a real world point of view
|The Unicorn and the Wasp|
|Main enemy:||Vespiform (Arnold Golightly)|
|Main setting:||Eddison Manor, England, UK, Earth, December 1926|
|Premiere broadcast:||17 May 2008|
|Premiere network:||BBC One|
|Format:||1x45 minute episode|
|Doctor Who television stories|
|The Doctor's Daughter||Silence in the Library|
|Planet of the Ood||The Fires of Pompeii|
The Unicorn and the Wasp was the seventh episode of the fourth series of Doctor Who. It saw Doctor Who's take on the disappearance of famous author Agatha Christie in 1926, giving a possible, yet unlikely, answer as to why she vanished.
In 1926, Agatha Christie mysteriously disappears, only to be found ten days later at Harrogate hotel, with no memory of what happened to her. What could have been the cause? Was it a nervous breakdown? Was it a cry for help? Or was a giant alien wasp and a mysterious stranger known as the Doctor involved?
The TARDIS materialises outside a country estate, hidden by trees; the Doctor and Donna Noble step out. The Doctor smells the air and tells Donna that they have landed in the 1920s. Donna wonders if the Doctor really could tell the year by smell, but then points out that the vintage car coming up the driveway may have given it away; they both hide.
The car's driver, Professor Peach, parks outside the house, and is promptly greeted by his old friend, the butler Greeves, just as the local reverend, Arnold Golightly, arrives on his bicycle. As the servants take their luggage, they exchange a few words, and Peach decides to go to the library to do some research on his own. Golightly tells Professor Peach that constantly working will be the death of him; they're at a party, he should try to relax.
Watching from the side of the house, Donna tells the Doctor to forget about planet Zog, as a party in the 1920s is much more fun. The Doctor points out that they're not invited, but then flashes his psychic paper, remembering that indeed they have. They head back to the TARDIS so Donna can find a dress from the 1920s to wear.
In the library, Professor Peach looks at one document and realizes that he was right about something kept secret all these years. Suddenly, a shadowy person comes in, and Peach quickly hides his papers, telling the person that he was just doing some mundane research. He then asks the mysterious person what he is doing with a lead pipe. The mysterious person's eyesight becomes purple as Peach mumbles, "That's impossible!". The mysterious person, revealed to be a giant wasp, suddenly swings the piece of pipe at Peach's head.
Back outside, the Doctor is impatiently waiting outside the TARDIS for Donna to finish changing, reminding her that they'll be late for cocktails. Donna comes out in a period dress and with her hair done up and asks, "What do you think? Flapper or slapper?" The Doctor smiles and responds, "Flapper. You look lovely." They head for the front lawn, and after a greeting by Lady Clemency Eddison, who wonders who they are, the Doctor uses the psychic paper to fake an invite and comes up with a story about meeting her at an ambassador's reception. Lady Eddison excuses herself as she is being precautious, just because the Unicorn is about. The Doctor, at first, mistakes this for an actual unicorn before Lady Eddison clears up the confusion by explaining the Unicorn is a jewel thief who is on the loose and has just struck again.
Next, they meet Lady Eddison's wheelchair-handicapped husband, Colonel Hugh Curbishley, and their son Roger. Donna is confused why Lady Eddison has a different surname and the Doctor explains that the Eddison title descends through Lady Eddison; one day Roger will be a Lord. Roger secretly flirts with Davenport, the male servant; Donna and the Doctor easily pick up on the homosexual relationship between them and whisper quips to each other. (Donna says, "All the decent men are on the other bus," to which the Doctor adds, "Or Time Lords.")
Next to arrive is Reverend Golightly, who Lady Eddison congratulates on the apprehension of two boys who tried robbing his church last Thursday night. Following him is the fashion model Robina Redmond. Last to come is British mystery writer, Agatha Christie, whom the Doctor is ecstatic about meeting as she is another of his favourite authors. Still a young writer, she has recently published her sixth novel; the Doctor and Donna are both impressed. Seeing that they are a person short, Lady Eddison tells Miss Chandrakala to go into the house and find Professor Peach; Golightly mentions that Peach said he was going to the library.
The Doctor acquires a newspaper from Hugh's chair and reads it. He immediately realizes that something is wrong when he shows Donna the date - 8 December 1926, the day Agatha Christie disappeared. He explains that Agatha has just discovered that her husband is having an affair. Being British, these people would normally just carry on (with stiff upper lips), but this time, that won't happen. Tomorrow morning, her car will be found abandoned by the side of a lake. Ten days from now, Agatha will turn up in a hotel in Harrogate with no memory of what happened. A surprised Donna then asks the Doctor, "Then it's about to happen..."; he finishes "...right here, right now." Their train of thought is interrupted when Ms Chandrakala comes running back, yelling that the professor had been murdered in the library.
The Doctor and Donna race to the library, followed by Agatha. The Doctor determines that blunt force trauma was the likely cause of death, and notes that the watch broke as the victim fell - pinpointing the exact time of death to 4:15 PM. Agatha discreetly takes a piece of paper from the fireplace, but the Doctor notices her reflection in the bookcase. Donna softly asks the Doctor if he noticed the professor's murder is like the board game Clue. Everyone else comes in and decides to call the police. However, the Doctor uses his psychic paper to identify himself as Chief Inspector Smith of Scotland Yard and Donna as "the plucky young girl who helps me out", which Donna takes issue with despite the fact, as the Doctor explains, that there are no policewomen in 1926.
