specials Box Set in January 2010.
The first major appearance of The Time Lords in the revived television series and the first for 23 years - since the 1986 Sixth Doctor story "The Trial of a Time Lord".
The first time since the shows revival in 2005, both episodes, of a multi-part story, have the same overall title.
Matt Smith's first appearance as the Eleventh Doctor.