Doctor Who Logo 'Planet of the Dead'
(Story Code 4.15)

by Gareth Roberts
and Russell T Davies
The Doctor and Lady Christina de Souza

“Something is coming. Riding on the wind and shining.” – Carmen
“What is it?” – The Doctor
“Death. Death is coming.” – Carmen

At the International Gallery in London, a group of night watchmen activate the laser security system protecting one of their prized exhibits, an ancient gold chalice. However, they fail to notice as a hole is cut in the roof above them, and a black-clad woman suspended by a wired harness drops down and steals the chalice, leaving behind a novelty toy cat in its place before whizzing back up to make her escape. The woman removes her mask to reveal the beautiful face of Lady Christina de Souza, whose triumphant expression quickly turns to a frown when the building’s alarms go off. Hastily running out a back door Christina sees her accomplice being arrested by police, and as more police cars arrive on the scene she decides to abandon her comrade and jumps onto a passing No.200 bus, using her diamond ear-studs to pay the driver. As the doors start to close another passenger jumps on: the Doctor, who sits next to Christina and offers her a piece of the Easter egg he is enjoying… Seeing his quarry escaping, Detective Inspector McMillan orders his men to give chase, and they pursue the vehicle as it enters a tunnel. Back on the bus, an oblivious Doctor pulls out a jury-rigged item of equipment, which has started to register rhondium particles. Just as one of the passengers, Carmen, tells her husband that she can hear voices, the Doctor’s device explodes – and a series of violent jolts and flashes of light rock the bus... At the other end of the tunnel, the police officers awaiting the bus’ arrival check in with D.I. McMillan, only to hear that the vehicle has somehow disappeared before their superior’s eyes… Elsewhere, the Doctor and his fellow passengers awake to find themselves not in Brixton, but on an alien planet, a barren world of hot sand baking under the warmth of three suns. Their arrival doesn’t go unnoticed, as something inhuman is watching them on a monitor screen… As everyone on the bus struggles to come to terms with their new surroundings, the Doctor explains that he was tracking a hole in the fabric of reality, which somehow grew in size and pulled them through to this world; to illustrate his point he throws some sand in the air, which causes the wormhole to shimmer in the space behind the bus. On seeing a way home, the bus driver ignores the Doctor’s warnings and steps through – only to have his flesh stripped from him as walks into the portal. Back on Earth, D.I. McMillan is shocked by the appearance of the driver’s charred remains, and he immediately puts in a call to U.N.I.T., invoking an Emergency Code One. Back on the alien planet, the Doctor explains to the shocked passengers that their safe passage through the wormhole was due to the bus’ metal framework, which protected them by acting as a Faraday Cage; the only safe way back to Earth is in the bus – but the heavy vehicle’s wheels are now trapped in the deep sand… After Christina appoints herself as leader – much to the Doctor’s surprise and amusement – everyone returns to the safety of the bus, where the rest of the party introduce themselves: an unemployed young man named Nathan; another man called Barclay, on his way to meet a prospective girlfriend; Angela, who was going home to see her family; and Lou and his wife, Carmen. When Carmen mentions that she can hear the voices of the dead, the Doctor surmises that she has a low-level telepathic gift. When the woman announces that death is coming for them, panic breaks out amongst the others; the Doctor manages to restore order, and promises his fellow passengers that he will get them all home. Back in London, the appearance of soldiers, armoured trucks and helicopters heralds the arrival of U.N.I.T.; they are led by Captain Erisa Magambo, who immediately dismisses D.I. McMillan and his men and then stations armed guards at the mouth of the wormhole. On the alien world, the Doctor instructs his comrades to set seat boards under the wheels of the bus to provide traction, while Christina produces a fold-up shovel from her handy backpack. Angela tries to start up the bus, but it quickly becomes apparent that the engine is clogged with sand, and so Barclay sets to work on the engine. The Doctor