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The End of the World was the second episode of series 1 of Doctor Who.

It was the first instance of time travel into the viewers' relative future in the BBC Wales era of Doctor Who. The story also introduced recurring characters Lady Cassandra and the Face of Boe, and featured the first mention of the ubiquitous phrase "Bad Wolf". Though of relatively minor impact here, it soon exploded into a persistent story arc that continued to thrive across multiple series beyond the first in the revived continuity.

This episode is also notable for introducing the Last Great Time War[1], although the war itself was not named until the following episode The Unquiet Dead. The Doctor also reveals that his home planet was destroyed because of the war, making him "the last of the Time Lords". The survivor's guilt caused by his actions in the Time War would stick with the Doctor in future incarnations thereafter, starting with the Ninth Doctor and continuing to be shown in his tenth, eleventh and twelfth incarnations specifically.

The reveal that Gallifrey, as well as potentially every Time Lord, had been destroyed created a new status quo for Doctor Who, as well as an 8 year arc for the Doctor, with this story and later ones focusing on his tenth and eleventh incarnations having to deal with him being the last of his kind, though the reveal of another Time Lord having survived wouldn't be known until 2 years later in Utopia. This status quo and arc eventually concluded in the 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor, where the Doctor discovers the conclusion to this war wasn't how he believed it had been.

The End of the World was director Euros Lyn's first work on the series. At the time of broadcast, it featured the most extensive use of CGI yet seen on Doctor Who.

This was also the first time Jimmy Vee had a role as a character on the series, playing the Moxx of Balhoon. He would also play the space pig in the Series 1 story Aliens of London and eventually become a regular puppeteer and actor for the compact aliens and monsters seen in the BBC Wales era of the show.


The Ninth Doctor takes his new companion, Rose Tyler, to the year 5,000,000,000 to see the sun expand and destroy the Earth. The observation deck space station, Platform One, is holding an event with the richest beings of the time observing the Earth's destruction, but mysterious metal spiders gifted by the Adherents of the Repeated Meme to the other guests are secretly infiltrating and sabotaging the station.


The Doctor asks Rose where she would like to go on her first trip in the TARDIS. She asks to go one hundred years into the future, but when they arrive, the Doctor says the 22nd century is boring. They travel again, this time to 12005, the time of the New Roman Empire. Again, they move on without leaving the TARDIS as Rose cannot believe his explanation. Finally, to impress his new companion, the Doctor takes Rose to a space station orbiting Earth five billion years in the future. As they watch in amazement, the Sun expands partially — "Welcome to the end of the world", the Doctor tells Rose as she looks on forlornly.

The Doctor tells Rose that Earth has long been empty of any kind of life. Mankind left it long ago and the planet was taken over by the National Trust. They have used gravity satellites to hold the effects of the Sun back, but the money has run out. Earth will be swallowed up by the Sun at last. The rich and powerful of the universe will witness the end of the world, which will occur in about half an hour. The Doctor tells Rose that he has no intention of saving the planet. The station has automated systems and is staffed by blue-skinned humanoids.

On encountering the blue-skinned Steward, who manages Platform One, the Doctor persuades him that he and Rose are invited guests by using a piece of psychic paper that makes people see what the Doctor wants. The other guests arrive, including the diminutive Moxx of Balhoon, the Face of Boe, living humanoid trees from the Forest of Cheem (whose ancestors originated on Earth) and, from Financial Family Seven, a group of hooded aliens known as the Adherents of the Repeated Meme. Rose watches in horrified fascination as the last living human arrives — the Lady Cassandra O'Brien.Δ17, a piece of stretched-out skin with eyes and a mouth, mounted on a frame and connected to a brain jar. The skin needs to be constantly moisturised by her attendants. The guests exchange gifts. Jabe of the Forest of Cheem gives the Doctor a cutting taken from her grandfather. The Doctor gives her the gift of air from his lungs. The Moxx gives the gift of bodily salivas, and the Adherents of the Repeated Meme hand out gifts of "peace" in the form of metal spheres, even to the Steward.

Cassandra gives her own gifts: the last ostrich egg, and an "iPod" (actually a jukebox) from ancient Earth. Rose is a bit overwhelmed when the jukebox plays "classical" music — the song "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell — and leaves the hall. The Doctor receives a call about the TARDIS' parking place and is given a ticket telling him where it is being moved. Elsewhere, Rose has a brief conversation with a station plumber, Raffalo, who is investigating a blockage. At first she is comforted by the familiarity of Raffalo's matter-of-fact, working-class manner, but when Raffalo explains that she is from Crespallion, which is part of the Jaggit Brocade, affiliated to the Scarlet Junction in Complex 56, Rose realises just how far she is from home, with a man she does not know. She leaves and does not see Raffalo spot small, spider-like robots in the ducts, which rapidly grab her and pull her inside. The spiders are being disgorged from the metal spheres gifted by the Adherents of the Repeated Meme to guests. They soon infiltrate the entire station, sabotaging its systems.

