Shopping Cart -

Your cart is currently empty.
Continue Shopping
This website use cookies and similar technologies to improve the site and to provide customised content and advertising. By using this site, you agree to this use. To learn more, including how to change your cookie settings, please view our Cookie Policy
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
   You are currently viewing the Australia version of the site.
Would you like to switch to your local site?
Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > 515 > The Eleventh Hour

The Eleventh Hour

It was a rollercoaster start to a brand-new era! The Eleventh Hour introduced us to a new Doctor, two new companions and a new-look TARDIS…

The Fact of Fiction

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

It’s the single hardest script I’ve ever written,” writer Steven Moffat told DWM in 2010. “A new Doctor! A new companion! No-one for our hero to prove he’s the same man to, because there’s no-one who’s met him before.” Not only that, but the episode also had to introduce the series and win over viewers, while reassuring all the existing viewers that it was still the same show, but different – but different in a good way.

It could all have gone so wrong; it was the received wisdom in some quarters that the show could not survive without Russell T Davies, that Moffat was career-crashingly mad to take it on. Instead, it has become a worldwide phenomenon, while Moffat now has won so many awards that he has had to have a mantelpiece installed in every room of his house in order to make room for them all.

I remember, years ago, reading an article about Formula One racing, which pointed out something that has stuck with me. People who don’t know the sport think the best driver is the one who goes screeching around the corners, slamming on the brakes and revving the engines. But, actually, it’s the one who glides around the track. It’s the one who makes it look effortless. And that is the genius of The Eleventh Hour; it does an incredibly difficult thing, but it makes it look easy.

The Eleventh Hour


The TARDIS zooms across London – with the newly regenerated Doctor (Matt Smith) hanging from the outside! He clambers back in and closes the doors.

■ This sequence was added in the fourth draft, dated 27 March 2009. In that draft, the Doctor is ‘hanging on for dear life like Harold Lloyd’ – referring to the famous clock scene from Safety Last! (1923) – and we also see a little boy and girl in their pyjamas looking up the stars through a window, staring at the burning TARDIS as it spins past. This sequence was then omitted from the shooting script draft, dated 17 September 2009.

■ After recording of The Eleventh Hour had been completed the decision was made to reinstate this opening sequence, and it was shot on 12 January 2010 (by which time production had moved on to Vincent and the Doctor (2010)).

■ The opening shot, ‘panning from the moon to the Earth, hanging in space, then zooming down’ is a reprise of the opening of Rose (2005), itself a reprise of the opening of Spearhead from Space (1970), with variations featuring in The Christmas Invasion (2005), Army of Ghosts (2006), The Runaway Bride (2006) and The End of Time Part One (2009).

Hang on! The thrilling opening sequence for the new Doctor.

■ The Doctor regenerated in The End of Time Part Two (2010); as the final moments of that story are set on 1 January 2005 it seems likely that the opening moments of this story are too. The End of Time Part Two ends with the TARDIS leaving the Earth but then, after the control room explodes, we see it tumbling back down again. As we see the Millennium Dome, it can’t be taking place in 1996, which wasn’t completed until 1999.

A young girl, Amelia (Caitlin Blackwood) prays to Santa to send someone to fix the crack in her wall.

■ Up until the fifth draft, dated 3 July 2009, the opening included a series of scenes with Amelia and her aunt Sharon. We first see Sharon standing at the wardrobe mirror as she compares two dresses. She tells Amelia, “You’ll be fine.” “But I get scared on my own,” says Amelia. Sharon does her make-up and Amelia pleads, “You’re not supposed to leave me! I’m seven!” “What are you so scared of?” asks Sharon. Amelia then shows her aunt the crack in her bedroom wall. “How many times,” says Sharon. “It’s just a crack in the wall.” She holds her hand up to the crack. “Tiny little draft [sic], that’s all. I’ve asked Mr Collins to come and fix it. I’ll phone him tomorrow and remind him.” Sharon bustles back to her room, leaving Amelia staring at the crack: “It’s not just a crack.” Sharon then leaves and, after we hear her footsteps rattling away into the night, we see Amelia at the top of the stairs.

“ Hello. I’m the Doctor. Basically, run.”

■ The fifth draft introduces the idea of Amy being Scottish, as Karen Gillan was cast in the role in May 2009. It says that ‘Sharon is English while Amelia is clearly Scottish’. This draft also changes Amelia’s request for Santa to send a policeman; in previous drafts she asked for “someone who’s not Mr Collins” to come and fix the wall.

■ This is Barney Collins, who we later learn is one of the victims of Prisoner Zero (presumably it put him in a coma when he came to repair the crack), an idea not carried through to the finished episode.

■ Up until the fifth draft Amelia also thanked Santa for a Nintendo.

■ According to the shooting script, the year is 1996. Most of the episode is then set in 2008, with the last few scenes set in June 2010. This is not established in this episode, but in Flesh and Stone (2010) and other episodes of the same season.

■ This means that most of The Eleventh Hour takes place in the same year as Harold Saxon’s ill-fated Prime-Ministership of the UK; presumably in the summer shortly after the conclusion of Last of the Time Lords (2007).

■ According to Moffat on the DVD commentary, the inspiration for the crack came from “the crooked-smile crack in the wall above [his son] Louis’ bed. I noticed one as I put him to bed, there was a big crack in the wall and I thought, ‘God, I hope he never starts getting frightened of that.’ […] The very next day I rolled up my sleeves and got on the phone and got somebody else to fill in the crack.”


■ Steven Moffat began writing his first episode as ‘head writer’ in January 2008; in The Writer’s Tale: The Final Chapter (BBC Books, 2010) Russell T Davies quotes an email from Moffat saying: ‘I’ve written the first few pages of my first episode. Couldn’t stop myself.’ Moffat then worked on the story for over a year, delivering his fifth draft on 3 July 2009.

Purchase options below
Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Doctor Who Magazine - 515
If you own the issue, Login to read the full article now.
Single Issue - 515
Or 799 points
Annual Digital Subscription
Only $ 1.92 per issue
Or 2499 points
Annual Digital Subscription
Only $ 3.00 per issue
Or 3899 points
Annual Digital Subscription
Only $ 4.31 per issue
Or 5599 points

View Issues

About Doctor Who Magazine

Contents include: • An in-depth interview with STEVEN MOFFAT, head writer and executive, who reflects on his years working on the series • STEVEN MOFFAT writes his last-ever PRODUCTION NOTES • A look back at 20 amazing things about the STEVEN MOFFAT era of DOCTOR WHO, plus tributes from RUSSELL T DAVIES, CHRIS CHIBNALL, MARK GATISS and many more • Part 2 of the DWM interview with DOCTOR WHO writer, actor and fan, MARK GATISS • A brand-new adventure for the Doctor and Bill in Part 1 of the latest comic strip story, THE PARLIAMENT OF FEAR by Scott Gray, with art by Staz Johnson • Reviews of the 2017 series finale WORLD ENOUGH AND TIME and THE DOCTOR FALLS • THE FACT OF FICTION looks at the Eleventh Doctor’s debut episode, 2010’s THE ELEVENTH HOUR • The latest DVDs and audios are reviewed • Previews of forthcoming releases • Prize-winning competitions, the 2017 SEASON SURVEY official news, the WOTCHA! column