Love & Monsters was the tenth episode of series 2 of Doctor Who. It was written by Russell T Davies, directed by Dan Zeff and featured David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler.
From a production standpoint, it included a monster created by a child, nine-year-old William Grantham, for a Blue Peter competition. It was the first story in the programme's history written specifically to be recorded at the same time as another story — a process called "double banking". By minimising the appearances of the Doctor and his companion, the production team recorded fourteen episodes in the same time that it took to make thirteen. Russell T Davies was sufficiently pleased with the results that the concept — dubbed a "Doctor-lite" or "Companion-lite episode" — would be a regular feature of each subsequent season.
Because of this episode's Doctor-lite nature, it notably became the first (and currently only) full episode to showcase the Doctor's adventures from the perspective of their bystanders, who are usually overlooked in most stories.
An awestruck young man sheepishly approaches the Doctor's TARDIS to find the Tenth Doctor and Rose tackling a Hoix in a warehouse. The Doctor asks the man if they have ever met before. He panics and runs away.
The young man, a typical Londoner by the name of Elton Pope, narrates his story via his video camera. He introduces himself and tells how, when only three or four years old, he came downstairs one night to find a strange man in his house: the Doctor. Elton was caught up in the massacre by the Autons. A year later he watched as an alien ship crashed into Big Ben. Following another alien invasion last Christmas Day, Elton looks for information on the strange goings-on and finds a photo of the Doctor, looking exactly as he did all those years ago. He meets Ursula Blake, who posted the photo on "My Invasion Blog" and believes his story about the Doctor. Ursula introduces Elton to her friends Bliss, Bridget Sinclair and Mr Colin Skinner. They have all heard of the Doctor and meet regularly to discuss their findings. Despite the name Elton coins for them (London Investigation 'n' Detective Agency, or LINDA), they soon become more of a social group, helping each other through their problems and enjoying each other's company.
That all changes with the arrival of Victor Kennedy, an evidently wealthy gentleman who doesn't touch people because of a skin condition. He also wishes to find the Doctor, and takes over LINDA, forcing the members to work harder. Bliss vanishes. Elton tracks down the Doctor and then panics and runs away.
Victor is furious, but decides to change plans: they will look for Rose. Elton locates Rose's mum Jackie with surprising ease. He visits her often, supposedly to do odd jobs but really because Jackie finds him attractive. One night Jackie tries to seduce Elton, but a phone call from Rose brings her to her senses. Elton feels ashamed of using her and realises that he loves Ursula. When Jackie finds a photo of Rose in Elton's jacket, she rounds on him and tells him to leave. She says bitterly that no one has any interest in her.
Elton tells Victor he's ruined LINDA and that the three remaining members are leaving, noting that Bridget has gone, just like Bliss. He asks Ursula out to dinner, but Mr Skinner stays behind as Victor offers to help him find Bridget. Ursula forgets her phone.
When they return for it they find Mr Skinner has disappeared and Victor has transformed into a corpulent green alien — the Abzorbaloff, as Elton calls it. The Abzorbaloff reveals he's absorbed Mr Skinner. He is now on its belly. Bridget has been absorbed into his back. Elton asks where Bliss is. The sound of Bliss straining to say something comes from within the Abzorbaloff who takes his weight off one of his buttocks, allowing her to tell Elton, amidst the rumble of flatulence, that he doesn't want to know. The Abzorbaloff wants to find the Doctor for the ultimate feast.
Ursula grabs the Abzorbaloff's cane and threatens to beat him with it unless he returns the LINDA members to their former states. The Abzorbaloff seems genuinely terrified and begs for mercy. Ursula hesitates, which proves fatal as the Abzorbaloff grabs hold of her arm. A single touch is all that is needed for a victim to be absorbed. Elton watches in horror as Ursula is fused into the Absorbaloff's body, her face ending up on his chest. Elton begs for Ursula to be returned, but the Abzorbaloff says that her original form is gone forever. He taunts Elton about the feelings Ursula had for him, which the Abzorbaloff now has access to. Ursula can also access the Abzorbaloff's thoughts. She yells for Elton to flee. He's next to be absorbed.
