Human Nature was the eighth episode of series 3 of Doctor Who. It was written by Paul Cornell, directed by Charles Palmer and featured David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor/John Smith and Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones.
The Tenth Doctor and Martha barely make it into the TARDIS as an energy weapon discharges behind them. After ascertaining that their pursuers had not seen their faces, the Doctor explains that they are being pursued by aliens who have stolen a Time Agent's vortex manipulator and can follow the TARDIS anywhere. He gives her a watch and tells her his life depends on it...
In November 1913, at the Farringham School for Boys, schoolteacher John Smith wakes up from this dream. Martha comes in as his maid to bring him breakfast and addresses him as "Dr John Smith". He explains to her that he sometimes has dreams of being an alien adventurer from another world, and she was with him. He notices the watch on the mantelpiece of his bedroom and Martha looks up eagerly, but he replaces it idly whilst remarking how easily dreams seem to slip away. He does, however, remember that it took place in 2007, but she shows him a paper showing he's in 1913 and he's completely human.
Outside, a column of boys in grey trousers and black coats march in formation to the front of the school, which is an elegant if rather old building, as a hymn is sung by another chorus. Smith, wearing a long black coat and hat, leads them through a history lesson regarding the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Elsewhere, Martha and fellow maid Jenny scrub the floors and are accosted by two particularly unpleasant cadets, one of whom makes a snide remark regarding Martha's skin colour. She doesn't rise to it, though remarks that she'd like to smack him upside the head with her bucket once he's out of earshot, and Jenny notes that in a few years, boys like them will be running the country. Martha, her face sad, responds quietly that with the year being 1913, they might not.
Later, Smith runs into Matron Joan Redfern, the school's nurse, and they chat about the boys. She wonders if he'll be going to the local village dance and he rather awkwardly falls down the stairs. Martha comes to check up on him but Redfern casually dismisses her as a maid, under the assumption she has no medical knowledge. Smith talks about dreaming that he has two hearts but a stethoscope easily shows this is not the case. He shows Joan his journal of his various dreams and the creatures he has seen such as Daleks, Cybermen, and the TARDIS. He also has pictures of Rose, although she disappears from the later entries. Nurse Redfern leaves with the book and when Martha goes after her, she asks how Martha came to be there with Smith.
Meanwhile, a group of John's students are studying in their dormitory room. One of them, Timothy Latimer, is bullied by a fellow student, Hutchinson, who compels him into doing his Latin homework with a daunting deadline—the next morning. He proceeds to bully Latimer further as much for his obvious intelligence as for his uncanny and unsettling ability to know things he shouldn't or couldn't possibly know, like where Hutchinson's father is posted while serving abroad. Another student, Jeremy Baines, tires of teasing Latimer and announces to Hutchinson and the others that he knows the location of a secret stash of beer in the woods. He sneaks out the window to bring some back for the boys to enjoy in secret.
Outside the local pub, Martha is complaining to her fellow maid, Jenny, that it's not fair that they have to freeze outside just to have a beer. Her modern attitude amuses Jenny, who wonders where she gets such ideas. Martha then notices a green light shooting through the sky. John Smith arrives and greets them, explaining shooting stars to them. Martha doubts the explanation in this case, being exceptionally careful to protect him. She runs off to investigate with Jenny following her.
Baines has just found the cache of beer, in the woods near the school, when he sees a strange green light land on the field nearby. Curious, he investigates the light source, and stumbles across an entrance to the an invisible spaceship. Martha and Jenny arrive just moments after the ship briefly becomes visible, but miss seeing it as the cloaking technology turns back on.
Inside the ship, Baines talks with the spacecraft's occupants, whom he can't see. They call themselves the Family. He wonders why he cannot see them, to which the Family ask why he would what to see them. Baines answers that it's because he wants to know what they look like. A raspy female voice explains that it can be easily done, as soon they will look very familiar. Baines screams in terror.
Hutchinson and the other boys are getting impatient back at the dorm when Baines returns, his search for the secret stash of beer apparently being "unsuccessful". He is also behaving unusually, sniffing the air as though he has a cold. His eyes are also open completely, but none of the other boys seem to notice, saying there's another stash somewhere else.