and Christina explore their surroundings; it is obvious that Christina’s taste for adventure is making her enjoy her situation, but the Doctor is less enthused, sensing that something is gravely wrong with the world they are on; and when he sees storm clouds on the far horizon, he is concerned that it may not be made of sand… Returning to the bus, the Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to boost the signal of Barclay’s mobile phone to contact U.N.I.T, and as soon as he identifies himself he is put through to Magambo; the Captain instantly acknowledges the Time Lord’s request for help, passing him to her scientific advisor, Malcolm Taylor, an eccentric Welshman who is overjoyed to speak to the man whose records he has so closely studied. The Doctor is overjoyed to learn that Malcolm has already made a full-range analysis of the wormhole, and identified its energy signature using his own system of ‘Malcolms’ and ‘Bernards’. Leaving Malcolm to continue his work the Doctor and Christina set off to get images of the landscape to send back to him; however, they soon find themselves held prisoner at gunpoint by a Tritovore, an alien humanoid fly dressed in overalls, who takes them back to the wreckage of its crashed spaceship. After reassuring the captain and his crewman that he is not to blame for their ship crashing on the planet surface, the Doctor offers to pool their resources to escape. Restoring some of the ship’s systems to send out a probe to examine the storm, the Doctor then identifies the planet on which he and Christina are stranded: San Helios, located in the Scorpion Nebula, which lies on the other side of the universe from Earth. When the Tritovores explain that they came to trade their wares with the planet’s one-hundred billion inhabitants, to obtain all the waste material they produce – Christina is puzzled, as the aliens’ videologs show San Helios to be a thriving, heavily populated city, unlike the barren world on which they are now; the Doctor tells her that they are standing in the city – something has turned every building and every living thing on the planet into sand… After Malcolm checks in with the news that the wormhole is expanding, its circumference now four miles wide, the Doctor receives a second call from Nathan, who informs him that the passengers’ efforts to move the bus have used up all of the vehicle’s fuel. Just then the Tritovore probe reaches the storm – revealing it to be comprised of millions of giant, ravenous, stingray-like monsters with razor-sharp teeth, all flying towards the wormhole – and Earth. The Doctor deduces that after the creatures have eaten everything they can find, they fly rapidly around and around the planet to generate a rupture in space, a wormhole that enables them to move on to another world to devour; the metal the monsters eat not only helps to reinforce their exoskeletons, but also provides safe passage through the portal. When the Tritovores describe how their ship’s drive system stalled out ten miles above the surface of the planet, the Doctor sees a way to use their drive’s crystal nucleus to move the bus – the only problem is the crystal has fallen to the bottom of the ship’s gravity well; while the Time Lord searches the aliens’ control room for a way down, Christina has a better idea, using her wired harness to make a speedy dive down into the ship’s depths. Having prevented Christina from being fried by the ship’s security grid, the Doctor examines his companion’s bag and finds the chalice, instantly recognising it as the Cup of Athelstan, an ancient treasure belonging to the First King of Britain. When Christina explains that she stole the artefact to help her father, who recently lost his fortune in the stock market, the Doctor voices his disapproval of her lifestyle, but then admits that he also stole something: his ship; it seems the Doctor and Christina make quite a team... Reaching the crystal and its systems, Christina sees one of the monsters lying dormant in the chamber. Realising that the monster will have entered the cool area via the vent system, the Doctor warns his friend that her body heat will revive it; Christina makes a hasty retreat, but the monster awakes and flies after her, and she only just reactivates the security system in time, trapping the voracious alien below. The Doctor invites the two Tritovores to join him and the others on the bus, but before they