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First UK Transmission Date (BBC1)Scheduled TXViewers
26th March 200519:0010.81m

Cast: Jackie Tyler (Camille Coduri), Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke), Clive (Mark Benton), Caroline (Elli Garnett), Clive's Son (Adam McCoy), Autons: Alan Ruscoe, Paul Kasey, David Sant, Elizabeth Fost, Helen Otway, (Nestine Voice) Nicholas Briggs

Writer: Russell T Davies, Script Editor: Elwen Rowlands
Director: Keith Boak , First Assistant Directors: George Gerwitz, Second Assistant Directors: Steffan Morris, Third Assistant Director: Daffyd Rhys Parry

New Doctor Who Title SequenceRose Menaced by an AutonRose first meets the DoctorThe first use of the Sonic ScrewdriverRose's store explodes

Synopsis: Christopher Eccleston takes the role of the time-travelling crusader, who lands on Earth just in time to save department store worker Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) from a horde of marauding mannequins - plunging the pair into a desperate battle against a malevolent alien intelligence with the ability to bring plastic to life.

First shot of the TARDISRose and her mumThe catflapDon't worry, its armlessThe Doctor walks with Rose
The Doctor and the TARDISThe TARDIS in a pub carparkRose and CliveMickey is attacked by a wheelie binThe copy of Mickey loses his head

Season Background: Doctor Who's return to series format after 16 years came about largely through two factors: The stubbornness of Russell T Davies who refused to write for the BBC unless it was for Doctor Who, and the eagerness of Lorraine Heggessey, the first female controller of BBC ONE, to resurrect Doctor Who. It's never been quite clear how much influence public opinion had on the decision to bring back Doctor Who but it was not long after the series topped a poll of television programmes viewers wanted to see brought back, that the announcement came on 26th September 2003 that Doctor Who would return.

By the time of this announcement three key figures were in place. Head of Drama for BBC Wales Julie Gardner had been approached to be an executive producer and, having been working on Casanova for 18 months alongside Russell T Davies, knew before asking him that he would jump at the chance to work on Doctor Who. The BBC's Head of Continuing Series Mal Young was the other executive producer and together they went about fashioning Doctor Who for the 21st century. A run of 13 episodes was requested, and granted, and Russell T Davies delivered a 15-page outline on the construction of the show, detailing the characters and the tone. A list of desired writers was submitted and all were signed up by the BBC. Mal Young was first to verbalise thoughts that all three had had about Christopher Eccleston as a candidate for the lead role. Despite press speculation about Eddie Izzard, Alan Davies, Richard E Grant and Hugh, Eccleston was announced as the new Doctor on 22nd March 2004. Billie Piper was subsequently announced as the new companion Rose on 24th May 2004. Filming of the new series begin in Cardiff on the week of 19th July 2004 and continued for 8 months.

Rose about to enter the TARDISThe TARDIS InteriorRose at the TARDIS doorRose and the Doctor outside the TARDISThe Nestine broadcast device aka the Millennium Eye
The Doctor and the NestineThe Doctor is held by an AutonThe Millennium Eye broadcastsThe Autons break out of shop windowsAuton Children

