The Aliens of London dating controversy stems from a narrative feature introduced in the 2005 Doctor Who television story Aliens of London. In that story the Ninth Doctor returns Rose Tyler to her home time one year later than planned, in 2006. Indeed, a missing persons' poster created for that episode states that Rose has been gone since 6 March 2005. Various episodes of Doctor Who and its televised spin-offs that were executive produced by Russell T Davies directly follow from Aliens of London, with multiple successive markings of Christmas Day from The Christmas Invasion (2005) to Voyage of the Damned (2007). The writers of these shows, however, often forget that the contemporary setting is actually a year in the future.
This narrative feature was sometimes forgotten or not applied by some writers, leading to several contradictions.
Towards the end of the Davies era of Doctor Who, no on-screen date is given for the 2009 Easter Special Planet of the Dead, nor The End of Time, which comprises the 2009 Christmas Special and the 2010 New Year's Day Special. [note 1] Planet of the Dead alludes to the real-world liquidation of major Icelandic banks in 2008 and The End of Time shows President Barack Obama making efforts to end "the recession." Early into Steven Moffat's run as executive producer of Doctor Who, Flesh and Stone (2010) directly describes Amy Pond's home time as 2010, synchronising Doctor Who's contemporary stories with their date of broadcast.
The third series of the spin-off series Torchwood synchronised with its year of broadcast, 2009, when in Children of Earth: Day One, a government operative mentions Clement McDonald's name was last active 44 years ago, i.e. when Clement disappeared in 1965, until Torchwood found him living under an alias. As well as this, in Children of Earth: Day Four, Rhys Williams mentions that Jack Harkness' deal with the 456 at that time worked for 44 years.
Doctor Who Edit
- The End of the World (2005), set before Aliens of London (2005) from the Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler's perspective, places Rose Tyler's present 10,000 years before the year 12,005, which would be 2005.
- Aliens of London, set twelve months after Rose (2005), places Rose's disappearance in Rose on 6 March 2005.
- In School Reunion (2006), Sarah Jane Smith describes the Sycorax spaceship from The Christmas Invasion (2005) as "this Christmas just gone". Mickey Smith begins travelling with the Tenth Doctor at the end of the episode. Following this, in The Age of Steel (2006), the Doctor informs Jackie Tyler that Mickey has "gone home", referring to the parallel Earth. Love & Monsters (2006) is explicitly two years after the Auton invasion in Rose. Jackie is still living in London, placing the episode some time before Army of Ghosts (2006). Jackie also mentions Mickey as "gone" now, placing the story after School Reunion. All of this appears to place The Christmas Invasion in 2006 and School Reunion, Love & Monsters and Army of Ghosts in 2007.
- In The Age of Steel, the Preachers, a team of fugitives, own a van with a tax disc due to expire in 2006.[note 2]
- In The Fires of Pompeii (2008), Donna Noble recalls how the Doctor "saved [her]" in 2008. The previous episode Partners in Crime (2008) has Donna mentioning the Titanic replica on Christmas Day from Voyage of the Damned (2007). Voyage of the Damned itself has Wilfred Mott describing The Christmas Invasion's spaceship as the "Christmas before last", suggesting Donna's time as being 2009.
- In The Waters of Mars (2009), an on-screen obituary states Adelaide Brooke was born in May 1999, and that the disappearance of her parents during the events of the Dalek invasion from The Stolen Earth / Journey's End (2008) took place in 2008. The same obituary, however, gives her age as 10 when her parents were pronounced missing, placing the events in at least May 2009.
- In a scene set on 1 January 2005 in The End of Time Part Two (2010), the Tenth Doctor predicts to Rose that she will have a "really great year".
The Sarah Jane Adventures Edit
- Torchwood's backstory is based in the Battle of Canary Wharf from the Doctor Who episodes Army of Ghosts and Doomsday (both 2006). Both Gwen Cooper and Ianto Jones are explicitly mentioned as having joined Torchwood Three after the battle, with Cyberwoman (2006) showing Ianto escaping the Cyberman battle.
- In Ghost Machine (2006), Tom Flanagan has lived in Cardiff for 66 years after arriving in 1941, which would set the year as 2007.
- In Greeks Bearing Gifts (2006), a soldier from 1812 was killed by Mary approximately 196 years, 11 to 11-and-a-half months ago, which would set the year as late 2008 at least.
- In Random Shoes (2006), Shaun Jones came to his son Eugene's funeral 14 years after abandoning Eugene in 1992, which would set the year as 2006.
- In To the Last Man (2008), Tommy Brockless was born in February 1894 and is chronologically 114 years old, which would set the year as 2008 or early 2009.
- In Reset (2008), Meredith Roberts was born in early 1962 and was 45 when he died, which would set the year as early 2007.
- In Adrift (2008), Jonah Bevan, born February 1993, is described as 15 years old, which would set the year as 2008.
- In Exit Wounds (2008), Toshiko Sato mentions that she covered for Owen Harper as a medic on Owen's second week in Torchwood during the examination of the Space Pig from Aliens of London (2005). Fragments (2008), set immediately before Exit Wounds, places Owen's recruitment to Torchwood as taking place four years ago, apparently putting Fragments and Exit Wounds in 2010. However, Exit Wounds also has Jack Harkness telling the Torchwood from 1901 to freeze him for 107 years to allow him to get back to Gray, placing those two stories in 2008.
- According to Gwen's CIA file in The New World (2011), Gwen joined Torchwood (which happened in the 2006 episode Everything Changes) in October 2006. This would mean They Keep Killing Suzie (2006), which directly places itself three months after Everything Changes, takes place in January 2007. This clashes with both the apparent 2006 setting of Random Shoes, the episode immediately following They Keep Killing Suzie, as well as the Christmas setting of Out of Time (2006), just two episodes after They Keep Killing Suzie.
- The Big Finish audio story Outbreak (2016), which takes place between Exit Wounds and Children of Earth, makes explicitly clear, through extensive dialogue, that it is set in 2009.
- ↑ There is a scene near the end of The End of Time set on 1 January 2005; this, however, is clearly from before Rose's travels with the Ninth Doctor, and by extension, any of the John Simm Master's appearances on Earth in the 21st century.
- ↑ Though the parallel Earth the Preachers are from runs ahead of the normal Earth in later stories, in Rise of the Cybermen (2006), the episode before The Age of Steel, Mickey reads a newspaper dated to 1 February of "this year".