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The Impossible Astronaut/Day Of The Moon

Amy, Rory and River witness the death of the Doctor. But that’s just the start of the story…

Exploring the hidden depths of Doctor Who’s most intriguing stories…

Above: A mysterious space-suited figure, on a mission to kill the Doctor in The Impossible Astronaut (2011).

Right inset: A hospital is transported to the Moon in Smith and Jones (2007).

Right: The TARDIS lands on the Moon on 22 July 1970, just ahead of the first astronauts to arrive from Earth, in issue 710 of TV Comic . Art by Neville Main.

It was one small step for a man – or so astronaut Neil Armstrong would have said, had an all-important indefinite article not been misspoken, or lost to static, when he set foot in the dust of the Moon’s Mare Tranquillitatis at 10.56 PM (EDT) on Sunday 20 July 1969.

Womankind, however, had already made its own giant leap, since the Tenth Doctor’s companion Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) had apparently beaten Armstrong and his NASA comrade Buzz Aldrin to the surface, and more than once. “Oh, the Moon landing’s brilliant,” she claimed in Blink (2007). “We went four times…”

Weirdly, Martha had already visited the Moon, along with the rest of the Royal Hope Hospital, but that’s another story – specifically, Smith and Jones (2007). Which was itself just one of Doctor Who ’s many lunar landings, from The Moonbase (1967) to Kill the Moon (2014). None of them, though, were quite as uncanny as the July 1965 TV Comic adventure that brought the First Doctor and his grandchildren John and Gillian to the scene of the first human Moon landing, which was predicted to occur on 22 July 1970 – just one year and two days off!

Compared to all of the above, the two-parter comprising The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon is positively respectful in its presentation of the Apollo 11 landing of 50 years ago… if, that is, one’s prepared to overlook the suggestion that the entire space program was only a by-product of the alien Silence’s need to develop a very special survival suit. Instead, it takes a giant leap into a territory rarely before traversed by Doctor Who : the United States of America.

Although the TARDIS may have landed Stateside before – in The Chase (1965), The Gunfighters (1966), the TV movie (1996) and in Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks (2007), for example – none of those past excursions were actually filmed there, not in any substantial sense. But here, at last, is Doctor Who in Utah’s Monument Valley, traversing exactly the same landscape trodden by John Wayne in Stagecoach (1939) or the heroes of so many other John Ford Westerns – My Darling Clementine (1946), Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), The Searchers (1956)…

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About Doctor Who Magazine

HIDDEN TREASURES FROM ONE OF THE SERIES’ GREATEST DIRECTORS – ONLY IN DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE 541! Previously unseen images and new insights on the stories Christopher Barry directed: The Daleks, The Rescue, The Romans, The Savages, The Power of the Daleks, The Dæmons, The Mutants, Robot, The Brain of Morbius and The Creature from the Pit. Also in this issue: • Director Michael E Briant, actress Kay Patrick and writer Marc Platt recall working with Christopher Barry. • Jon Pertwee reflects on life after Doctor Who in the second part of an interview conducted at his first ever convention appearance in 1977. • David Bradley answers questions from the TARDIS tin. • The Fact of Fiction explores the Eleventh Doctor story The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon. • Reviews of the Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 10 Blu-rays and Eric Saward’s Resurrection of the Daleks novelisation. • Part Two of Power of the Mobox, a new comic strip adventure featuring the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends. • The Blogs of Doom, audio reviews, previews, news, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!