Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Countdown - Midnight

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

39. Midnight

First Broadcast on 14th June 2008. Running Time: 43.49 Minutes. Viewing Figures: 8.4million.
Written By Russell T Davies.
Directed By Alice Troughton.
Executive Producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner. Rating: 10/10.

The Doctor is trapped, alone, powerless and terrified, on the planet Midnight, and soon, the knocking on the wall begins. Only a woman called Sky Silvestry seems to know the truth, but as paranoia turns into a witch-hunt, Sky turns the Doctor's greatest strengths against him, and a sacrifice must be made...

Production Notes:

For the 2008 production block Russell T Davies decided to opt for a different plan for double-banked episodes of the series. Rather than bringing in the by now traditional Doctor Lite episode with a previously unknown character taking the lead (Elton Pope - Love & Monsters, Sally Sparrow - Bink) he decided to split the main cast, David Tennant and Catherine Tate, up and get each of them to headline an episode alone with one episode centered around the Doctor and the other episode centered around Donna Noble. 

The Doctor's solo story was at first intended to be an episode written by Tim MacRae called Century House, and was to be recorded alongside The Doctor's Daughter in Production Block Six.
MacRae had previously written the Tennant era episodes Rise Of The Cybermen and The Age Of Steel and was originally commissioned to write Century House as part of the 2007 series of the show, but it was put back to the following year. The idea around the episode was that the Doctor would appear on a Most Haunted style reality show and be seen investigating a supposedly haunted house. 

As the date of filming drew nearer Davies began to feel less than enthusiastic about Century House, it was planned that it would broadcast following The Unicorn And The Wasp and Davies felt unsure about the comedy element in the script, as The Unicorn And The Wasp was also a light hearted tale.
Eventually in late September 2007 Davies finally decided that he would scrap plans for Century House and pen a replacement episode himself. 
He quickly started work and came up with the plot of a group of people stranded on a space shuttle that was being attacked by an invisible force that literally took the words right out of their mouths. Davies was inspired by the irritating habit some children have of mimicking one another as well as the 2003 horror film, Jeepers Creepers II. He also drew upon his own story Voyage Of The Damned where a small number of people had acted together as a team and used their bravery and courage to help the Doctor, this time however, he wanted to explore what would happen if the people involved were to give in to their fear.

Davies finished the script for Midnight very quickly. The first draft was complete by the 18th October, just a few weeks after he had finally decided to scrap Century House. 
Midnight is the first episode of Doctor Who, since Genesis Of The Daleks (1975), in which the TARDIS is not seen on screen in any way shape or form. The whole story is set on board the shuttle known as Crusader 50.

The director assigned to Midnight was Alice Troughton, it was filmed alongside The Doctor's Daughter, also directed by Troughton.
Sam Kelly ('Allo, 'Allo) was originally cast as Professor Hobbes, however due to an injury (he broke his leg in a traffic accident) another Troughton was cast as his replacement. This Troughton was David Troughton, son of the second Doctor actor Patrick Troughton meaning that Alice Troughton ended up directing two former Doctor's offspring on the 2008 series as she also worked with Georgia Moffett, Peter Davison's daughter, on The Doctor's Daughter - very timeywimey.
Midnight was David Troughton's fourth appearance on Doctor Who, his first since appearing as King Peladon in the 1972 episode The Curse Of Peladon. Just days before arriving on the set of Midnight, he had recorded a Doctor Who audio play, Cuddlesome, for Big Finish Productions.

Filming for Midnight began on 27th November. The large majority of Midnight was recorded at the Doctor Who base camp, the Upper Boat Studios in Pontypridd, South Wales. 
Director Troughton decided to record as many of the scenes in order as she could, a practice that hadn't really taken place on the set of Doctor Who since the 1970s. 
The first section of filming continued until 30th November with most of the scenes in the passenger area of the shuttle being filmed. 

Recording started again on 3rd to 7th December.  Billie Piper joined the cast on the 5th to record Rose's scenes that would be shown on the screens on board the Crusader 50.
The final day of filming on Midnight at Upper Boat was on 10th December, when the final scenes aboard Crusader 50 plus the first shots of the Doctor boarding the shuttle were recorded. Finally, filming wrapped on 11th December when the team visited Dylan's Health Spa at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport to record scenes with the Doctor and Donna in the Leisure Palace.

Sky Silvestry:
Sky Silvestry was a business woman on a break to the leisure planet Midnight to get over a break up with her partner. An alien entity managed to enter the Crusader craft she and the other passengers, including the Doctor, were in and entered her mind, gradually taking her over. Recognising that the the Doctor was the only real threat, the creature inside Sky used the other passenger's fear and paranoia against him. They were about to throw him out of the Crusader 50 and in to the lethal X-tonic sunlight, when the bus's hostess realised Sky was the one who had been taken over. The hostess pushed Sky, and herself, outside, where she, the creature and Sky's body were completely destroyed.

The Hostess:
The Hostess was an employee of the Leisure Palace Company, whose job it was to ensure the comfort of the passengers on board the Crusader 50 as it crossed the surface of Midnight. When an alien entity entered the mind of passenger Sky Silvestry, it began to turn everyone against the Doctor and they were willing to kill him until the entity made a mistake and used the Doctor's phrase 'molto bene', and the Hostess realised that they had been tricked. She quicly grabbed Sky and threw her and herself out of the shuttle where they were destroyed instantly by the X-tonic radiation. Afterwards the Doctor asked if anyone knew the Hostess's name, but no one did. The woman who had sacrificed herself to save them was a relative stranger.

