"The Lazarus Experiment"
is an episode
of the British science fiction television
series Doctor Who
. It was broadcast on BBC One
on 5 May 2007
and is the sixth episode of Series 3 of the revived Doctor Who
series. It stars David Tennant
as the Tenth Doctor
and Freema Agyeman
as his companion, Martha Jones
. According to the BARB
figures this episode was seen by 7.19 million viewers and was the twelfth most popular broadcast on British television in that week. Executive producer Russell T Davies
has stated that he directed writer Stephen Greenhorn to base this episode on the typical Marvel Comics
plotline: "a good old mad scientist
, with an experiment gone wrong, and an outrageous supervillain
on the loose.
Earth, London, present day. The Doctor, Martha and her family attend a scientific demonstration by the aged Professor Lazarus
. But when the experiment goes wrong, a horrific product of genetic manipulation is unleashed, leaving a trail of death in its mission to live indefinitely. Meanwhile the wheels of a deadly trap are set in motion.
materialises in Martha's flat. The Doctor tells her that they had agreed — one trip and home. It is about twelve hours after they left. Martha's phone rings, but she does not pick it up; it is her mother, Francine
, saying that her sister Tish
is on the news. Martha turns the television on and, alongside Tish, an elderly man, Professor Richard Lazarus
, announces that tonight he "will change what it means to be human." The Doctor says goodbye to Martha and, oblivious to her being upset, steps into the TARDIS. It dematerialises, but quickly rematerialises. "No, I'm sorry, did he say he was going to change what it meant to be human?"
At Lazarus Labs, Professor Lazarus and Lady Thaw discuss the need for the experiment to work, with Thaw mentioning that Mr. Saxon is funding their research. Tish comes in and Lazarus attempts to flirt with her.
The Doctor and Martha attend Professor Lazarus' reception that evening, as do Martha's mother and her brother Leo. Martha introduces the Doctor to her family; Francine is suspicious of him. Lazarus announces he is to perform a "miracle", and steps into the manipulator's capsule. As technicians operate the machine, the Doctor notices that the system is overloaded and jumps in to avert disaster. Lazarus emerges, looking decades younger. Despite the momentary crisis, his experiment appears to have been a success — but the Doctor is certain there are dangers the professor has overlooked. Lazarus scoffs at the Doctor's warnings and tells the Doctor that "In a few years you'll look back and laugh at how wrong you were", so the Doctor and Martha sneak off to conduct their own tests, taking a DNA sample from Martha's hand, which Lazarus has just kissed. They see that his sonically "hacked" DNA is unstable: Lazarus is changing.
Meanwhile, Lazarus speaks with Lady Thaw. She wants to be the next to be rejuvenated, and to continue their partnership both personally and professionally. He rejects her. As she threatens to complain to Mr. Saxon, Lazarus' financial backer, he transforms into a monstrous scorpion-like humanoid and kills her.
Downstairs, Francine asks Tish and Leo whether Martha has ever mentioned the Doctor to them before. She worries there is "something going on". Lazarus returns to the reception, apparently human and wearing a different suit, and invites Tish upstairs with him.
The Doctor and Martha find Lady Thaw's body; the Doctor says she had all the life energy drained to supply energy to the processes caused by Lazarus' fluctuating DNA. Worried he will kill again, they go back downstairs, only to learn that he has gone off with Tish. They rush off, the Doctor accidentally spilling a drink on Francine. Another man replaces her drink, and darkly warns that Martha should be more careful in choosing her friends.
Lazarus takes Tish to the roof, where he talks about nearby Southwark Cathedral and quotes T. S. Eliot, a quote the Doctor completes. As they argue, Martha gets Tish away from Lazarus before he transforms again into a monster. The Doctor comments that what Lazarus has transformed into is an accidentally-unlocked evolutionary dead-end lying dormant in human genes. They run away, tripping a security lockdown. The Doctor gives Martha the sonic screwdriver to unlock the doors, and warns everyone at the reception to get out; but Lazarus kills one woman and Leo suffers a concussion. The Doctor draws Lazarus away from Francine. Lazarus chases the Doctor down a corridor.