Elton runs, the creature chasing after him, until the TARDIS appears. An angry Rose has come to confront Elton about upsetting her mother, while the Doctor questions the Abzorbaloff about his home planet, which turns out to be Clom, surprisingly the twin planet of Raxacoricofallapatorius. The Abzorbaloff tells them of his scheme to lure in the Doctor to absorb him for "a delicious feast". Before he can consume Elton or the Doctor, the absorbed members of LINDA distract him. Ursula tells Elton to snap its cane. This destroys the limitation field that maintained its integrity. The Abzorbaloff dissolves into liquid and seeps into the ground along with the people absorbed by it.
The Doctor explains to the distraught Elton that on the night they first met, he was hunting a living shadow which had escaped its home dimension. He caught it, but not before it had killed Elton's mother.
Elton muses that meeting the Doctor is fraught with danger and notes that for a while he had a special group of friends, a group that was destroyed thanks to the Doctor. Elton now understands that death and destruction are what happens to one that touches the Doctor's world, and can't help but wonder how long until Rose and Jackie pay the price. However Elton also understands that it wasn't the Doctor's fault and that he did save Elton one last time: with the sonic screwdriver, he restored Ursula partially. She now exists as a face in one of the paving stones where the Abzorbaloff had melted. The pair have found some happiness despite their ordeal, and Elton comments that he now knows the meaning of Stephen King's quote: "Salvation and damnation are the same thing." He ends on a positive note, saying that the world isn't all it seems — it's better.
- The Doctor - David Tennant
- Rose Tyler - Billie Piper
- Jackie Tyler - Camille Coduri
- Victor Kennedy - Peter Kay
- Elton Pope - Marc Warren
- Ursula Blake - Shirley Henderson
- Mr Skinner - Simon Greenall
- Bridget - Moya Brady
- Bliss - Kathryn Drysdale
- The Hoix - Paul Kasey
- Mrs Croot - Bella Emberg
- Elton John - Himself (archival footage)
|Executive Producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner|
|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.|
- Johnny Franzetta is a character in Colin's novel.
- Jackie plays "Regresa A Mi" while she flirts with Elton.
- The Abzorbaloff is from Clom, the twin planet of Raxacoricofallapatorius, much to the Doctor's surprise.
- The Doctor refers to the living Shadow that killed Elton's mother as originating from the "Howling Halls".
- LINDA used to meet under the library on Maccateer Street.
- Mr Skinner found a sighting of the TARDIS in Woolwich.
- Elton first meets Jackie in the Wash Inn laundrette.
- Elton mentions that he really likes Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra.
- LINDA sings The Riddle Song, Brand New Key and Don't Bring Me Down.
- Victor Kennedy reads a copy of The Daily Telegraph.
- Elton quotes Stephen King.
Diseases and illnesses
- Victor Kennedy claims to suffer from "eczeema". Elton says if he means eczema.
Foods and beverages
- Jackie makes Elton a cup of tea.
- Jackie gives Elton a glass of wine.
- Elton buys pizza to eat with Jackie.
- The working title for this episode was I Love The Doctor. It was created as a comic strip.
- This episode contains reference to each of the first four series' story arcs: Bad Wolf, Torchwood, Mr Saxon and missing planet Clom.
- There are references to Rose, Aliens of London and The Christmas Invasion, with new footage showing Elton's point of view of those events.
- In the episode commentary, Russell T Davies notes that in an early draft, Elton had been witness to more events in Doctor Who history, specifically incidents from the 1963-1989 run: in this draft, Elton's third birthday party was evacuated because of the "Shoreditch Incident", his mother was killed by a plastic daffodil, and Elton also witnessed the Loch Ness Monster rising from the Thames. Davies had also considered making the viewpoint character of the story a woman.
- This is the first modern attempt at a "Doctor-lite" episode. In these episodes, the Doctor's appearances are restricted to only a few select scenes, in order to allow two episodes of the series to be filmed at the same time; this scheduling was introduced with the 2006 season in order to allow production of a 14th episode, a Christmas special, in the same time it takes to produce 13 regular episodes. This would become an annual tradition henceforth, with a "companion-lite" episode, Midnight, being introduced during the 2008 season.