Martha rides out on a bike to an old hut. Inside is the TARDIS, on reduced power. She enters and greets the time machine, something that makes her think she is cracking up now. Martha thinks back to how the Doctor warned that their pursuers would never stop following them. He gave her a watch saying it contains "me," and said the Family's life spans were running out so they only needed to hide until they die. She remembers how the Doctor used a chameleon arch to rewrite his biology and transform himself into human. The TARDIS took care of everything else, creating a new identity for him. She turns on a recording the Doctor made prior to enacting his plan. She reviews it, but finds nothing pertaining to the strange sighting. She now worries that she may have to bring the Doctor back if they have found them, as it was the last resort the message said to use in that scenario.
Joan asks John to sketch her in his journal, being surprised at how beautiful she is in his eyes. They kiss as Martha walks in on them by accident. She excuses herself, mumbling that love wasn't on the Doctor's list. She finds refuge in the TARDIS, and reviews the instructions again. The instructions are notably lacking one thing: the Doctor did not foresee that his human self might fall in love, obviously something he never thinks of. However, she is more concerned about the strange green "shooting star", something the Doctor didn't mention either. On the subject about "John Smith" falling in love, Martha is annoyed and depressed that it wasn't her he fell in love with.
Meanwhile, Latimer is summoned to John's office to retrieve a book. While John looks for it, Latimer is drawn to the pocket watch that contains the Tenth Doctor's Time Lord memories and abilities. The boy opens it, briefly seeing the Doctor's world, and strange voices speaking of a "Time Lord," but closes it quickly as he hears Smith approaching. Latimer slips the watch into his pocket and as he touches the book Smith is handing him, he suddenly gets visions of the Doctor on the prowl. Smith notices that Latimer seems a bit off-kilter, but the boy excuses himself and scurries away, unnerved. Also inside the school is Baines, who senses a trace of a Time Lord. He telepathically reports to the others the status of the Doctor's whereabouts, and declares that it's time to activate the soldiers. On nearby Oakham Farm, Mr Clark confronts a scarecrow that has just appeared on his property. He conceives it merely as a practical joke pulled on him by an one of the "idiots" at the school. When he pulls the straw out and sticks his hand through the other side, he finds they are just scarecrows. Many more animated scarecrows promptly surround him. He becomes the Family's Father. Meanwhile, another young girl, Lucy Cartwright, is walking down a road when yet another scarecrow picks her up, frightening her. She becomes the Family's Daughter.
Smith is giving weaponry training to the boys when the Rocastle, the school's headmaster, arrives and orders firing to cease. Hutchnison tells him they could do "a lot better", as Latimer is being "deliberately shoddy", at least according to him. He denies this, telling the headmaster he is trying his best, to no avail. He also speaks of his discomfort with the targets, which are meant to represent African tribesmen who would stand very little chance against machine guns when all they carry is spears. Dismissing Latimer's 'soft-hearted' beliefs, Rocastle orders for firing to continue. Meanwhile, Latimer is haunted by a vision of the future where him and Hutchinson are under attack in the upcoming war. As Hutchinson's patience is getting beyond the limit, he requests permission to take Latimer off for a "beating". Per Smith's countenance, the boys head back towards the school. Shortly after, Baines sniffs rather loudly, prompting Smith to ask if anything's the matter. He quickly dismisses it, although not in a normal fashion. On a walk together, Redfern informs Smith that he wrote about a war starting the next year, but he dismisses the idea, hoping peace will reign. As he continues talking, he notices a woman and her carriage getting dangerously close to a piano on a rope. Instinctively seeking to save her, John grabs a nearby boy's cricket ball and tosses it to start a chain of events that stop the woman just as the piano comes crashing down just feet away from her. Joan is impressed, but Smith says it was luck. He then asks her to the dance that night. Walking back to the school Joan tells John that she thinks that "the Doctor" is the kind of man he wants to be and his dreams are his subconscious' way of trying to get to be so. They notice a scarecrow askew and John fixes it. Joan asks him where he learned and he reflexively says Gallifrey. However, when questioned about its location, John isn't sure.
