" is an episode
in the British science fiction television
series Doctor Who
, which was first broadcast on May 14
This episode marks the first appearance of Rose Tyler's father Pete Tyler played by Shaun Dingwall, who would later reprise his role in the 2006 series as a Pete from a parallel universe.
The Ninth Doctor
brings Rose to 1987 to witness her father's death but when she prevents his death from happening, the monstrous Reapers
are unleashed upon the Earth, leaving the Doctor
The episode opens with a flashback of Jackie telling a younger Rose about her father Pete, who died on November 7, 1987, the day of Stuart Hoskins and Sarah Clarke's wedding, while Rose was still an infant. She tells Rose that no one was around when Pete died after being run over by a hit-and-run driver.
In the present on the TARDIS, Rose asks the Doctor if they can go back to the day her father died so that she can be there when it happens. The Doctor can do this, but is worried for Rose emotionally, as they have already witnessed Jackie and Pete's wedding. The TARDIS materializes near the street where the accident happens, and as Rose and the Doctor watch from afar, they see the event occur as Jackie told Rose: Pete, running late to get a gift for the wedding, tries to retrieve it from the road but is hit by a speeding car. The Doctor tells Rose to go to Pete to be with him, but she cannot move, and by the time she recovers, the ambulance is already there and Pete is dead. Rose asks the Doctor if she can try again, and though worried, the Doctor agrees. This time, the Doctor tells Rose to wait until after the previous Rose has left to prevent a paradox. However, as soon as Pete steps into the road, Rose runs over and pushes him aside, saving him from being hit. The previous versions of the Doctor and Rose disappear and the Doctor is aghast at Rose's actions, but Rose is elated to have saved her father. Pete introduces himself to the two, and offers them a ride to the wedding, first stopping at his flat. While Pete gets dressed, the Doctor angrily scolds Rose for her actions and claims she was planning on doing this once she knew the TARDIS was a time machine, but she denies, and wonders the harm in just saving an everyman like Pete. The Doctor states that a man that was supposed to be dead is now alive, and storms off, while Pete and Rose head for the wedding. The Doctor returns to the TARDIS but finds that it is now just an empty police box, and races off to find Rose. Meanwhile, unseen beasts are swooping down from the skies and consuming people.
Pete and Rose drive to the church, though Rose is puzzled by the anachronistic hip-hop music playing on the radio and that her phone is filled with the same Voice Message, "Watson, come here, I need you." When they arrive, a car nearly runs down Pete and abruptly disappears; Pete recognizes it as the same car that nearly ran him over before. Jackie, with the infant Rose, has a brief argument with Pete, thinking that he is having an affair with Rose, but is settled quickly. Suddenly, young Mickey runs into the church, claiming all the other children at the playground have disappeared; the Doctor runs to the church as well and tells everyone to get inside, just before large winged creatures materialize and consume the vicar and the groom's father. Once everyone is inside, the Doctor determines the old church walls will stop the creatures, and explains to Rose that there is a wound in time and the creatures are like bacteria, sterilizing the wound by consuming all inside it. The Doctor notices that outside, the car that was to run down Pete keeps appearing and disappearing; Pete determines from further conversations with the Doctor and Rose that Rose is really his daughter. Pete tries to learn what type of father he was to Rose in the future, but Rose cannot answer.
The Doctor prevents Rose from touching her younger self, explaining that it would create another paradox that would allow the creatures to enter the church. The Doctor apologizes to her for his anger earlier, and explains that if the Time Lords were still around, the paradox that Rose created could be repaired, but without them, he has no idea what to do. However, as Rose apologizes, they notice that the TARDIS key is glowing hot, and the Doctor determines that the ship is still linked to the key and he can summon the interior spaces back through the wound in time. He uses the battery from a mobile phone and his screwdriver to charge the key further, and the faint image of the TARDIS begins to appear; the Doctor warns everyone to not disturb the process until it is complete, after which he can repair the damage.
As they wait, Pete comes to realize that he should have died earlier in the day, and explains this to Rose. As he does, Jackie overhears Pete, thinking Rose to be a daughter from another marriage, but Pete, in a fit of frustration, tries to show Jackie that infant Rose and adult Rose are the same by putting the infant Rose in her arms, creating a paradox. Immediately, one of the creatures materializes inside the church; the Doctor orders everyone behind him as he, being the oldest being there, is consumed first. The creature then makes contact with the still-materializing TARDIS and both disappear, leaving the TARDIS key cold; Rose believes the Doctor to be dead.
