Doctor Who (2008–2010 specials)

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Doctor Who (2008–2010 specials)
Doctor Who 2008–2010 specials.jpg
DVD box set cover art
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 5 (+2 supplemental)
Original network BBC One
Original release 25 December 2008 (2008-12-25) – 1 January 2010 (2010-01-01)
Season chronology
← Previous
Series 4
Next →
Series 5
List of Doctor Who serials

The 2008–2010 specials of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who are five specials that linked the programme's fourth and fifth series. They began on 25 December 2008 with "The Next Doctor" and concluded on 1 January 2010 with Part Two of The End of Time. They saw the departure of David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor.


The End of Time was the first "serial" with an overall title and episode numbers since Survival in Season 26, the final serial broadcast during the series' original run.

Story Episode Title Directed by Written by Original air date Prod.
UK viewers
(millions) [1]
AI [1]
199 1 "The Next Doctor" Andy Goddard Russell T Davies 25 December 2008 (2008-12-25) 4.14 13.10 86
This special sees the return of the Cybermen (of the design of the parallel universe's Cybus Industries Cybermen), following their previous appearance in the two-part finale of series two in 2006, "Army of Ghosts"/"Doomsday". Having fallen back in time to Victorian London, the Cybermen create a huge "Cyber-King" with child labour and the help of Miss Hartigan (Dervla Kirwan). Meanwhile Jackson Lake (David Morrissey) has accidentally absorbed the Doctor's memories and thinks himself to be the Doctor.
200 2 "Planet of the Dead" James Strong Russell T Davies & Gareth Roberts 11 April 2009 (2009-04-11) 4.15 9.75 88
While investigating a wormhole in London, the Doctor meets Lady Christina de Souza (Michelle Ryan) and they are both accidentally transported in a red London bus along with the other passengers to a desert planet which was destroyed by metallic sting ray-like aliens that travel between planets via wormholes. They rig the bus to travel back to London while UNIT works to close the wormhole to prevent Earth's destruction.
201 3 "The Waters of Mars" Graeme Harper Russell T Davies & Phil Ford 15 November 2009 (2009-11-15) 4.16 10.32 88
The Doctor visits Bowie Base One, Earth's first colony on Mars, led by Captain Adelaide Brooke (Lindsay Duncan). A waterborne virus from the glacier used for the water supply begins to possess the crew and Brooke plans to destroy the base in order to prevent the virus spreading to earth via an escape rocket. The Doctor saves the remaining crew, including Brooke in the TARDIS, but Brooke kills herself on Earth to ensure that the history is unchanged.
202 4
The End of Time Euros Lyn Russell T Davies 25 December 2009 (2009-12-25)
1 January 2010 (2010-01-01)

The Doctor learns from the Ood that the Master (John Simm) will be returning soon. A cult of the Master has resurrected him using the ring dropped at the end of "Last of the Time Lords", but Lucy Saxon sabotages the process, causing the Master to experience intense hunger and energy expenditure, which also gives him powers beyond those of other Time Lords. In his investigations, the Doctor meets up with Wilfred Mott (Bernard Cribbins) and they both travel to the Naismith Institute where they have enlisted to repair an alien "Immortality Gate". However, the Master uses the gate to re-write the DNA of all humans on the planet with his own, creating a planet of Masters. Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) and Wilf are shielded from this. Far across the universe, Rassilon (Timothy Dalton) heralds the return of Gallifrey and the end of time itself.

The Doctor and Wilf are rescued by two alien Vinvocci who were working undercover at the Institute to retrieve the "Immortality Gate" and take refuge in their spaceship above Earth. It is then revealed that Rassilon had placed the sound of drums in the Master's head as a signal that he could use to pull Gallifrey out of Time-Lock via a white-point star. Gallifrey materialises above Earth, with all the other horrors of the Time War likely to follow. Armed with Wilf's gun, the Doctor stands off against Rassilon to break the link between Gallifrey and Earth. To do this, he must either shoot the Master or Rassilon, but instead he shoots the white-point star, which causes Rassilon and Gallifrey to recede back into Time-Lock. Rassilon attempts to kill the Doctor, but the Master sacrifices himself to save him. Meanwhile, Wilf has trapped himself in the Gate's isolation chamber, which is about to flood with deadly radiation. The Doctor activates the chamber's other compartment, saving Wilf but irradiating himself. He holds off regeneration while he goes on a "farewell tour", visiting all of his companions. Alone in the TARDIS, the Doctor regenerates, giving off such violent energy that the console room is set ablaze. The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) inspects his new body as the stricken TARDIS plummets earthward.

