As we approach the 60th Anniversary of Doctor Who, revisit the story of Doctor Who, the occasional series written for the 50th Anniversary, explaining the origins of the programme.

Episode 31 - An Unearthly Series - The Origins of a TV Legend: First published 23 Nov 2013

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Sunday, 27 May 2007 - Reviewed by Frank Collins

It's a pleasure to be able to say that with Paul Cornell's 'Human Nature' that Series Three has at last given us its benchmark episode despite the fact that we've got another five to go! This was a sublime piece of television drama and a brilliant synthesis of the original novel's theme and plot and the Russell T. Davies game-plan for the new series.

OK. Let's get the wonderful references sorted out. For me, it was a lovely mix of Delderfield's 'To Serve Them All My Days', Lindsay Anderson's 'If?' (particularly the machine-gun training) and Cameron-Menzies 'Invaders From Mars' (invasion by possession seen through the eyes of a young boy) and once again the production team here excelled with the period setting. There was a beautiful, and yet sombre, autumnal feel to the episode that evoked the mood of pre-war England. Like two of the references mentioned above, it thematically explored the nature of Englishness, to quote Michael Bracewell 'where the rebels in England's Arcadia are defending the values that they love, passionately, from what they recognise as abuse at the hands of self-serving tyrants and their occupying armies'. I'm reading H.G Wells' 'War Of The Worlds' at the moment and the parallels in this episode, in both evoking the period and playing out of themes, are also striking.

According to Bracewell, nostalgia is the very fulcrum of the English national and cultural psyche: nostalgia for some kind of lost 'idealised past' - an Arcadian wonderworld. As the Doctor hides out as 'John Smith' in the pastoral confines of that typical symbol of Englishness, the public school, he dreams of and makes notes about his other selves, that time-travelling rebel, that alternative life caught in nostalgic flashbacks and scrapbooks. And to add to this nostalgic riff, the episode name-checks Sydney Newman and Verity Lambert as John Smith's (and by extension the series) parents, Rose (again), and showcases that other English (and the Doctor's) obsession: cricket. That the episode could wind these references so delicately into the story without knocking over the whole house of cards is testament to the care that's gone into crafting this superb story.

The episode cleverly touched on the inevitable tragedy of the First World War, in essence the destruction of Arcadia, with Latimer's flash forwards and the 'great shadow falling across the land' as dialogue represented by the hugely symbolic scene of the piano falling into the street and about to literally crush one of the flowers of England. Fortunately, there was a good bowler nearby.

The three people in the 'marriage' at the heart of 'Human Nature': John Smith, Martha and Joan are all classic symbols of the triad, the three -- spirit, soul and flesh, Father, Mother and Child, purgative, illuminative and unitive. The John Smith/Doctor schism not only touches upon Christ's 'I am way, the truth, the life' but also the reverse of that symbolism in the consequences of the sin and lust of human nature. It's all very beautifully played by the three leads with Tennant managing to completely remove the ticks and affectations of his usual performance of the Doctor to give us a nervous, repressed English school master capable of handing out punishments to young Latimer; Agyeman providing a Martha of great depth, saying much about her feelings through expressions and reactions than through speech and certainly I hope finally silencing the naysayers; and Jessica Hynes' Joan as the perfect foil for John Smith, as a sympathetic, warm and completely 'human' human being. The romance between the two is finely played and doesn't descend into sentimentality.

They were supported quite wonderfully by Harry Lloyd, as Jeremy Baines, whose possession by the Family, (the anti-Father, Mother and Child in the story), was much determined by an eerie performance. For me, it was Thomas Sangster as Tim Latimer who sneaked in and stole the supporting honours. He managed to convey a young man, troubled by his growing abilities, wiser and older than he should be. In effect, he was a younger John Smith, hiding out in the school for fear of being discovered as one of the rebels defending Arcadia.

Charles Palmer, the director, is a real discovery. He captured an England in autumnal fugue with a David Lean touch, framing sterling performances from his cast in long shots of the countryside. And I do hope his first shot of the scarecrow moving its arm was an homage to 'The Singing Detective'. And a word of praise for Murray Gold's score with a stunning passage of music as Martha returns to the TARDIS and recalls the incidents that brought her to 1913 and tries to find some comfort in the Doctor's message. Very beautiful string sections kept underlying her growing fear and frustration in the scene.

