The Impossible Planet was the eighth episode of series 2 of Doctor Who. It was written by Matt Jones, directed by James Strong and featured David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler.
The prequel to The Impossible Planet, Tardisode 8, allows viewers to witness the presence of Captain Walker, who would later die during his crew's expedition and only receive posthumous mention in this episode.
The Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler lose the TARDIS down a deep chasm, leaving themselves stranded on a space base positioned on a planet in the orbit of a black hole. Meanwhile, an entity who identifies as Satan himself is awakening and beginning to cause chaos amongst the crew.
The TARDIS materialises inside a "Sanctuary Base" meant for deep-space expeditions. The Tenth Doctor and Rose discover the words "Welcome to Hell" written above lines of unknown characters scribbled on the station wall. The Doctor says that it must be incredibly old, as the TARDIS is unable to translate it.
After a slight misunderstanding when first meeting the Ood, a docile race of empathic servants who work on the station, the travellers meet the crew of the base, led by acting Captain Zachary Cross Flane. An earthquake occurs and they all have to take cover. The crew is introduced to Science Officer Ida Scott, Head of Security John Jefferson, trainee maintenance officer Scooti Manista, and archaeologist Toby Zed. They are on an expedition on an anomalous planet in orbit around a black hole, K37 Gem 5. The Doctor realises that it is impossible for the planet, which is called Krop Tor, to be in geostationary orbit around the black hole, as it should be pulled in like the star systems around it are. He calculates that it would take a phenomenal amount of power (a power source with an inverted self-extrapolating reflex force of six to the power of six every six seconds) to generate the huge gravity field stabilising its orbit. The field extends out as a distinct gravity funnel into clear space, which allowed the expedition a way in to the planet. The funnel is not a natural phenomenon, and the crew is drilling ten miles underground to the core of the planet in hopes of finding the power source and using it. The origin of the power source is an ancient civilisation that had been on Krop Tor, and the inscription on the wall is a transcription of fragments found on the planet during their drilling.
The Doctor soon discovers that storage sections 5 to 8 had collapsed as a result of the earthquake-like tremor they had experienced moments after their arrival, dropping the TARDIS, which had been in Storage 6, into a crevice. With no resources to divert the drilling, Rose and the Doctor are stranded. Ida offers to put them on the duty roster.
The crew goes back to their duties. Toby begins to hear a voice addressing him, but the person tells Toby not to look at him, otherwise he will die. An Ood tells Rose that the Beast awakens to make war against God. A horned image is displayed out of the corner of Zach's eye and the computer system tells Danny, "He is awake." The voice speaks to Toby, and the symbols from the pottery he was holding appear on his skin. He passes out. Ida opens the window so they can watch as the remains of the Scarlet system are swallowed by the black hole. Rose can't call her mum, as there is no signal on her superphone for the first time. She and the Doctor talk about the future until Rose's phone rings to tell her, "He is awake." They go to ask Danny about the Ood. Danny attempts to reassure them, showing a telepathic field monitor, which goes up to Basic 30, a reading six times normal. The Ood respond to, "He is awake" with "and you will worship him." Toby wakes with red eyes and symbols all over his face.
Meanwhile, Scooti goes to Toby's room to drop off paperwork, but finds his room empty. While she puts the paperwork on the desk, the computer announces the opening and closing of Door 41, an airlock. Concerned, she rushes to the airlock, where the computer confirms that the door opened and closed. The computer cannot tell who went outside and says no spacesuit was taken. Through a window she sees Toby in the winds on the barren planet's surface, without a spacesuit, although there is no breathable air. Toby turns around to look at her and with a gesture cracks the glass between them, Scooti tries to run towards Door 40, but it will not open. The glass shatters and alarms blare as air begins rushing out of the base. Scooti is dragged away, screaming as she loses her grip.
The base begins to shake violently and Zach orders them to evacuate the affected section. Danny, Rose, the Doctor, Jefferson, Ida, and two security guards all rush to the nearest safe corridor. Jefferson pulls a clear skinned, pale eyed Toby through last, then closes the door, sealing the breach. Zach then asks if everyone was all right. Jefferson then reports that everyone is accounted for except Scooti. Jefferson then calls for Scooti on his radio. However, he gets no answer. Zach then tells them she is alright and that her biochip located her in Habitation 3. Jefferson and Ida sigh in relief. They then go down to search for Scooti while the Doctor and Rose tend to Toby.
When Toby, Rose, and the Doctor enter the habitation they find the searchers looking frantically. Ida is calling all the habitations looking for Scooti. Jefferson then reports that Scooti is still missing while Zach continues by saying that her biochip says she is in Habitation 3. Then the Doctor sadly says he found her. Scooti is floating outside in the vacuum. Jefferson reports her death to Zach. Ida then goes over to the control to close the overhead, saying Scooti was only twenty years old. Scooti floats away towards the black hole, spinning as the door closes. Jefferson recites a verse from "Horatius," a poem by Thomas Babbington Macaulay: "And how can man die better/ Than facing fearful odds/ For the ashes of his fathers,/ And the temples of his gods."
Ida realises that the drill has stopped, meaning they've managed to drill down to the core of the planet. Nonessential Ood are to be confined. The Doctor talks Zach into letting him volunteer for the mission to investigate. He and Ida journey down the mine shaft and into a massive cavern with ancient giant sculptures along its walls. They head for the power source, guided by sensor readings, and find a large circular disk set in the floor of the cavern, which the Doctor suspects is a trap door of some sort.
