The End of the World (Doctor Who)

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158 – "The End of the World"
Doctor Who episode
End of the World.jpg
The Guests approach Platform One
Directed byEuros Lyn
Written byRussell T Davies
Script editorHelen Raynor
Produced byPhil Collinson
Executive producer(s)Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner
Mal Young
Incidental music composerMurray Gold
Production code1.2
SeriesSeries 1
Length44 minutes
First broadcast2 April 2005 (2005-04-02)
← Preceded by
Followed by →
"The Unquiet Dead"
Doctor Who episodes (2005–present)

"The End of the World" is the second episode of the first series of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who. Written by executive producer Russell T Davies and directed by Euros Lyn, the episode was first broadcast on BBC One on 2 April 2005.

In the episode, the alien time traveller the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) takes his new companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) five billion years into the future where many rich alien delegates have gathered on a space station called Platform One to watch the Sun expand into a red giant and destroy the Earth, but the human guest Lady Cassandra (Zoë Wanamaker) is plotting to profit from the event through gaining compensation from staging a hostage situation.

"The End Of The World" is the first episode of the revival to be set in the future. Due in part to the numerous SFX shots the episode lead to most of the series SFX budget.[1] Location filming principally took place in Cardiff in October 2004, with some additional scenes shot in Cardiff and Penarth in November 2004 and February 2005. Studio work was recorded in the Unit Q2 warehouse in Newport from September to November 2004. The episode marked the first appearance of Cassandra and the Face of Boe both of which would appear in the sequel episode New Earth. The episode was seen by approximately 7.97 million viewers in the United Kingdom.


Jabe, as shown at the Doctor Who Experience.
The Face of Boe as shown at the Doctor Who Experience.

The Ninth Doctor takes Rose five billion years into her future. They land on Platform One, a space station in orbit around Earth. They have arrived in time for a party celebrating the final destruction of the long-abandoned Earth by the expansion of the Sun. The Doctor uses his psychic paper to pass as their invitation to the party, and he and Rose find many elite alien beings there. The guests include Lady Cassandra, billed as "the last human" but actually a face on a large piece of skin that must be continually moisturised. Also present is the Face of Boe.

Meanwhile, the gifts brought by the Adherents of the Repeated Meme contain robotic spiders that immediately work at disabling functions on Platform One. The Steward of Platform One recognises something is wrong, but is killed when the spiders lower the solar filter of his room and expose him to the powerful solar radiation. After Rose insults Cassandra, the Adherents follow her and knock her unconscious. She regains consciousness in an observation room where the solar filter drops. The Doctor gets the filter back up but cannot get her out.

The Doctor determines that the Adherents are responsible for the sabotage. However, they are robots commanded by Lady Cassandra. Cassandra admits to being the saboteur: her original plan was to create a hostage situation (with herself as one of the "victims") and profit from the compensation she would have gotten, but now intends to profit from the other guests' deaths, expecting her stock holdings in their competitors' companies to increase in value after they die. Cassandra teleports off the station as the spiders bring down the shielding on the entire station. The Doctor and the sentient tree Jabe travel to the bowels of Platform One to restore the automated shields, but it requires one of them to travel through several spinning fans. Jabe sacrifices herself to hold down a switch to slow down the fan blades. This allows the Doctor to reactivate the system just before the expanding Sun hits the station and destroys Earth.

The Doctor reverses Cassandra's teleport and brings her back onto the station. In the elevated temperature and without moisture, Cassandra's body rapidly desiccates and ruptures. Rose, now free of the observation room, looks at the debris of the Earth and laments that she is effectively the last human being. The Doctor explains that he is the last of the Time Lords, and that his planet was destroyed in the wake of a great war.


