Main content

The Fourth Dimension

The Day of the Doctor

The title sequence recreated the look of the opening titles seen throughout the early days of Doctor Who and as with the very first episode, the first person we see in The Day of the Doctor is a policeman. Way back in 1963 the actor who had the distinction of being the first person seen on the show was Reg Cranfield; he later turned up playing minor roles in several adventures, even appearing as a Time Lord in The Deadly Assassin!

The sign the policeman walks past in the opening scene reads ‘I.M. Foreman / Scrap Merchant / 76 Totter’s Lane’. This is another nod to the first ever episode – An Unearthly Child. In that story, the Doctor and his TARDIS are first seen in the ‘junkyard’ at that address and the Time Lord returns there in Attack of the Cybermen and Remembrance of the Daleks.

Clara is working at Coal Hill School – the school that Susan (the Doctor’s granddaughter) attended in An Unearthly Child. The sign outside the playground reveals the Chairman of the Governors is I Chesterton… Could this be Ian Chesterton, Susan’s teacher and one of the Doctor’s first companions?

Clara’s first words in the adventure are, ‘Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.’ She is quoting the 167 AD work, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (121 AD –180 AD).

As Clara zooms off from the school to meet the Doctor, she passes a clock that reveals the time to be 5.16, which just happens to be the exact time that An Unearthly Child was first broadcast on 23 November, 1963. That moment in history can be designated 17:16, 23/11/63 and that sequence of digits: 1716231163 happens to be the activation code of the Vortex Manipulator, as briefly glimpsed when the Doctor scratches the numbers into the cell wall.

The book the Doctor is reading at the start of the episode is called ‘Advanced Quantum Mechanics’ and has what looks like a TARDIS logo on its dust jacket!

When the TARDIS is being carried towards London by UNIT, we hear the call name, ‘Greyhound Leader’. This was often used by the Brigadier, either as a direct reference to himself or UNIT HQ.

‘The ravens are looking a bit sluggish. Tell Malcom they need new batteries.’ Here, Kate is possibly referring to Professor Malcolm Taylor – one of UNIT’s scientific advisors who assisted the Doctor during Planet of the Dead.

When the Doctor sees the painting in the National Gallery he declares, ‘It’s the fall of Arcadia – Gallifrey’s second city.’ In Doomsday, the Doctor mentions being present at the fall of Arcadia and implies the mere memory of the day remains harrowing.

Queen Elizabeth I was one of the first historical figures seen in Doctor Who, appearing in the 1965 adventure, The Chase. Find out more about her connections with Doctor Who… 

Omega is referenced a number of times in The Day of the Doctor – for instance the hold where all the ‘forbidden weapons are locked away’ is known as the Omega arsenal. First seen in The Three Doctors, Omega was one of Time Lord’s society’s great heroes and his genius allowed them to develop time travel and build their incredible civilisation. He later went mad, however, and the Doctor had to stop him twice – in The Three Doctors and during the Fifth Doctor adventure, Arc of Infinity.

‘The High Council is in session…’ That session is seen in The End of Time and was chaired by Rassilon.

One Time Lord says, ‘What is the Moment? I’ve never heard of it!’ He obviously hasn’t watched The End of Time where the weapon is first mentioned! The Moment’s ‘interface’ is of course played by Billie Piper who played Rose Tyler in the eras of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors.

In the second episode of Doctor Who, the Doctor confronts Ian – who doesn’t believe the TARDIS is a space/time machine – with the words, ‘If you could touch the alien sand and hear the cries of strange birds, and watch them wheel in another sky, would that satisfy you?’ This scenario is evoked when the War Doctor leaves the TARDIS and trudges across the sands, intending to use the Moment. Alien birds can be seen swooping above and their eerie cries echo across the terrain.

Osgood wears a scarf similar to that favoured by the Fourth Doctor. And when we see the children of Gallifrey (during the scene where the Moment discusses them with the War Doctor) we glimpse what looks like a mini-version of the scarf being worn by one the youngsters playing in the sunshine.

