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The Next Doctor was the 2008 Christmas Special of Doctor Who. It was written by Russell T Davies, directed by Andy Goddard and featured David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor and David Morrissey as the guest companion Jackson Lake.
It is considered one of the 2009 Specials, and was released in the DVD and Blu-ray box-sets along with the rest, despite airing in 2008. The special featured the return of the surviving Cybermen from Pete's World that crossed into N-Space and the guest appearance of David Morrissey as what appeared to be a future incarnation of the Doctor but, in actuality, was a red herring. However, it made the Tenth Doctor ponder his eventual demise and set the wheels in motion for his final story arc, which foreshadowed his death.
This is the first Christmas special to take place in a past era, instead of the present day. This episode also marks the first time that the Doctor has met someone who is upholding his legacy of fighting for justice and the rights of the oppressed without having met him before. Jackson Lake is at least the third person to know about all of the Doctor's other faces, following River Song and Clara Oswald.
Christmas 1851, and Cybermen stalk Victorian London. The Tenth Doctor discovers a spate of mysterious deaths, and he's surprised to meet another Doctor! Are two Doctors enough to stop the rise of the CyberKing?
The Tenth Doctor lands in London on Christmas Eve, 1851, and promptly hears a woman frantically calling, "Doctor!" He rushes to the scene of the disturbance, where he encounters a woman called Rosita, who does not believe his claims to be the Doctor she is calling for. Another man, also calling himself "the Doctor," races forward and produces a device he refers to as a sonic screwdriver (actually an ordinary screwdriver). A strange creature, with a bronze face like that of a Cyberman but a hunched and furred body, bursts into the alley. The three give chase, but the creature eludes them. In the aftermath of the chase, the two Doctors talk: the Tenth Doctor believes the other to be his next incarnation, but the other Doctor doesn't recognise him; the next Doctor explains that many of the memories are missing, and that he cannot remember anything "since the Cybermen."
Nearby, a group of Cybermen observe the footage gleaned from the Cybershade (the creature pursued by the trio); however, the Cybermen recognise the next Doctor, not the original, as their foe. They discuss their plans for the next attack with their ally, Miss Mercy Hartigan. The attack is scheduled for 14:00 hours — the same time as a funeral whose procession the next Doctor and Rosita observe.
While the funeral takes place, the two Doctors are investigating the house of the deceased, Reverend Aubrey Fairchild. As they investigate, the next Doctor explains that the Cybermen's presence is linked to a number of murders and child abductions across London, starting with the death of a man named Jackson Lake and culminating in the Reverend's death. It seems the Reverend was found dead and there were burn marks on his head; the cause of death was some advanced form of electrocution. The next Doctor begins to show signs of remembering the original Doctor, but before he can delve further, the Tenth Doctor finds, hidden in a roll-top desk, a pair of infostamps: devices that allow the storage of large amounts of information. The Doctor activates one, discovering it contains information on the history of London from 1066 to 1851.
The Doctor realises the Cybermen have been using the infostamps to update their knowledge of history. However, the next Doctor remembers he was holding an infostamp the night he lost his memory, which he also proclaims to be the night he regenerated. Their discussion is cut short when the Cybermen attack; the original Doctor fends them off with a cutlass, but the Cybermen are not interested in him — only the next Doctor. Before they can kill the pair, the next Doctor overloads the core of the infostamp and opens it. The energy released destroys the Cybermen.At the funeral, Miss Hartigan arrives with a platoon of Cybermen and Cybershades in tow. The mourners are subsequently attacked. She spares a number of the mourners, who are owners of workhouses and orphanages, but the others are "deleted" by the Cybermen. The survivors are fitted with EarPods and dispatched by Miss Hartigan. The two Doctors return to the next Doctor's home base, which holds all of the luggage belonging to the first victim, Jackson Lake. Rosita and the next Doctor show the original Doctor their TARDIS: a hot-air balloon (Tethered Aerial Release Developed In Style). The Doctor tells the next Doctor he can explain what happened to him, which the next Doctor agrees to. The original Doctor tells him and Rosita about the Battle of Canary Wharf and how the Cybermen were cast into the Void.However, they managed to escape from the Void when the walls of the universe were weakened in "a greater battle", and found themselves in London in 1851. They soon came upon a man, Jackson Lake, a mathematics teacher and the first person to disappear. The Cybermen attacked his home and killed his wife. In desperation, Lake grabbed an infostamp to defend himself, one containing information on the Doctor gleaned from the Daleks; though the infostamp destroyed the Cybermen, it backfired and overwhelmed Lake's mind. In his fear and despair, he came to believe he was the Doctor. The Doctor then reveals his final piece of proof: the fob watch the next Doctor carries with him is engraved with the initials JL. Lake, remembering who he is and what has happened to him, is overcome with emotion and breaks down sobbing.
