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Jodie Whittaker
Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror
Thirteenth Doctor Logo


Synopsis


The Skithra Queen
The Skithra Queen
 1903. On the edge of Niagara Falls, something is wrong at Nikola Tesla’s generator plant.

 Who or what is sabotaging the maverick inventor’s work? Has he really received a message from Mars? And where does his great rival Thomas Edison fit into these events?

 The Doctor, Yaz, Ryan and Graham must join forces with one of history’s great minds to save both him and planet Earth.

Source: BBC Website


General Information

Season: Thirty Eight (New Series 12)
Production Code: 12-4
Story Number: 289 (New Series: 133)
Episode Number:855 (New Series: 159)
Number of Episodes: 1
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Production Dates:
Broadcast Date: 19 January 2020
Colour Status: HD Colour
Studio: BBC Wales (Roath Lock Studios, Cardiff)
Location: Nu Boyana Film Studios, Sofia, Bulgaria
Writer:Nina Metivier
Director:Nida Manzoor
Producer:Alex Mercer
Series Producer:Nikki Wilson
Executive Producers:Chris Chibnall and Matt Strevens
Executive Producer (for the BBC):Ben Irving
Assistant Directors:Jennifer Day and Rosey-Pepper Mortley
Script Supervisor:Nicki Coles
Script Editors:Fiona McAllister and Caroline Buckley (Assistant)
Series Script Editor:Sheena Bucktowonsing
Editors:Rebecca Trotman, Tim Hodges, David S J Davies (Assistant), Hayley Williams (Assistant), Alastair Gray (Assistant VFX) and Georgina Careless (VFX)
Colourist:Gareth Spensley
Head of Production:Jacquie Glanville and Radford Neville
Production Executive:Tracie Simpson
Production Manager:Delmi Thomas
Production Assistant:Ariana Scott
Post Production Supervisor:Ceres Doyle
Supervising Location Manager:Iwan Roberts
Location Manager:Gareth Roberts
Production Designer:Dafydd Shurmer
Director of Photography:Sam Heasman
Casting Director:Andy Pryor CDG
Line Producer:Steffan Morris
Costume Designer:Ray Holman
Make-Up Designer:Claire Pritchard-Jones
Cameramen:Dan Patounas (Assistant), Gwilym Jenner (Assistant), Jade Jenkins (Assistant), Scott Waller (Assistant) and Mark McQuoid (Operator)
Incidental Music:Segun Akinola
Special Sounds (SFX Editor):Harry Barnes
Sound Recordist:Deian Llyr Humphreys
Dubbing Mixers:Howard Bargroff and Kiran Marshall
Visual Effects:DNEG
Special Effects:Real SFX
Prosthetics:Millennium FX
Special Creature Effects:Robert Allsopp & Associates
Stunt Co-ordinators:Crispin Layfield and Dani Biernat
Stunt Performers:Belinda McGinley, Freddie Mason and Matt Hermiston
Title Sequence:Ben Pickles
Title Music:Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Arranged by Segun Akinola
Additional VFX: Ben Pickles
Additional VFX: BBC Wales Graphics
Creature Designer: Ray Holman
Music Recorded By: Olga Fitzroy
Music Mixed By: Goetz Botzenhardt
Number of Doctors: 1
The Doctor: Jodie Whittaker (The Thirteenth Doctor)
Number of Companions: 3The Companions: Bradley Walsh (Graham O'Brien), Tosin Cole (Ryan Sinclair) and Mandip Gill (Yasmin Khan) Additional Cast: Goran Višnjic (Nikola Tesla), Robert Glenister (Thomas Edison), Anjli Mohindra (Queen Skithra), Haley McGee (Dorothy Skerrit), Paul Kasey (Harold Green), Robin Guiver (Bill Tallow), Erick Hayden (Mr Sorensson), Russell Bentley (Mr Brady), Brian Caspe (Mr Martin), Shaun Mason (Foreman)Setting: New York, USA (1900’s) Villain:The Skithra

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
(UK)
Duration Viewers
(Millions)
In Archive
855Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror19 January 202050'42"5.1Yes

Total Duration 51 Minutes


Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 5.1


Archives


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



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Notes


"Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror" is the third story of Season Thirty Eight (New Series 12) and was written by Nina Metivier and directed by Nida Manzoor.

This is Nina Metivier’s first Doctor Who story. She was previously a script editor on the previous season stories "The Woman Who Fell to Earth" and "It Takes You Away". She was the co-creator of the 2018 BBC iPlayer thriller The A List and worked as both a writer and producer on the mystery drama Dixi (2014-17).

