long game

The Long Game

"The Long Game" is an episode in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who that was first broadcast on May 7, 2005. This episode is the final appearance of Bruno Langley as Adam Mitchell.


Along with new companion Adam, the TARDIS deposits the Ninth Doctor and Rose on Satellite 5, a space station that broadcasts across the entire human empire. However, the Doctor senses things wrong on the station: there are no aliens, those who are promoted to Floor 500 simply disappear, and who is really in charge?


The Doctor, Rose and new companion Adam travel forward in time to the year 200,000 and land aboard Satellite 5, a space station orbiting Earth during what should be the Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire, but the Doctor immediately recognizes that the activity aboard the station is not consistent with future history. The Doctor investigates the station and meets with journalists Cathica and Suki who work on Satellite 5, using his psychic paper to pose as a member of management. They tell the Doctor that Satellite 5 is a 600-channel news satellite broadcasting to the Empire, and that they hope to be promoted someday to "Floor 500", the management floor. Rose and Adam investigate the various food stalls near where the TARDIS landed, but Adam becomes overwhelmed with the strangeness of the situation. Rose lets Adam borrow her "superphone" to call his family in the past, but he only gets their answering machine; this gives Adam an idea and he pockets the "superphone". Throughout this, the Doctor and the companions are observed by the Editor, a human in a dark, icy room, watching their actions through security cameras.

The Doctor reunites with Rose and Adam, and are invited to watch a broadcasting session with Cathica and other journalists; Cathica uses a port in the centre of her forehead to process information directly into her brain, which is then transferred to chips in the other journalists' head, who then broadcast it to their appropriate stations. While Adam is amazed at the technology, the Doctor notes that humans should have surpassed it by now. However, the Editor has detected that Suki is an unauthorized intruder in the "newsroom", and announces to all that she has been promoted and should come to Floor 500. Suki says her goodbyes, as those that go to Floor 500 never come back, and departs; when she arrives, she finds Floor 500 to be cold and populated by shriveled corpses. She encounters the Editor, who exposes her as a member of the Freedom Foundation, an anarchist underground group. Suki holds the Editor at gunpoint, telling him she knows that the news reported from Satellite 5 is manipulated, and demands to know who controls the station. The Editor points her to the "Editor-in-Chief", who, unseen, descends upon the screaming Suki.

Adam excuses himself to recover his thoughts in an observation lounge, while the Doctor and Rose try to get more information from Cathica. From what Cathica tells him, the Doctor deduces that something is holding the human race back, both in attitude and technology, for the last 91 years - ever since Satellite 5 started broadcasting. The Doctor hacks into the station computers and notes that a lot of heat is being vented from the top floors into the lower ones. The Editor is aware of the Doctor's actions, and allows him to gain the password to come to Floor 500. Rose and the Doctor try to convince Cathica to join them, but she wants nothing to do with it, and leaves their company as they go to Floor 500. There, they encounter the Editor as well as Suki's dead body, being used like several others as a slave to the computer systems. The Editor explains that through Satellite 5, they have been able to change the Empire into a place where humans are allowed to live, using manipulated news to install fear into the human race as to keep them in a closed society. These actions have been controlled by a consortium of banks, and the "Editor-in-Chief", the Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe ("Max" for short), who hangs above their heads. The Doctor notices that Cathica has had a change of heart and decided to follow them to Floor 500 as she listens in unobserved on the conversation outside the room; the Doctor makes sure to verbally note that the Jagrafess' metabolism generates a lot of heat, and thus the station itself is its life support system, venting the heat into the lower floors below.

Meanwhile, Adam, now alone, uses the station's computer to gain information that he relays back in time to his answering machine via the "superphone", but eventually the computer limits his access, though it directs him to the medical facility on the station. There, he learns he can get a similar port like Cathica which will link him directly to the archives, which he agrees to after some hesitation. After recovery, Adam goes to the newsroom and opens his port by snapping his fingers, calls his answering machine with the "superphone", and initiates a link with the computer. The Editor is alerted to this, and is able to learn of the TARDIS and that the Doctor is a Time Lord from Adam's mind, and now aims to get the secret of time travel from the Doctor so that he can rewrite history to prevent humans from even developing. Cathica, hearing this, goes to the newsroom on Floor 500 and uses her link to sever Adam's connection and to reverse the flow of the environmental systems, sending heat to Floor 500, causing the Jagrafess to overheat. The Doctor and Rose escape while the Editor tries to sever Cathica's connection but cannot; he then tries to escape as well but is held by Suki's corpse, and ends up caught in the explosion of the Jagrafess. The Doctor congratulates Cathica on her actions, but is furious with Adam; they leave in the TARDIS and return to Adam's present and home. There, the Doctor destroys the answering machine and abandons Adam from the TARDIS, noting that he will have to live with the port in his forehead, knowing that if it's discovered he could end up dissected. As the Doctor and Rose leave, Adam's mother comes home, and commenting on how time flies, snaps her fingers, causing Adam's forehead port to open, and causing his mother to stare in horror.

