It was loosely based upon the design of the original Earth sea-going vessel RMS Titanic. This was primarily a tourist vessel and it is unclear whether Max Capricorn, the owner, was aware of the name's significance. The ship had a humanoid crew, supplemented by a contingent of information and service robots called Hosts, who offered assistance and advice to the passengers. Like the ill-fated vessel that sank in 1912, this ship met with a horrific accident.
The vessel, under the command of Captain Hardaker, travelled to Earth in December 2008 to allow its passengers to experience the Earth holiday of Christmas. The vessel was bedecked with Christmas decorations and its band performed Christmas songs. Some facts related to the holiday were skewed by the ship's poorly-informed history expert, Mr Copper. The Tenth Doctor, fresh from leaving Martha Jones on Earth (TV: Last of the Time Lords) and a brief encounter with his fifth incarnation (TV: Time Crash), accidentally collided his TARDIS with the Titanic, though neither vessel was damaged. The Doctor boarded the vessel, effectively as a stowaway, and befriended several passengers as well as crewmembers Bayldon Copper and Astrid Peth.
Unknown to the passengers and crew, Capricorn had arranged for the Titanic to be destroyed in Earth orbit to take revenge on the board of directors of his company, who had forced him out of his own firm. Captain Hardaker, terminally ill, had agreed to pilot the vessel in return for his family being taken care of. Capricorn, himself a cyborg, also boarded the vessel but expected to be protected from the disaster and later rescued.
Hardaker orchestrated matters so that the ship's shields would be lowered as three small asteroids approached the vessel. The resulting impact killed most of the crew and passengers (including Hardaker), but did not destroy the vessel outright. Capricorn had arranged for the Hosts' programming to be changed so they would kill any survivors. Over the next few hours, the Doctor and his friends, assisted by the Titanic's only surviving bridge crewmember, Midshipman Alonso Frame, worked to stop it from crashing on Earth, which the Doctor feared would cause an explosion strong enough to wipe out all life on the planet.
Efforts to stabilise the orbit failed and the Titanic entered the Earth's atmosphere. After defeating Capricorn and rendering the Hosts harmless, the Doctor narrowly prevented the Titanic from crashing into Buckingham Palace in London, and started the vessel's secondary storm drive by using the heat of re-entry to fire it up, returning it to space. The vessel, under the temporary command of Alonso Frame, was salvaged after he had sent a distress call. (TV: Voyage of the Damned)
Alternate timeline edit
In the alternate timeline orchestrated by the time beetle, the Doctor, having died a year earlier, was not present to stop the Titanic from crashing to Earth in the heart of London. Although the resulting nuclear explosion did not wipe out all life on Earth, it decimated southern England, almost instantly transforming the nation into a third-world country. This led to a series of events that resulted in it becoming a police state. This timeline was negated when Donna Noble restored the timeline, preventing the Doctor's premature death. (TV: Turn Left)
Behind the scenes edit
- The idea that the owner and captain of the Titanic so much as inadvertently contributed to its sinking is also espoused in the 1997 hit film Titanic, which showed the ocean liner's sinking. In the film, White Star Line owner Bruce Ismay is shown pressuring captain Edward Smith into speeding up the maiden voyage, which eventually makes the iceberg harder to dodge. Ismay was also roundly criticised in the press in real life as a coward, especially after the sinking.
- Though not a steamship like its namesake, the spaceship Titanic also takes after it by having a similar outward appearance, particularly in its upper decks and its four funnels despite having no steam to vent.