Overall, the best episode so far this year and certainly on a par with 'The Empty Child' and 'The Girl In The Fireplace' and we have the second part yet to come. If 'Family Of Blood' is half as good as this then I can confidently say we've got another classic to add to the list.





FILTER: - Series 3/29 - Tenth Doctor - Television

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Sunday, 27 May 2007 - Reviewed by Claire Fulmer

"Which one of them do you want us to kill, Doctor? Your Friend..... or your lover? Your choice."

I was Practically gasping for air when this episode ended.

I think I loved this episode for the same reasons I loved 'The Empty Child'. It's probably because they both had humor, wit, romance, and marvelous Classic-series-worthy-cliffhangers!

I've discovered that David Tennent, slipping into the role of the Doctor, is seamless. He's one of those actors that can make you feel that he's been there forever, while only two Seasons in. To see someone so excited, so fond of the series, an actual fan playing the Doctor, hopping on board the TARDIS, so to speak, is truly a blessing to everyone. I've heard some say that he's to young, or not right for the role, but what actor can you really point to and say, 'He IS the doctor.'? The role, all the way back to Hartnell's era to present day, has been changing, growing, evolving, and is it really fair to judge someone for a role that doesn't have much of a criteria? Now looking at this episode, He's practically playing a whole new character here- and he pulls it off marvelously!

First of all, a credit to Louise Page (bless her soul) for the absolutely brilliant Costumes! Who, I ask you, did not squeal with delight when Martha came in in her adorable little maid outfit? Or when we saw Joan's (Jessica Hynes) Gorgeous Titanic era Dance-Dress? Well, maybe people with very little taste, but I sure noticed them.

Mr.Smith, right off the bat, was a very likable character, one with whom the audience immediately connected with, a man who had flaws, yet was a hero. Even though he wasn't the Timelord we'd come to love and know, he was an admirable person, obviously kind and gentle. His falling in love with Joan was something that could be seen a mile off, but you still sympathized with both him, and Martha, and of course, Joan.

It was touching when Martha rushed to the TARDIS after seeing the Doctor kissing Joan, and re-watched the recording the Doctor had left for her, and being frustrated with The Doctor for not mentioning what to do if he started to fall in love. Obviously it hadn't occurred to him at the time, because he hadn't been human then.

In this episode, to me, Martha stands out stronger in performance than the Doctor's character did.

I tended to sympathize with Martha more often than with the Doctor in this episode, because for the moment she WAS the Doctor, taking his place, making the decisions, taking control, coping with being a house servant, dealing with being taunted about her color, befriending people she probably would never see again, watching her friend fall in love with someone else, and in general, surviving. Martha is truly outstandingly amazing here.

I also find Joan's character very interesting, too. She's kind to maid Martha up to a point. She knows that Martha knows something, and treats her with the dignity she deserves, while still acknowledging that Martha's only a servant. I have a feeling I'm going to feel very sorry for Joan in the next episode, according to the trailer for next week.

Oh, and the baddies! My, what a lot! Is this Doctor Who, or the Wizard of Oz? No, really, loved the scarecrows! And, Oooo, "We are the family of blood!"! Harry Lloyd (Baines) is truly terrifying here, along with "Mother of Mine" Rebekah Staton, and The Sinister Little Girl...Creepy! Perfect! Not quite as scary as 'The Empty Child', but I'm sure Steven Moffat will follow through faithfully in 'Blink'.

Just one more mention of an outstanding actor's performance in this episode is Thomas Sangster, or 'Tim Latimer'. In the scene where he opens the watch and a bit of the Doctor goes into his deep, pooling eyes, to me at least, he seemed to become the Doctor right then and there. Amazing job, Tom!

To wrap this review up, I just want to say how pleased I was with this episode. This season just hadn't been impressing me, and the episodes just seemed kinda stale- I had hoped things were looking up when I saw 42, and guess what? I was right. This might not only be the best episode in the season so far, but the whole new series. It felt like a classic Who in plot, style and design. It was touching, warm, and just plain funny.

"Would you like some tea? I could put some gravy in the pot, or a nice bit of mutton? Or sardines and jam, how bout that?"

I found it very hard to criticize this episode, I just hope the 2nd half, 'The Family of Blood' will live up to it.

Brilliant. Just brilliant.





