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Army of Ghosts

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177a – "Army of Ghosts"
Doctor Who episode
refer to caption
The titular army of ghosts march along Westminster Bridge.
Directed byGraeme Harper
Written byRussell T Davies
Script editorHelen Raynor
Produced byPhil Collinson
Executive producer(s)Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner
Incidental music composerMurray Gold
SeriesSeries 2
Length1st of 2-part story, 45 minutes
First broadcast1 July 2006 (2006-07-01)
← Preceded by
"Fear Her"
Followed by →
Doctor Who episodes (2005–present)

"Army of Ghosts" is the twelfth and penultimate episode in the second series of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who which was first broadcast on BBC One on 1 July 2006. It is the first episode of a two-part story; the concluding episode, "Doomsday", was first broadcast on 8 July.

The episode is set in London, some time after the events of the 2006 episode "Love & Monsters". In the episode, the Cybermen come to Earth from a parallel world by following a spherical ship through an interdimensional breach. The Torchwood Institute intends to open this breach further for use as an energy source.


The episode begins with a cold open in which Rose, via narration, recollects her life with the Tenth Doctor and her belief that they would always be travelling together. She then mentions that this episode is "the story of how I died".

Rose Tyler and the Doctor decide to visit Rose's mother Jackie. Jackie is pleased to see them, but makes a strangely happy remark that her deceased father will be joining them shortly. Despite Rose's protestations that her grandfather is dead, Jackie insists that he has returned and has been visiting her for some time. A vaguely humanoid and luminous silhouette appears in the flat, surprising both the Doctor and Rose but delighting Jackie before disappearing. TV broadcasts confirm that this is a worldwide phenomenon and Jackie explains that a few months previously millions of ghosts began appearing all over the world. Humans have come to accept them and believe that they are the manifestations of loved ones.

The Doctor dismisses the possibility that these are ghosts and conducts an experiment with the help of the TARDIS. He attempts to trap a ghost and determines that they are not ghosts but are impressions of something forcing its way into this universe. The Doctor tracks the signal back and uses the TARDIS to travel there, arriving at the Torchwood Institute. The Doctor introduces himself and tells everyone that Jackie is Rose, his companion. They are taken by soldiers to see Torchwood's current director Yvonne Hartman, while the TARDIS is impounded with Rose inside. Ms. Hartman shows the Doctor the source of the ghost energy, an invisible breach in the universe through which a mysterious spherical object has arrived. The Doctor inspects the sphere, declaring it to be a "Void ship"—which, according to him, is impossible. It is designed to exist in the space between universes, a nothingness called the Void. The ship is completely undetectable by all scientific instruments. Torchwood has no explanation for what the sphere is or how it got there, but they claim responsibility for the ghosts. Torchwood has been conducting experiments on the breach, forcing it open in an attempt to harness it as a source of energy. Ms. Hartman also reveals to the Doctor that his encounter with Queen Victoria in "Tooth and Claw" made him an enemy of the state and was the catalyst for the creation of Torchwood. Unbeknownst to all at this point, an unseen party has infiltrated the institute and has been successful in subverting three Torchwood staff.

Meanwhile, Rose slips out of the TARDIS and uses a lab coat she found to masquerade as an employee to explore Torchwood. She gains access to the sphere chamber with the Doctor's psychic paper, but is detained by a Dr. Singh. He discovers that Rose is an imposter and informs Ms. Hartman of her presence. Dr. Singh then asks his colleague Samuel, whom Rose recognises as Mickey Smith, to seal the doors. Ms. Hartman questions the Doctor, who admits that the woman in the sphere chamber is really Rose and that the woman with him in her office is Rose's mum Jackie. In the command centre, the three employees under manipulation initiate an unscheduled ghost shift and forcibly open the breach. The extended shift causes millions of ghosts to appear across the globe before they materialise into their true form, the Cybermen. At the same time the Cybermen arrive the Void ship suddenly activates and begins to open. The Cybermen take control of Torchwood and order the complete surrender of humanity for conversion. The Doctor, puzzled at how the Cybermen could have created an advanced piece of technology like the Void ship, asks the Cyber Leader how they were able to build it. The Cyber Leader responds that the Void ship does not belong to them. The Cybermen are similarly oblivious to the origins of the sphere and that they merely followed its course through the breach.

