Time Crash was a special Doctor Who "mini-episode" produced for the 2007 Children in Need appeal. It was written by Steven Moffat, directed by Graeme Harper and featured David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor and Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor.
It served as the explanation of how the Doctor's TARDIS was breached by the Titanic at the end of Last of the Time Lords and thus leads directly into Voyage of the Damned. Although some might consider it a linking scene, it was very much a part of the overall continuity of the BBC Wales series of Doctor Who.
Former Doctor Who actor Peter Davison returned to reprise the role of the Fifth Doctor for the first time on television since the 1993 Children in Need special Dimensions in Time, with his original costume faithfully replicated. This special marked the first instance in which an incarnation of the Doctor from the classic series met an incarnation from the revived series.
After saying his goodbyes to Martha Jones at the end of Last of the Time Lords, the Tenth Doctor accidentally pilots his TARDIS into the path of... the Fifth Doctor's TARDIS! As the current Doctor muses over aspects of the Fifth, the Fifth Doctor becomes increasingly worried as their combined TARDISes threaten to rip a hole in space and time the size of Belgium!
Suddenly, someone else is in the TARDIS: the Fifth Doctor. The Tenth Doctor realises straight away this is his past incarnation and excitedly begins reminiscing about his adventures in his fifth incarnation, much to the latter's confusion. The Fifth Doctor, irritated, decides that the strange, skinny bloke in his TARDIS is an obsessive fan of his — possibly affiliated with LINDA. The Tenth Doctor, to his own bewilderment, can't convince his past self otherwise, butting back about the Fifth's need for brainy specs and a celery stick as a clothing decoration.
Meanwhile, the temporal collision of the TARDIS with its past (or future) self threatens to tear a hole in the universe the exact size of Belgium, which, as the Fifth Doctor remarks, is a rather undramatic description. The Fifth Doctor despairs of finding a solution in time, but the Tenth purposefully, if maniacally, manipulates the TARDIS controls, and averts the disaster.
The Fifth Doctor is stunned - firstly at the unexpected solution, as the Tenth has managed to create a supernova at the exact same time and place as the impending black hole to cancel it out, and then at the realisation that the other man is, in fact, his future self. His later self knew the solution only because he would remember witnessing it now.
The Tenth Doctor then realises that the Fifth Doctor needs to be to send back to his own place in the timeline by now, and tries to figure out where he was, asking him if Nyssa and Tegan were with him, or whether he has encountered the Cybermen, the Mara, or the Master yet, admitting that he just had an encounter of his own with the latter. The Fifth Doctor is somewhat dismayed to hear that the Master is still around to cause problems in his future, and asks if he still has "that rubbish beard." "No, no beard this time," replies the Tenth Doctor, before hastily adding "Well, a wife."
But before the Tenth Doctor sends his past incarnation back, he starts reminiscing once again, telling the Fifth Doctor that he loved being him and having his youth and optimistic worldview. He reveals that he took quite a few of his current traits from him, such as wearing trainers with his outfit and having a voice that becomes squeaky when he shouts. Plus, he demonstrates that he too has his own "brainy specs". He tells his fifth incarnation, "You were my Doctor,".
The two Doctors then bid each other a warm goodbye: "To days to come," says the Fifth, raising his hat. "All my love to long ago," replies the Tenth with a bow. The timestreams then start separating. As the Fifth Doctor rejoins his timestream, he calls out one last time, warning his future incarnation to put up his TARDIS shields.
On initial broadcast, the only member of crew credited was the writer Steven Moffat.
- The Fifth Doctor appears physically older in the presence of the Tenth due to their shorting out of the time differential between them.
- The Tenth Doctor mentions Nyssa, Tegan Jovanka, the Mara, Cybermen and Time Lords in funny hats.
- The Tenth Doctor comments on the "fashion choice" of the Fifth Doctor's celery. He also mentions his cricket outfit.
- The Fifth Doctor's parting words warn the Tenth to put the shields up. Not doing so resulted in the Titanic crashing into the TARDIS.
- The Tenth Doctor makes mention of the TARDIS' Helmic regulator, Zeiton crystals and venting the Thermo-buffer.
- This is the third filmed contribution by the new series production team to Children in Need. In 2005, they offered the Children in Need Special (aka 'Pudsey Cutaway'). In 2006 they provided a live concert of music during the traditional Children in Need charity time period and subsequently offered it to home viewers before the original broadcast of The Runaway Bride.
- In 1983, The Five Doctors was also broadcast as a part of the Children in Need charity drive, although it had been produced for the show's 20th anniversary.
- The Fifth Doctor mentions that the combined TARDIS's will cause a black hole the size of Belgium. This is likely a reference to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in which the rudest swear word in the Universe is apparently Belgium, apart from Earth.
- This story marks the first appearance of a Doctor from the original series in the new series, although recognisable drawings of original series Doctors were previously seen in TV: Human Nature. Archive footage of the previous Doctors would later be used in TV: The Next Doctor, among other stories. Later, in 2013, another classic Doctor reprised his role in the series: Paul McGann. In 2017, David Bradley appeared as the First Doctor, standing in for the late William Hartnell.
- This is the first on-screen TV appearance of the Fifth Doctor since TV: Dimensions in Time (and his first in-continuity on-screen appearance since TV: The Caves of Androzani).
- This is the first TV story to star both David Tennant and Peter Davison. David Tennant is married to Georgia Moffett, the daughter of Peter Davison.
- This story is directed by Graeme Harper, who also directed Peter Davison's last story (TV: The Caves of Androzani).
- Steven Moffat also wrote the Comic Relief story The Curse of Fatal Death.
- The special was introduced by Terry Wogan and John Barrowman.