Pete knows that the only way to restore the world is for him to die as intended; he makes sure Jackie recognizes Rose as their adult child, and entrusting her to raise their infant daughter to become Rose, and the three share a final embrace. Pete runs out into the street into the path of the car, and is hit by the car; at the same time, the creatures overhead disappear.
With time healed, the world is restored to normal, those consumed by the creatures returned, while those that survive have no recollection of the events. The Doctor appears by Rose's side and tells her to go to her father, which she does, as the driver of the car stands to the side. Pete smiles back to Rose as he dies. Rose returns to the Doctor and they walk back to the TARDIS hand-in-hand.
The episode ends on a similar flashback as the opener, as Jackie explains to a young Rose that Pete didn't die alone - a young woman stayed with him until he died, leading the adult Rose to eulogise about Pete Tyler, her father, "the most wonderful man in the world."
- Continuing the "Bad Wolf" theme of the season, a poster advertising a rave on a wall near where Pete was supposed to die in the beginning has the words "BAD WOLF" defacing it. (See Story arcs in Doctor Who.)
- Although never named in the programme, the creatures were called the Reapers in publicity material. They bear a strong resemblance to the Chronovores (first featured in The Time Monster) as portrayed in Paul Cornell's Doctor Who New Adventures novel No Future, the Vortisaurs in the Eighth Doctor's first series of audio adventures for Big Finish Productions, and the Hunters in the New Adventures novel The Pit by Neil Penswick.
- Although also not named on screen, the driver of the car that kills Pete is named Matt in the shooting script.
- As a Reaper is about to consume Sarah Clarke, she screams shrilly and it turns away to attack the vicar instead. Logistically, the reasons for the Reaper's actions are not readily apparent. In the shooting script for the episode, it is the vicar who leaps into the way of the Reaper and allows Sarah and Stuart to get inside the church, but this is not what is seen on screen.
- Rose says that Pete will never start "World War Three". The Doctor tells the infant Rose that she is not going to bring about "the end of the world". These were both titles of episodes earlier in the season.
- The young Mickey runs to Rose and hugs her around her waist, in the same way that the adult Mickey hugged her legs in "Rose" when he did not want her to leave.
- A possible continuity error is that the baby Rose has blue eyes, the younger Rose has green eyes, but the adult Rose has brown eyes. However, it is not uncommon for a baby's eyes to change colour from blue (to green) to brown as the eyes develop melanin over time.
- Rose references the ending of this episode in "The Parting of the Ways", telling Jackie that she "met Dad" and was the girl who held Pete's hand as he died, but it is unclear as to whether Rose remembers the Reaper attack.
- When the Doctor and Rose see their future selves when Pete was about to get hit, they disappear, but this does not happen to the Doctor in the The Five Doctors. It is possible this effect was simply prevented in earlier serials due to Time Lord involvement - in both The Five Doctors and The Three Doctors, the Time Lords say they are using an enormous amount of energy to allow all the Doctors to interact together in the same time and space. In this episode, the Doctor does mention that his people used to prevent the results of paradoxes, but without them they cannot be controlled.
- The treatment of changing history in this episode appears to contradict some elements from the classic series. Although changing history was always shown as a possibility in serials like Genesis of the Daleks, Day of the Daleks, and Pyramids of Mars, it was always assumed that the Blinovitch Limitation Effect prevented anyone from "redoing" their own actions like Rose does here. The episode suggests that such a "redo" is possible, but extremely dangerous; it is possible, however, that a "redo" has only now become possible as a result of the deaths of the Time Lords and the loss of their stabilising influence on time (hinted at in "The Unquiet Dead"). Speaking at the Gallifrey convention in February 2006, Paul Cornell said that although his script does not mention the Blinovitch Limitation Effect by name, it was in the forefront of his mind while writing the episode.
- The Doctor makes an oblique reference to the Blinovitch Limitation Effect (and the events of Mawdryn Undead) when he tells Rose not to touch her younger self, and when he tells the congregation that to touch the TARDIS while it is trying to materialise will produce a "Zap!" However, while the two Brigadiers produced a violent energy discharge when they touched, Rose does not suffer any effects from touching her infant self, although it is unclear if, as compared to the two Brigadiers, any skin to skin contact was made.
