Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Countdown - The Lazarus Experiment

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.... The Lazarus Experiment
Read our previous Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Countdown posts here.

21. The Lazarus Experiment

First Broadcast on 5th 2007. Running Time: 45 Minutes. Viewing Figures: 7.19million.
Written By Stephen Greenhorn.
Directed By Richard Clarke.
Executive Producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner. Rating: 9/10.


Martha returns home to her family to complete her studies and discovers that her sister, Tish, has been selected to organise a meeting where a 76-year-old scientist, Dr Lazarus, is developing his age-defying Genetic Manipulation Device. It soon becomes clear that Dr Lazarus isn't all he seems and, unbeknown to the Doctor, the professor's paymaster has just set the wheels of a deadly trap in motion. As human DNA morphs into a monstrous form, can the Doctor and Martha fight for survival?

Extras: Promotional Photos | Videos | Articles | MP3 Commentary

Production Notes:
Russell T Davies asked Stephen Greenhorn , The Lazarus Experiment writer, to create a story featuring a "mad scientist" and to set the tale in modern day Earth. 
Greenhorn sought his inspiration from Marvel comic books such as Spiderman, focusing on his foes The Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus, and also The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Some of Greenhorn's first ideas had to be discarded as Davies felt they were too similar to some episodes of Torchwood. Another suggestion that the scientist would be working on creating an invulnerable synthetic skin was also scrapped as Davies feared it may be part of the plot for the Spiderman 3 movie which was due to be released in cinemas around the time The Lazarus Experiment was due to air.
In the end Greenhorn settled on the scientist working on an experiment to regain his youth. The scientist was first called Professor Anger, but eventually became Professor Lazarus after the man raised from the dead by Jesus Christ in The Gospel According To John.
The working title of the episode was The Madness Of Professor Lazarus.

This is the first time we get to really meet Martha Jones' family and Davies asked that they play a pivotal part in the episode and were given a strong presence.
Greenhorn focused his attention Martha's sister Tish and Davies later added more scenes for Martha's mother Francine setting up the storyline for the series finale by including scenes of her with Saxon's agents.

The director of this episode was Richard Clark, who also directed Gridlock, and the episodes were filmed in the same production block. 
The lead guest actor for the episode was Mark Gatiss who had previously penned the episodes The Unquiet Dead and The Idiot's Lantern before his appearance in this episode.

The location of St Paul's Cathedral in London played a large part in the story and arrangements to film at the actual cathedral were put in place only for them to fall through just before filming was about to begin.
Greenhorn had to make several script alterations and changed the action Southwark Cathedral - however the filming was actually done at Wells Cathedral in Somerset over two days at the beginning of October 2006.
Filming then took place at the Senedd in Cardiff, this was used as the set for Lazarus' drinks reception. The rooftop scene were Lazarus transforms was filmed at Churchill House, Cardiff. The Cardiff branch of Lloyds TSB also appeared as Lazarus' office and the scenes of him dying at Southwark cathedral were also filmed there.
The Cardiff National Museum was the venue for Lazarus' press conference scenes and the foyer of his lab. The scene were Francine Jones slaps the Doctor across the face was also filmed outside the building.
The final location work was carried out at Cardiff University's Biomedical Science Building which acted as Lazarus' lab itself.
On October 17th filming began at Upper Boat studios were scenes inside Martha's flat and the interior of the TARDIS were recorded as well as inserts and green screen work. 

In December Davies changed the title from The Madness Of Professor Lazarus to The Lazarus Experiment. Echoing the The Quatermass Experiment which both David Tennant and Mark Gatiss had previously appeared in, though Davies denies it was his intention to parody the title.

Keeping Up With The Joneses:
Business woman and mother of Matha, Francine Jones, was seperated from her husband, Martha's father Clive.  Francine detested Clive's new girlfriend Annalise and saw her as an ignorant gold digger.
Francine attended the demonstration of GMD at LazLabs as a guest of her other daughter Tish, who was head of PR there. She took her son Leo as her escort for the night and he was injured when the Lazarus creature attacked. Already suspicious of the Doctor and Martha's friendship, she was distraught when both Martha and Tish remained with the Doctor and chased after Lazarus. A mystery man who approached her during the demonstration, returned to warn her about the Doctor - though she was most likely fed a lot of lies, as the mysterious man was a minion of Harold Saxon.