A disturbance is heard and the Doctor and Rosita head out to investigate. They discover that the converted workhouse owners are marching the children of their establishments through a sluice gate to the Thames, which is guarded by Cybermen and Cybershades. The Doctor and Rosita try to sneak around and are confronted by Miss Hartigan. She explains that she has not been converted, and that the Cybermen offered her her liberation. The Doctor returns the infostamp to the Cybermen, who download it, confirming he is their foe, not Lake. Miss Hartigan explains that the children are a workforce, to bring about the birth of "it," but refuses to say what. She orders the Cybermen to delete the pair, but Lake arrives and provides a distraction by killing the two Cybermen with another infostamp. Rosita then punches Miss Hartigan in anger and the trio escape. Miss Hartigan furiously announces that "the CyberKing will rise tonight!"
Lake tells the Doctor he and his family were moving to London so he could take up a teaching post, and that he discovered the Cybermen in his basement. The Doctor and Lake realise there may be a way into the Cybermen's base through Lake's house. Inside the house, they find a Dimension Vault, a piece of technology stolen from the Daleks that allowed the Cybermen to escape the Void, as well as a tunnel connecting to the sewers. In the Cybermen's base, the captive children are put to work generating power to allow the "Ascension of the Cyberking."
In the throne chamber, Hartigan is told by the Cyberleader that she will be the Cyberking, not the Cyberleader as she assumed. The Cyberleader explains that by becoming Cyberking, Hartigan will receive her liberation from the anger, hatred and rage in her mind. However, Hartigan proves too strong-willed for the conversion; her mind is too powerful to control, and she uses her new powers to obliterate the Cyberleader when it tries to intervene.
The Doctor, Rosita and Jackson infiltrate the Cybermen's base and discover a metre displaying the facility's power capacity. The Doctor theorises that when the machine reaches 100% power, the children will be disposed of. As the trio evacuate the children, Jackson Lake recalls the one last missing fragment of his memory: after killing his wife, the Cybermen kidnapped his son. The pair are reunited during the rescue, and all of them flee as the engine begins to explode. However, the Cyberking — a colossal Cyberman-shaped walker containing an onboard cyber-conversion factory, referred to as a "Dreadnought-class ship" — emerges from the Thames, commanded by Hartigan and an army of Cybermen, and begins to lay waste to London. After sending Rosita and Jackson to safety, the Doctor grabs the Dimension Vault and commandeers the hot-air balloon, rising until he is level with the head of the Cyberking.
The Doctor offers Hartigan a deal: to take her to a place where she and the Cybermen can live in peace. She refuses, and the Doctor attacks her with the combined force of dozens of overloaded infostamps. Though Hartigan initially taunts him for failing to kill her, the Doctor replies that it wasn't his intent: instead he has severed her connection from the CyberKing, setting her free. Hartigan, realising what she has become, screams in horror as the broken connection destroys her and the Cybermen and causes the CyberKing to begin to self-destruct. However, before it can topple on the crowds below, the Doctor uses the Dimension Vault to transport the CyberKing into the Time Vortex, where it will be harmlessly destroyed.
