The Next Doctor is the 2008 Christmas Special of Doctor Who. It is the first of five special episodes planned for 2008-09 prior to the launch of Series 5 in 2010, and marked the beginning of the final set of episodes to feature David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor, as well as producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner.
The opening pre-credits sequence of the episode was broadcast as a teaser during the 2008 Children in Need appeal in November 2008 and the broadcast was made on 25th December.
It's Christmas Eve in 1851 and Cybermen stalk the snow of Victorian London. The Doctor arrives and starts to investigate a spate of mysterious deaths. He's surprised to meet another Doctor. The 'other' Doctor has his own sonic screwdriver and TARDIS... and his own companion, Rosita. But how is this even possible?
The Doctor lands in London on Christmas Eve, 1851, where he encounters a woman called Rosita who does not believe his claims to be the Doctor she is calling for. Another man, calling himself 'The Doctor' races forward and produces a device he refers to as a sonic screwdriver. A strange creature, with a bronze face like that of a Cyberman but a hunched and furred body, bursts into the alley. The three give chase, but the creature eludes them. In the aftermath of the chase, the two Doctors talk: the Tenth Doctor believes the other to be his next regeneration, but unfortunately the other (dubbed 'the Next Doctor') doesn't recognise him; the Next Doctor explains that many of the memories are missing, and that he cannot remember anything 'since the Cybermen'.
Nearby, a group of Cyberman observe the footage gleaned from a Cybershade (the creature pursued by the trio); however, the Cyberman recognise the Next Doctor, not the original, as their foe. They discuss their plans for the next attack with their ally, Miss Mercif Hartigan. The attack is scheduled for 14:00 hours - the same time as a funeral whose procession the Next Doctor and Rosita observe. While the funeral takes place, the two Doctors are investigating the house of the deceased, Reverend Aubrey Fairchild. As they investigate, the Next Doctor explains that the Cybermen's presence is linked to a number of murders and child abductions across London, culminating in the Reverend's death. The Next Doctor begins to show signs of remembering the original Doctor, but before he can delve further, the Tenth Doctor finds, hidden in a roll-top desk, a pair of 'infostamps': devices that allow the storage of large amounts of information. The Doctor activates one, discovering it contains information on the history of London from 1066 to 1851.
The Doctor realises the Cybermen have been using the infostamps to update their knowledge of history: however, the Next Doctor remembers he was holding an infostamp the night he lost his memory, which he also remembers to be the night he regenerated. However, the Cybermen attack the house as the Doctors continue the search: the original Doctor fends them off with a cutlass, but the Cybermen are not interested in him - only the Next Doctor. Before they can kill the pair, the Next Doctor activates an electrical charge in the infostamp, destroying the Cybermen.
At the funeral, Miss Hartigan arrives, with a platoon of Cybermen and Cybershades in tow. She spares a number of the mourners (who are owners of workhouses and orphanages), but the others are 'deleted' by the Cybermen. The survivors are fitted with Ear-Pods and dispatched by Miss Hartigan. The two Doctors return to the Next Doctor's home base, where Rosita and the Next Doctor show the original Doctor his TARDIS - a hot-air balloon. The Doctor tells the Next Doctor he can explain what happened to him, which the Next Doctor agrees to. The original Doctor tells him and Rosita about the Battle of Canary Wharf and how the Cybermen were cast into the Void. However, they managed to escape from the Void when the walls of the universe were weakened in "a greater battle", and came upon a man, Jackson Lake, a mathematics teacher and the first person to disappear. The Cybermen attacked his home and killed his wife. In desperation, Lake grabbed an infostamp to defend himself, one containing information on the Doctor gleaned from the Daleks; though the infostamp destroyed the Cybermen, it backfired, overwhelmed Lake's mind and in his fear and despair, he came to believe he was the Doctor. The Doctor gives him proof of this: the fob watch the Next Doctor carries with him is engraved with the initials JL. Lake, remembering who he is, is overcome.
Meanwhile, the converted workhouse owners are marching the children of their establishments through a sluice gate to the Thames, which they discover is guarded by Cybermen and Cybershades. The Doctor and Rosita go to investigate and are confronted by Miss Hartigan. She explains she has not been converted, and the Cybermen offered her her liberation. The Doctor returns the infostamp to the Cybermen, who download it, confirming he is their foe, not Lake. Miss Hartigan explains that the children are a workforce, to bring about the birth of 'it', but refuses to say what. She orders the Cybermen to delete the pair, but Lake provides a distraction with another infostamp and they are able to escape. Miss Hartigan furiously announces that 'the CyberKing will rise tonight!'
Lake tells the Doctor he and his family were moving to London so he could take up a teaching post. The Doctor realises there may be a way into the Cybermen's base through Lake's house. Inside the house, they find a Dimension Vault; a piece of technology stolen from the Daleks that allowed the Cybermen to escape the Void. In the Cybermen's base, the captive children are put to work generating power to allow the 'Ascension of the Cyberking'. However, in the throne chamber, Hartigan is told by the Cyberleader that she will be the Cyberking, not the Cyberleader as she assumed. The Cyberleader explains that by becoming Cyberking, Hartigan will receive her liberation from the anger, hatred and rage in her mind. However, Hartigan proves too powerful; her mind is too powerful to control, and she uses her new powers to obliterate the Cyberleader when it tries to intervene.
