Journey's End (Doctor Who)

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198b – "Journey's End"
Doctor Who episode
Doctor Who Journeys End.jpg
The Tenth Doctor and his clone re-enact the famous beach scene in Doomsday, completing the on and off relationship of The Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler.
Directed byGraeme Harper
Written byRussell T Davies
Script editorLindsey Alford
Produced byPhil Collinson
Executive producer(s)Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner
Incidental music composerMurray Gold
Production code4.13
SeriesSeries 4
Running time2nd of 2-part story, 63 minutes, 30 seconds.
First broadcast5 July 2008 (2008-07-05)
← Preceded by
"The Stolen Earth"
Followed by →
"Music of the Spheres" (mini-episode)
"The Next Doctor" (special)
List of Doctor Who episodes (2005–present)

"Journey's End" is the thirteenth and final episode of the fourth series of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast on BBC One on 5 July 2008. It is the second episode of a two-part crossover story featuring the characters of spin-off shows Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, preceded by "The Stolen Earth", which aired on 28 June. At 65 minutes in length, it was approximately 20 minutes longer than a standard fourth series episode.[2] It marked the final regular appearance of Catherine Tate as Donna Noble.

In the episode, Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) and Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman), former travelling companions of the time-travelling Tenth Doctor (David Tennant), prepare to counter the Daleks' universe-destroying Reality Bomb with devastating weapons of their own.

"Journey's End" received mostly positive reviews, although some were more mixed than the previous episode, "The Stolen Earth".


Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor is regenerating. He halts the transformation by transferring the remaining energy into his severed hand.[N 1] The regeneration has progressed enough to enable the Doctor's body to heal, but not change his physical appearance. Gwen and Ianto find safety in an impenetrable time bubble and Sarah Jane is saved from Daleks by Rose's ex-boyfriend Mickey and her mother Jackie.

The TARDIS is captured by the Daleks and transported to the Dalek Crucible — their flagship. Sarah Jane, Mickey, and Jackie surrender themselves to get aboard. The Supreme Dalek orders the TARDIS to be destroyed, with Donna Noble locked inside; in the process, Donna touches the severed hand filled with regeneration energy, causing a new, cloned Doctor to form due to a meta-crisis, which saves the TARDIS from destruction.

Davros, creator of the Daleks, explains that the stolen planets form a "Reality Bomb" which has the potential to destroy all matter in every universe. To stop the bomb, Martha threatens to destroy Earth, and Sarah Jane, Mickey, Jack, and Jackie threaten to destroy the Crucible. The Supreme Dalek transports both groups in front of Davros. The Meta-Crisis Doctor and Donna also arrive and try to use a device to refocus the bomb onto the Daleks. Davros blasts them both with electricity. Donna then becomes imbued with Time Lord knowledge that she gained during the Meta-Crisis Doctor's creation, and disables the bomb and the Daleks. The two Doctors help Donna relocate the missing planets, but the control panel is destroyed before Earth can be relocated. Motivated by Dalek Caan's prophecy of the Daleks' extinction, the new Doctor destroys the Daleks and the Crucible. The original Doctor offers to save Davros who refuses. The companions flee into the TARDIS and "tow" the Earth back into its original orbit using the spatio-temporal rift in Cardiff as a "tow rope".

Sarah Jane returns home; Martha and Mickey leave with Jack; and the Doctor returns Rose and Jackie to the parallel universe in which they were previously trapped.[N 2] He also sends the Meta-Crisis Doctor into the parallel universe to accompany Rose, as the cloned Doctor is part human and will grow old along with Rose. After departing, Donna's human mind becomes overwhelmed by the Time Lord knowledge and starts to deteriorate. The Doctor wipes her mind to save her life against her wishes and returns her home. The Doctor tells Wilf and Sylvia that Donna must never remember him or she will die, and subsequently leaves on his own.


