The Doctor Dances

The Doctor Dances

serial_name= The Doctor Dances

caption= The army of zombies begins to march onwards...
doctor=Christopher Eccleston (Ninth Doctor)
companion=Billie Piper (Rose Tyler)
companion2=John Barrowman (Jack Harkness)
* Richard Wilson – Dr Constantine
* Florence Hoath – Nancy
* Luke Perry – Timothy Lloyd
* Albert Valentine – The Child
* Cheryl Fergison – Mrs Lloyd
* Damian Samuels – Mr Lloyd
* Robert Hands – Algy
* Joseph Tremain – Jim
* Jordan Murphy – Ernie
* Martin Hodgson – Jenkins
* Vilma Hollingbery – Mrs Harcourt
* Noah Johnson – Voice of the Empty Child
* Dian Perry – Computer voice
writer=Steven Moffat
director=James Hawes
script_editor=Elwen Rowlands
producer=Phil Collinson
executive_producer=Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner
Mal Young
length=2nd of 2-part story, 45 minutes
date=May 28, 2005
preceding="The Empty Child"
following="Boom Town"
series=Series 1
series_link=Series 1 (2005)|
"The Doctor Dances" is an episode in the British science fiction television series "Doctor Who", which was first broadcast on May 28, 2005. It is the second of a two-part story and saw Jack Harkness, played by John Barrowman, join the Doctor as a companion. The first part, "The Empty Child", was broadcast on May 21. This episode, together with "The Empty Child", won the 2006 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. [cite web| url = |title = Hugo and Campbell Awards Winners| work = Locus Online| accessdate = 2006-08-27|date = 2006-08-26]


The Child's plague is spreading throughout wartime London, and its zombie army is on the march. The Ninth Doctor and Rose form an alliance with intergalactic con man Captain Jack, but find themselves trapped in the abandoned hospital. The answer lies at the crash site, but time is running out...


Continuing from the cliffhanger of "The Empty Child", the Doctor, Rose Tyler, and Jack Harkness are trapped in a London hospital during the London Blitz of World War II, being cornered by several bodies of humans that have been transformed somehow into "empty" beings that appear to wear a gas mask (though these seem to be physically part of their bodies), and asking for their mummy. Simultaneously, Nancy is trapped in the house abandoned by a family seeking shelter from the bombings, also being cornered by the body of her young brother Jamie, the first patient to be observed in the transformed state. The Doctor tells the beings to go back to their room, which they all do, including Jamie. The Doctor accuses Jack of causing this situation by trying to swindle the Time Agency, and not being fully aware of what he was dealing with. The trio go to the room where Jamie was treated at the hospital and discover audio recordings that Dr. Constantine made when treating Jamie, with Jamie only responding by asking for his mummy. Listening to the tapes, the Doctor realizes that the being that was Jamie is learning what it can do and control, and if they cannot stop him soon, he will be much too powerful to do so. The Doctor realizes that the room they are in is Jamie's room, and that if the other beings followed his order, Jamie would too; immediately after this realisation, they discover Jamie waiting in the doorway.

The group quickly escapes from Jamie using Jack's "sonic blaster", but end up trapped in a room with no other means of escape besides one door, which the Doctor has sealed shut. Jack teleports himself to his ship and works on overriding the teleportation controls to rescue the Doctor and Rose, as well as piping Glenn Miller's "Moonlight Serenade" through the radio system in order to drown out the pleading of Jamie asking for his mummy. The Doctor uses the time to ask Rose why she trusts Jack, and Rose explains their flirtations and the dancing they did on the top of his ship previously. The Doctor, challenged by Rose, shows her that he can dance as well, but in the middle of his demonstration, they are transported to Jack's Chula ship, and quickly pretend as if nothing has happened. Jack heals a previous wound suffered by The Doctor using the ship's nanogenes, and explains to the Doctor that he went renegade on the Time Agency when he found out that they had wiped two years of memories from him.

