a real world point of view
|The Runaway Bride|
|Main setting:||London, Christmas Eve 2007|
|Writer:||Russell T Davies|
|Premiere broadcast:||25 December 2006|
|Premiere network:||BBC One|
|Format:||1 60-minute Episode|
|Confidential:||Music and Monsters|
|Doctor Who television stories|
|Doomsday||Smith and Jones|
|Love & Monsters||Smith and Jones|
|Another memorable moment|
The Runaway Bride was the second Christmas special of the BBC Wales era of Doctor Who. It marked the first change of companion since the 2005 revival had begun, and also introduced the modern-era concept of the "one-off", one-story companion. Though Donna Noble did later return for a full series of her own, the original plan was for her only to appear in this episode, thereby blazing a trail that others like Astrid Peth, Jackson Lake, Christina de Souza and Adelaide Brooke would follow.
The Runaway Bride was also, from a production point of view, the start of the third series of the programme though, as with most Christmas specials prior to 2012, the episode was considered a standalone.
Killer Santas, exploding baubles, an alien spaceship shaped like a giant star - Christmas with the Doctor is anything but a silent night...
Donna Noble prepares to walk down the aisle to her waiting groom, Lance Bennett, in her Christmas Eve wedding. Halfway down the aisle she is surrounded by a golden glow. She dissolves into a cloud of energy that goes flying up through the ceiling.
In outer space, the Tenth Doctor is orbiting a supernova and has finished his farewell to Rose Tyler when he looks up to see Donna in the TARDIS. He is flabbergasted as to how she ended up in the TARDIS.
Donna is irate at being stolen from her wedding and blames the Doctor, demanding answers. She yanks open the doors and finds herself staring out into deep space. Shocked back to her senses, she realises the Doctor is an alien and what she is seeing is real. The Doctor cannot figure out how she gained entrance to the TARDIS and Donna demands that he return her to the church. She spots Rose's jacket and accuses him of having abducted other women. The Doctor tells her it belongs to a friend, but "she's gone".
The Doctor tries to get to the church in Chiswick, but accidentally lands the TARDIS near Oxford Street. Donna calls him a Martian, then storms out of the TARDIS and tries to phone her family while the Doctor wonders how she could have gotten aboard. Donnas tries to get a taxi, but the taxi drivers believe that she is dressed for a fancy dress party, drunk and a drag queen in that order. She realises she has no money for a taxi, so the Doctor gets some from a nearby ATM.
The Doctor notices familiar masked Santas. They are the robotic scavengers from the previous year's Christmas, levelling their weapons disguised as band instruments at him. He distracts them by using his sonic screwdriver on the ATM to make it spit out money, causing a crazed rush from the nearby crowd. He goes off in search of Donna and finds her taking off in a cab, its driver yet another of the robotic Santas. Donna quickly realises her cab is not taking her to the church, and finds the Doctor has engaged the TARDIS in pursuit of the cab on the highway. He manages to rescue her from the taxi, but the endeavour has put a strain on the TARDIS and he cannot use it for some time.
The Doctor gives Donna a bio-damper to stop the Santas tracking her and tries to learn more about her. She works at a security firm called H.C. Clements, where she met her husband-to-be, Lance. The Doctor takes Donna to her reception, where Lance is dancing with Nerys. Donna is shocked and furious that her friends and family are having the wedding reception without her, and begins to argue with her mother and family. The shouting continues until Donna bursts into tears - with a big wink to the Doctor. The party continues and the Doctor borrows a cell phone to look up H.C. Clements. He learns the firm is owned by the Torchwood Institute. The wedding photographer's video footage shows Donna was infused with Huon particles, a source of energy that hasn't existed for billions of years, since the beginning of the universe. The Doctor realises that Huon particles cannot be masked by a bio-damper. He grabs Donna and they run outside to find the hall surrounded by the Santas. He realises that the Christmas trees are rigged, as well, and the ornaments fly explosively at the crowd. Using the sound system at the reception and his sonic screwdriver, the Doctor shakes apart the roboforms and traces their control to a star-shaped spaceship hanging above the city, then loses its signal.