FILTER: - Series 3/29 - Tenth Doctor - Television

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Sunday, 27 May 2007 - Reviewed by Tony Leith

The best of the season so far easily in my view. Not that the rest have been bad -- even the episodes I would count as outright failures, namely the Dalek two parter, have been honourable ones, failing through an excess of ambition rather than a lack of it. I didn't read Paul Cornell's source novel, so the material was new to me. It's the first story this season which has had anything like the impact of 'The Girl in the Fireplace', say, which while managing to stay true to the spirit of the show took genuine risks with its storytelling and pushed the format envelope. My general observation of this season is that while it has generally been more consistent than Tennant's first, in that none of the episodes have been actually boring (sorry, but wasn't anybody else stifling yawns through fillers like 'The Idiot's Lantern' and -- worse even than that -- 'Fear her'), it's lacked the standouts like 'Dalek', Steven Moffat's two stories, or 'The Impossible Planet' two parter from the first two series. Here's hoping the second part doesn't degenerate into much shrieking, running, and blasting with ray guns. The Russell T Davies template for upping the ante in terms of dramatic tension does seem to rely heavily on subjecting the actors to bursts of aerobic exercise, and Russell, it isn't actually intrinsically much more interesting if they're being required to scamper up and down ladders as opposed to running along corridors. I am hopeful that the story won't fall into that particular pit.

I personally don't mind that we're suddenly introduced to a previously unmentioned and entirely unexplained piece of Gallifreyan kit as the central 'McGuffin' of the story. The later iterations of 'Star Trek' got more insufferable the more pains they took to detail the pseudoscience behind their plot contortions; I for one am willing to grant that if you can swallow the time travelling police box and regenerating protagonist, cavilling at the 'Cameleon Arch' is bit pointless. It serves to put the story, and the Doctor, into a very interesting place dramatically, experiencing the 'one adventure I can never have -- living an ordinary life, day after day'. Of course, John Smith isn't really the Doctor, and this episode has really allowed David Tennant to show off (but not in any ostentatious showboating sense) what a fine actor he really is. John Smith does come across as a distinct personality from the Doctor, with his own charm as well as more diffidence and reticence, and odd patches of abstraction where it is evident he's aware that there's something crucial missing. Tennant looks like he's enjoying himself ( 'Permission to beat him, sir?', pause and then an indifferent and somewhat distracted 'Yes'), not least in the beautifully underplayed and very English romantic scenes with Jessica Hynes.

Freema Ageyman also does some sterling and unselfish work in terms of carrying the narrative burden of the story -- she's the audience's eyes and ears, she's the lynchpin from the familiar (early 21st century Earth, the Tardis, gambolling merrily through time and space) to the truly alien (Edwardian England). If some 'source' at the BBC has been shooting their mouth off about Ms. Ageyman's future -- 'lovely girl, but not quite right for Doctor Who' (why? Too 'urban'?) -- I hope a) this is bollocks and b) a hefty boot is applied firmly to his/her arse at the earliest opportunity. Martha has the potential to be a much more interesting companion than Rose, as long as the writing doesn't shove her in the direction of 'unrequited lurve'. For god's sake, she's hanging out with a 900 year old alien who can take her anywhere in time and space, don't trivialize her or the situation by turning it into an adolescent crush. The X files has a lot to answer for, if you ask me?unresolved sexual tension has its place, but not all powerful attractions are sexual.

Other strengths of the episode -- the aforementioned Jessica Hynes, who in quite limited screen time managed to create a very well realised portrayal of a woman of that era, but knowing what she wants and the terms on which she wants to get it (Mr. Smith never stood a chance..). The evocation of time and place was also very well judged, the schoolboy machine gun crew a chilling reminder of what was about to befall that generation. It would be interesting to see this production team tackle a genuine historical piece i.e sans disembodied gibbering beasties, werewolves, time travelling andriods etc. etc. They've been able to smuggle a surprising amount of actual historical information in via period detail, but having the drama turning on engagement with a given historical situation or character would be something new for this generation of viewers. Granted this would be a risk, but risk taking should be what this show is all about. Our antagonists were also satisfyingly creepy, and refreshingly ready to shoot first and ask questions afterward without offering a preliminary explanation of their dastardly plot. Scarecrows seemed a bit redundant, but I can see the playground potential of imitating their ungainly lollop.

