The Runaway Bride (Doctor Who)
|178 – "The Runaway Bride"|
|Doctor Who episode|
The Doctor tries to persuade Donna to jump into the TARDIS.
|Writer||Russell T Davies|
|Script editor||Simon Winstone|
|Executive producer(s)||Russell T Davies
|Incidental music composer||Murray Gold|
|Originally broadcast||25 December 2006|
"The Runaway Bride" is a special episode of the long-running British science fiction television programme Doctor Who, starring David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor. It was produced for Christmas 2006, broadcast on 25 December, and played much the same role that "The Christmas Invasion" played the previous year, introducing the third series while not actually being part of it. It features Catherine Tate as Donna, who appeared in the TARDIS at the end of the previous episode, "Doomsday".
The episode opens immediately following the events of "Doomsday". The Doctor, still upset at the loss of Rose Tyler, is shocked to find a woman in a wedding dress standing in the TARDIS console room. The woman angrily accuses him of abducting her from her wedding and demands to be returned. She angrily rips open the TARDIS doors, to see that she's actually in outer space. She tells the Doctor her name is Donna, and he does several tests to find out how she got into the TARDIS in-flight. The Doctor returns her to Earth, where she storms off to find a cab to return to her wedding. The Doctor is accosted by robotic Santas, and uses the TARDIS to fly alongside the taxi Donna is in to rescue her from the Santa that's driving it. The flight overloads the TARDIS, and the Doctor is forced to set it down on a nearby rooftop. The Doctor gives Donna a ring that will mask her from the Santas, and escorts her back to her wedding.
The Doctor meets Donna's groom, Lance Bennett, whom she had met and fallen in love with while working with him. He reviews the video footage of Donna's disappearance from the wedding and recognizes that she managed to absorb a great deal of huon particles, which would have drawn her to the huon particles contained in the TARDIS. The Doctor realises that the ring he gave Donna cannot mask the huon particle signature, and soon the reception hall is attacked by more Santas. The Doctor is able to use the music sound system to disrupt the attack and trace the control signal to a ship in orbit around Earth, but he quickly loses track of it.
The Doctor learns that Donna's workplace is owned by the Torchwood Institute, which the Doctor believed to be defunct. The Doctor asks Lance to take him to the company headquarters and they are accompanied by Donna. The Doctor discovers a secret basement leading to a long tunnel under the Thames Barrier. There they find machinery creating huon particles, and a pit that seems to lead straight to the core of the Earth. They are surprised by the sudden appearance of the Empress of the Racnoss, a spider-like species wiped out eons ago by the Time Lords. She shows them that she has taken control of the company and used the Torchwood technology to create the pit. Lance reveals that he has been working with the Empress, and was responsible for dosing Donna's coffee with huon particles to convert Donna into a key that would free the Empress' children. The Doctor and a heartbroken Donna escape, and the Empress decides to use Lance as the key and orders him force fed large quantities of the huon particles.
The Doctor retrieves the TARDIS and takes Donna back to the formation of planet Earth. They observe that a Racnoss ship formed the core of the developing planet, and the Doctor deduces that the Empress is attempting to revive her species by using the huon particles to awaken the ancient Racnoss. Back in the present, the Doctor and Donna return to the pit to face the Empress. Donna is captured and put in webbing, and the Doctor is held at gunpoint by the Santas. As the Racnoss are awakened and begin ascending from the pit, the Empress brings her ship closer to Earth and begins firing upon the populace. The Doctor offers to take the Empress and her kind to a planet where they will not harm anyone but she refuses. The Doctor then reveals himself to her as a Time Lord, and tells her he cannot let the Racnoss survive. Using explosives, the Doctor destroys one of the walls of the room, flooding it and the pit with water from the River Thames and killing the Empress's offspring. The Doctor refuses to leave until Donna convinces him to do so, and they escape in the TARDIS. The Empress teleports back to her ship but it is destroyed by human forces said to be acting upon "Mr. Saxon's" orders.
The Doctor returns Donna home where she declines an offer to travel with him. Donna tells the Doctor not to travel alone, and suggests he needs someone with him to stop him, just in case. The episode ends with the TARDIS taking off up into the atmosphere.
The Robotic Santa Clauses and Christmas Trees from "The Christmas Invasion" return in this story. The Doctor refers to the "spaceship hovering over London" as seen in "The Christmas Invasion" (these events given as having taken place the previous year), and to the Battle of Canary Wharf between the Daleks and Cybermen, as seen in "Doomsday". However, Donna had not seen any of these events due to a hangover and a scuba-diving trip in Spain, respectively. The Doctor makes use of the Tribophysical waveform macro-kinetic extrapolator, last seen generating a force field in "The Parting of the Ways", to shunt the TARDIS to a different location once it lands. It appears to have been integrated into the TARDIS systems, as a portion of it is covered with TARDIS "coral".