Martha examines Leo, gets everyone out of the building, and goes back inside to help the Doctor despite Francine's protests. Tish guesses that "maybe she loves him". The man who replaced Francine's drink earlier calls the Doctor "dangerous", and whispers in Francine's ear the things he says she "should know" about him.
The Doctor turns on the gas in a lab and leaps away from the resulting fireball, but the Lazarus monster survives. Martha returns the sonic screwdriver to the Doctor. They flee together into the capsule of Lazarus' machine, on the Doctor's hunch that Lazarus is unlikely to destroy his own creation. Instead, Lazarus turns it on. The Doctor "reverses the polarity" so that it affects the outside of the capsule instead of the inside, apparently killing Lazarus and causing him to revert to his human form.
Outside, as the ambulance carrying Lazarus' body pulls away, Francine slaps the Doctor, and tells him to keep away from Martha. The Doctor hears the ambulance crash and rushes toward it, followed by Martha and Tish. They find two more of Lazarus' victims in it; Lazarus has come back to life. They find him in human form inside Southwark Cathedral, where as a child he took refuge during the London Blitz. The Doctor says he was present during the Blitz, but Lazarus says that he is not old enough to have been there. They argue again about the benefits and curse of longevity. Martha (accompanied by Tish) then lures Lazarus away to the top of the bell tower; the Doctor told her earlier that Lazarus could be defeated if he could just get him up there. As the Lazarus monster chases the Jones sisters at the top of the cathedral, the Doctor pulls out all the stops on the pipe organ, inserts the sonic screwdriver, and plays it at maximum volume, setting up a resonance in the bell above Lazarus that interferes with his sonic-based experiment. In a swoon Lazarus falls to the cathedral floor below, transforming one last time — back into the elderly man he once was.
Back in Martha's flat, the Doctor offers Martha one more trip, but Martha refuses to go with him on that basis, as a mere passenger being given a treat. The Doctor says "Okay, then, if that's what you want." She thinks he means to leave her again, but he indicates with a nod that she is welcome to rejoin him on her terms, and admits she was "never really just a passenger". They leave together in the TARDIS. As it disappears, Martha's phone rings; it is Francine. She warns Martha about "who this Doctor really is", saying, "This information comes from Harold Saxon himself. You're not safe!"
- According to Russell T Davies in the Radio Times, the trap that is set by the professor's "enigmatic paymaster" will close in "The Sound of Drums" and "Last of the Time Lords".
- This episode continues the theme of genetic manipulation which played a part in "Daleks in Manhattan"/"Evolution of the Daleks".
- On a number of occasions during the episode, the Doctor notes the similarities between the Time Lord regeneration process and Lazarus' experiments.
- The Doctor talks about having seen the Blitz first hand; he visited this time period in "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances".
- The Doctor, after reversing Lazarus' machine to supposedly kill him, claims it should not have taken him so long to "reverse the polarity," saying he "must be out of practice". "Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow" was a phrase associated with the Third Doctor.
- The Doctor, after being slapped by Francine Jones, says that it happens every time he meets a companion's mother, referring to Jackie Tyler slapping him in "Aliens of London".
- Martha refers to her travels seen in "The Shakespeare Code", "Gridlock" and "Daleks in Manhattan"/"Evolution of the Daleks".
- The Doctor dons the dinner jacket that he wore in "Rise Of The Cybermen"/"The Age Of Steel". He remarks that it always causes trouble.
- On the banners hanging outside Lazarus's laboratory, the logo for his company is reminiscent of the Gallifreyan symbols frequently seen on the monitor in the TARDIS
- Gatiss' appearance has made him one of a select few to have both written for and acted in the show; he wrote "The Unquiet Dead" and "The Idiot's Lantern". Gatiss began his writing career on the New Adventures Doctor Who novels, and acted in material for a BBC Doctor Who evening before the new series was commissioned. Others with similar credits include Victor Pemberton, who wrote Fury from the Deep and the audio drama Doctor Who and the Pescatons and acted in The Moonbase, and Glyn Jones, who wrote The Space Museum and acted in The Sontaran Experiment.