The Doctor asks Lance to take Donna and him to H.C. Clements, learning that after Torchwood One's dissolution in the Battle of Canary Wharf, someone else took control of the company; Donna has no recollection of it, claiming she was in Spain, even when the Doctor mentions that there were Cybermen in Spain, as well. The Doctor finds a basement level not on the floor plans and the three go there, finding themselves in a long tunnel that leads to the Thames Flood Barrier. The Doctor discovers a laboratory where Huon particles have been manufactured and stored in liquid form. The Doctor determines Donna is saturated with them. The stress of her wedding day made the particles catalyse and activate, pulling her into the TARDIS. There is an immense hole in the floor of the room. The Doctor surmises it was dug by Torchwood's laser technology and extends to the centre of the Earth.
As they explore, a half-humanoid, half-spider teleports into the lab. The Doctor recognises it as one of the Racnoss, a race thought wiped out billions of years ago by the Fledgling Empires in the Dark Times. The Racnoss calls itself the Empress. She has fashioned a large web above the pit, where the body of H.C. Clements still hangs. As the Doctor talks to the Empress, Lance sneaks behind it with an axe, threatening to strike, until they both start laughing and he reveals he has been working with the Empress. He had spiked the coffee he gave to Donna every day with Huon particles to mature in her so the Empress can use their energy to regain her ancient power. However, as the Doctor and Donna are targeted by the roboforms under the Empress' control, the Doctor reverses the particle activity with a vial of liquid Huon particles he'd collected earlier. This causes the TARDIS to materialise around them so they can escape. The Empress is not thwarted. With the knowledge gained by dosing Donna, she knows how to achieve the same result with Lance. She begins to force feed him the Huon liquid while trapping him in her web.
The Doctor takes the TARDIS to the creation of the Earth to learn why the Empress has dug into the core of the planet. He tempts the distraught Donna into looking, and they find a Racnoss spaceship is the actual core of Earth, the rest of the planet forming around it. Were the Empress to use the Huon particles, she would reawaken those on the ancient ship. As the Doctor puts this information together, the Empress uses the Huon particles now in Lance to attract Donna and the TARDIS. They begin to materialise near the Empress, but the Doctor uses percussive maintenance on the Tribophysical waveform macro-kinetic extrapolator (which appears to have TARDIS coral growing around it) to skip sideways into an empty corridor. As he listens at a door, Donna is captured and suspended in the Empress' web. The Doctor realises she is gone, then opens the door to find a black cloaked robot aiming a weapon at him. The Empress activates the Huon particles, which purge from Donna and Lance and fall down the hole. Knowing her fellow Racnoss will be hungry, she severs Lance from the web, dropping him into the pit.
Meanwhile, the Empress' ship descends over the city, taken for a Christmas star until it fires on the city. She catches the Doctor as he sneaks back into the laboratory, in disguise as a roboform. He cuts down Donna so that she can swing to safety, then offers the Racnoss one last chance: he will take her kind to a planet where they will threaten no one. She calls him funny, declining his offer, then tells the firing squad to aim, but they shut down as the Doctor calmly says "relax". He pulls a remote resembling a very flashy RC car controller from his pockets (which he says are bigger on the inside). The Empress proudly declares that the roboforms will not be necessary; her children will dine on Martian, tonight. The Doctor reveals that he is not from Mars.
My home planet is far away and long since gone. But its name lives on: Gallifrey.The Empress is enraged as she exclaims, "They (the Time Lords) murdered the Racnoss!" The Doctor simply responds, "I warned you... you did this," and holds out a few of the explosive Christmas ornaments ominously. The Empress realises she has gone too far and pleads for mercy, but it is too late - the Doctor throws them into the air and uses the remote to control the ornaments like remote-controlled bombs to blow holes in the tunnel. Water from the Thames rushes in, swirling around the Empress and then reaching and traveling down the tunnel to the Earth's core, washing away the Racnoss within.
The Doctor stoically - coldly, even - watches as the water pours in, flames rush up and the Empress repeatedly cries for her children. Donna's look grows horrified, and it takes her yelling out to the Doctor when they are both soaked, "Doctor! You can stop now!" to snap him out of it, at which point a look of terror comes across his face as well as if he realises what he has done. They escape into the TARDIS while the Empress teleports back to her ship, moments before it is blown out of the sky by tanks under orders of "Mr Saxon".
