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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > 506 > The End of the World

The End of the World

Ladies and gentlemen, and trees and multiforms, you are honoured guests for this historical happenstance. Welcome to the end of the world...


Scratching beneath the surface of Doctor Who’s most fascinating tales...

" I wanted us to start big, then go even bigger,” writer Russell T Davies told DWM in 2005. And that’s the amazing thing about The End of the World – how wildly ambitious it is. With most series, the second episode usually tells the same sort of story as the first episode, not wishing to alienate viewers by being too unusual. Second episodes tend to be very ordinaryepisodes; the first off the production line, the first to be run-of-the-mill.

And one can imagine executives in meetings in 2004 suggesting that after Rose, the second episode of the revived Doctor Who should involve another alien invasion. But The End of the World does the complete opposite. It makes it clear, right from the moment the Doctor and Rose step out of the TARDIS, that Rose was just one type of Doctor Who story. You’ve had the strange in a familiar setting – now for the familiar in a strange setting!

Of course, looking back, The End of theWorld doesn’t seem that strange. We’ve seen its two sequels, New Earth and Gridlock, and other episodes following its approach of making a new companion’s first trip in the TARDIS a mad outer-space story, The Beast Below and The Rings ofAkhaten. But for a week back in 2005, The End of the World was half of all new Doctor Who, and established that the series would be bolder, funnier, more serious, more spectacular and more emotional than anyone had imagined.

New comments from Russell T Davies are highlighted by a picture of Russell.

The End of the World


Rose (Billie Piper) runs into the TARDIS and asks Doctor Who (Christopher Eccleston) to take her forwards in time.

◼ Phil Collinson explains on the DVD commentary that they came to add recaps and previews to the episodes “simply because they were too short.”

◼ This scene was a late addition to the shooting script (it is numbered scene ‘0A’); it was not present in the draft dated 31 August 2004 used for the readthrough, but added to the shooting script dated 17 September. Despite this, it was the first scene to be shot on 23 September, the first day of the second recording block (which consisted of The End of the World and The Unquiet Dead (2005)).

◼ A small part of this scene was cut during editing; after the Doctor asks Rose if she wants to go further, he suggests, “Five hundred years.” “Go on then,” says Rose. The Doctor operates the controls and the engines lurch. “The year twenty-five hundred,” he smiles. “Further?”

The TARDIS lands, and they emerge onto a Viewing Gallery, looking out onto the Earth and the Sun. “This is the day the Sun expands,” states the Doctor. “Welcome to the end of the world.”

◼ The Doctor refers to health scares about eggs (the claim in 1988 by junior health minister Edwina Currie that most eggs contain salmonella) and beef (the outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy which began in the late 1980s and continued for most of the 90s).

Rose Tyler delights in travelling forwards in time.

◼ Current scientific thinking estimates that the sun will begin to evolve into a red giant in five billion years’ time. However, the Earth itself is unlikely to be destroyed until over 2.5 billion years later (the time it will take for the Sun to expand to its maximum radius). But without intervention the Earth will cease to be habitable in a mere 600 million years, so this isn’t really something to worry about.

◼The shooting script describes Platform One as ‘a sprawling three-mile-wide grid of scaffolding structures (not too far from current notions of a space station). The grid supports a central rod, dotted with windows; the Luxury Area.’

A Computer Voice (Sara Stewart) informs them that they are on Platform One.

◼ The Doctor and Rose’s conversation about aliens was added in the shooting script draft. After the Doctor says, “Aliens!” a couple of lines were trimmed during editing; “There’s aliens on board?” Rose asks. “Should be, yup,” the Doctor replies.

“Is that okay?” “... Yeah, fine,” says Rose. “What sort of aliens, what do they look like?” “No idea,” beams the Doctor. “Let’s find out!”

The Doctor and Rose come to a large room, the Manchester Suite.

◼ Described in the shooting script as ‘a huge deep room [with] all the cool and calm of a modern art gallery, or a Philippe Starck hotel; largely empty, with shiny floors’.

A Steward (Simon Day) demands to know who they are. The Doctor uses his psychic paper to convince the Steward that he is a guest and Rose is his “plus one”.

“ Everything has its time and everything dies.”

◼ Rose mentions watching Newsround Extra (1975-present), a weekly spin-off of John Craven’s Newsround consisting of a documentary on a single contemporary issue.

◼ The Doctor mentions that the National Trust is still going; the charity was founded in 1895 to preserve and protect the historic places and spaces of the United Kingdom.

◼ Rose is correct that the continents should have shifted; current scientific thinking is that in 250 million years’ time they will fuse into a supercontinent, which will break apart again over the following 250 million years, before the plate tectonics process comes to an end.

The Doctor says they have about half an hour before the Earth is roasted.

◼ In the first draft of the story, dated 5 March 2004, the Doctor explains: “About an hour, till the satellites give up. Then the planet gets roasted. The core explodes. Bang.”

◼ The shooting script specifies that the events of the episode last exactly an hour, giving timings of each scene. The Doctor and Rose arrive 1500, then Rose calls her mother at 1515. The Doctor asks for Jabe’s help at 1519, catches the spider at 1528, and Cassandra teleports away at 1535. The Earth explodes at 1539, Cassandra explodes at 1550 and the Doctor and Rose leave at 1600.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

DWM 506 celebrate 50 Years of the Second Doctor, as played by Patrick Troughton. Contents include: behind the scenes on the new animated version of The Power of the Daleks; the Second Doctor's era is explored in a feature by Jonathan Morris; 1968's Fury from the Deep is reviewed; showrunner Steven Moffat answers readers' questions; a biography of Peter Brachacki, the man who designed the TARDIS back in 1963; The Fact of Fiction looks back at 2005's The End of the World; directors Ed Bazalgette, Douglas Mackinnon, Daniel O'Hara and Daniel Nettheim reveal more secrets of their work on Doctor Who in the second part of DWM's exclusive interviews; Comic Strip - Bloodsport Part 2, written by Mark Wright and illustrated by Staz Johnson; The Time Team watch 2010's The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang; plus reviews, previews, prize-winning competitions, the latest official news, fun and nonsense with the Watcher and much, much more.