In which we meet Rose Tyler, a young woman from South London, who works at Henrik's department store in the heart of the city. She lives with her widowed mother, Jackie, and has a boyfriend named Mickey Smith. One day, as Rose is about to go home, she is sent down to the basement with the lottery syndicate monies, to give to the electrician Mr Wilson. He isn't in his office. She hears a noise from the stockroom and goes to see if he is there. A number of display mannequins stir to life and advance on her. She is saved by a man with close-cropped hair, wearing a battered old leather jacket. He leads her towards the lift as the display dummies follow. He pulls an arm off one of them as the lift door closes. Rose discovers that it is made of solid plastic. She had thought that it might have been someone disguised - students perhaps. The man introduces himself as the Doctor. He has a bomb which he is going to use to blow up a transmitter on the store's roof. This is controlling the mannequins - really Autons. Rose exits the building then sees the upper floors of the store explode a few minutes later. She still has the Auton arm with her as she wanders off, not noticing a blue Police Call Box sitting in a nearby alleyway.
That evening, Jackie welcomes her daughter home, having seen the destruction of the store on the TV news. Mickey arrives, insisting she comes for a drink. Rose suspects he just wants to see the football on a big screen. Jackie thinks she should claim compensation for her ordeal. Rose asks Mickey to dispose of the plastic arm as he leaves. The following morning Rose hears something scuttling around the flat. She thinks that a cat has got in. She is surprised to find the Doctor on her doorstep. He has been tracing an Auton signal, and has traced it here. The plastic arm has entered the flat through the cat-flap. It attacks the Doctor and then Rose. He uses his sonic screwdriver to deactivate it. The Doctor warns her not to say anything about this to anyone, as it will put her and her family at risk. She goes to Mickey's flat to use his computer to search the internet. This leads her to a man named Clive, who runs a website about the Doctor. Mickey takes her to see him. Whilst she is inside, Mickey sees a wheelie-bin move by itself. Investigating, he finds his fingers stuck to it, and it then swallows him up. Clive has his theories about the Doctor, and is convinced that he is an alien. He has found evidence of the same man at events throughout history - like the eruption of Krakatoa, the sinking of the Titanic, and the assassination of JFK. When Rose returns to the car, she fails to notice that Mickey has been replaced with an Auton replica.
The Auton Mickey tries to get information about the Doctor when they go for a meal later. The Doctor arrives and exposes him as a fake. Rose escapes from the restaurant into the yard where she sees the Doctor letting himself into the TARDIS. She follows him in. The Doctor has managed to pull the head off the fake Mickey, and links it to the console to trace its animating signal. Rose is surprised to find that they have travelled to the Thames Embankment in a matter of seconds. The Doctor realises that the Nestene Consciousness plans to use the London Eye as a transmitter to activate its Autons all over the city. He and Rose enter a chamber beneath it, where they find the Nestene housed in a vast vat of liquid plastic. It has captured the TARDIS, and Mickey is also here. The Doctor tries to negotiate with the Nestene, but he has a phial of anti-plastic in reserve should he need to use it. The Nestene sees the Doctor as a threat and so decides to activate the Autons. Jackie Tyler is doing some late night shopping when shop window dummies begin to burst out of store windows, killing all they encounter. Clive is nearby with his wife and son, and he becomes one of their victims. She finds herself threatened by a trio of Autons in bridal dress. Rose saves the Doctor, by swinging on a rope to knock his Auton captor into the vat of plastic. The phial of anti-plastic falls into the Nestene and destroys it. All the Autons collapse. The chamber begins to explode, and the Doctor takes Rose and Mickey away in the TARDIS. he offers her the chance to travel with him. She declines at first, but then changes her mind when he tells her that he can travel in Time as well as Space...
Rose was broadcast on Saturday 26th March, 2005. It was written by the new showrunner and executive producer Russell T. Davies.
It sees the return of the programme to the BBC after a nine year break. Christopher Eccleston is the Ninth Doctor - though we will find out much later that he is actually the Tenth. The Autons (never named on screen) and the Nestene Consciousness return for the first time in 34 years. They last appeared in Terror of the Autons.
Russell T. Davies was a well-known Doctor Who fan. He had included references to the programme in his Queer As Folk series. He had gone on to write The Second Coming (which starred Eccleston), Bob & Rose, Mine All Mine, and Casanova (starring David Tennant). The BBC were keen to get him to work with them, and they were also looking at a way to bring back Doctor Who. The two things came together.
Since 1996, a Doctor Who skit had been the highlight of one of the Comic Relief nights - The Curse of Fatal Death, by Steven Moffat. A theme night had featured Mark Gatiss as an alternative version of the Doctor, again in a comic sketch. The programme had also won a major TV award, voted for by the public. Mark Gatiss and Gareth Roberts, who had written Virgin New Adventures novels, pitched to bring the show back in the early Noughties. It looked as if the show would return as an animated series, with a new Doctor voiced by Richard E. Grant (with Derek Jacobi as the Master). The Scream of the Shalka aired on-line just as the BBC announced that the series would be returning to television.