In the aftermath, Jackson thanks the Doctor for what he has done and offers him a place at his Christmas celebration with Rosita and his son. The Doctor refuses, but offers Jackson a look inside the TARDIS. Lake is overwhelmed with amazement, but quickly decides that he has had enough adventure for one lifetime. He again thanks the Doctor, but points out that in all the information he saw, the Doctor had companions present. The Doctor explains that in the end, they all leave, for a variety of reasons, and that ultimately, they break his heart. Jackson says that his request for dinner is no longer a request but a demand, in honour of all those who have been lost. The Doctor solemnly agrees. He then tells Jackson that, of all the people who could have been the Doctor, he was glad it was Jackson. He closes the TARDIS door and they leave together to celebrate Christmas.
- The Doctor - David Tennant
- Jackson Lake - David Morrissey
- Miss Hartigan - Dervla Kirwan
- Rosita - Velile Tshabalala
- Cybershade - Ruari Mears
- Cyberleader - Paul Kasey
- Mr Scoones - Edmund Kente
- Mr Cole - Michael Bertenshaw
- Vicar - Jason Morell
- Jed - Neil McDermott
- Lad - Ashley Horne
- Frederic - Tom Langford
- Urchin - Jordan Southwell
- Docker - Matthew Allick
- Cyber Voices - Nicholas Briggs
|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 Cybermen have scavenged Dalek technology in the Void, and gained their knowledge of the Doctor from the Daleks.
- Jackson Lake has a screwdriver (that isn't sonic), but calls it a 'sonic screwdriver'.
- Jackson Lake's "TARDIS" (Tethered Aerial Release Developed In Style) is a hot air balloon.
- The Doctor describes the events of the Battle of Canary Wharf. He also mentions the Cybermen getting stuck inside the Void at the end of the conflict.
- The Doctor asking a boy at the beginning of the story, "What year is this?", to which the boy replies, "Year of our lord 1851, sir", is a reference to Scrooge's question to a young child following his redemption in A Christmas Carol.
- The episode was filmed during production of Series 4, the first time a Christmas special has been rolled into production of the preceding series. This allowed the Series 4 finale, Journey's End, to include a trailer for the episode. It is still considered part of Series 4, but was not included, for example, in the Complete Series 4 DVD set, but was instead later released in the Complete Specials box-set. It is considered the fifteenth episode of Series 4 on Netflix (the first episode being TV: Voyage of the Damned).
- This is the first episode to be broadcast after David Tennant's announcement that he would leave the role of the Doctor in 2010. However, it is the last episode to be filmed and produced before the announcement, as Tennant was playing Hamlet for the latter half of 2008 and early 2009; in fact, Tennant announced his departure at a live broadcast during the 2008 National Television Awards during the intermission of that night's production, in full costume and flanked by two Danish guards.
- The pre-credits sequence of the special were broadcast as a special preview during the 2008 Children in Need Appeal in November 2008.
- The DVD release of Series 4 included an alternate ending for Journey's End that would have had a cliffhanger involving the Cybermen suddenly appearing inside the TARDIS. This idea was dropped before broadcast and the opening scene of this episode gives no indication of the Doctor being in peril and at no point in the episode do Cybermen enter the TARDIS. In his book REF: The Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter, Davies credits Doctor Who Magazine writer Benjamin Cook with convincing him to drop the cliffhanger.
- The removal of the cliffhanger renders The Next Doctor the first of the Christmas specials to be a true standalone. It is not connected to either the preceding or following episodes, other than the thematic link of the Tenth Doctor's mortality.
- This is the first Christmas Special to be set in the past. However it is not the first Christmas episode to be set in the past: it was preceded by The Unquiet Dead.
- Russell T Davies revealed to Radio Times: "The Doctor finds himself staring at that inevitable day when his tenth incarnation must die..."
- This episode was the subject of a quite heavy campaign of misinformation which included a false summary of the Fear Factor which implied that two Doctors would be left in peril at the end. It also included misleading quotes from RTD's book and threats of not having a press screening.
- The title of the first 2009 special was revealed at the end of this story: Planet of the Dead.
- The Cybermen seem to have deeper voices in this episode.
- The Cyberleader in this story is of a different design than the Cyberleader seen in Doomsday. Notable differences include a black face and an exposed brain.
- Miss Hartigan uses the expression "Excellent", previously associated with the 1980s Cybermen.