After discovering the sub-basement beneath the Thames Barrier, the Doctor sarcastically states that secret bases hidden beneath London's landmarks are unheard of, a reference to the Nestene Consciousness's lair beneath the London Eye in "Rose."
The tank commander who opens fire on the Empress's ship is heard to say that he has orders from "Mr Saxon". The name first appeared in the 2006 series episode "Love & Monsters" as part of a headline on a copy of The Daily Telegraph being read by the Abzorbaloff. It also features in the spin-off series Torchwood, as a poster on the door of the Ritz Ballroom in the episode "Captain Jack Harkness" and features as the main plot arc keyword of the subsequent series of Doctor Who.
A bus is shown carrying an advertisement for Henrik's department stores (the department store Rose Tyler worked in). The store itself, and an employee holding an advertising banner for it, are featured in the background of the scene where the Doctor uses the cashpoint. When the Doctor asks about Lance, he says, "He's not a bit overweight with a zip round his head, is he?" This is a reference to the Slitheen. At Donna's wedding reception, the Doctor runs past a sign for the "Manchester Suite" - an area of the same name was mentioned as being aboard Platform One in "The End of the World".
Donna suggests that the Doctor not travel alone because he needs someone to stop him. During the events of the specials after series 4, the Doctor loses control of himself. In "The Waters of Mars", he declares himself the Time Lord Victorious and attempts to alter a fixed point in time with results that should have vindicated his actions. Instead of everyone dying to keep history the same, only the one person had to die while the others were able to live and history was not altered in any major way because of it.
In "Turn Left," it's revealed that if Donna hadn't been there with the Doctor, the Racnoss still would have been defeated, but the Doctor wouldn't have left and would have drowned as a result. In that episode, this creates a whole alternate universe where without the Doctor to stop them, the Earth is devastated by the various alien attacks he had stopped with several of his companions dying keeping the planet from complete destruction.
Russell T Davies had the idea for this episode from the very beginning of his association with the programme, and he planned to air it in Series Two. With the public announcement of two Christmas specials and the private knowledge of Billie Piper leaving at the end of Series Two, Davies decided to elevate this story to the Christmas special, not introducing the new companion immediately, and filling the slot with "Tooth and Claw".
The end of "Doomsday" is featured as part of the pre-title sequence, although the scene was actually refilmed. In his online podcast commentary for the episode, David Tennant explained that this was due to a change in lighting supervisors, and the one hired for this episode liked to light the TARDIS interior differently; the scene therefore had to be refilmed in order to match. The Doctor Who logo in the opening credits has been slightly redesigned from the previous one, with more background detail and flare on the "lozenge" that the words "Doctor Who" sit on.
For legal reasons, the production team made obviously fake banknotes for the scene where money comes flying out of a cashpoint. The £10 notes feature the Doctor's face and the phrases "I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of ten satsumas" and "No second chances — I'm that sort of a man". The text is a reference to the Doctor's actions and dialogue near the end of "The Christmas Invasion". There were also £20 notes featuring producer Phil Collinson. These had the phrase "There's no point being grown up if you can't be a little childish sometimes" printed on them, misquoting the line originally spoken by the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), in Robot, "There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes." All notes and the cash machine were labelled "London Credit Bank". The notes have become collector's items, regularly selling for £50 or more.
Due to her extremely busy schedule, Catherine Tate was unable to be present for the script readthrough. As a favour, her part was read by Sophia Myles, who played Madame de Pompadour in the 2006 series episode "The Girl in the Fireplace". This is the first Doctor Who episode to be shot at the new dedicated Upper Boat studios in Pontypridd; the TARDIS set had previously been housed in former warehouse space in Newport. Although the episode was set during Christmas, filming took place in July, where temperatures reached 30C in Cardiff during filming. Night filming of scenes involving gunfire, explosions and a tank disturbed some Cardiff residents, including one American woman returning home from the conflict in Lebanon. These scenes, as well as those on "Oxford Street", were filmed on St. Mary Street outside Howell's Department Store in Cardiff City Centre; Cardiff Castle is visible behind the tank in some shots.
In a podcast commentary for the episode, David Tennant and executive producer Julie Gardner discussed a sequence that was cut from the broadcast. As broadcast, after Donna finds a piece of Rose's clothing and challenges the Doctor about it, he angrily snatches it from her and sets a course for the TARDIS. As originally filmed, the Doctor first opens the TARDIS doors and throws the garment into space. Gardner said it was cut as it was too melodramatic a moment.
The TARDIS chase scene down the A4232 Grangetown Link Road was shown at a Children in Need concert, which featured a live orchestra performing many of the music themes from Doctor Who, including the Dalek music and Rose's theme. The clip was leaked online shortly after the event and the concert and clip were shown earlier before the episode officially aired on Christmas Day on a Doctor Who Confidential special at 1:00 p.m.
