This was the first story, of the second half of Season Thirty Three (New Series 7), to go before the cameras, and so saw Jenna-Louise Coleman (Clara Oswald) join Matt Smith (the Eleventh Doctor) on set.
This is the first Doctor Who story written by Neil Cross, who is best known as the head writer on Spooks and the creator of the popular Luther. He wanted to write 'a really old-fashioned scary episode of Doctor Who' targeted especially at children nine to twelve, which was how he remembered Doctor Who at that age. He aimed to show suspense and tension, as he felt it was more terrifying than ‘full-on shock horror blood and gore’.
He was inspired by The Quatermass Experiment and its sequels, and originally intended to have The Doctor meet Bernard Quatermass, though this was not possible due to copyright reasons. Neil Cross was also inspired by Quatermass writer Nigel Kneale's "The Stone Tape". The Crooked Man was something Neil Cross said lurked in his imagination. He also wanted to tell the story with 'a small cast and as few locations as possible'.
Neil Cross also wrote "The Rings of Akhaten" which he was invited to do after Executive producers Steven Moffat and Caroline Skinner enjoyed this story. "The Rings of Akhaten" however was broadcast before this story making this his second Doctor Who story to be shown.
This story was directed by Jamie Payne – his first Doctor Who story. He has though had experience on many television dramas including Ashes to Ashes, Eternal Law, Whistle and I'll Come to You, Call the Midwife, The Hour and Primeval.
This story has been described by Jenna-Louise Coleman as ‘a hugely fun, and rather fabulously spooky script written by Luther creator Neil Cross and directed by Jamie Payne, with an exciting guest cast including Dougray Scott and Jessica Raine’.
Dougray Scott, who played the part of Alec Palmer, has appeared in major films, including Mission: Impossible 2, while television work includes a stint on US hit Desperate Housewives.
Jessica Raine, who played the part of Emma Grayling, appeared in the film The Woman in Black, and is the star of BBC One's top-rated drama Call the Midwife. On being offered the part of Emma Grayling, Jessica Raine later revealed that she had not realised 'what an institution Doctor Who is' until she arrived on set. She has also revealed that it was produced very differently from Call the Midwife. Subsequent to filming her appearance in this episode, Jessica Raine was cast as Doctor first producer, Verity Lambert, in the Fiftieth Anniversary Special "An Adventure in Space and Time".
Neil Cross has stated that Jessica Raine and Dougray Scott were good at filling out their characters, as he found it difficult to fully 'evoke the history of a quite complex relationship' between their characters with just the script.
The read through for this story took place in Cardiff on Monday 21st May 2012 and filming began the following day, running through to the 5th June.
This story was filmed in Margam Castle and in Margam Country Park (Usk Valley Business Park, Pontypool), (which was also used in the 2008 Tenth Doctor story "The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky") and Tyntesfield, a National Trust property near Bristol, for the location of the mansion. While the scenes in the eerie forest in the pocket dimension were shot in Gethin Woods (Merthyr Tydfil) with some interesting tricks employed to give the movements of The Crooked Man such an unusual quality.
It is revealed that Alec Palmer owns Caliburn House, where the majority of this story is set, which was built sometime before 1474. The word ‘Caliburn’ has interesting connotations as it is another word for Excalibur, the legendary sword of King Arthur that played such an important part in the 1989 Seventh Doctor story "Battlefield".
The Doctor and Clara introduce themselves as 'Ghostbusters", referencing the 1984 comedy about an unlikely organisation that battled supernatural forces in America. This is not the show’s first reference to this classic film as previously, in the Tenth Doctor in the 2006 story " Army of Ghosts/Doomsday", this movie’s theme song was quoted. Its lyrics were also quoted by Clyde Langer (a member of The Bannerman Road Gang) in The Sarah Jane Adventures story "The Eternity Trap".
When The Doctor introduces himself, Alec Palmer asks him, 'Doctor what?' to which The Doctor responds with 'If you like". The ‘Doctor what?’ gag, near the start of this story, is similar to a line from the classic comedy film Carry On Screaming where Kenneth Williams’ mad scientist character announces he is Doctor Watt. A policeman comes back with, ‘Doctor who, sir?’ to which the scientist replies, ‘Watt! Who is my uncle - or was - I haven’t seen him for ages!’.
Clara is heard answering a question of The Doctor's by saying, 'That's the chap'. This is the same answer that The Doctor gave when Adric asked, in the 1981 Fourth Doctor story "Logopolis", if Earth is the planet with all the oceans.
The line ‘…seeking whom you may devour…’ is a reference to a line in the Bible and more specifically, the First Epistle of Peter (5:8). The full passage reads, ‘Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour…’.
