- Series 4 redirects here. For the 1966-1967 season of the original series, see Season 4.
Series 4 of Doctor Who started on the 5th April 2008. It was preceded by two specials: Time Crash and Voyage of the Damned. There is some dispute over whether these two productions are officially part of Series 4; Russell T. Davies' memoir, The Writer's Tale, describes both as being part of the production of Series 4, however, and both have been included in the subsequent DVD box set. Time Crash is canonical according to showrunner Steven Moffat in Doctor Who Magazine #389.
This series featured several (former) companions returning; Freema Agyeman, returned as Martha Jones for five episodes of the series, which began with The Sontaran Stratagem following her three episode spell with Torchwood. Jack Harkness crossed over from Torchwood for a second time later in the series. Billie Piper returned as Rose Tyler for a three episode stint starting with Turn Left, all three returned in The Stolen Earth along with Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith. These were further joined by Noel Clarke as Mickey Smith and Camille Coduri as Jackie Tyler in Journey's End.
Series 4 featured several milestones. It is the 30th ever broadcast season of Doctor Who, and features the 750th broadcast episode, which was The Stolen Earth, the 50th new series episode, The Unicorn and the Wasp, and the 200th broadcast story of Doctor Who, Midnight. The finale episodes The Stolen Earth and Journey's End also took the revived series to new heights of popularity, scoring the highest viewership ratings since the Tom Baker era and according to the media both episodes scored Appreciation Index ratings unprecedented for an ongoing scripted drama series.
In terms of production, the season marked the first production of a "Companion-lite" episode, Midnight (as opposed to the usual "Doctor-lite" episodes, ie. Love and Monsters and Blink), although a Doctor-lite episode, Turn Left was also produced. This was necessitated by the need to film several episodes at the same time, including an unprecedented 15th episode, The Next Doctor, which would air as the 2008 Christmas special.
As with the preceding three seasons, Series 4 incorporated several ongoing story arcs or background threads which were resolved in the finale episodes. In Series 4 these threads included: Donna Noble's evolution, Rose Tyler's attempts to return to her original world and the Doctor, the disappearance of bees from planet Earth, recurring references to planets and moons disappearing, and the coming of "The Darkness", mainly represented by the attempts of the Daleks and Davros to wipe out all reality. Additionally, most episodes include a running gag: namely, that people keep mistaking the Doctor and Donna for a couple.
The status of the 2008 Christmas special The Next Doctor is also disputed. Although broadcast months after the conclusion of Series 4, it was produced at the same time, and like Voyage of the Damned, Davies discusses it in context of being part of Series 4 in The Writer's Tale. This would make Series 4 unique in having two Christmas specials. Another school of though holds that it is part of the 2009 Specials gap season, due to the fact it isn't included in the Series 4 box set and there are significant production differences between it and the specials, namely it was not filmed in high definition.
Series 4 marked the last full season to be produced by Russell T Davies, Phil Collinson and Julie Gardner. Collinson left following Journey's End, and Davies and Gardner have announced they will depart following production of a series of specials planned for 2009 in lieu of a regular season. When the show resumes weekly broadcast in 2010, Steven Moffat will be its head writer and show-runner. It also marks the last full season featuring David Tennant as The Doctor as in October 2008 he announced his intention to leave the role following the production of the 2009 specials; in January 2009 Matt Smith was announced as his successor, with Karen Gilian appearing as his companion Amy Pond.
- Time Crash
- Voyage of the Damned
- Partners in Crime
- The Fires of Pompeii
- Planet of the Ood
- The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky
- The Doctor's Daughter
- The Unicorn and the Wasp
- Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead
- Turn Left
- The Stolen Earth / Journey's End
- The Next Doctor
- Martha Jones - Freema Agyeman
- Rose Tyler - Billie Piper
- Wilfred Mott - Bernard Cribbins
- Sylvia Noble - Jacqueline King
- Jack Harkness - John Barrowman
- Sarah Jane Smith - Elisabeth Sladen
- Francine Jones - Adjoa Andoh
- Mickey Smith - Noel Clarke
- Jackie Tyler - Camille Coduri
- Ianto Jones - Gareth David-Lloyd
- Luke Smith - Tommy Knight
- Gwen Cooper - Eve Myles
- Fifth Doctor - Peter Davison
- Astrid Peth - Kylie Minogue
- Jackson Lake - David Morrissey
- Jenny- Georgia Moffett
- River Song - Alex Kingston
Aliens and Enemies
- Matron Cofelia
- Lucius Petrus Dextrus
- Klineman Halpen
- Luke Rattigan
- General Cobb
- Vashta Nerada
- Midnight Entity
- Sky Silvestry
- Time Beetle
- Fortune Teller
- Dalek Caan
- Mercy Hartigan
As with previous seasons, trailers were created to promote the season, though this year they were shown in theatres as well as on television in the UK. Of particular note is the second trailer that was released, which utilized unique, specially shot footage of Donna sitting by a camp- or bonfire talking to either an unseen individual or the audience about the Doctor "coming back to save us" and "I'll be ready" interspersed with images of Sontarans, Ood and Daleks. There is no scene like this in any of the episodes; the meaning of "he'll come back to save us" is unknown as there is no circumstance within Series 4 in which Donna would be in such a position to make such a remark.
The other major trailers included another Donna-centric trailer utilizing a scene between Donna and Wilfred Mott from Partners in Crime, and a mid-season trailer focusing in part on the return of Rose Tyler in Turn Left.