Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Countdown - Human Nature

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.... Human Nature
Read our previous Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Countdown posts here.

23. Human Nature 

First Broadcast on 26th May 2007. Running Time: 45 Minutes. Viewing Figures: 7.74million.
Written By Paul Cornell.
Directed By Charles Palmer.
Executive Producers Russell T Davies, Phill Collinson and Julie Gardner. Rating: 10/10.

It's 1913 in England, and an ordinary schoolteacher called John Smith dreams of adventures in time and space and a mysterious blue box. But, when lights in the sky herald the arrival of something strange and terrible, Smith's maid, Martha, has to convince him that he alone can save the world.

Extras: Promotional Photos | On Set PhotosVideos | Articles | 

Production Notes:
From 1991 to 1997 Virgin Books published the Doctor Who: New Adventures range of novels. One of the most popular of these novels was Human Nature, written by Paul Cornell, and released in May 1995.
In 1998 it was voted the all time best New Adventures story by readers of Doctor Who Magazine.
The novel featured the Seventh Doctor, who was portrayed by Sylvester McCoy, and Bernice (Benny) Summerfield, a New Adventures companion. 
The story was inspired by Joseph Campbell's The Hero With A Thousand Faces.
In the novel the Doctor's companion Benny had lost her lover and so to fully understand what she was going through the Doctor transformed himself into a human. 
The Doctor truly believes he is Dr John Smith from Aberdeen and he and Benny, who poses his niece, settle in to life at the Hulton Academy For Boys in the Spring of 1914. It is whilst living here as a human that the Doctor falls in love with a widow, Joan Redfern.
They battle the shapeshifting aliens the Aubertides who are looking for the receptacle which holds the Doctor's real identity.

Human Nature was a favourite with show runner Russell T Davies who had thought of basing an episode of the novel since he was appointed to head the new series. 
Davies approached Cornell to write a two episode script for Human Nature, soon after he had finished work on Series 1's Father's Day.
Davies wanted the story to form part of series 3 and so it became one of the earliest commissions for that series. Cornell began work on the scripts in May 2006.

A lot of the aspects of Human Nature could be easily adapted for the screen version, with Benny being replaced with Martha Jones posing as the Doctor's maid. 
The Doctor's human alter ego became simply Mr John Smith so that he would not be called Dr by any of the other characters. 
Due to David Tennant's preference of wishing to continue to use an English accent John Smith's birthplace was changed to Nottingham. 
The receptacle for the Doctor's true identity changed from a cricket ball to a pocket watch, as this was easier to be opened.
The action shifted forwards to the summer of 1914 and the backwards to the winter of 1913. The school was also renamed as Farringham School For Boys. 
A lot of subplots and characters from the novel were not included including Constance the suffragette, Benny's landlord and Alexander Shuttleworth.
The story pays tribute to Sydney Newham and Verity Lambert with John Smith saying that his parents are called Verity and Sydney. In the novel the Doctor says his parents are Harry and Sarah Jane, after his former companions Sarah Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan.

Other changes from the novel had to be more significant. The original foes, the Aubertides were shapeshifters and could take on the appearance of anything they ate. Their entire being including clothes and possessions could also 'feel' and was an extension of their bodily form.
Cornell attempted to make this apparent on screen by writing scenes were the little girl was given a balloon that would seek and attack. Another scene was to feature Martha realising her friend Jenny was an alien when she reacted in pain to Martha spilling hot tea on her handbag. 
In the end though it was decided that the Aubertides just didn't work as well on screen as they did in writing and so they were replaced with The Family Of Blood.

Davies decided he still wanted a traditional monster for the story and so the scarecrows came about. The scary scarecrows became servants of The Family and their gruesome appearance certainly fitted the bill of traditional Doctor Who monster.

During really early planning stages, Martha Jones family also played a role in the story as Martha's character was originally going to have come from the year 1914.

