Furthermore, this story hugely contributed to one of the show's most omnipresent topics: the consequences of time travel, specifically meddling with fixed points in history. This story demonstrated one of the consequences of preventing or delaying a fixed occurrence in someone's timeline, through death. It also introduced the idea that one's actions also counted as fixed events and therefore could not be undone. The latter contribution did away with the question of why the Doctor does not repair his mistakes.
The Doctor explains that he and Rose could only go back to Pete's death twice; to avoid a temporal paradox by there being too many of them in one location. His successor incarnation later reinforced this idea when he disabled Captain Jack's vortex manipulator, stating he could go anywhere in time twice - "second time to apologise".
Later stories elaborated on how fixed points in time worked. The Fires of Pompeii showed how a fixed point involves a natural disaster, instead of specific individuals, and the ability to rescue some people with no consequence. Further, The Wedding of River Song revealed that creating a fixed point at a still point in time, the event in question can be circumvented; however, if broken, it causes all of time to happen at once, making society collapse.
Pete Alan Tyler, the father of Rose and husband of Jackie, died on 7 November 1987, the day of Stuart Hoskins and Sarah Clark's wedding. Rose was just a baby at the time, Jackie told the young Rose that nobody was there for Pete when he died and that the hit-and-run driver was never found...
Now grown up, Rose asks the Ninth Doctor to take her to see him alive, but on a whim, ends up changing his fate, not realising the consequences of such a paradox. After all, the Doctor has saved so many lives...what could the real consequences be over a man alive in the world who wasn't alive before?
When Rose was growing up, her mother would tell her about Pete Tyler, her father who was killed by a hit-and-run driver when she was only a baby. The driver was never found, and Pete died on the street alone before the ambulance could arrive.
In the TARDIS, Rose hesitantly asks the Doctor if they can go to see her father, Pete before he died. The Doctor says that he can do this, as "your wish is my command", but he is concerned Rose may not be able to handle it emotionally. He tells her to be careful what she wishes for. He takes her to Jackie and Pete's wedding, where they witness Pete get Jackie's middle names wrong during the vows much to her irritation. Back in the TARDIS, Rose then asks the Doctor for her to be there for him on the day he died, as she doesn't want him to have to die alone.
The TARDIS materialises in 1987 on the road where Pete died. They stand on the pavement, Rose describing to the Doctor what happened as they watch it. Pete was late getting the wedding gift for Stuart Hoskins and Sarah Clark, and when he stepped out of his car to cross the road, an oncoming car rounded the corner and ran into him, killing him almost instantly. When this happens, the Doctor tells Rose to go to Pete, but she is unable to approach her father's fallen body. By the time she recovers, the ambulance has arrived and he is already dead. She asks the Doctor if she can try again, and while he looks doubtful, he agrees.
Travelling back to the same moment, they wait around the corner from their earlier selves. The Doctor warns Rose to wait until her earlier self has left before going to see her father, and that it's the last time they can be here, lest it create a paradox. However, as Pete steps out of his car and the other car comes hurtling around the corner, Rose pulls away from the Doctor, passing their startled earlier selves and knocking Pete out of the way. The earlier Doctor and Rose vanish, and while Rose is overjoyed at having actually succeeded in saving her father, the Doctor looks on in fury. Rose introduces herself to Pete, who remarks on the coincidence of her name being the same as his daughter's. When Rose says she is attending the Hoskins-Clark wedding, Pete offers her and the Doctor a lift. Above the city, unseen creatures scan the area hungrily with alien eyes.
At Pete's flat, Rose looks around and remarks on all the various bits and pieces of entrepreneurship that her father is involved in, including health drinks and solar power panels, which he will now have the opportunity to exploit. She notices that the Doctor is furious with her. He angrily accuses her of planning this from the moment she heard that the TARDIS was a time machine and that she's just another person interested in what the universe can do for them. Rose insists there was no plan, that she just saw a chance to stop it and did so, and questions why it is all right for the Doctor to save people but not for her to save her father. He explains that he knows what he is doing while she does not; the presence of two sets of them made that location a vulnerable point. They argue, more and more heatedly, Rose claiming that the Doctor isn't the most important person in her life, the Doctor responds by demanding the TARDIS key back and leaves, telling her she's getting left behind. Rose hands over the key but tells the Doctor she knows he'll never leave without her. Pete looks out of the kitchen at this point, thinking it a lover's quarrel. Pete and she go to the wedding. At the wedding, the church is only a quarter full as Stuart Hoskin's dad tries to persuade him not to go through with it. Outside the bride arrives with Jackie and baby Rose, but is asked to drive around the block due to all the people who haven't turned up.