The episode is the culmination of all four series of Doctor Who produced by Russell T Davies;[3] dialogue in the episode refers to the events of "The Christmas Invasion", in which the Doctor had his hand amputated and regrown while fighting against the Sycorax,.[4] The episode refers to Genesis of the Daleks; Davros mentions Sarah Jane's presence on Skaro at the creation of the race.[5]

The Doctor's reply to Rose's statement of love is specified to Rose but left unheard; Davies deliberately left the reply ambiguous when he wrote "Doomsday". Executive producer Julie Gardner stated on the "Doomsday" commentary and the Doctor Who Confidential special for "Journey's End" that the Doctor requited her love.[6][7]

The music during the travel back to Earth's original place is the "Song of Freedom" heard at the end of "Planet of the Ood" and appearing on the series' soundtrack.[8]



Russell T Davies started writing "Journey's End" in January 2008.[9] A scene filmed showed the Doctor giving Rose's Doctor a small piece of "coral" from the TARDIS so that he could grow his own TARDIS.[5] This was removed in the last edit of the episode, but was ultimately cut because the production team felt it made the Bad Wolf Bay scene "too long and complicated"[10] and that producing another TARDIS should not be seen to be so easy.[10] The clip was included on the Series 4 DVD boxset.[10]

Another additional scene with Donna was cut from the final episode: "There was an additional Donna bit after this goodbye from the Doctor, which is when he goes outside into the TARDIS, we cut back into the kitchen, and there's a moment where Donna hears the TARDIS... there's a moment of realisation, and then she turns back round and carries on talking into the phone."[citation needed] Gardner considered this scene untruthful and too confusing, since Donna remembering would lead to her death, and since she didn't recognise the Doctor it wouldn't make sense to assume she would recognise the noise of the TARDIS.[11]

This episode's original ending involved the Doctor, following the final scene where he is alone in the TARDIS, being alerted to something on the monitor and as he checks two Cybermen rise up behind him. This was supposed to lead directly into "The Next Doctor", but Davies was convinced by Benjamin Cook (who was corresponding with Davies for the book Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale) to drop the scene, as he felt that a cliffhanger was not appropriate after such a sad ending.


Castell Coch, situated close to the Doctor Who's Upper Boat Studios, is used as the German castle.[12] The beach at Southerndown, a few miles west of Cardiff, is used once more as Norway's fictional Dårlig Ulv Stranden (Bad Wolf Bay).[5][13]

Some exterior scenes, including various companions interacting with Daleks, were shot at Arcot Street, Penarth.[14]


Mickey Smith and Jackie Tyler make their first appearances in Doctor Who since "Doomsday".[15] K9 Mark IV (voiced by John Leeson) makes his first appearance since The Sarah Jane Adventures story The Lost Boy,[16] and his first in Doctor Who since "School Reunion".[17]

Former Blue Peter presenter Gethin Jones controlled one of the Daleks that escorts the human prisoners aboard the Crucible.[clarification needed][18] He previously played a Cyberman in "Rise of the Cybermen" and has made a cameo appearance as himself in Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures in the episode "Invasion of the Bane".[19][20]

Another Doctor[edit]

One significant feature of this episode is the creation of another Doctor. Unlike the multiple Doctors of stories such as The Three Doctors, The Five Doctors and The Two Doctors, where his previous incarnations were played by actors or depicted in old footage, this Doctor is identical in appearance to the Tenth Doctor. In the accompanying Doctor Who Confidential for this episode, Davies explains "This is so busy and so mental and so epic and universal in scale that of course you need two Doctors to solve it."[7] Phil Collinson, Graeme Harper, and David Tennant discuss the use of the double, a musician named Colum Regan[21] who is a very good physical match for Tennant. Collinson explains that while with an unlimited budget they would use Tennant in every shot, "we only have a certain number of effects shots where you can see the two Doctors together, so we have to pick those carefully."

Harper is then shown directing a scene in which both Regan and Tennant are shown around the TARDIS console. Harper explains that in "two or three wide shots" they were able to use Regan and Tennant together. For the most part the double is used for scenes where one or the other Doctor is only seen from behind, or only an arm or back of the head is seen in a shot. The double has appeared in other episodes throughout the series. Over documentary footage showing the shooting of the scene where the new Doctor emerges from the TARDIS, Tennant describes the procedure for making an effects shot involving Tennant as both Doctors. The camera is locked in place while Tennant goes off and changes clothing, with Regan holding his place. A shot is made for reference with Regan, then another shot is made without Regan. This enables the shots to be merged during editing to create the effect of having David Tennant in two places in the same shot.[7]

Broadcast and reception[edit]