Cassandra and rose

The last humans chat.

The Doctor finds Rose. When she asks where he is from, he brushes off her questions. When the Doctor alters Rose's mobile phone so she can talk to her mother in the past, another fact sinks in — her mother is long dead. The Doctor jokes that if Rose thought the telephone call was amazing, she should see the bill. Suddenly, a tremor shakes the station, and the Doctor gleefully observes that was not supposed to happen. The Steward, investigating the cause of the tremor, is killed when a spider lowers the sun filter in his room, exposing him to the direct heat of the Sun's rays.

The Doctor starts to look into the tremor and Jabe offers to show him where the maintenance corridors are, while Rose goes to speak to Cassandra. Rose finds Cassandra has had seven hundred and eight cosmetic operations and considers herself the last "pure" human — the others who left "intermingled" with other species and she considers them all mongrels. Her next operation, to bleach her blood, is next week. Disgusted that humanity has come to this, Rose insults Cassandra and storms off, with the Adherents following her. They find Rose in the corridor and the leader hits her in the head, knocking her unconscious. The leader then grabs Rose’s leg and drags her away.

Pensieve doc nine

The Doctor is reminded of his past.

In the corridors, Jabe quietly tells the Doctor that she scanned him earlier, and was astonished to discover he exists. She sympathises with him and the Doctor is briefly moved to tears. They continue to the bowels of the station, where they find one of the spiders. Jabe captures it with a long, vine-like appendage.

As the station's systems continue to fail and, as a "traditional ballad" — Britney Spears singing "Toxic" — plays on the jukebox, Rose slowly wakes up and realises that she is in a room with a lowering sun filter. The Doctor hears her cries for help and raises the filter, but Rose is still locked in. Returning to the main hall, he releases the spider to seek out its master. It first scurries over to Cassandra and then veers towards Adherents of the Repeated Meme. The Doctor says that a "meme" is just an idea and reveals that the Adherents are robots as they collapse to the floor. He then sends the spider out to find who was controlling them and it goes directly to Cassandra.

Cassandra has her attendants hold the others at bay, saying the moisturiser guns can also shoot acid. Her operations cost a fortune and she was hoping to create a hostage situation while pretending to be one of the victims herself and later seek compensation. Now she will just let everyone burn while the shares in the guests' rival companies Cassandra holds will triple in price. Cassandra orders the spiders to shut off the force field protecting the station, then uses a teleportation device to transport herself and her attendants away.


The last moments of Earth.

With only minutes until the Sun incinerates Earth and the station, the Doctor and Jabe rush back to the air-conditioning chamber. The restore switch for the computer systems is at the other end of a platform blocked by giant rotating fans. The Doctor protests the rising heat will burn the wooden Jabe, but she insists on staying to hold down the switch that slows the fans. The Doctor makes it nearly to the end before Jabe catches fire and burns. He closes his eyes and concentrates, making it past the last fan and throwing the reset switch. The force fields come up around the station just as the Earth explodes into cinders. The station's systems start to self-repair.

Several of the guests are now dead, incinerated as the Sun's rays burst through cracks in the windows. The Doctor finds Cassandra's teleportation feed inside the ostrich egg and reverses it to bring her back. She starts taunting the Doctor, saying that he cannot do anything about her. However, the Doctor calmly notes he has transported Cassandra back without her moisturising attendants. In the heat, she begins to dry out. Cassandra begs for mercy and Rose asks the Doctor to help her, but the Doctor coldly says that everything has its time and everything dies. Cassandra's skin stretches and tears, her innards exploding, leaving only her brain tank and empty frame.

Rose is sad that in all the danger, Earth's passing was not actually seen by anyone. The Doctor takes her back to the present in the TARDIS, telling her that people think things will last forever, but they don't. He admits his home planet was burned like Earth, but in a war. He is the last survivor of the Time Lords. Rose says he still has her, and he smiles as she offers to buy him some chips. They have only five billion years before the shops close.


Uncredited cast[]


General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics



General post-production staff

Special and visual effects


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.




  • Cassandra calls the Moxx of Balhoon a pixie.


  • The Doctor tells Rose his planet was destroyed before its time as the result of a war which his people lost.

Bad Wolf arc[]

  • Bad Wolf is mentioned for the first time, with the Moxx of Balhoon stating, "Indubitably, this is the Bad Wolf scenario."


