Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Countdown - 42

To celebrate the fact that 2013 is the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who, we are 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.... 42
Read our previous Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Countdown posts here.

22. 42

First Broadcast on 19th May 2007. Running Time: 45 Minutes. Viewing Figures: 7.19million.
Written By Chris Chibnall.
Directed By Graeme Harper.
Executive Producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner. Rating: 10/10.

In a distant galaxy, a spaceship hurtles out of control towards a boiling sun with the Doctor and Martha trapped on board. They've only got 42 minutes to uncover the saboteurs, but, with a mysterious force starting to possess the ship's crew, the Doctor is running out of time.
Extras: Promotional Photos | Videos | Articles | 

Production Notes:
Writer Chris Chibnall was a key figure in the development and creation of Doctor Who spin off Torchwood and was appointed as head writer, penning four episodes for the first series of the drama. It was in July 2006 whilst Chibnall was still writing for Torchwood that Russell T Davies approached  him and asked him to write an episode for Doctor Who.  
The first idea was to set the story on a space station whose crew were growing older on board. However Davies decided it would be better set entirely on a spaceship and asked Chibnall to amend his script slightly. It was suggested that Chibnall should set the story in the same era as 2006's episodes The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit and much consideration was given to including the Ood in 42, however this thought did not survive the drafts.
During the development of the script Chibnall and Davies decided to set the episode in "Real Time". The intensisty and suspense of the episode is due to the fact that all events actually occur during the 42 minute time frame and 42 minutes is the run time of the episode. Davies decided the episode should therefor be called quite simply 42.
Chibnall took his inspiration for the masks worn by the possessed crew from Cyclops, a Marvel Comics superhero, who wore a visor to control the release of deadly super rays from his eyes. The scene in which the Doctor rescues Martha Jones from the escape pod was inspired by the 1992 film The Last Of The Mohicans.
The character Riley Vashtee, played by William Ash, was named after Chibnall's godson. His last name was originally Kincade, but this was changed to Vashtee after it was realised that Brannigan's middle name was Kincade in the earlier series 3 episode Gridlock. Ashton was originally called Motta, but it was thought it sounded to like Martha. The name of the solar system where the action took place was also changed. Chibnall had called this the Peony System, but it was renamed the Troaji System.
Chibnall wanted to name the spaceship in the story the SS Icarus after a character in a Greek myth about a boy who could fly using an invention by his father, but who died when he flew too close to the sun.
A scene involving the Doctor scaling the outside of the spaceship, a set was to be built, until it was realised how expensive this would be. 
Whilst Chibnall was working on the script Davies contacted him and asked him to add a scene with Francine Jones and an agent of Harold Saxon, this was to carry on the scenes from The Lazarus Experiment and also to lead up to the series 3 finale.
42 was filmed in the same production block as Utopia. Graeme Harper directed the episode. He had previously worked on Rise Of The Cybermen, The Age Of Steel, The Army Of Ghosts and Doomsday for the previous series of the show. Utopia was actually due to be filmed before 42, despite it's later appearance in the running order, however this plan was cancelled as Utopia's guest star Derek Jacobi was unavailable to film.
Filming on 42 began on January 15th 2007 with three days spent at the Upper Boat studios in South Wales filming TARDIS interiors, the airlock and the escape pod. Greenscreen work with the McDonnells' was also completed. 
By the time he was filming 42 David Tennant had luckily recovered from vocal issues that had plagued him during the filming of Human Nature, The Family Of Blood and Blink. 
From 18th January 2007 a week was spent at the Paper Company Mill in Monmouthshire filming scenes for the locker room, the main corridor, the engine area and the anteroom.
On 26th January 2007 it was back to Upperboat Studios to record more scenes, this time for scenes in the medcentre. On 30th January the control panels for the ventilation of the engines were set up at NEG Glass at Trident Park in Cardiff. Miscellaneous inserts were filmed at Upperboat on 7th and 8th February. It was around this time that it was discovered that a sci fi film called Sunshine, which was due to be released in April, also featured a spaceship called Icarus. It was therefore decided that 42's craft should be immediately renamed, the SS Pentallian, after the pentalion drive mentioned in the 1975 episode Revenge Of The Cybermen. The graphics, editing and dubbing required to make this change possible was not unduly difficult and so the change went ahead.
The scenes featuring Martha's mother, Francine Jones, were recorded at a house in Penarth. Mr Saxon's agent became a woman, as Bertie Carvel who had played the agent in The Lazarus Experiment was unable to film due to other commitments. 
Production completed at Upper Boat with scenes being finished on 1st, 6th and 13th March.
An error on the episode credits listed Matthew Chambers as playing Hal Korwin instead of his actual character's name Korwin McDonnell.
Russell T Davies stated that his was hi preference to have the Tenth Doctor dressed in his blue suit for travelling to the future and his brown suit for travelling to the past.