The episode was screened free in Trafalgar Square in London as part of Pride London 2008; the third series finale was planned to be shown during the 2007 event, but was cancelled as a security measure.[22] A teaser trailer was appended to promote the 2008 Christmas Special.[15]

"Journey's End" was watched by 10.57 million viewers when broadcast on BBC1,[23] giving it a 45.9% share of the total television audience. The episode was the most-viewed programme of the week; "Journey's End" is the first Doctor Who episode to receive this rank. It also received an Appreciation Index score of 91, equalling the record for the programme set by its predecessor "The Stolen Earth".[24][25][26][27] A story on the BBC News website described fan reaction of the serials on the Digital Spy and Ain't It Cool News forums as "mixed".[28]

"Journey's End" became the first science fiction–based series to achieve a No. 1 placing in the UK television ratings for 32 years (the last time being for the US series The Bionic Woman in July 1976).[29]

Canadian broadcast[edit]

The episode premiered in Canada on 12 December 2008. Although the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is credited as a co-producer, the CBC used a version used for international distribution that cut 21 minutes from the episode to fit it in a 60-minute timeslot with advertising. This edit removed numerous subplots as well as the final farewells by the various companions, as well as the final scene of the Doctor alone in his TARDIS. The CBC subsequently streamed the unedited version of the episode on its website.[30]

Critical reception[edit]

The Telegraph's John Preston states that this episode of Doctor Who "[a]s usual...served up a lot more than mere excitement." He credits Doctor Who's success partly to its "richly defined characters behaving in readily identifiable ways."[31] Also of The Telegraph, Sarah Crompton wrote that the episode was "exciting, incomprehensible, satisfying and slightly irritating all at the same time". Although Crompton said, "It was inevitable that the start would be an anti-climax", she praised the special effects and also noted that she would miss "the warmth and humour" that Tate brought to the series.[32] Lucy Mangan in a humorous review for The Guardian that rewrites the dialogue between Tennant's and Cribbins' characters at the end as a discussion of the plot, described it as providing "something for everyone".[33] In The Times, Andrew Billen called "Journey's End" "a spectacular finale that... gave the lie to the truism that more always, dramatically speaking, adds up to less."[34]

Mark Wright of The Stage likens "Journey’s End" to "one big house of cards...[that] will come crashing down" if thought about too much. However, he had no problem with the resolution of "The Stolen Earth"'s cliffhanger and is critical of those who complain about feeling cheated by the lack of a regeneration. Though he expresses that he saw little need for Mickey and Jackie in this episode, he asserts that Donna had "the saddest end for a companion ever" and praises Davies for just managing to keep the plot together. He argues that as Davies "writes the emotions and big themes so well...blow logic and rational plot moments if they get in the way!" He compares Davies's writing style to "PT Barnum showmanship" and praises both the dark and light elements of the episode. He concludes that, if not overthought, the episode remains "an audacious, big, silly, often poignant season finale".[35]

Writing for The Mirror, Jim Shelley is highly critical of this episode in his review, describing it as "[d]emented rather than dazzling". He was confused by the two Doctors played by David Tennant, saw little development in Donna across the series and was puzzled by the Doctor's attempt to save his arch-enemy, Davros. He claims that "amidst all the shrieking, shouting, and mock operatic bluster, [he was] sure [he] saw a kitchen sink thrown in for good measure. Riddled with scientific mumbo-jumbo, it was too chaotic and long-winded to be the classic farewell Russell T Davies promised." He argues that the plot "went haywire" and that "Rose and the two Tennants acted out a sort of twisted ménage à trois." In conclusion he states, "Tennant's cheeky chappie mannerisms made the show into an extraterrestrial EastEnders."[36]

In Scotland's Daily Record, Paul English called the episode "yet another fizzing Doctor Who adventure" and said that "Writer and producer Russell T Davies makes TV with the epic feel of the movies. He gets more tension, humour and emotion into an hour of telly than many films manage in twice the time with double the budget." He lamented that "Journey's End" "lacked the goofiness" of the series' 2005 return, but concluded that the finale was "TV gold".[37]