Sarah Parish has co-starred with David Tennant in two other BBC One dramas: Blackpool (2004) and Recovery (2007). Catherine Tate co-starred with Tennant in a sketch for Comic Relief (2007) which made several Doctor Who references.
Catherine Tate returned in series 4, reprising her role as Donna Noble as a full-time companion. Jacqueline King and Howard Attfield are introduced in this episode, and were both due to return in "Partners In Crime", the first episode of the 2008 season. Jaqueline King did return but Howard Attfield died shortly after completing the shoot, and his scenes were reshot with Bernard Cribbins as Donna's grandfather. King had previously appeared in the Doctor Who Unbound audio drama Deadline.
Also as with "The Christmas Invasion" (which contained the tune "Song for Ten"), composer Murray Gold wrote an original song for this special, called "Love Don't Roam". The song was performed by Neil Hannon, frontman of the Divine Comedy (who had, coincidentally, appeared in a sketch of The Catherine Tate Show earlier in the year). The song was previewed at the Doctor Who: A Celebration concert on 19 November 2006 at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, where it was sung by Gary Williams; the studio version featuring Hannon is on the soundtrack album released on 11 December 2006.
Broadcast and reception
This was the first Doctor Who story to be broadcast with in-vision British Sign Language interpretation, in a UK repeat on 30 December 2006. The final official ratings for "The Runaway Bride" gave it an audience of 9.35 million viewers, making it the tenth most-watched programme on British television during Christmas week.
"The Runaway Bride" was released as an individual episode, along with the Doctor Who Confidential special episode "Music and Monsters", on 2 April 2007 as a basic DVD with no additional special features. Although "The Runaway Bride" was not filmed in HD the BBC aired it on BBC One HD Tuesday 28 December 2010. They up-scaled the program to HD and it also included Dolby Surround sound. This is the first Doctor Who episode that has been up-scaled in the United Kingdom.
Steve O'Brien of SFX gave "The Runaway Bride" four out of five stars, noting that it was different from anything Doctor Who had done, but the "sillier" tone worked for Christmas Day. He also praised Tennant and Tate. IGN's Travis Fickett gave the episode a score of 7.2 out of 10, feeling that Donna had improved from her short appearance at the end of "Doomsday". Fickett was also positive to the way Rose was not ignored. Dek Hogan of Digital Spy wrote that the episode "lacked the energy and excitement of last year's effort", particularly criticising the Empress. In 2012, SFX listed "The Runaway Bride" as a bad example of a sci-fi Christmas episode, noting that it was "a decent episode in many respects" but had the disadvantage of being filmed in the summer.
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- Carey, Paul (2006-07-26). "Fake notes are Doctor Who's cash conversion". Western Mail. Retrieved 2006-07-27.
- "Image of "David Tennant" £10 note". Outpost Gallifrey. 2006-07-26. Archived from the original on 2006-10-21. Retrieved 2006-08-01.
- "Image of "Phil Collinson" £20 note". Outpost Gallifrey. 2006-07-26. Archived from the original on 2006-10-21. Retrieved 2006-08-01.
- "Doctor's fans cash in on notes". The Sun. 2006-12-26. Retrieved 2006-12-29.[dead link]
- David Tennant; Julie Gardner. "The Runaway Bride commentary" (MP3). Retrieved 2007-01-02.
- Cox, Emma (2006-08-01). "Tanks for waking us, Doc". The Sun. Retrieved 2006-08-01.[dead link]
- "Doctor Who The Runaway Bride". BBC. Retrieved 2008-03-07.
- "Programme Information - BBC One Transmission Details - Weeks 52/1" (Press release). BBC Press Office. 2006-12-07. Archived from the original on 17 December 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-07.
- "Runaway Bride — Official Ratings". Outpost Gallifrey. 2007-01-11. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-12.
- "Runaway Bride", BBC, retrieved 2011-02-04
- O'Brien, Steve (20 December 2006). "Doctor Who, "The Runaway Bride"". SFX. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
- Fickett, Travis (9 July 2007). "Doctor Who "The Runaway Bride" Review". IGN. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
- Hogan, Dek (31 December 2006). "More turkeys than crackers". Digital Spy. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
- "10 Episodes That Every Sci-Fi Show Must Have". SFX. 13 November 2012. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Tenth Doctor|
- The Runaway Bride on TARDIS Data Core, an external wiki
- "The Runaway Bride" at the BBC Doctor Who homepage
- "The Runaway Bride" at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- "The Runaway Bride" at Doctor Who: A Brief History Of Time (Travel)
- "The Runaway Bride" at the Internet Movie Database
- "The Runaway Bride" reviews at The Doctor Who Ratings Guide
- "The Runaway Bride" at Outpost Gallifrey