Across the city, the unseen alien creatures are seen from their vision to be stalking and attacking several people. As the Doctor walks back to the TARDIS, he senses that something is wrong. When he gets back to the TARDIS and unlocks it with his key, he finds it an empty box. In the meantime, Rose and Pete are driving to the church. Rose is puzzled when "Don't Mug Yourself", a piece of hip-hop music from the 21st century, plays anachronistically over the car radio, and her mobile phone voice mail is filled with copies of the message, "Watson, come here, I need you," the very first thing said over a telephone by Alexander Graham Bell. They are almost at the church when a car nearly collides with them and abruptly vanishes, a car Pete recognises as the same car that almost ran him down earlier. As their car runs off the road, Rose reflexively calls Pete "Dad" but brushes it off when Pete asks her what she meant by that.
At the church they meet Jackie, carrying the younger Rose. Jackie eyes the adult Rose suspiciously. Jackie and Pete get into a shouting match, and Rose realises that their marriage was far from perfect; it emerges that he's cheated on her in the past, and she is despairing of his constantly failing get-rich-quick schemes... it seems the two are well on the way to divorce. It is at this moment that a young Mickey — who has witnessed all the children in a local play park disappear — runs around the corner, yelling about monsters. The Doctor runs towards Rose from the opposite end of the street, shouting for her to get inside the church. Rose looks up and screams as she sees the creatures materialise in the sky above as winged reptilian monsters with multiple arms.
The creatures swoop down, devouring the vicar and the groom's father before the Doctor ushers the rest into the church; the walls of the church are old and will stop the creatures for a while. When Jackie demands to know what is going on, he explains that there has been a wound in time and the creatures are like bacteria taking advantage of it, to sterilise the wound by consuming everything in sight. With great satisfaction, the Doctor orders Jackie to do as he says and make sure all the doors and windows are secure. Rose asks if this is her fault, and the Doctor does not answer. Pete overhears this.
Outside, the creatures continue to devour every human they come across, and Pete notes that the lack of other activity outside indicates that the creatures are probably everywhere. The Doctor looks out the back window of the church and sees the car supposed to run Pete down appearing and disappearing as it circles the church, the driver repeating the actions he never got to complete. Pete notices the car. The Doctor tells him quickly not to worry about it. Pete talks to Rose, and wonders aloud why he instinctively seems to trust her. He remembers she called him "Dad" and deduces she is really his daughter, all grown up. They tearfully embrace as the creatures continue to batter against the church doors, trying to get in.
The Doctor is ensuring that the church doors and windows are sealed when he is cornered by Stuart Hoskins and Sarah Clarke. They recognise that he is the only person in the church who knows what is going on and nervously enquire whether he can save them. Sarah, who is obviously pregnant, insists that they are nothing important, but the Doctor begs to differ once he hears the story of how they met. He has never had the lives these two people have; they are two ordinary people with a potentially happy future, and that makes them special. He promises he will do everything he can to save them.
Pete is delighted at how Rose has turned out. They talk in the vestry about the future and time travel, but Rose is strangely vague about what he is like in the future. Jackie comes in with the young Mickey and is jealous again. Pete tries to explain who Rose is, but Rose tells him not to let Jackie know. Jackie leaves with Mickey. Pete asks why Rose stopped him, to which she says Jackie can't even handle figuring out how to use a VCR. Pete explains that he just showed her last week, before getting what Rose means; "point taken" he says matter-of-factually.