Dave Golder of SFX says "If, while your brain is telling you, 'This is crap!' your heart is still doing backflips then it's your kind of episode. 'Journey's End' is almost a two fingers up at technobabble; there's certainly tons of it in the episode, but it's largely irrelevant." He praises the action sequences and the portrayal of Davros, Donna, Rose and the Doctor, but remarks that the overcrowding of minor characters made parts of the script seem "underdeveloped" and describes the Daleks as mostly "[c]annon fodder". "[The] plot does hang together, but only just". Overall, he describes the episode as "exceptional" but "not perfect".[12]

Ben Rawson-Jones of Digital Spy describes the episode as "a satisfying and epic crowdpleasing conclusion" to the series and particularly praises Tate and Donna's exit. He states the episode mixes poignant and haunting scenes with "'punch the air' moments and fan-pleasing twists." Noting the episode is "not entirely flawless", he is critical of the Daleks' seemingly "too convenient" demise, arguing that it undermines their menace.[38] Writing for the Doctor Who blog on the Radio Times website, William Gallagher called "Journey's End" "event drama" and "party television". He stated that the resolution to the regeneration cliff-hanger left him feeling "a bit cheated", but praised the episode's characterisation, concluding that David Tennant "has been the best Doctor of them all" and that "Doctor Who is the best drama on TV: it's the one with most verve and spark and exuberant excitement."[39] John Beresford of TV Scoop called the finale "just about the most exciting Doctor Who episode [he could] ever remember", and "a fantastically imaginative, exciting and action-packed finale to the fourth series."[40] In 2009, SFX rated the Earth being towed as among the 25 Silliest Moments in Doctor Who, writing 'Judging from the shakes that ensue, it’s likely that millions more died from being bonked on the head by falling household objects than as a result of the Dalek invasion in the previous episode.'[41]

Travis Fickett on IGN gave a negative review of this episode, claiming 'it misses the mark in almost every way' and 'plays like the most outrageous of fan fictions.' He claimed the 2nd Doctor and Doctor-Donna 'stretch credulity so far that it becomes translucent', and that 'it's sort of silly to even bring Rose back when you've got the episode stuffed with almost every other character from the series'. A poll conducted by Radio Times in 2015 found that readers voted the series four finale as the greatest finale of the show.[42]


  1. ^ The Doctor's hand was originally severed from his wrist in the 2005 episode "The Christmas Invasion".
  2. ^ As depicted in the 2006 episode "Doomsday".


