|The Sound of Drums|
|Main enemy:||The Master, Toclafane, Lucy Saxon|
|Main setting:||London, 2008|
|Writer:||Russell T Davies|
|Premiere broadcast:||23 June 2007|
|Premiere network:||BBC One|
|Format:||1x45 minute episode|
|Confidential:||The Saxon Mystery|
|Doctor Who television stories|
|Utopia||Last of the Time Lords|
The Sound of Drums was the twelfth episode of the third series of Doctor Who. It marked the first full appearance of John Simm as the Master, disguised as Harold Saxon, revealing the significance of that name across the series. It also introduced a fictitious version of the United States President. Unlike most episodes where the Doctor would emerge victorious, this one saw him profoundly defeated. The crushing loss resulted in catastrophic consequences for his companions and the residents of planet Earth.
The Tenth Doctor, Martha Jones and Jack Harkness return to present day London, horrified to discover that Prime Minister Harold Saxon is the Master. "Saxon" informs the world about receiving contact from an alien race called the Toclafane. Framed as fugitives, the Doctor, Martha and Jack try to sneak in and stop the Master before he unleashes a wave of terror. But his dark ambitions reach beyond the stars...
The Tenth Doctor, Martha Jones, and Jack Harkness are trapped by the Futurekind. The Doctor fixes Jack's vortex manipulator to get them to 21st century Earth; the trip, however, is not comfortable, with the Doctor complaining that time travel without a capsule is "a killer". He also explains that when he used his sonic screwdriver on the TARDIS console as the Master used it, he fused the coordinates so that it would only go to 21st century Cardiff, so they won't have missed him.
When they arrive they discover "Vote Saxon" posters everywhere. Martha explains to the Doctor that Harold Saxon is a politician, and that they must have just missed the General Election.
Meanwhile, Saxon is on the news with his wife Lucy, having just come from Buckingham Palace after winning the election and being confirmed as Great Britain's new Prime Minister. Martha tells the Doctor that she recognised the voice inside the TARDIS: it was that of Harold Saxon. The Doctor realises with horror that not only is the Master now Prime Minister, but he is married!
The action changes to 10 Downing Street, where the Master is on his way to his first Cabinet meeting. He meets Tish Jones (who had worked for Richard Lazarus two days previously and now works at 10 Downing Street). After speaking to Tish, he walks into the Cabinet Room. He tosses dossiers into the air, but his enthusiastic attitude fails to elicit a chuckle or a smile from any of the Cabinet ministers. The Master quickly changes his attitude and insults the Cabinet, calling them traitors for abandoning their political parties and jumping on his political ticket. As their "reward", he quickly sits down and puts on a gas mask. One minister, MP Albert Dumfries, asks the Master why he is wearing a mask, and the Master replies that he's wearing it because of the gas (a process made difficult to explain because the mask muffles his voice). Before anyone can figure out what he means, toxic gas is sprayed into the room from the two deskphones' speakers. Albert manages to exclaim, "You're insane!" to the Master (who replies with a double thumbs up) before he drops dead on the table, followed by the other ministers.
Martha returns home with Jack and the Doctor and they quickly set up a computer search about "Harold Saxon".
At Downing Street, Lucy Saxon is speaking to Tish when a woman named Vivien Rook arrives from the Sunday Mirror, saying she is here to interview Lucy about being the Prime Minister's wife, and asks Tish to leave. After Tish leaves, Rook confronts Lucy about her husband's fictitious life story: he only appeared shortly after the Sycorax invasion and the subsequent downfall of Harriet Jones, but all of his background prior to that has been forged, and curiously, no one is bothering to question the forgery. Lucy refuses to believe this, and says that she made her choice for better or worse, revealing the Master's presence in the room. The Master admits that "Harold Saxon" doesn't exist, at which point he conjures four robotic balls the size of footballs. He tells one to kill Vivien as he and Lucy leave. As they rush in on Rook and slice her to death with tiny knife blades, Lucy angrily remarks that Harry told her that "Archangel" was 100 percent; the Master demurs, admitting it was more like 98-99 percent. Lucy then fearfully remarks other people may be asking questions about them and that their time is running out. The Master embraces his wife and promises her that tomorrow, the world will end.
Meanwhile, at Martha's flat, the TARDIS crew have researched the Master's "life history" when a Saxon Broadcast comes on the television. In the broadcast, the Master mentions several previous alien attacks, namely the destruction of Big Ben, the Sycorax invasion, the Army of Ghosts and metal men, and the Christmas Star that came to kill. He then says he has been contacted by a new species, called the Toclafane, and then claims that tomorrow morning, "We will take our place in the universe. Every man, woman, and child. Every teacher and chemist and lorry driver and farmer. I don't know — every medical student?" At this the Doctor looks behind the television and finds a bomb; he, Martha and Jack run out on to the street just in time to see the flat explode.
