Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Countdown - Silence In The Library

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....  Silence In The Library
Read our previous Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Countdown posts here.

37. Silence In The Library

First Broadcast on 31st May 2008. Running Time: 43.02 Minutes. Viewing Figures: 6.3million.
Written By Steven Moffat.
Directed By Euros Lyn.
Executive Producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner. Rating: 9/10.


One hundred years ago, the Universe's greatest Library was sealed off with only a cryptic warning as explanation: "Count the shadows." However, it now appears that the shadows are on the move again, and the Doctor and Donna must uncover the terrible truth behind the Nodes and the horrifying Data Ghost to uncover the Library's haunting secret.

Production Notes:
Following the success of his 2005 Ninth Doctor episodes, The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances, Steven Moffat was asked by Russell T Davies to come up with some adventures for David Tennant's Tenth Doctor. 
His first thought was for a story about a library in outer space which contained portals to other libraries which were scattered throughout history, and which were stalked by terrifying creatures which appeared as some sort of angelic stone statue. 
Davies was keen on Moffat's idea, but was eager for the writer to pen an episode with historical elements. Keeping only his windows through time theme, Moffat then wrote 2006's The Girl In The Fireplace.

The following year Moffat was again keen to use his idea of the scary space library, however he knew that he would need two episodes of the series to give the story the time it needed to unfold. Although Davies was able to provide an early two episode slot during the 2007 run, Moffat's previous commitments meant that the library had to go on the back burner yet again. Instead he opted to take the 'Doctor Lite' episode and took his idea for the menacing stone angels from the library and adapted them in to the Weeping Angels we know and fear for Blink.

Moffat became determined that the library story would be told during the 2008 series and he finally began work on it in the summer of 2007. It was at the same time that he was approached by Davies with a life changing offer.
After six years in charge Davies was planning to leave Doctor Who following a series of specials which would air throughout 2009. 
He asked Moffat to replace him as the executive producer and head writer, beginning with a new full series which would be broadcast in the spring of 2010. On 26th October 2007, Moffat formally accepted the position.

The job offer had a real effect on Moffat's scripts, which had the working titles of Silence In The Library and The Doctor Runs. He decided that he could use the episodes to reassure viewers that Doctor Who's future was an exciting time and that the show's presence on the air was very much there to stay. He decided that the way to do this was to introduce us to a character who had already met a later version of the Doctor. This character was Professor River Song. The exact nature of her relationship with the Doctor was to be kept vague. We would know that they were extremely close in the future, but just who was she to him? It was to be the very first seed of a storyline that would run throughout Moffat's tenure as show boss.

As work on the scripts progressed, Moffat began to make some changes to the story. The child in the computer became a girl instead of a boy, as it was felt that she would be seen as a more vulnerable character. 
A strange twist in which Donna's alternative reality husband, Lee, turned out to be an overweight woman in reality was also scrapped, as it was decided viwers would find it too confusing and Donna's 'children' were originally called Alan and Tracy, but ended up being renamed Joshua and Ella, after Moffat's son and one of his school friends.

By now Moffat's episodes were known as, Silence In The Library and Forest Of The Night. They were originally intended to be the ninth and tenth episodes of the 2008 series, however, it was soon noticed that both the library episodes and the episode that was to follow it, Turn Left, featured Donna Noble living in some sort of alternative reality. 
Eventually, at the end of October, Moffat's episodes were brought forward by one episode, with Midnight now sandwiched between them and Turn Left. 
The library episodes made up the eighth production block of the 2008 series. The director of the episodes was Euros Lyn, whose most recent Doctor Who work had been on the 2006 Christmas special, The Runaway Bride, which had also starred David Tennant and had introduced Catherine Tate's character, Donna Noble.

