a real world point of view
|Script release:||online here|
|Main enemy:||Midnight entity|
|Main setting:||Midnight, 27th century|
|Writer:||Russell T Davies|
|Premiere broadcast:||14 June 2008|
|Premiere network:||BBC One|
|Format:||1 x 45 minute episode|
|Confidential:||Look Who's Talking|
|Forest of the Dead||Turn Left|
|The Doctor's Daughter||Turn Left|
In production terms, it was the first episode of Doctor Who to be filmed primarily in narrative order since the practice was abandoned around the time Jon Pertwee began portraying the Third Doctor. It was the only story in which the antagonist was never even partially glimpsed, leaving the threat to be realised by the actors and the sound editors. It was also the second episode of 2008 to guest star the child of an actor who had played the Doctor.
It was an especially award-winning episode of the programme. The sound team of Tim Ricketts, Paul McFadden, Paul Jefferies and Julian Howarth shared a Royal Television Society Award and a Welsh BAFTA for their work.
The Doctor and Donna go to the Lesiure Palace on Midnight to have a relaxing vacation. However, things go wrong for the Doctor when he decides to go off on a bus trip to see the Sapphire Waterfall, starting with the bus shutting down...
The Tenth Doctor and Donna spend some leisure time on the crystalline planet Midnight. It orbits so close to its sun that the Xtonic radiation exposure would vaporise any unprotected living thing on its surface in a split second. Donna receives a call from the Doctor, who wants her to go on a trip to see the Sapphire Waterfall, insisting that she'd prefer relaxing at the spa and sunbathing. However, the Doctor warns her to be careful because of the exotic radiation. Paying him no mind, Donna agrees to try out the anti-gravity restaurant (with bibs) once he gets back. Despite her warning him to be careful, the Doctor jinxes himself: "Taking a bus full of strangers across a diamond planet called 'Midnight', what could possibly go wrong?"
He boards a shuttle bus ride to the Sapphire Waterfall. Other passengers include the Cane family (Val, Biff, and their teenage son Jethro); Professor Hobbes, who is investigating the waterfall; his assistant Dee Dee Blasco; and recently-divorced businesswoman Sky Silvestry. Before they take off, the driver informs them they are taking a different route to the Waterfall Palace because of a diamond fall on the regular path. For the long journey to their destination, the hostess activates the prerendered entertainment for passengers, consisting of several annoying television programs. Most of the passengers find the entertainment systems irritating. The Doctor discreetly disables them with his sonic screwdriver; most of them are thankful for the small mercy they've been granted. This forces the passengers to talk and get to know each other better.
The Doctor has an amusing conversation with Biff and Val. Later, during the passengers' meal time, the Doctor talks with Sky about travelling, remarking that he "had a friend who went to a different universe" (Rose or Romana). After the meal, the Doctor talks with Dee Dee about the lost moon of Poosh over coffee in the back. Later, Prof. Hobbes, who has been studying Midnight, presents a slide-show about it; he considers himself an expert because no one has ever researched it before, and that essentially nothing is known about Midnight. Xtonic radiation would vaporise any known form of life in seconds, so Midnight has been totally undisturbed for millennia. Hobbes notes even the Leisure Palace was pre-fabricated and dropped in from orbit. Jethro points out, to the disapproval of his parents, no one can really know anything about the planet, or whether or not life resides there. Even with his parents' scolding, Hobbes agrees; no one has ever really set foot on Midnight, and no one has any real idea what is on or underneath the surface.
Suddenly the shuttle stops, which prompts everyone to start speculating that something terrible has happened. Using his psychic paper, the Doctor checks with the shuttle's driver and mechanic, confirming that there's nothing wrong with the vehicle. He convinces them to open the shutter to look outside as the landscape is beautiful. The mechanic believes he sees a shadow moving towards the bus before closing the shutter. The crew call for a rescue vehicle while the Doctor returns to the main cabin. Everyone asks the Doctor what he heard and begin to panic when they misinterpret a guess about the amount of oxygen they have. However, the Doctor calls for silence and prompts Dee Dee, an expert on vehicles as her father is a mechanic, to explain. Everyone calms down.
A few moments later, something begins knocking on the hull. Again, everyone panics, but the Doctor temporarily pacifies them as he listens to the knocks with his stethoscope. Biff knocks thrice on the door to prove the ship is sturdy; the knocks repeats his pattern. Everyone begins to freak out as the Doctor knocks four times on the hull to confirm if there is something outside despite Prof. Hobbes's constant attempts to make everyone believe nothing can be outside. However, everyone begins yelling at him because his explanation is not valid at this point. The knocking moves around the shuttle, making its way towards Sky, who has become hystertical remembering a past threat her partner made to her during the divorce. The knocking stops as a dent appears in the door Sky is standing by.