All in all, the episode was quintessentially what Doctor Who should be about -- demanding a bit more of its audience than the general run of mass enterainment television, but offering a bit more in return. What I just said about risk is central to the appeal of the show for me. Your average episode of something like 'Casualty' for example, well made though it might be, operates within pretty well defined parameters. By and large, I think that's probably how the viewing public like it -- you know what you can expect. Dr Who isn't -- or shouldn't -- be like that. The original producers of the show initially took viewers from the comforting familiarity of a fog bound London to a Paleolithic moorland, and from there to a petrified forest on an alien planet. It's not likely that this would elicit a shrug, a lunge for the off button maybe, but not a shrug. I hope the production team continue to be willing to take chances of the same order. Sometimes they won't pay off, but when they do, they'll create stories that will live in the imagination of a generation. More important, they'll enlarge the imagination of a generation. Now, that's public service broadcasting.





FILTER: - Series 3/29 - Tenth Doctor - Television

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Sunday, 27 May 2007 - Reviewed by William Cox

"Take this watch, my life depends on it. This watch Martha, this watch?"

I was cautiously optimistic when I learned that the BBC were planning an adaptation of Paul Cornell's 1995 novel "Human Nature" for series 3. The prospect intrigued me: after all, this was one of the most highly regarded books to ever come out under the Doctor Who banner, and was voted best New Adventure in DWM. A TV adaptation certainly had a lot to live up to. In addition, having read it over a decade ago, I had only pictured Sylvester McCoy in the role of John Smith, since it was originally written with the character of the 7th Doctor in mind. There was also the fan reaction to consider. Would die hard fans accept a remake of one of their favorite Who stories? That is a debate that is best left for another time and place. My focus is solely on the merits of "Human Nature" as a television production, and in that regard it truly shines.

SPOILERS FOLLOW:

Pursued by evil aliens who want to acquire his time lord abilities, the Doctor embarks on a daring plan: he will transform himself into a human in order to evade his enemies, and Martha must look after the vessel that contains his true genetic makeup (in this case a pocket watch). After using a device called a chameleon arch to undergo the agonizing process of being remade, the Doctor becomes John Smith, a teacher at a Boys School in 1913. He has no memory of who he once was, although he still has dreams about his previous existence. Martha acts as his maid and his guardian, in case the Doctor's plan goes wrong. And, as anyone who has seen the episode or read the book upon which it is based knows, it does.

The production is a beauty to behold. The BBC are second to none when it comes to period dramas, and this episode is not exception. 1913 has been lovingly recreated and we are readily immersed into the reality presented to us. The acting and direction are also top notch. David Tennant continues to impress as the Doctor, and here he is given a new dimension to work with. He successfully creates an entirely new character while still retaining characteristics of the old. Not an easy task. Freema Agyeman likewise gets a chance to expand Martha's character to great effect. No longer is she just a companion and an assistant. Here, she carries a lot of weight in the episode as she has to deal with the burden the Doctor has been forced to place on her. That the Doctor would entrust something so monumentally important to her and that she would accept the challenge without question shows love and trust on both their parts. The supporting cast are equally effective, particularly Jessica Hynes, who plays Joan Redfern, the love interest for John Smith.

The villains of the story, simply referred to here as "The Family", are chilling in their actions and their mannerisms, but even more frightening are their scarecrow servants, which they are able to animate. The phrase "behind the sofa" immediately comes to mind, and no doubt countless children in Britain got a good scare with this one.

This episode is one of those rare events in which everything comes together so perfectly. Season 3 has finally produced it's first classic, one that will be remembered for years to come. I dare say that next year this episode will definitely be a contender for the Hugo.





FILTER: - Series 3/29 - Tenth Doctor - Television

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Sunday, 27 May 2007 - Reviewed by Joe Ford

Quite simply spellbinding. My favourite episode of Doctor Who since it returned to our screens and screaming pure quality from every second of its precious celluloid.

Adaptations are strange beasts. It all depends on your opinion of the original as to how you receive the altered version. With Dalek, BBC TVs adaptation of Big Finish's Jubilee, I felt Rob Shearman had missed a trick. He captured the drama and stunning dialogue of the original play but forgot one of the things that made the story so distinct, its sadistic and very funny black humour. Human Nature, in my opinion is an overrated New Adventure. Its good and it has a brilliant central idea but ive never been that fond of Paul Cornell's over-egged prose. Fortunately, Cornell has the incredible luck of wiping away the (frustrating) seventh Doctor and using the far more likable tenth, the added strength of Martha Jones and gets to turn the whole story into a hunt, which adds far more tension to the proceedings. All the important features are there?the romance with Joan, the fact that he embraces humanity; the incredible atmosphere of the Boy's school and the result is a TV adaptation that is vastly superior to its novelisation. An extremely rare feat.