The Doctor returns Donna home, but she is desolate, having lost her job and her fiancé the same evening. The Doctor uses a burst of energy from the TARDIS to make it snow, hoping to to cheer her up. He invites her to join him in the TARDIS. She declines, but encourages him to find someone, recognising he has just lost someone himself. The Doctor tells her briefly about Rose, and then disappears into his TARDIS.
- The Doctor – David Tennant
- Donna Noble – Catherine Tate
- Empress of the Racnoss – Sarah Parish
- Lance Bennett – Don Gilet
- Geoff Noble – Howard Attfield
- Sylvia Noble – Jacqueline King
- Vicar – Trevor Georges
- Taxi Driver – Glen Wilson
- Nerys – Krystal Archer
- Rhodri – Rhodri Meiler
- Little Girl – Zafirah Boateng
- Robot Santa – Paul Kasey
|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.|
This episode marked a big change in the make-up department, with Barbara Southcott becoming the more-or-less permanent make-up designer on the show. Also, Millennium Effects became "Millennium FX" with this episode, and have been credited thus since.
- According to the Doctor, the creation of the Earth is the furthest back he has ever travelled. While the Fifth Doctor had travelled back to just before Event One, the Doctor probably doesn't count that because the TARDIS was under the control of the Master at the time (TV: Castrovalva). He might also have simply been referring to the earliest he had ever travelled in Earth's past.
- "Mr Saxon" orders the destruction of the web star.
- Lance says that Donna talked excitedly about the Atkins Diet.
- Angelica is one of the wedding guests.
- There is a Torchwood Institute base under the River Thames extracting Huon particles, which exist within the Heart of the TARDIS.
- The Doctor asks Donna if Lance is a bit overweight with a zip round his forehead - alluding to the Slitheen.
- The Doctor uses the Tribophysical waveform macro-kinetic extrapolator, which seems to have grown into the TARDIS.
- The Doctor uses a bio-damper to keep Donna hidden from the Robot Santas.
- A controversy occurred during filming of this story as guests at a hotel were awakened and frightened by gunfire and explosions during filming of one scene in the street below, including one who had just returned from the conflict in Israel.
- Though set at Christmas, this story was filmed in late July, with an average temperature of thirty degrees, centigrade. David Tennant was quoted as saying he was "blinking boiling" during filming.
- As part of the 2006 Children In Need concert, a four minute clip from this episode was shown. It features Donna riding in a taxi, unaware that it is being driven by a Robot Santa. The Doctor gives chase in the TARDIS down a motorway and tries to persuade Donna to jump between the two vehicles. The unveiling of Christmas-special preview footage for Children in Need became an irregular tradition afterwards, with the 2008 campaign featuring a preview of TV: The Next Doctor and the 2009 edition a preview of TV: The End of Time, Part One.
- This is the first appearance of companion Donna Noble. It is debatable whether Donna qualifies as an actual companion for this episode, though in the eyes of the show makers, she gains this status. She also receives a lead credit at the start which, normally, only the Doctor and his companion(s) receive. She returned in Partners in Crime and left in Journey's End, both in Series 4.
- Catherine Tate was unable to attend the traditional first cast read-through of the episode. David Tennant's then-girlfriend, and former guest star Sophia Myles (The Girl in the Fireplace) read the part of Donna Noble on this occasion.
- The reprise of the cliffhanger scene from Doomsday had to be refilmed for The Runaway Bride as the change of cinematographers resulted in a discontinuity in terms of lighting between the earlier footage and that shot for the special. (DCOM: The Runaway Bride)
- The "TARDIS car chase" sequence was the first part of the episode to be publicly screened when it was included in the Music and Monsters charity concert TV special, broadcast several weeks before the episode.
- In the DVD commentary it is confirmed that a scene filmed, but cut from broadcast, would have continued on from Donna pointing out a piece of Rose's clothing by showing the Doctor angrily throwing it through the open TARDIS doors and into space. Executive producer Julie Gardner explained to David Tennant in the commentary that it was cut as being too melodramatic. The cut scene was not included with the other deleted scenes on the DVD release.
- Two songs are heard during Donna's wedding reception: "Merry Xmas Everybody" by Slade, and an original song, "Love Don't Roam", which makes reference to Rose's disappearance. "Merry Xmas Everybody" would be heard again in the alternate timeline of Turn Left. It was also heard previously in The Christmas Invasion.
- It was suggested that the Torchwood helicopter be used for certain shots by Patrick Schweitzer; this was turned down.
