It was narratively significant for being the first Doctor Who story in which a companion was kicked out of the TARDIS for bad behaviour. The rigours of producing this episode were particularly influential to the structuring of the production schedule in following series of the BBC Wales version of Doctor Who. Specifically, this episode, perhaps more than any other in series 1, pointed out the utility of double banking. The experience of producing The Long Game would lead directly to the introduction of the Doctor- or companion-lite episode that was a consistent structural element of future series.
The episode satirises the media, specifically the reliability of the stories and evidence they provide to a mass audience. It also marks the first time on screen that the Doctor has evicted a time traveller for attempting to use time travel to change history in their favour. Though not directly stated, this violates the Laws of Time, which the Doctor enforces unless breaking them is for the greater good.
New companion of the Ninth Doctor, Adam Mitchell, takes his first trip in the TARDIS. The ship materialises in Satellite 5, a space station that broadcasts across the entire Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire. However, something is amiss: the Empire's attitude and technology are backwards, those who are promoted to Floor 500 simply disappear, humanity is possibly being manipulated by the news, and who exactly is the sinister Editor's employer?
The Ninth Doctor, Rose and new companion Adam have travelled forward in time to the year 200,000 and land aboard Satellite 5, a space station in Earth orbit during the Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire. Earth in this time period is at its height, covered with megacities, five moons and a population of 96 billion, the centre of a galactic domain that stretches across a million planets and species — or, at least, it is supposed to be. Adam faints in shock, leading to the Doctor to tease Rose "he's your boyfriend", to which she replies "not anymore".
The trio make their way around the station, the Doctor telling Adam that he will enjoy this period as human culture is at its peak, with fine manners and cuisine. When the station comes to life with junk food vendors and people pushing each other around — and no sign of any species other than human — the Doctor is puzzled, as this does not quite fit with what he knows of this period's history. He decides to investigate, suggesting that Adam and Rose go get something to eat. He uses his sonic screwdriver on a cashpoint, retrieving a credit stick which he gives to Adam.
The Doctor meets Cathica and Suki, who are journalists aboard Satellite 5. The Doctor uses his psychic paper on them and poses as management to question them about the station. Cathica sees this as an opportunity to get promoted to management's "Floor 500", which is rumoured to have walls of gold. She answers the Doctor's questions, showing him that Satellite 5 is a news station, broadcasting 600 channels across the Empire. However, they are being observed suspiciously on security monitors by the Editor, a pale man standing in a dark, icy room. He orders a security check to be done.
Meanwhile, Adam seems overawed by everything around him and says that he misses his family. Rose lets him use her "superphone" to call his family in the past, and he leaves a message for them on their answering machine. As the Doctor calls them over, Adam gets a thoughtful look on his face and pockets the superphone.
The Doctor, Rose and Adam are taken into a room where other reporters sit arranged in a circle around a chair. Cathica sits in the central chair, engages the safety protocols and snaps her fingers, opening a port in the centre of her forehead through which her brain is visible. On her cue, the others press their hands to the panels in front of them and an energy beam spikes down from a hub above, streaming information directly into her brain. Cathica is acting as a processor for the computer systems that broadcast all the news from Satellite 5, though she will not retain all that information once the link is severed. The Doctor explains that each reporter has a chip in his or her head as well, which receives the packaged information from Cathica and then transmits it to their separate channels. Adam is amazed at the technology, but the Doctor says that it is the wrong technology; there is trouble afoot.
The Editor's security check turns up nothing, but he is unconvinced. A second sweep reveals someone in the newsroom is having unauthorised access to the systems and isolates the intruder as Suki. Her records have an encrypted, secondary biography attached to them. The Editor terminates the transmission abruptly and reports obsequiously to something that growls unintelligibly from the ceiling of the control room. The Editor sends a message to the newsroom, saying that Suki has been promoted to Floor 500. Adam is still feeling a bit overwhelmed by all that he is seeing and tells Rose he is going to "acclimatise" by himself on the observation deck. Suki says her goodbyes to Cathica and gets on the lift. Cathica does not expect to see her again. Once you go to Floor 500, you never come back.