Alex Kingston was soon cast in the lead role of Professor River Song. Kingston was already a successful actress both at home in the UK and in the USA. She had a vast CV of theatre and TV credits to her name and had previously worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company.  Her TV credentials were earned in the UK in popular shows such as Grange Hill and The Bill and she became a household name after her saucy portrayal of Moll Flanders in the ITV mini series The Fortunes And Misfortunes Of Moll Flanders.
In 1997, Kingston was was offered a leading role in the long-running American medical series ER which led her to be a globally recognised actress.
When she accepted the role of River Song Kingston was under the impression that the character would appear only in two episodes of Doctor Who. She was however delighted to learn from Moffat that he had long term plans for her character.

On 15th January 2008 filming began at Hensol Castle in the Vale Of Glamorgan, where scenes of the CAL hospital were shot.
The 16th January saw the cast and crew move to Cardiff's Victoria Park to shoot the scenes at the playground of Donna and her children, unfortunately heavy rain forced filming to stop and many of the scenes had to be postponed. The same day saw the scenes in Charlotte's living room filmed at a house on Palace Road, while photographs of Donna with her children as babies were taken at the Crwys Medical Centre, and another photoshoot of Donna and Lee on their wedding day was taken at St Mary's of Angels. Catherine Tate wore the same wedding dress that  she had worn throughout The Runaway Bride for the photoshoot. 
On the 17th and 18th January , two houses on Palace Road were used for filming, one for more shots with Charlotte and another as Donna and Lee's marital home. Donna and Lee's home was visited again on the 19th,  and Charlotte's on the 21st. 
Also on 21st January the team reattempted to film the playground material but the weather prevented the completion of scenes yet again.

On 22nd January the team moved camp to Dyffryn Gardens at St Nicholas in the Vale of Glamorgan, where further scenes of the CAL hospital were filmed, along with those in Donna's children's bedroom. 
From 23rd January it was back to base at the Upper Boat Studios where for three days, filming took place on the sets for the TARDIS. The special effects sequences were also completed here.  
It was around this time that it was noticed that Forest Of The Night and Midnight had very similar titles. It was decided that a new name for the second part of Moffat's episode would have to be found. Moffat came up with a selection of alternative titles with Davies choosing River's Run as his own favourite. Moffat then began to alter the script to fit in with the new title.

Filming continued on 28th January at  Brangwyn Hall in Swansea which was the location for the Library's main entrance. On the 29th and 30th January scenes inside the facility under the Library were filmed in the Alcoa Emp Swansea factory at Waunarlwydd Works. 

The story's biggest location was the library itself which which was in reality the recently closed Swansea Library. The scenes in the Blue, Red and Yellow Indices were recorded there from 31st January to 12th February. 

On 1st February, it was announced that the producer Phil Collinson would be leaving Doctor Who following the completion of the 2008 series finale as he had secured a job at the ITV soap Coronation Street.  
Around this time it had been realised that Silence In The Library was not running long enough, and so Moffat had to quickly provide extra scenes for the episodes, including the discovery of Miss Evangelista's body.

On 12th February the team went back to Brangwyn Hall to film the scenes in which Miss Evangelista wanders off and her body is later discovered. This was completed on 13th February, when the scene of the Doctor, Donna and Lux looking out at the vastness of the Library was also filmed. The 14th February finally saw the playground scenes at Victoria Park recorded, and various SFX and insert shots were completed back at Upper Boat. The work at Upper Boat continued on the 19th and 20th February and concluded principal photography on the story.

During postproduction executive producer Julie Gardner decided that she didn't like the title River's Run, and yet again Moffat was asked to come up with another new title for the episode. 
The episode then became Return Of The Dead before Moffat, who actually still preferred Forest Of The Night, decided to amalgamate the two titles and finally the episode was named Forest Of The Dead. 
On 20th May 2008, in the lead-up to the premiere broadcast of Silence In The Library, the BBC issued a press release that Moffat would be taking over from Davies as the series showrunner. As Silence In The Library aired Moffat was already planning his first series with Gardner's replacement, Piers Wenger.

