It featured a much larger Dalek presence than earlier in the series. It also re-introduced some Dalek concepts from the original run of Doctor Who, including Daleks made from human genetic material and a Dalek Emperor.
Narratively, this story marked the impending culmination of the Bad Wolf story arc. Until now, the Doctor had dismissed the cropping up of the phrase Bad Wolf across his travels but was finally forced to acknowledge it as the precursor to a serious threat upon the universe when it unavoidably stared him directly in the face.
Worth noting here were the references made to human pop culture television entertainment at the time of this episode's airing, such as Big Brother, The Weakest Link, and What Not to Wear, all given future adaptations far into human history with robotic stand-ins for the original hosts. The robots' voices were provided by their real world celebrity counterparts, Davina McCall, Anne Robinson, Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine.
Through careful subtext, this was the very first episode to mention the Torchwood Institute as a seemingly forgettable piece of trivia. Inconsequential for the moment, the word "Torchwood" took on greater meaning in the following series when the origins of the Institute were explored.
This story also explored how the Ninth Doctor's apparently good deeds in The Long Game had actually resulted in a decline in the development of the human race. Like The Ark some forty years before, Bad Wolf was a rare instance of televised Doctor Who showing the long-term consequences of the Doctor's interference.
Separated and with no TARDIS, the Ninth Doctor, Rose, and Jack have to fight for their lives on board the Game Station, but a far more dangerous threat is lurking, just out of sight. The Doctor realises that the entire human race has been blinded to the threat on its doorstep, and Armageddon is fast approaching.
The Ninth Doctor wakes up, curled into a foetal position on the floor of a cupboard. He stumbles out in a daze and is informed by a young woman, Lynda Moss, that his disorientation is due to the effects of the transmat. Lynda states that he has been chosen as the newest housemate. The Doctor looks around, noticing the cameras, and then a computerised voice requests that he report to the Diary Room. To his disbelief, he is in the Big Brother House, live on Channel 44000. The voice reminds him not to swear. Astounded and annoyed, the Doctor replies, "You have got to be kidding."
Rose awakens on the floor of a darkened studio, also disorientated by the transmat that brought her there. A man, Rodrick, tells her to remember to do exactly what the android says. Rose asks what android, but a floor manager calls for people to take their positions behind very familiar looking podiums, one of which has her name on it. As the round-headed android is activated, Rose realises that it is the "Anne Droid"; she is playing The Weakest Link.
Jack wakes up and finds himself faced with two gynoids, Trine-E and Zu-Zana, who offer to give him a brand new image, à la What Not to Wear. The two gynoids criticise Jack's clothing and comment that his style is very 20th century. A "defabricator" strips him naked in preparation for a fashion makeover; Jack seems to rather enjoy the idea of being nude in front of millions of viewers and comments that the viewing figures just went up a result.
Meanwhile, the Doctor tries, unsuccessfully, to find a way out of the House using the sonic screwdriver. Lynda asks, nervously, if people on the outside watching like her and the Doctor lies, reassuring her that people think she is sweet, which seems to please her. The amnesia caused by the transmat starts to clear, and the Doctor remembers. The TARDIS had left Raxacoricofallapatorius and then visited Kyoto, Japan in 1336. They had just escaped from that, and were laughing in the TARDIS control room when a bright light, the transmat beam, came through the walls and enveloped them. The Doctor tells Lynda that no ordinary transmat beam could have penetrated the TARDIS, which means this is not just a game; there is something else going on. He tells the camera that he is going to get out, find his friends, and then find whoever is responsible.
When eviction time comes around in the Big Brother house, housemate Crosbie is voted out, and she exits the House into a white corridor. At first, the Doctor is puzzled at everyone's emotional reaction but is horrified when he sees Crosbie supposedly disintegrated. The Doctor angrily asks the others if getting on television is worth the risk of dying, but Lynda and Strood tell him they have no choice; the contestants in this era are chosen at random from the Earth's population and transmatted up to any of 60 Big Brother Houses playing simultaneously: winning simply means they get to live. The Doctor realises that Rose was also caught in the transmat and is probably a contestant. To get out, he uses his sonic screwdriver to deliberately destroy one of the House cameras in order to be selected for eviction.
In the makeover room, a naked Jack is quite enjoying his experience of having a makeover but is now faced with the two androids who decide that, quite apart from the fashion makeover, that he should have a face-off — literally. With various cutting instruments, including a chainsaw, the two androids are about to perform some gruesome surgery. They suggest that Jack would look good with a dog's head. But to the astonishment of Trine-E and Zu-Zana, Jack pulls out a compact laser deluxe pistol from an intimate hiding place behind him and promptly blows their heads off.