In the basilica, the Doctor is looking after the infant Rose. The adult Rose walks up to him and, after a brief spat, the Doctor apologises for snapping earlier; he was not really going to abandon her but confesses that he has no idea what to do and that nothing will stop the creatures forever. He remarks how, when the Time Lords were still around, paradoxes were repairable, but now there is nothing to stop the creatures, who are continuing to sterilise the entire Earth of human life until pockets of survivors in old refuges like the church become all that's left of the human race. Rose is tearful and insists that she never meant any harm. The Doctor's asks her to say sorry and hugs her when he sees the apology is genuine, forgiving her completely. As they do, Rose feels heat coming from the Doctor's jacket. She feels inside, gasping as the TARDIS key flies out, glowing a bright yellow. Picking it up with his jacket, the Doctor realises it is still connected to the TARDIS, sparking hope. He deduces that, although the TARDIS' interior dimensions were thrown out of the wound in time, the ship is still linked to the key meaning he can summon it back.
The Doctor uses a mobile telephone battery in conjunction with the sonic screwdriver to charge up the key. The shadowy shape of the TARDIS begins to materialise slowly around it. He tells everyone not to touch or disturb the process — once the TARDIS has fully materialised, he can try to repair the damage.
Pete has another talk with Rose, asking her whether he was a good father. She tells him that he was always there for them, told her bedtime stories every night and took them on picnics in the country on weekends. Pete realises she's lying; he knows he's the kind of man who will constantly let her down instead of the man who is there for her all the time. The Doctor tells Rose that when time is sorted out again, everyone will forget what has happened, but what Rose changed will remain changed. Pete has realised that he is supposed to be dead and his survival is jeopardising everything. Rose tells Pete that the fault is hers, but Pete replies that he is her father — it is his job for it to be his fault.
Jackie overhears Pete, who tells her who Rose is, but Jackie does not believe him. Pete takes the infant Rose from Jackie to get her to compare the features. Before the Doctor can stop him the infant Rose is thrust into the adult Rose's arms, causing a paradox and one of the creatures to materialise within the church. It devours the Doctor, then chases the remaining people around the church until it collides with the still-materialising TARDIS. This causes the creature to disappear, however, the TARDIS is also lost forever. When they meet, they blink out of existence. Rose runs to the key, which is now dead and is left stunned and distraught at the Doctor's death as Pete tries to comfort her. All hope is now lost, and everyone is left waiting in the church for the end to come as the church grows weaker against the creatures.
Pete watches the car repeating its movement around the church through the window. He tells Rose that the Doctor had figured out that Pete's death could stop what is happening and tried everything to avoid putting her through it again, but now there are no more options... to set things right, he has to die like he was supposed to. Rose begs him not to sacrifice himself, but he tells Rose that he's happy he had these extra hours with her, and now he's going to do what a father is supposed to do to. He shows Rose to Jackie properly and Jackie finally recognises Rose as the grown-up version of her daughter. Pete tells Jackie that she has to live to raise Rose and the three embrace.
Pete grabs the wedding gift and runs out of the church, watching for the car as it materialises in its never-ending loop, and steps in front of it just as a creature starts towards him. As Pete crumples to the street, the creatures screech and vanish.
The Doctor, restored to life with everyone else the creatures devoured, tells Rose to go to Pete, and she does so. By the church, the congregation, including Stuart's restored father, rushes out to see the aftermath of the accident. Rose cradles Pete's head and holds his hand as the driver of the car watches on, and Pete smiles up at her as he expires. The Doctor and Rose walk, hand in hand, back to the TARDIS.
In the end, Rose did manage to change history a little. Jackie tells the young Rose that the driver, a young man, stopped and waited for the police. It was not his fault — for some reason, Pete just ran out in front of the car. There was also a young girl there who stayed with Pete when he died and then left. Nobody ever learned who she was.
"Peter Alan Tyler, my dad. The most wonderful man in the world. Died the 7th of November, 1987."
- Doctor Who - Christopher Eccleston
- Rose Tyler - Billie Piper
- Jackie Tyler - Camille Coduri
- Pete Tyler - Shaun Dingwall
- Registrar - Robert Barton
- Young Rose - Julia Joyce
- Stuart - Christopher Llewellyn
- Sonny - Frank Rozelaar-Green
- Sarah - Natalie Jones
- Bev - Eirlys Bellin
- Suzie - Rhian James
- Young Mickey - Casey Dyer
|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.|
- Sarah Clark met Stuart Hoskins in a London nightclub called the Beatbox Club.
- Rose compares Pete to Del Boy.