The line ‘Birds do it, bees do it… even educated fleas do it!’ is a quote from Cole Porter’s popular song, Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love. It was first heard (with slightly different lyrics) in one of Cole Porter’s earliest Broadway musicals, Paris, in 1928.
The line ‘Your pants are so on fire!’ spoken by The Doctor suggests he thinks Clara is fibbing, referencing the usually good-natured rhyme of ‘Liar, liar! Your pants are on fire!’.
The Doctor once again pretends to be from Health and Safety as he did in the 2008 Tenth Doctor story "Partners in Crime".
It is revealed that Alec Palmer is a ghost-hunter, as well as a 'member of the Baker Street Irregulars, the ministry of ungentlemanly warfare, specialised in espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance behind enemy lines, a talented water colourist and a professor of psychology'. While Emma is an empathetic psychic.
The ‘original’ (albeit fictional) Baker Street Irregulars were a band of Victorian ragamuffins who assisted Sherlock Holmes in his investigations. They first appeared in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1887 thriller, A Study in Scarlet. However, it seems likely The Doctor is alluding here to Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE). This was a covert wartime organisation formed to conduct espionage, reconnaissance and sabotage missions against Germany and her allies, and to assist resistance movements in occupied Europe during World War II. Its headquarters were in London’s Baker Street leading those in the know to dub its operatives, the Baker Street Irregulars.
The Doctor references Alec Palmer's wartime service as someone protecting North Sea Allied convoys from German U-boats. This was one of the war-time duties carried out by Jon Pertwee - who would become the Third Doctor.
Emma is heard telling Clara not to trust The Doctor, saying that 'he has a sliver of ice in his heart'.
Emma speaks to the ghost, telling it to 'speak to me, in the same vein as Gwyneth holding a séance and saying 'speak to us' in the 2005 Ninth Doctor story "The Unquiet Dead".
Sarah Jane Smith once visited a haunted house very similar to this in The Sarah Jane Adventures story "The Eternity Trap".
In the 1989 Seventh Doctor story "Ghost Light" The Doctor also visited a mysterious stately home for the benefit of his then companion, Ace.
The Eighth Doctor previously encountered another being referred to as 'The Witch from the Well' in the Big Finish Productions audio story "The Witch from the Well".
The Doctor requests some Kendal Mint Cake. This is not the first time The Doctor has asked for baked confectionery amongst a list of items needed to find someone (see also "The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon").
Kendal Mint Cake is a hard confectionery originating from Kendal in Cumbria, England. It has been around for over a century and remains popular with climbers and mountaineers as a source of energy.
Emma and Clara are seen at one point having a glass of whisky which they don't like, and so drink tea instead. Furthermore, Clara calls whisky the 'Eleventh most disgusting drink ever invented'. The Doctor meanwhile is seen drinking milk.
In this story Clara directly communicated with The Doctor's TARDIS for the first time and confirmed that the time machine did not take a liking to her. This results in her calling the TARDIS a 'grumpy old cow'. Charlotte Pollard also called the TARDIS a 'cow' in the Big Finish Productions audio story "The Next Life".
The TARDIS uses its voice interface to talk with Clara, using a hologram of Clara herself, because the interface is programmed to 'select the image of a person you esteem'. Unlike the last time The Doctor used a similar interface (see "Let's Kill Hitler"), the TARDIS projected the interface outside of the ship and, for the first time, addresses a companion in this manner.
The TARDIS unlocks herself in order to allow Clara to enter, even though she doesn't yet have a key. The TARDIS did this before in "The Doctor's Wife".
After a heated discussion with the TARDIS, resulting in being let in without a key Clara then follows The Doctor into the pocket dimension against his orders. This exact sequence of events was previously carried out by Charlotte Pollard in the Big Finish Productions audio story "Zagreus".
Clara says that they need a place to keep her umbrella, The Doctors states that he has, or had, a place at one time. The First Doctor, Second Doctor, Fourth Doctor, Fifth Doctor and Seventh Doctor all had umbrella racks in their control rooms, and the previous two TARDIS control rooms operated by the Fifth Doctor, Ninth Doctor, Tenth Doctor and the Eleventh (prior to "The Snowmen") also had hat stands.
The Doctor also refers to the TARDIS as being ‘wibbly-wobbly’. This is how he described time in the 2007 Tenth Doctor story "Blink".
We once again hear the TARDIS’s ominous warning device, the Cloister Bell. It was introduced in the 1980 Fourth Doctor story "Logopolis", and in that story The Doctor is heard telling Adric that ‘It's a sort of communications device reserved for wild catastrophes and sudden calls to man the battle stations’. In practice the Cloister Bell warns of impending or immediate danger and was later heard in the Fifth Doctor stories "Castrovalva", "Resurrection of the Daleks" and more recently it was heard in the Tenth Doctor stories "The Sound of Drums", "Turn Left" and in the Eleventh Doctors first story "The Eleventh Hour". It can also be heard in the Doctor Who Adventure Game, "TARDIS".