Cornell says he really struggled with the construction of the scripts as he feared the story may be too old fashioned for new fans of the show.
The first draft he wrote opened with the Doctor already married to the school nurse, Joan. Davies encouraged him and told him to stick more closely to his original story. 
Then Cornell decided to stretch the timeline of the story out to provide the time for the Doctor and Joan to experience a courtship period. This however was thought to distract form the suspense of The Family who were tracking the Doctor.  The emotions of their romance was instead saved for a flash forward sequence shown in 'The Family Of Blood' which showed their love for one another, their subsequent marriage and the birth of their first child.
The cliffhanger for Human Nature also changed. It was initially to show John Smith being torn over the decision of asking the schoolboys to open fire on The Family.

Some thought was given to making the episode with absolutely no computerised effects, this was eventually abandoned. 
At one point, Human Nature and The Family Of Blood were to be the fourth and fifth episodes of the series but it was decided to push them back to the eighth and ninth.
Daleks In Manhattan and Evolution Of The Daleks replaced them in the original running order.
The episodes were moved to Block Six of the production schedule and were directed by Charles Palmer who had previously worked on Smith And Jones and The Shakespeare Code during the production of Series 3.

Because of the overlap with Blink a new producer, Susie Liggat, was appointed to oversee Human Nature and The Family Of Blood to ease the load from Phil Collinson. 
Collinson was instead credited as Executive Producer on the episodes. 

Filming began on 27th November 2006 at Upperboat with Freema Agyeman filming scenes of Martha in the TARDIS.
Severeal different locations were used to portray Farringham Boys School.
Llandaff Cathedral in Llandaff was one of these and filming there took place on 28th November. 
Treberfydd House in Brecon was used from 29th November until 5th December and Tredegar House in Newport became the school on the 6th December.
The scenes of John Smith and Joan and their first child were also filmed at Tedegar House.
It was then back to the studios at Upper Boat to record the Doctor's messages inside the TARDIS and also to record scenes from John Smith's study.

On the 11th December it was back to Tredegar House to film the scenes of John Smith's death set in 1963 and also to record footage of Lucy's capture.
On the 12th December various locations were used including Llandaff Cathedral which was used as the war memorial as well as the the church for John and Joan's wedding service. 
Tim's vision of Martha in a present day corridor was filmed at BBC Broadcasting House in Llandaff.
Neal's Soils in Cardiff became the World War I battlefield, on the 13th to 15th December the action then moved to St Fagan's Natural History Museum in Cardiff were the exteriors of the village were recorded as well as the dance sequences inside the village hall.

After the Christmas holidays work started again at Upperboat on 3rd January 2007 with scenes inside the Family's spaceship being recorded.
It was back to St Fagan's  Museum for more shots from 4th January to 8th January. 
The scenes of the Doctor and Martha's farewell to Tim were filmed at Cwm Ifor Farm in Caerphilly as was the scene were John and Joan meet a scarecrow.
On the 9th and 10th January it was back to Upperboat to record scenes in the Cartwright's cottage. During these days David Tennant was plagued with continuing vocal problems.
All remaining work was done at Upperboat with work completing on 23rd February.

The illustrations for John Smith's Journal Of Impossible Things were done by artist Kellyanne Walker. The diary featured drawings, supposedly done by John Smith, of the various monsters the Doctor had met on his travels as well as the Doctor's nine previous incarnations. This was the first visual nod to the actors from the classic series of Doctor Who in a new series episode.

Maid Martha:
When the Doctor made himself human, his companion Martha Jones was left resonsible for the safety of his alter ego John Smith.
Smith found Martha employment alongside him at Farringham School For Boys, where she worked as a maid for several weeks, and befriended fellow staff member Jenny.
During this time Martha, who was deeply in love with the Doctor, was forced to watch as he, as John Smith, fell in love with Joan Redfern. This left her upset and confused as to why he had chosen to fall in love with someone who wasn't her.
She protected Smith from the attack by the Family Of Blood and ultimately had to persuade him and Joan that the Doctor should be brought back into existence meaning that John and Joan's life together must end.