This is Director Nida Manzoor’s first Doctor Who story. She directed the third recording block containing this story and "Fugitive of the Judoon" - the fourth story. Her previous directing work includes the online BBC comedy-drama Enterprice and a pilot for a series called Hounslow Diaries.

Hustle star Robert Glenister and ER star Goran Višnjic were cast as Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla respectively. Playing the part of the Queen Skithra is Anjli Mohindra. She was previously a member of the main cast in The Sarah Jane Adventures playing the part of Rani Chandra from 2008 to 2011. This is her first appearance in Doctor Who.

Bradley Walsh and Anjli Mohindra have worked together before on The Sarah Jane Adventures story "The Day of the Clown". In that story, Bradley Walsh played the story's antagonist, Elijah Spellman. This story therefore sees their roles reversed with Bradley Walsh now playing a companion and Anjli Mohindra playing the villain. Anjli Mohindra said that, despite the fact that they had worked together before, he did not recognise her due to her excessive make-up. She initially believed he was joking with her but it was only when he asked to see a picture of her so he could say hello to her if he passed her in the street that she realised he was being serious.

Robert Glenister previously appeared playing the part of Salateen in the 1984 Fifth Doctor story "The Caves of Androzani" - thus making him one of the select few actors to have appeared in both eras of the show.

The sets used for 1903 New York City was located at the Nu Boyana Film Studios in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The official synopsis dates this story to 1903, however, this date is not given in the actual story. The Thirteenth Doctor describes Nikola Tesla as ‘an inventor from 1900’ when questioning why the Skithra sought him out. As, historically, the tower at Wardenclyffe was completed in 1902, it is likely that the story is set in 1903 and the reference to 1900 was intended as an approximation. Indeed, a newspaper image is briefly seen that dates Nikola Tesla's discovery of the transmission, that he thinks has come from Mars some months earlier, to 1903.

The letter from J.P. Morgan refusing to fund Nikola Tesla was historically received on the 14th July 1903. According to reports, that night Wardenclyffe tower ‘came alive shooting off bright flashes lighting up the night sky’, which does seem to confirm the story as happening at that time.

This story begins where Nikola Tesla has invited a crowd of people to the Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power & Manufacturing Company by Niagara Falls.

The Doctor notes that Nikola Tesla dreamt up the 20th century before it happened and that he could have been a billionaire if he hadn't torn up his contract.

It is revealed that Nikola Tesla invented the shadowgraph, the automaton, and the radio. He also coined and thought up the idea of remote control.

Nikola Tesla previously aided the Seventh Doctor and Melanie Bush in defeating the Vardans in the Big Finish Productions audio story "Maker of Demons".

The Doctor notes that, at this point in the history of New York City, Times Square and the Empire State Building do not yet exist. Central Park, however, she states ‘has been around for ages’.

The Doctor is heard telling Nikola Tesla that she created her sonic screwdriver using spoons (see "The Woman Who Fell to Earth").

Graham calls the train they travel in the Orient Express.

Ryan hesitates to jump from one train carriage to another because of his dyspraxia.

The Skithra are giant alien scorpions and are a hive species.

It is revealed that the Skithra Queen has a Venusian spaceship with a Klendov warp drive and a Dullirian resonator. She is also seen using a Silurian blaster.

The Doctor wonders what the ‘alien Harold Green’ uses to appear as human and debunks possession, psionic image cloaking and holograms. The Doctor uses ammonium nitrate, some green stuff and zinc to trap the alien.

The Doctor calls the Thassor ‘one of the ancient races’ and states that they are amazing storytellers, inventors and explorers.

Thomas Edison is first seen making a speech in front of The Edison Electric Illuminating Company.

Graham calls Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison ‘AC/DC’, making a double reference. Nikola Tesla stood for the alternating current and Thomas Edison stood for the direct current.

The Doctor notes to her companions that the Empire State Building has yet to be constructed. In November 1930, the Tenth Doctor, in the 2007 story "Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks", found that the Cult of Skaro had manipulated the construction of the building for their own purposes.

A sign is seen in this story stating ‘Night of Tesla Terror’. This is a play on the title Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror.

Although newspapers in the real world did cast reports on both Tesla's and Edison's views, the newspaper used in this story, the New York Bugle, was never a real world newspaper, nor were the headlines Tesla: I Heard Message From Mars and Edison: Shut Down Tesla. The closest possible real-world connections would be newspapers New York Herald and New York Times, both active at the time.



First and Last

The Firsts:

 The first Doctor Who story to be written by Nina Metivier.

 The first Doctor Who story to be directed by Nida Manzoor.


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The Plot

WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla

At Niagara Falls in 1903, Nikola Tesla is having problems in persuading potential investors to fund his wireless power transmission system as it is seen as dangerous and crazy. After working late fixing his generator, he comes across a floating orb. Feeling endangered, he makes a run with his assistant, Dorothy Skerritt, as a cloaked figure shoots at them.