The lights fail and the shuttle is violently rocked. When the lights are restored, there is a working screen behind the Doctor, who turns away when he sees a singer on it, but it quickly turns to a muted video of Rose, who is shouting, "Doctor!" No one notices. The hostess distributes torches and everyone looks around to see if they're all right. Jethro notices the seats near Sky have been ripped off the floor and she is cowering in the corner. The Hostess fails to contact the crew in the cabin, realises the main generator is down and opens the door to the driver cabin. Only Xtonic light can be seen, forcing her to close the door. The Doctor opens up a systems panel with his sonic screwdriver to examine it for any faults, but behind the face plate are several cut wires; the driver's cabin has been ripped away, vaporising driver Joe and mechanic Claude.
Jethro calls everyone's attention back to the cowering Sky; the Doctor kneels next to her and tries conversing with her. Sky initially remains motionless, but is coaxed into turning around by the Doctor. Attempts to get her to speak cause her to start repeating what everyone else says. Deciding to test how good Sky can copy them, the Doctor says the square root of Pi, becoming amazed she repeated every number even when they were talking over each other. The Doctor speculates about what is happening and what will happen to Sky, belieiving the entity that was knocking on the hull has taken over her consiousness. The back up generator comes on and the Professor tries to have everyone calm down and be rational. However, Jethro and the Doctor notice that Sky is speaking simultaneously with Hobbes, and everyone else for that matter.
The passengers contemplate throwing Sky outside. This horrifies the Doctor, who thinks that the entity might be trying to learn. He tries to calm everyone down, but he fails when the passengers become suspicious of him, especially when he proves unwilling to reveal his real name or origin and admits to feeling a thrill from the situation. The passengers contemplate throwing him out too, if he gets in the way of them trying to save themselves. However, as the Doctor protests that they will need him to survive if the entity turns out to be malevolent, Sky stops repeating everyone and focuses solely on the Doctor. To try reasoning with the consciousness in Sky, the Doctor attempts to offer it help with finding a voice of its own without stealing his. However, when the Doctor asks the entity if it can agree with him, he has spoken after Sky.The Doctor is now repeating Sky's words, motionless and clearly strained as if fighting something. Most of the passengers reason it's the Doctor that is possessed now, as Sky can move again. However, the hostess and Dee Dee think this is just the next step: stealing the voice of another as the Doctor had predicted. The other passengers refuse to listen to reason and decide to throw the Doctor out the nearest door, all the while being goaded on by Sky, who is strangely happy despite the madness going on. The Doctor shows minimal signs of resistance to being pulled towards a door by Biff and Hobbes as Sky describes how the entity is insidious and gets inside the humans' heads. However, the hostess realises that Sky is not talking in her own voice; she uses two phrases the Doctor had used earlier (Molto bene and Allons-y). The entity in Sky has stolen the Doctor's voice. "Sky" notices the hostess is not fooled by her performance and is fearful. To save the Doctor, the hostess sacrifices herself to drag the entity out of the bus and out into the Xtonic sunlight, vaporising them both. The Doctor slowly recovers from his paralysis and he and the other passengers wait for the rescue vehicle in a haunted silence. When the rescue bus finally comes for them, the Doctor realises that no one knew the name of the hostess.
Back at the spa, the Doctor mournfully reunites with Donna. After they converse about what happened on the bus, Donna prompts the Doctor to tell the Leisure Palace Company to leave Midnight; the entity may still be alive or there may be more than one of them out there. Donna can't fathom what the Doctor would be like without a voice. The Doctor tells her, "Molto bene", in relief. Donna copies him. Disturbed, the Doctor tells Donna not to do that, then looks away, clearly still haunted by these events.
- The Doctor - David Tennant
- Donna Noble - Catherine Tate
- Rose Tyler - Billie Piper
- Hostess - Rakie Ayola
- Sky Silvestry - Lesley Sharp
- Val Cane - Lindsey Coulson
- Biff Cane - Daniel Ryan
- Jethro Cane - Colin Morgan
- Professor Hobbes - David Troughton
- Dee Dee Blasco - Ayesha Antoine
- Mechanic Claude - Duane Henry
- Driver Joe - Tony Bluto
|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.|
Cultural references from the real world Edit
- A Betty Boop cartoon and Italian soubrette Raffaella Carrà are briefly shown on a screen during the voyage as part of the animation archives.