Meanwhile, as the all-clear is sounded, Nancy is momentarily held up by the family returning to their house, but when she accuses the father of sleeping with the local butcher and subsequently acquiring more than allowable by rations, she is let go, and heads back to the railyard. She finds all the other children there, and tells them they should have searched elsewhere for shelter, but one child points out that the Child keeps coming after her. After a typewriter in the shelter starts acting on its own, typing out the same request for "mummy", Nancy leaves the children and heads to the bomb site. She is quickly captured and questioned, then left handcuffed to a table; the guard that is left to watch over her shows signs of sickness, and shortly before Nancy's eyes, transforms to a gas mask-wearing zombie.

The Doctor, Rose, and Jack arrive at the bomb site, and discover that the soldiers remaining have all been transformed as well, but the Doctor has discovered that Nancy still in her own form, kept alive by singing a lullaby to her transformed captor. The group investigates the "bomb", the empty shell of a Chula medical transport, and the Doctor realizes that it shouldn't be empty: it should also contain the same nanogenes that were present on Jack's ship. He deduces that the transformations have all been caused by the nanogenes, using the first reference of a human body they had come across after crashing: Jamie's dead body wearing a gas mask. As the Chula was a warrior race, the nanogenes also gave the transformed beings increased strength, making them nearly unstoppable; furthermore, should they not be able to correct the problem before the area is bombed again, the nanogenes will spread from the explosion, transforming everyone into similar gas mask-wearing zombies.

As the Doctor realizes the truth, the group is surrounded by numerous gas mask-wearing zombies, lead by Jamie. The Doctor tells Nancy that she knows what she has to do to end this, and Nancy knowingly agrees, stepping up to Jamie and admitted to him that she is not his sister but really his mummy, and embraces him in a hug. The others watch as the nanogenes envelop both Nancy and Jamie, scanning her DNA and recognizing her as a true human. The nanogenes then heal Jamie; not only reversing the transformation, but also bringing him back to life; they then continue to revert the change on all the other zombies. However, the bomb that is set to strike the area has almost landed, but Jack has managed to use his ship to temporarily halt the bomb but must still dispose of it. He returns himself and the bomb to his ship and sets off far away from civilization. With the area safe, the Doctor realizes that "everyone lives!", and starts an evacuation of the area while he sets the Chula medical ship to self-destruct, not only destroying the future technology but also keeping history consistent with an explosion in the area still occurring.

Jack, aboard his ship, realizes he cannot jettison the bomb, or bail on the ship himself, and thus must travel with it until it explodes. However, moments before the bomb explodes, the TARDIS appears on Jack's ship, Glenn Miller playing from the control room as the Doctor and Rose dance, and invite him on board. Jack quickly flees his ship and joins the other TARDIS members in dancing in celebration to their success.