- Radio Times credits Peter Kay as "Victor Kennedy/Abzorbaloff", while the on-screen credit reads "Victor Kennedy".
- There are conflicting accounts of William Grantham's reception towards the televised presentation of the Abzorbaloff. Producer Phil Collinson attested in the episode's commentary that Grantham was disappointed by the monster's human-sized depiction, having intended it to be the size of a double-decker bus. However, Grantham stated in the 2010 documentary Who Peter that he enjoyed the Abzorbaloff's presentation. Andrew Pixley's notes for the story in DWMSE 14, published in 2006, provided a middle ground by stating that Grantham enjoyed the Abzorbaloff's depiction, but was bemused by its smaller size.
- The sequence where the Doctor and Rose chase the Hoix through a corridor lined with passageways, ending up completely disorientated, mirrors a running gag popularised by the American Hanna-Barbera cartoon Scooby Doo.
- 6.7 million, 15th-highest-watched episode of any programme for the week
- The Hoix heavily resembled a Sycorax, leading it to be mistaken for one in the "next time..." trailer.
Love and Monsters was written specifically to be shot mostly on location, so that another unit could be simultaneously filming another episode in studio. Consequently it has one of the highest location counts in the history of Doctor Who.
- Adam Street Car Park, Cardiff — The scenes with the Doctor, Rose, Elton and the Abzorbaloff
- Burnell Street, Newport — Scenes near the warehouses in the teaser
- Frederick Street, The Hayes, Cardiff
- Glamorgan Building, Cardiff University
- Hayes Island, Cardiff — Elton in the flashback to Rose
- Helen Place, Splott, Cardiff — Elton spots Jackie Tyler in the street
- Heol Pentwyn, Cardiff — Elton's childhood home
- Jacob's Antique Centre, West Canal Wharf, Cardiff — LINDA headquarters interiors
- Llandaff Fields, Llandaff, Cardiff — Elton and Ursula's initial meeting
- Maeifa Shopping Centre, Llanedeyrn, Cardiff — Elton finds Jackie shopping
- Newport Docks Impounding Station, Newport — The Doctor and Rose's initial scenes with a Hoix
- The Port of Cardiff, Cargo Road, Cardiff Docks — Elton finds the TARDIS in the teaser
- St. David's Market, St. David's Hall, Cardiff — Elton finds Jackie shopping again
- St. Peter's Sports and Social Club, Minster Road, Cardiff — scenes with "young Elton"
- Wash Inn, Broadway, Splott, Cardiff — Laundry scenes with Jackie and Elton
- West Canal Wharf, Cardiff — Brief sequence of Elton running from Abzorbaloff, just prior to Doctor's arrival
- West Wharf Road, Cardiff — LINDA headquarters exteriors
Studio work was completed in one day at Unit Q2, Imperial Park, Imperial Way, Newport
- When Victor Kennedy makes his introduction, walking off from the elevator and introducing himself, a female crew member is clearly visible in the doorway behind his right shoulder as the lights come on.
- Elton was present during the events of an Auton attack, (TV: Rose) the crash of an alien spaceship (TV: Aliens of London) and the attempted Sycorax invasion. (TV: The Christmas Invasion)
- Kennedy mentions that the Bad Wolf virus affected the Torchwood files on the Doctor. The Ninth Doctor gave the Bad Wolf virus to Mickey Smith. (TV: World War Three)
- Torchwood Three operative Owen Harper, shortly before his death at Turnmill Nuclear Power Station, would confront another Hoix during a mass panic in Cardiff orchestrated by Gray. (TV: Exit Wounds)
- The Abzorbaloff's victims would be among those remembered when Davros asked the Doctor: "How many have died in your name?" (TV: Journey's End)
Home video releases
- This story was released as part of a vanilla along with The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit.
- It was later released in the series 2 boxset.
- The Discontinuity Guide to: Love & Monsters at The Whoniverse
- Love & Monsters at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- Love & Monsters at The Locations Guide