Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Countdown -The Runaway Bride

To celebrate the fact that 2013 is the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who, we'll be taking a look back at all of the episodes of the show which featured David Tennant as the Doctor. At the end of our look back we'll be asking you, the fans, to vote for what you think is the ultimate David Tennant episode of Doctor Who....

We continue with the next David Tennant episode.... The Runaway Bride
Read our previous Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Countdown posts here.

15. The Runaway Bride

First Broadcast on 25th December 2006. Running Time: 60 Minutes. Viewing Figures: 9.35 million.
Written By Russell T Davies.
Directed By Euros Lyn.
Executive Producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner. Rating: 10/10.


Bride-to-be Donna mysteriously vanishes as she prepares to marry her boyfriend Lance in a glittering ceremony on Christmas Eve. She suddenly appears, to her complete astonishment, in the Tardis with the Doctor. As the Tardis races to get to the church on time, the Doctor and Donna are closely watched by the sinister figure of The Empress of Racnoss from her throne in her spaceship. It soon becomes clear that Donna is the key to an ancient alien plan to destroy the Earth.

Extras: Promotional Photos | On Set Photos | Videos | Articles | MP3 Commentary 

Production Notes:

The Runaway Bride was the first episode of Doctor Who to be filmed at the Upper Boat Studios on the outskirts of Pontypridd. Previous episodes were filmed in Newport.

Although the episode is set in London during December a lot of it was filmed in July in scorching temperatures in Cardiff. 

Cardiff locations used included St Mary Street, St John The Baptist church and the corridors of the Millennium Stadium. The Empress Of Rachnoss' lair was Newport Dock's Impounding Station and the TARDIS / Taxi car chase was filmed on Cardiff's link road.
Location work in London included working on the roof of an office block in Shoe Lane and at the Thames Barrier.

Writer Russell T Davies had been planning this story for a while and had originally thought to use it during Series 2. However when Billie Piper told him she would be leaving the show he decided to hold the story back and promoted it to being the Christmas Special.

Due to her busy schedule, Donna Noble actress, Catherine Tate was unable to attend the readthrough of the script. Her part was instead read by Sophia Myles, who had previously played Madame de Pompadour in The Girl In The Fireplace. Sophia was also present on set for a lot of the filming.

The opening scene of the episode was completey reshot from the version seen in Doomsday, as the Director of Photography and lighting crew wanted to light the TARDIS interior differently for the special.

Due to legal reasons the production company had to print fake money for the cash machine scene where money flies out across the street.
The £10 notes featured the Tenth Doctor's face and the phrases "I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of ten satsumas" and "No second chances — I'm that sort of a man".  The £20 notes featured the series producer Phil CollinsonThe notes have since become collector's items with fans selling them on eBay.

The Friends: Introducing Donna

Donna Noble was halfway up the aisle of St Mary's church and about wed fiance Lance Bennett when she found herself on board the TARDIS, a side effect of the Empress of Racnoss' plans hatched with her accomplice, who just happened to be Donna's husband to be!
Donna met Lance when she was temping as a secretary for HC Clements, six months before their wedding day. He had offered to make her a cup of coffee and it was love at first sight for Donna. However it later emerged that the coffee contained Huon Energy in liguid form and that Lance was drugging her on behalf of the Empress, who was using Donna's body to catalyse the Huon particles, enabling her to release the remaining Racnoss from the centre of the Earth.
The Doctor later deduced that it was when these particles inside Donna had magnetised with those inside the TARDIS that she was drawn on board and was then able to reverse the process, summoning the TARDIS to materialise around them.
The Doctor confirmed that the Huon Energy, which is deadly to humans, had been drained from Donna by the Empress before she returned home.

Prior to her time at HC Clements Donna, who is the daughter of Sylvia and Geoff Noble and the granddaughter to Wilfred Mott, lived alone with her dog in London. 
Donna liked Pringles, fashionable fads and celebrity gossip. She hated Christmas so much that she deliberately scheduled her wedding for Christmas Eve with a honeymoon in Morocco to follow.
The Doctor observed that Donna had the tendency to miss huge events that were happening all around her. She was too hungover to notice the Sycorax invasion ('The Christmas Invasion') and was scuba diving in Spain when the Cybermen manifested across the globe ('Army Of Ghosts' / 'Doomsday') .
Athough the Doctor helped Donna to put her life in to perspective she turned down the opportunity to travel him following their encounter with the Rachonss, chossing to give up temping and go travelling alone instead.
She did however hope that their paths would cross again one day.....