In the sphere chamber, Mickey explains to Rose that after a battle in the parallel universe the Cybermen mysteriously disappeared. He happened upon their means of escape and returned to his native universe with the intention of stopping them. Mickey believes that the Cybermen are in control of the sphere and produces a gun to destroy whatever is in it. Rose is horrified when the sphere opens and reveals its occupants to be a quartet of Daleks, who identify their location as Earth and begin chanting, "Exterminate! Exterminate!".


The majority of this episode takes place in the Torchwood Institute, which is seen on screen for the first time. The phrase "Torchwood" originated from an anagram of Doctor Who used to conceal the "rushes" tapes during the filming of the first series.[1] It was an arc word used through the majority of the second series,[2] starting with the series one episode "Bad Wolf".[3]

The episode's secondary plot device is the Cybermen, from the parallel universe featured in "The Age of Steel" and "Rise of the Cybermen".[4][5][6] The Cybermen breaking through plastic sheets is a recurring theme throughout Cybermen appearances, in particular, The Tomb of the Cybermen (1967), The Invasion (1968) and Earthshock (1982).[7][8][9][10] The concept of a CyberKing, mentioned by Mickey, would eventually come to pass in "The Next Doctor" (2008).

The episode is also the first in which Freema Agyeman appears, although she is not playing the role of Martha Jones, which she would play in series 3, but a minor character named Adeola (who is later revealed to be Martha's cousin). Russell T Davies admired Agyeman's performance as Adeola and called her back to fill the role of companion that Piper had chosen to leave.

Although Cybermen and Daleks previously appeared together in The Wheel in Space (1968), The War Games (1969), The Mind of Evil (1971), Logopolis (1981), The Five Doctors (1983), and "Dalek" (2005), this two-part episode (including the next episode "Doomsday") is the first time that both the Cybermen and Daleks play a major role.


One Canada Square became Torchwood Tower.

The two-part finale comprising "Army of Ghosts" and "Doomsday" was originally going to take place in Cardiff on the time rift which was the focus of the episodes "The Unquiet Dead" and "Boom Town". With the commission of the Torchwood series in 2005, Davies decided to base the spin-off in Cardiff and relocate "Army of Ghosts" and "Doomsday" to Canary Wharf in London.[11]

To ensure that Noel Clarke and Shaun Dingwall (Mickey Smith and Pete Tyler, respectively) were available for filming, the story was filmed in the season's third production block along with "Rise of the Cybermen" and "The Age of Steel". Filming for the story started on 2 November 2005 on location in Kennington, but this story did not become the primary focus of the production crew until 29 November, when filming began on the scenes in and around the sphere chamber. Scenes in the lever room, the main setting for the story, were filmed between 12 December and 15 December, and 3 January and 5 January 2006.[11]

The episode also features references to other programmes by the BBC. The most notable of these is the cameo of Barbara Windsor as Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders, where she bars a ghost, who she presumes to be Den Watts, from The Queen Victoria. Watts, presumed killed in 1989, had returned to the soap in 2003,[12] before being killed a second time in 2005 after being written out of the show.[13] Other British TV personalities appearing in the episode are Trisha Goddard, Alistair Appleton and Derek Acorah, appearing as themselves. Additionally, the shot of One Canada Square is taken from the opening credits of The Apprentice.[14] A programme with the same name as a controversial broadcast in 1992 by the BBC, Ghostwatch, also appears in the show.

Location shooting took place at the Coal Exchange and Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff Bay.[15]

Broadcast and reception[edit]

To keep the appearance of the Daleks secret, the final scene was removed from all preview tapes and replaced with a title card reading "final scene withheld until transmission", including the copy given to the Doctor Who microsite's "fear forecast" team.[16]

The episode was watched by 8.19 million viewers, and was the seventh most watched programme of the week, behind four World Cup games and two episodes of Coronation Street. The Companion episode of Doctor Who Confidential gained 570,000 viewers.[17] The episode's Appreciation Index was 86,[11] above the average baseline of 77 for drama series.[18]

