In “The Long Game,” we see a potential future for the human race, a stark warning in which media dominates all and no one questions anything. We also get to see Simon Pegg and Episodes star Tamsin Greig in Doctor Who plus something Whovians had never seen before: a companion who is not up to the Doctor’s high standards (Adam).
The story of the Doctor traveling to a far off future in which the media becomes a toxic force in human development comes from a story Russell T Davies submitted to the Doctor Who production team in the early 1980s. He also wanted to introduce a companion who turns out not to be up to the job, to show off the caliber of the companions who last. As the Doctor says, “I only take the best; I’ve got Rose.”
The name of the character Suki Macrae Cantrell was a minor homage to Russell T Davies‘ fellow writer Tom MacRae, the same Tom MacRae who would go on to write “Rise Of The Cybermen”/”The Age Of Steel.”
The food stall sells all manner of futuristic snacks, including Kronkburgers, which are a reference taken from a Doctor Who comic story called “The Iron Legion,” originally published in Doctor Who Magazine.
“The Long Game” was directed by Brian Grant, who began his career as a cameraman on music videos for British rock acts such as the Rolling Stones, Elton John and Peter Gabriel. He was also the winner of the first ever Grammy award for Video of the Year for Olivia Newton-John‘s “Physical.”
Poor Simon Pegg, so well versed in the ways of geekery and nerdism, had a hell of a time on his first day on the Doctor Who set. Called upon to introduce this story’s villainous monster, he took several takes to say the name “The Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe,” as this clip from Doctor Who Confidential shows:
Although all we hear from the Jagrafess—whose original design brief was “a lump of meat on the ceiling”—is the sound of growling and roaring, there was some speech recorded by Nicholas Briggs (also the voice of the modern Daleks) for the episode. It was thought to be too much like the Nestene Consciousness in “Rose” and unnecessary, given that Simon Pegg was interpreting the beast’s communication anyway.
There were a few alternate story ideas that didn’t make the final cut. One is that Adam’s decision to exploit the future technology for his own ends has an altruistic purpose. His father is seriously unwell with an incurable disease (named in the script as arthritis), and Adam is looking to see if a cure has been discovered. This story was altered slightly (his mother is unwell) and given a fuller exploration in the Doctor Who comic book story “Prisoners of Time,” which sees Adam seek revenge on the Doctor down through his timestream, for preventing him from being able to prevent her death.
In the DVD extras for this story, Brian Grant and Bruno Langley (Adam) reveal that Adam’s “frozen vomit” was actually a “kiwi and orange ice cube.”
The original plan for the infospike, the data portal inserted into the foreheads, was that it would actually be a more grotesque invasion of cranial space. Russell wanted the heads of people with infospikes to open up like a peeled satsuma, a type of citrus fruit. Sadly, the special effects budget did not stretch to it, so they opted for the foreheads instead.
There’s an advertising slogan worked into the script that will have been instantly familiar to British viewers. The Nurse who administers Adam’s infospike explains that the operation will cost money, and when Adam offers her the card the Doctor took from the cashpoint (which is itself the British term for an ATM), she replies, “That’ll do nicely.”
“That’ll do nicely” was the slogan for a long-running series of British TV commercials for American Express credit cards, and became a very commonly used phrase in the early 1980s:
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