The Doctor, Martha and Jack climb into a car, and call Martha's mum. Francine asks her to come to her house, claiming she has plans of getting back together with Clive. Francine hands the phone to Clive. He holds his breath for a moment and tells Martha to run. However, Miss Dexter, a government official working for the Master, is listening to the conversation and tells the police to arrest the entire Jones family. Martha phones Tish at Downing Street, just as Tish is dragged away by two guards. Martha, the Doctor, and Jack arrive at Francine's house as Francine and Clive are being forcibly dragged by a SWAT team to a jail transporter van. As they screech to a stop, Francine shouts a warning to Martha, and Miss Dexter orders the SWAT team to ready their rifles. The Doctor, Martha and Jack quickly put their car in reverse and drive off as the SWAT team opens fire, bullets shattering the back windshield and the sides of the car. As they drive off, the police officers shove Francine and Clive into the back of the van and lock the back doors.
As the three of them abandon the car, Martha phones Leo, who is in Brighton. As Martha warns her brother to hide, the Master interrupts the phone call. The Doctor takes the phone and talks to his old enemy: the Master is horrified to learn that Gallifrey is lost, and mercilessly berates the Doctor when he learns how the Time War ended and the Doctor's part in it. The Master says that the Time Lords resurrected him as the perfect warrior to fight in the war, but he ran away in fear, explaining that he used a chameleon arch to turn himself into a human and fled to the end of the universe so he couldn't be found. He informs the Doctor that he, Martha, and Jack have now been deemed as armed and extremely dangerous terrorists and that Jack's friends have been sent on a wild goose chase to the Himalayas. The Master then suggests that they start by turning to the right. The Doctor turns, sees a surveillance camera there, and realises that the Master is watching him through it. He promptly shorts it out with his sonic screwdriver (with the same effect as shooting the camera). They decide to take the Master's advice, and take off running.
That evening, one of the Toclafane appears before the Master asking if "the machine" is ready. The Master informs it that it will reach a critical mass at 8:02 AM, two minutes after the "first contact." The Toclafane reminds him of the darkness that is coming from which the Toclafane must run, but the Master merely reminds the creature of their deadline.
As the TARDIS crew hide in an abandoned warehouse, the Doctor gives Martha and Jack some insight on the Master's origins. After denying Martha's suggestion that he and the Master were brothers, he explains that at the age of eight, initiates were taken by the Time Lords to look into the time vortex. Some were inspired; some ran away; and some were driven mad. While the Doctor ran and has never stopped running, he believes the Master went mad. Jack then receives a posthumous message from Vivien Rook to Torchwood Three about the Archangel Network. The Doctor is initially disgusted about Jack's involvement with Torchwood after everything Torchwood did, but Jack insists that not only was the old Torchwood regime destroyed at Canary Wharf, but that under his command Torchwood no longer perceives the Doctor as a threat. The Doctor discovers that the Master has been using the Archangel Network of communication satellites to hypnotise people to vote for him. This also kept the Doctor from detecting him earlier — Time Lords have an ability to sense when another one of their own is around, as well as recognise another Time Lord after they have regenerated. The Doctor produces three keys equipped with perception filters allowing himself, Martha, and Jack to be seen, but not detected, if they put them on.
The United States president, Arthur Colman Winters, arrives in Air Force One in London. He tells the Master that UNIT has control over the operation, citing a United Nations protocol. Winters insists on moving first contact to the neutral ground of the UNIT aircraft carrier Valiant and conducting the meeting with the Toclafane himself. The Master brings along Francine, Tish and Clive, and the Doctor and friends follow using Jack's vortex manipulator. On board, they find the TARDIS, its cloister bell ringing, and the interior glowing an ominous red. It has been changed by the Master into a paradox machine, set to go off at 8:02 AM, two minutes after first contact. The trio head for the room in which the first contact is being held. The Doctor has a plan: if he manages to put the TARDIS key around the Master's neck, then everyone will see the Master for who he truly is.
When the first contact begins, the Toclafane complain that the president is not their "Master". The Master reveals himself to the entire world and tells the Toclafane to kill the president; Winters is promptly incinerated on sight. The Doctor is captured by the guards — the Master had ignored the perception filter and knew he and the others were there all along — before (temporarily) killing Jack with his laser screwdriver, equipped with LazLab's Genetic Manipulation technology. With access to DNA from the Doctor's hand, it allows the Master to artificially (and visibly) age the Doctor by 100 years adapted from Richard Lazarus's de-ageing technology. The Master brings in the Jones family to witness this attack.
