The first episode in BBC AMERICA’s The Doctor’s Finest selection of Doctor Who episodes airs this Saturday, August 15: the classic 2007 episode “Blink.” Starring David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor and Carey Mulligan as Sally Sparrow, this unusual episode is one of the most popular and critically-acclaimed Doctor Who stories ever made. (Check out a full recap of “Blink.”) In advance of the episode showing, here are 10 facts we’ve dug up about it that you may not have heard before:
1. The episode was the third story of the revived Doctor Who to be based on something previously written for spin-off material. After season 1’s “Dalek” had been adapted somewhat loosely from the Big Finish play Jubilee, and “Human Nature” a rather more faithful take on the Seventh Doctor novel of the same name, “Blink” was adapted by Steven Moffat from a short story he’d written for the 2006 Doctor Who Annual book, titled “What I Did On My Summer Holidays, By Sally Sparrow.”
2. Moffat was originally tapped by Russell T. Davies to write the “Daleks in Manhattan” two-parter for season 3, but work commitments elsewhere left him unable to work on that story. As he later explained to Doctor Who Magazine, he then volunteered instead to write that year’s “Doctor-lite” episode to compensate. These stories, shot simultaneously alongside another episode with a secondary crew, barely featured the Doctor and his companion, and were designed to allow for production of 14 episodes per year rather than the original 13.
3. Moffat had actually intended that the Weeping Angels would be the monster in his season 4 story, “Silence in the Library,” but after deciding to adapt the “Sally Sparrow” story, which had no villain in its original form, he decided to repurpose the idea. The Angels were based partly on the childhood game “Statues” and partly on a visit to a graveyard during a family holiday.
4. On the DVD commentary track for the episode, Moffat explained his answer to the popular question of why characters can’t just alternate winking each eye in order to avoid being attacked by the Angels. “It doesn’t work!” he said. “I tried it. It doesn’t work, eventually you just end up blinking!”
5. Pop culture references in the episode include Scooby-Doo—Larry refers to the house by this name, and the year the Doctor and Martha get trapped in, 1969, is the year Scooby Doo, Where Are You! debuted—and Rosemary and Thyme, an ITV detective series with a similar name to Kathy’s suggested Sparrow and Nightingale. Murray Gold‘s musical score at the beginning of the episode is reminiscent of a similar piece in Ghostbusters, while the plot detail of receiving a letter from someone who has just traveled back in time is very similar to the closing scenes of Back to the Future Part II.
6. When Billy Shipton mentions the windows on the TARDIS being “the wrong size,” it’s a reference to a criticism from some fans over the accuracy of the TARDIS model that was introduced in 2005. Steven Moffat confirmed on his writer’s commentary that this was a deliberate shout-out to a popular fan-forum named Outpost Gallifrey, on which these discussions had taken place.
7. Michael Obiora, who played Billy, recorded his scenes before the later scene featuring his older self was filmed. Unfortunately, as Steven Moffat explained on the episode commentary, the actor playing the older Billy, Louis Mahoney, had a much stronger accent; and so Obiora had to re-record all of his dialogue in a matching accent to be dubbed over himself. You can still hear Obiora’s natural London accent in one line that wasn’t re-dubbed, when he meets the Doctor in 1969. Mahoney, incidentally, had earlier appeared in two other Doctor Who stories: “Frontier in Space” and “Planet of Evil.”
8. The episode’s director, Hettie MacDonald, will be returning to Doctor Who this year, directing the opening two-parter of Season 9, “The Magician’s Apprentice” and “The Witch’s Familiar.”
9. The DVD “easter egg” of the Doctor’s message to Sally was actually included in its entirety as a hidden easter egg on the Season 3 DVD release.
10. “Blink” saw Steven Moffat win the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form for the third year in succession, having previously won it for “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances” and “The Girl in the Fireplace.” In 2009, it was the highest-placed new series episode in Doctor Who Magazine‘s all-time greatest story poll, landing in second place behind “The Caves of Androzani”; and in 2014 it repeated that result, this time placing only behind the anniversary special “The Day of the Doctor.”
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