It would be produced by BBC Wales. Russell would executive produce, and write the bulk of the scripts. he would work alongside Julie Gardner and Mal Young. The overall producer would be Phil Collinson.
There was much media speculation about who the new Doctor might be. A number of light entertainment figures were proposed. Two front runners soon emerged - Alan Davies, who was best known for Jonathon Creek, and who was the male lead in Bob & Rose, and Bill Nighy. It was another actor who had worked with RTD who would be given the role. Eccelston had asked for his name to be considered when he heard that RTD was to write the series. He was keen to extend his acting range, having a reputation for only doing serious, adult, often political roles.
The new companion would be female, and an ordinary working class girl from contemporary Earth. RTD was keen to ground the entire series on Earth, feeling that the viewing public wouldn't relate to weird looking aliens from the planet Zog. Billie Piper was best known for a successful pop music career, and for being married to radio and TV presenter Chris Evans. She had started to act, and proved herself more than capable. She landed the role of Rose.
It was decided to give her a family, who we would visit throughout the series. Her widowed mum, Jackie, would be played by Camille Coduri, and her hapless boyfriend Mickey would be played by actor-writer-director Noel Clarke.
RTD wanted to show the impact on the family and friends left behind, when someone runs off to join the Doctor on his travels.
The BBC's Jane Tranter had commissioned the new series, and she had wanted the Daleks to feature in the first story. RTD insisted they be held back for a few weeks - to give the series a mid-season ratings boost. Rather than create a new alien menace, he decided to bring back the Autons, which he remembered from his youth. They would be an easily understandable foe for new viewers, as well as a treat for the old guard of fans.
There were certain things that RTD wanted to retain from the original series. The TARDIS would have a whole new design internally, but it would have a six sided console and remain a Police Box on the outside. The music would be the original Ron Grainer composition, but rearranged by Murray Gold, who had provided the theme for QAF.
The main guest artist is Mark Benton as Clive. He had played the Devil to Eccleston's God in The Second Coming.
Story Arc Watch: The Doctor mentions a war that destroyed the Nestene food planets. He claims that he took part in this conflict, and was unable to save them.
He also mentions the Shadow Proclamation.
Overall, a cracking start to the new series. The return of a popular old monster, a fast pace, and great performances from the new cast of regulars.
Things you might like to know:
- The Doctor sees himself in a mirror, and speaks as if his face is relatively new to him. It appears he has only recently regenerated.
- This scene references other regeneration stories when the Doctor sees himself in a mirror and comments on his new looks - such as Robot and Spearhead from Space.
- Years before we found out about the War Doctor, the DWM comic strip had the chance to regenerate the McGann Doctor into the Eccleston one, but elected not to take it.
- Clive has a drawing of the Ninth Doctor that was found after the eruption of Krakatoa. The Third Doctor mentioned having been present at this event in Inferno (1970). He also has a photo of him with a family who he talked into not travelling on the Titanic, and another that shows him present at the killing of US President Kennedy in November 1963. Clive is unsure if it is the same person, or generations of people who use the name "Doctor".
- There is a dig at the perceived notion that Doctor Who fans tend to be male, when Clive's wife is surprised to learn that a woman is interested in finding out about the Doctor.
- Clive has the surname Finch, though this isn't used on screen.
- Rose was made in the first recording block along with Aliens of London / World War Three. Eccelston's first filming was for this later story.
- According to The Sun "newspaper", this story would see a cameo from footballer and celebrity clothes-horse David Beckham, playing an Auton replica of himself from Madam Tussauds leading an attack on Downing Street.
- The Doctor speed reads a book - in this case The Lovely Bones. He had been seen to use this skill back in City of Death.
- The unseen Mr Wilson is a reference to Donald Wilson, one of the programme's founding personnel back in 1963.
- The Autons have helped launch more new Doctors and companions than any other enemy. Spearhead from Space saw the first appearance of the Third Doctor and Liz Shaw, and Terror of the Autons saw the introduction of Jo Grant and Mike Yates, as well as the original incarnation of the Master. Rose introduces the Ninth Doctor, Rose and soon-to-be companion Mickey Smith. The Daleks have only ever helped launch one Doctor - the Second.
- One of the Ninth Doctor's defining moments, when he describes how he feels the rotation of the planet, was written as an extra scene, when the story was found to be under-running.
- On first broadcast, sound from another programme was heard by British viewers in the scene where Rose first encounters the Autons - Graham Norton in a break from Strictly Dance Fever. This won't be the last time that Norton will intrude into the series...
- A week or two before Rose was broadcast, an employee at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation leaked the episode onto the internet.
- One minor continuity error - the plastic arm which Rose takes home goes from being a right one, to a left, and back to a right one.
- One of the BBC Books Ninth Doctor adventures has him having a whole adventure on his own when the TARDIS first briefly leaves at the end.
- The realisation of the Nestene is very disappointing - an unintended homage to Terror of the Autons?. It is voiced by Nicholas Briggs, who will go on to voice Daleks, Cybermen and others. Only the words "Time Lord" can actually be distinguished.