The Parting of the Ways

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166b – "The Parting of the Ways"
Doctor Who episode
refer to caption
The Doctor, Rose, and Jack face the Dalek Emperor — and his army.
Directed byJoe Ahearne
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 code1.13
SeriesSeries 1
Length2nd of 2-part story, 45 minutes
First broadcast18 June 2005 (2005-06-18)
← Preceded by
"Bad Wolf"
Followed by →
"Doctor Who: Children in Need" (mini-episode)
"The Christmas Invasion" (special)
Doctor Who episodes (2005–present)

"The Parting of the Ways" is the thirteenth episode of the revived first series of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who. The episode was first broadcast on BBC One on 18 June 2005. It was the second episode of the two-part story. The first part, "Bad Wolf", was broadcast on 11 June.

In the episode, the Dalek race invades the human satellite the Game Station in the year 200,100, intending to make more Daleks by harvesting dead humans. The alien time traveller the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) uses the satellite's transmitter to try to destroy every Dalek, while at the same time sending his travelling companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) home to keep her safe.

The episode featured Christopher Eccleston making his last appearance as the Ninth Doctor and marks the first appearance of David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor.


The episode opens with the Daleks questioning Rose on what the Doctor will do next. The Ninth Doctor uses the extrapolator on the TARDIS to generate a protective shield around them as he materialises around Rose and a Dalek. Jack destroys the Dalek and they exit the TARDIS to speak to the Daleks. The Doctor is surprised to see the Dalek Emperor in command, and even more surprised when the Emperor describes himself as a god. The Emperor survived the Time War and escaped to Earth in a crippled ship, where he rebuilt the Dalek race by harvesting DNA material from selected humans that were transmatted to them by the Game Station. The Doctor observes that the Daleks have gained human traits and emotions from this process and hate their existence, consequently becoming deadlier than ever. The Doctor, Rose, and Jack use the TARDIS to return to the Game Station and prepare for an imminent attack.

Jack uses the extrapolator to shield the top six floors of the station and sets up defensive positions. The Doctor attempts to create a delta wave generator from the equipment on the Game Station. The delta wave will kill anything in its path, but needs time to charge up. The Doctor feigns Rose by claiming to use the TARDIS for more time, but actually uses his sonic screwdriver to direct the TARDIS to return Rose to her home time while she is inside. The Doctor appears to her via a holographic message and explains that he sent her home for her safety and to prevent the Daleks from getting the TARDIS. The Daleks begin to invade the station, easily making it past the defenses and killing everyone in their path. The Emperor contacts the Doctor and taunts him about the delta wave, revealing that he knows it will destroy most of Earth as well as the Daleks. The Doctor tells him that humanity will survive in some form but that the Daleks cannot.

The TARDIS arrives back in London, and Mickey and Jackie are drawn to the noise of its engines. They rush to meet Rose, who is heartbroken at being sent away from the Doctor. Rose begins to notice the words "Bad Wolf" all around the area where the TARDIS has landed, words which also exist on the station, and realises that they are a message rather than a warning. She convinces Mickey to help her try and open the heart of the TARDIS, hoping the telepathic circuits will allow her to pilot the ship back to the Doctor. Rose tells Jackie that she met her late father Pete, and that she is the "young woman" who was with him when he died. Jackie decides to help by borrowing a large truck from a friend. With the truck pulling, the panel on the console snaps open and Rose is bathed in the light of the TARDIS. The TARDIS doors slam on Mickey and Jackie as they try to enter, and it then dematerialises.

Back on the Game Station, the Daleks force their way to Floor 500, killing Jack and Lynda in the process. They file into the control room as the Doctor is about to fire the delta wave. The Emperor again taunts the Doctor, who cannot bring himself to kill so many innocent people just to destroy the Daleks. The Emperor declares humanity will die from the Doctor's actions and orders him to be exterminated, but the TARDIS materialises before the Daleks can kill him. The TARDIS doors swing open and Rose appears, wrapped in the glow of the time vortex. She reveals that she is the Bad Wolf, and that she spreads the words throughout time and space as a message to lead her there. The Daleks attempt to exterminate Rose, but she easily stops them, disintegrating the Emperor and the entire fleet. The Doctor begs her to relinquish her new power, but instead she brings Jack back to life. As Rose begins to burn up from the power, the Doctor absorbs the entire power of the vortex into his own body through a kiss. He releases it back into the TARDIS and carries an unconscious Rose back inside. They leave in the TARDIS before a reanimated Jack can get back to them, trapping him on the Game Station.

Rose wakes on the TARDIS to find the Doctor in pain. He tells her that absorbing the time vortex is destroying every cell in his body. Rose begins to panic as the Doctor tells her that he won't be seeing her again. After musing on what his next body will look like and telling Rose goodbye, he suddenly steps back and bursts with energy from the regeneration process as he begins to change. After a few seconds the energy dissipates, revealing the Tenth Doctor. The new Doctor briefly comments on his new teeth before offering to take Rose to the planet Barcelona.

The Emperor Dalek, as shown at the Doctor Who Experience.


This was the first episode in this series which was not given a press screening prior to the broadcast. Radio Times stated, "No preview tape was available for this episode." The episode was, however, screened for BAFTA on 15 June 2005.