- This is also the first time that Doctor Who has explicitly used the reset button technique. In Pyramids of Mars and Day of the Daleks possible futures were erased, but unlike this episode, the actual events of the serials were left intact. However, in this story, despite the reset, history still changed in some small ways. Pete now died in front of the church (a few hours later than previously); an unidentified woman (Rose) was with Pete when he died; Pete stepped in front of the car instead of it accidentally running him down; and the driver stayed behind rather than it being a hit-and-run. In Carnival of Monsters the S.S. Bernice had originally vanished in 1926 and at the end of the story was seemingly restored to its proper place, but there was no acknowledgement of any alteration of history.
- Considering that time is repaired and reformed in the end by Pete's sacrifice, it is possible that neither the Doctor nor Rose remember any of the events of the episode before his death, or that none of it ever happened (whether they do or not is not confirmed in the episode). However, Mickey's related website update featured photographs from "1987" which clearly show the presence of the Reapers, although nobody seems to actually remember them being there. This argues for the proposition that the websites produced for the series are non-canon.
The Doctor's family
- In his argument with Rose, the Doctor says, "My entire planet died. My whole family..." The Doctor's granddaughter, Susan Foreman, was one of the first companions in the original series. The Doctor later mentioned having a family in The Tomb of the Cybermen; in The Curse of Fenric, when the Seventh Doctor was asked if he had a family, he replied, "I don't know. Other brief mentions of relatives occurred in Kinda (where he confirmed he had "just the one" father), Time and the Rani (an uncle) and The Time Monster (a house on a mountain). The Doctor's family — and the House — was central to the story in the Virgin New Adventures novel Lungbarrow, by Marc Platt. In the 1996 Doctor Who television movie, the Eighth Doctor mentions both his father and his mother, and says that his mother was human. (This revelation was controversial among Doctor Who fans.) In "The Empty Child" (2005) when Doctor Constantine mentions having been a father and grandfather before the war, and now being neither, the Doctor says "I know what you mean", which can be read as meaning that he is in the same position. In "Fear Her" (2006), the Doctor references having been a "dad once", and finally, in "Smith and Jones", he mentions once having a brother.
- It is unclear, when the Doctor says that his "whole family" died, if that includes Susan, who was last seen in The Five Doctors but presumably was returned to Earth in the 22nd century (The Dalek Invasion of Earth) — although in the Eighth Doctor Adventures novel Legacy of the Daleks by John Peel, Susan did eventually resume travelling in time and space.
- Working titles for this story included "Wounded Time" and "Wound In Time" (as stated in the Telos Publishing Ltd. book Back to the Vortex).
- On the DVD commentary for this episode, writer Paul Cornell and producer Phil Collinson mention that in the original script, in the scene where the Doctor opens the TARDIS doors and discovers only a police box interior, the police box fell apart. This was changed for reasons of cost, and Cornell said on the commentary that he thinks the change is an improvement.
- Cornell also states on the DVD commentary that the character of Pete Tyler is based on his own father, who attempted many different jobs and schemes (including, like Pete, selling health drinks) before eventually finding success running a betting shop. Pete's line "I'm your dad, it's my job for it to be my fault" is taken from something Cornell's father once said to him.
- Also on the DVD commentary, Billie Piper says that this was her favourite episode of the first season, and the most emotionally taxing for her to perform. Christopher Eccleston has also stated that this was his favourite episode, due to its many emotional layers.
- Posters seen advertising the Socialist Worker read 'No Third Term For Thatcher', serving to campaign against re-electing Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the General Election in June 1987.
- When time is damaged, one of the effects is that mobile telephones all begin to repeat the message, "Watson, come here, I need you," purportedly Alexander Graham Bell's first words ever spoken over a telephone. However, according to a recording by Watson reminiscing about the event, the words were "Watson, come here, I want you. The error was not present in Paul Cornell's original script, but crept in at some point during production.
- The episode features two of the biggest hits from 1987 "Never Gonna Give You Up" performed by Rick Astley, "Never Can Say Goodbye" performed by The Communards, both of which have some relevance to the basic themes of the story. It also features "Don't Mug Yourself" by The Streets, which is the song from the future that appears on Pete's car radio.
- Rose believes Pete to be "a bit of a Del Boy", referring to the character from Only Fools and Horses, which was airing around the time this episode is set. One of the bride's friends also mentions a pub called The Lamb and Flag, which is one of the regular settings in another British sitcom, Bottom.