Floor 500 appears deserted and everything is covered in frost and snow. Wandering around, she is shocked to find a newsroom populated by shrivelled corpses. Following the light streaming in from an open door, she finds the control room and is greeted by the Editor. He displays her records on a holographic screen, and immediately concludes that her life story as given in her job application is a lie — she is actually the last survivor of an anarchist underground group called the Freedom Fifteen. Suki points a gun at the Editor, demanding to know who controls Satellite 5. The Freedom Foundation has been monitoring the broadcasts and has discovered that the facts are being manipulated and that the system is corrupt. He introduces her to the Editor-in-Chief, up above. The unseen creature is impervious to Suki's gunfire, and she screams as it descends towards her.
Meanwhile, the Doctor is asking Cathica more questions. She finally realises that the Doctor is not really management and asks him not to get her involved, but the Doctor points out that she's a journalist. There have been various vague conflicts and threats from all over the Empire that has somehow resulted in a complete lack of alien immigration aboard, and she has not questioned enough to notice. The Doctor says the Empire is stunted in both its attitudes and its technology. They should be more advanced and enlightened by now — something is holding it back and has been for the last ninety-one years since Satellite 5 began broadcasting.
At the same time, Adam is on the Observation Deck accessing a station terminal and learning information about the future's technology. He calls back to the past on the superphone, wanting to leave a message on the answering machine about what he has learned, but after a point, the computer denies him access, directing him to the medical labs on Floor 16. There, a nurse informs him that he needs a chip to access the system. He can have a small, invisible Type I chip inserted that will give him basic access or the Type II port like Cathica's, which will link him fully to the archives. After some hesitation, Adam opts for the second option, using the credit stick the Doctor gave him earlier, which he learns has unlimited credit.
While the Doctor accesses the station mainframe, the Editor orders a further check on Rose and the Doctor, discovering that according to Satellite 5's records, neither of them exist. The Doctor and Rose try to convince Cathica that there is something suspicious going on in the station, but Cathica still wants nothing to do with this. The Doctor hacks into the computer and discovers that something is venting a lot of hot air from the upper levels. The Editor secretly allows the Doctor to get the password key for the lift from the systems and Rose and the Doctor travel up to Floor 500. There, they find the Editor waiting for them and Suki's dead body slaved to the computer systems.
The Editor's men grab hold of the Doctor and Rose, and the Editor explains that the Empire is not really human any more — it is just where humans are allowed to live. For the past ninety years, humankind has been controlled and guided by his superior, the monstrous creature known as the Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe (or, as he calls it, "Max") and funded by a consortium of banks. By manipulating the news and creating a climate of fear, they have controlled the economy and kept the borders closed; the human race does not even know that it has been enslaved. Those who suspect the truth are detected because of the chips in their heads, and the Editor gets rid of them.
Meanwhile, Cathica has changed her mind and uses the passkey to go to Floor 500, where, unseen, she watches the Editor question the Doctor and Rose. The Doctor notices Cathica watching and audibly observes that the Jagrafess's metabolism generates a lot of heat, which is why it needs to be vented from the upper floors. The station is its life support system.
Down below, Adam, recovered from the surgery, enters the newsroom and activates his Type II port with the default command: snapping his fingers. He uses Rose's superphone to call his parents' house again, leaving another message which he says will sound like white noise but he will translate later. He calls for the information spike and begins recording it. Suddenly, the Editor gains the knowledge of who the Doctor is: the last of the Time Lords, and Rose is his companion. The Doctor tries to deny it, but the Editor shows him Adam accessing the satellite's archives — when he did so, the Editor gained access to everything Adam knew, including his knowledge of the TARDIS. The Doctor declares that he would die before giving the Editor access to his ship, but the Editor tells him that he can die all he likes; he doesn't need him when he already has a TARDIS key, which slips out of Adam's pocket and begins to float in front of him. The Editor states that, with the TARDIS, they could rewrite history or even prevent mankind from ever developing.