While Agatha keep the others in the sitting room until he's ready to question them, Donna asks the Doctor why they aren't calling the real police - and he explains, "Oh, the last thing we want is PC Plod sticking his nose in...especially now I've found this." He has found "morphic residue" - a by-product of shapeshifting - on the floor; as he says, "Which means one of that lot is an alien in human form." Donna then says the situation is weird; Agatha Christie wasn't literally surrounded by murder, comparing it to Charles Dickens being surrounded by ghosts at Christmas. The Doctor hints he experienced this as Donna then asks if they could "drive cross country and find Enid Blighton having tea with Noddy." Thinking for a moment, Donna asks the Doctor if Noddy is real; the Doctor confirms he isn't before rushing off.
While the Doctor tastes the residue to determine what left it, they walk past the sitting room. Donna then asks if it's like Murder on the Orient Express, where everyone did it. Agatha overhears this and finds the idea brilliant. Donna tries to tell her it's one of her best books, but the Doctor tells her "not yet", hinting to keep quiet. The Doctor explains he and Agatha will question the suspect, handing Donna a magnifying glass to search the rooms upstairs for more residue. The Doctor expresses joy at being able to solve a murder mystery with Agatha. She reluctantly agrees, unhappy at the Doctor's casual attitude toward the murder.
During the interviews, while the guests recount their stories of what they were doing at 4:15 PM, flashbacks reveal that each is hiding something, except for Reverend Golightly (who claims to have been unpacking in his room). Lady Eddison claims to having been taking tea, though we see she was surreptitiously consuming liquor AKA "liquid courage". Robina Redmond claims to have been using the toilet, but we see that she was in the bathroom loading a tiny pistol. Roger Curbishley, Lady Eddison's son, claims to have been walking alone, when we see that he was attending a tryst with his lover Davenport, one of the servants. Colonel Hugh claims he was reading military memoirs in the study, when we see that he was actually viewing erotica while fantasizing about can-can dancers, which causes him to slip into a second flashback. The Doctor manages to snap him out of it, much to Hugh's embarrassment.
Agatha points out that they have nothing to go on, mentioning they need to use "the little grey cells". The Doctor goes on about how he likes Poirot and begins remembering about how he had been to Belgium to rescue Charlemagne from an insane computer. Agatha snaps him out of this flashback and he apologises. She then points out Charlemagne lived centuries ago. The Doctor tells her that he has a very good memory before being told he missed an important clue. The Doctor then sarcastically asks if it's the bit of paper she nicked from the fireplace, explaining how he saw her. Agatha is surprised by the Doctor noticing her, calling him a "crafty man", much to his amusement. Agatha produces the paper she removed earlier with the letters "a-i-d-e-n", preceded by one illegible letter: it obviously spells the word "Maiden", although neither she nor the Doctor is able to divine its significance. They hope Donna will be able to bring them more clues.Meanwhile, Donna comes upon a locked door during her part of the investigation and encounters Greeves, who informs her that Lady Eddison has commanded the room be shut for the last 40 years after recovering from malaria in it. On Donna mentioning being an investigator from Scotland Yard, Greeves has no choice but to open the door for her; she dismisses him. Inside the room, it is bare except for a few children's toys, making Donna wonder even more why it has been sealed. She then hears a buzzing from the window, commenting that the 1920s still have bees.
When she pulls back the curtain, she instead finds a giant wasp outside the window and begins yelling for the Doctor. The wasp breaks in and tries attacking her as Donna backs up to the window. Using the magnifying glass, Donna burns the wasp with the sun's rays, allowing her to run outside just as the wasp impales its stinger in the door. The Doctor and Agatha arrive, asking what she was yelling for. Donna tells the Doctor that she encountered a giant wasp, piquing the Doctor's curiosity while Agatha dismisses the idea, thinking she was scared away by a normal, tiny insect. Donna defends herself: "When I say 'giant', I don't mean big; I mean FLIPPIN' ENORMOUS!" and points to the stinger still embedded in the door.
The Doctor is amazed/shocked and tells Donna to let him have a look, and opens the door to find that the wasp has "buzzed off". Agatha tries to touch the stinger, but the Doctor tells her not to as he takes out a vial and pencil to collect a sample, saying that there are plenty of alien insects, but none should be in this galactic vector. Agatha understands some of the Doctor's words, but now thinks he's insane. Donna asks the Doctor if the wasp was harmless now that its stinger is gone; it's not. The Doctor tells her that because of its size, the wasp will be able to grow a new one. Agatha then tells him that there is no such thing as giant wasps. The Doctor tells her that she is right, but points out that the question is why it's here.
In the kitchen, Davenport is speculating about the murder with another of the servants while cooking dinner, wondering about who would want to kill Professor Peach. The other servant speculates that it's what happens when a party is thrown by the rich and famous. Miss Chandrakala, who is there, dismisses the idea, telling them to get back to work. However, she then has an epiphany, realising exactly what Professor Peach had discovered in the library when he was murdered. Miss Chandkala tells them that she must speak to Lady Eddison and rushes off outside to find her. However, an unseen figure, possibly the wasp, watches from above and knocks over a stone gargoyle from the ledge; it lands on Miss Chandrakala with a loud thud.Hearing the scream of Miss Chandrakala, the Doctor, Agatha, and Donna rush outside to find her slipping away. Passing on, Miss Chandrkala leaves them with a cryptic message, "The poor little child..." Seeing the wasp hovering above the building, the Doctor, Donna and Agatha give chase with Donna commenting on how the roles are reversed this time. Agatha is still in denial about the wasp being real, thinking it's some kind of illusion. They find it coming in through a skylight and the Doctor tries reasoning with it before they barely dodge an attack. Donna gets the wasp's attention and holds up the magnifying glass to threaten it. It flies into the next hall as the Doctor yells for everyone to hurry and not let it return to human form. When the Doctor shouts, "There's nowhere to run. Show yourself!" All of the doors open and every suspect appears; "That's just cheating".