Supplemental episodes[edit]

"Music of the Spheres" was filmed for the 2008 Doctor Who Prom, and the animated serial Dreamland was produced for the BBC's Red Button service.

Title Directed by Written by Original air date
"Music of the Spheres" Euros Lyn Russell T Davies 27 July 2008 (2008-07-27)
The episode has fictional and non-fictional components: the fictional component takes place in the TARDIS; the non-fictional component is the Doctor Who Prom, which took place during the episode's first transmission. The Doctor converses with the viewer and conducts the orchestra to perform his symphony Ode to the Universe, while being antagonised by the Graske (Jimmy Vee), who intends to cause mischief at the Prom.
Dreamland Gary Russell Phil Ford 21–26 November 2009 (2009-11-26)
The Doctor investigates alien activity at Area 51 with the help of local Nevadans Cassie Rice and Jimmy Stalkingwolf.


Main characters[edit]

The 2008–2010 specials marked the end of David Tennant's reign as The Doctor after 5 years.

These specials marked David Tennant's final run of episodes as the Tenth Doctor and Matt Smith's first appearance as the newly regenerated Eleventh Doctor. They also featured a string of one-time Companions beginning in "The Next Doctor" with David Morrissey as Jackson Lake, a man who thinks himself to be the Doctor[2][3] and his "companion" Rosita Farisi played by Velile Tshabalala.[4] "Planet of the Dead" featured Michelle Ryan as young thrill-seeking burglar Lady Christina de Souza.[5][6] "The Waters of Mars" starred Lindsay Duncan as Adelaide Brooke, Captain of Bowie Base One on Mars.[7] Finally, the two-part The End of Time had Bernard Cribbins as recurring character Wilfred Mott as a full-fledged Companion for the first time. Other companions appear briefly during the Tenth Doctor's "farewell tour": Catherine Tate as Donna Noble, Billie Piper as Rose Tyler,[8] Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones,[9] Noel Clarke as Mickey Smith, John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness,[10] and Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith,[11] and Verity Newman, whose grandmother, Joan Redfern, fell in love with the human John Smith in "Human Nature" and "The Family of Blood".[12] John Simm reprises his role as the Master in The End of Time.[13]


"I would have thought that when I handed in the last script I might have burst into tears or got drunk or partied with 20 naked men, but when these great moments happen you find that real life just carries on. The emotion goes into the scripts."
Russell T. Davies[14]
A bespectacled man in a black jacket, waistcoat, and tie, pink shirt, and jeans, sitting with his back to a marble-effect wall.
Following the specials Russell T Davies stood down as show runner for Doctor Who after resurrecting it after 16 years off the air.

In his book The Writer's Tale, Russell T Davies reveals that the plan to have only specials for 2009 was to allow the new production team headed by new lead writer Steven Moffat to have enough time to prepare for the full fifth series in 2010. David Tennant took this opportunity to appear in a stage production of Hamlet. For practical reasons, these specials continued to use series 4 production codes.

On 28 October 2008 at the National Television Awards during his speech after winning Outstanding Drama Performance for his work on series 4, David Tennant announced that he would be standing down as the Doctor for series 5 and that the 09/10 specials would be his last.[15][16][17][18][19][20][21] The specials not only marked an end to Tennant's reign as the Doctor, but also Russell T. Davies' as show runner, head writer and executive producer of the show, who announced his departure from the series on 20 May 2008 with his final episode airing in 2010.[22][23][24][25]

"The Next Doctor" and "Music of the Spheres" were produced at the end of the production run of series 4, but were not included in the Complete Series 4 DVD set, instead with the Complete Specials set.