- This is the first Christmas Special for which a new song was not written. The only song heard in the special is the standard "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" this has been the main Christmas carol for the Christmas specials and excluding Voyage of the Damned, it's been played at some point in all the rest of the new series Christmas episodes.
- The name "Aubrey Fairchild" pops up again in 2009, as the name of the Prime Minister in PROSE: Beautiful Chaos.
- Paul McGann's appearance occurred at a time that the actor was also being heard in a new series of Eighth Doctor radio plays on BBC Radio.
- Mickey Smith had previously used the term "Cyberking" in Army of Ghosts when speculating about the contents of the void ship.
- To keep the mystery of the identity of David Morrissey's character a surprise, the actor was credited as 'The Doctor' in Radio Times and only as 'Jackson Lake' in the closing credits.
- Russell T Davies chose the name Rosita for Jackson Lake's companion because it contained elements of 'Rose' and 'Martha'. It also happens to be Spanish for "Little Rose."
- Dervla Kirwan wore special black contact lenses for the scenes of the transformed Miss Hartigan. Because the lenses didn't completely cover her eyes, however, special effects team at The Mill had to electronically paint out any glimpses of white eyeballs that appeared in shot.
- This episode was the first to feature the new BBC Wales logo following the credits.
- This was the final Doctor Who story to be produced in "standard definition". Beginning with the next story, the show moved to high-definition production.
- This is the first episode of the revived series in which the Doctor's main companion is male rather than female. Thus it is also the first full episode where no female actors are credited in the opening titles. Prior to this, no female actors were credited in the title sequences of Attack of the Graske, Time Crash, and Music of the Spheres. This would also be repeated in The End of Time.
- All ten incarnations of the Doctor are seen via the visual display of an infostamp that contains important details concerning the Doctor. This marks the first time since the beginning of the 2005 revival of the series that any image of the first eight Doctors had been shown, other than Peter Davison reprising his role as the Fifth Doctor (TV: Time Crash) and the journal the Tenth Doctor kept while he was the human John Smith, showing drawings of several past incarnations (TV: Human Nature). The sequence of shots of the ten Doctors was taken from: First Doctor - TV: The Time Meddler, Second Doctor - TV: The Ice Warriors, Third Doctor - TV: Terror of the Autons, Fourth Doctor - TV: City of Death, Fifth Doctor - TV: Arc of Infinity, Sixth Doctor - TV: The Mysterious Planet, Seventh Doctor - TV: Time and the Rani, Eighth Doctor - TV: Doctor Who: The TV Movie, Ninth Doctor - TV: The Parting of the Ways, Tenth Doctor - TV: The Family of Blood.
- According to the Doctor Who: The Commentaries commentary on BBC Radio 7 with Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner, Davies realised after the filming that it would have been a better ending to have Miss Hartigan redeem herself by making the falling CyberKing disappear, rather than introducing what Davies calls "a silly Dalek continuum dimension vault" to the plot. Davies states that he "can't bear that there could have been a better ending than we actually transmitted".
- An early script draft had the story following on from the Cybermen cliffhanger; the two inside the TARDIS would vanish, and the Doctor would realise that they were falling through the Time Vortex, and follow them to Victorian England.
- This is the first Christmas Special of the revived series to feature an antagonist which has previously appeared. (TV: Rise of the Cybermen et al.)
- This story was nominated for a 2010 Hugo Award in the category of "Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form," as was Planet of the Dead and The Waters of Mars , the latter of which ultimately won the award.
- New music is added to the DVD release in the scene where the Doctor and Jackson Lake investigate Reverend Fairchild's house.
- The subject of showing archive footage of all the Doctor's incarnations is difficult. Because William Hartnell's and Patrick Troughton's respective eras of Doctor Who were filmed entirely in black and white, it would have been jarring in the eyes of viewers to feature monochromatic clips from their tenures next to the later colourised eras. To rectify this, the archive footage for all the previous Doctors was rendered sepia-toned. This effectively hid the transition between film styles over the long course of the series.
