The Family of Blood

The Family of Blood

Infobox Doctor Who episode
serial_name= The Family of Blood

doctor=David Tennant (Tenth Doctor)
companion=Freema Agyeman (Martha Jones)
* Jessica Hynes – Joan Redfern
* Harry Lloyd – Jeremy Baines
* Thomas Sangster – Tim Latimer
* Tom Palmer – Hutchinson
* Pip Torrens – Rocastle
* Rebekah Staton – Jenny
* Gerard Horan – Mr. Clark
* Lauren Wilson – Lucy Cartwright
* Matthew White – Phillips
* Sophie Turner – Vicar
writer=Paul Cornell
director=Charles Palmer
script_editor=Lindsey Alford
producer=Susie Liggat
executive_producer=Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner
Phil Collinson
length=2nd of 2-part story, 45 minutes
date=2 June 2007
preceding="Human Nature"
series = Series 3
series_link = Series 3 (2007)

"The Family of Blood" is the ninth episode of Series 3 of the revived British science fiction television series "Doctor Who". It is the second episode of a two-part story written by Paul Cornell (who also wrote "Father's Day"), adapted from his 1995 "Doctor Who" novel "Human Nature" (co-plotted with Kate Orman). The episode was broadcast on BBC One on 2 June 2007. [cite news
title = Doctor Who UK airdate announced
work = News
publisher = Dreamwatch
date = February 27, 2007
url =

In 2008, both "Human Nature" and "The Family of Blood" were nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.cite web
title = 2008 Hugo Nomination List
work = Denvention 3: The 66th World Science Fiction Convention
publisher = World Science Fiction Society
date = 2008
url =
accessdate = 2008-03-21


It is 1913 in England and war has come a year in advance as the terrifying Family hunt for the Doctor. But when John Smith refuses to accept his destiny as a Time Lord, the women in his life — Martha and Joan — have to help him decide.


Continuing from the cliffhanger of "Human Nature", the Family hold Martha Jones and Joan Redfern captive, demanding that John Smith (the Doctor's human form) make a choice about which of the two to save. However at the school, Tim Latimer briefly opens the fob watch containing the Doctor's essence, briefly distracting the Family and allowing Martha to grab a weapon and hold the Family at gunpoint while John evacuates the building. Martha is able to escape and meet up with John and Joan as they race back to the school to prepare the students and staff for a battle. While John assists with headmaster Rocastle in preparing a defensive position, Martha and Joan attempt to find the fob watch, with Joan admitting to her that what Martha has said about John Smith being the Doctor to be true.

The Son leads his army of scarecrows to the school and demands to Rocastle and Phillips that John Smith be handed over along with the Time Lord Consciousness, vaporizing Phillips as a show of force. As the army continues to march on the school, the Father finds the Doctor's TARDIS and brings it to the school while the Sister sneaks inside to spy on the battle re-enforcements. She encounters Tim, who opens the watch at her in self-defense, revealing its position within the school to the rest of the Family. The first wave of the scarecrow army is wiped out by the students firing rifles and machine guns, the scarecrows falling like waves of soldiers in World War I. The Sister, who has the guise of a little girl, then approaches and Rocastle orders a cease fire. She then kills him, causing the boys to escape to safety of the nearby woods. As the scarecrows search the school, the Son taunts John Smith with the TARDIS; when Joan sees it, she realizes that the images in the "The Journal of Impossible Things" are real, and implores John to become the Doctor again. John, Joan, Martha, and Tim escape from the school to the Cartwright's empty cottage, Joan deducing that the Sister has killed her host's parents earlier in the day. The Family, realizing that John is not surrendering, return to their ship and start bombarding the village.

Tim returns the watch to John, causing him to momentarily speak as the Doctor to explain Tim's premonitions as "an extra synaptic engram". Both Martha and Joan implore him to use it to change back to the Doctor, but John hesitates, recognizing that turning back into the Doctor effectively is committing suicide, becoming the lonely Time Lord that Martha had described to him previously. In private, Joan tries to talk to John about their future, and together with the watch, they share a brief vision of them becoming married, raising a family, and growing old together. While Joan would love to have that future, she knows from the "Journal" that they cannot have that if they let the Family succeed, and John must become the Doctor again.

In the Family's ship, John is let on board, and stumbles around the ship's alien interior in awe. He surrenders the watch to stop the bombardment, which they accept. However, the Family finds the watch is empty of the Time Lord essence; the man in front of them is the Doctor. The Doctor warns that all his fumbling earlier on the ship will cause the ship to overheat if they don't escape immediately, forcing him and the Family to flee just in time.

In a montage, the Son explains that he now understood that the Doctor made himself human out of kindness to the Family, to let them die out peacefully. Instead, for seeking immortality, the Doctor punishes each of them eternally: he traps the Father in chains forged at the heart of a dwarf star, the Mother in the event horizon of a collapsing galaxy, the Sister in every mirror in existence, and the Son suspended in time as one of the scarecrows to watch over the fields of England as its protector.