- Whilst the exterior shots of Southwark Cathedral are the cathedral itself (or a matte image edited onto the Cardiff exterior sets), the interiors were filmed in Wells Cathedral (apart from the tower as seen from the crossing and the interior of the tower, which is a set). A model of Southwark Cathedral, along with one of Michelangelo's David, also appear in Lazarus's office.
- The interiors of Professor Lazarus's institute were shot in Cardiff Museum, the Welsh Assembly's Senedd building, and St William House, Cardiff. The latter also served as a location for the pilot episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures, and the Torchwood episode Random Shoes.
- A scene cut from the episode, but included as an extra with the DVD release, reveals that the Doctor participated in the writing of the United States Declaration of Independence and in fact carries a copy of the first draft folded up in the pocket of his dinner jacket.
The following episode, "42
", was delayed by one week to make way for the BBC
's broadcasting of the Eurovision Song Contest
. The BBC Doctor Who web page announced in advance that 'something special' would be appended to the end of the original broadcast of this episode. This proved to be an extended teaser for the remaining episodes of the series, taking the place of the usual "Next time..." teaser trail and headed instead "Coming up...". This was also made available immediately after transmission on the BBC's Doctor Who
website. The extended trailer featured many short clips from upcoming stories: eyeless animated scarecrows and the titular Family of Blood
, the return of Captain Jack Harkness
, Sir Derek Jacobi
, Michelle Collins likewise
and, briefly, John Simm
as the mysterious Mr. Saxon
seen smiling for press cameras before the Houses of Parliament
and in the Cabinet Room at No.10 wearing an oxygen mask
, sinisterly tapping out the heavy rhythm of the incidental music and surrounded by inert bodies. At the very end, a further caption ahead of the "The Lazarus Experiment" credits revealed that "Doctor Who will return in two weeks". The 'normal' trailer for 42
was then made available on the BBC Doctor Who website and was used on the 'Vanilla' DVD instead of the special trailer.
Film and television
- The preview of the story in the Radio Times magazine claimed that the episode's conclusion, wherein a monster, mutated from a man, dies in a London cathedral, is a reference to that of the 1953 science fiction serial The Quatermass Experiment. Coincidentally, David Tennant and Mark Gatiss appeared in the 2005 live remake of The Quatermass Experiment.
- While playing a church organ and literally "pulling out all the stops," the Doctor mentions that he's going to "have to turn it up to eleven." This figure of speech means 'beyond maximum' volume and originated in the comedy, This Is Spinal Tap. In that film, a band member proudly displayes an amplifier with a volume dial that reaches to 11, rather than the universal maximum of 10.
- Martha likens the Doctor's appearance when wearing a dinner jacket to James Bond; the Doctor appears sceptical but flattered. The commentary track mentions the Doctor's loosening of his bow-tie as a "Daniel Craig moment".
- Tish refers to Catherine Zeta Jones' marriage to a much older man, comparing that situation to her own near-dalliance with Lazarus.
- Lazarus is a biblical character, mentioned in , whom Jesus raised from the dead. When Lazarus escapes from the ambulance, the Doctor notes he should have realised Lazarus would return from the dead.
- Both the Doctor and Lazarus quote T. S. Eliot's poem The Hollow Men. The Doctor completes Lazarus' quotation with the line, "Falls the Shadow" — which has been used as the title of a Doctor Who novel. There is also a Doctor Who novel called The Hollow Men featuring animated scarecrows. The Doctor later tells Martha that Eliot got it right in saying that it all ends "not with a bang, but a whimper". The Doctor also alludes to Eliot's reference to Lazarus in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock: "I am Lazarus, come from the dead."