Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Countdown - Partners In Crime

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.... Partners In Crime
Read our previous Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Countdown posts here.

30. Partners In Crime

First Broadcast on 5th April 2008. Running Time: 48.35 Minutes. Viewing Figures: 9.1 million.
Written By Russell T Davies.
Directed By James Strong.
Executive Producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner. Rating: 10/10.

Donna Noble is determined to find the Doctor again - even if it means braving the villainous Miss Foster and her hordes of sinister Adipose. But when the alien threat escalates out of control, can Donna find her Time Lord before the march of the Adipose begins?

Extras: Promotional Photos | On Set Photos |  Videos | Articles | Screen Caps

Production Notes:
Partners In Crime features the return of Donna Noble, played by Catherine Tate, a companion who we first met in the 2006 Christmas Special, The Runaway Bride. 
When Russell T Davies first began working on series 4 of Doctor Who, he was planning to introduce a new character, a 30 something woman, named Penny Carter, who was to be loosely based on the Donna Noble character. But in March 2007 word reached Davies that Catherine Tate was interested in returning and talks soon began to secure the return of the actress. A deal between the two was soon reached and Tate was contracted for the entire 13 episode run.

At this stage, Davies' plans for the first episode were quite vague. He had considered basing the adventure in London, with the idea that a spaceship was sealing off a section of the city underneath a huge dome whilst an alien was chased through the streets. By the end of March, he had decided against the spaceship; instead, a run down old house would secrete a portal to another world which had been overrun with a vicious, canine like species, the Vorlax. The last survivors had opened a portal to the Earth in order clear their own world of the Vorlax invaders. The uncontrolled throng of Vorlax rushing through the portal was to tie in with Davies' intent to feature a CGI monster which could be reproduced in their thousands.

By early April Davies had become disenchanted with the Vorlax storyline. Instead, he decided that as Donna was not a new character she would not have to be introduced to the audience from the very beginning and so he could write a very different sort of opening episode for the series, which had so far always served to introduce either a new Doctor or a new companion. This sparked the idea of the Doctor and Donna investigating strange occurrences in an office block, seperately, but constantly missing each other by seconds and actually not finally meeting again until halfway through the episode. 
To begin with Davies considered basing the story around cosmetic surgery, with people receiving a type of “Botox” injection which was contaminated with alien spores that, once inside the person, would  burst and metamorphose the victim into a monster. 
By July, Davies had decided to focus on the diet pill industry, with the pills people were popping in a desperate attempt to slim down turning their fat into cute but intelligent creatures - The Adipose were born. In the same month Davies began work with The Mill to create scenes involving hundreds of these Adipose onscreen at the same time.

By the beginning of August it became apparent that the script for the opening episode would not be ready in time for the planned production dates. Originally, it was to be made alongside The Fires Of Pompeii as part of the series' third recording block, directed by Colin Teague. The Fires Of Pompeii was already throwing up a number of issues, including the transportation of cast and crew to Italy for several days. In the end it was decided that The Fires Of Pompeii should form it's own Production block - Block Three, whilst the opeing episode would move to Block Four. This meant a change in director for the opener and Teague was replaced by James Strong, who had recently completed the 2007 Christmas special, Voyage Of The Damned.
With the stress of completing the script slightly reduced by the later deadline, Davies managed to complete the first draft and on 6th September he named the episode Partners In Crime. In this first draft, the villainess of the piece was known as Miss Rattigan; this was eventually changed to Miss Foster because Davies felt that it suited her maternal role. 
Davies also decided included a journalist called Penny Carter as a nod to his original plans for the 'new' companion. 
One of the episode's most memorable scenes, which involves a window washer's cradle lift, was originally intended for the series 3 opening episode, Smith And Jones, with the Doctor and Martha using it to scale down the outside of the hospital. It was cut from the script due to time constraints, but Davies felt that it was too good an idea to dismiss entirely and set about working it in to to Partners In Crime.