Soon the first round of The Weakest Link has been and gone and Rose, not being a native of the 2001st century, knows almost none of the answers to the questions pertaining to this time. She is more amused than upset at the situation until she discovers that being declared the weakest link at the end of each round does not just result in expulsion, but disintegration by the Anne Droid. The contestants continue to be whittled down (one contestant quits and attempts to flee but is disintegrated), with Rodrick voting out everyone except Rose so that when it comes to the final round, he will win by answering questions that Rose cannot answer. He will then collect his prize, in the form of credits, courtesy of the Bad Wolf Corporation who run the Game Station. At the mention of the name, Rose recalls how the phrase "Bad Wolf" has been following them — from Gwyneth seeing it in her mind in 1869 Cardiff; the call sign of Henry van Statten's helicopter; the Blaidd Drwg nuclear power plant; as graffiti on the side of the TARDIS in 2006; and a news channel on Satellite 5 in the 2001st century. She realises that if Bad Wolf is in charge, then her presence has been planned.
In the Big Brother House, the Doctor cheerfully walks into the white corridor and waits as the countdown towards eviction ticks towards zero. However, nothing happens — the Doctor has guessed, correctly, that whoever brought him to the House wants him alive. He uses the sonic screwdriver to open the exit to the House and offers to take the surviving housemates with him. Strood refuses, but Lynda, after some hesitation, follows. The House is just one room of several opening onto a larger chamber, which the Doctor recognises as that of Satellite 5, but a century later than when he was there last. The Doctor begins scanning the other doors, looking for an exit and asking where his friends could be. Lynda says they could have been transported into any of a hundred different games, all deadly. When the Doctor tells Lynda that he is a traveller, she asks if she could go with him. He smiles and agrees that it would not be a bad idea, but right now, they have to concentrate on getting out and finding out who controls the satellite. When Lynda turns the lights on to reveal the logo of the Bad Wolf Corporation, the sight of it gives the Doctor pause.
In the control room, the two programmers decide to look at the transmat logs to see how the travellers got on board. However, the female programmer is refused entry to Archive Six, where the logs are kept. The Controller, a pale woman hooked up by dozens of cables to the station, tells her it is out of bounds. The Controller is constantly monitoring the transmissions that flow through her and muttering to herself. The male programmer tells her about the new contestants wandering around outside the games and asks for security measures, but she denies them, insisting that the travellers are "no one" and telling them to return to work and alerting them to an impending solar flare.
Jack has converted the defabricator beam into a ray gun, and he goes in search of the Doctor, finding him by scanning for the Time Lord's bicardial circulatory system. On an observation deck, Lynda fills the Doctor in on what has happened to Earth since his last visit. To the Doctor's horror, instead of human development having gotten back on track, things have in fact become worse. When the Doctor shut down Satellite 5, all information broadcasts ceased, the whole planet froze, and society collapsed. Humans are still a race of mindless sheep, endlessly watching the programming that the Game Station transmits. Jack finds them as the Doctor frantically tries to access the computer system to find Rose. The Doctor explains that the station is transmitting more than just games and that whatever Bad Wolf is, it is manipulating him, creating a trap that Rose is still inside.
On Floor 407, the final round in The Weakest Link does not go well for Rose. She loses the round to Rodrick just as the Doctor, Jack and Lynda burst into the studio. When Rose runs towards the Doctor to warn him about the Anne Droid, it shoots Rose, turning her into a pile of dust. Numb with shock, the Doctor does not put up resistance when the guards arrive and take all of them away, despite Jack threatening Roderick and the floor manager. The Doctor remains silent when the guards process and interrogate the three of them, but when they are about to be transported to a lunar penal colony, the Doctor gives the word. He and Jack spring into action, knocking out the guards, grabbing weapons and heading up to Floor 500.
In the control room, Jack and the Doctor wave the weapons at the programmers, ushering them to one side. The Doctor demands to know from the Controller who is in charge and who is responsible for Rose's death, but the Controller does not answer. The male programmer is nervous because of the large gun the Doctor is carrying, but the Doctor casually tosses him the weapon, saying he was never really going to use it. The male programmer explains that as the Doctor is not one of the staff, the Controller's systems do not recognise him. The Controller was installed when she was five years old; she has been plugged in so long that her eyes have atrophied from disuse — all she sees is the programming. The male programmer also says that there is more going on at the station; unauthorised transmats and encrypted signals have been going on for years. Jack opens Archive Six and finds the TARDIS inside. He goes into it and activates the console, discovering something that shocks him.
The predicted solar flare happens, and static floods the screens, blocking transmissions. The Controller unexpectedly calls for the Doctor, explaining that while the solar flare is happening, her "masters" cannot read her thoughts. They have been controlling her mind all her life, but she saw the Doctor in the transmissions and brought him here, hiding him inside the games so he could find her. However, she cannot tell the Doctor who her masters are, because she has been genetically altered to be unable to say their name. Her masters have been hiding and shaping the Earth for centuries, growing stronger in numbers, but they fear the Doctor. As the flare passes, Jack returns and tells the Doctor that the TARDIS worked out that the disintegrators were actually part of a secondary transmat system — people have not died, they have just been transported elsewhere, which means Rose is still alive.