- A socialist poster says "No Third Term for Thatcher", a reference to Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
- Jackie Tyler can't figure out how to use a VCR.
References from the real world
- The songs "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley and "Don't Mug Yourself" by the Streets play on Pete's car radio.
- "Never Can Say Goodbye" by the Communards is also played.
- "The Lamb and Flag", a pub from the sitcom Bottom, is referenced.
- Rose calls her dad a "regular Del Boy", a reference to the main character of the popular sitcom Only Fools and Horses
Theories and concepts
- The Blinovitch Limitation Effect states that crossing and affecting timestreams can have unforeseen effects.
Bad Wolf arc
- An "Energize" poster advertising an upcoming concert on 20 November 1987 has the words "BAD WOLF" written across a smiley face.
- The Doctor mentions his own people when warning Rose about the dangers of changing a fixed point in time.
- A working title for this episode was "Wounded Time".
- The Reapers are not mentioned by name on screen.
- When the episode was in the editing stage, it was decided to apply a whitewash to all shots as it visually looked more creepy and dimmer. When it went to broadcast, many fans and critics were unhappy about it. The original 'whitewashed' episode was released in the vanilla DVD release, but full colour was restored for subsequent DVD and Blu-ray releases.
- "Rickrolling", a popular meme in which someone is led to unintentionally witness the song "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley in a switch-and-bait, originated a couple of years after the episode's airing.
- This is one of few times the actual TARDIS prop is seen for what it is, having the exact same interior walls as exterior walls.
- Billie Piper named this as her favourite episode.
- Billie Piper was scared of holding the baby. Because the baby is present throughout the majority of the episode, but the number of hours they could work with the infant was limited, an "artificial baby" was used as a placeholder in some scenes.
- Russell T Davies originally intended that the episode be a small budget-saver character piece investigating the death of Rose's father, but Paul Cornell suggested the addition of the Reapers and BBC Head of Drama Jane Tranter encouraged the additions of monsters to the new series.
- In the original script, in the scene where the Doctor opens the TARDIS doors and discovers only a police box interior, the police box fell apart. This was changed for reasons of cost, and Paul Cornell has stated that he thinks the change is an improvement.
- Simon Pegg was originally cast as Pete Tyler. Because of scheduling conflicts, he chose the role of the Editor in The Long Game.
- The Reapers went through many designs. Originally, they were supposed to be "men in cowls" based on the Grim Reaper; the final design retains some of this image with its "scythe-like tail". The original design was deemed too similar to creatures seen in The End of the World, and so were reworked into something more "otherworldly". They were not originally intended to fly. There was also discussion of how much they should resemble animals as opposed to the Grim Reaper; the end result is a mixture of the two approaches. The final design had a "shark quality", bat wings, and a mouth influenced by the praying mantis. Vulture sound effects were used for its screech.
- One scene excised from the script would have featured younger versions of Jackie's Chinese neighbours, Bau and Ru, who had appeared in Aliens of London.
- Originally Pete was to take a swig of wine before sacrificing himself, but this was removed because a correlation between alcohol and bravery was not thought to be a positive message. However, in the wide shot, Pete can be seen in the background talking to someone and taking a drink immediately before he moves into the foreground to talk to Rose.
- Russell T Davies and Paul Cornell debated whether it should have been Rose's plan all along to save her father; this is left ambiguous in the episode. Billie Piper felt that it did not occur to Rose until after she began travelling.
- Paul Cornell stated that Pete Tyler is based on his own father, who attempted many different jobs and schemes (including, like Pete, selling health drinks) before eventually finding success running a betting shop. Pete's line "I'm your dad, it's my job for it to be my fault" is taken from something Cornell's father once said to him.
- The weather changed frequently during filming, and the cast began to fall ill; Christopher Eccleston had a cold.
- The set of the Tylers' flat was redressed for the time period.
- For the 1980s style, members of the cast and crew brought in photographs of themselves from the 80s; for example, peach dresses and "big hair" were incorporated, but these elements were not meant to be distracting.
- Camille Coduri wore a wig for this episode.
- Some of the conversation between Rose and her father in the car was cut because the car had made the dialogue delivery too "bouncy".
