Today’s Throwback Thursday selection is a collection of on set photos from the filming in Cardiff of the Doctor Who 2006 Christmas special The Runaway Bride
The Runaway Bride
Bride-to-be Donna mysteriously vanishes as she prepares to marry her boyfriend Lance in a glittering ceremony on Christmas Eve. She suddenly appears, to her complete astonishment, in the TARDIS with the Doctor. As the TARDIS races to get to the church on time, the Doctor and Donna are closely watched by the sinister figure of The Empress of Racnoss from her throne in her spaceship. It soon becomes clear that Donna is the key to an ancient alien plan to destroy the Earth.
Catherine Tate’s first appearance in the TARDIS was in the closing moments of the series 2 finale Doomsday. However, her first scenes for The Runaway Bride were filmed on top of an office building in Central London four days before the episode was broadcast. Worse still, the building in question was owned by the publisher of a number of celebrity and gossip magazines, giving director Euros Lyn even more of a headache.
“We were bundling [Catherine] into that building with a blanket over her head. It was very cloak and dagger,” he explained. “Lots of images were posted on the internet but nobody quite worked out who it was, which is quite staggering.”
Written by Russell T Davies, the episode was filmed over three weeks in July 2006 in Cardiff and London. With both the Doctor and the audience reeling from the loss of Rose Tyler, the story needed to project the Doctor forward and prepare him for meeting new companion Martha Jones at the start of the next series. The feisty no-nonsense Donna Noble was just the person to kick start the Doctor’s sense of adventure and show him that he didn’t have time to brood in the Vortex.
“The Doctor’s in mourning really,” said David in 2006. “Although Rose is alive and well, she’s dead to the Doctor. He can never see her again. And this is someone who not very long ago lost his entire people. So he’s coming to terms with that, and at the same time dealing with Donna, who’s a bit of a handful.”
The casting of Catherine Tate was a surprise to many who knew her mainly as a comedian and star of her own sketch show, though she also had a great deal of theatre acting experience prior to her TV success. She remembers the difficulties of running, of which there was plenty in the episode, while wearing a full wedding outfit.
“David would be off like a whippet,” she says, “And I’d be lagging behind going, ‘Can’t you just pretend to run fast?’ Then wardrobe would go, ‘We can see your trainers. Can you put the satin court shoes on again?’”
Scenes of the Doctor and Donna trying to make an escape from the Robot Santas by hailing a taxi were filmed in Cardiff, as was the motorway chase sequence that followed. Production designer Ed Thomas talked of filming festive scenes in the height of summer.
“The challenges stack up,” he said, “We’re not just creating London in Cardiff, but Christmas in London in Cardiff.”
The Runaway Bride was broadcast on Christmas Day 2006. Other cast included Don Gilet, Jacqueline King and the late Howard Attfield while Sarah Parish, almost unrecognisable under her make up and prosthetics, guest starred as The Empress of Racnoss.