Rose regains consciousness aboard an alien spacecraft, where a strange humming sound fills the room. She sees one of the inhabitants of the spacecraft approaching her, and she backs up against a wall in shock as she recognises it, and cannot believe her eyes — she claims to have seen the creature, who presses its plunger-like hand to the wall, die.
Back on the station, the Controller gives the Doctor the co-ordinates to where Rose had been transported, despite knowing that she will be revealing her subterfuge to her masters. As she shouts out the co-ordinates, the Controller is teleported away. Materialising on the same ship that Rose has been transported to, the Controller gloatingly tells her masters that they can kill her now, as she has brought about their destruction. She is promptly killed by an energy weapon.
On the station, the transmat beam is traced to a point at the edge of the solar system. Although the screen appears to show empty space, there is another signal, transmitted by the satellite, that is shielding what is actually there from detection. These are the same people who installed the Jagrafess nearly two centuries before and have been manipulating mankind for generations, playing a long game. The Doctor cancels the shielding signal and is greeted with an impossible sight — a fleet of two hundred Dalek flying saucers each containing more than two thousand Daleks, a force almost half a million strong. Both the Doctor and Jack thought the Daleks had all been destroyed, but obviously, they have somehow survived.
The Daleks open communications, with a lead Dalek ordering the Doctor not to intervene with the Dalek stratagem or they will exterminate Rose. To the Daleks' surprise, the Doctor simply says no. When the lead Dalek demands an explanation, the Doctor defiantly tells them that he is going to rescue Rose from the middle of the Dalek fleet, save the Earth and then wipe every last Dalek out of the sky. The lead Dalek retorts that the Doctor has no weapons, defences or plan. The Doctor taunts them and knows that that is exactly what is scaring the Daleks to death.
The Doctor tells Rose he is on his way and cuts the transmission. The lead Dalek states that the Doctor has initiated hostile actions and another Dalek orders the invasion of Earth to begin. Many more Daleks gather for the invasion, all chanting their battle cry: "Exterminate, exterminate, exterminate..."
- Doctor Who - Christopher Eccleston
- Rose Tyler - Billie Piper
- Captain Jack - John Barrowman
- Lynda - Jo Joyner
- Strood - Jamie Bradley
- Crosbie - Abi Eniola
- Voice of Davinadroid - Davina McCall
- Rodrick - Paterson Joseph
- Floor Manager - Jenna Russell
- Voice of Anne Droid - Anne Robinson
- Voice of Trine-E - Trinny Woodall
- Voice of Zu-Zana - Susannah Constantine
- Male Programmer - Jo Stone Fewings
- Female Programmer - Nisha Nayar
- Agorax - Dominic Burgess
- Fitch - Karren Winchester
- Colleen - Kate Loustau
- Broff - Sebastian Armesto
- Controller - Martha Cope
- Security Guard - Sam Callis
- Androids - Alan Ruscoe, Paul Kasey
- Dalek Operators - Barnaby Edwards, Nicholas Pegg, David Hankinson
- Dalek Voice - Nicholas Briggs
|Executive Producers Russell T Davies, Julie Gardner and Mal Young|
|Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.|
- In the Big Brother House there is a row of pictures resembling the panels of hemispherical protrusions on Daleks.
- Big Brother is broadcast on Channel 44000.
- The Doctor mentions the number 500000.
- Satellite Five is in orbit of Earth.
- Floor 500 is the location of the control room.
- The Diary Room is part of the Big Brother house.
- The Great Cobalt Pyramid is built on the remains of Torchwood.
- The Grand Central Ravine is named after the city of Sheffield.
- Polar Ventura is an Icelandic city which once hosted Murder Spree 20.
- The Doctor, Jack and Lynda are told they will be taken to the Lunar Penal Colony.
- One of Jack's new looks is identified as "little dash of pirate, and just a tweak of President Schwarzenegger".
- The Face of Boe is mentioned as the oldest inhabitant of the Isop Galaxy.
- Stella Bopbates is famous for hats.
- San Chen discovered the 15-10 Barric Fields.
- Hoshbin Frane was the President of the Red Velvets.
- Androids are used in several programmes broadcast from the Game Station.
- The Game Station programmes include: Big Brother, Call My Bluff, Countdown, Ground Force, Wipeout, Stars in Their Eyes and Bear With Me.
- In the Pan Traffic calendar, the month of Pandoff comes after Hoob.
- In the holovid series Jupiter Rising, the Graxnix is married to Lord Dreyvole.
- Rodrick wants to keep Rose in the game because he thinks she's stupid for not knowing the surname of Princess Vossaheen.