Meanwhile, the possessed Baines, Mr Clark and Lucy use their animated scarecrows to capture Jenny, who becomes the Family's Mother. Jenny then returns to the school and engages Martha in conversation. Martha quickly realises something is off about her friend and makes a hasty excuse to leave, barely avoiding a laser that 'Jenny' fires at her from the upstairs window. She runs to Smith, who is with Redfern preparing to go to the village dance that evening. She finds that the watch is gone, and tries in vain to restore him to his Time Lord configuration without it. However, Smith assumes Martha is delusional and thinks his fictional stories are real. Annoyed, Martha slaps Smith, telling him to wake up. Smith, shocked at Martha's behaviour, promptly fires her and leaves for the village dance with Nurse Redfern.
The Family break into Smith's office and search it, as the scent is traced back to him. They find the flier for the dance and decide to follow. At the same time, Martha has arrived with the sonic screwdriver, prompting Joan to admit she feels something off about Smith. Tiring of Martha's "games" is left speechless when she shows him the device he's seen in his dreams. Latimer is still watching Smith from a distance, curious about him. The Family crashes the dance after vaporizing the unfortunate door attendant, to the confusion of the assembled villagers. Mr. Chambers, the man in charge of the dance, accosts Mr. Clark and asks him what is going on. In response, 'Clark' disintegrates him in front of the horrified villagers. Martha quickly tells Smith to forget everything she just told him as the Family turn their attention to him. However, Lucy/Daughter of Mine has been there the whole time and overheard Martha's attempts to get the Doctor's memory back, telling her Family the Time Lord is within their grasp.
However, John easily points out that he is human without any memories of the person he was before. Baines/Son of Mine is amused, seeing the Doctor went as far as erasing his memory along with changing his biology. As the Doctor is useless to them like this, they try forcing him to change back by threatening him. Remembering Martha said Joan was important to him, the Family takes both hostage and order John to choose which is to die:
"Maid or matron, friend or lover, your choice."
- The Doctor/Smith - David Tennant
- Martha Jones - Freema Agyeman
- Joan Redfern - Jessica Hynes
- Jenny - Rebekah Staton
- Tim Latimer - Thomas Sangster
- Baines - Harry Lloyd
- Hutchinson - Tom Palmer
- Clark - Gerard Horan
- Lucy Cartwright - Lauren Wilson
- Rocastle - Pip Torrens
- Phillips - Matthew White
- Doorman - Derek Smith
- Mr Chambers - Peter Bourke
|Executive Producers Russell T Davies, Julie Gardner and Phil Collinson|
|Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.|
- When disgused as John Smith, the Doctor only has one heart.
- In Smith's sketchbook there are sketches of the TARDIS console room, the Sonic screwdriver, a Dalek, Moxx of Balhoon, Autons, Rose Tyler, Clockwork Droids, Cybus Cyberman (head), Captain Jack Harkness, a Raxacoricofallapatorian, and gas masks from the gas mask virus. There are also clear sketches of the First, Seventh and Eighth Doctors, and partial appearances of sketches of the Fifth and Sixth Doctors.
Foods and beverages
- Jeremy Baines goes to collect beer.
- The Doctor eats a pear.
- Martha drinks afternoon tea.
- Martha also suggest making mutton and gravy, as well as sardines and jam.
- John Smith teaches a lesson on Napoléon Bonaparte's defeat at the Battle of Waterloo.
- Smith lends Timothy the book The Definitive Account of Mafeking by Aitchinson Price, a history of the Siege of Mafeking.
- Martha comments about herself being a "Londoner".
- Joan's husband, Oliver, was shot and killed at the Battle of Spion Kop.
- John says his father was a watchmaker from Nottingham, and his mother was a nurse.
- Farringham has a cook as part of its staff.
- The spaceship is located in Cooper's Field.
- Tim Latimer's father has been to Johannesburg.
- Blackdown Woods is situated near the school.
- John Smith claims he learned to draw on Gallifrey, which Joan presumes is in Ireland.
- John Smith mistake the Family's ship for a meteorite.
- In the visual flashes, a Dalek, Cybermen, Ood, Sycorax, werewolf, Racnoss and Richard Lazarus appear briefly, as well as the Doctor using his sonic screwdriver.