"The Next Doctor" was filmed in April 2008 at Gloucester Cathedral,[26][27] St Woolos Cemetery in Newport[28] and the streets of Gloucester, where shooting was hampered by up to 1,000 onlookers. The main setting of Torchwood, their Torchwood Hub was also redesigned and used as the workshop for the children.[29] The two major filming locations of "Planet of the Dead" were the desert of Dubai was used for scenes on the "planet of the dead"; and the Queen's Gate Tunnel in Butetown, Cardiff was used for the majority of Earth-bound scenes. Filming for "The Waters of Mars" began on 23 February 2009. In late February, David Tennant, Duncan and other actors were seen filming in Victoria Place, Newport.[30] The filming took place on a city street, which the production team covered with artificial snow.[30][31] The glasshouse scenes were filmed in the National Botanic Garden of Wales, Carmarthenshire.[32] The first location filming for The End of Time took place on Saturday, 21 March 2009 at a bookstore in Cardiff.[33] Jessica Hynes was filmed signing a book titled A Journal of Impossible Things, by Verity Newman.


DVD and Blu-ray releases[edit]

"The Next Doctor" was released on DVD on 19 January 2009 in the United Kingdom, 5 March 2009 in Australia and 15 September 2009 in the United States. "Planet of the Dead" was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 29 June 2009 in the United Kingdom, 2 July 2009 on DVD and 1 October 2009 on Blu-ray in Australia, and 28 July 2009 in the United States. "The Waters of Mars" and The End of Time were bundled together on DVD on 11 January 2010 in the United Kingdom. Both were released separately in Australia and the United States, "The Waters of Mars" being released on 2 February 2010 in the United States and 4 February in Australia and The End of Time being released on 2 February 2010 in the United States and 4 March in Australia. A complete collection of the specials on DVD and Blu-ray was released on 11 January 2010 in the United Kingdom, 2 February in the United States and 29 June on Blu-ray and 1 July on DVD in Australia.

Individual releases[edit]

Series Episode name Number and duration
of episodes
R2/B release date R4/B release date R1/A release date
2008–2010 Specials Doctor Who: The Next Doctor
"The Next Doctor"
"Music of the Spheres"
Doctor Who Prom (2008)
1 × 60 min.
1 × 7 min.
1 × 95 min.
19 January 2009[34] 5 March 2009 (D) [35]
3 June 2010 (B) [36]
15 September 2009[37]
Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead
"Planet of the Dead"
1 × 60 min. 29 June 2009
(D,B) [38]
7 July 2009 (D) [39]
1 October 2009 (B) [40]
28 July 2009
(D,B) [41]
Doctor Who: 2009 Winter Specials
"The Waters of Mars"
The End of Time
2 × 60 min.
1 × 75 min.
11 January 2010[42] N/A N/A
Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars
"The Waters of Mars"
1 × 60 min. N/A 4 February 2010
(D,B) [43]
2 February 2010
(D,B) [44]
Doctor Who: The End of Time
The End of Time
1 × 60 min.
1 × 75 min.
N/A 4 March 2010
(D,B) [45]
2 February 2010
(D,B) [46]
Doctor Who: The Complete Specials 1 × 7 min.
4 × 60 min.
1 × 75 min.
11 January 2010
(D,B) [47]
1 July 2010 (D) [48]
29 June 2010 (B) [49]
2 February 2010
(D,B) [50]
2, 3, 4,
2008–2010 Specials
Doctor Who: The Complete David Tennant Years 5 × 6 min, 2 × 7 min,
1 × 8 min, 1 × 12 min,
35 × 45 min, 4 × 50 min,
6 × 60 min, 1 × 65 min,
1 × 72 min, 1 × 75 min.
10 November 2014[51] N/A 11 October 2011[52]

Complete series[edit]

Doctor Who: The Complete Specials
Set details Special features
  • 5 episodes
  • 5-disc set
  • 16:9 aspect ratio
  • Subtitles: English
DVD release dates
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
2 February 2010 (2010-02-02) 11 January 2010 (2010-01-11) 1 July 2010 (2010-07-01)


Selected pieces of score from these specials (from "The Next Doctor" to The End of Time), as composed by Murray Gold, were released on 4 October 2010 by Silva Screen Records.


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External links[edit]