The inactive robotic spider, on display at Doctor Who Experience


"The End of the World" was conceived as a deliberately expensive spectacle to show off how much the new Doctor Who could do.[2] Platform One was designed to be like a "hotel for the most poshest, richest, and influential aliens in the universe".[2] Executive producer Russell T Davies stated that the character of Cassandra was inspired by drastic beauty treatments that had been taken by female celebrities.[3] One function of the episode is to reveal that the Doctor is the last of his people.[2]


"The End of the World" scheduled as part of the second production block along with "The Unquiet Dead".[4] Camille Coduri's scene as Jackie Tyler was shot in advance during the first production block because she was about to be unavailable working on the film The Business. The scene was shot at the Unit Q2 warehouse in Newport on 7 September 2004.[5]

The main recording for the episode began in the studio at Unit Q2 from 22 September.[6]

Many of the Platform One interiors were filmed at the Temple of Peace in Cardiff from 6 to 14 October.[7] During recording of "The Unquiet Dead" on 20 October, several pick-up shots were recorded at Headlands School in Penarth.[8] The main recording on the block concluded in Q2 on 22 October.[8]

To help with the convenience of locations, the scenes with the Doctor and Rose on present-day Earth were shot during the third production block on 9 November. Filming took place at Helmont House on Churchill Way, and on Queen Street.[9] Some additional shots involving the ducts were shot at Q2 on 26 November.[9]

Effects and Costumes[edit]

Due to complexities in animating Cassandra, some of her lines were dropped and the episode underran. To compensate, Davies came up with the character of maintenance worker Raffalo, and scenes between Raffalo and Rose were filmed at the Temple of Peace on 19 February 2005.[7] Davies joked that there would never be such an expensive episode again (because of the large amount of CGI special effects). Both Cassandra and the robotic spiders — other than an inactive one — are completely CGI creatures. The episode contains 203 visual effects shots that were completed over eight weeks, compared to "about 100" in the film Gladiator.[2] As of "The Wedding of River Song" (2011), no Doctor Who episode contains as many special effects shots.[10]

The Moxx of Balhoon was originally going to be animated, but this changed to a "glove puppet" and then a full rubber suit when it was desired he be "chunkier".[2] Actor Jimmy Vee had done similar parts before,[2] although the actor said it was hard filming in the costume, which took three hours to put on.[11] Jabe was originally more tree bark-like in the face, but it was decided that she be a Silver Birch instead.[2]

The "iPod" (a Wurlitzer jukebox) that Cassandra unveils plays "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell and later "Toxic" by Britney Spears.[12] "Toxic" was not actually released as a 7" 45 rpm vinyl single. The production team mocked up a 7" single for use in the episode.[10]

The episode featured many different creatures and props, shown here at various Doctor Who exhibitions.

Cast notes[edit]

Cassandra is a CGI creation voiced by actress Zoë Wanamaker. Writer Russell T Davies revealed that Cassandra was inspired by the appearance of various female celebrities at the Oscars. He said, "It was horrific seeing those beautiful women reduced to sticks. Nicole Kidman struck me in particular."[13] Wanamaker reprised the role of Cassandra in the 2006 series' first episode, "New Earth."[14]

Yasmin Bannerman later played Kathy Swanson in the Torchwood episode "They Keep Killing Suzie." She has also appeared in several Doctor Who and Blake's 7 audio plays for Big Finish Productions, playing the Seventh Doctor's companion Roz Forrester among others.

Broadcast and reception[edit]

Billie Piper received praise for her performance with critic Arnold T. Blumberg writing that she "has shown herself to be quite capable of conveying amazingly subtle shifts in emotion" and noting "how valuable a part of this new series Piper really is."[15]

This episode begins with a cold open, which from here on became a standard feature. This is a first for the series, which previously used pre-credits teaser sequences sparingly in special episodes such as the post-regeneration Castrovalva (1982); the 20th-anniversary special, The Five Doctors (1983); and the 25th-anniversary story, Remembrance of the Daleks (1988). According to a March 2006 interview with Russell T Davies, he requested for this episode to be broadcast back-to-back with "Rose", but the request was given to the BBC too close to transmission.[16] In the United States the Sci-Fi Channel did run the two episodes consecutively on 17 March 2006.[16] The broadcast of "The End of the World" in the US was watched by 1.61 million viewers.[17]

Overnight figures showed that "The End of the World" was watched by 7.3 million viewers in the UK, down 2.6 million viewers from the premiere.[18] When final ratings were calculated, figures rose to 7.97 million.[19] The episode recived an Audience Appreciation Index score of 76 the lowest of the show's history until 2015's [[|Sleep No More (Doctor Who|Sleep No More)]].[20]