With the paradox machine ready, the Master tells the people of Earth to witness the end of the world. The paradox machine activates, creating a massive rift above the Valiant from which six billion Toclafane descend as the Master and Lucy dance to the Rogue Traders' "Voodoo Child". He orders them to kill one tenth of the Earth's population. When asked, he refuses to reveal the true identity of the Toclafane, saying it would break the Doctor's hearts. Whilst the Master is distracted, Martha glances at the Doctor, Jack and her family. She teleports to Earth using the manipulator (given to her by Jack as he came back to life again), promising to return, as she watches the Toclafane descend and start laying waste to Earth. The Master and his wife look down on the planet, calling it his "new dominion", with the aged Doctor between them, forced to confront his failure to stop the Master.
- The Doctor - David Tennant
- Martha Jones - Freema Agyeman
- Captain Jack Harkness - John Barrowman
- The Master - John Simm
- Francine Jones - Adjoa Andoh
- Clive Jones - Trevor Laird
- Tish Jones - Gugu Mbatha-Raw
- Leo Jones - Reggie Yates
- Miss Dexter - Elize du Toit
- Lucy Saxon - Alexandra Moen
- Vivien Rook - Nichola McAuliffe
- Albert Dumfries - Nicholas Gecks
- President Winters - Colin Stinton
- Newsreader - Olivia Hill
- Chinese Newsreader - Daniel Ming
- Trinity Wells - Lachele Carl
- Sharon Osbourne - Herself
- McFly - Themselves
- Ann Widdecombe - Herself
|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 Doctor, Jack and Martha return to 21st century Earth via Jack's vortex manipulator, which is very uncomfortable for the three of them — the Doctor describes time travel without a capsule as "a killer".
- Jack reveals to the Doctor that he works for the Torchwood Institute.
- On board the Valiant, the Master and his wife are seen eating jelly babies from a white paper bag.
- The Master's clothing are identical to those worn by Kamelion when he was in Lanzarote and on the planet Sarn.
- The Master watches an episode of the Teletubbies, much in the same way he watched The Clangers when he was imprisoned by UNIT in the 1970s.
- The Doctor constructs a perception filter for himself, Martha and Jack using his TARDIS keys.
- The Doctor states that Gallifreyans are 8 years old when they enter the Time Lord Academy.
- Vivien Rook refers to the fall of Harriet Jones.
- The Master mentions Professor Lazarus and the Doctor's involvement with his machine.
- Saxon offers President Winters some grits on board the Valiant.
- This episode is the fourth of the continuous arc (the end of one episode immediately leading into another) that starts in the Torchwood episode Captain Jack Harkness, switches over to Doctor Who in Utopia and ends in Voyage of the Damned.
- The Rogue Traders song "Voodoo Child" plays as the Master launches the attack on Earth. It contains the lyrics "So here it comes/the sound of drums/Here come the drums here come the drums...".
- This is the first 3 part story since Survival, which incidentally was the last of the ongoing series to feature the Master.
- Sharon Osbourne, McFly and Ann Widdecombe appear as themselves endorsing Harold Saxon.
- In an interview with Doctor Who Magazine, Russell T Davies stated that the eponymous drumbeat was not inspired by the opening bars of Ron Grainer's original Doctor Who theme tune (as many fans believed) but by his alarm clock which plays a sound similar to the aforementioned sound of drums when it goes off.
- Martha asks whether the Master is the Doctor's secret brother, to which the Doctor replies that she's been watching too much TV. It was originally rumoured that the Master would be revealed as the Doctor's brother in a story at the end of Season 10, which had also been intended to be the character's final appearance; however, this storyline was pre-empted by the unexpected death of Roger Delgado. An unfinished statement made by the Master at the end of Planet of Fire spoken by Anthony Ainley was also intended as a possible reference to this. Interestingly, in Smith and Jones the Doctor implies (for the first time on screen) that he may have had a brother when Martha asks him if he indeed does. His quipped response is, "Not any more". The Doctor did in fact have at least one brother, Irving Braxiatel. Braxiatel only appears in novels and audio media but the collection of artefacts he manages, the Braxiatel Collection, is mentioned in the season 17 episode City of Death. Irving Braxiatel is assumed to have died in the Time War.
- The Series 4 track, UNIT Rocks, plays on the President's arrival in Britain. However, it switches to the series one and two track, UNIT, on his departure.
- Many aspects of the episode all revolve around the number four. There are four drum beats; when the Toclafane are first shown, there are four of them; and on each Toclafane there are four spikes on the bottom plate and four spikes on the middle plate.
- This episode shows the surface of Gallifrey, the Capitol and other Time Lords.
- The Seal of Rassilon is visible on various elements during the Gallifrey flashback.
- When Jack logs onto the Torchwood system the Torchwood theme tune plays in the background.