- The Doctor references Gallifrey by name for the first time on-screen since the revival of the series.
- The fake notes created for the episode featured David Tennant's face, which the official Doctor Who Facebook page would later post. They can be viewed here.
- When the Doctor remembers Rose during the "Love Don't Roam" sequence, a very short clip of Billie Piper as Rose Tyler from TV: New Earth is shown; this is Piper's last physical appearance on the series until TV: Partners in Crime, although in the interim a drawing of her is seen in TV: Human Nature.
- As is routine for Christmas specials, a "COMING SOON" trailer for the next series is shown at the end of the episode. This "COMING SOON" trailer features clips from the first half of Series 3: Smith and Jones, The Shakespeare Code, Gridlock, Daleks in Manhattan, Evolution of the Daleks and The Lazarus Experiment.
- 9.4 million viewers
- This is the first episode to be filmed in the new Upper Boat studios.
- Filming also took place in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff (which represented the Torchwood base).
- In the scene when Donna asks the woman if she could borrow £10 as it's Christmas, you can clearly see that Donna is wearing sports shoes instead of her usual white wedding shoes; Catherine Tate had been wearing sports shoes between takes.
- Even though it is supposed to be Christmas, it is obvious that the special was filmed during the summer, because all the trees have leaves on them, etc.
- When Donna returns to the reception, and The Doctor borrows a gentleman's phone, you see a menu item that says "Play". It is obvious that the HC Clements search that The Doctor does is a movie clip on the phone.
- The mask of the Roboform which abducts Donna in the taxi has eye lenses on its Santa mask which change from plain blue to fake eyes like those seen on the masks of other disguised Roboforms.
- When the Doctor and Donna notice HC Clements' corpse cocooned to the ceiling, his legs are clearly fake legs.
- The tribophysical waveform macro-kinetic extrapolator was still integrated with the TARDIS systems. (TV: Boom Town)
- The Doctor first called the Robot Santas "pilot fish" when they appeared before the Sycorax Invasion. (TV: The Christmas Invasion)
- the Master later referred to these events. (TV: The Sound of Drums)
- When the Doctor was standing waiting for the cash machine, the shop Henrik's was shown. Rose Tyler worked there when she met the Doctor. A sign for Henrick's was on the taxi that the Roboform used to kidnap Donna. (TV: Rose)
- We later found that without Donna, the Doctor would have died without regenerating after stopping the Empress of the Racnoss. (TV: Turn Left)
- The upstairs section of the bar where Donna had planned her wedding reception had a Manchester Suite, as did Platform One. (TV: The End of the World)
- Donna said, "St Marys, Haven Road, Chiswick, London, England, Earth, The Solar System!"; When they entered Pete's World, Mickey Smith said, "London, England, Earth"; When the Tenth Doctor first came out of the TARDIS on the Sycorax ship he said, "London, Earth, the Solar System!" (TV: Rise of the Cybermen, The Christmas Invasion)
- The Doctor remembered Rose Tyler in a flashback to a moment from their time on New Earth. (TV: New Earth)
- The Doctor said that his pockets are "bigger on the inside." Although never stated outright, his fourth incarnation's clothes were implied to have similar qualities. (TV: Genesis of the Daleks)
- The Empress of the Racnoss called the Doctor a "physician". We later find out he has been known as "the Sainted Physician". (TV: The End of Time)
- The Doctor referenced Gallifrey by name. (TV:The Time Warrior)
- The TARDIS started to dematerialise and then took off vertically into the sky. (TV: Fury from the Deep)
- After the Doctor informed the Empress that he is from Gallifrey, she screamed in anger, shouting, "They [the Time Lords] murdered the Racnoss!" Ironically, she was killed when her ship is ordered shot down by Mr Saxon - in reality the Master, another Time Lord.
Home video releases
- This episode was released as the sole story on Doctor Who: The Runaway Bride, alongside the full Children In Need 2006 concert. Extras include Music and Monsters and the Dr Who Confidential/ Children in Need 2006 Special Concert.
- It is also included in the Series 3 DVD box set.
- BBC Episode Guide to The Runaway Bride
- Detailed synopsis of The Runaway Bride at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- The Runaway Bride at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- The Discontinuity Guide to: The Runaway Bride at The Whoniverse
- The Runaway Bride at The Locations Guide