Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Countdown - Forest Of The Dead

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.

38. Forest Of The Dead

First Broadcast on 7th June 2008. Running Time: 45.17 Minutes. Viewing Figures: 7.8million.
Written By Steven Moffat.
Directed By Euros Lyn.
Executive Producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner. Rating: 9/10.

As the shadows rise and march, the Doctor forges an alliance with the mysterious River Song. But can anyone stop the Vashta Nerada? While the Doctor discovers long-buried secrets, and revelations about his own future, the sinister Nodes declare that Donna Noble is doomed.

Extras: Promotional Photos |  Videos | Screen Caps | Articles | MP3 Commentary

Vashta Nerada: Stay Out Of The Shadows
The Vashta Nerada were carnivorous microspores, whose name literally means 'the shadows that melt the flesh'. They could only live in the darkness, so their natural habitats were forests and woods where they lived off road kill. However when Felman Lux constructed his Library planet, the trees these 'piranhas of the air' lived in were pulped for paper to make his millions of books. Over 1,000,000,000,000 Vashta Nerada escaped into the darkness of The Library's corridors, causing the central data core to save the humans by downloading them onto it's hard drive. A century later, the Doctor and Donna Noble received a request to visit The Library. The message was from Professor River Song, who also arrived with an archaeological party, financed by Felman Lux's grandson, Strackman. The Vashta Nerada picked off the archaeologists one by one until the Doctor came to an arrangement - if he was allowed to get the humans off the planet, the Vasta Nerada could stay in the books in The Library.

Charlotte Abigail Lux - CAL:
Charlotte Abigail Lux was the youngest daughter of Felman Lux, creator of The Library. Book lover Charlotte was dying and so to give her a kind of immortality Lux used her living mind to create CAL, the central data core of the triple-grid security processor at the heart of The Library, with a doctor moon virus checker to protect her, located on the artificial satellite in orbit above.
Fiercely protective of her father's work, CAL downloaded all of the staff and visitors to The Library, storing them digitally on to the hard drive when the Vashta Nerada attacked. However, her own programming was corrupted as a result and she began thinking she was a real little girl, living in a big house with her father and Doctor Moon, who was there to help her. She claimed she lived in an imaginary library and was frustrated that people kept breaking in. She could see what was going on in the library through her television set (her father could not see anything though, and Doctor Moon claimed he couldn't either.) In fact , she was observing The Library via the security nodes dotted throughout the building. When Donna Noble was downloaded, Charlotte created a fake reality for her where she was married to Lee McAvoy, who she met at CAL hospital run by Doctor Moon. The Doctor was able to stop the corruption of CAL. She continued to live what she believed to be a happy existence with her father, Professor River Song, and her friends, who had all been downloaded via the neural relays on their suits.


Dr. Moon: Hello Donna.
Donna: Who are you?
Dr. Moon: I'm Dr. Moon. I've been treating you since you came here two years ago.
Donna: Oh god! Dr. Moon! I'm so sorry. What's wrong with me? I didn't know you for a moment.
Dr. Moon: And then you remembered. 

Donna: Gorgeous and can't speak a word. What am I gonna do with you?

The Doctor: Know what's interesting about my screwdriver? Very hard to interfere with it. Practically nothing strong enough. Well, some hairdryers but working on that. So, there is a very strong signal coming from somewhere. And it wasn't there before. So what's new, what's changed? C'mon! What's new? What's different!
Dave: I don't know. Nothing. It's getting dark.
The Doctor: It's a screwdriver. It works in the dark. 

The Doctor: Someone somewhere in this Library is alive and communicating with the moon. Or, possibly alive and drying their hair. 

River: Oh god they've got inside!
The Doctor: No,no. I've just tinted her visor. Maybe they'll think they're already in there, leave her alone.
River: You think they can be fooled like that?
The Doctor: Maybe, I don't know. It's a swarm. It's not like we chat. 

The Doctor: Professor, could I have a word please?
River: What?
The Doctor: Down here.
River: What is it?
The Doctor: Thought you said there were five people still alive in this room.
River: Yeah so?
The Doctor: So. Why are there six?
Proper Dave: Hey! Who turned out the lights!
The Doctor: Run! 

Humans unwittingly living an artificial within a computer is the central theme of recent science fiction trilogy, The Matrix. This film in turn echoes many ideas found in the 1976 Doctor Who story, The Deadly Assassin.
The computer system with the biggest single data storage capacity is believed to be at the CERN computer centre. It has a 2 petabyte hard disk and 10 petabytes of data stored on robotic tape store (a petabyte is equal to one quadrillion bytes). However, the computer with the biggest networked data storage is the Google computer system. The system is estimated to be in excess of 1 yobibyte - a massive 1x10 to the power 80 bytes. The current biggest single computer memory system (on one computer) is believed to be the one being used by the British National Health Service, but this will be surpassed by a similar system currently being installed in Finland, where all health care information will be stored in a database totalling approximately 900 petabytes in size.
River Song is not he only archaeologist to have shared adventures with the Doctor. Back in the 1990s, Paul Cornell (Human Nature) created Professor Bernice Summerfield as a companion for the Seventh Doctor in the Doctor Who 'New Adventures' novels. Bernice (aka Benny) appeared in dozens of books before getting her own spin-off series of books and audio adventures, in which she is played by Lisa Bowerman.

It's probably a coincidence, but CAL was also the name of the computer graphics company that created the title sequence used between 1987 and 1989 for the Seventh Doctor's adventures. A result of this work was the creation of the first photo-realistic CGI TARDIS, featured in 1987's Time And The Rani.

Nobody has ever died on screen in a Steven Moffat Doctor Who story during the Russell T Davies era by any means other than natural causes, and not been subsequently resurrected in some way.

Silence In The Library/Forest Of The Dead was Eve Newton's first major role. Before winning it she had previously auditioned for a part in the St Trinian's film. Presumably not the part that went to Talulah Riley (Miss Evangelista)! David Tennant went on to join Talulah in the sequel, St Trinian's 2: The Legend Of Fritton's Gold in 2009.

Bad News

If you look closely at the wall in Charlotte's house you will see two of her drawings are of a blonde girl and a wolf. Make of these what you will...
Charlotte also has a toy Robbie The Robot, from the film Forbidden Planet.

In the 2007 Christmas Special, Voyage of the Damned, the Doctor managed to retrieve the data from Astrid Peth's teleport pattern, allowing her to enjoy a 'life' after death, floating through the stars.

  • David Tennant - The Doctor
  • Catherine Tate - Donna Noble
  • Alex Kingston - Professor 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
  • Jason Pitt- Lee McAvoy