- References to Tom Baker are made in this episode. The Master's opening line in his televised introduction of the Toclafane ("Britain, Britain, Britain...") is the beginning line to the introduction each episode of the comedy series "Little Britain", which Baker narrates. Also, the Master is seen offering Lucy Saxon Jelly Babies, the Fourth Doctor's favourite sweet.
- The Master wears variations of various outfits from different stories. He wears a black single breasted suit, white shirt and black tie (from TV: Planet of Fire, albeit without the black leather gloves worn in the original costume). He also wears a black overcoat with red satin lining (like Jon Pertwee's early outfit) and black leather gloves during his airport meeting with President Winters.
- This is the first time a Gallifreyan child has appeared on screen, although there had been previous references to "time tots" during the Fourth Doctor era, and Susan Foreman, the Doctor's granddaughter, was said to be 15 in TV: An Unearthly Child. Romana also mentioned being a time tot. In TV: Smith and Jones the Tenth Doctor refers to having played with röntgen-bricks in the nursery.
- 6.9 million viewers - Overnight ratings
- 1.09 million viewers - BBC3 Sunday repeat ratings
- 7.51 million viewers - Final ratings
Myths & Rumours
- In the episode Utopia, the rumour that John Simm's character, Mr. Saxon, is actually the Master in disguise was verified, with the regeneration of Professor Yana/the Master.
- The drum beat was based upon Ron Grainer's theme music for Doctor Who. As noted below, according to Russell T Davies an alarm clock inspired it.
to be added
- When the Master first puts on his gas mask, it is the correct way up. It then cuts to a different shot where it is up-side down. It then goes back to the first shot where it is the correct way up again.
- When the Master stands up on the Valiant to announce his that he is "the Toclafane's Master", President Winters is visible in the background, only the Toclafane aren't there. In the next shot, they return, buzzing around Winters' head.
- When the Master runs to the window to watch the spheres descend, he presses against the wall, which visibly bows out.
- 10 Downing Street was destroyed in World War Three, during the Slitheen attack. The Master here states it was rebuilt.
- The Doctor states that the skies of Gallifrey are "burnt orange" as a reference to the First Doctor serial The Sensorites where Susan describes Gallifrey in the same way.
- Saxon describes himself as a doctor. He once pretended to be the Doctor. (AUDIO: Dominion)
- Tish Jones wears the exact same clothes that Diana Goddard wore in TV: Dalek.
- The Time Lords seen in this episode are wearing the ceremonial dress first seen in TV: The Deadly Assassin and last seen in TV: The Ultimate Foe.
- The outfit the young Master wears is similar to that which the Time Lords wear in TV: The War Games.
- The events of TV: Aliens of London, TV: The Christmas Invasion and TV: The Runaway Bride are mentioned.
- The Master states that he was resurrected, which neatly explains his existence here despite his apparent death in TV: Doctor Who.
- The Master states that Downing Street has been rebuilt; it was destroyed in TV: World War Three.
- Harriet Jones last appeared in TV: The Christmas Invasion.
- Professor Lazarus and his Genetic Manipulation Device appeared in TV: The Lazarus Experiment.
- The Master still has the Doctor's hand which he lost in The Christmas Invasion, Jack had with him while in charge of Torchwood (TV: Everything Changes et al), and took with him when he met up with the Doctor. (Utopia)
- The Doctor has been artificially aged many years on a previous occasion: on Argolis in TV: The Leisure Hive.
- The Master's line, "Peoples of the Earth, please attend carefully" in this episode is similar to his call for the attention of the "peoples of the Universe". (TV: Logopolis)
- When the Doctor, Martha and Jack first arrive back in 2008 the Doctor describes time travel without a capsule as "nasty". In PROSE: Only Human a Neanderthal named Das accidentally uses a (dirty) rip engine to travel to modern day Bromley and is unable to return to his time without the vortex pressures tearing him apart as a side effect of his unprotected journey.
- Martha Jones' television set is built by Magpie Electricals, the same electronics company which helped the Wire in TV: The Idiot's Lantern.
- The Master has caused people to age prematurely before. His experiments with the TOMTIT machine resulted in Stuart Hyde becoming very old, then reverting back to normal. Conversely, Sergeant Benton regressed to a baby and was later turned back into an adult. (TV: The Time Monster)
Home video releases
- This story has been released with Utopia and Last of the Time Lords on the Series 3 Volume 4 DVD.
- It is also part of the series 3 DVD box set.
- TV: The War Games
- TV: The Three Doctors
- PROSE: The Dark Path
- PROSE: The Face of the Enemy
- TV: The Deadly Assassin
- Official BBC Website - Episode Guide: The Sound of Drums
- The Sound of Drums at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- The Sound of Drums at The Locations Guide