Everyone gathers in the sitting room, where they pressure Agatha to solve the murder(s). However, she tells them that she is only a writer and that the Doctor is their best chance at solving the case now. She retreats to the garden. Donna goes out with her and compares her similar trouble with men along with foreknowledge that someday her books may be turned into films. Agatha, however, thinks that her books may fade out of interest and she will be forgotten. She then notices a box that has crushed some flowers.
They take the box to the Doctor, who is in the sitting room; the contents are full of a thief's tools, and they suspect that the Unicorn has arrived. Greeves arrives and gives them their drinks as Donna asks the Doctor what he found out about the venom from the stinger. Taking out the vial, the Doctor explains that the venom comes from a Vespiform, a race of aliens who have hives in the Silfrax Galaxy. However, the question remains as to why it's here and acting like a character out of one of Agatha's books. Donna then asks Agatha what Miss Marple would do, pointing out the character's M.O. and again noticing that she has given yet another idea to Agatha; Donna decides to have Agatha copyright Miss Marple to her. The Doctor then calls to Donna with a blank face, saying something is inhibiting his enzymes. Suddenly, the Doctor starts to have convulsions, realizing someone has poisoned his drink as Agatha deduces the poison is cyanide.
The Doctor rushes to the kitchen, frantically asking for ginger beer. Upon finding a bottle, he drinks some and then pours the rest on himself. Agatha tells him that as an expert in poisons, she knows cyanide is fatal. The Doctor points out that he (being a Time Lord and non-human) can stimulate the inhibited enzymes into reversal, curing himself. He then asks for protein (in walnuts), salt (from anchovies; pure salt is apparently "too salty"), and a big shock (in the form of a kiss from Donna); being just friends, as he wanted, the Doctor is shocked by this. The Doctor then exhales the poison in a cloud of smoke, saying he should detoxify more often. Agatha is flabbergasted, exclaiming, "Doctor, you are impossible! Who are you?"
Thunder and lightning have arrived by nightfall, and as they are all seated in the dining room, the Doctor points out that they are still having dinner even thought two people have died. Lady Eddison asks what he would want them to do; they are British, they carry on. The Doctor then tells the guests that one of them has failed to poison him and that anyone of them could have put cyanide in his drink before mentioning it gave him an idea. Golightly asks what it is and the Doctor responds, "Well, poison. Drink up," as the diners are eating soup. Donna chokes on her soup for a moment before the Doctor tells everyone that the soup has been laced with pepper. Colonel Hugh finds the extra spice delightful before the Doctor explains that the active ingredient in pepper is piperine, traditionally used as an insecticide. He then looks up and asks, "Oh! Anyone got the shivers?"At that moment, there is a flash of lightning, a thunderclap, and a sudden gust of wind that blows open the windows, blowing out the candles just as the electric lights are also knocked out. People are startled, but the Doctor asks everyone to listen, and sure enough, the wasp's buzzing becomes visible again. Lady Eddison exclaims, "No...it can't be!" Agatha, meanwhile stands up and calls, "Show yourself, demon!" It does, above a painting, and even though the Doctor asks that nobody move, not everyone complies, and the Doctor eventually changes gears and orders everyone out of the dining room.
He, Greeves, Donna and Agatha end up in the same room just outside the dining room; the Doctor tells Agatha that he'll cover her - "You've got a long, long life to lead yet!", he yells. As he takes a sword from a nearby coat of arms and draws it, Donna half-jokes with Greeves beside her, "Well, we know the butler didn't do it." The Doctor asks in response, "Then who did?" As he rushes back in with the sword in hand and the others in tow, the lights come back on and the wasp is nowhere to be found. Lady Eddison, who was in her seat the whole time, then notices her necklace, 'the Firestone', is stolen. Davenport then sadly says Roger's name. Robina looks over to Roger and screams in horror, but Lady Eddison's wails quickly drown her out - the Vespifrom has stabbed Roger in the back. Lady Eddison goes over to her son, crying over his death.
Later, in the sitting room, as the lightning and thunder continue outside, Agatha is trying her best to cope with what's happened with the Doctor at her side. Donna enters, feeling sorry for Davenport as he can't mourn Roger - as she says, "1926? It's more like the Dark Ages." Agatha then asks Donna if she inquired about the Firestone, and Donna informs them that it is a priceless jewel that Lady Eddison brought back from India 40 years ago. The Doctor then begins wondering about the Vespiform; "This thing can sting, it can fly...it could wipe us all out in seconds. Why's it playing this game?"
Agatha tells the Doctor to stop as she knows the murderer is as human as them. The Doctor then realises that Agatha is right; he's been so caught up in figuring out this giant wasp, that he's forgotten that she's the expert. Agatha just says that she doesn't believe her work is any good, dismissing herself as "just a purveyor of nonsense" before the Doctor points out that the reason her books are so good is because she knows the human mind well; she knows what tiny little things can lead to murder, saying that "if anyone can solve this case, it's you".
With her confidence restored, Agatha, the Doctor and Donna call the remaining four suspects together in the sitting room in what turns out to be a take-no-prisoners unmasking and debriefing not unlike one in a Miss Marple story. The Doctor opens, "I've called you here on this endless night because we have a murderer in our midst...and when it comes to detection, there's none finer." He introduces Agatha, inviting her to begin, and then takes a seat beside Donna. Between the two of them - the Doctor with his head rested on his hand and Donna munching a tray of grapes like one might eat popcorn - they both look ready for something big to unfold.