The Doctor, Rosita and Jackson infiltrate the Cybermen's base: the Doctor realises that when the machine reaches 100% power, the children will be disposed of. The trio evacuate the children, including Jackson's son, who was abducted by the Cybermen the night they attacked his house, who was the last thing Lake couldn't remember, the reason he wanted to forget everything and think he was the Next Doctor. However, the Cyberking - a Dreadnought-class ship containing a cyber-conversion factory onboard - emerges from the Thames, commanded by Hartigan and an army of Cybermen, and begins to lay waste to London. After sending Rosita and Jackson to safety, the Doctor commandeers the hot-air balloon and rises to the top of the Cyberking. He offers Hartigan a deal: to take her to a place where she and the Cybermen can live in peace. She refuses, and the Doctor attacks her with the infostamps. Though Hartigan initially taunts him for failing to kill her, the Doctor replies that wasn't his intent: instead he has severed her connection from the Cyberking, setting her free. Hartigan, realising what she has become, screams in horror as the broken connection destroys her and the Cybermen, before causing the Cyberking to begin to self-destruct. However, before it can topple on the crowds below, the Doctor uses the Dimension Vault to transport the Cyberking into the Time Vortex, where it will be harmlessly destroyed.
In the aftermath, Jackson thanks the Doctor for what he has done and offers him a place at his Christmas celebration with Rosita and his son. The Doctor initially refuses, but ultimately reconsiders. The Doctor offers Jackson a look inside the TARDIS, and he becomes overwhelmed by amazement. He again thanks the Doctor, but points out that in all the information he saw, the Doctor had companions present. The Doctor explains that in the end, they all leave, for a variety of reasons, and that ultimately, they break his heart. This is the only time in the whole episode we see how hard losing Donna has been on him. The Doctor then tells Jackson that, of all the people who could have been him, he was glad it was Jackson. They leave together, to celebrate Christmas.
- The Doctor - David Tennant
- Jackson Lake - David Morrissey
- Miss Hartigan - Dervla Kirwan
- Rosita - Velile Tshabalala
- Cybershade - Ruari Mears
- Cyberleader - Paul Kasey
- Mr Scoones - Edmund Kente
- Mr Cole - Michael Bertinshaw
- Jed - Neil McDermott
- Vicar - Jason Morell
- Lad - Ashley Horne
- Nicole - Lara Goodison
- Frederick - Tom Langford
to be added
- The Doctor mentions 'blinking', Sally Sparrow and angel statues.
- All ten incarnations of the Doctor are seen via the visual display of an infostamp that contains important details concerning the Doctor.
- The Doctor describes the events of the the Battle of Canary Wharf, he also mentions the Void.
- The Cybermen have Dalek technology, and gained their knowledge of the Doctor from the Daleks.
- Jackson Lake has a screwdriver (that isn't sonic), but calls it a 'sonic screwdriver'.
- Jackson Lake refers to the Cybershade as a 'tim'rous beastie', as the Doctor did to Rose in Tooth and Claw
- The episode was filmed during production of Series 4, the first time a Christmas special has been rolled into production of the preceding series. This allowed the Series 4 finale, Journey's End to include a trailer for the episode.
- The pre-credits sequence of the special were broadcast as a special preview during the 2008 Children in Need Appeal in November 2008.
- The DVD release of Series 4 included an alternate ending for Journey's End that would have had a cliffhanger involving the Cybermen suddenly appearing inside the TARDIS. This idea was dropped before broadcast and the opening scene of this episode gives no indication of the Doctor being in peril.
- This is the only Christmas Special so far in the series to be set in the past.
- Russell T Davies recently revealed to the Radio Times: "the Doctor finds himself staring at that inevitable day when his tenth incarnation must die..."
- The title of the first 2009 special was at the end of this story; Planet of the Dead.
- 6:00:11.7 million viewers (Christmas Day on BBC One)
2:50:Not Shown (New Year's Day on BBC One)
- Prior to the official announcement, numerous "false alarm" titles for the episode were circulated among fans, the most common being Return of the Cybermen given this was the on-screen text seen during the Journey's End preview. However, in Doctor Who Magazine, Russell T Davies said:
"One thing I would like to point out is that the title is NOT 'The Return of the Cybermen'. Even though those were the words that appeared in the big, silver letters at the end of Journey's End, that was more of tagline than a title." Other speculative titles were circulated after Davies announced that the title of the special would consist of three words. One mistaken title was Ghosts in the Machines.
- The Sun newspaper in the UK has reported David Morrissey will be playing The Doctor in this episode with David Tennant taking the companion role.The BBC's official Doctor Who website, has confirmed that David Morrissey is playing a character that calls himself 'The Doctor'.
- The set with the children working was the Torchwood Hub set.
Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors
- These Cybermen are of Pete's World so how do they have past footage of all 10 Doctors when they have only met the Tenth Doctor. The Doctor says the Cybermen stole the Daleks' database. It was in the infostamp that turned Jackson Lake into 'the Next Doctor.'
- The Cybermen are too weak to kill a single Dalek with an army. So how did they steal their technology. We do not know what the electro-attack can do to a Dalek,so the Cybermen could have used that to destroy the Daleks. Or more likely it was some sort of covert operation.
- In Doomsday there were no Daleks seen with any devices or machines,(except the Cult of Skaro with the Genesis Ark) so where did the technology come from? Deconstructed Daleks and Cybermen, or more likely from the Genesis Ark which was sucked into the Void as well. After all, we only saw that there were Daleks in there. There could have been more.
- How did the infostamps have images from times when the Daleks were not present? The Daleks did some research, no doubt. There is lots of historical information on the internet, and the Daleks visited the 21st century London where the internet is commonplace.
- Everyone in London saw a giant CyberKing walking through the city. Would this not have re-written history? Time is in Flux, and some events are able to change - nothing major was changed as the attack didn't last long. And those that were there could have always thought of it as some special effects or something. RTD offers the possibility in the podcast that after Torchwood was established, it cleaned up all reference.
- When Jackson Lake asks the Doctor why he no longer travels with companions, the Doctor mentions that they wind up breaking his heart. Wouldn't it have been more appropriate to refer to broken hearts, as The Master did in The Sound of Drums? It's a figure of speech, not literal.
- Having never seen one before, how did Jackson Lake learn to alter an infostamp into a weapon when he first encountered the Cybermen? We see him use one in a flashback. The infostamp that turned him into 'the Next Doctor' actually back-fired when he used it, and was the reason for him becoming the Next Doctor.
- The Cybermen's voice were different compared to Doomsday.Most likely their speech technology was damaged traveling in time to 1851 or while in the Void.
- The Cybermen did not have the gun on the side of their arm like in Doomsday. They do they just don't choose to use them as their other weapon is better.Long range weapons do tend to be better than short range ones. However, if the Cybermen had the long range energy wrist guns, the writers would have had trouble writing the last few minutes of the episode. Another reason could be that some of the Cybermen weaponry was damaged while inside the Void or traveling back in time to 1851; in Evolution of the Daleks when Dalek Sec claims that they used emergency temporal shift, The Doctor replies with, 'Ooh, that must have fried your circuits,' implying that unprotected time travel may have damaged them.
- The Cybus Cybermen have never been seen with infostamp technology before. They developed it while in the Void.
- In Age of Steel, behind the Cybus badge was the heart of steel, no infostamp port.They changed their designs while in the Void.
- How could a Cybershade, a part Cyberman, part animal drag two men up the side of a building? Because the CyberShades are probably as strong as Cybermen.
- Surely it would have made sense to use the Cyber King during the battle of Canary Wharf?It was far less likely for the development of a CyberKing to go unnoticed in the 21st century.
- This is the first time the Cybus Industries Cybermen have returned in the new series since DW: Doomsday, when the Cybermen were sucked into the void.
- The Doctor refers to the events of DW: Blink while talking to Jackson Lake.
- The Doctor describes the events of DW: The Age of Steel, Doomsday and then the following The Stolen Earth and Journey's End.
- The sequence of (confirmable) shots of the previous Doctors was taken from: First Doctor DW: The Time Meddler, Fourth Doctor DW: City of Death, Fifth Doctor DW: Arc of Infinity, Sixth Doctor DW: The Mysterious Planet, Eighth Doctor DW: Doctor Who: The TV Movie, Ninth Doctor DW: The Parting of the Ways
- Guess work suggests that the Second Doctor clip is from DW: The Seeds of Death, Third Doctor DW: Terror of the Autons, Seventh Doctor DW: Time and the Rani. 
- The scene in which the Cybermen identify "the Doctor" (actualy Lake) through a servant (Cybershade) has an uncanny resemblance to the scene in which the Mondasian Cybermen identify the Doctor in Earthshock via their servants (androids). Also the scene in which the the Doctor shows Lake the infostamp about the Doctor, which shows all ten incarnations, resembles the scene in which the Mondasian Cybermen examine their database for previous encounters with the Doctor, as well as the scene in The Brain of Morbius where the Doctor's past incarnations are shown during a mindbending contest.
- The Doctor refers to his companions leaving because they should, because they find someone else, or because they forget him. Companions that left because they believe they should include Tegan and Martha. Companions that found someone else include Susan (although she also wanted to stay with the Doctor) and Peri. Companions that have forgotten the Doctor include Jamie, Zoe and Donna (although Jamie and Zoe have only lost the memory of their time travelling with the Doctor and not of their first adventures with him).
DVD and Other releases
The DVD will be released on the 19 January 2009. Will have the highlighted bonus features.
to be added
- BBC.co.uk - Step into the Tardis for Children in Need - Announcement of the title
- BBC.co.uk Doctor Who News - Who's In The Frame?