*Jack mentions Pompeii as another ideal place for a con, although he jokingly says that one has to set the alarm clock for "Volcano Day". The Seventh Doctor and Mel visited the ill-fated city in the Big Finish Productions audio drama "The Fires of Vulcan". Jack implies that he has gone back to Pompeii several times, but does not explain how he avoids his other selves on one particular day in history.
*The phrase "Volcano Day" is used again by the Tenth Doctor in "The Fires of Pompeii", which takes place at the event. [cite episode | title = The Fires of Pompeii | series = Doctor Who | credits = Writer James Moran, Director Colin Teague, Producer Phil Collinson | network = BBC | station = BBC One | city = Cardiff | airdate = 2008-04-12]
*It is established that Jack comes from the 51st century. This is a particularly significant period in the "Doctor Who" fictional universe, being the time of the Great Breakout, an expansionistic period where mankind headed for the stars ("The Invisible Enemy") as well as the home era of K-9. [cite serial | title = The Invisible Enemy | series = Doctor Who | credits = Writers Bob Baker, Dave Martin, Director Derrick Goodwin, Producer Graham Williams | network = BBC | station = BBC1 | city = London | began = 1977-10-01 | ended = 1977-10-22] Other historical events of the 51st century include a new ice age, a near world war, early experiments in time travel, the establishment of the Time Agents and the rise and fall of the villanous Magnus Greel ("The Talons of Weng-Chiang"). [cite serial | title = The Talons of Weng-Chiang | series = Doctor Who | credits = Writer Robert Holmes, from an idea by Robert Banks Stewart (uncredited), Director David Maloney, Producer Philip Hinchcliffe | network = BBC | station = BBC1 | city = London | began=1977-02-26 | ended = 1977-04-02] Parts of the Tenth Doctor episode "The Girl in the Fireplace" and the entirety of "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead", all written by Steven Moffat, take place in this era as well.cite episode | title = The Girl in the Fireplace | series = Doctor Who | credits = Writer Steven Moffat, Director Euros Lyn, Producer Phil Collinson | network = BBC | station = BBC One | city = Cardiff | airdate = 2006-05-06] cite episode | title = Silence in the Library | series = Doctor Who | credits = Writer Steven Moffat, Director Euros Lyn, Producer Phil Collinson | network = BBC | station = BBC One | city = Cardiff | airdate = 2008-05-31] cite episode | title = Forest of the Dead | series = Doctor Who | credits = Writer Steven Moffat, Director Euros Lyn, Producer Phil Collinson | network = BBC | station = BBC One | city = Cardiff | airdate = 2008-06-07]
*The Doctor identifies Jack's sonic blaster as coming from the Weapon Factories of Villengard and implies that he blew them up. He also notes that there is a banana grove where the factories were, and that "bananas are good" as a source of potassium. The Tenth Doctor repeats this sentiment in "The Girl in the Fireplace" and claims that he invented the banana daiquiri in 17th century France.
*As mentioned in "Doctor Who Confidential", in this episode "dancing" is used as a metaphor for sex. In this light, lines like "The world doesn't end if the Doctor dances," the Doctor being offended that Rose assumes that he does not dance, and the Doctor saying at the end that he remembers that he can, are references to the long-standing controversy regarding the Doctor's sexuality, and whether or not the series should address it. Moffat also alludes to this metaphor in "The Girl in the Fireplace" with the line "There comes a time, Time Lord, where every lonely boy learns to dance."
*As the Doctor notes, "Just this once, everybody lives!" Other stories where nobody died include "The Edge of Destruction" (1964) [cite serial | title = The Edge of Destruction | series = Doctor Who | credits = Writer David Whitaker, Directors Richard Martin, Frank Cox, Producers Verity Lambert, Mervyn Pinfield | network = BBC | city = London | began = 1964-02-08 | ended = 1964-02-15] and "Fury from the Deep" (1968); [cite serial | title = Fury from the Deep | series = Doctor Who | credits = Writer Victor Pemberton, Director Hugh David, Producer Peter Bryant | network = BBC | station = BBC1 | city = London | began = 1968-03-16 | ended = 1968-04-20] the 2006 episode "Fear Her", [cite episode | title = Fear Her | series = Doctor Who | credits = Writer Matthew Graham, Director Euros Lyn, Producer Phil Collinson | network = BBC | station = BBC One | city = Cardiff | airdate = 2006-06-24] and the episodes "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead". "The Celestial Toymaker" (1966) and "Castrovalva" (1982) involved the destruction of (technically) non-living beings. [cite serial | title = The Celestial Toymaker | series = Doctor Who | credits = Writers Brian Hayles, Donald Tosh, Gerry Davis (uncredited), Director Bill Sellars, Producer Innes Lloyd | network = BBC | station = BBC1 | city = London | began = 1966-04-02 | ended = 1966-04-23] [cite serial | title = Castrovalva | series = Doctor Who | credits = Writer Christopher H. Bidmead, Director Fiona Cumming, Producer John Nathan-Turner | network = BBC | station = BBC1 | city = London | began = 1982-01-04 | ended = 1982-01-12] A typical "everyone dies" story is "Horror of Fang Rock" (1977). [cite serial | title = Horror of Fang Rock | series = Doctor Who | credits = Writer Terrance Dicks, Director Paddy Russell, Producer Graham Williams | network = BBC | station = BBC1 | city = Birmingham | began = 1977-09-03 | ended = 1977-09-24] Whether Jack's ship "dies" depends on whether it was artificially intelligent (and then, also depends on how one views the relationship between AI and "life"). The statement is later reiterated in Moffat's "Forest of the Dead" (2008), wherein physically dead characters are nevertheless granted a form of continued sentient existence.
*Continuing the "Bad Wolf" references, the German bomb that Jack sits on has the words "Schlechter Wolf" stencilled on its shell which, literally translated from German, means "Bad Wolf" (although translating "bad" with "schlecht" is not entirely correct in that context. More appropriate would be "Böser Wolf").
*Mickey's website, "Who is Doctor Who?" and the UNIT website both carry reports about unexploded "Schlechter Wolf" bombs in the present day, implying they may be something more sinister than just a German terror weapon. [ [ Defending the Earth! Because friends stick together ] ] [ [ Top Secret: Unit ] ] The bomb as pictured is unusual, with thick fins and a non-aerodynamic nose. Also, the stencilling would be expected not to spiral round the casing.
*According to a police officer in "Torchwood" episode "Everything Changes", Captain Jack went missing on 21 January 1941. [cite episode | title = Everything Changes | series = Torchwood | credits = Writer Russell T Davies, Director Brian Kelly, Producers Richard Stokes, Chris Chibnall | network = BBC | station = BBC Three | city = Cardiff | airdate = 2006-10-22]