And unfold it does. Agatha starts with Robina and quickly exposes her as an impostor due to her terminology and the fact they found the thief tool box below her bathroom window. Agatha points out Robina must have thrown them out when she heard Donna was searching the rooms; "Robina" is the Unicorn. Losing her fake accent, the Unicorn reveals she still has the Firestone and hands it over to the Doctor; she is not the murderer. Agatha then turns her attention to the Colonel, who is now revealed to not need a wheelchair; he only pretended in order to keep Lady Eddison at his side as he feared she would fall in love with another man. When asked how she figured out the truth, Agatha tells the Colonel that she didn't and she was going to say he was innocent.
Agatha picks up the Firestone and says it has quite the history - and is far more than the Unicorn's prize. She turns to Lady Eddison, who quickly pleads her innocence. In spite of this, she asks Lady Eddison to explain how she brought it back from India, then suffered from malaria and kept herself confined in her room for six months - and then, ignoring her pleas to stop, concludes that Lady Eddison came back from India pregnant and concealed it with the aid of Miss Chandrakala, her confidante who would become housekeeper. Col. Curbishley asks his wife if it's true, and when she confesses it is, he asks why she said nothing for so long - to which she says she had no choice because of the scandal and shame it would bring to the family name - she repeats, "I'm British...I carry on."
The Doctor then says, "And it was no ordinary pregnancy," prompting a stunned Lady Eddison to wonder how he knew. Taking control from Agatha momentarily as they are in his territory, the Doctor points out that she said "It can't be" back in the dining room when she heard the buzzing and asks why. Lady Eddison tells the Doctor that he would never believe her, but Agatha tells Lady Eddison that he has opened her mind to believe many things.
Lady Eddison explains: it was 1885, India; she was alone one night in Delhi when she saw a purple shooting star land nearby. The next day, she met a young man named Christopher, whom she quickly fell in love with and had an affair. Christopher revealed he was a Vespiform who took human form to study Earth; Lady Eddison loved him so much, she didn't care. However, he died soon after, during the great monsoon when the Jamuna River broke its banks, but he left her the Firestone. Out of shame of the scandal her out-of-wedlock baby could bring, Lady Eddison sadly gave him up for adoption. Donna then realised that "maiden" on the paper meant "Maiden name", which Agatha verifies as the reason Professor Peach was killed; he found out who the child was and who his parents were by discovering the birth certificate. Agatha then tells Lady Eddison that Miss Chandrakala had (correctly) feared that Professor Peach had found out the truth and was coming to warn her - but just as she is about to break down, Agatha says that Lady Eddison is innocent of murder and turns it back over to the Doctor.
He pops up as Agatha sits back down and starts, "Thank you! At this point, when we consider the lies and the secrets that are key to these events..." Firstly, the Doctor points at Donna (Her bewildered reaction - "What? Who did I kill?"), saying that she was right - that the vital clue was that everything is being acted out like a murder mystery - which causes him to next point at Agatha. Donna then wonders if Agatha was involved and Agatha is taken aback ("I beg your pardon, sir?"), but the Doctor dismisses the idea quickly, saying "No, but she wrote. She wrote those brilliant, clever books, and who is her biggest admirer?" The Doctor then literally points "the moving finger" at Lady Eddison ("Oh, leave me alone," she says dispiritedly) and asks what she was doing the previous Thursday night and learns that Lady Eddison was reading her favourite Agatha Christie book (The Murder of "Roger" Ackroyd) before being asked how it is relevant. The Doctor then points out that the failed robbery that Golightly foiled at the church also happened on Thursday night.
It would be impossible for Golightly to defeat two strong men, and it has been forty years since Lady Eddison gave birth… and Golightly is celebrating his 40th birthday, which stuns Lady Eddison as the Doctor proclaims, "Your child has come home." Also, as he points out, Golightly said earlier that he was taught by the Christian fathers, meaning that he was raised in an orphanage. The Doctor then notes that Golightly got angry ("a proper deep anger") for the first time in his life, and he transformed for the first time in his life, which allowed him to frighten the thieves into submission - and also meant that the genetic lock had been broken and his alien biology was awakened.
The Doctor then adds, "Oh, and then it all kicks off, 'cause this-" He takes the Firestone here and holds it up, finishing, "-isn't just a jewel." He reveals that the Firestone is, in fact, a Vespiform telepathic recorder, part of Golightly's brain and part of his very essence. When Golightly activated, the Firestone did as well and beamed his full identity directly into his mind. He also accidentally received the works of Agatha Christie as his template for how the world should work because Lady Eddison was thinking about the plots: hence the style of the murders. As the Doctor says, "You killed in this pattern because that's what you think the world is. Turns out we are in the middle of a murder mystery."
Donna then wonders if Golightly is the murderer and the Doctor answers, "Yes". Slightly miffed, Golightly says the evening has been entertaining and asks Lady Eddison if she believes what she's heard, buzzing on her name. The Doctor asks what he said and Golightly buzzes "Lady Eddison" again before the Doctor tells him he's buzzing. Golightly warns the Doctor not to make him angry before the Doctor asks why. Walking away from everyone, Golightly sneers at them, saying that humans worship tribal "sky gods" while he is so much more. After the upload of information, he wanted to take what was his (inheriting the Eddison title).