The Tenth Doctor’s first words in The Day of the Doctor are ‘Allons-y!’ He first used the phrase in Army of Ghosts and went onto exclaim it on many occasions. It’s a French expression meaning ‘Let’s go!’

The Zygons are back! The alien shape-shifters were introduced in the Fourth Doctor adventure, Terror of the Zygons and one was seen very briefly in Logopolis. The Doctor mentions a run-in with them in The Power of Three, apparently encountering them in Paris with Amy and Rory.

Terror of the Zygons begins with the Doctor returning to Earth to meet the Brigadier after his old friend contacted him using the space-time telegraph – the device seen in the UNIT archive in The Day of the Doctor.

Kate Stewart declares, ‘I need you to send me one of my father’s incident files,’ adding it’s ‘Codename: Cromer…’ This is a reference to The Three Doctors. In that story, the Brigadier (Kate’s dad) is transported to an anti-matter world in a Black Hole but refuses to believe he’s left Earth. After peering out over the alien terrain, he gives one of his most memorable asides, murmuring, ‘I'm pretty sure that's Cromer…’

‘Reverse the polarity!’ This is a reference to the Third Doctor’s ‘catch-phrase’ – a variant of ‘Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow!’

The sonic screwdriver plays a significant role in The Day of the Doctor, even serving as a metaphor for the Doctor’s changing appearance. (‘Same software… different case!’) The device was first seen in the Second Doctor adventure, The Fury from the Deep.

The Tenth Doctor’s distancing himself from the phrase ‘timey-wimey’ is a cheeky nod to the fact he himself coined the expression in Blink!

The Black Archive was first seen in The Sarah Jane Adventures: Enemy of the Bane. During the first episode of the two-parter, the Brigadier helps Sarah and Rani enter the archive so they can get their hands on the ‘Tunguska Scroll’.

The Black Archive contains many items associated with the Doctor’s past adventures, including a Cyberman’s head, what looks to be River’s red shoes and a red spinny thing that kids play with – as seen in The Eleventh Hour. There’s also a noticeboard displaying photos of many former companions.

Elizabeth misquotes one of her most famous lines when she references killing the Zygon. Her ‘real life’ original words were, ‘I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too…’ and comes from an address known as the ‘Speech to the Troops at Tilbury’ delivered by the Queen in August, 1588.

Whilst looking around the ‘new’ TARDIS interior, the Tenth Doctor comments, ‘Oh, you’ve redecorated! I don’t like it!’ The Second Doctor delivers a similar line in The Three Doctors and The Five Doctors and the Eleventh Doctor makes the same observation when he arrives at the house of Craig Owens in Closing Time.

‘Science leads, Kate!’ When the Doctor says this he’s reminding Kate of the assurance she gave him in The Power of Three.

The Moment cries out in delight, ‘Now you’re getting it!’ Rose Tyler delivers the same line with equal joy in The Girl in the Fireplace when Mickey Smith begins to understand how to enjoy adventures with the Doctor.

When the Doctor attempts to save Gallifrey we see 13 ‘versions’ of him, including a glimpse of one Doctor we haven’t yet met… There’s another familiar face at the National Gallery – the Curator. But what is the true identity of this enigmatic figure? As he himself said, ‘Who knows?’

The War Doctor’s observation, ‘Wearing a bit thin…’ brings to mind the words of the First Doctor. In The Tenth Planet he commented, ‘…this old body of mine is wearing a bit thin…’ moments before regenerating for the first time.

The Tenth Doctor’s final words in The Day of the Doctor are, ‘I don’t want to go.’ These are his final words in The End of Time, spoken just before he regenerates. In An Adventure in Space and Time, William Hartnell, as played by David Bradley, says exactly the same thing when it becomes apparent he must leave Doctor Who.

Find out more about how the episode was simulcast around the world or watch a video with the stars of The Day of the Doctor discussing the adventure. You can also go behind the scenes of the 50th anniversary special here!

Related Content