The Sound of Drums was the twelfth episode of series 3 of Doctor Who. It was written by Russell T Davies, directed by Colin Teague and featured David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor, Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones and John Barrowman as Jack Harkness.
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; the Master had been behind scenes in the modern day since The Runaway Bride, having arrived a year and a half prior to Torchwood's story End of Days. It also introduced a fictitious version of the United States President. At the end of this episode, the Doctor appeared profoundly defeated, with catastrophic consequences for his companions and the residents of the planet Earth.
The episode is also notable for showing the Master as a child, making it the only known appearance of the Master's first incarnation on television. The story also revealed Jack's involvement with Torchwood.
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 as the Master stole it, he fused the coordinates so that it would only go to the last place and time it had been - 21st century Earth. They know he will be approximately where they are.
Meanwhile, Harold 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 Master's 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 as well!
In 10 Downing Street, the Master is on his way to his first Cabinet meeting. He meets Tish Jones, who 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 only manages to elicit a smile from Albert Dumfries. The Master quickly changes his attitude and insults the Cabinet, calling them traitors for abandoning their political parties and jumping on his political bandwagon as soon as they saw the vote swinging his way. As their "reward", he quickly sits down and puts on a gas mask. Albert 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 splutter out, "You're insane!" to the Master, who replies with a double thumbs up before he drops dead on the table, following the other ministers. The master, surrounded by his dead cabinet, begins to tap his fingers on the table in a four-beat rhythm.
Martha returns home with Jack and the Doctor and they quickly set up a computer search about "Harold Saxon" which shows he was the former Minister of Defence who entered the public eye when he shot down the Racnoss Webstar on Christmas Eve. Martha points out that he has a complete biography, his education and achievements are all known to the public.
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 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 responds 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 Vivien and slice her to death with tiny knife blades, Lucy angrily remarks that the Master told her that "Archangel" was 100 percent and questions him on how Vivien knew everything; 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.
At Martha's flat, the Doctor explains that the Master couldn't have arrived more than eighteen months earlier so doesn't understand how he has the entire country supporting him in such a short time. Martha and Jack admit they thought he was a nice guy, and they had even planned to vote for him. The Doctor asks what exactly Harold Saxon stood for, but Martha struggles for an answer stating he just had a voice she felt she could trust. During this, Martha begins tapping her fingers in a four-beat rhythm which the Doctor picks up on. Suddenly a Saxon Broadcast comes on the television. In the broadcast, the Master mentions several previous alien attacks, namely the destruction of Big Ben, the spaceship over London, the 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. The Doctor is aghast upon hearing the name, knowing it's false. The Master 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?" The Doctor, knowing the Master is talking to them, looks behind the television and finds a bomb; he, Martha and Jack run out on to the street just before the flat explodes.
The Doctor, Martha and Jack climb into a car and Martha calls her mum against the Doctor's advice. Francine asks her to come to her house, claiming she has plans of getting back together with Clive. Martha realises something is wrong, as she knows her mother can barely stand to be in the same room as her ex-husband under normal circumstances. Francine hands the phone to Clive, and Martha asks him to just say 'Yes' or 'No' when she asks if anyone is there with him not knowing Miss Dexter, a government official working for the Master, is listening to the conversation. Clive, after considering for a second, answers "Yes," and tells Martha to run. Miss Baxter orders 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 police to a jail transporter van. As they screech to a stop, Francine shouts a warning to Martha, and Miss Dexter orders armed police to ready their rifles. With no choice but to make a run for it the Doctor, Martha and Jack quickly put their car in reverse and drive off as the police officers open 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 with his partner and child visiting a friend. 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 when the Dalek Emperor took control of the Cruciform, 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. 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, eating takeaway chips, the Doctor gives Martha and Jack some insight into 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 a gap in the fabric of reality known as the Untempered Schism, through which could be seen the whole of 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, 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 American president, Arthur 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 the 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 the 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-aging 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 "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
- Tish Jones - Gugu Mbatha-Raw
- Clive Jones - Trevor Laird
- Leo Jones - Reggie Yates
- Lucy Saxon - Alexandra Moen
- President - Colin Stinton
- Vivien Rook - Nichola McAuliffe
- Albert Dumfries - Nicholas Gecks
- Herself - Sharon Osbourne
- Themselves - McFly
- Herself - Ann Widdecombe
- BBC Newsreader - Olivia Hill
- US Newsreader - Lachele Carl
- Chinese Newsreader - Daniel Ming
- Sinister Woman - Elize du Toit
- Sphere Voices - Zoe Thorne, Gerard Logan, Johnnie Lyne-Pirkis
Uncredited cast Edit
|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.