Becoming blinded by rage, Golightly focuses on Agatha Christie, asking why he shouldn't just kill her, as pink light surrounds him. Completely losing his temper, Golightly transforms into his wasp form, prepared to kill everyone. Lady Eddison, seeing the wasp again and practically grief-stricken, reaches out as if to hug him to calm him down, but Col. Curbishley and the others hold her back. Agatha snatches the Firestone, screaming, "No! No more murder! If my imagination made you kill, then my imagination will find a way to stop you, foul creature!"
As she runs out of the room with Lady Eddison still screaming, Golightly pursues her, as her thought patterns are linked to him through the Firestone, and also the Doctor and Donna after they too flee the room. She takes a car and drives away, yelling for Golightly to chase her and telling the Doctor when he asks what she's doing, "If I started this, Doctor, then I must stop it!" Down the road, though, she hysterically repeats, "It's all my fault." The Doctor and Donna follow the two of them in the late Professor Peach's car, with the Doctor ominously warning that "time is in flux" - that there is no guarantee that Agatha will survive, which could leave history changed indeed.
Agatha leads the creature to the Silent Pool lake, which perplexes the Doctor until she stops, gets out and says, "Here I am - the honey in the trap!", calling Golightly to her. As they arrive and hurry to her side, Donna realises that Agatha is controlling Golightly while the Doctor notes that Agatha is linked to his mind because his mind is based on her thought processes. Agatha says, "Quite so, Doctor. If I die, then this creature might die with me," in all likelihood meaning that she plans to kill herself in order to kill Golightly. The Doctor tries to persuade Golightly that he was not meant to be a killer and has the wrong template in his mind.
Donna sees Golightly is not listening and seizes the opportunity to snatch the Firestone from Agatha's grasp and hurl it into the water. Golightly shoots over their heads, splashes into the lake and is drowned as his father had been in the Indian monsoons forty years before. As a purplish light emanates from the spot where the Firestone and Golightly sank, Donna says matter-of-factly, "How do you kill a wasp? Drown him, just like his father." The Doctor then points out that Golightly couldn't help himself, to which Donna responds, "Neither could I!"Agatha gives a poetic speech as the purple light fades in the water - "Death comes as the end and justice is served." The Doctor decides to call this adventure "Murder at the Vicar's Rage"; Donna gives him a look. He then says the title needs some work. Agatha tells the Doctor there is just one more mystery left; who is he? However, she then cries out in pain and collapses, and as the Doctor catches her, he realises that the two are still linked and if the Vespiform dies, so does Agatha. However, Golightly cuts the link right before passing, which causes Agatha to be bathed in the purple light for a few moments before she merely exhales deeply and faints, much to the Doctor's surprise, as he says, "It let her go...right at the end, the Vespiform choose to save someone's life". Donna then wonders what will happen now as the Doctor finally figures out how Agatha lost her memory; it was caused by the psychic trauma. Donna is sad that that means she'll forget meeting them, but the Doctor says that they've solved their mystery and can now let - or help - history take its course. Keeping with the established timeline, the Doctor leaves Agatha's car by the lakeside, takes Agatha in the TARDIS and deposits her at the Harrogate Hotel ten days later.
Donna wonders about Lady Eddison, the Colonel and the servants, asking if they would tell anyone about what happened. The Doctor reminds her that they are too British to tell such a shameful story and that the Unicorn escaped and managed to get back to London. Donna then wonders what will become of Agatha. The Doctor explains that she will get married again, see the world and continue writing her books. Donna tells the Doctor that Agatha never thought her work was any good as they board the TARDIS.
In the TARDIS, the Doctor tells Donna that he thinks Agatha never quite forgot what happened as he pulls open a hatch below the TARDIS floor and pulls out a chest. Amongst the various knick-knacks he tosses out of it, the Doctor produces Death in the Clouds, a novel which features a gigantic wasp on the cover. Donna is shocked as the Doctor points out that she had such a great mind, some of the details bled through, stuff her imagination could use, such as Miss Marple; Donna remarks she should have had Agatha sign a contract. However, the Doctor then has Donna look at the copyright page in front, which shows that the book is from the year five billion; Agatha Christie is quite literally the most popular writer of all time.
Donna then reminds the Doctor that Agatha never thought her work was good, but the Doctor responds,
Well, no one knows how they're going to be remembered. All we can do is hope for the best. Maybe that's what kept her writing. Same thing keeps me traveling."Onwards?" He asks Donna with a smile. "Onwards." She says, returning the smile. He pulls a lever on the console and they set off.
- The Doctor - David Tennant
- Donna Noble - Catherine Tate
- Agatha Christie - Fenella Woolgar
- Lady Eddison - Felicity Kendal
- Revd Arnold Golightly - Tom Goodman-Hill
- Col Hugh Curbishley - Christopher Benjamin
- Robina Redmond/The Unicorn - Felicity Jones
- The Hon Roger Curbishley - Adam Rayner
- Greeves - David Quilter
- Davenport - Daniel King
- Professor Peach - Ian Barritt
- Miss Chandrakala - Leena Dhingra
- Mrs Hart - Charlotte Eaton
|Executive Producers Phil Collinson, 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.|
- There have been multiple implicit references throughout the history of the programme to interspecies intercourse/offspring. The Doctor previously implied to Rose that the willingness to mate with other species would become a significant factor in humans expanding out into the universe. (TV: The Doctor Dances) A few such examples include: King Peladon, who was half Pel and half human; human/Catkind offspring encountered on New Earth; and Cassandra referring to herself as the only "true human" left by her time period.
- The Doctor and Donna drop Agatha off at the Harrogate Hotel.