The Doctor arrives in time to help them escape aboard a train heading towards New York. The cloaked figure however, follows them but The Doctor with the help of her three travelling companions, Graham O'Brien, Ryan Sinclair and Yasmin Khan, manage to ditch their pursuer by detaching one of the railway carriage.

In New York, the group finds protesters waiting outside Tesla's lab, having been goaded into fearing Tesla and his inventions by his competitor Thomas Edison. The Doctor identifies the orb as the Orb of Thassa but repurposed for an unknown cause.

Arrival in New York
Arrival in New York

After spotting a spy for Edison, The Doctor, accompanied by Graham and Ryan, visit Edison's workshop, suspecting him to be behind the attack on Tesla. The cloaked figure then arrives at Edison's lab and fatally electrifies everyone in the workshop before pursuing Edison.

The group escapes and traps one of the creatures in a chemical ring of fire, but it escapes by transportation. The Doctor tries to warn Tesla and Yasmin back at his Tesla’s lab, but the two are captured and transported to an invisible alien spaceship above the city.

Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison

Yasmin and Tesla find that they have been abducted by the Queen of the Skithra who tries to force them to fix her spaceship. When Tesla refuses, the Queen threatens to kill Yasmin, but they are saved when The Doctor transports herself onto the spaceship just in time.

The Doctor soon realises that the Skithra’s spaceship is just a collection of stolen parts from various species and the Skithra just use others to do their work for them. The Skithra have chosen Tesla as their ‘engineer’ because he was able to discover their signal while he had been working on his wireless power system.

Tricking the Queen, The Doctor transports herself, Tesla, and Yasmin back to Tesla's Wardenclyffe lab. The Doctor warns the Skithra Queen to leave, but she refuses, threatening if Tesla is not given over to her, she will destroy Earth.

The Skithra Queen
The Skithra Queen

While Tesla and The Doctor hook up the TARDIS to help power Tesla's Wardenclyffe Tower, Graham, Ryan, Yasmin, Dorothy and Edison ward off the invading scorpion-like Skithra. The Tower activates, and electrical bolts shoot through the Skithra spaceship, forcing it to leave Earth.

With the threat from the Skithra over Yasmin is disappointed to learn from The Doctor that while Tesla was recognised as helping to save Earth, his reputation in the future remained unchanged.

 
Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla
Dorothy Skerritt
Dorothy Skerritt
The Doctor
The Doctor
Ryan and Graham
Ryan and Graham
 
Yasmin
Yasmin
A Skithra
A Skithra
A Bolt of Lightning Hits the Skithra's Spaceship
A Bolt of Lightning Hits the Skithra's Spaceship
Saying Goodbye to Nikola Tesla
Saying Goodbye to Nikola Tesla




Quote of the Story


 'Nikola Tesla, you're gonna change the world. But first, you're gonna save it.'

The Doctor



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Release Information

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)Code NumberCover ArtRemarks
Video
DVD
The Complete Twelfth Series Box SetApril 2020Photo-montageDVD boxed set containing 9 stories
Video
Blu-Ray
The Complete Twelfth Series Box SetApril 2020Photo-montageBlu-Ray boxed set containing 9 stories
Video
Blu-Ray
The Complete Twelfth Series Box Set (Amazon Limited Edition Steelbook)April 2020Photo-montageLimited Edition Blu-Ray Steelbook boxed set containing 8 stories
Audio
CD
Original Television Soundtrack - Series 12April 2020Photo-montageMusic by Segun Akinola


In Print

No Book Release
Doctor Who Magazine - PreviewIssue 547 (Released: February 2020)
Doctor Who Magazine - After ImageIssue 550 (Released: May 2020)

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Photo Gallery


The Doctor and Companions

 
Jodie Whittaker
The Thirteenth Doctor

   

Bradley Walsh
Graham O'Brien
Tosin Cole
Ryan Sinclair
Mandip Gill
Yasmin Khan
   




On Release

Complete Series DVD Box Set
Complete Series DVD Box Set

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

BBC
VIDEO
Complete Series Blu-Ray Amazon Limited Edition Steelbook
Complete Series Blu-Ray Amazon Limited Edition Steelbook

BBC
VIDEO
Original Television Soundtrack Cover
Original Television Soundtrack Cover

BBC
AUDIO
   



Magazines

Doctor Who Magazine - Preview: Issue 547
Doctor Who Magazine - Preview: Issue 547

Marvel Comics
 
Doctor Who Magazine - After Image: Issue 550
Doctor Who Magazine - After Image: Issue 550

Marvel Comics
   

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