This is a two-part story written by Steven Moffat and features the return of both the Weeping Angels, from the 2007 Tenth Doctor story "Blink", and River Song (played by Alex Kingston) from the 2008 Tenth Doctor story "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead".
This was the first story, of Season Thirty One (New Series 5), to be recorded. The read through for the first episode, "The Time of Angels", took place on the 15th July 2009 and was preceded by a few words by Executive Producer Piers Wenger who noted the historic nature of the morning's work. Before the actual read through the cast usually say who they are and give their character's name. When Matt Smith announced he was The Doctor the declaration was met by loud cheers all round!
This story has been directed by Adam Smith. As this was the first story, of Season Thirty One (New Series 5), to be recorded this makes it his first directors role on Doctor Who. Adam Smith has previously directed four episodes of E4’s teen drama Skins in 2007 and six episodes of BBC One’s Little Dorrit in 2008.
Locations used in the recording of this story included the beach at Dunraven Bay, near Bridgend in South Wales (for the non-studio scenes on the planet Alfava Metraxis); Clearwell Caves, Gloucestershire (for The Maze of the Dead) while the forest scenes in the Byzantium, in Episode Two, were filmed in The Forest of Dean.
The scenes shot in The Forest of Dean were done at Puzzlewood which is near Coleford, Gloucester. It has been said that this area inspired JRR Tolkien's vision of Middle-earth in his The Lord of the Rings saga. Other dramas to have been shot there include the BBC's Merlin.
This is not the first time the crew have visited the area. The nearby Clearwell Caves were used in episodes such as "The Christmas Invasion", "The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit" and "The Fires of Pompeii".
The scene where The Doctor and Amy Pond have emerged from the TARDIS and talk to River Song whilst looking at the crashed Byzantium was the first location filming for the new season and for the Eleventh Doctor. As such it was of enormous interest to the press. The Eleventh Doctor's costume had been revealed earlier but the new look TARDIS exterior and the return of Alex Kingston were widely reported with photographs from the shoot ending up on front pages across the world.
This is the second story to include River Song, the mysterious woman from The Doctor's future. However, even though The Doctor has previously meet her (see "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead") "The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone" takes place in her relative past, where she is a doctor rather than a professor. Despite this, she still has intimate knowledge of The Doctor's life, including the Old High Gallifreyan language, and had the ability to fly the TARDIS at a more advanced level than The Doctor.
River Song once again maps her time with The Doctor using her personal diary, warning him against ‘Spoilers’as before. This diary is explained to hold pictures of The Doctor's various incarnations, accounting for her ability to recognise The Doctor despite his recent regeneration.
River Song previously mentioned the crash of the Byzantium, in "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead", as an event that had occurred for her but not for The Doctor. In the earlier story River Song mentioned the incident, asking The Doctor ‘Have we done that yet?’.
As well as being the ship that crashes in this story, Byzantium was a city founded in the seventh century by settlers from Megara. The city's name has changed several times over the millennia and is now known as Istanbul. Incidentally, in the 1978 Fourth Doctor story "The Stones of Blood", The Doctor encountered a race known as the Megara - sentient judging machines who put him on trial. At one point the Megara were attacked by the Ogri - killers made of stone.
The words ‘Hello, Sweetie!’, inscribed on the Home Box, by River Song in Old High Gallifreyan, are the same words by which she greets the Tenth Doctor in "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead". High Gallifreyan was previously seen in the 1983 Twentieth Anniversary Special "The Five Doctors".
The Doctor is heard referring to the events of "Blink" – the first story to feature The Weeping Angels. "The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone" explores the further extent of their power as opposed to the ‘scavengers’ seen in the former story, showing their ability to control Amy's mind after their eyes meet, turn an image of themselves sentient, and to re-animate the consciousness of a dead victim in order to communicate.
The Weeping Angels are also seen moving for the first time. During the second episode they are seen turning their heads when they begin to realise that Amy can't see them, and one of them moves its hand to catch The Doctor by his coat.
The Doctor previously used the TARDIS to chase a crashing spaceship in the 2005 Ninth Doctor story "The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances".
Amy is heard referring to having previously visited a spaceship and Winston Churchill in the cabinet war-rooms. (She is referring to "The Beast Below" and "Victory of the Daleks").
Amy Pond is not the first of The Doctor's companions who has been forced to face danger without being able to see. In the 1976 Fourth Doctor story "The Brain of Morbius", Sarah Jane Smith thought she had permanently lost her sight after being attacked by the leader of the Sisterhood of Karn. And in the 1977 story "The Horror of Fang Rock" another of the Fourth Doctor's companions, Leela, thought she had been blinded after witnessing a dramatic flash of light. Fortunately, in both instances, the lack of vision proved brief.
Several lines of dialogue reference previous adventures. The Doctor's plea for Amy not to blink refers to "Blink" whilst River Song's one-line warning – ‘Spoilers!’ echoes her note of caution in "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead". At one point The Doctor reads a book in about a second and comments, ‘Not bad! A bit boring in the middle’. The Fourth Doctor delivers that precise line in the 1979 story "City of Death" after speed-reading a book whilst relaxing in Paris.
