TARDIS Index File

The Family of Blood (TV story)

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The Family of Blood
Family of blood hosts
Adapted from: Human Nature
Doctor: Tenth Doctor
Companion(s): Martha
Featuring: John Smith, Joan Redfern
Main enemy: Family of Blood
Main setting: Farringham, 11 November 1913
Key crew
Writer: Paul Cornell
Director: Charles Palmer
Producer: Susie Liggat
Release details
Story number: 185b
Season/series: Series 3
Premiere broadcast: 2 June 2007
Premiere network: BBC One
Format: 2nd of 2 45 Minute Episodes
Production code: 3.9
Confidential: Bad Blood
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Doctor Who television stories
Human Nature Blink
Production order
Human Nature 42
Memorable moment
The life of John Smith - Doctor Who - Human Nature - Series 3 - BBC04:21

The life of John Smith - Doctor Who - Human Nature - Series 3 - BBC

Another memorable moment
The fury of the Timelord - Doctor Who - Human Nature - Series 3 - BBC03:35

The fury of the Timelord - Doctor Who - Human Nature - Series 3 - BBC

Behind the scenes video
Recreating the Great War - Doctor Who Confidential - The Family of Blood - Series 3 - BBC01:41

Recreating the Great War - Doctor Who Confidential - The Family of Blood - Series 3 - BBC

More behind the scenes stuff
David Tennant transforms into old man - Doctor Who Confidential - The Family of Blood - S3 - BBC01:55

David Tennant transforms into old man - Doctor Who Confidential - The Family of Blood - S3 - BBC

You may be looking for the family.

The Family of Blood was the ninth episode of the third series of Doctor Who. It featured the Doctor's return from his human persona John Smith to his original Time Lord identity. The episode also showed the extent of the Doctor's ruthlessness when pushed to extremes.

Synopsis Edit

It's 1913, and war comes to England a year early as the terrifying Family hunt for the Tenth Doctor.

Plot Edit

As the Family holds Martha Jones and Joan Redfern captive, John Smith is helplessly bewildered by their demands. Tim Latimer briefly opens the watch containing the Doctor's essence, confusing the Family with the Doctor's scent. This allows Martha to grab a gun from Mother of Mine, take her hostage and point the gun at Son of Mine, who points his gun at Martha. The Family members unwillingly lower their weapons and Martha tells Smith to evacuate the building. After everyone has left, an animated scarecrow grabs Martha and retrieves the gun. She escapes and runs outside, where she finds Smith and leads him away. The watch still tells Latimer to keep it hidden.

Smith, Joan, and Martha race back to the school, where Smith sounds the alarm. Father of Mine investigates Martha's past movements while the rest of the Family return to the school. They send Sister of Mine to spy on the school's inhabitants.

Inside the school, Martha pleads with Smith about having the students fight, but Smith says that they are trained to defend King and Country. Headmaster Rocastle enters, angry at first, but approving Smith's actions after hearing that Jeremy Baines (Son of Mine) and Clark (Father of Mine) have gone insane and are chasing them and people have been murdered. The headmaster and Smith arm the boys and prepare for battle. Unable to stop them, Martha races to Smith's room to search for the watch, followed by Joan. Joan slowly comes to accept the origins of Martha and the Doctor. Latimer hides away with the watch.

Rocastle and Phillips go outside to assess the situation. Son of Mine demands John Smith be handed over along with his Time Lord consciousness. He mocks Rocastle for teaching children to fight in the war that is coming. Rocastle states his devotion to King and Country. Son of Mine vaporises Phillips. Rocastle runs back into the school, where Smith and he resume battle preparations. They order the boys to set up barricades and a line of machine guns to repel the Family. Son of Mine summons his scarecrow "soldiers". Father of Mine finds the TARDIS. Joan asks Smith about his Nottingham childhood, noting that his knowledge is confined to facts. "How can you think I'm not real?" he protests. She says that whoever he is, he knows it is wrong to have the boys fight.

Sister of Mine finds Latimer, who beams the Time Lord consciousness out of the watch, striking her with an image of the Doctor at his most merciless. This betrays his position and the Family send their scarecrow army to bring out the watch. This army's first line is machine-gunned, but Smith finds himself unable to fire. Sister of Mine appears and Rocastle thinks she is merely a girl and should be brought in for her own safety, despite warnings from Martha, Joan and Smith. Sister of Mine kills Rocastle. Smith orders the boys to make an orderly retreat, but the Family and their scarecrows chase them and line them up to look for the watch. Finding that none of them have it, they are about to massacre the boys when Latimer sends a beam from the watch on an upper floor. This distracts them and the boys get away. Latimer escapes out a window.

The Family bring the TARDIS to the school, and taunt Smith, who is watching from the adjoining woods, to come to them. Smith denies having seen the TARDIS before, but Joan recognises it as the blue box in his journal. Seeing this latest evidence of the Doctor's existence, Smith pleads desperately to remain himself. The Family return to their ship and use their alien technology to bombard the village to hasten Smith's surrender.