SOS from the SS Pentallian:
The SS Pentallian was a cargo ship touring the Toraji System, it was seperated into a series of Areas, which in an emergency, could be individually locked, requiring a two man team to open the deadlocked sealed doors using machinery and a special password. Rundown and battered, the crew were exhausted and overworked, which led captain, Kath McDonnell, to use an illegal fusion scoop to steal vast amounts of energy from a sun without doing the standard procedure of scanning life beforehand - scanning taking time and time costing money. As a result, the living sun took over the bodies of two of her crew including her husband, and they sabotaged the ship, ensuring it would crash into the sun, thus returning what had been taken.
The Doctor was able to discover the truth and convince the surviving crew to jettison the fuel back into the sun and thus avoid a fiery death. The Doctor and Martha Jones departed, leaving the Pentallian and it's two surviving crew members awaiting rescue by the authorities. The Areas on the ship included Area 31, where the TARDIS materialised; Area 30, the main area which engineering, medcentre, etc spread out from; Area 28, where Kath McDonnell used the airlock to eject herself and the sun possessed Korwin McDonnell into space; Area 27 which Lissak was nearly locked into when the secure closure occurred; and Area 22, where the sun possessed Doctor crawled to after leaving the medcentre. In Area 17, Korwin McDonnell transferred some of his sun possession to Dev Ashton, who then threatened Martha and Riley, forcing them to hide in an escape pod, which he then jettisoned. The Doctor later later left the ship via Area 17's airlock to remagnetise the outer hull and draw the pod back in. Area 1 was where the auxiliary controls for the ship were stationed, allowing Vastee and Scannell to vent the fuel, so saving their lives.

The Doomed Crew:
Kath McDonnell was the acerbic and quick witted captain of the SS Pentallian and was ultimately responsible for stealing matter from the living sun and causing her crew to be placed into danger, all because it was too expensive for her to scan for life first. She had been married to husband Korwin for 11 years and they had chosen the ship together. Korwin was the first victim of the living sun, it consumed him and used him as a walking weapon aboard the ship, wrecking engineering and setting the ship on course towards the sun. Korwin began killing the rest of the crew one by one, though he infected Dev Ashton rather than kill him, as he needed a partner. 
Orin Scannel believed he had killed Korwin by freezing him with ice vents, but Korwin soon defrosted himself and carried on with his relentless attack on the ship. So Kath led him into an airlock and opened it into space, allowing herself and her husband to be sucked into the sun where they died together.

Riley Vashtee was horrified to learn Korwin McDonnell had destroyed the engineering equipment and joined Martha Jones to head to the auxiliary controls at the front of the ship, trying to get through the locked doors in time, answering trivia questions that the crew had set as passwords. Along the way they were intercepted by possessed crew mate, Dev Ashton, and to escape him they hid inside an escape pod. Ashton jettisoned the pod and sent Riley and Martha hurtling towards the sun.
Inside the pod Vashtee and Martha talked about their impending deaths and he revelaed his father was dead and he'd run away from his mother six years before because she hadn't wanted him to sign up to work on a cargo ship. Vashtee and Martha were saved when the Doctor remagnetised the ship and the pod. Once back aboard, Vashtee made it to the Auxiliary with Orin Scannell and they vented the scooped up fuel from the sun, managing to get the ship back on course. Sad to say goodbye to Martha, Vashtee remained aboard the Pentallian with Scannell.

The Doctor: Ten seconds. That's all I'll be able to take. No more. Argghhhh!! Martha!
Martha Jones: Yeah?
The Doctor: It's burning me up. I can't control it. If you don't get rid of it, I could kill you. I could kill you all.
*groans in pain*
The Doctor: I'm scared. I'm so scared.
Martha Jones: Just stay calm. You saved me, now I return the favor. Just believe in me.

The Doctor: Burn with me. Burn with me, Martha.

The Doctor: That sun's alive. A living organism. They scooped out its heart. Used it for fuel and now its screaming!
Kath McDonnell: What do you mean? How can a sun be alive? Why is he saying that?

Martha Jones: No way! You're telling me that I can phone anyone in all of time and space on my mobile?
The Doctor: As long as you know the area code.

42 minutes is the approximate length of a standard episode of Doctor Who (minus titles and credits). 42 is not a Happy Prime number. 42 is the age that Russell T Davies reached when Series 1 of Doctor Who began in 2005. 42, according to The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, is the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything. Douglas Adams, the author, was both a writer and script editor on the classic series of Doctor Who.
To date, Elvis has had 21 number ones in the UK music charts; The Beatles have had 17. 42 minutes was the length of The Beatles' last live gig, performed on the roof of Apple HQ. 42 was the age at which Elvis Presley died.
"Allons-y!", a phrase much favoured by the Doctor of late, is French for "Let's go!"
"Burn with me" were the last words of Plasmavore Florence Finnegan, who featured earlier this series in Smith and Jones.
Similar themes to those in 42 were explored in the classic series adventure Planet of Evil (1977).
Pentallian drives were an essential component of the transmat devices in Revenge of the Cybermen.
The actress Adjoa Andoh, who plays Francine Jones, first appeared in Doctor Who under heavy make-up as the chief Cat Nun, Sister Jatt in New Earth.

  • David Tennant - The Doctor
  • Freema Agyeman - Martha Jones
  • Michelle Collins - Kath McDonnell
  • William Ash - Riley Vashtee
  • Adjoa Andoh – Francine Jones
  • Anthony Flanagan – Orin Scannell
  • Matthew Chambers – Korwin McDonnell
  • Vinette Robinson – Abi Lerner
  • Gary Powell – Dev Ashton
  • Rebecca Oldfield – Erina Lessak
  • Elize du Toit – Sinister Woman
  • Joshua Hill – Voice of countdown