Arnold T Blumburg of the magazine Now Playing gave "The End of the World" a grade of "A-", praising the spectacle as well as the performances of Eccleston and Piper and their developing characters. However, he felt that the climax suffered from pacing issues.[15] SFX called it a "brave episode to air so early, but it works", praising the way the alien concepts were reminiscent to the classic series. However, the reviewer wrote that "the full drama of the event is never quite captured" and "the murder plot...never quite takes flight, but it provides the framework for some brilliant scenes".[21] In Who Is the Doctor, a guide to the revived series, Graeme Burk described "The End of the World" as "sheer, unadulterated fun", particularly praising the emotional connection that was built between the Doctor and Rose.[22] Burk felt that there could have been more of a build-up to the Cassandra revelation, but commented that "a lot of the success of the story" was due to her.[22] Burk's co-author Robert Smith added that the episode allowed Eccleston to shine by offering the Doctor a wide range of emotions.[23] Despite their positive reviews, Burk and Smith noted that the switch at the end of the hallway with giant fans was "contrived" and "silly".[24] In 2013, Patrick Mulkern of Radio Times felt that the episode had everything to be expected from Davies' Doctor Who: boldness, camp, and emotional and character drama.[25] The A.V. Club reviewer Alasdair Wilkins gave the episode a grade of B+, noting that the episode was not concerned with plot, but it succeeded in character moments and reintroducing Doctor Who.[26]


  1. ^ Mcalpine, Fraser (2015). "'Doctor Who': 10 Things You May Not Know About 'The End of the World'". BBC America. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly". Doctor Who Confidential. Series 1. Episode 2. 2 April 2005. BBC. BBC Three.
  3. ^ "The End of the World – Fact File". BBC. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  4. ^ Ainsworth, ed. (2016). Doctor Who: The Complete History. Volume 48, p. 92.
  5. ^ Ainsworth, ed. (2016). Doctor Who: The Complete History. Volume 48, p. 93.
  6. ^ Ainsworth, ed. (2016). Doctor Who: The Complete History. Volume 48, p. 95.
  7. ^ a b "Doctor Who in Wales – Temple of Peace, Cathays Park, Cardiff". BBC Cymru Wales. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  8. ^ a b Ainsworth, ed. (2016). Doctor Who: The Complete History. Volume 48, p. 98.
  9. ^ a b Ainsworth, ed. (2016). Doctor Who: The Complete History. Volume 48, p. 99.
  10. ^ a b Burk and Smith? p. 11
  11. ^ Lyons, Beverley (10 March 2005). "See Who Jimmy; Ugly alien is one of the Doc's good gyes". Daily Record. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  12. ^ Burk and Smith? p. 9
  13. ^ Lloyd Pack, Roger (24 May 2004). "ALL THE PRESIDENT'S CYBERMEN". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  14. ^ Russell T Davies (writer), James Hawes (director), Phil Collinson (producer) (15 April 2006). "New Earth". Doctor Who. Series 2. Episode 1. BBC. BBC One.
  15. ^ a b Blumburg, Arnold T (6 April 2005). "Doctor Who – "The End of the World"". Now Playing. Archived from the original on 1 September 2005. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  16. ^ a b Nazzaro, Joe (14 March 2006). "Who Timing Was Right". Sci Fi Wire. Archived from the original on 13 June 2006. Retrieved 1 December 2006.
  17. ^ "US Debut Ratings". Outpost Gallifrey. 22 March 2006. Archived from the original on 24 March 2006. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  18. ^ Plunkett, John (4 April 2005). "Doctor Who loses 2.5 million viewers in timewarp". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
  19. ^ Russell, Gary (2006). Doctor Who: The Inside Story. London: BBC Books. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-563-48649-7.
  20. ^ "Ratings Guide". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  21. ^ "Doctor Who: The End of the World". SFX. 2 April 2005. Archived from the original on 17 April 2006. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  22. ^ a b Burk and Smith? p. 11-12
  23. ^ Burk and Smith? p. 12-13
  24. ^ Burk and Smith? p. 10
  25. ^ Mulkern, Patrick (5 February 2013). "Doctor Who: The End of the World". Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  26. ^ Wilkins, Alasdair (24 November 2013). "Doctor Who: "The End of the World"/"The Unquiet Dead"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 29 November 2013.


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