can leave more of the creatures burst in and devour the two alien flies. The Doctor and Christina run for their lives, reaching the bus with the swarm hot on their heels. Throwing away the energy crystal, the Doctor instead attaches its anti-gravity clamps to the bus’ wheels and then connects the rest of the system to the vehicle’s controls; he then contacts Malcolm, instructing the scientist to close the wormhole the moment the bus returns. Malcolm is confident that he has a way to close the wormhole, but Captain Magambo is still concerned, as the portal’s circumference has grown to ten miles. Discovering the Tritovores’ equipment to be incompatible with the bus’ controls, the Doctor looks for something gold to connect them; much to Christina’s frustration, the only suitable item is the ancient chalice – worth £18 million – which the Doctor immediately sets about bashing into shape with a hammer… Back on Earth, Magambo orders Malcolm to close the wormhole now, but the scientist refuses to abandon the Doctor, even when the Captain pulls a gun on him. The Doctor finally gets the bus started, and to the passengers’ surprise it rises into the air, just as the swarm closes in for the kill. The Time Lord quickly drives the vehicle back through the wormhole, emerging in London at the tunnel mouth with three of the monsters flying closely behind. The U.N.I.T. soldiers instantly open fire, only to find their bullets ineffective against the creatures’ armoured hides. As Captain Magambo orders out the heavy artillery, Malcolm activates his systems but the strain makes the computers explode; luckily a hurried phone conversation to the Doctor shows the scientist how to boost the signal – the portal closes, stranding the rest of the swarm back on San Helios. U.N.I.T.’s crack team of soldiers swiftly deals with the remaining monsters – with the help of some fancy piloting skills from the Doctor. The threat over, the Time Lord takes the bus down for a landing, and as he settles the vehicle safely down on the ground he receives a kiss from Christina, and a huge round of applause from the passengers and soldiers; then, as the passengers disembark for a debriefing by U.N.I.T., the Doctor also gets a hug from an overjoyed, and very over-enthusiastic, Malcolm and a salute from Captain Magambo. After vowing to nudge any remaining wormholes to uninhibited planets, the Time Lord asks Magambo to find jobs for Nathan and Barclay, who have proved themselves admirably; Magambo agrees, and then shows the Doctor his TARDIS, which she had brought from Buckingham Palace on the back of a U.N.I.T. truck. Seeing D.I. McMillan and his men closing in, Christina asks the Doctor if she can travel with him; however, the Doctor refuses, as he has already lost too many companions. To her frustration Christina is finally arrested and led in handcuffs into a waiting police car by D.I. McMillan. As Carmen leaves the scene she warns the Doctor that his “song” will soon end – something is coming through the dark, and that “he” will knock four times… Unnerved, the Doctor has a change of heart, and he uses his sonic screwdriver to release Christina’s restraints. As the Time Lord departs in the TARDIS, Christina reaches the safety of the bus, using it to fly off into the night sky, bound for new adventures…

David Tennant (The Doctor), Michelle Ryan (Lady Christina de Souza), Lee Evans (Doctor Malcolm Taylor), Noma Dumezweni (Captain Erisa Magambo), Adam James (Detective Inspector McMillan), Glenn Docherty (Sergeant Dennison), Victoria Alcock (Angela), David Ames (Nathan), Ellen Thomas (Carmen), Reginald Tsiboe (Lou), Daniel Kaluuya (Bus Driver), Keith Parry (Barclay), James Layton (Sergeant Ian Jenner), Paul Kasey (Sorvin), Ruari Mears (Praygat)

Directed by James Strong
Produced by Tracie Simpson
Executive Producer Russell T. Davies
A BBC Wales production


TX (BBC 1 & BBC HD):
11th April 2009 @ 6.45 pm

Notes:
*Featuring the Tenth Doctor

*This hour-long special was the first 'Doctor Who' story be recorded in High Definition

*As well as transmitting on BBC 1, this was the first episode of 'Doctor Who' to be simulcast on the BBC HD channel, the BBC's High Definition channel available through Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media

*One of Malcolm's units of measurement is the 'Bernard', named after Professor Bernard Quatermass – a reference to the BBC's science fiction series of the 1950s