Davies was, as always, keen for the companion's family to play a role in her series, to help to give the character a homebase back on modern Earth. The plan was to bring back Donna's mum and dad, Sylvia and Geoff played by Jacqueline King and Howard Attfield.

Davies had also been plotting a very top secret and surprising return in Partners In Crime. From an early stage in proceedings, he had planned that series 4 would result in the return of many of the best loved characters that had featured in the series since it's revival in 2005. Davies knew that his time on the series was coming to an end and so Davies wanted to make the finale of series 4 as big and as brilliant as it could be. The return of the iconic character of Rose Tyler, played by Billie Piper was key to this and now despite Rose being stranded on a parallel Earth, Davies had thought up a plan to get her back...

In March Billie Piper confirmed to Davies that she would be happy to return to the role of Rose and was able to appear in four new episodes of the series.
It was then that Davies began plotting a scene for the end of Partners In Crime which would give fans their very first tantalizing glimpse of Rose Tyler back on our Earth and searching for her Doctor. The scene was to be edited out of all preview screenings and tapes and was to be kept top secret until the episode aired on TV.
Davies was still thinking this idea over in August, when Piper explained she would be on honeymoon in January during the dates that included filming on the two part series finale. At first Davies was disappointed and frightened that he may have to rewrite the series' plotline to excluded Rose, but luckily executive producer Julie Gardner was able to reorganise the schedules of all those involved in the episodes in order to work around Piper's availability. At this stage, it was also decided that the intended surprise scene featuring Rose at the end of Partners In Crime should go ahead. This was filmed during the recording of Turn Left in which Piper made her first full reappearance in the series.

4th October 2007 saw filming on Partners In Time begin at Waterloo Gardens in Cardiff, it covered some of the scenes of the interior and exterior of Stacey's house. The rest of these scenes were completed the next day, at Glan Rhymni in Tremorfa; the same house also served as Roger's home. 

On 7th October David Tennant had to take time out of filming Partners In Crime to record a short Children In Need episode, Time Crash, at Upper Boat Studios with Peter Davison.

On the 8th October work resumed on Partners In Crime and the Adipose Industries press conference was  filmed at the Odeon Cinema in Cardiff.
Also recorded on that day was the scene of Donna stargazing with her dad, Geoff. The scene was filmed at Grangemoor Park in Caridff Bay. 
The scene was Howard Attfield's first work on series 4, and very sadly it soon became clear to the cast and crew that Attfield was not in good health at all. Davies had been informed that Attfield had recently undergone chemotherapy to treat cancer. However what Davies did not know was that Attfield's cancer was not in remission, and he was still undergoing gruelling chemotherapy sessions. Attfield admitted that he could not commit himself to appearing in further episodes and was open and honest about his long-term situation. 
As a result Davies began altering the scripts for The Sontaran Stratagem and The Poison Sky to mention the fact that Geoff was unwell and he even began to work on a plotline where Geoff would pass away and his daughter Donna would become a stronger woman after learning to cope with the death of her father. 
Another plan was for Attfield to record all of his scenes for the entire series over a couple of days, but Davies had not completed the scripts for the final three episodes so that idea was scrapped.

On 9th and 10th October the action moved to the British Gas Building in Cardiff where the scenes on the roof of Adipose Industries were recorded. The stairwell material was also shot there on the 10th. 
On the 11th and 12th October a suite in the Dominions Arcade in Cardiff was used to create Miss Foster's office. 
On 13th October the hilarious office cublicles scene was recorded at Picture Finance in Newport. The real office staff played the extras. 
The 15th October saw scenes of  the corridors of Adipose Industries completed at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

During this time Howard Attfield's wife contacted the production team and told them that Attfield had deteriorated and that she didn't think he would be well enough to return. Out of respect for Attfield, Davies ruled out recasting the role of Geoff and instead decided to use an idea he had come up with for his Penny Carter companion, a stargazing grandfather.
It was producer Phil Collinson who suggested that they should approach Bernard Cribbins and ask him to take on the role. He had recently worked with the team on the 2007 Christmas Special Voyage Of The Damned as a newspaper vendor named Stan. Davies immediately began amending the script for Partners In Crime and wrote in Cribbins as Donna's grandfather whom he renamed Wilfred Mott. Geoff Noble was then acknowledged to have passed away some time in between the events of The Runaway Bride and Smith And Jones.