- The Doctor brings out the Carrionite sphere (the witches' screams of captivity can be heard emanating from it), and the metal plate of a Cyberman's armor with the Cybus Industries logo stamped on it from a chest of things beginning with C.
- With this episode, Donna joined the list of companions to kiss the Doctor (or be kissed by him) on the lips. By this time, on-screen kisses included: Dr. Grace Holloway, shortly after his seventh regeneration; Jack Harkness, who kissed the Doctor (and Rose) farewell whilst on the Gamestation; the Doctor kissing Rose Tyler later in the same episode; Cassandra kissing the Doctor while possessing Rose Tyler's body; Jackie Tyler kissing the Doctor three times when he and Rose returned home in the middle of the ghost crisis; the Doctor kissing Martha Jones to confuse the Judoon's scanners; and Astrid Peth kissing the Doctor twice whilst on the Titanic. Unlike the other kisses, Donna's kiss is not a romantic gesture, but intended to induce a shock in him as part of his antidote to cyanide poisoning.
- Donna compares Agatha's marital troubles to her own fiance's conspiracy with the Empress of the Racnoss. (TV: The Runaway Bride)
- Donna sarcastically comments on the likelihood of meeting Charles Dickens and "ghosts" on Christmas day - not realising the Doctor had done just that back in Christmas week 1869. (TV: The Unquiet Dead)
- The Colonel mentions the Siege of Mafeking.
- The Doctor claims to have a very good memory, but in the immediate next episode, he says he has trouble remembering things, or -- "Head's too full of stuff! I need a bigger head!"
- The Doctor has a flashback to saving Charlemagne from "an insane computer" in Belgium. This adventure is later explored in PROSE: The Lonely Computer.
- Agatha is surprised at the existence of moving pictures.
Foods and beverages Edit
- Donna orders a sidecar and the Doctor orders a lime soda.
- Donna and Agatha Christie drink orange juice and Golightly tries to poison the Doctor by slipping cyanide into his lemonade.
- The Doctor consumes ginger beer, walnuts and anchovies to cure himself of the cyanide poisoning.
- Note: It is worth noting that the Doctor asks Davenport for the ginger beer after he and Donna saw his interaction with Roger earlier - "ginger beer" is also Cockney rhyming slang for "queer."
- The Doctor laces the soup with pepper in an attempt to draw out the wasp because the piperine in pepper is a traditional insecticide.
- Donna mentions the Harvey Wallbanger cocktail at one point when the Doctor has been poisoned because she thinks he's attempting to mime a shaken drink. The Doctor, in spite of his grave situation, can't resist being exasperated, shouting, "Harvey Wallbanger? How is 'Harvey Wallbanger' one word?"
Real world Edit
- The Firestone is a reference to the Wilkie Collins book The Moonstone (1868), one of the earliest works of detective fiction.
References to Agatha Christie novels & short stories Edit
- Donna mentioned Miss Marple and the story of the murder in the Orient Express before Agatha Christie has written about them, and may therefore have inadvertently caused the creation of them .
- Another potential influence occurs when the Doctor is poisoned and Christie is heard to utter the words "sparkling cyanide", which happens to be the title of her well-known 1945 novel.
- One more potential influence comes from the Doctor himself, as he plays the role of The Man In The Brown Suit.
- The Colonel faking his inability to walk and the Unicorn posing as Robina Redmond are ideas taken from the Christie novel After the Funeral.
- Lady Eddison is depicted reading The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, an early Agatha Christie novel where the murderer is actually a doctor.
- Novel titles referenced in the episode are:
- Dead Man's Folly: Miss Chandrakala's description of the Professor's book (as in 'a dead man's folly'; not the actual name of the book)
- The Body in the Library: Donna's remark about the professor's death
- Cat Among the Pigeons: A servant's remark about the murder
- Nemesis: One of Agatha's nicknames for the murderer
- The Secret Adversary: Another of Agatha's nicknames for the murderer
- N or M?: The Doctor's question to Agatha about the piece of paper she found
- Murder on the Orient Express: Donna mentions it to Agatha Christie, unaware that the book hasn't been written yet
- Why Didn't They Ask Evans?: The professor's remark before he dies is "Why didn't they ask... heavens!" (the book's title refers to the murder victim's last words)
- They Do It With Mirrors: Agatha's explanation about the giant wasp, believing it to be a hoax
- Appointment with Death: Lady Eddison says Chandrakala had "an appointment with death" when mourning over her death
- Cards on the Table: The phrase the Colonel used when he asked Agatha about what she knew about the mystery
- Sparkling Cyanide: Agatha Christie says after detecting cyanide in the lemonade
- Crooked House: How Agatha describes the the history of the four remaining suspects - and consequently, Eddison Manor
- Endless Night: How the Doctor describes the evening of the events at the start of the debriefing
- Taken at the Flood: Lady Eddison said Christopher "was taken with the flood"
- The Moving Finger: The Doctor points at Donna, Agatha and then Lady Eddison at the start of his portion of the debriefing and literally says, "The moving finger points at you..." when he turns to Lady Eddison, even going so far as to move his finger in a circular motion
- The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: The book Lady Eddison was reading when the Firestone activated
- Death Comes as the End: Agatha says "Death comes as the end and justice is served" after Golightly's death
- The Murder at the Vicarage: The Doctor calls the events "Murder at the Vicar's Rage" after Golightly's death, though after Donna recognises the mangling, he admits it could do with some work
- Yellow Iris (a short story included in The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories): at the dinner where the Doctor spikes the soup with pepper, there is a vase of yellow iris as a table centrepiece. It was later expanded to novel length as Sparkling Cyanide.