  • Cassandra mentions there are many species out there that describe themselves as "human-ish", but that she is the last "pure" human.

Culture from the real world[]

  • Cassandra plays what she thinks is a "traditional Earth ballad" to mark the destruction of Earth- this song is the racy single "Toxic" by Britney Spears, highly irreverent for the moment.
  • Rose calls Cassandra "Michael Jackson", referring to that singer's well-known cosmetic surgery.
  • "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell plays after all of the delegates have assembled.
  • Cassandra brings in a jukebox, and calls it an iPod, mixing the names up.

Story notes[]

  • The majority of the series' effects budget was used up for this episode because the story required more CGI effects than any other story. A sequence in which the viewing gallery tilted on its axis had to be dropped due to the expensive budget.
  • The story begins with a brief recap of the last week's episode similar to many American shows, but unlike most American shows there is no voice-over announcing "previously on Doctor Who". The footage from Rose simply begins the episode. Discounting the 1996 TV movie, this marked the first time a Doctor Who episode had started with a pre-credits sequence since Remembrance of the Daleks in 1988; unlike the original series, which used the device rarely, it would become standard practice for the series, with very few episodes made without a teaser (the exceptions are usually series premieres).
  • A BBC logo is on the bottom of the screen when the recap finishes and this episode begins. At this point, the corporation had not yet established the practice of showing the logo during the opening credits.
  • Russell T Davies, who created Cassandra, has said on many occasions that he was inspired to create Cassandra upon viewing skinny Hollywood actresses at the Academy Awards. On 2 April 2006, the Sunday Mirror quoted Davies: "It was horrific seeing those beautiful women reduced to sticks. Nicole Kidman struck me in particular. Nicole is one of the most beautiful women in the world. But she looks horrifying because she's so thin. It's like we're killing these women in public. We watch while you die."
  • In one scene Rose says, "Wait, hold on. They did this once on Newsround Extra". Newsround is a news programme on BBC 1 and CBBC aimed at providing news for children. Newsround Extra is an extended version of this concept which concentrates on a single issue or subject. A Newsround reporter was on set watching as this scene was filmed. His report can be read here on the newsround website.
  • A minor milestone occurs when the Doctor utters the phrase, "What the hell is that?", the first time the character has used the minor swear word on-screen. This marked a slight loosening of the Doctor's use of language in the revived series, although in light of the show's family-friendly tone the Doctor has never said anything stronger than "hell" and "damn."
  • The scene between Rose and Raffalo was a late addition, added because the episode was underrunning.
  • This is the first time the Doctor has actually been seen to shed a tear on-screen, although he was previously described as crying in PROSE: The Scales of Injustice when he (falsely) believed Liz Shaw to be dead.
  • A number of deleted scenes from the episode are printed in The Shooting Scripts, including a more brutal death for Raffalo, extended conversations between the Doctor and Jabe and Rose and Cassandra, and a second scene in which Rose contacts Jackie as the sun rays begin to pierce through the viewing gallery.
  • The original script describes Cassandra as having cabinets containing the first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and the Magna Carta. (The Shooting Scripts)
  • When Jabe brings up the subject of the Last Great Time War, the Doctor is seen discreetly shedding a single tear, in perhaps the only time the Ninth Doctor is shown to visibly cry on-screen.
  • Russell T Davies had initially intended to have the last humans escaping the doomed Earth aboard massive space arks (similar arks appeared in The Ark). This was dropped when the complexity of the character of Cassandra was fully realised during development.
  • The episode features the first appearance of concepts such as the psychic paper, the Time War and the words 'Bad Wolf', which would go on to form a story arc throughout the series.
  • An unaired scene would have shown the Doctor to have nine strands of DNA instead of one, an allusion to his eight previous incarnations.
  • Camille Coduri's scene as Jackie Tyler was shot in advance during the first production block because of commitments for the film The Business that would make her unavailable.
  • Due to complexities in animating Cassandra, some of her lines were dropped and the episode underran. To compensate, Russell T. Davies came up with the character of maintenance worker Raffalo.
  • The episode contains 203 visual effects shots that were completed over eight weeks, compared to "about 100" in Gladiator; Russell T Davies joked that there never would be an episode of the same scale due to the expense in producing it. As of The Wedding of River Song, no Doctor Who episode contains as many special effects shots. Phil Collinson also said the episode had more monsters than ever before.
  • Both Cassandra and the robotic spiders — other than an inactive one — are completely CGI creatures. According to Russell T Davies, Cassandra was worked on for "many many months" and costed a "fortune". The Moxx of Balhoon was originally going to be animated, but this changed to a "glove puppet" and then a full rubber suit when it was desired he be "chunkier". Jimmy Vee had done similar parts before, although the actor said it was hard filming in the costume, which took three hours to put on. Jabe was originally more tree bark-like in the face, but it was decided that she be a Silver Birch instead.
  • Cassandra unveils an "iPod" (actually a Wurlitzer jukebox), that plays "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell and later "Toxic" by Britney Spears. Since "Toxic" was not actually released as a 7" 45 rpm vinyl single, the production team mocked up a 7" single for use in the episode.
  • The Moxx of Balhoon was originally envisaged as a puddle of blue fat. However, such a creature would have to be realised through computer animation and, when The Mill observed that the script already included a number of computer-generated elements, it was agreed that the Moxx would instead be a practical costume.
  • The final scene originally took place in Piccadilly Circus. Russell T Davies changed this to an unspecified street in Cardiff in order to avoid an extra trip to London. He ultimately preferred the anonymity of the setting
  • One issue confronting Euros Lyn was the lack of short-statured actors to play the Platform One staff, since many such artistes had been hired for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which was also in production. It was finally agreed to cast children instead, some of whom were relatives of dialogue editor Paul McFadden.
  • Rose's call to Jackie was originally foreshadowed in Rose, when Jackie mentioned the call to her baffled daughter, but the material had been dropped from the script.
  • At an early stage, Russell T Davies had hoped that the platform set would be able to tilt during the story's climax, threatening Rose not only with the sun's deadly rays but also with a long fall onto the glass as she clung to a balustrade. However, this effect was deemed too expensive, and the action was simplified.
  • During post-production work, the computer artists at The Mill discovered that animating Cassandra was more challenging than they had anticipated. As a result, the number of shots in which she was visible would have to be curtailed. The major casualty was a lengthy conversation with Rose about the fate of humanity. Here Davies had incorporated oblique references to the future history of Earth as seen in earlier stories, such as the pioneers of serials like Colony in Space, the Earth Empire depicted in The Mutants, and the mammoth space arks from The Ark.
  • Rose gets called a prostitute. Billie Piper would later star in Secret Diary of a Call Girl.
  • At a talk in 2018, Euros Lynn chose the final scene of the episode, in which the Doctor and Rose get chips, as one of his favourite scenes from his directorial tenure on Doctor Who[3]. The scene was one of the final shot for the series[4] and the people behind the Doctor and Rose were not paid extras.