*The working title for this story was "Captain Jax". [ [ A Brief History Of Time (Travel): The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances] ]
*The climactic scene of the episode at the alien crash site was filmed on Barry Island, Wales, which was also the primary location for the shooting of the Seventh Doctor serial "Delta and the Bannermen" (1987). Several scenes of this story were filmed at the Vale of Glamorgan Railway sites at Plymouth Road on Barry Island in January 2005.
*In the DVD commentary for this episode, writer Steven Moffatt reveals that up until a very late stage, the nanogenes in this story were called "nanites". However, script editor Helen Raynor decided this name sounded too much like similar nanotechnological devices in "".
*The scene where the Child surprises the Doctor, Rose, and Jack in Room 802 was voted television's "Golden Moment of 2005" by viewers, as part of the BBC's "2005 TV Moments" programme. [ [ BBC - Entertainment - TV Moments] ]

Outside references

*The Chula ships are named after Chula, an Indian/Bangladeshi fusion restaurant in Hammersmith, London where the writers celebrated and discussed their briefs on the scripts they were to write for the season after being commissioned by Russell T Davies."The Doctor Dances", DVD audio commentary] ["Waking The Dead" featurette on "Doctor Who" Series 1 DVD, 2Entertain]
*Moffat had first used the line "Life is just nature's way of keeping meat fresh" in the second series of his 1990s sitcom "Joking Apart". He reused it here as he thought it was a good line, but laments that people quote lines from this episode except that one. [Steven Moffat, "Joking Apart", Series 2 DVD audio commentary, Replay DVD]

Historical details

*Anachronistically, Jamie's voice is recorded on tape. While compact magnetic tape recorders were developed in Germany in the 1930s, the technology did not make its way to the rest of the world until after World War II. Wire recording was used by the BBC during this period, but recording gramophones, using wax discs as a medium, were more common. Steven Moffatt acknowledges this mistake in the DVD commentary for "The Doctor Dances", but jokingly suggests that an ancestor of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart stole the machine from Germany to help with the war effort.

*Both songs heard in the episode are by Glenn Miller. They are "In the Mood" and "Moonlight Serenade".


External links

*BBCDWnew|year=2005|id=doctordances|title=The Doctor Dances
*Brief| id=2005ij | title=The Empty Child" / "The Doctor Dances|quotes=y
*Doctor Who RG| id=who_tv08 | title=The Empty Child" / "The Doctor Dances|quotes=y
*OG|2005-10|The Doctor Dances|quotes=y
* episode|id=407901|title=The Doctor Dances
*" [ Doctor Who Confidential] " — Episode 10: "Weird Science"
* [ "You got the moves? Show me your moves."] — Episode trailer for "The Doctor Dances"


*OG review| id=2005-10 | title=The Doctor Dances|quotes=y
*OG review| id=2005-0910 | title=The Empty Child" / "The Doctor Dances|quotes=y
*DWRG| id=doctordances | title=The Doctor Dances|quotes=y
*DWRG| id=emptydances | title=The Empty Child" / "The Doctor Dances|quotes=y

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