- In Russell T Davies' rewrite of the script, he inserted a reference to Ten Little Niggers (also known as Ten Little Indians and And Then There Were None), but deleted it.
- Professor Peach is killed with a lead pipe in the study, a reference to the game Cluedo (known as Clue in North America).
Theatrical movies Edit
- After Donna has the sealed room unlocked, she tells the butler to "buttle off," possibly a reference to the Cluedo Play or Movie.
Story notes Edit
- In terms of principal photography, this is the second story shot in the fourth series.
- A different opening and conclusion to the episode were filmed. The two scenes take place in the mid-1970s and feature another actress playing the aged Christie, who begins the episode by having flashbacks and dreams relating to her adventure of some 50 years earlier. The ending of the episode featured the Doctor and Donna visiting Christie, upon which she begins to remember what happened and is shown a copy of the facsimile edition of Death in the Clouds from the year 5 billion. When it was decided to abandon the framing sequence, this second scene was remounted in the TARDIS. Both scenes were presented to the public for the first time in the 2008 DVD box set of Series 4.
- Some of these characters resemble Cluedo characters.
- Clemency Eddison resembles Mrs Peacock
- Robina Redmond resembles Miss Scarlet
- Colonel Hugh Curshiby resembles Colonel Mustard
- Professor Gerald Peach resembles Professor Plum
- Miss Chandrakala resembles Miss White
- Reverend Arnold Golightly resembles Reverend Green
- In addition, some variations on the game include a 'Miss Peach' character, including the colour of the unfortunate professor from this episode.
- David Tennant's father Sandy MacDonald makes a cameo as a footman. CON: Nemesis showed that he was visiting David on set and was offered a part on the spot - and he confessed he was glad he didn't have to learn lines!
- Graeme Harper's penchant for including a distorted image of a main character is present in this story. Though not included in every single story he's directed for BBC Wales, it's seen often enough to be considered something of a directorial "signature". Similar distortion is achieved through the use of other magnifying glasses in Army of Ghosts and Utopia, a curved window in Journey's End, and with mirrors in Turn Left. This time, it's Donna's face that gets "the Harper treatment".
- The Agatha Christie book the Doctor produces from the trunk underneath the Tardis is a Fontana Paperback fascimile edition, published in 1987. Presumably the Year 5,000,000 copyright page was somehow transplanted in.
- Felicity Kendall, who plays Lady Eddison, was one of the stars of the classic BBC situation comedy The Good Life. Her co star, Richard Briers, appeared in TV: Paradise Towers as the Chief Caretaker, and in the Torchwood episode A Day in the Death as dying millionaire Henry Parker.
- Christopher Benjamin had previously appeared in TV: Inferno and The Talons of Weng-Chiang.
- The Doctor's description of his cyanide poisoning as involving "inhibited enzymes" approximates the actual mechanism of cyanide toxicity. Cyanide inhibits the enzyme aa3 by binding to the iron that it contains, reducing the ability of the cell use oxygen to create the compound ATP, used for cellular energy transfer. Since 95% percent of ATP production in the human body (and presumably also Time Lords) is aerobic, mortality via energy starvation quickly follows. The Doctor's method of uninhibiting the enzymes, however, is not based on a real remedy (for humans, in any case).
- The 'Next Time' trailer at the end of the episode marks the first on-screen appearance of River Song, though in terms of canon her first actual appearance was in the subsequent episode that was being teased.
- The disappearance of bees is frequently mentioned during Series 4. Its significance is eventually revealed in TV: The Stolen Earth. In the real world, both bumble bees and honey bees are disappearing from the globe, a major concern.
- In The Writer's Tale, Russell T Davies talked about how the ending was a rewritten one - originally, the Doctor was to have rammed the Vespiform with the car that he and Donna had commandeered, but Tennant objected because he was concerned that that ending would portray the Doctor as a murderer.
- CON: Nemesis shows that at least one of the classic cars that was used during filming was a Morris Cowley, which Christie was actually driving in 1926.
- As is routine for post-2005 Doctor Who, a "NEXT TIME" trailer for the next episode is shown at the end of the episode.
to be added
Myths and rumours Edit
- Due to actress Billie Piper being seen on set it was thought that the unicorn was in fact Rose Tyler. This was false.
- Brief glimpses of the giant wasp in this episode were included in the first Series 4 trailer, leading to speculation (since the view is too short to definitively identify the species) that this was a reference to the ongoing theme of bees. This was also false.
- Similarly, the brief glimpse in the trailer of the actress who plays Clemency Eddison, who resembles the actress who played Lady Cassandra in Series 1 and 2, led to speculation that Cassandra would appear in this episode. This was also false.
- At the beginning of the episode, the phonograph plays a march and the first notes are reminiscent of the Master's theme. This was true.
Filming locations Edit
- Upper Boat Studios, Trefforest
- Llansannor Court, Vale Of Glamorgan
- Tredegar House, Newport
- Pen Y Lan Road, Newport
- Cefn Mably Lakes, Cefn Mably
- Hensol Castle, Hensol
Production errors Edit
- According to this story, Agatha Christie went missing around summer. But in real life, she disappeared on December 8th, making this story not completely canonical to our Universe's perspective.
- When Donna Noble mentions "talking pictures," Agatha Christie reacts as if she has no idea what they are. This episode is set in 1926, the year before the first full length "talkie," The Jazz Singer, was released, but "talking picture" shorts had been exhibited for some time prior to that, and someone as knowlegeable as Agatha Christie would certainly have known they existed.