Smith, Joan and Martha retreat to the Cartwrights' empty cottage; Joan has deduced that Sister of Mine killed her human host's parents earlier in the day. Latimer arrives soon after, watch in hand. He says he has seen the Doctor. He calls him fearsome and wonderful. After Smith takes the closed watch, it causes him to speak in the Doctor's voice for a moment, explaining Latimer's telepathic abilities as due to "an extra synaptic engram". Smith is horrified. Martha tries to convince Smith to open the watch and change back, saying that she loves the Doctor to bits and he is needed. Smith sees the transformation back to the Doctor as his own suicide.

Smith redfern future

Smith and Redfern view a possible future together.

Latimer and Martha leave Joan and Smith alone. Smith has an agonised discussion with Joan. Both see a vision of how Smith will live out his life if he remains human: marrying Joan, having children, becoming a grandfather and dying at home in bed with Joan at his side. Joan remains ambivalent, having discovered from Smith's journal the awful consequences of the Family gaining what they seek.

Father Of Mine Chained

Father of Mine wrapped in dwarf star alloy chains.

John Smith appears at the Family's ship and stumbles into things as he yields the watch in return for the Family stopping the bombardment (and, apparently, to preserve his human identity). When they open the watch in triumph, they find it empty. Smith has changed back into the Doctor, misdirected their senses so as to seem human and in falling around, pushed buttons which make the machine overheat and destroy itself.

Fury of a time lord

Mother of Mine is trapped in a collapsing galaxy.

The Family and the Doctor escape, but Son of Mine narrates the fate of the Family afterward. He realises the Doctor made himself human out of kindness to the Family; the Doctor would have preferred that they die peacefully. After all the death they caused, however, he deals out the ultimate punishments to them. They wanted to become immortal by absorbing a Time Lord and then conquer across time and space. The Doctor grants this wish in other ways: he traps Father of Mine in chains forged at the heart of a dwarf star, Mother of Mine in the event horizon of a collapsing galaxy and Sister of Mine in every mirror in existence. The Doctor visits her once a year, every year. Finally, the Doctor suspends Son of Mine in time, and dresses him as a scarecrow to watch over the fields of England as its protector.

The Doctor visits Joan, who is certain that Smith is dead. The Doctor says Smith still exists within him; he is capable of everything that Smith was. He invites her to travel with him, but Joan refuses to go with the stranger who wears her dead lover's face. Instead she accuses him of causing the deaths around the school, and sends him away. She watches him leave and starts to cry, clutching Smith's journal to her chest.

The Doctor returns to the TARDIS, where Martha awaits him. She brushes off her earlier confession as an act of desperation, which he seems to accept. He thanks her for looking after him and they hug.

Old latimer

An older Latimer sees the Doctor and Martha again.

Latimer appears to see the Doctor and Martha off. He states that he now "knows what he must do" and is given the now-empty watch by the Doctor. He watches the TARDIS leave.

Latimer later saves Hutchinson and himself on the Western Front, based on his premonition in the previous episode. In the future, when an elderly Latimer attends an Armistice Day commemoration, still holding the watch, the Doctor and Martha observe from a distance, wearing poppies. They silently acknowledge each other as the service continues.

Cast Edit

Uncredited Edit

Crew Edit

General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics



General post-production staff

Special and visual effects


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.

References Edit

  • Miss Cooper attended the dance.
  • Redford is a Farringham student.

Story notes Edit

  • Smith's A Journal of Impossible Things was created by artist Kellyanne Walker, based on text provided by (writer) Paul Cornell. Kellyanne's brief was to reflect the fact that Smith wasn't an excellent artist — and that these were images and thoughts from his dreams that he had rushed down on paper before he forgot them.
  • Joan Redfern was the third character in the revived series to decline an invitation to travel with the Tenth Doctor, after Sarah Jane Smith and Donna Noble. Donna would ultimately travel with the Doctor in series 4.
  • Russell T Davies once stated in an interview for the Doctor Who Magazine[which?] his belief that this two-parter was too dark for the program's audience.
  • Radio Times and the televised credits credit David Tennant only as "The Doctor".
  • When Hutchinson calls Latimer a "filthy coward", Latimer responds by saying, "Oh, yes, sir! Every time!" This is a reference to The Parting of the Ways. It is revealed in the Doctor Who Confidential for these two episodes that they wanted to make Latimer a bit Doctor-ish in his character, so they included this as a nod to that quality of his.
  • When Joan asks the Doctor if he can change back, the dialogue matches the Children in Need Special.

Ratings Edit

  • 6.6 million (overnight)
  • 7.21 million (Final ratings)
  • 0.76 million (repeat on BBC 3)

Filming locations Edit

  • St Fagans in Cardiff

Production errors Edit

  • When Phillips is disintegrated it pauses for a second and then he fully dies.
  • As the scarecrow-soldiers advance on the school to do battle, the scene cuts to Sister of Mine, looking out from a school window. There is clearly heavy rainfall outside. When we immediately cut-back to the advancing scarecrows, it is a clear night.
If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.

Continuity Edit

DVD releases Edit


Series 3 Volume 3 DVD Cover

  • This episode was released with Human Nature and Blink on the Series 3 Volume 3 DVD.
  • It is also part of the series 3 DVD box set.

External links Edit

Footnotes Edit

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