The Fourth Dimension

The Time of the Doctor

The read through for the 2013 Christmas Special took place in Cardiff on Wednesday, 4 September, 2013. Shortly afterwards, Matt Smith posed for a photo with the episode’s script… You can see the shot here.

Filming for The Time of the Doctor began on Sunday, 8 September and the final day of the shoot came a little under a month later on Saturday, 5 October. The final day’s filming mainly involved Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman in the TARDIS but the very last sequence to be completed featured Matt Smith on his own. Straight after the wrap, Steven Moffat – who had been on set to see the historic final moment – paid tribute to Matt and his time on the show.

Sheila Reid, who plays Clara’s gran in the Time of the Doctor, is probably best known for her role of Madge in Benidorm but she’s also appeared in Call the Midwife, Casualty and many National Theatre productions. Doctor Who fans may remember her as Etta in the Sixth Doctor adventure, Vengeance of Varos.

Nicholas Briggs is back as the voice of both the Cybermen and the Daleks. Elizabeth Rider – who plays Linda – also returns to the Doctor’s world having played Ellen in Lost in Time, a two-part story from the fourth series of The Sarah Jane Adventures.

When the Doctor lists some of the aliens who have gathered at the beginning of the episode, most are from recent stories: ‘Daleks, Sontarans, Terileptils, Slitheen …’ But the third of these old foes – the Terileptils – haven’t been seen since 1982 when they debuted in the Fifth Doctor adventure, The Visitation.

This is the third story in a row to have a title ending ‘of the Doctor’, following The Name of the Doctor and The Day of the Doctor. That run stretches to four if the mini episode, The Night of the Doctor is included in the sequence.

The Doctor found Handles at the Maldovar Market which brings to mind Dorium Maldovar, first seen in The Pandorica Opens. It was Dorium who first said the line, ‘The oldest question in the universe, hidden in plain sight…’ which the Doctor quotes in this episode.

The Doctor references Easter Island… In The Impossible Astronaut he and River Song had a conversation in which River suggested the Eleventh Doctor was worshipped there!

Tasha’s declaration that ‘Silence will fall!’ was first heard in the Eleventh Doctor’s first adventure, The Eleventh Hour. Other references to this episode include a flashback from the story, the young Amelia Pond, the so-called crack in the wall and fish fingers and custard… The latter was the meal the Doctor enjoyed with Amelia shortly after regenerating and we glimpse a bowl of the delicacy (!) when Clara enters the TARDIS near the end of The Time of the Doctor.

The children’s game, ‘Blind man’s bluff’ has been a recurring diversion throughout part of the Eleventh Doctor’s era. We see Rory playing the game in Let’s Kill Hitler and the Doctor gives it a whirl in The Name of the Doctor. Here, it’s Barnable who dons the blindfold and as with the other two instances of the game, things do not go according to plan…

During the celebrations following his defeat of the wooden Cyberman, we hear the Doctor say, ‘There’s me arm-wrestling a Draconian!’ The Draconians were a powerful race encountered by the Doctor in Frontier in Space back in 1973. Although that was the only adventure the species appeared in, they were referenced much later in The Pandorica Opens.

We see what appears to be a form of the traditional ‘Punch and Judy’ on Trenzalore, although the familiar cast has been replaced with aliens. The notion that other planets enjoy a form of this puppet show was established in the 1983 adventure, Snakedance, where during one performance a puppet figure akin Mr Punch was ‘attacked’ by another puppet, this one resembling the evil Mara in snake-form. You can watch the scene here.

‘The seal of the High Council of Gallifrey… Nicked it off the Master in the Death Zone…’ We actually saw this take place in the 1983 adventure, The Five Doctors. The Third Doctor took the object from his old enemy in the Death Zone - an area of Gallifrey - and insisted it was stolen. (It wasn’t.) He claimed he would return it ‘at the first opportunity’ but as the Doctor encountered the High Council on several subsequent occasions we could suppose it possibly slipped his mind!

The concept of Time Lords being able to give individuals ‘a new lifecycle’ was introduced in The Five Doctors when the Master was offered such an extension in exchange for saving the Doctor’s life!

The first ever story to feature a regeneration was The Tenth Planet in 1966. As with The Time of the Doctor, that adventure pitted the departing Doctor against invading Cybermen.

The idea that the Doctor sees former companions just before he regenerates is well-established. Shortly before transforming, both the Fourth and Fifth Doctors glimpsed, in their mind’s eye, friends who had travelled with them and the Fifth Doctor even saw a companion who had been killed, murmuring his name moments before he changed into the Sixth Doctor.

‘Kidneys!’ Understandably, the Doctor has often been distracted by his new body parts in the moments following a regeneration. The Tenth Doctor was side-tracked by his new teeth (‘That’s weird!’) whilst the first thing the Eleventh Doctor mentioned was his lower limbs, apparently relieved he had legs.

Peter Capaldi, of course, appears at the very end of The Time of the Doctor. This scene was shot on Thursday, 3 October. Peter also shot his cameo appearance for The Day of the Doctor at this point.