- San Hazeldine is the incorrect answer given to one of the game questions.
Foods and beverages
Bad Wolf arc
- Satellite Five is being run by the Bad Wolf Corporation, which is under Dalek administration.
- The scene where Jack is disrobed was originally filmed full-length, with rear nudity. According to John Barrowman, this shot was vetoed by the BBC. This was their only complaint of the first season.
- This is the second Dalek story to feature a human servant of the Daleks called "controller" betraying the Daleks and committing self-sacrifice to help the Doctor, the first being TV: Day of the Daleks.
- This is the first instance since Season 4 that a series consisted of two main Dalek stories.
- This episode introduces the deadlock seal, a type of lock which is immune to the Doctor's sonic screwdriver and will be used again in future episodes.
- The diary room chair used in the Game Station Big Brother house was sold to Channel 4, and they used it in Ultimate Big Brother as the bedsit's diary room chair.
- This is the last episode until TV: The Beast Below in which David Tennant does not make an appearance.
- The names of the androids are puns on the names of the original hosts. These androids include Anne Droid (The Weakest Link), Davinadroid (Big Brother), and Trine-E and Zu-Zana (What Not to Wear).
- The story was chosen by BBC America to represent the Christopher Eccleston era during their 50th-anniversary programming. Edited into an omnibus format with The Parting of the Ways, it was aired by BBCA on 29 September 2013, after the debut of their homegrown special called The Doctors Revisited - The Ninth Doctor. It also aired in the United Kingdom later that year on 9 November, along with the Revisited special, on the Watch channel.
- 6.81 million viewers (UK final)
- Lynda suggesting to the Ninth Doctor she come with him on his travels was to tease fans to make them think in the following story, The Parting of the Ways, Rose was going to leave and Lynda was going to be the new companion. This might have been the original intent, but by the time the episode aired, it was already well known that Eccleston had resigned from the series and that David Tennant would be joining ... that said, however, it was not completely clear at the time whether the regeneration was going to take place at the end of the series, or during the announced Christmas special.
to be added
- During Lynda's first interaction with the Doctor her mouth can be seen moving without any dialogue.
- As Broff attempts to escape from the Weakest Link section, the "On Air" light is illuminated, despite this occurring during the adverts.
- In the Big Brother scene, when Lynda and Strood sit down to watch Crosbie be "disintegrated", the Doctor puts his hands behind his head, but when the camera's behind them, his arms are crossed, then when it switches back to in front of them, his arms are behind him again.
- When the guard pins the Doctor against the cell wall and he pulls out the sonic screwdriver, the blue end is there, but when the camera faces the front of the Doctor, the blue end is missing briefly.
- Just after they break out of the prison cell, you can see Lynda reach for her gadgets twice.
- The Doctor recalls last being in Japan in 1336. (COMIC: Return of the Volsci)
- Rose previously encountered a Dalek. (TV: Dalek)
- Rose mentions dropping off Margaret the egg. (TV: Boom Town)
- When the Doctor, Jack and Lynda were caught by security, it is said that they are to be sent to the Lunar Penal Colony without trial. The Doctor's third incarnation had previously been detained in a lunar prison when he was believed to be a spy working for the Draconians. (TV: Frontier in Space)
- The Doctor tells Lynda he moisturises, echoing his feigned distress of "What are you gonna do, moisturise me?" at Cassandra. (TV: The End of the World)
- The Game Station was previously Satellite 5. (TV: The Long Game)
- When thousands of Daleks are shouting, "Exterminate", in their ship, a small control panel similar to one from the Dalek time machine in TV: The Chase can be seen.
- The beginnings of Torchwood Institute are seen in TV: Tooth and Claw, whilst the institute is seen in TV: Army of Ghosts/Doomsday, The Stolen Earth/Journey's End and throughout the first three series of Torchwood.
- The Controller would be among those remembered when Davros asks the Doctor how many have died in his name. (TV: Journey's End)
- Flashbacks of the words "Bad Wolf" are shown, including that of Gwyneth in TV: The Unquiet Dead, the "Bad Wolf One" helicopter in TV: Dalek, the Blaidd Drwg project in TV: Boom Town, the words spray-painted on the side of the TARDIS in TV: Aliens of London and Bad WolfTV in TV: The Long Game.
- A transmat beam has previously been seen to leave behind a dusty residue, as it does here. (TV: The Twin Dilemma)
- The Daleks were previously masked from sight. (TV: Planet of the Daleks)
Home video releases
- This story was released on DVD along with Boom Town and The Parting of the Ways.
- It was also released as part of the Series 1 DVD box set.
- This story was also released with Issue 6 of the Doctor Who DVD Files.
- Official BBC Website - Episode Guide for Bad Wolf
- The Discontinuity Guide to: Bad Wolf at The Whoniverse
- Bad Wolf at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)