  • 7.97 million viewers (UK final)[5]


  • The first thing Rose sees upon leaving the TARDIS is a ventilation duct. What is commonly mistaken for a ventilation duct was actually the shuttered window in the smaller observation room. The Doctor opens it after he exits the TARDIS.

Filming locations[]

  • Temple of Peace, Cardiff (Platform One - viewing gallery, Manchester Suite, and Steward's office)
  • Unit Q2, Newport (studio filming)
  • BBC Broadcasting House, Llandaff, Cardiff (maintenance corridors)
  • Headlands School, Penarth (pick-up shots)
  • Helmont House, Cardiff (present-day Earth)
  • Queens Street, Cardiff (present-day Earth) (all TCH 48)

Production errors[]

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • While Rose is phoning her mum, notice that the Doctor has his mouth shut. The camera angle changes and instantly his mouth is open.
  • When Rose and Cassandra are in conversation, they're shot intermittently from behind, looking out of the Space Station window. In the shots from behind, Cassandra's lips don't appear to move at all, though we still hear her speak.
  • When Rose is about to be fried by the sun's rays, she runs up and down the stairs to bang on the doors to avoid the rays. While she does, the long shots show most of the doors as being incinerated, but in the close-ups (as she starts banging again) they look fine.


Home video releases[]


Series 1 Volume 1 DVD Cover

  • This was released with Rose and The Unquiet Dead on a "vanilla" DVD with no extras.
  • It was also released as part of the Series 1 DVD box set
  • This was also released with Issue 1 of the Doctor Who DVD Files.
  • Released in the Series 1 Bluray set in November 2013 along with the rest of the series.
    • This release was initially bundled with the first seven series of the revived Doctor Who.
  • Available for streaming via Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime.


  1. According to head writer and executive producer Russell T Davies, who himself wrote Rose and The End of the World, the war mentioned in Rose where the Nestene Consciousness lost its protein planets is also supposed to be the Time War, (DWM 356, Doctor Who Annual 2006) although on screen, the connection to the war between what is later revealed to be the Daleks and the Time Lords is not specified in Rose.
  2. Doctor Who: The Encyclopedia
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dewyqn8w8R4
  4. https://open.spotify.com/episode/5j9uhtWITBBQ9HZCCJzoyS?si=22Uyy9lMRIK65qxGKCNkhQ
  5. Doctor Who - consolidated ratings

External links[]