The Doctor is able to utilise a 'subset of the Eye of Harmony' to enter the pocket universe by running cables from the TARDIS (see also the 1976 Fourth Doctor story "The Deadly Assassin" and the 1996 Eighth Doctor television movie "Doctor Who: The Movie").
This is the first on-screen reference to the Eye of Harmony since the 1996 television movie "Doctor Who: The Movie". Again its precise nature remains a mystery. It was first mentioned in the 1976 Fourth Doctor story "The Deadly Assassin" and appears to be a source of great power exploited by the Time Lords. It’s unclear whether it is a single entity that once ‘fuelled’ Gallifrey or a kind of multi-present source of power that existed in all TARDIS. All will be revealed though in the next story "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS".
Both The Doctor and the TARDIS state that the pocket universe would drain the energy from the TARDIS. This had previously happened in the parallel universe seen in the 2006 Tenth Doctor story "Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel".
The idea of pocket universes has been debated by scientists for many years. They are said to be universes that are complete within themselves but are nevertheless part of a larger universe, such as the one we inhabit. This makes them distinct, as The Doctor points out, from parallel universes which are not necessarily a subset of any other universe.
The Doctor is seen travelling through the Vortex clinging to the outside of the TARDIS, as had Captain Jack Harkness done in the 2007 Tenth Doctor story "Utopia".
When jumping into the pocket universe for the first time, The Doctor is heard to exclaim 'Geronimo' (see also "The End of Time").
The Doctor has previously entered a pocket universe (see also "The Celestial Toymaker", "The Mind Robber", "Full Circle" and "The Doctor's Wife").
The Doctor had previously encountered a time traveller from the future, whose journey had gone wrong in the 1977 Fourth Doctor story "The Talons of Weng-Chiang".
This is not the first time The Doctor has used a blue crystal from Metebelis III - although in this story this famous Doctor Who planet is pronounced differently. We first saw him visit this strange and sinister planet, and take a crystal from its surface, in the 1973 Third Doctor story "The Green Death". He later gave the crystal to companion Jo Grant as a wedding present but his former companion was forced to return it to The Doctor. In the 1974 story "Planet of the Spiders" it turned out to be an important stone to the ‘eight-legs’ of Metebelis III and was pivotal to their evil plans. However, The Doctor defeated them, with the assistance of the crystal, although this victory came at a price and he was forced to regenerate into the Fourth Doctor. It also later returned in the Big Finish Productions Eighth Doctor audio story "Worldwide Web".
The Doctor’s orange space suit is once again seen in this story. It has been slightly modified over the years since it was first worn by the Tenth Doctor in the 2006 story "The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit". It made subsequent appearances in the Tenth Doctor stories "42" and "The Waters of Mars".
The Doctor refers to formative Earth as being six billion years ago, despite in the 2006 Christmas special "The Runaway Bride", he previously stated that it occurred 4.6 billion years ago (in keeping with scientific records).
Clara has difficulty coming to terms with seeing a long-dead earth, as Rose Tyler did in the 2005 Ninth Doctor story "The End of the World". The Doctor appears to be less successful in comforting Clara than he was with Rose.
The Doctor again references fixed points in time (see "The Fires of Pompeii", "The Waters of Mars" and "The Wedding of River Song").
The Doctor again uses his psychic paper (see "The Empty Child", "New Earth", "Partners in Crime" and "The Vampires of Venice").
The Doctor is seen obsessing over toggle switches and an ACR 99821.
The Doctor previously drew a circle on the floor with chalk to solve a problem from another pocket universe in the 1989 Seventh Doctor story "Battlefield".
Clara references The Doctor's big chin, as had previously Oswin Oswald in "Asylum of the Daleks".
This story contains a number of errors. Namely: The Doctor mispronounces the 'Metebelis' in Metebelis III, saying it like its written, it's actually pronounced 'Met-a-be-lis' as made clear in the Third Doctor stories "Carnival of Monsters", "The Green Death" and "Planet of the Spiders"; Several wires are seen running from the TARDIS to the equipment which opens the wormhole to the pocket universe, but when Clara returns to the TARDIS to save The Doctor, they are all missing; While The Doctor is wandering in the pocket universe, for the first time, he removes his bow tie. The bow tie then appears and disappears between close and wide shots.
The first story, of the second half of Season Thirty Three (New Series 7), to go before the cameras.
The first on-screen reference to the Eye of Harmony since the 1996 television movie "Doctor Who: The Movie".
The first Doctor Who story to be written by Neil Cross.
The first Doctor Who story to be directed by Jamie Payne.