Professor River Song - We'll Meet Again:

Professor River Song was the daughter of Amy Pond and Rory Williams - companions to the Eleventh Doctor. Her birth name was Melody Pond, but in the language of the Gamma Forest where the older River spent some time there was no literal translation for Melody Pond and so she became known as River Song.
When he first encountered River, as an archaeologist, in the Library, the Doctor has no idea who she is, she certainly knows him though and hints to him that they are very closely acquainted. Because River is also a time traveller her meetings with the various incarnations of the Doctor are out of sequence and her first meeting with the Doctor is his first but is also her last.
During their adventure in the 51st Century Library River shows the Doctor a book, with a cover design like the TARDIS, which she says contains details of all of her encounters and adventures with him. 
She claims that they are going to be very important to one another in the Doctor's future and convinces him to trust her by whispering his real name in his ear.
River's love for the Doctor is so strong that she ultimately sacrifices her own life in order to save his. She realises that he is going to end up dying in order to save the people trapped inside the Library's database and so she takes his place.
The Doctor then uses a futuristic version of his own sonic screwdriver given to River Song by himself in the future to upload a copy of River's consciousness and store all of her memories and personality inside The Library's central processor, CAL, where she and the rest of her archaeological team that had died where able to carry on their lives as solidified data ghosts - River now having three children including the avatar of Charlotte Abigail Lux to bring up. 

The Library:
The Library was a planet that was, quite literally, one vast building containing every book ever written throughout the galaxy and kept both digitally and physically. A number of the books had been printed on paper that contained Vasta Nerada. To escape the Vashta Nerada, the staff and visitors in the Library were digitised and stored in The Library's hard drive until the Doctor was able to free them. The Library was the creation of Felman Lux in the 51st Century, and at the heart of it's operating system was an electronic brain pattern digitised from that of his youngest daughter, Charlotte, known colloquially as CAL.

The Doctor: Books. People never really stop loving books. Fifty-first century. By now you've got holovids, direct-to-brain downloads, fiction mist. But you need the smell. The smell of books, Donna. Deep breath! 

The Doctor: A million million life forms. And silence in the library.
Donna: But there's no one here. There's just books. I mean it's not the books, is it? I mean it can't be the books, can it? I mean books can't be alive. 

Head Librarian's Message: Run. For god's sake run. Nowhere is safe. The library has sealed itself. We can't ..... Oh, they're here...

River Song: Hello Sweetie.

Anita: How do you know they're not androids.
River Song: Because I've dated androids. They're rubbish.

River Song: Pretty Boy, with me I said.
The Doctor: Oh, I'm Pretty Boy?
Donna: Yes. Oh, that came out a bit quick.
The Doctor: Pretty?
Donna: Well... 

Excluding the Children in Need specials, this is the 50th episode of Doctor Who since the series returned in 2005.
The current holder of the record for being the World's Largest Library is the Library of Congress in America, which holds approximately 29 million books.
Steve Pemberton becomes the second member of The League of Gentlemen to guest star in Doctor Who. Mark Gatiss (who has also written for Doctor Who) guest starred in The Lazarus Experiment.
Steve previously co-starred alongside David Tennant in an episode of the revival of Randall And Hopkirk (Deceased).
Alex Kingston is perhaps best know for playing Dr. Elizabeth Corday in 158 episodes of US medical drama ER.
Writer Steven Moffat, who took over as Doctor Who's Show Runner and Head Writer, has won both Hugo and Bafta Awards for his previous Doctor Who scripts. Steven is the only writer other than Russell T Davies to have contributed scripts to all four series of the revived show.
The 'squareness gun' used by River Song is similar in function to the one used by Captain Jack in The Doctor Dances.
The cartoon that can be seen on the girl's TV is Pedro & Frankensheep.

  • David Tennant - The Doctor
  • Catherine Tate - Donna Noble
  • Alex Kingston - River Song
  • Colin Salmon – Dr Moon
  • Eve Newton – The Girl (CAL)
  • Mark Dexter – Dad
  • Sarah Niles – Node 1
  • Joshua Dallas – Node 2
  • Steve Pemberton – Strackman Lux
  • Talulah Riley – Miss Evangelista
  • Jessika Williams – Anita
  • O. T. Fagbenle – Other Dave
  • Harry Peacock – Proper Dave