- At two points during the final scenes, actors mistakenly lapse into their natural accents. When Agatha says she was about to say Col. Curbishley was innocent, Fenella Woolgar lapses into her regular Estuary English accent, while when the Tenth Doctor tells Golightly at the lakeside, "Don't hurt her!", David Tennant lapses into his natural Scottish accent.
- The Doctor suggested to Martha Jones in TV: Last of the Time Lords, that they take a trip to see Agatha Christie, but was unable due to Martha leaving at the time. Ironically, this is not long after Martha has left again.
- During the final scene, the Doctor produces a replica Agatha Christie paperback book printed in the far future. Although not an obvious cliffhanger on the order of the ending to many First, Second and Fifth Doctor stories, it does nevertheless establish the fact that traditionally bound books are still produced long after electronic editions would presumably have made them obsolete. In this sense, it may be seen as at least narratively linked to the next episode broadcast TV: Silence in the Library, which begins with the Doctor discussing how printed books continue on as a valuable resource into the far future.
- This is the third time a famous author or playwright has appeared in the revived series: Charles Dickens, (TV: The Unquiet Dead) William Shakespeare (TV: The Shakespeare Code) and now Agatha Christie.
- The Doctor displays the ability to tell a time period by smell (which may have been faked due to the vintage car in the driveway). However, he previously displayed this ability in WC: Scream of the Shalka. Such an ability is also referenced in AUDIO: The Eye of the Scorpion (although, in this, the Doctor admits to having seen ancient texts on the wall behind the TARDIS). Later, in TV: The Eleventh Hour, he demonstrates a similar ability to determine age by taste.
- Donna states that solving a mystery with Agatha Christie is like "...meeting Charles Dickens, and he’s surrounded by ghosts. At Christmas", to which the Doctor replies, "Well...", recalling his adventure involving those exact circumstances. (TV: The Unquiet Dead)
- The Doctor and Donna are once again mistaken as a couple. This has previously occurred in TV: The Fires of Pompeii, Planet of the Ood and The Doctor's Daughter.
- Donna compares her fiancé Lance Bennett's conspiracy with the Empress of the Racnoss to Agatha's marital troubles. (TV: The Runaway Bride)
- The Doctor brings out the Carrionite sphere and a Cyberman logo from a chest of things beginning with C. The Carrionite witches, still trapped inside the sphere, can be heard screaming for freedom in futility. (TV: Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel, The Shakespeare Code)
- This is not the first occurrence of interspecies intercourse. There are many references throughout the series, including a reference in TV: The Doctor Dances to it being one way in which humans so quickly propagated themselves throughout the galaxy: "So many species, so little time".
- Agatha Christie is one of several people to demand to know who the Doctor is, only to receive no real reply. Charles Dickens, Solomon, Trish Webber, the passengers of the Crusader 50, and Metella Caecilius Iucundus are but a few of the others who have fruitlessly questioned the Doctor's identity. (TV: The Unquiet Dead, Fear Her, Daleks in Manhattan, The Fires of Pompeii, Midnight)
- This is the third time that the Doctor has told a companion not to imitate a period dialect. The first was Rose doing a (poor) Scottish accent in TV: Tooth and Claw and the second was Martha imitating Elizabethan English in TV: The Shakespeare Code. This time Donna attempts an over-exaggerated upper class accent. Though not exactly a period dialect, the Doctor also tells Martha to stop when she tries to imitate a pirate voice in TV: The Infinite Quest.
- In AUDIO: Terror Firma the Eighth Doctor claimed that Agatha Christie travelled with him.
- Donna gives Agatha ideas in a similar manner to how the Doctor did with William Shakespeare. (TV: The Shakespeare Code)
- Lady Eddison calls Chandrakala her "faithful companion." The Master previously used the same two words for his wife Lucy Saxon. (TV: The Sound of Drums)
- Though she is probably simply using the stereotypical name for an alien planet, Donna makes reference to the planet Zog, which is later seen in TV:The End of Time. There is also the chance that Zog was their original destination and the TARDIS took them to the wrong place, which is evident from the Doctor having to deduce what time they were in at the beginning of the episode, which would be unnecessary if he chose to visit Earth in said timeline.
- What happens to Agatha Christie is not dissimilar to Donna's own ultimate fate. (TV: Journey's End)
- This episode also arguably features a role reversal from the Doctor and Donna's first meeting (TV: The Runaway Bride) - this time, it's the Doctor who wants to be non-violent with an adversary while Donna is the one who kills the said adversary (Golightly in this case) when there is no other choice.
- When Donna was investigating the locked room, she heard the buzzing of the wasp before she saw him. She commented aloud that in 1926, there are still bumble bees. The disappearance of bees is frequently mentioned during Series 4. Its significance is eventually revealed in TV: The Stolen Earth.
- When Donna later begins to remember her adventures with the Doctor, she asks Wilfred why she can see a giant wasp, a reference to the Vespiform. (TV: The End of Time)
- Sir Hugh mentions the Relief of Mafeking during the Boer Wars, at which the First Doctor was present. (TV: The Daleks' Master Plan, TV: The Invasion of Time)
Home video releases Edit
- This story was released in the Series 4 DVD box set in November 2008 along with the rest of the series.
- It was released as Series 4 Volume 2 in a vanilla edition with The Sontaran Stratagem, The Poison Sky and The Doctor's Daughter.
- Official BBC Website - Episode Guide for The Unicorn and the Wasp
- The official Agatha Christie website - Page relating to The Unicorn and the Wasp
- Detailed synopsis of The Unicorn and the Wasp at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- The Unicorn and the Wasp at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- The Unicorn and the Wasp at The Locations Guide