The Cane Family:
The Cane family were amongst the passengers trapped on board the Crusader 50 with the creature and the Doctor. Dad, Biff, was a loud but pleasant man heading off on holiday with his family, but his joviality soon changed to aggression when his wife began to get frightened of the creature which has possessed fellow passenger Sky. Convinced that it was in fact the Doctor that the creature had taken over Biff masterminded a plan to throw him out on to the planet's surface to kill him. Biff's wife, Val, also found that her terror changed her. Originally a seemingly nice woman, she became spiteful and negative, and was the first to convince the others that it was the Doctor who was the enemy. When it was finally revealed that it was Sky and not the Doctor, she tried to say that she knew it was Sky all along until a look from the Doctor silenced her.
Their teenage son, Jethro, was the Doctor's only ally on board the Crusader 50, but even he turned on him in the end, though he refused to help physically drag him out of the shuttle, until his father demanded he do so.

Professor Winfold Hobbes:
Professor Hobbes was a pompous, opinionated and rather dull expert on Midnight who was taking his 14th trip across the planet's surface aboard the Crusader 50. When the entity took over Sky, the Professor veered from dogmatic insistence that nothing could live on the planet's surface to fear and paranoia, eventually causing him to join in the attempt to throw the Doctor out onto the surface. After Sky's villainy was revealed and she was destroyed Hobbes sat in silence until they were rescued and returned to the Leisure Planet.

Dee Dee Blasco:
Dee Dee Blasco was a young and enthusiastic research assistant travelling on the Crusader 50 with Professor Hobbes. She didn't really like Professor that much and was more interested in her own thesis on the Lost Moon Of Poosh. Her father had been a mechanic and so she knew how the Crusader 50 worked and was able to reassure the other passengers that they wouldn't suffocate when it got stranded.
When the entity took over Sky, Dee Dee veered between a belief in the Doctor to being scared of him and she eventually joined in on the attack on the Doctor. However when Sky was revealed as being the one possessed Dee Dee realised the error of her ways.

Donna: I said, no!
The Doctor: Sapphire Waterfall. It's waterfall made of sapphires! This enormous jewel the size of a glacier reaches the Cliffs of Oblivion and then shatters into sapphires at the edge. They fall a hundred thousand feet into a crystal ravine.
Donna: I bet you say that to all the girls.
The Doctor: Oh, c'mon! They're boarding now. It's no fun if I see it on me own. Four hours, that's all it all take.
Donna: No, that's four hours there and four hours back. That's like a school trip.
The Doctor: Alright. I give up. I'll be back for dinner and we'll try that anti-gravity restaurant. With bibs.
Donna: That's a date. Well not a date. Oh you know what I mean. Oh get off.
The Doctor: See ya later.
Donna: Oi! And you be careful. Alright?
The Doctor: Ah! Taking a big space truck with a bunch of strangers across a diamond planet called Midnight. What could possibly go wrong. 

Hostess: I must warn you some products may contain nuts.
The Doctor: That'd be the peanuts.
Hostess: Enjoy your trip.
The Doctor: Oh I can't wait. Allons-y!
Hostess: I'm sorry?
The Doctor: It's French. For "let's go."
Hostess: Fascinating. 

The Doctor: I've done plenty of that—travelling on my own. I love it! Do what you want, go anywhere?
Sky Silvestry: Well I'm still getting used to it. I found myself single rather recently, not by choice.
The Doctor: What happened?
Sky: Oh the usual. She needed her own space, as they say. A different galaxy in fact. I reckon that's enough space, don't you?
The Doctor: Yeah. My friend went to a different universe.
Sky: Oh. What's this? Chicken or beef?
The Doctor: I think it's both

Dee Dee (and Sky): "We must not look at goblin men."
Biff (and Sky): What's that supposed to mean?
The Doctor (and Sky): It's a poem. Christina Rossetti.
Dee Dee (and Sky): We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots?

The Doctor (and Sky): Actually I don't think that's helping. 

'Molto Bene' is Italian for 'Very Good'. We first heard the Doctor say it in 2007's The Family of Blood.

Lesley Sharp has starred in two previous Russell T Davies productions - Bob and Rose and The Second Coming. The latter also starred Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston.

This episode was originally intended to be episode 8, before Steven Moffat's two-parter, but was pushed back to episode 10. The name of the shuttle bus, Crusader 50, was a reference to it originally being in the 50th episode of the new series to be screened.

The majority of the episode is set in just one room. This is similar to several other claustrophobic thrillers, such as Hitchcock's' Rope and more recently, Flightplan.

Colin Morgan, who plays Jethro, previously appeared with Catherine Tate in her 2007 Christmas special. He was also cast in the title role of BBC Wales production, Merlin.

Midnight is one of very few stories not to feature the TARDIS (except in the title sequence). The last time this happened was in 1975's Genesis of the Daleks.

Uniquely for Doctor Who, we don't get to see even a glimpse of the Doctor's adversary, nor find out its name.

Things went horribly wrong the last time the Doctor went on a holiday and encountered passengers on a 'space bus', too - see 1987's Delta and the Bannermen.

The music video that is screened in the Crusader 50 is the track 'Do it, do it again', by Raffaella Carra.

  • David Tennant - The Doctor
  • Catherine Tate - Donna Noble
  • Billie Piper - Rose Tyler
  • Lesley Sharpe - Sky Silvestry
  • Rakie Ayola - Hostess
  • Professor Hobbes - David Troughton
  • Dee Dee Blasco - Ayesha Antoine
  • Val Cane - Lindsay Coulson
  • Biff Cane - Daniel Ryan
  • Jethro Cane - Colin Morgan
  • Driver Joe - Tony Bluto
  • Mechanic Claude - Duane Henry