- The special effects team had two or three weeks to complete the "40-odd shots" of the completely CGI Reapers in the episode. The episode ended up being more expensive than intended because of the CGI.
- When time is damaged, one of the effects is that mobile telephones all begin to repeat the message, "Watson, come here, I need you," purportedly Alexander Graham Bell's first words ever spoken over a telephone. However, historical records indicate the words to be "Watson, come here, I want you." The error was not present in the original script, but crept in at some point during production. Phil Collinson speculated that it was because the line was rerecorded: it was originally recorded by someone who the production team felt put on too false a Scottish accent, and so it was rerecorded by a real Scot.
- 8.06 million viewers (UK final)
- St Paul's Church in Grangetown, Cardiff. (For St Christopher's)
- The boardroom of the HTV Wales building in Culvershouse Cross. (For the Registry Office)
- Hoel Trelai and Hoel Pennar in Ely, Loudoun Square in Butetown, Cardiff and Llanmales Street, Grangetown. (The street scenes)
- Grange Gardens in Grangetown. (Playground scenes)
- During Pete's death, his eyelids briefly flicker slightly despite the fact that, at this point, he has already died.
- When Rose kneels next to the dying Pete, the driver of the car who hit him disappears.
- After the reapers appear, one attacks a bridesmaid. Although we don't fully see her, we can tell it is a bridesmaid because of her white dress. When she is attacked, her scream isn't that of a woman - but that of a man. (This error occurred during editing. As the actress' scream didn't sound good when the scene was shot, it was dubbed in, mistakenly with a man's scream.)
- After the Doctor and Rose argue in the flat, he starts to leave. She runs out into the hall and blocks his exit while she speaks. The Doctor then walks past her on her right. The camera angle reverses to follow him and suddenly he's walking past her on the other side.
- When the reaper devours the Doctor, the materialising TARDIS is absent in the background when it should be clearly visible in the shot.
- When everyone runs into the church, Jackie picks up what is obviously an empty baby carrier, as it swings back, showing no baby inside it. (Someone else could be carrying Baby Rose.)
- Rose later mentions meeting her dad to her mother. (TV: The Parting of the Ways)
- The Doctor references Rose at first declining to join him until he told her the TARDIS was a time machine. (TV: Rose) He also uses the phrase "stupid ape" to describe humans once again.
- The Doctor is quickly convinced that Rose has been travelling with him to get something out of it, and makes to leave her behind in the past as punishment. His scepticism of her intentions is somewhat justified; his most recent companion, Adam Mitchell, tried to send himself information from the future, (TV: The Long Game) after the Doctor trusted him enough to invite him on as a full companion (AUDIO: The Other Side) despite having reservations of doing so. (TV: Dalek)
- The Doctor refers to the fact that his entire race, planet, and family, are gone (TV: The End of the World) and is unable to travel back in time to save them, alluding to the time locked nature of the Last Great Time War. (TV: The Stolen Earth)
- The theory of time trying to fix the deaths of people (who were supposed to die) was introduced in PROSE: GodEngine.
- The Doctor's insistence that adult Rose does not physically touch the infant Rose is consistent with the Blinovitch Limitation Effect; the 1977 and 1983 versions of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart did just that, resulting in a cataclysmic release of energy. (TV: Mawdryn Undead)
- Even though the Doctor has met his different incarnations many times, this is only the second time that the Doctor has met a second version of his current incarnation. This previously happened to the Third Doctor. (TV: Day of the Daleks) The Eleventh Doctor would later meet a second version of himself several times. (TV: The Big Bang, Space/Time, Last Night)
- The TARDIS interior had previously reverted to a regular police box in AUDIO: The Eternal Summer.
- Rose shows frustration at "everyone" mistaking her and the Doctor for a couple. (TV: The End of the World, Aliens of London, Dalek)
Home video releases
- This story was released on a vanilla DVD with The Long Game, The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances.
- It was also released as part of the series 1 DVD box set.
- This story was also released with Issue 4 of the Doctor Who DVD Files.
- This episode and The Empty Child two parter were the focus of the Series 1 Volume 3 front cover.
- BBC - Doctor Who - Episode Guide - Father's Day
- Father's Day at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- The Discontinuity Guide to: Father's Day at The Whoniverse