“Planet of the Dead”, the first of four hour-long “Doctor Who” specials, aired in the UK yesterday and pulled in 8.7 million viewers – coming in second for the night to the season premiere of “Britain’s Got Talent”.
In the process, a lot of press about the remaining three specials has arisen in recent days with show runner Russell T. Davies and star David Tennant briefly giving away some details about what to expect for Tennant’s last adventures as The Doctor.
First up came the hint of someone major returning. Though ‘Planet’ was a relatively light stand alone episode, the strange psychic lady passenger delivered a cryptic clue about what’s to come.
In the audio commentary for the episode, Tennant says “the knocking isn’t going to be what you think it’s going to be.” The four knocks has lead many to speculate that it refers to the drumming sound The Master kept hearing in his head.
Adding much fuel to the talk is word coming from the set of the final two specials, a two-parter, which are currently filming. Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) and her adopted son Luke (Tommy Knight), and Donna Noble’s grandfather Wilf Mott (Bernard Cribbins) and mother Sylvia (Jacqueline King) have all been photographed filming scenes.
Even more exciting however are some of the unexpected returnees. “Spaced” star Jessica Hynes, who played Nurse Redfern in the 1913-set third season two-parter “Human Nature” (and whom The Doctor fell in love with), will return as an author named Verity. Most unexpected though is that “Life on Mars” star John Simm, now sporting a new blond hairdo, has been shooting scenes indicating The Master may very well be back after all. In what capacity though is unsure, Davies has said that there’ll be “nightmare sequences” which would allow the return of various characters without lengthy explanations but would limit their on-screen time. Photos from the set can be found here.
Former companions Martha (Freema Agyeman) and Donna (Catherine Tate) are also said to be coming back according to the British tabloids with rumors flying that Martha may potentially serve as the first companion for the new Doctor (Matt Smith) to help ease the transition. Current showrunner Russell T. Davies has stated in an interview that he won’t “write a word of dialogue” for the new Doctor as that character is both Smith and new showrunner Steven Moffat’s creation. With the transition taking place during the last special, the only scenario is that either the new Doctor doesn’t have any lines or Moffat will pen the last scene himself.
Those specials, the third and fourth, will air on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day in the UK. The second special, entitled ‘The Waters of Mars’ and starring Lindsay Duncan, will air sometime in November. Though not tied in directly to the two-parter, it will have some sort of connection. This is probably why, despite already having wrapped filming a while ago, it’s not being aired during the Summer.