- The weapons used by the Family are sonic.
- When the Doctor is speaking to Joan he names his parents as Sydney and Verity. This is clearly a reference to Sydney Newman, the original creator of Doctor Who, and Verity Lambert, the first producer.
- This is the first occurrence of an explicitly racist comment within the new series directed at a companion.
- Radio Times credits David Tennant as "John Smith", and not the Doctor. On-screen credits read "The Doctor/Smith".
- During the video instructions that the Doctor has recorded for Martha, a deleted scene for the episode reveals that instruction number five stated that the Doctor hated pears (before a number of improvised statements by Tennant that were intended to be "fast forwarded" when shown). The declaration of the Doctor's distaste for pears was removed, and the fast forward implemented just before this instruction was said, as the BBC felt that it may encourage children to stop eating pears.[source needed]
- The BBC logo does not appear on screen at any point during the episode, whereas it usually appears at the beginning of the cold opening or during the opening titles.
- This story introduced the Chameleon Arch, which would play a major role in the episode Utopia.
- The sketches in Smith's sketchbook marked the first visual acknowledgement in the revived series of any incarnations predating that of the Ninth Doctor, although School Reunion previously re-established the fact that there were incarnations prior to the Ninth.
- 7.1 million (overnight)
- 7.74 million (final ratings)
- 0.87 million (BBC3 repeat ratings)
- Llandaff Cathedral, Llandaff, Cardiff
- St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff
- Tredegar House, Newport
- Treberfydd House, Llangasty, Brecon
- BBC Broadcasting House, Llandaff, Cardiff
- Cwm Ifor Farm, Caerphilly
- Joan puts her stethoscope in her ears backwards when listening to John Smith's single heart.
- During the shooting class outside at 25:28 you can see a bus drive by in the distance
- When John Smith throws the cricket ball to stop the baby carriage from reaching where the piano is going to fall, the rope is revealed snapping just seconds after the ball has left his hand. In the wide shot showing the aftermath, the carriage is a good fifteen feet from the crashed piano.
- The Dalek in the flashback has an inversed symbol whereas in the actual scene the symbol's written position is different.
- During the opening scene, while the Doctor is fiddling with the TARDIS's controls, for a split second footage is used from New Earth, where the console room is noticeably darker in that clip than any of the others before or after it.
- The Doctor's TARDIS and related items also made use of a perception filter. (TV: Everything Changes) They later play a large role in later episodes, (TV: Utopia, The Sound of Drums, The Lodger) though some are more anti-climatic. (TV: The Next Doctor)
- When Joan asks where he learned to draw, John Smith replies Gallifrey. Joan asks if it is in Ireland. This is similar to an exchange between the Fourth Doctor and his examiner (TV: The Hand of Fear), as well as a conversation Leela had with the receptionist at the Bi-Al Foundation. (TV: The Invisible Enemy)
- At one point when the watch is opened, the Doctor is heard saying, "You are not alone". This was said by the Face of Boe (TV: Gridlock) and proved to have great significance in the Doctor's immediate future. (TV: Utopia)
- While talking about John's "Journal Of Impossible Things", Joan mentions that there is "a girl in every fireplace." (TV: The Girl in the Fireplace)
- The Tenth Doctor throws a cricket ball at a pile of scaffolding poles, which sets off a chain of events that knocks over a milk churn in front of a woman with a baby carriage before a piano falls down on them both, demonstrating his remarkable pitching aim. The Tenth Doctor previously hurtled a satsuma at a button on board the ship of the Sycorax, which opened a panel underneath the Sycorax leader as he charged the Doctor from behind with a sword, and caused him to plummet to his death. (TV: The Christmas Invasion)
- The Fifth Doctor once saved himself by throwing a cricket ball as well. (TV: Four to Doomsday)
- The Second Doctor also encountered animated scarecrows. (COMIC: The Night Walkers)
Home video releases
- This episode has been released with The Family of Blood and Blink on the Series 3 Volume 3 DVD.
- It is also part of the series 3 DVD box set.
- Official BBC Website - Episode Guide: Human Nature
- Human Nature at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- Human Nature at The Locations Guide
- The Discontinuity Guide to: Human Nature at The Whoniverse