- Jethro Cane sadistically causes the Midnight entity to repeat the number 666, the number of the Beast.
The Doctor Edit
- During Sky's constant copying of the Doctor, he mentions such things as Rose Tyler, Donna Noble, Martha Jones, TARDIS, bananas and the Medusa Cascade.
- The Doctor attempts to pass himself off as 'John Smith' when asked what his name is, which is treated with scepticism by the others.
- When Donna impersonates the Doctor's Italian accent at the end, the Doctor says, "Don't do that," as he addressed Martha Jones and Rose Tyler's earlier attempts at accents; however on this occasion it is with serious intent and more directly references the fact that he is uncomfortable with her repeating his words as he had just recovered from an adventure with a mysterious entity that wanted his voice.
- The lost moon of Poosh is mentioned.
- Biff tells a story of his encounter with a Shamboni.
Story notes Edit
- Working titles included Crusader Five and Crusader 50.
- This is the first episode in Series 4 in which the Doctor is present when Rose Tyler appears although he does not see her.
- Donna was largely absent from this episode, as Catherine Tate was filming Turn Left. While the previous two series included one episode each referred to as "Doctor-lite" for including only brief appearances by the Doctor and, by extension, his companion, this was the first time a "companion-lite" episode focusing on the Doctor by himself has been attempted in the revived series.
- Dee Dee mentions the lost moon of Poosh, continuing the theme of disappearing planetary bodies featured throughout series 4.
- This episode was originally intended to be episode 8, before Steven Moffat's two-parter, but was pushed back to episode 10. The name of the shuttle bus, Crusader 50, was a reference to it originally being the 50th episode of the new series to be screened and David Troughton was going add symmetry as he was in the 50th story of the classic series. It was however the 50th episode of the 'New Series' to be filmed. A similar reference was made in Planet of the Dead, with the bus numbered 200 referencing the 200th Doctor Who story to be broadcast.
- This is the first televised story since Genesis of the Daleks in 1975 not to feature the TARDIS. The only other televised stories in the history of Doctor Who in which it does not appear are Mission to the Unknown, Doctor Who and the Silurians, The Sea Devils and The Sontaran Experiment.
- This is the second episode in which the Doctor has not had a companion to assist him. The first episode without a companion was The Deadly Assassin, although the earlier story remains the only one in which no companion appears at all (as opposed to Donna's appearances at the beginning and end of this episode).
- For the first time ever in Doctor Who history, the villain in this episode is never actually revealed.
- David Troughton, who plays the professor, is the son of Patrick Troughton, who played the Second Doctor. Episode director Alice Troughton is not directly related. David Troughton appeared in his father's final story The War Games, and also in the Third Doctor story The Curse of Peladon and is a veteran contributor to the Big Finish Productions audio dramas.
- Sky Silvestry mentions to the Doctor that "I found myself single recently, not by choice... she needed her own space", implying that she was in a lesbian relationship. This is inkeeping with the increased mentions of homosexuality in humanity's future, suggesting at the more tolerant nature of sexual attitudes in these times leading to more people being open about being gay.
- Sky also says that her ex went to "a different galaxy, in fact". The Doctor's response is, "I had a friend who went a different universe", referencing Rose Tyler's departure in Doomsday, and foreshadowing her return in Turn Left.
- Reportedly[source needed], Davies (knowing that the next 3 episodes would heavily feature Rose) intentionally wrote in passing references to Rose as a type of dramatic irony; in previous allusions to Rose, the Doctor becomes sad and mournful (e.g. The Runaway Bride). His mentioning of Rose in this episode is casual, without any signs of emotional distress, suggesting that at this point the Doctor has come to terms with Rose's fate.
- Although rumoured to have originated from an earlier episode, the brief cameo of Rose was scripted for this episode and was filmed especially for this episode by director Alice Troughton during production of Turn Left. According to the DVD commentary for this episode, Russell T Davies decided to also include the clip in The Poison Sky, too, a fact Troughton -- and David Tennant -- were not made aware of until during the commentary recording for Midnight.
- Months after the episode aired, the story element of having two characters speaking the same words at the same time, and one character trying to throw the other off by spouting random references, would be duplicated in "The Arrival", an episode of the American series Fringe.
- This story was written, at short notice, to replace a script called Century House by Tom MacRae which Russell T Davies felt was too similar, in terms of plot, to The Unicorn and the Wasp.