'Rose' Background and Summary: Writer/Producer Russell T Davies had the difficult task of writing what was both an introductory episode for an entirely new series, and a piece of television faithful to its roots. It had to enthrall new views who had never heard of Doctor Who and not alienate viewers who had affection for the original series. The story was structured such that in theory the new audience of children identify with the character of Rose and the older generation with the Doctor. Mannerisms which would instantly put older viewers in mind of Tom Baker or Patrick Troughton would have been equally enjoyable seen fresh by young children. The scene in Rose's flat is an affectionate rehash of several 'new Doctor' scenes from the past (covered below) and the story, as a whole, treads much of the same ground as Jon Pertwee's debut Spearhead from Space. While hailed as a ratings success by the BBC (link to new story) reaching over 10 million viewers, it was met with cautious appreciation by the viewing public as a whole. The general consensus was that it was (which was a distinct improvement on the Paul McGann TV movie) but whether it was strong enough to entice viewers again next week was still to be seen. The older generation were fairly lukewarm about it, but the very younger viewers (who were the real target) loved it. However this had been a pattern of Doctor Who almost since it started and there was always a percentage of the surveyed public who were scornful of such "childish rubbish". The BBC publicity machine could ever reach a percentage of people and therefore the single-part nature of this story took some people by surprise, expecting as they were a traditional, multi-part serial. The 45-minute nature of the episode did a lot to alter the general mood of the story as it gave little time for the tension to build and it was a short five minutes between the activation of the alien menace, and its destruction. Its understandable why the decision was made to structure the story as though the adventure was well underway before both the viewer and Rose herself joined in, but this alienated viewers who would more happily have watched a full-blown invasion unfold. It also denied the opportunity for a definite hook onto episode two, had it concluded the following week. Arguably this season could even have been braver by starting with no alien menace at all, with drama developing from Rose's meeting with Clive who provided a thoroughly fascinating angle on the Doctor's dubious impact throughout time, however the appeal of a Doctor Who story with no alien threat at all is questionable at best. Ultimately the appraisal of 'Rose' as being rushed and too crowded is unfair because, scene-for-scene, this is pure TV gold and one of the finest Doctor Who stories ever produced. It has a witty and inventive script that drives the story with a great deal of energy and style. Even the throwaway nature of the alien invasion is given enough weight to make the final confrontation interesting and the action-sequences are unsurprisingly the best in the series' history. At the heart of it all, as with all the best stories of the past, is the characterisation. The platonic love between the Forth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith is recaptured beautifully and the exchanges between the Ninth Doctor and Rose are wonderful right from the moment they meet. Beyond all the talk of plot and pace and effects sequences, the qualities of the two lead characters shine through this episode and its this warmth that most viewers take away with them. Once the initial shock subsided from seeing the first true Doctor Who in 16 years, this story will received greater and greater appreciation upon repeat viewings and regardless of the public opinion, it will remain with fans as one of the most episodes in Doctor Who history.

An Auton Kills CliveAn Auton dummy meets his makerAutons defeatedThe TARDIS dematerialisesThe TARDIS materialises

Classic Series Influences and References:

  • The opening space shot of Rose bares a striking resemblance to the opening shot of Jon Pertwee's debut story Spearhead from Space (1970) which also introduced a revamped format of the show and also featured the Nestines/Autons. The Nestines/Autons reappeared in Terror of the Autons (1971).
  • The sonic screwdriver was first seen in Fury from the Deep (1968).
  • The wheelie bin scene continues the theme of the telephone cord strangling the Doctor in Terror of the Autons, although in the original Nestine stories, only special plastic could be animated by the aliens, not everyday plastic.
  • The Doctor has previously seen or commented on his new face after seeing it in a mirror in Power of the Daleks (1966), Spearhead from Space (1970), Robot (1974), Castrovalva (1982), The Twin Dilemma (1984), The TV Movie (1996).
  • The Doctor is also unable to shuffle cards with any skill in Tom Baker's debut story Robot.
  • The Doctor reads a book in a couple of seconds in City of Death (1979) and on that occasion comments "Bit boring in the middle."
  • The Doctor's accent has been referred to before in a broader sense in the The TV Movie (1996) in which Grace describes the Doctor as 'British'.
  • Kennedy's assassination preceded by one day the broadcast of the first-ever episode of Doctor Who.
  • When the Doctor is listing plastic items which will come to life he includes "telephone cords" which threatened his third incarnation. Rose's contribution of "breast implants" is a reference to the Novel Synthespians™.
  • In The Invasion of Time (1977) he says he is not responsible for the sinking of the Titanic however in Rose its stated that he stops the Daniels family from boarding before the maiden voyage.

Buy the Complete First Series

This is an absolutely must for anyone who remotely enjoyed the new series of Doctor Who. Unlikely the previous individual releases of episodes, the box set has extras coming out of its ears. And whereas some box sets just have extras on the final disc, this brilliant package has a selection of extras on each disk, plus the entire set of Doctor Who confidential (cut down) on another disk.

Nothing much needs saying about the episodes themselves but commentaries on certain episodes are almost worth the price alone. The commentaries of Rose, The Unquiet Dead and Dalek are of particular note and the video diaries of certain members of the team are very interesting and fun. The TARDIS container is a nice package and overall, believe me this set of DVDs is well worth the asking price, or probably more!


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