The episode was generally well reviewed by critics. The Stage commented that the episode was "a tense contest, full of drama, tears, adversity and two powerful forces coming face to face in the ultimate battle" while mockingly downplaying the England football team's defeat earlier that evening. The author of the review then stated that the cliffhanger increased his affection of the show. The Guardian commented that the episode was "Who back at its best" while The People complimented the humour of the scene of the Doctor channel surfing.[19] Jacob Clifton of Television Without Pity gave the episode an A- rating.[20] Ahsan Haque of IGN gave the episode 9.8 out of 10 (Incredible), and complimented the pacing of the episode and the revelation of both the Cybermen and the Daleks, concluding that "you couldn't ask for a better cliffhanger".[21]

After its initial airing, the episode was released on DVD with "Fear Her" and "Doomsday" on 25 September 2006.[22] The story ("Army of Ghosts"/"Doomsday") was nominated for the 2007 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.[23]


  1. ^ "Doctor Who spin-off made in Wales". BBC News. 17 October 2005.
  2. ^ "Welcome to Torchwood". Doctor Who Confidential. 2006-07-01. BBC. BBC Three.
  3. ^ Russell T Davies (writer), Joe Ahearne (director), Phil Collinson (producer) (11 June 2005). "Bad Wolf". Doctor Who. Series 1. Episode 12. BBC. BBC One.
  4. ^ Tom MacRae (writer), Graeme Harper (director), Phil Collinson (producer) (20 May 2006). "The Age of Steel". Doctor Who. Series 2. Episode 6. BBC. BBC One.
  5. ^ Tom MacRae (writer), Graeme Harper (director), Phil Collinson (producer) (13 May 2006). "Rise of the Cybermen". Doctor Who. Series 2. Episode 5. BBC. BBC One.
  6. ^ Russell T Davies (writer), Graeme Harper (director), Phil Collinson (producer) (8 July 2006). "Doomsday". Doctor Who. Series 2. Episode 13. BBC. BBC One.
  7. ^ Kit Pedler, Gerry Davis (writers), Morris Barry (director), Peter Bryant (producer) (2–23 September 1967). The Tomb of the Cybermen. Doctor Who. BBC. BBC1.
  8. ^ Derrick Sherwin (writer), Douglas Camfield (director), Peter Bryant (producer) (2 November – 21 December 1968). The Invasion. Doctor Who. BBC. BBC1.
  9. ^ Eric Saward (writer), Peter Grimwade (director), John Nathan-Turner (producer) (8–16 March 1982). Earthshock. Doctor Who. BBC. BBC1.
  10. ^ Russell T Davies; Matt Savage. "Army of Ghosts commentary". Archived from the original (MP3) on 21 July 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-16.
  11. ^ a b c ‹The template Brief is being considered for deletion.› "Army Of Ghosts" / "Doomsday" at Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel)
  12. ^ "Sixteen million watch Den's return". BBC. 2003-09-30. Retrieved 2008-01-17.
  13. ^ "Dirty Den actor leaves EastEnders". BBC. 2004-11-06. Retrieved 2008-01-17.
  14. ^ "Episode 12: Welcome to Torchwood" (Embedded Flash object). Doctor Who Confidential. BBC. Archived from the original on 5 July 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-02.
  15. ^ "Walesarts, Coal Exchange and Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff Bay". BBC. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  16. ^ "Fear Forecast: Army of Ghosts". Doctor Who microsite. BBC. Retrieved 2006-09-16.
  17. ^ Lyon, Shaun (2006-07-18). "Army of Ghosts Final Ratings". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 10 December 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-17.
  18. ^ "Sarah Jane Final Ratings". Outpost Gallifrey. 2007-01-26. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-30.
  19. ^ Lyon, Shaun (2006-07-06). "TARDIS report: Week in Review". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 10 December 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-17.
  20. ^ Clifton, Jacob (2006-12-30). "Et in Arcadia Ego: Army of Ghosts recap". Television Without Pity. Archived from the original on 18 December 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-18.
  21. ^ Haque, Ahsan (2006-12-22). "Army of Ghosts review". IGN. Retrieved 2008-01-17.
  22. ^ "Doctor Who: Series 2 Volume 5". BBC Shop. BBC. Archived from the original on 28 December 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-07.
  23. ^ "Nippon 2007 Hugo Nominees". World Science Fiction Society. Archived from the original on 10 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-29.

External links[edit]