- Colin Morgan, who plays Jethro, appeared along side Catherine Tate in The Catherine Tate Christmas Show as a guest star; however, Morgan did not have any scenes with Tate in this episode.
- As of 2013, this is the only episode of the revival series of Doctor Who that does not feature the TARDIS.
- As is routine for post-2005 Doctor Who, a "NEXT TIME" trailer for the next episode is shown at the end of the episode.
- Official BARB ratings - 8.05 million viewers. Midnight was the 5th most watched programme on British television for the week.
Myths and rumours Edit
- Billie Piper's brief cameo was taken from an earlier episode, most likely The Idiot's Lantern, in which she was also shown shouting silently from a TV screen, and was a last-minute addition. It was filmed during the fourth series, during Turn Left/The Stolen Earth/Journey's End episodes.
- The entity was the Beast, the Master's ghost, or possibly even the Mara.
- The entity was the same one that possessed the TARDIS causing River Song unable to properly pilot it and causing the Total event collapse. (TV: The Big Bang)
Filming locations Edit
- Upper Boat Studios, Trefforest
- Dylan's Health Spa, Newport
Production errors Edit
- Donna's phone in the prologue is clearly the handset of a wired phone due to the jack on the bottom.
- While trying to turn off the entertainment, the Doctor extends his sonic screwdriver. The camera then switches to Sky, then to the Doctor where he extends the sonic screwdriver again.
- The math for the amounts of kliks doesn't add up properly; after all of the time skips have been seen, the amount of time said to reach the Waterfall Palace is over 400.
- The entity seems almost identical to the species in NOTDWU: A Storm of Angels, which takes place in an alternate universe with a different Doctor showing what "might have happened".
- Rose Tyler is seen again this time on one of the shuttle bus's screens. This is the same clip that appeared for a second in TV: The Poison Sky, except this time it was slightly longer, and Rose seemed to mouth "Doctor!" twice rather than only once, as seen in The Poison Sky.
- 'Molto bene' is Italian for 'Very Well.' The Doctor first uttered this in a deleted scene from TV: The Christmas Invasion, when the Doctor is thinking of a word to say instead of "fantastic." In broadcast continuity, he first said it in TV: The Runaway Bride. The Doctor's other favourite catchphrase, "Allons-y", is also present and significant. He used it for the first time in TV: Army of Ghosts. For the benefit of those who do not speak French, this is the first episode in which the phrase is actually translated as "Let's go!"
- The lost moon of Poosh is first introduced in this episode as another lost planet alongside Adipose 3 and Pyrovillia, continuing this series' trend of having lost planets, and the trend of a unique story arc per series. The first series had the Bad Wolf, the second had Torchwood, and the third had Mr. Saxon. These planets are ultimately revealed to have been stolen by the Daleks and are found by the Doctor and Donna. The lost moon of Poosh is returned home by Donna in Journey's End is thus later no longer lost.
- This story takes place in the 27th century according to REF: The Time Traveller's Almanac, although the book does not explain how this date was arrived at.
- The last time a shuttle bus was featured on screen was in TV: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy.
- When the mechanic claims to have seen a shadow, the Doctor replies, sounding slightly worried, "What kind of shadow?", possibly fearing a reappearance of the Vashta Nerada from the previous episode. (TV: Silence in the Library, Forest of the Dead)
- When the Doctor is talking to Sky, she tells the Doctor about her ex wanting more space. The Doctor mentions having a friend who went to a different universe. This references Rose Tyler's "exile" to Pete's World (TV: Doomsday) - foreshadowing her return in the next episode. It could also be considered a subtle reference to Romana staying behind in E-Space. (TV: Warriors' Gate)
- When the Midnight entity initially attacks the Crusader 50, the Doctor knocks on the cabin wall four times (to which the entity also knocks four times). Later on, the Doctor learns of the prophecy stating that this would signify his death. (TV: Planet of the Dead) In TV: The Waters of Mars, the Doctor prevents the Flood from knocking four times. This prophecy eventually comes true in TV: The End of Time.
Home video releases Edit
- This story was released in the Series 4 DVD box set in November 2008 along with the rest of the series.
- It was released as Series 4 Volume 3 in a vanilla edition with Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead.
- BBC Website - Episode Guide: Midnight
- Original script, posted online by Russell T Davies in conjunction with the release of his book REF: Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale.
- Detailed synopsis of Midnight at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- Midnight at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- Midnight at The Locations Guide