On the 16th October work began at Upper Boat Studios on the TARDIS interior scenes. Also recorded on the 16th were the scenes outside the wine bar visited by Sylvia and her friends, this was shot at Bar Icon in Cardiff. 

On the 17th October, a house on Nant Fawr Road in Cardiff became Donna's home, whilst scenes of Donna convincing the Doctor to take her in to the TARDIS were recorded at Crockherbtown Lane. Work at the latter location also included a remount of the stairwell scene, which was caused by a lighting problem in the original version. Cast and crew returned to Crockherbtown Lane on the 18th October for various TARDIS exterior scenes; more of these were recorded on the premises of the British Gas Building. The same day, extra footage of the Adipose Industries foyer was captured on Kings Way in Cardiff.

On 19th and 20th October the days were spent at Upper Boat dealing with various pick-up, insert and effects shots. 
The last day of principal photography was 23rd October, when the scenes in the interior of the wine bar were filmed at Fat Cats Restaurant in Cardiff, and the material in the Adipose Industries staff toilets was completed at Cardiff's Tiger Tiger. On 19th November, two scenes were remounted: a scene in Stacey's house at Waterloo Gardens, and Donna entering the TARDIS near Scott Road in Cardiff.

On 21st October a couple of scenes at the Noble's home were rerecorded at Nant Fawr Road. These had originally featured only Donna and Sylvia, but Wilf was added to the script and was to appear as well. The crew then reshot the hilltop stargazing scene with Wilf in place of Geoff. 

On the 29th October, the top secret scene featuring Donna and Rose was recorded during the filming of Turn Left at Franklen Road in Cardiff. As per the plan, it was carefully removed from all previews of the episode.
Lastly, on 18th December 2007, a pick-up shot of Donna arriving in the Adipose Industries foyer was filmed at Upper Boat.

Sadly on 31st October 2007 Howard Attfield passed away from cancer. In tribute to their friend and colleague the cast and crew decided to add an in memorium tribute to the closing credits of Partners In Crime. 

Fancy Meeting you Here:
After helping the Doctor to defeat The Empress Of Rachnoss, Donna Noble turned down his offer to travel with him in the TARDIS (The Runaway Bride).
Instead she chose to give up her temping job and go travelling alone instead. Yet when we catch up with Donna we find life hasn't turned out the way she planned, her father has died and she's living at home with her interfering mother Sylvia, her closest friend is her caring grandfather Wilf. Her travels around the world turned out to consist of a holiday to Egypt and her mother is nagging her to get a new job. 
Donna never forgot the Doctor and all she could think of was how different her life would be if only she had said yes and agreed to travel with him. In a bid to meet him again Donna began investigating strange phenomenon, hoping beyond hope that the Doctor would also investigate and they would meet again. 
The pair's paths eventually cross when Donna is posing as a health and safety inspector at Adipose Industries and she and the Doctor join forces once more. After stopping the Adipose Donna admits to the Doctor that she kept her mum's car packed with clothes (a lot of clothes! and hats!) just in case she met him again so that she would be ready to leave with him at a moments notice. After firmly warning the Doctor that she is not interested in a romance with him the two head off together bound for Pompeii....

Mother Knows Best:
Donna's mum Sylvia was always quick to criticise her and was used to getting her own way. However she loved Donna deeply, even if she didn't always know how to show it. She was relieved when Donna returned home after her adventures with the Doctor and The Empress Of Rachnoss as she had feared her daughter may be dead.
After her husband Geoff died Sylvia, Donna and her grandfather Wilfred Mott moved to a new house in Chiswick. After Donna met up with the Doctor again Sylvia was left very angry that she had chosen to leave with him without so much as a goodbye...