Cast notes


  • This is the time period of the "Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire". The first Earth Empire was featured in several Third Doctor stories in the 1970s. It lasted from around the mid-26th century (Frontier in Space) to the early 31st century (The Mutants).
  • While this is not the first time that a companion has tried to change history (that distinction belongs to Barbara in The Aztecs), Adam is the first to try and exploit the future for personal gain. The issue of changing history would be dealt with more directly in the next episode, "Father's Day".
  • Rose's "superphone", which the Doctor modified to allow her to call back to her own time (c. 2005) in "The End of the World" appears to be intelligent enough to realise who is using it, as it allows Adam to call back to his own time period of 2012 as well as back to Earth without the need for an area code.
  • When Adam first calls back to the 21st century, the establishing shot for his parents' home uses the same house that Mickey was in front of when he was captured by the Nestene-animated dustbin in "Rose".
  • The related update of Mickey's "Who is Doctor Who?" website has an essay from a 14-year-old Adam Mitchell.
  • Adam is the first on-screen companion in Doctor Who history to be evicted from the TARDIS for bad behaviour.
  • The junk food vendor on board Satellite 5 is selling "kronkburgers". Kronkburgers were consumed by the guards of an alternate Roman Empire that had conquered the galaxy in the Doctor Who comic strip story, Doctor Who and the Iron Legion, that ran in Doctor Who Weekly #1-#8. They are also mentioned in the New Series Adventures novel The Resurrection Casket.
  • Following the "bad wolf" theme begun in earlier episodes of the season, one of the broadcast channels featuring the Face of Boe (from "The End of the World") is named "BAD WOLFTV". (See Story arcs in Doctor Who.) This news story states that the Face of Boe has become pregnant.
  • In the two-part finale of the 2005 series ("Bad Wolf" and "The Parting of the Ways") the "people" behind the Jagrafess are revealed to be the Daleks. The finale is set on Satellite 5, now named the Game Station, a hundred years after "The Long Game". The Doctor claims in "Bad Wolf" that "someone has been playing a long game", referring to the manipulation of humanity both before and after "The Long Game" took place.


  • In the book The Shooting Scripts, Russell T Davies claims that he had originally set out to write this episode from Adam's perspective, watching the adventure unfolding from his point of view (exactly as Rose did in "Rose") and seeing both the Doctor and Rose as enigmatic, frightening characters. He even gave this outline a working title: "Adam".
  • According to the reproduction of the original series outline in Doctor Who Magazine's Series One Special, another working title for this story was The Companion Who Couldn't.
  • When the Editor announces the Jagrafess's name to the Doctor and Rose, he pronounces it as "The Mighty Jagrafress of the Holy Hadrajassic Maxaraddenfoe". Actor Simon Pegg has admitted during interviews that he found this an extremely difficult line to say; so to avoid inconsistencies, the Jagrafess roars throughout the announcement (although the subtitles spell the name with the most common spelling). However, during the pre-credits sequence of "Bad Wolf", Pegg's "wrong" pronunciation can be clearly heard.
  • In the DVD commentary for this episode, director Brian Grant and actor Bruno Langley refer to an additional motivation for Adam's actions. Apparently, in earlier drafts of the script, Adam's father suffered from a disease that was incurable in his time (2012) and he hoped to learn about a cure which had been discovered between that year and 200,000 (in the shooting script the condition is arthritis). No trace of this motivation remains in the finished programme, although Grant discusses it as if it were still present.
  • Langley and Grant also reveal in the DVD commentary that the "frozen vomit" that Adam spits out in one scene was in fact a "kiwi and orange ice cube".
  • Voice artist Nicholas Briggs mentions on the DVD commentary for the episode "Dalek" that he recorded voice work for the Jagrafess, but his contribution was not used because it sounded too similar to the Nestene Consciousness (which Briggs had voiced in "Rose").
  • According to Russell T Davies in his "Production Notes" column in Doctor Who Magazine #350 and later in the official preview for the story in #356, "The Long Game" was originally written in the early 1980s and submitted to the Doctor Who production office. Whether it was ever read by the production team of the time is unclear, as Davies received a rejection from the BBC Script Unit, who advised him to write more realistic television about "a man and his mortgage" instead. Davies reworked the story for the new series.

Outside references

  • All of the logos of news channels shown in the corners of the television screens feature a symbol consisting of three concentric circles with the first two divided by six lines, possibly Satellite 5's logo. Many of the signs and documents on Satellite 5 also appear to contain a stylised script resembling Hebrew.
  • In finance, "playing a long game" refers to implementing a long-term strategy rather than focusing on short-term gains. This refers to the subtle scheme to enslave the human race without its knowledge over a period of decades, or even centuries, implemented by the Jagrafess, and also the even longer game later revealed as being played by the Daleks.


External links


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