According to Russell T Davies in Doctor Who Magazine, Jack was left behind because they wanted to explore the effects of the regeneration on Rose (noting that Jack would have taken the regeneration "in his stride"). Jack returned in the Doctor Who spin-off series Torchwood, which began broadcast in October 2006. In an interview in Doctor Who Magazine, Russell T Davies stated that an alternate ending for this episode was written and filmed, with the intention that it would be shown to press previewers to hide the secret of the regeneration. This idea was abandoned when Eccleston's departure was revealed earlier than planned. The "false" ending would have featured similar dialogue to the televised final scene, but the TARDIS would have scanned Rose and the viewers would have seen the display read: "LIFEFORM DYING". Davies considered this scene inferior to the one actually shown, but suggested that it might be suitable as an extra on a DVD some day. On the DVD commentary, executive producer Julie Gardner and Billie Piper briefly discuss this ending, which Gardner describes as featuring Rose's death; unlike Davies, Gardner expresses doubts that it will be issued on DVD (it was not included in the Series 1 DVD set). David Tennant's portion of the regeneration scene was actually filmed much later than Eccleston's, and without the presence of Billie Piper. Tennant's segment was recorded with him speaking to a piece of sticky tape indicating Piper's eyeline and then edited into the broadcast version. It was recorded on 21 April 2005.[1]

The Doctor claims that he is known in Dalek legend as "the Oncoming Storm", a title that first appeared in the Virgin New Adventures novel Love and War by Paul Cornell (who wrote the episode "Father's Day"). In the novel, the title was applied to the Doctor by the Draconians.[2]

Eccleston's departure had been leaked early by the BBC on 30 March 2005, who claimed that he was scared of being typecast. On 4 April they admitted that this statement had been made without consulting the actor, and were forced to apologise.[3] In 2010, Eccleston denied the typecast claim, explaining that he was not comfortable in the working environment.[4] He later stated that he could not get along with some of the "senior people".[5] According to the Sunday Mirror, an interview for BBC's Doctor Who website that was taken down after his departure was announced revealed that Eccleston had planned to stay for two or three more years.[6][7] Tennant was offered to replace the role when he was watching a pre-transmission copy of Casanova with Davies and Gardner. Though Tennant initially believed the offer was a joke, he accepted the role after he realised they were serious[8] and was announced as Eccleston's replacement on 16 April 2005.[9]

Broadcast and reception[edit]

"The Parting of the Ways" received overnight ratings of 6.2 million viewers, a 42% audience share and the most-watched programme of the night.[10] When final consolidated ratings were calculated, figures rose to 6.91 million.[11] The episode was broadcast in the United States on the Sci Fi Channel on 9 June 2006.[12]

Digital Spy's Dek Hogan wrote that the finale was "something of an anti climax", with the Bad Wolf resolution being a "let down" and the regeneration "a bit rushed" and "lacking in the sort of emotional tension that has been one of this series hallmarks".[13] SFX gave "The Parting of the Ways" a score of nine out of ten, calling the two-parter Davies' "finest work this season", especially praising the emotional moments.[14] However, he felt that two aspects of "The Parting of the Ways" let the story down: the Bad Wolf resolution and the deus ex machina of Rose's transformation.[14] Patrick Mulkern of Radio Times praised the episode, stating that it was "inventive, gripping entertainment" and that "for the first time, Doctor Who has a proper, exhilarating season finale."[15] Alasdair Wilkins of io9 praised the "mad energy" of the two-parter but felt the Dalek plan was "convoluted and a whole bunch of seemingly important stuff ... is brushed aside in the rush to the Doctor's big moral dilemma".[16] Wilkins also pointed out that the story had to deal with Eccleston's abrupt departure, and as a result there was little thematic build-up and the regeneration feels "bolted on to the rest of the story".[17] Despite this, Wilkins ranked it the best regeneration and the third best regeneration story (as of 2010).[17]


  1. ^ "Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways". Doctor Who Magazine: Series One Companion (11 – Special Edition). 31 August 2005. p. 93.
  2. ^ "The Parting of the Ways – Fact File". BBC. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  3. ^ "BBC admits Dr Who actor blunder". BBC News. 4 April 2005. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  4. ^ "Eccleston quit Doctor Who to be his 'own man'". Yorkshire Evening Post. 15 June 2010. Retrieved 19 January 2013.  – via HighBeam (subscription required)
  5. ^ Kelly, Stephan (21 July 2011). "Doctor Who: why did Christopher Eccleston leave show after one series?". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  6. ^ Lawler, Danielle (3 April 2005). "Dr Who Told Beeb He'd Stay in Show". Sunday Mirror. Retrieved 19 January 2013.  – via HighBeam (subscription required)
  7. ^ Kilkelly, Daniel (3 April 2005). "Eccleston promised to film new 'Dr Who'?". Digital Spy. Archived from the original on 6 April 2005. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  8. ^ Aldridge, Mark; Murray, Andy (30 November 2008). T is for Television: The Small Screen Adventures of Russell T Davies. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. pp. 196–197. ISBN 978-1-905287-84-0.
  9. ^ "David Tennant confirmed as the tenth Doctor Who" (Press release). BBC. 16 April 2005. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  10. ^ Timms, Dominic (20 June 2005). "6.2m see Eccleston's exit". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
  11. ^ Russell, Gary (2006). Doctor Who: The Inside Story. London: BBC Books. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-563-48649-7.
  12. ^ "Who Boosts SCI FI Ratings". Sci Fi Wire. Sci Fi Channel. 13 June 2006. Archived from the original on 12 February 2008. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
  13. ^ Hogan, Dek (19 June 2005). "The Global Jukebox". Digital Spy. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  14. ^ a b "Reviews: Doctor Who, episode by episode". SFX. Archived from the original on 16 October 2005. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  15. ^ "Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways ★★★★★".
  16. ^ Wilkins, Alasdair (27 November 2009). "5 Lessons We Hope RTD's Learned From His Past Doctor Who Epics". io9. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  17. ^ a b Wilkins, Alasdair (1 January 2010). "Ranking The Regenerations Of Doctor Who". io9. Retrieved 19 January 2013.

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