Performances in the new series of Doctor Who are generally very good but occasionally a cast is assembled that is outstanding. The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit is a good example and Human Nature is another. The three central performances sell the story so convincingly you are dragged against your will into their lives and feel a real connection with them. David Tennant outdoes himself in the central role of Dr Smith. It is enviable to any actor to be able to, in the middle of a series, play a completely different character. Usually science-fiction deals the alternative universe card to achieve this and the regulars ham it up but Human Nature depends on this being our Doctor and our Martha. Its frightening watching Tennant play John Smith, almost as though this is role he has been playing for a season and a half, such is the confidence and the realism in the part. I love his stiff upper-lippedness mixed with a great deal of intelligent charm and a streak of pure eccentricity. You can see precisely why Joan is attracted to him from the off.

What's this? A romance in Doctor Who?for the Doctor? I wouldn't imagine Jessica Stevenson as the woman who would capture the Doctor's heart but that's only because of her phenomenal success with Spaced and the lazy character she plays. I have never been more pleased to be wrong; she's superb as Joan, the most successful celebrity guest spot yet. There's so much truth to Joan and Stevenson convinces entirely as the love struck widow, she's quite a serious character (behaving with proper manners as was appropriate at the time) but there are glimpses of humour that make her very charming. The brief admission, "It's been ages since I've been to a dance but no-one's asked me" could sound desperate but from Stevenson's lips it breaks your heart. Think back to School Reunion last year and Rose and Sarah-Jane bickering over the Doctor, the animosity between Joan and Martha (who must desperately try and stand in the way of this romance) is far more gentle. Had Joan been played by a lesser actress this could have been a real nasty character but there is such depth to her that we see a subtle understanding between Martha and matron.

I do hope the rumours about Freema Agyeman are untrue. I love Martha. I have since Smith and Jones. She's a far more intelligent and independent character than Rose, she compliments the Doctor in the same way that Emma Peel complimented John Steed. Even better, Freema is a fresh young face for the series and it is clear that the show has challenged her and driven some fine performances. Human Nature is as much Martha's story as it is the Doctor's and she is inflicted with more indignity than any companion has for a while. The racial comment about her hands made me gasp, it's almost as bad as the assumption that as a maid she should not be familiar with her master and use the side entrance. Watching Martha tip toe around the Doctor is fascinating, trying to cope her best with this hastily improvised situation. The sequence where she returns to the TARDIS is beautiful, like she is coming home. The music during that sequence was particularly good.

Suzie Liggat's first stint as producer is a huge success. The resources she has made possible have resulted in a high-class production with some atmospheric location filming and some authentic sets. The feels of the episode is elegance from the relaxed pace to the depth of characterisation through to the special effects and camerawork. Doctor Who's production values are astonishing these days, truly beautiful and it is pleasing that they can make last weeks dirty, roasting spaceship as classy as this weeks upper class boys school. Certain shots in this episode took my breath away: the light scanning through the field, the scarecrow bursting from the field to attack the little girl with the red balloon, the moody shots of John Smith and Joan walking through the fields.

Harry Lloyd is the spitting image of a young Captain Jack Harkness; should they need to cast the role he would be superb. He gives an interesting performance here, really up himself as Baines but completely chilling (with possibly the scariest alien eyes I have ever seen) as a member of the Family of Blood. He makes a great foil for David Tennant's straight acting John Smith and their confrontation in the final set piece is a quality moment. Many people playing possessed characters use the excuse to ham it up but Lloyd stays on the right side of silliness with his psychotic grin and glinting eyes.

Its another great cliffhanger in a series that seems to have remembered how they work. This one is especially goof because I don't think it is something the series has ever tried before in its fourty year plus history. Such a simple, brilliant conceit?have the Doctor fall in love in an episode and lose faith in his companion and then risk their lives together in the finale. Who does he save? So simple and so effective.

Human Nature deserves the praise that has already been lavished on it, from the papers to the fan reaction. It is as close to an adult drama as the series is going to get without feeling like another series. For one episode the Doctor gets to fall in love, live as a human and lead a normal life. The drama and the potency of that idea are captured beautifully.

After such an amazing opening can I pray that the conclusion isn't a disappointment.





FILTER: - Series 3/29 - Tenth Doctor - Television

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Sunday, 27 May 2007 - Reviewed by Billy Higgins

The name's Smith. John Smith.