Mrs Smith:
Nurse Joan Refern was the matron of Farringham School For Boys and was charged with overseeing their welfare. Over the weeks that John Smith began teaching history at the school, Joan became attracted to him and he to her, and they began seeing one another, much to the chagrin of Martha. She knew the relationship was doomed because, before long, she would have to open the pocket watch containing the essence of the Doctor, so John Smith would no longer exist. 
When The Family Of Blood attacked the village and the school Joan found herself tested. She deplored the fact that the boys were educated in the art of war, because her husband Oliver had died during the Boer War, and yet she accepted that the school needed to defend itself from The Family and their Scarecrow footsoldiers. She eventually led Smith and Martha to the Cartwright's cottage, where she and John discussed the fact he was clearly this Doctor that Martha and The Family claimed he was. Eventually John opened the pocket watch and the Doctor was reborn. 
Joan realised that no matter how much she loved John Smith, the Doctor was a different person, and one she did not like at all. The Doctor offered Joan the chance to leave with him and travel alongside him because somewhere inside him the part of him that was John Smith was still in love with her. But Joan was resolute and told him to leave. She kept his Journal Of Impossible Things as a reminder of the second love of her life to have died.
Her great granddaughter Verity Newman wrote a biography of her based on her diaries. During his last hours the Tenth Doctor visited Verity at a book signing and she told him that Joan had lived a happy life which pleased him greatly.

Scary Scarecrows:
The scarecrows were straw-filled foot soldiers created by Son Of Mine, using molecular fringe animation. Relentless, untiring, with rudimentary intelligence, even after being shot down by machine gun fire, they could be reanimated.
After The Family Of Blood were imprsioned for eternity by the Doctor they probably just fell apart or just went back to being traditional scarecrows placed in fields and meadows across Britain.


Son of Mine: Have you enjoyed it, Doctor? Being human? Has it taught you wonderful things? Has it made you better? Richer? Wiser? Then let's see you answer this: Which one of them do you want us to kill? Maid, or matron? Your friend, or your lover? Your choice!

Joan Redfern: Where did you learn to draw?
John Smith: Gallifrey.
Joan Redfern: Is that in Ireland?
John Smith: Yes it must be.
Joan Redfern: You're not Irish?
John Smith: Not at all, no. My father Sydney was a watchmaker from Nottingham, and my mother Verity was - well, she was a nurse, actually.
Joan Redfern: Oh, we make such good wives!

John Smith: I dream I'm this adventurer. This daredevil, a madman. The Doctor, I'm called. And last night, I dreamt that you were there. As my companion.


World War I, triggered by the assassination of Arch Duke of Austria Franz Ferdinand, took place between 1914 and 1918. Over nine million people died in the conflict. Among them were boys who had lied about their age in order to enter into battle for King and Country.

In 2007 when this episode first broadcast there were fewer than five veterans from the First World War still alive and living in the UK.
The Doctor has long yearned for 'normal' human life like the one that John Smith could have had. He confessed as much to a young married couple in Father's Day.
Despite appearances, the Doctor is an immensely powerful being. Don't make him angry. You won't like him when he's angry.

Smith's Journal Of Impossible Things was created by artist Kellyanne Walker, based on text provided by Paul Cornell. Kellyanne's brief was to reflect the fact that Smith wasn't an excellent artist - and that these were images and thoughts from his dreams that he had rushed down on paper before he forgot them.

One thing that 'Baines' never did was Blink. In the original book of Human Nature, there was a character called Moffat, named after Paul Cornell's friend and fellow writer, Steven Moffat. Blink by Steven Moffat is the next episode of Doctor Who.

Among the many Gods and Demons that the Doctor has fought are Azaal (The Dæmons), Sutekh (Pyramids of Mars), the Gods of Ragnarok (The Greatest Show in the Galaxy) and The Beast (The Satan Pit).

Dwarf Star Alloy first appeared in the story Warriors' Gate. It is extremely dense and very, very heavy.

  • David Tennant - The Doctor
  • Freema Agyeman - Martha Jones
  • Jessica Hynes - Joan Redferd
  • Harry Lloyd – Jeremy Baines
  • Thomas Sangster – Tim Latimer
  • Tom Palmer – Hutchinson
  • Pip Torrens – Rocastle
  • Rebekah Staton – Jenny
  • Gerard Horan – Mr. Clark
  • Lauren Wilson – Lucy Cartwright
  • Matthew White – Phillips
  • Derek Smith – Doorman
  • Peter Bourke – Mr. Chambers