Meanwhile in the base, Danny calls from where he is monitoring the Ood to report that the Ood's telepathic field has risen dangerously to Basic 100. Basic 100 is high enough to induce brain death, but they are obviously still alive. Ida reports the edge of the massive door is covered in the ancient symbols and they ask Toby if he's translated any. Toby says he knows what it says, and he looks up at Jefferson and Rose through red eyes in a symbol covered face. He says they are the words of the Beast. He continues to speak, then taunts Jefferson before the symbols flow from his face to the Ood. Toby faints, and the different groups of red eyed Ood begin to speak and advance. They identify themselves as the Legion of the Beast and recite his verses as they begin to advance on the crew members. The security guard with Danny is electrocuted by a translator ball. Danny runs. In the other chamber, Jefferson, Rose, and their guard retreat.
The Doctor and Ida stand before the sealed metal door on the cavern ground. Rocks fall as the ground shakes, even to the base above, and the sections of the door fall apart and slide open to show a black chasm. Zach reports they're losing orbit, as the Ood back Rose's group into a door that won't open. The Doctor and Ida run back to the edge of the chasm as a voice calls out, "The pit is open, and I am free!" As the Doctor and Ida look down, malevolent laughter echoes...
- The Doctor - David Tennant
- Rose Tyler - Billie Piper
- Mr. Jefferson - Danny Webb
- Zachary Cross Flane - Shaun Parkes
- Ida Scott - Claire Rushbrook
- Toby Zed - Will Thorp
- Danny Bartock - Ronny Jhutti
- Scooti Manista - MyAnna Buring
- The Ood - Paul Kasey
- The Voice of the Beast - Gabriel Woolf
- The Voice of the Ood - Silas Carson
|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.|
- The Scarlet System was home to the Pallushi, a mighty civilisation that spanned a billion years.
- The scriptures of the Veltino describe the planet as Krop Tor — "the bitter pill".
- The Doctor states TARDISes are grown, rather than built.
- Zachary mentions the Blazen Scale.
- Ood 7 Gamma 10, Ood 7 Gamma 11 and Ood 7 Gamma 12 are part of the Walker Expedition.
- Sound effects matching the door opening and closing sounds from the first two games in the popular Doom series are occasionally used (especially noticeable when Toby goes searching for the "voices" distracting him from his archaeological findings).
- Before the Ood, the production team had considered Slitheen family being the servants on Sanctuary Base 6, but it was decided to use a new race when it emerged that the cost of repairing the Slitheen costumes was just as much as if the crew created new alien costumes from scratch. Head writer and executive producer Russell T Davies was also concerned that the Slitheen would take over the plot. (TCH 53)
- The Ood would be later revealed in Planet of the Ood to come from a region of space near the Sense Sphere, thus suggesting a genetic relationship between them and the Sensorites. Interestingly, the Sensorites are introduced in "Strangers in Space" in a very similar way to how the Ood are in this episode. Both races at first appear to threaten the Doctor and his companions before they finally reveal their more benign intent.
- This episode is the first to feature the Sanctuary Base 6 space suits, which become a regular fixture in the revived era of Doctor Who, having been worn by the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors on a number of occasions.
- 6.31 million viewers
- Wenvoe Quarry, Cardiff
- Mamhilad Park Industrial Estate, Pontypool, Wales
- Unit Q2, Imperial Park, Imperial Way, Newport
- HTV Wales Studios, Culvershouse Cross, Cardiff
- Enfys Television Studios, Unit 31, Portmanmoor Road, East Moors, Cardiff
- Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire
- Ealing Film Studios, Ealing Green, Ealing
- When the Doctor and Ida descend into the core of Krop Tor, the screen charting their progress shows 39% oxygen. After cutting away to an overhead shot of the two, the camera cuts back to the same descent display, only now the oxygen percentage (which has been falling constantly all this time) is at 42%.
- In the scene where Scooti is discovered floating outside the base, two unnamed armed personnel are shown entering the room. They alternately disappear and reappear in the scene between takes.
- The Beast's son, Abaddon, would later also be awoken, and appear in Cardiff. (TV: End of Days)
- Rose mentions that she worked as a dinner lady. (TV: School Reunion)
- The Ood, while possessed by the Beast, say, "I shall become the manifest," as does the Wire. (TV: The Idiot's Lantern)
- Rose receives a message on a new superphone. She left her previous one with Mickey Smith. (TV: The Age of Steel)
- The Doctor suggests the TARDIS may be suffering from "indigestion". (TV: Doctor Who)
- The Beast claimed Rose would die in battle, a fate she avoided by escaping to a parallel universe. (TV: Doomsday) She was still reported as dead though. (TV: Utopia)
When aired by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in late 2006, this episode was considered a mid-season cliffhanger, with The Satan Pit and the rest of the season not airing until early 2007, after a hiatus of several months. At the time the CBC made this decision a trend had developed among North American networks to insert lengthy (sometimes months-long) breaks during the November-January period.
Home video releases
- This story was released on a vanilla DVD with The Satan Pit and Love & Monsters.
- It was also released as part of the Series 2 DVD box set.
- BBC Website - Episode Guide for The Impossible Planet
- The Discontinuity Guide to: The Impossible Planet at The Whoniverse
- The Impossible Planet at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- The Impossible Planet at The Locations Guide