Martha's elder sister Tish had already witnessed the Judoon's removal and return of the Royal Hope Hospital with her sister inside it before meeting the Doctor and Martha at LazLabs.
Tish was head of PR at the lab and worked for Richard Lazarus. When Lazarus hit on her she rejected his amorous advances, but once he had been rejuvenated to his younger self she realised that flirting with him might be a good career move. As a result she was with him to see his transformation into the deadly Lazarus creature and ended up helping the Doctor and Martha destroy it at Southwark Cathedral. Soon afterwards Tish took up a new job overseeing PR for Lucy Saxon, the Prime Minister's wife...

The Nutty Professor:
Professor Richard Lazarus was the creatir of the Genetic Manipulation Device, with which he claimed he could change what it meant to be human. He entered the machine at 76 and came out 40 years younger, his DNA having been rewritten. In undoing his DNA, however, he broughtt to the surface a series of molecules that were otherwise dormant in humanity and these quickly became dominant in him, transforming him into a savage arthropod, needing to draw the life energy of humans to survive. Believing the changes were under control, Lazarus continued to maintain that what he was doing was essential to the future of mankind but, with each change, more people had to die. Eventually he sought refuge in Southwark Cathedral, just as he had done as a young boy during the Second World War. There the Doctor maginified the Sonic resonance of the Cathedral's organ, disorienting Lazarus, who fell from the bell tower, dying for good at his true age of 76.


The Doctor:  Ah, Mrs. Jones; we never finished our chat.
*Francine Jones slaps the Doctor round the face*
Francine Jones: Keep away from my daughter!
Martha Jones: Mum, what are you doing?
The Doctor: Always the mothers! Every time!

The Doctor: Oh, look, they've got nibbles! I love nibbles.

The Doctor: Black tie... Whenever I wear this, something bad always happens.
Martha Jones: That's not the outfit, that's just you. But anyway, I think it suits you. In a... James Bond kinda way.
The Doctor: Really...


The multi-talented Mark Gatiss, who plays Lazarus, has been a fan of Doctor Who all his life. He wrote The Unquiet Dead and The Idiot's Lantern, as well as a number of other Doctor Who books and audio adventures. He even appeared as the Doctor himself, in a sketch for BBC2's Doctor Who Night (broadcast 13 September 1999).To date, only two other people have both acted in and written for the series (cameo roles excluded): Glyn Jones, who wrote The Space Museum and appeared in The Sontaran Experiment and Victor Pemberton, who wrote Fury From the Deep and appeared in The Moonbase.
According to The Bible (John 11:41-44), Lazarus died and then came back to life after four days when Jesus rolled away the stone from his tomb.
In this episode, we learn that Mr Saxon's first name is Harold for the first time.
The latest advances in forensic medicine mean that DNA can be extracted from microscopic amounts of material. A sloppy kiss on the hand from Lazarus would be more than adequate to provide a sample.
Southwark Cathedral was the first gothic church to be constructed in England, with the main structure being built between 1220 and 1420. Wells Cathedral in Somerset doubled for the interior of the cathedral. It's the seat of the Bishop of Bath and Wells.
The organ played by the Doctor consists of 67 stops and dates back to an instrument built by Henry Willis in 1857. This was enlarged by Harrison and Harrison in 1910 and substantially rebuilt by them in 1973/4. Although he's a man of many Talents, David Tennant's fancy fingerwork at the organ was actually provided by keyboard wizard David Bednall.
The Doctor loves nibbles. In The Sea Devils, he demolished an entire plate of sandwiches in seconds.
Modified sound waves were also used to defeat the Robot Santas in The Runaway Bride and the deadly weed creature in Fury From the Deep.
Those that have achieved immortality invariably live to regret it. Examples include Mawdryn and his followers (Mawdryn Undead) and the Doctor's old teacher, Borusa (The Five Doctors).


  • David Tennant - The Doctor
  • Freema Agyeman - Martha Jones
  • Mark Gatiss - Professor Richard Lazarus
  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw – Tish Jones
  • Reggie Yates – Leo Jones
  • Adjoa Andoh – Francine Jones
  • Thelma Barlow – Lady Thaw
  • Lucy O'Connell – Party Guest
  • Bertie Carvel – Mysterious Man