Having heard all this, Cathica goes to Floor 500's newsroom and links herself up so she can override the safety protocols and sever Adam's connection. She then reverses the environmental systems, heating the floor up. The Editor tries to terminate Cathica's link but she fights back. The entire station shudders and people start to run around in a panic. Rose gets free of her bonds, using the sonic screwdriver to release the Doctor. As the Jagrafess starts to overheat, the Editor tries to leave, but Suki's corpse somehow grabs hold of his foot, stopping him. The Editor screams as the Jagrafess expands above him and explodes. The Doctor and Rose find Cathica in the newsroom. He snaps his fingers and closes her connection port, smiling proudly at her — she used what she knew and what the Doctor told her to defeat the Jagrafess. The Empire's development can now get back on track.
The Doctor is, however, furious at Adam's actions, and returns him to his own time in the TARDIS, at his parents' house. The Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver on the answering machine inside the building, setting it to overload the device until it explodes, destroying the phone and preventing any information from the future from being leaked to the past. The connection port in Adam's head, however, is something he will have to live with for the rest of his life — and something he will have to be careful not to reveal lest he be dissected. Adam will have to live a quiet and ordinary life, as all it takes is a simple snap of the fingers to reveal his secret. Adam pleads with the Doctor to take him with him, saying he is sorry. The Doctor replies that he only takes the best; he has Rose, and he and Rose leave in the TARDIS as Adam's mother comes home.
Adam's mother greets him happily as it has been six months since she saw him last. She muses on how time can pass just like that, snapping her fingers — and her expression changes to horror as the port in Adam's head opens.
- Doctor Who - Christopher Eccleston
- Rose Tyler - Billie Piper
- Adam - Bruno Langley
- Head Chef - Colin Prockter
- Cathica - Christine Adams
- Suki - Anna Maxwell-Martin
- The Editor - Simon Pegg
- Nurse - Tamsin Greig
- Adam's Mum - Judy Holt
|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.|
- Adam mentions 198000.
- The price of the head chip is 100 credits.
- The price of the full Infospike is 10,000 credits.
Food and Beverages
- Rose drinks Zaffic, describing it to be like "Slush Puppy" and saying that it tastes "like beef".
- The Jagrafess's full name is "Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe".
- Traffic Five was a planet affiliated with Earth.
- Satellite Five broadcasts 600 channels, which include Bad WolfTV, Channel McB, and Channel ☺+1.
- The Face of Boe briefly appears on Bad WolfTV. It has also become pregnant with baby Boemina.
- An Infospike is an implant in a subject's head that can open to expose their brain at a programmed trigger action, such as the default response to snapping one's fingers. However, by the time of the Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire, it is outdated and obsolete technology.
- A Vomit-O-Matic installation inserts Nanotermites into the lining of the patient's throat. If an act of botulism is sensed, the Nanotermites will immediately freeze the waste into a small block of ice.
Theories and concepts
- The Doctor thinks someone is playing a long game on the human race.
Bad Wolf arc
- Bad WolfTV is the name of one of the channels of the future human civilisation.
- The working titles for this episode were The Companion Who Couldn't and Adam.
- According to Russell T Davies, this episode was based on an idea which he submitted to the Doctor Who production team in the late 1980s. Whether it was ever read by the production team of the time is unclear, as Davies received a rejection from the BBC Script Unit, who advised him to write more realistic television about "a man and his mortgage" instead.
- There are references to various reality and game TV shows — Big Brother, The Weakest Link etc.
- The story title The Long Game foreshadows events of Bad Wolf and The Parting of the Ways. The Jagrafess and the banks are playing the long game (or at least, the long con) on humanity.
- Simon Pegg had great difficulty saying "the Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe". The scene in the episode features the best take he could do, with the monster growling over the bits he got wrong.
- This was the first story in the revival series of Doctor Who to feature an antagonist that did not return during the Tenth Doctor era (in all media).
- The original story outline was set in the year 8922. (DWDVDF 7)
- Adam has the dubious distinction of being the first and, to date, only known companion to have his TARDIS-travelling rights revoked by the Doctor due to bad behaviour — other companions forced to stay behind were either left for their own safety (e.g. Sarah Jane Smith, Donna Noble) or because the Doctor thought it was better for them they stayed in one place (e.g. Susan Foreman).
- This episode was originally intended to be focused entirely on Adam, with the Doctor and Rose having less screen time than in the finished version. When filming started and Russell T Davies saw how good Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper were, he felt he couldn't really justify sidelining them and rewrote it to give them more to do.