Back in time again for the third adventure in this memorable season, and a quite-sublime opening instalment of Paul Cornell's two-part adaptation of his acclaimed Doctor Who novel, Human Nature.

Fom the very first explosive scene, this was an absolute treat and, if the concluding episode fulfills the promise on offer here, we could be hailing the finest Doctor Who story of the modern era.

Ironically, that grab-the-audience-by-the-throat opening scene - The Doctor and Martha rushing into the TARDIS pursued by an unfriendly laser beam - while typical of the super-high-octane nature of 2007 Who, was totally atypical of much of the rest of the episode. It was a gentler-paced tale than anything else since the series returned (although Martha kept up her running quotient!). But it was never slow - and totally gripping throughout.

Under threat of death from a race who want to absorb a Time Lord's life span to prolong their own existence, The Doctor could see only one escape route - changing his biological structure for a time until they lose his scent. Using the Chameleon Arch in the TARDIS for the first time, The Doctor became public schoolmaster John Smith in 1913 England, with no memory of who he really was - save for dreams in which he recalled some of his adventures.

Martha is also in 1913, and working undercover at the schoolhouse as a maid. Before undergoing his metamorphosis, The Doctor told her she must instruct him to open a fob watch, which will trigger his memories, and revive the Time Lord within him, if she senses danger, or when three months have elapsed.

Martha realises that the alien family have taken over the body of a maid with whom she had been working, but is horrified to find out the watch is missing - and she has no way of bringing back The Doctor. She's also dismayed to find out that John Smith has fallen in love with a human, the matron Joan.

Meanwhile, schoolboy Timothy Latimer, who pocketed Mr Smith's watch, opens the device, and his mind is filled with images of frightening future events. Another pupil, Jeremy Baines, has been taken aboard the spaceship of the alien family pursuing The Doctor, and his body has also been taken over, along with other members of the village, after being kidnapped by terrifying living scarecrows which are, in fact, soldiers for the aliens.

The possessed villagers track down The Doctor to the local dance and, despite his protestations that he doesn't know what they're talking about, they demand he changes back to a Time Lord - or they'll kill either Joan or Martha.

Even scribbling all that down has one nodding in satisfaction at a beautifully-structured episode, packed with interesting and well-realised ideas.

The living scarecrows were genuinely frightening. We have seen a scarecrow come to life in Doctor Who before, but that was one of The Master's umpteen "I am the master of disguises" in the classic series - The Mark Of The Rani, coincidentally set in a similar time period. The 2007 version - like all monsters in the new series, properly choreographed, were designed to lollop rather than gallop towards their victims, and this was an effective manoeuvre.

Talking of scary, there was a deliciously-malevolent performance from Harry Lloyd as the possessed Baines. Easy to take it into "ham" territory, but Lloyd pitched it right, with the "sniffing" out of his prey liable to send chills a-multiplying through many a viewer.

Almost a given that Jessica Hynes would be a delight as Joan, as she's a superb actress who never disappoints. And more good work from Freema Agyeman who had several interesting exchanges, touching on racism, sexism and classism, all prevalent in the early 20th century. Nothing too heavy, but nicely structured to make the viewer consider the issues.

Star of the show was the star of the show, though. Effectively playing another role - that of John Smith (and for which he was doubly credited) - David Tennant clearly relished the opportunity to show us his range. And, although he seeded in a few Tenth Doctorisms into Smith, this was a delightful and charming portrayal of a 1913 schoolmaster. Tennant's a high-quality operator, and his acting class shone through here, particularly in Smith's warm scenes with Hynes, and his bafflement at Martha's revelation that his dreams were reality.

The BBC are always terrific at period pieces - and really took us back into time with them. Having visited Shakespearean era and 40s New York as well this season, they've been busy bunnies. And Murray Gold proved he can do "restrained"!

I haven't read Cornell's book, but it will be fascinating to compare the original to the TV screenplay. Cornell's basic story is refreshingly different to anything seen in the rest of the series, and it's hard to pick faults with the script. So I won't. Great job.

Nice touch from Russell T Davies, too, naming Mr Smith's parents as Sydney and Verity - respectful acknowledgements to two key figures in the 1963 version of the show of which RTD is so fond, namely one of the programme's creators, Sydney Newman, and producer Verity Lambert.

Nine out of 10, and comfortably the best of an excellent season, which just keeps getting better.





FILTER: - Series 3/29 - Tenth Doctor - Television