  1. ^ "Credits". BBC. 5 July 2008. Retrieved 5 July 2008.
  2. ^ Carter, Lewis (29 June 2008). "Doctor Who finale to be watched by 10 million". Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 30 June 2008. Retrieved 2 July 2008.
  3. ^ Spilsbury, Tom (April 2008). "The Gallifrey Guardian: Series Four Episode 1: Partners in Crime: Back in Business!". Doctor Who Magazine. Tunbridge Wells, Kent: Panini Publishing Ltd (394): 6–7.
  4. ^ Lewis, Courtland; Smithka, Paula (2010). "What's Continuity without Persistence?". Doctor Who and Philosophy: Bigger on the Inside. Open Court. pp. 32–33. ISBN 9780812697254. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  5. ^ a b c "Fact File". BBC. 5 July 2008. Retrieved 5 July 2008.
  6. ^ Russell T Davies, Julie Gardner, Phil Collinson. Commentary for "Doomsday". BBC. Archived from the original (mp3) on 20 January 2007. Retrieved 30 October 2007.
  7. ^ a b c Gillane Seaborne (producer) (5 July 2008). "End of an Era". Doctor Who Confidential. BBC. BBC Three.
  8. ^ "The Proms are Almost Here!". BBC Doctor Who website. 21 July 2010. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  9. ^ Davies, Russell T; Cook, Benjamin (25 September 2008). "Day Old Blues". The Writer's Tale (1st ed.). BBC Books. ISBN 978-1-84607-571-1.
  10. ^ a b c "Grow your own TARDIS". Doctor Who Magazine. Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent: Panini Comics (398): 18. 24 July 2008.
  11. ^ Doctor Who "Journey's End" commentary with Phil Collinson and Julie Gardner [1] Archived 23 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ a b Golder, Dave (5 July 2008). "TV REVIEW Doctor Who 4.13 "Journey's End"". SFX. Retrieved 5 July 2008.
  13. ^ "Walesarts, Southerndown beach, Vale of Glamorgan". BBC. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  14. ^ "Walesarts, Harbour View Road and Arcot Street, Penarth". BBC. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  15. ^ a b Russell T Davies (writer), Graeme Harper (director), Phil Collinson (producer) (8 July 2006). "Doomsday". Doctor Who. BBC. BBC One.
  16. ^ Phil Ford (writer), Charles Martin (director), Matthew Bouch (producer) (19 November 2007). "Part Two". The Lost Boy. The Sarah Jane Adventures. BBC. CBBC.
  17. ^ Toby Whithouse (writer), James Hawes (director), Phil Collinson (producer) (29 April 2006). "School Reunion". Doctor Who. BBC. BBC One.
  18. ^ Hayes, Paul (28 June 2008). "Media round-up". The Doctor Who News Page. Archived from the original on 30 June 2008. Retrieved 6 July 2008.
  19. ^ "Gethin Jones". Internet Movie Database. 6 July 2008. Retrieved 6 July 2008.
  20. ^ Gareth Roberts, Russell T Davies (writers), Colin Teague (director), Susie Liggat ([producer) (1 January 2007). "Invasion of the Bane". The Sarah Jane Adventures. BBC. BBC One.
  21. ^ Colum Regan is credited as body double to David Tennant, Voyage of the Damnedsource
  22. ^ "Doctor Who dropped at London Pride 2007". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 11 September 2007. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  23. ^ "Weekly Viewing Summary w/e 06/07/2008". BARB. 16 July 2008. Archived from the original on 18 April 2007. Retrieved 16 July 2008.
  24. ^ "Outpost Gallifrey: Doctor Who RSS News Feed".
  25. ^ The Doctor Who News Page, Journey's End – Overnight Ratings, 6 July 2008, Doctor Who News website.
  26. ^ "Doctor Who finale watched by 9.4m". BBC News. 6 July 2008. Retrieved 7 July 2008.
  27. ^ West, Dave (6 July 2008). "'Doctor Who' finale pulls in 9.4 million". Digital Spy. Retrieved 7 July 2008.
  28. ^ Mixed reaction to Doctor's finale, BBC News, 7 July 2008
  29. ^ Television's Greatest Hits, Network Books, Paul Gambaccini and Rod Taylor, 1993. ISBN 0 563 36247 2
  30. ^ Doctor Who Information Network: What Got Cut from Journey's End Archived 26 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, 13 December 2008. Retrieved 12 January 2009.
  31. ^ Preston, John (6 July 2008). "Dr Who: Review of the finale of Journey's End". Archived from the original on 6 July 2008. Retrieved 6 July 2008.
  32. ^ Crompton, Sarah (7 July 2008). "Last night on television: Doctor Who (BBC1)". Archived from the original on 12 July 2008. Retrieved 7 July 2008.
  33. ^ Mangan, Lucy (6 July 2008). "The Weekend's TV: Daleks, Davros and two David Tennants – the finale of Doctor Who had something for everyone". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 July 2008.
  34. ^ Billen, Andrew (7 July 2008). "Doctor Who; Criminal Justice". The Times. London. Retrieved 7 July 2008.
  35. ^ Wright, Mark (8 July 2008). "Doctor Who 4.13: Journey's End". The Stage Blogs: TV Today. Archived from the original on 12 July 2008. Retrieved 9 July 2008.
  36. ^ Shelley, Jim (8 July 2008). "Jim Shelley's thoughts on the Doctor Who finale". Retrieved 9 July 2008.
  37. ^ English, Paul (10 July 2008). "A toast to you know Who". Daily Record. Retrieved 10 July 2008.
  38. ^ Rawson-Jones, Ben (10 July 2008). "S04E13: 'Journey's End'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 10 July 2008.
  39. ^ Gallagher, William (5 July 2008). "Doctor Who: Journey's End". Radio Times website. Archived from the original on 25 August 2011. Retrieved 7 July 2008.
  40. ^ Beresford, John (6 July 2008). "TV Review: Doctor Who: Journey's End". TV Scoop. Retrieved 7 July 2008.
  41. ^ "SFX – GamesRadar+".
  42. ^ [2] Archived 13 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]