The Foe: The Empress Of Rachnoss
The Empress Of Rachnoss was the last of her ancient race, legendary foes of and ultimately destroyed by the Time Lords. One Webstar, the Secret Heart, containing her offspring escaped but was entombed at the core of the planet Earth, which formed around it. The Empress needed an organic key full of Huon particles to free her children and as the Torchwood Institute had already drawn her attention, she recreated Huon particles artificially in its secret labs.
She convinced Lance Bennett, an employee of a Torchwood subsidiary company, to force feed co worker Donna Noble with a potentially fatal dose of Huon particles, thus creating the key she required.
When Donna escaped, the Empress had her Roboform mercanaries force feed Lance thus creatinga spare key. 
The Doctor realised he had to stop these old foes once and fora ll and destroyed the Empress' children using small explosives to flood the chamber beneath the Thames Barrier, into which they were crawling.
As her children died, the Empress escaped back to her own Webstar, swearing revenge, but a British Army tank, acting on the orders of Minister Of Defence, Harold Saxon, blew the Webstar to pieces, presumably killing the Empress too.
In the alternative world where Donna never met the Doctor, the Empress was killed but the Doctor did not escape the resultant destruction of the Thames Barrier and died there ('Turn Left').
Donna later recalled the Empress of Rachnoss as she subconciously fought the Master's influence ('The End Of Time') 


  • Donna: Promise me one thing though, Doctor.
  • The Doctor: What's that?
  • Donna: That you'll find somebody.
  • The Doctor: I don't need anybody.
  • Donna: Yes you do. Because I think sometimes you need somebody to stop you.
  • Donna: I can't do it!
  • The Doctor: Trust me.
  • Donna: Is that what you said to her? Your friend? The one you lost? Did she trust you?
  • The Doctor: Yes, she did. And she is not dead. She is SO alive. Now jump!

  • This is the first time an ancient form of energy known as Huon particles are referenced. These are an element of the heart of the TARDIS. Other substances and energies associated with the TARDIS include mercury (The Daleks, 1963), Artron enery (The Deadly Assasin, 1976) and Zeiton 7 (Vengeance On Varos, 1985).
  • This is the first time that the Doctor's home planet, Gallifrey, has been referred to by name on TV since the return of the series. The first time the name was ever revealed was in the Third Doctor adventure The Time Warrior (1973).
  • The tank commander who shoots down Empress's ship recieves orders from a certain Mr Saxon - the first time the character is spoken about onscreen. Eagle-eyed viewers, however, will have spotted that Saxon was previously referenced in a newspaper headline in Love & Monsters.
  • The TARDIS takes off vertically, like a rocket, at the story's conclusion. This hasn't happened since the Second Doctor serial, Fury from the Deep (1968). On that occassion, we only got to see the take-off from inside the TARDIS.
  • Sarah Parish previously co-starred with David Tennant in the BBC One dramas Blackpool (2004) and Recovery (2007). Another Blackpool star, David Morrissey, has a lead role in the 2008 Christmas Special, The Next Doctor.
  • Following the precedent set with Song For Ten in The Christmas Invasion, composer Murray Gold wrote a new original song for this special, Love Don't Roam. The song was performed by Neil Hannon, frontman of the Divine Comedy. The Divine Comedy have also provided music for comedies Father Ted and The IT Crowd.

  • David Tennant - The Doctor
  • Catherine Tate - Donna Noble
  • Sarah Parish - The Empress of Rachnoss
  • Don Gilet – Lance Bennett
  • Howard Attfield – Geoff Noble
  • Jacqueline King – Sylvia Noble
  • Trevor Georges – Vicar
  • Rhodri Meilir – Rhodri
  • Krystal Archer – Nerys
  • Zafirah Boateng – Little Girl
  • Paul Kasey – Robot Santa

What do you think of the episode? Tell us below....