At one point The Doctor mentions Virginia Woolf ; a British novelist, essayist and publisher considered to be one of the most significant figures in modern literature. Her works include "Mrs Dalloway" (1925), "Orlando" (1928) and "Between the Acts" (1941). The BBC's 1983 dramatisation of her most famous novel, "To the Lighthouse" (1927), featured Simon Dutton who plays Alistair in this story.
Gravity globes were previously seen in 2006 Tenth Doctor story "The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit".
The first broadcast of Episode One, on certain English regions of BBC One, included, during the cliffhanger (just before The Doctor shoots the gravity globe that is illuminating the chamber) an on-screen caption featuring an animated graphic of Graham Norton revealing a banner to advertise the next programme Over the Rainbow. This prompted over 5,000 complaints to the BBC. This is not the first time that the BBC has had Graham Norton interrupting a story. In the 2005 story "Rose" an audio feed of Graham Norton from another studio was accidentally broadcast.
The second episode included a short recap, of the previous episode, before the opening titles.
The title of the second episode was suggested by Steven Moffat's son, Joshua. This was revealed by Steven Moffat on the 30th March 2010 edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme Front Row.
The title of the second episode, "Flesh and Stone", is a play on ‘flesh and bone’ which is a common idiom referring to a creature's anatomy, since most humans and animals are composed of flesh and a skeletal structure. The title also refers to The Weeping Angels’ weakness of turning to stone whenever anyone looks at them.
Continuing the theme throughout Season Thirty One (New Series 5) the crack in the universe is seen again. The crack appears to be growing, and upon finding it, Amy Pond notes its similarity to the one on her bedroom wall from (see "The Eleventh Hour"). The Doctor is heard to say of the crack, ‘That is extremely very not good’. The idea of the cracks in the universe was suggested to Steven Moffat by a crack in the wall over his son's bed. Steven has described the crack as looking like a smile.
Also, near the end when The Doctor is talking to River Song in the Vault, the television in the background shows what seems to be an eye swinging down and back up again. This is the movement of the Atraxi eye in "The Eleventh Hour".
When trying to figure out the implications of the cracks in the universe, The Doctor realises that they can cause time itself to be unwritten – so possible explaining why Amy can not remember the Daleks and planets in the sky (that occurred during the events of "The Stolen Earth/Journey's End"), as well as recent history's failure to record the Cyber-King rampaging over Victorian London, as seen in the 2008 Christmas special "The Next Doctor".
River Song refers to the events of the Pandorica opening but he rejects the concept as being a ‘fairy tale’. The Pandorica was previously referred to by Prisoner Zero in "The Eleventh Hour"; ‘The universe is cracked. The Pandorica will open. Silence will fall’. It is rumoured that this is likely to be the finale of this season.
During this story The Doctor reveals his age to be 907 at this time and that his birthday is somewhere between December and June.
River Song is heard saying to The Doctor ‘You, me, handcuffs... must it always end this way?’, unknowingly referencing her own death in "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead".
When The Doctor spots the crack in the wall in the Primary Control Centre a flashback from "The Eleventh Hour", where The Doctor traces his finger along the crack in Amy’s bedroom wall, is shown.
Amy is heard asking The Doctor ‘Do you come for a lot of people on the night before their wedding?’. The Doctor previously interrupted Donna Noble's wedding in the 2006 Christmas Special "The Runaway Bride".
Look out for the scene where The Doctor is talking to Amy just before he heads off with River Song. He is seen wearing his brown coat. But he lost that earlier when The Weeping Angels surround him.
The method The Doctor uses to dispose of The Weeping Angels mirrors his method of vanquishing the Cybermen and Daleks in the 2006 Tenth Doctor story "Army of Ghosts/Doomsday" – who were sucked into the Void.
Strangely the clock on Amy’s bedside table is seen to change from ‘11:59 AM 6/25’ to ‘12:00 PM 6/26’. But if this was Midnight then clock would change from PM to AM. The date, 26th June 2010, also just happens to be exactly thirteen weeks after "The Eleventh Hour" was first broadcast and the date when the final episode of - "The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang" - the final story of Season Thirty One (New Series 5) - was broadcast.
The end of this story confirms Amy's age and the timeline of this season. The majority of "The Eleventh Hour" takes place in 2008, with the last scene taking place on the night of 25th June 2010 when Amy is 21. This date is the night before Amy is due to be married and as the TARDIS departs at the end of this story a clock on a bedside table changes to 12:00 26th June 2010. This date is (if all stories are not interrupted and not including the Christmas Special) the final broadcast date of this season.
Following on immediately after each episode of this story, on BBC3, were the fourth and fifth chapters of the fifth series of Doctor Who Confidential. These being "Eyes Wide Open" and "Blinded by the Light". Both looked into the making of this story and the return of The Weeping Angels. They were presented by Alex Price.
The first time that the Weeping Angels are seen moving.
Amy Pond's first trip to an alien planet.
The first story of this season to be recorded.