The Fourth Dimension
The Curse of the Black Spot
The Siren is played by Lily Cole. Although best known as a model, Lily has appeared in several high profile movies including The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009), Rage (2009) and St. Trinian's (2007). After winning the role in Doctor Who she announced, 'It is a great script and fun character and I am glad to be involved!'
In Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, the 'black spot' was a circular piece of card presented to those found guilty of a perceived wrong-doing. For pirates, receiving the card was a terrible blow; it would often mean the recipient would be deposed from their position of power and possibly even killed.
Captain Avery is played by Hugh Bonneville who revealed he is a long term fan of Doctor Who: 'When I was a boy THAT music and Jon Pertwee's Doctor had me peeking out from behind the sofa every Saturday night. All these years later I am thrilled to be appearing in the new series. Although the Pirate's fears and demons are different to those of the young lad who watched through his fingers, they are no less vivid and terrifying; this new adventure is not for the faint-hearted.'
Hugh Bonneville revealed that the production team had deliberately avoided certain clichés associated with pirate adventures. For that reason, not a single wooden leg can be glimpsed nor parrot heard squawking in the background, and the only eye-patch is not one worn by Avery or his crew...
The location work for The Curse of the Black Spot was shot in Cornwall, using real ships. The area has been used for many dramas in the past, including Pirates of the Caribbean. The interior scenes were shot in Wales and Michael Pickwoad designed the Fancy's rooms. Michael revealed he has harboured a lifelong interest in ships of this type and so the job proved a welcome one for him!
This isn't the first time the Doctor has faced pirates. Both the Second Doctor and the Fourth Doctor fought futuristic pirates in The Space Pirates (1969) and The Pirate Planet (1978). Later, the Fifth Doctor spent time on a spacecraft modelled on old pirate ships in the 1983 story, Enlightenment.
At one point the Doctor references Sigmund Feud (6 May 1856 - 23 September 1939), the Austrian neurologist famed as the father of psychoanalysis.
This is Steve Thompson's first Doctor Who story. But he's worked with Steven Moffat (Lead Writer and Executive Producer) previously, contributing a script for the first series of Steven's crime drama, Sherlock.
For centuries, sea-farers have told tales of beautiful females, luring ships and sailors to their doom. Indeed, sirens, as these creatures are often called, have been a part of Greek mythology for aeons, as much a part of the ancient Greek story-telling tradition as gods or monsters. In many legends sirens are winged figures, able to rise from the ocean, enchant... and kill!
When Amy asks for Rory's help he limply argues that his wife is not a doxy. The word 'doxy' is a slang, derogatory term for a woman. It's thought the phrase originally meant 'beggar' but by Shakespeare's day (the Bard uses the word in A Winter's Tale) a 'doxy' implied a woman of low virtue.
When Avery first meets the Doctor he makes him walk the plank. Many believe this practice is a myth created by Hollywood, but historical literature records several verifiable instances of the punishment which can be traced back to at least the 17th century.
Neither the Doctor or Rory seem to have observed her yet, but Amy again sees and hears the 'Eye Patch Lady', the mysterious figure played by Frances Barber, last spotted in Day of the Moon.
The black flag bearing the skull and crossbones is one of the most obvious icons of piracy but the motif first appeared in 1700, which is after The Curse of the Black Spot is set. French pirate Emanuel Wynne is said to be the first to raise that famous ensign. The origins of its name - the Jolly Roger - are uncertain. Some scholars suggest it is perhaps a corruption of 'joli rouge', a French phrase meaning 'pretty red' and itself a reference to earlier blood-coloured flags favoured by pirates.
Karen Gillan has stated that shooting The Curse of the Black Spot was one of her favourite memories of the new series, in part due to the action sequences she was called to perform in. Look closely and you can see that in the early fight scene it's Karen - and not a stunt person - who is fighting off the attacking pirates!
Captain Avery can be seen as one in a long line of humans the Doctor has met whose greed has been their undoing. In the 1976 adventure, The Seeds of Doom, the Fourth Doctor described greed as the most dangerous impulse in the universe.