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'Love & Monsters' (Photo: BBC)

“Love & Monsters” is a creative response to two situations: First, there was a production conflict that meant there wasn’t enough time to shoot a story with the key actors. Secondly, there was a competition offering a new monster a home in a Doctor Who script. What it became was a format for storytelling in which the Doctor can be the center of attention but very rarely onscreen, which offered up possibilities for scriptwriters that allowed them to create some of Doctor Who‘s most memorably stories.

Here are a few things that you should keep an eye out for, the next time you watch.

(The episode is available on iTunes and Amazon.)

Russell T Davies came up with the idea for a Doctor-lite story—partly inspired by both Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “The Zeppo” and Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “Lower Decks”—in order to fix a logjam in filming. As David Tennant and Billie Piper‘s time was being stretched beyond their abilities to meet all of their filming commitments for Season Two (and that year’s Christmas special too), a second film crew worked on “Love & Monsters” while the lead actors finished off “The Impossible Planet”/”The Satan Pit.” This forced Russell to tell a story from the perspective of another character, creating a format that later inspired some of Doctor Who‘s best-loved stories, including “Blink,” “Turn Left,” and “The Girl Who Waited.”

The original title was “I Love the Doctor,” and there was some intention to tell the same story from a lovestruck fan’s point of view. However, by making Elton’s obsession with the Doctor a more benign, half-remembered affair, Russell T Davies decided to create a parable. The coming together of like-minded L.I.N.D.A. and the fun they had as a gang was intended to be a cautionary tale about fandom and how it can bring people together in a mutually supportive community, but also, with the arrival of obsessives like Victor Kennedy, can stop being fun.

Early drafts of the script had Elton witnessing many more events from the Doctor’s past, including the Daleks invading Shoreditch (“Remembrance of the Daleks”), the Loch Ness monster (“Terror of the Zygons”) and his mother being killed by a plastic daffodil from “Terror of the Autons.”

Doctor Who has always shared a close bond with the British children’s TV show Blue Peter. In fact Peter Purves, who played Steven, one of the First Doctor’s companions, went on to present the show in the early 1970s. In 1967, Blue Peter ran a competition to design a Doctor Who monster and were astonished at the deluge of entries they received. At the time there was no suggestion that these monsters would make it onto the screen, but when the show began again in 2005, a similar competition was conceived with the promise that the winning entry would become part of a future Doctor Who script. Nine year old William Grantham, who created the Abzorbaloff (albeit as a two-story tall monster), was the eventual winner:

Elton’s acronym for the gang investigating the Doctor is L.I.N.D.A., London Investigation ‘n’ Detective Agency, and in the script Elton claims to have wanted to use it for years. This forms a crossover with the British children’s TV show Why Don’t You? (originally titled Why Don’t You Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Go Out and Do Something Less Boring Instead?) for which Russell T Davies had worked as a producer and director.

In order to justify that rogue ‘n’ in L.I.N.D.A. Elton cites the examples of “Fish ‘n’ Chips, Rock ‘n’ Roll. Chaka Demus ‘n’ Pliers.” That last example refers to the reggae duo who created the song “Tease Me,” a No. 3 hit in the U.K. in 1993:

The monster that roars in Elton’s face at the beginning of the episode, the one the Doctor tempts with a pork chop, is called The Hoix. But it was only given a name when the production team were putting together the final credits and realized Paul Kasey—the man in the mask—needed a proper credit.

Peter Kay, the British comedian who plays Victor Kennedy and the Abzorbaloff, was originally earmarked to play Elton. He had written a letter to Russell T Davies, praising the first season of the reborn Doctor Who and offering his services. Feeling that the Elton character was too close to a role he had recently played on the soap Coronation Street, Peter opted to play the dapper villain, spending some time with Russell scripting and creating the character.

As befits a story about clues and conspiracy theories, “Love & Monsters” pulls together references to each of the big story arcs of the first four seasons. There’s a Bad Wolf virus, Torchwood files, the missing planet of Clom (later discovered to have been taken by Davros in “The Stolen Earth”), and the Absorbaloff is seen reading a newspaper containing a story about Mr. Saxon “Saxon leads polls with 64 percent.”

Incidentally, the reference to Rose’s files having been corrupted by that Bad Wolf virus was put in there to explain why Torchwood doesn’t recognize her when they meet in “Army of Ghosts.”

There’s another face from the golden days of British TV in this episode. Bella Emberg was a regular face in British comedy shows, including The Benny Hill Show and The Russ Abbot Show. She plays Mrs. Croot, a neighbor of Jackie Tyler’s who helps Elton in his search for Rose. As well as her comedy roles, Belle also appeared in two stories in the Third Doctor’s era—a nurse in “Doctor Who and the Silurians” and as a kitchen maid in “The Time Warrior.”

Now read the rest of the 10 Things You May Not Know About Doctor Who archive.

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By Fraser McAlpine