- The scene in which the Cybermen identify "the Doctor" (actually Lake) through a servant (Cybershade) has an uncanny resemblance to the scene in which the original Cybermen identify the Doctor in Earthshock via their servants (androids). Also the scene in which the Doctor shows Lake the infostamp about the Doctor, which shows all ten incarnations, resembles the scene in which the Mondasian Cybermen examine their database for previous encounters with the Doctor.
- This is the first Doctor Who story in which a supporting character, introduced in the story, truly fulfills the criteria of "one-time companion", in that the character neither asks, nor is invited, to travel with the Doctor (the fact Lake has a son to care for rendered such an invitation out of the question, even if the Doctor were willing to take on a new companion). By comparison, Astrid Peth and Donna Noble were invited in their initial appearances, as was Grace Holloway in the 1996 TV movie.
- The Doctor refers to his companions leaving because they should, because they find someone else, or because they forget him. Companions that left because they believed they should include Tegan, Martha, Ian, and Barbara. Companions that found someone else include Susan and Rose (although they also wanted to stay with the Doctor), Peri, Leela and Jo. Companions that have forgotten the Doctor include Jamie, Zoe and Donna (although Jamie and Zoe have only lost the memory of their time travelling with the Doctor and not of their first adventures with him, and TV: The Two Doctors implies Jamie might have regained his memories later in life and rejoined the Doctor).
- This is the first episode to be broadcast in Canada on Space rather than CBC.
- 13.1 million viewers (Christmas Day on BBC One)
- Prior to the official announcement, numerous "false alarm" titles for the episode were circulated among fans, the most common being Return of the Cybermen given this was the on-screen text seen during the Journey's End preview. However, in Doctor Who Magazine, Russell T Davies said, "One thing I would like to point out is that the title is NOT The Return of the Cybermen. Even though those were the words that appeared in the big, silver letters at the end of Journey's End, that was more of tagline than a title." Other speculative titles were circulated after Davies announced that the title of the special would consist of three words. One mistaken title was Ghosts in the Machines.
- Media coverage regarding the casting of David Morrissey as "the Doctor" appeared in newspapers such as The Sun.
- The set where the children were working was a redress of the Torchwood Hub set.
- Exterior sequences in Gloucester.
- Tredegar House, Newport. 
- When Miss Hartigan is testing the earpod control, the men start off facing her. She instructs them to turn to the right. They turn 90 degrees clockwise. She then tells them to turn to the left. They turn 180 degrees anticlockwise. However, they should have only turned 90 degress anticlockwise, and end up facing her again. What they actually do is turn on the spot, as opposed to turning left. It takes a further instruction from Miss Hartigan for them to face her again.
- When the Doctor, Jackson and Rosita are standing in front of the monitor showing the percentage of power, they say that its in the 90s and rapidly approaching 100. However, beyond when they first move in front of the screen and a brief moment when they mention its at 96%, it continually displays as 100%.
- This is the first time the Cybus Industries Cybermen have returned in the new series since TV: Doomsday, when the Cybermen were sucked into the void.
- The Doctor refers to the events of TV: Blink while talking to Jackson Lake.
- The Doctor describes the events of TV: The Age of Steel, Doomsday, The Stolen Earth and Journey's End.
- The Doctor's infostamp displays him in events from TV: Tooth and Claw, Voyage of the Damned, The Lazarus Experiment and The Runaway Bride.
- The Doctor mentions how a Time Lord's consciousness can be stored in a fob watch when converting oneself into a human. (TV: Human Nature / The Family of Blood, Utopia)
- Miss Hartigan's "test" of the mind-controlling EarPods, ordering the subjects to turn in place, mirrors the scene in TV: Rise of the Cybermen.