- In the DVD commentary, director Brian Grant and Bruno Langley refer to an additional motivation for Adam's actions. Apparently, in earlier drafts of the script, Adam's father suffered from a disease that was incurable in his time (2012) and he hoped to learn about a cure which had been discovered between that year and 200,000. In the shooting script, the condition is arthritis. No trace of this motivation remains in the finished programme, although Grant discusses it as if it were still present.
- The "frozen vomit" that Adam spits out in one scene was in fact a "kiwi and orange ice cube".
- Simon Pegg had grown up with Doctor Who and considered it a "great honour" to guest star. He was pleased at being cast as a villain.
- Nicholas Briggs had recorded voice work for the Jagrafess, but his contribution was not used because it sounded too similar to the Nestene Consciousness in Rose.
- The Jagrafress was entirely made of computer-generated imagery, animated by The Mill. It was given a shark-like design, with the intention that it would "snap out" like a shark. The initial design was also described as a "lump of meat on the ceiling".
- Christopher Eccleston and Simon Pegg both had cameos in the film 24 Hour Party People.
- Adam's house was originally going to be in Nottingham. Following the casting of Bruno Langley, it was moved to Manchester.
- Simon Pegg later referred to Christopher Eccleston as "old misery-guts".
- Sandra Mitchell originated from Russell T Davies' television series Children's Ward, thus making this television story a crossover.
- Simon Pegg and Tamsin Greig had previously appeared together in the Faith in the Future episode "Marks out of Ten", the Black Books episode "Manny Come Home" and Shaun of the Dead.
- 8.01 million viewers (UK final)
- The title of the episode made many Doctor Who fans think the Celestial Toymaker would return. There is no evidence to support this.
- Old BT Building, Coryton, Cardiff
- Studio: at Unit Q2, Newport
- When the Doctor sets Adam's phone to explode, during the split-second after he puts it down it goes off.
- When Suki discovers the bodies on Floor 500, she drops her flashlight, but in the next shot, she's holding it again.
- The backdrop to the Editor is different before and after the Doctor says "somebody up there likes me".
- The Doctor and Rose later see the long-term effect of these events, when they land on Satellite 5 again (then known as the Game Station). (TV: Bad Wolf)
- Adam uses Rose's "Superphone" to call his parents' house 198, 000 years in the past. The Doctor previously upgraded it on her first trip in the TARDIS so she could call her mother from the far future. (TV: The End of the World)
- Kronkburgers were first mentioned in COMIC: The Iron Legion.
- The Face of Boe is mentioned, (TV: The End of the World) and the Doctor will later encounter him again. (TV: New Earth, Gridlock)
- The Doctor makes reference to "kissing complete strangers". Although spoken in the context of visiting Paris, he did kiss Grace Holloway shortly after his regeneration. (TV: Doctor Who)
- Entering the TARDIS as it departed the Vault, (TV: Dalek) Adam was permitted a trip to the far future by the Doctor after he helped him defeat the Bygone Horde. (AUDIO: The Other Side)
- Adam Mitchell will later resent the Doctor for kicking him out of the TARDIS. He had an ulterior motive beyond personal gain when he plotted to cash in on future technology, wishing to save his ailing mother with its advanced medical capabilities. Due to the antiquated technology of the 21st century, his mother soon died and left Adam alone, seeking revenge on the Doctor and every companion with whom he regularly travelled across his different incarnations. (COMIC: Mystery Date, The Choice)
- The Doctor reacts sheepishly after pulling a bundle of wires out of some machinery, an action he will repeat in TV: The Parting of the Ways.
- A snap of the fingers is the default trigger for opening the Infospike, something the Doctor does several times in the presence of the TARDIS. He will later learn that he has the ability to open and close its doors with the snap of his fingers. (TV: Forest of the Dead)
Home video releases
- This episode was released on a vanilla DVD with Father's Day, The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances.
- It was also released as part of the series 1 DVD box set.
- This episode was also released with Issue 4 of the Doctor Who DVD Files.
- Official BBC Website - Episode Guide for The Long Game
- The Long Game at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- The Discontinuity Guide to: The Long Game at The Whoniverse