There’s a lot to get done in “The Eleventh Hour.” Like all regeneration stories, the Doctor has to come to terms with his new personality and new body, there has to be a new threat for him to deal with, and, unlike the Tenth Doctor’s debut, there’s the not inconsiderable issue of a brand new companion, who has also changed before our very eyes.
Oh, and behind the scenes the production team had changed too, with Russell T Davies bowing out as show runner, and Steven Moffat taking over.
Here are a few things that you should keep an eye out for, the next time you watch.
Steven Moffat wanted the Doctor to meet his next companion as a child to try and reinstate the idea that the Doctor is a far older being than the people he travels with. He also wanted to capture some of the magical relationship between Peter Pan and Wendy Darling, rather than a proto-romance. He explained that this is the kind of relationship all viewers have with the Doctor, and therefore it should be reflected in the character who represents the viewers on-screen.
His original title for the story was The Doctor Returns. This wasn’t solely a reference to the regeneration, but because the Doctor comes back to Amelia, twice.
When we see the TARDIS interior at the beginning of the episode, the console had had to be rebuilt from the explosive finale of “The End of Time.” The glass column which represents the Time Rotor had been damaged by the pyrotechnics during the regeneration scene.
After the run of British comedy legends that characterized Season Four, Season Five gets off to a cracking start with cameo roles for Nina Wadia, best known to UK viewers for her various roles in the sketch comedy show Goodness Gracious Me, and Annette Crosbie, who became a household name playing Victor Meldrew’s long-suffering wife Margaret in the BBC comedy One Foot in the Grave. Although the most impressive coup for British viewers was the inclusion of Sir Patrick Moore, veteran presenter of the long-running BBC astrology show The Sky at Night.
Sir Patrick had already been namechecked by Rose Tyler in “Aliens of London” but this was the first and only time he made a personal appearance in the show.
Karen Gillan auditioned for the role of Amy Pond using both her natural Scottish accent and an English one. It wasn’t until she had been cast was the decision taken to make the character Scottish. This was an attempt by Steven Moffat to avoid constantly giving the Doctor a companion from London.
Although Caitlin Blackwood, who plays young Amelia Pond, is Karen Gillan’s cousin, the two had never met before Doctor Who. Caitlin was born in Northern Ireland and moved to Scotland after Karen had moved to London, although Karen had recommended Caitlin for the role of young Amelia.
Two of the principal elements of this story came from Steven Moffat’s own experience. As a child he had a recurring dream that there was a lost room in his grandmother’s house that he could not find. And the idea for the crack in Amelia’s wall, the one that ultimately spanned the Eleventh Doctor’s entire lifespan, came from a crack in his son Louis’s wall, with Steven wondering if a child might look at such a crack and imagine that something lived inside.
The design for the Atraxi spaceship — an eyeball in a star — was intentionally created to make this a monster that children could draw with ease.
One of the scenes written for broadcast that didn’t make the final cut explained what Prisoner Zero’s original crime had been. Steven Moffat cut it, reasoning that from the audience’s point of view, it didn’t really matter.
By far most popular scene in this story — in which the Doctor claims to want to eat various foodstuffs that he then immediately rejects, before settling on fish fingers and custard — is based on a similar series of events in A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner. Tigger comes into the forest and tries to find something to eat for breakfast, claiming as he goes that he likes everything. But after trying and rejecting the favorite foodstuffs of almost all of the forest friends, he finally settles on Roo’s medicinal extract of malt.
Incidentally, according to the main headline on her personal website, Caitlin Blackwood has never tried fish fingers and custard. And given that Matt Smith was given a specially-made coconut confection to dip in his custard, rather than actual fish fingers, it’s entirely possible he hasn’t either.
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