- The Doctor tries to fight off the Cybermen with a cutlass. He previously displayed skill with a sword. (TV: The Sea Devils, The Time Warrior, The Androids of Tara, The King's Demons, The Christmas Invasion)
- The Eleventh Doctor stated that no one remembers the event of the CyberKing because of a corruption in time involving time being unwritten. (TV: Flesh and Stone)
- Rosita states at the sound of the bells, "Midnight, Christmas Day" much like Jackie Tyler once did. (TV: The Christmas Invasion)
- The Doctor met someone who claimed to be the Doctor before, although in that case it was deliberate fraud rather than memory loss. (AUDIO: The One Doctor)
- The Doctor states that he has never flown ("used") a hot air balloon before. However, during his fifth incarnation, he flew one across India from Calcutta to Karabya on 31 December 1926. (AUDIO: The Emerald Tiger) The memory loss which he suffered following his fifth regeneration may account for the fact that he does not remember this incident. (AUDIO: The Reaping, The Gathering, Peri and the Piscon Paradox)
- The Doctor states that Jackson suffered from a fugue state — "where the mind just runs away because it can't bear to look back." Something similar later happened to Oswin Oswald when she was converted into a Dalek — she dreamed up an alternate reality in which she was still human because the reality of Dalek conversion was too horrible to comprehend. (TV: Asylum of the Daleks)
- Jackson Lake refers to the Cybershade as a "tim'rous beastie", as the Doctor did of Rose Tyler when they met Queen Victoria. (TV: Tooth and Claw)
- When the Void Ship containing the Cult of Skaro started to open, Mickey Smith suspected to Rose that it could consider several types of Cyber-technology, including a CyberKing. (TV: Army of Ghosts)
- The melody of the Christmas carol "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen", heard when the Doctor arrives, shares its melody with the "Venusian Lullaby" the Third Doctor sang. (TV: The Dæmons, The Curse of Peladon) The song is also heard elsewhere. (TV: The Unquiet Dead, The Christmas Invasion, The Runaway Bride)
- The Tenth Doctor would later meet his genuine next incarnation, shortly before his regeneration. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)
- The Doctor had his brain pattern transferred into another human before who believed to be the Doctor after that. (AUDIO: Minuet in Hell)
Home video releases
The Next Doctor was released on DVD in the United Kingdom on 19 January 2009. Bonus features include:
- Doctor Who Prom 2008 (including the mini-episode Music of the Spheres).
North American DVD release occurred on 15 September 2009. Doctor Who at the Proms and Music of the Spheres is included, but not Doctor Who Confidential.
An Australian DVD was released on 5 March 2009 and includes the same special features as the UK Release.
The four 2009 specials plus The Next Doctor were released in the UK in a Complete Specials box-set in mid-January 2010 in both DVD and Blu-Ray formats, followed by North America also on both DVD and Blu-Ray on 2nd February 2010. The instalment of Doctor Who Confidential produced for The Next Doctor received its home video debut in the box-set.
For the Blu-Ray release, BBC Video upscaled The Next Doctor from standard definition to high definition. This was the first standard-definition episode to undergo this treatment, with the second being Pyramids of Mars which was featured in The Sarah Jane Adventures Series 4 (SJA) Blu-ray box-set.
This episode is available for streaming on the US Netflix service, listed as episode 15 of Season 4.
International broadcasts of The Next Doctor have coincided with at least two major changes in broadcaster for the Doctor Who series.
In Canada, The Next Doctor aired on 14 March 2009, marking the debut of the revived Doctor Who on the Space cable network, following the heavily edited and heavily criticised broadcast of the Series 4 finale on the CBC, which subsequently chose not to air The Next Doctor at Christmas 2008. In comparison to the CBC's extreme editing of Journey's End, edits made by Space to this episode were minimal. One edit was made to remove the announcement of Planet of the Dead as the next episode. This was due to Space not having yet announced whether Doctor Who was moving in full to the network. A few weeks after the broadcast of The Next Doctor, Space announced it would indeed air Planet of the Dead in June 2009, followed by the remaining specials and the 2010 season, indicating the end of the CBC's involvement with the franchise.
On 28 May 2009, it was announced that previous US broadcast rights holders to Doctor Who, the Sci Fi Channel, lost the initial rights to air The Next Doctor and the 2009 specials to BBC America. The Next Doctor was shown on BBC America on 28 June 2009.
- Official BBC Website - Episode Guide: The Next Doctor
- Original script, posted online by Russell T Davies in conjunction with the release of his book REF: Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale - The Final Chapter.
- BBC.co.uk - Step into the Tardis for Children in Need - Announcement of the title
- BBC.co.uk Doctor Who News - Who's In The Frame?