- 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 watches an episode of the Teletubbies.
- The Doctor constructs a perception filter for himself, Martha and Jack using his TARDIS keys.
- The Doctor states that the "children of Gallifrey" 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.
- The Toclafane come from fairy tales from when the Doctor and the Master were kids.
- The Doctor, Jack and Martha watch television in the window of Crossgate Cabs.
- Jack accesses dailyexamineronline.co.uk.
Story notes Edit
- This episode is part of a continuous arc (the end of one episode immediately leading into another) which begins in the Torchwood episode Captain Jack Harkness, is developed in the Torchwood episode End of Days, switches over to Doctor Who in Utopia, develops in this episode and ends in Last of the Time Lords.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Master wears variations of various outfits from different stories. He wears a black single-breasted suit, white shirt and black tie, from 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 An Unearthly Child. Romana also mentioned being a time tot. In Smith and Jones the Tenth Doctor refers to having played with röntgen-bricks in the nursery.
- It is indicated that Jack has possible romantic feelings for the Doctor: in The Parting of the Ways he kissed the Ninth Doctor as well as Rose and when the Doctor uses the analogy of being in love with someone who doesn't even realise it, Jack asks Martha, "You too?" with a serious look on his face.
- 6.9 million viewers - Overnight ratings
- 1.09 million viewers - BBC3 Sunday repeat ratings
- 7.51 million viewers - Final ratings
- The drumbeat was based upon Ron Grainer's theme music for Doctor Who. As noted above, according to Russell T Davies an alarm clock inspired it.
Filming locations Edit
to be added
Production errors Edit
- 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 upside 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 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.
- The Doctor reacts badly to Jack working for Torchwood, saying "everything Torchwood did". (TV: Army of Ghosts/Doomsday) Defending himself, Jack says "there's only a few of us left" (TV: Everything Changes)
- Saxon describes himself as a doctor. The Master once pretended to be the Doctor. (AUDIO: Dominion)
- Whether intentional or coincidental, the Master's speech at Saxon's victory reflects how the Seventh Doctor once proclaimed that the universe was sick and needed a doctor. (AUDIO: The Two Masters)
- The Doctor recalls Time Lords in their ceremonial dress (TV: The Deadly Assassin, etc)
- The Doctor and the Master discuss the Last Great Time War, (TV: Dalek) specifically the Doctor's role in ending the war, (TV: Doomsdays) and how the Master ran away to the end of the universe. (TV: Utopia) The Master mentions he saw the Dalek Emperor take control of the Cruciform. (AUDIO: The Heavenly Paradigm)
- The outfit the young Master wears is similar to that which the Time Lords wore at the Second Doctor's trial. (TV: The War Games)
- The destruction of Big Ben (TV: Aliens of London) Sycorax spaceship over London (TV: The Christmas Invasion) and Racnoss Webstar at Christmas (TV: The Runaway Bride) are mentioned.
- Harriet Jones was a previous Prime Minister. (TV: The Christmas Invasion)
- The Master references Professor Lazarus and his Genetic Manipulation Device. (TV: The Lazarus Experiment )
- The Master still has the Doctor's hand which he lost, (TV: The Christmas Invasion) which Jack had with him while in charge of Torchwood, (TV: Everything Changes et al) and which Jack then took with him when he met up with the Doctor. (TV: Utopia)
- The Doctor was artificially aged many years previously on Argolis. (TV: The Leisure Hive)
- The Doctor, Jack and Martha eat chips together. The Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler previously did this. (TV: Rose)
- The Master's line, "Peoples of the Earth, please attend carefully", is similar to his previous 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. (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 Edit
- 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.
- ↑ Ultimate Doctor Who Fan Quiz: The Master Edition | BBC. BBC. Retrieved on 26 July, 2016.