Welcoming  Wilf:
Donna Noble's grandfather Wilfred Mott, or Wilf as he was also known, was an old soldier who had served in the war.
He first met the Doctor on Christmas Day when the Doctor teleported to Earth with a group of space tourists from the Sto based Starship The Titanic. It was a fleeting meeting and there was no hint of the significance that Wilf would play in the Doctor's life.
Wilf was a keen amateur astronomer and would sit for hours at his allotment watching the stars in the night sky, it was whilst doing this that he saw the Doctor and the TARDIS taking his much loved granddaughter Donna away from Earth, waving excitedly to her as she went. He was overjoyed that Donna was with the Doctor, exploring the universe and discovering aliens, he was very proud of her and what she achieved. 

The Adipose:
The Adipose were living fat creatures. When humans swallowed Adipose Capsules, slimming pills produced by Adipose industries, the creatures grew within the fatty deposits of their bodies., then detached themselves.
Their departure gave the impression that the capsules provided an instant weight loss solution. The Adipose young were collected by Matron Cofelia, who planned to deliver them to the Adiposian First Family, despite the fact that using Earth as a breeding planet was in contravention of the Shadow Proclamation.  


Donna: I don't suppose you've seen a little blue box?
Wilf: Is that slang for something?
Donna: No! I mean it. If you ever see a little blue box fly up there in the sky, you shout for me Gramps. Oh you just shout...

The Doctor: I just want a mate.
Donna: You just want to mate!?

Donna: Oh, well that makes a change from last time! That Martha must've done you good.
The Doctor: She did, yeah. She did. She fancied me...
Donna: Mad Martha, that one. Blind Martha. Charity Martha!

Adipose is another name for the energy-storing fatty tissue found inside humans and animals. It's burnt off over extended periods of time to meet the needs of the body.
2007's Voyage of the Damned is referenced - but true to form, Donna doesn't believe the Titanic soared above Buckingham palace! Donna previously missed the Sycorax over London in 2005's The Christmas Invasion and the Battle of Canary Wharf in 2006's Doomsday! Donna's Grandad, Wilf, is equally good at missing aliens it would seem!
Miss Foster's Sonic Pen is the latest in a long line of sound-based devices to feature in the Doctor Who universe. Others include Sarah Jane Smith's Sonic Lipstick, Captain Jack's Sonic Blaster and, of course, the Doctor's Sonic Screwdriver. The Doctor also used a sonic lance in 1985's Attack of the Cybermen, while those famous Martian monsters, the Ice Warriors, used sonic canons.
Sarah Lancashire is perhaps best known by UK audiences for playing Raquel in over 170 episodes of the ITV soap opera Coronation Street. She also appeared alongside Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston and Series Three supervillain John Simm in the BBC Drama Clocking Off.
Howard Attfield, who appeared as Geoff Noble in 2006's The Runaway Bride, originally reprised his role as Donna's father for this episode. Sadly, Howard passed away shortly after recording his scenes for Partners in Crime, so Bernard Cribbins stepped in to play Donna's grandfather, Wilf. Bernard previous appeared as the same character (although we didn't know it) in Voyage Of The Damned.
In the script, the original design steer for the Adipose creatures was given as the Pillsbury Dough Boy. The mascot of a US firm specialising in ready-to-bake products, the Pillsbury Dough Boy was created in 1965 and has appeared in over 600 commercials for the company.
When the Doctor says he's met Cat People, he's probably referring to the ones he encountered on New Earth - but he could also be referring to the Cheetah People from 1989's Survival. The working title of that story was Cat Flap.
  • David Tennant - The Doctor
  • Catherine Tate - Donna Noble
  • Sarah Lancashire - Miss Foster
  • Billie Piper - Rose Tyler
  • Bernard Cribbins - Wilfred Mott
  • Jacqueline King - Sylvia Noble
  • Verona Joseph - Penny Carter
  • Jessica Gunning - Stacey
  • Martin Ball  - Roger Davey
  • Rachid Sabitri  - Craig Staniland
  • Chandra Ruegg  - Claire Pope
  • Sue Kelvin  - Suzette Chambers