The Doctor tries to talk to Joan to comfort her, even inviting her as a Companion in the TARDIS, but she refuses; her "John Smith" is gone, and she blames the deaths around the village on the Doctor for choosing that place and time to hide from the Family. She tearfully watches the Doctor leave, clutching his "Journal" to her as he goes. The Doctor meets with Tim before he and Martha depart in the TARDIS, giving him the empty fob watch as a gift, and telling him of the upcoming war and what he must do. Tim is then shown saving himself and Hutchinson on the Western Front based on his premonition from the watch. The episodes ends at a modern day Remembrance Sunday commemoration, the aged wheelchair-bound Tim still holding the watch, with the Doctor and Martha, each wearing artificial poppies, [Artificial red poppies are used as a symbol of remembrance in Britain and the Commonwealth.] watching from afar as the Ode of Remembrance is read aloud. The travelling pair and Latimer silently acknowledge one another as the service continues. [The text being recited by the vicar is the traditional Ode of Remembrance.]


*A clip from "The Runaway Bride" is used as a mental projection when Latimer blinds Sister of Mine with the watch.
*When Tim deserts Hutchinson before the battle at the school, Hutchinson calls him a coward, to which Tim replies, "Oh, yes, sir, every time". This mirrors the line, "Coward, any day", said by the Ninth Doctor in "The Parting of the Ways", when asked by the Dalek Emperor if he is a coward or a killer.
* In a vision Joan shares with John Smith, she comments "you can never have a life like that", echoing a line from the Ninth Doctor in Cornell's "Father's Day", where he tells the bride and groom "I've never had a life like that."
* When Baines is mocking the Head Master's militarism, he uses the expression "Etcetera, etcetera" referencing the Seventh Doctor's mocking of Davros's militaristic rant in "Remembrance Of The Daleks". "What do you know of history" is a quote from Jack London's 1899 "The Editor".

Comparison with the novel

The novel featured the Seventh Doctor and Bernice Summerfield, with their roles replaced on television by the Tenth Doctor and Martha Jones. Key changes from the novel include the fate of the villains, who in the novel are shapeshifters called Aubertides. In the book, the explosion traps them for eternity in their own "temporal shields", although the irony of them now living forever is not commented on. Another alteration to the ending is that the Aubertides have captured Joan, and are holding her hostage for the biodata module. When the Doctor arrives, pretending to be Smith, the module is not empty, but contains the John Smith persona. One of the Aubertides therefore becomes Smith, and betrays the others, sacrificing himself to save Joan. The scenes with the restored Doctor and Joan are also different; in the novel, the Seventh Doctor admits he cannot love Joan the way John did. The Tenth Doctor believes he is capable of everything John was capable of, although there is a clear difference in his demeanor after he has been restored to a Time Lord. Joan can sense the difference and this is just as distressing for her. The last scenes of the episode are based on the novel's epilogue, although, in the novel, Tim does not join the army, but saves the life of a character who was destined to die in the War (not Hutchinson, who does) as a member of the Red Cross, and at the memorial service he wears a White Poppy. This contrasts sharply with the episode, where Tim's reaction to being told "You don't have to fight" is "I think I do". The line in which the Mother says Jenny has been "consumed" is a subtle referenceFact|date=July 2007 to the Aubertides' method of shapeshifting, which requires that they eat part of the being they wish to become, to analyse the DNA.

Martha's blog for the episode starts "Long ago in an English winter". This was the last sentence of Cornell's first New Adventures novel "". The last sentence of "Human Nature" is "Long ago in an English spring", concluding a pattern that continued through "Love and War" and "No Future".


* The presence of a female vicar at the memorial service is an example of a recurring element in Cornell's writing.cite web
author = Paul Cornell
title = Adapting The Novel For The Screen
publisher =
url =
accessdate = 2007-06-12
"There's a female vicar, as there seems to be in almost everything I write."]

* In a "Doctor Who Magazine" interview, Executive Producer Russell T Davies cited the "Human Nature"/"Family of Blood" two-parter as perhaps being too dark for the program's audience. [Doctor Who Magazine #386.]


* The hymn "To be a Pilgrim" is used as background music, sung by a boy's choir in the style of a school hymn.


Along with "Human Nature", "The Family of Blood" was nominated for the 2008 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. David Tennant won the Constellation Award for Best Male Performance in a 2007 Science Fiction Television Episode for his dual role as John Smith and the Doctor in this two-part story. [cite web
url =
title = 2008 Constellation Awards
publisher=Constellation Awards website
accessdate =2008-07-15


External links

*BBCDWnew | year=2007 |id = 309| title = The Family of Blood
*Doctor Who RG|id=who_tv29|title=Human Nature" / "The Family of Blood|quotes=y
*Brief|id=2007hi|title=Human Nature" / "The Family of Blood|quotes=y
* [ "We are the Family of Blood"] : episode trailer


*DWRG| id=familyblood | title=The Family of Blood | quotes=y
*OG review | id=2007-09| title=The Family of Blood | quotes=y

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