- Peter Davison's name appears in the credits, the first time (other than the 1996 TV movie) that an original series Doctor has had his name at the start of an episode. This would next occur in the mini-episode TV: The Night of the Doctor, featuring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor and also written by Steven Moffat.
- This is the first official episode of Doctor Who written by Steven Moffat that doesn't use his theme of highlighting childhood fears.
- This episode marked the final use of the 2005 arrangement of the "Doctor Who theme" by Murray Gold; a new arrangement by Gold would be introduced in the next episode, TV: Voyage of the Damned.
- According to the writer, later executive producer Steven Moffat, in an interview with Doctor Who Magazine #389, the events of Time Crash are canonical.
- This is the first multi-Doctor story of the revived series.
- Time Crash is the first canonical televised "multi-Doctor" story in the history of the show that did not include Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor in any capacity, who had appeared in TV: The Three Doctors, TV: The Five Doctors and TV: The Two Doctors, and would later appear via archive footage in TV: The Name of the Doctor, TV: The Day of the Doctor, and TV: Twice Upon a Time. Troughton had since died from a heart attack in 1987.
- Incidental music from the Fifth Doctor era is used as part of the background music.
- According to Doctor Who Confidential, the Fifth Doctor's costume consisted of an original series coat, shirt, trousers and hat band borrowed from an exhibit, and a new hat and hand-knitted jumper. The trousers had extra fabric sewn into the bottom, which identified them as the pair worn by Colin Baker in his first scenes as the Sixth Doctor. Peter Davison also remarked that a real stick of celery was included in the ensemble, rather than the fake piece used during most of his tenure.
- When the Tenth Doctor puts on his "brainy specs", he says "Snap!", referring to the children's card game in which players must say "Snap!" when two of the same card are played. The Doctor previously said "Snap!" to himself in The Two Doctors, when the Second and Sixth Doctors met. River Song later said "Snap!" when she showed the Doctor her sonic screwdriver.
- This story takes place immediately after Martha leaves the TARDIS in TV: Last of the Time Lords. A cutaway during her farewell in the original episode allows for this episode to occur between that episode and TV: Voyage of the Damned.
- The Fifth Doctor muses that the new series' TARDIS console room is a desktop theme named "Coral". He also says it is worse than "leopard skin". His criticism of the TARDIS' redecoration is similar to that made by the Second Doctor to his immediate successor in TV: The Three Doctors. The Tenth Doctor would later criticise the decor of the Eleventh Doctor's TARDIS in TV: The Day of the Doctor.
- The revelation that the TARDIS console room design can be changed like a computer desktop is consistent with previous indications that the interior can be easily and dramatically reconfigured (TV: Castrovalva), and clarifies the differing look of the TARDIS interior in TV: Doctor Who, as well as minor changes seen over the years during the classic series. The different appearance of the console room during the mid-Tom Baker era is explained on-screen as being a secondary control room. (TV: The Masque of Mandragora)
- The Tenth Doctor tells the Fifth that he loved being him, saying that before that he "was always trying to be old and grumpy and important like you do when you're young", presumably referring to previous incarnations such as the First Doctor.
- The Doctors have a slightly testy relationship. The Tenth Doctor playfully teases his predecessor's decision to go "hands free" without a sonic screwdriver and his decision to wear a stalk of celery in his lapel, while the Fifth Doctor calls his successor a skinny idiot and critiques his tendency to comment on "every single thing that happens to be in front of him." This is consistent with previous televised multi-Doctor adventures that have had the various parties getting on each others' nerves. In keeping with the previous stories, however, differences are set aside for the greater good and the different incarnations part on friendly terms.
- Steven Moffat revealed in a 2007 interview that the Master "beard" joke was an intentional reference to homosexuality. "I've got the record for gay jokes. I've got the gayest joke of all time in Doctor Who — I've got the 'beard' joke about the Master." In slang, a beard can mean a woman who joins a gay man in a marriage or other relationship in order to mask the fact that one or both partners is gay.
- Near the end of the serial, the Tenth Doctor tells the Fifth that "you were my Doctor." The phrase "my Doctor" is commonly used by real-life Doctor Who fans to refer to the incarnation of the Doctor that they grew up watching; David Tennant appropriately grew up watching Peter Davison's performance as the Doctor and was inspired to become an actor because of it.
- Excluding the archive footage appearance of Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones, this is the second TV story to feature an all-male cast, following TV: The Deadly Assassin.
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Myths and rumours
- The Tenth Doctor's comments about the Fifth Doctor being "[his] Doctor" were written or ad-lib'd by David Tennant. This is false - the exchange was scripted by Steven Moffat, who considers Davison to be the superior of the classic era Doctors.
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- The Tenth Doctor mentions running into the Master recently. The Fifth Doctor asks if he still has "that rubbish beard", a reference to the fact that many of the Master's incarnations tend to sport a beard. (TV: Terror of the Autons, Logopolis, et al.)
- The Fifth Doctor previously met the First, Second and Third Doctors in TV: The Five Doctors, as well as the Seventh Doctor in PROSE: Cold Fusion, the Sixth and Seventh Doctors in AUDIO: The Sirens of Time, and the Eighth Doctor in PROSE: The Eight Doctors. He would later meet the Sixth Doctor on several occasions in AUDIO: Peri and the Piscon Paradox. On that occasion, the Sixth Doctor disguised himself as a Piscon named Zarl so his younger self would not realise his identity. Similarly, he also briefly spoke to the Eighth Doctor over an intercom in AUDIO: The Four Doctors but was unaware of his identity. Furthermore, his companions Peri Brown and Erimem refer to his having had a heated argument with the Seventh Doctor (whom Peri describes as a "kooky little guy in a weird pullover") prior to the events of AUDIO: The Veiled Leopard but this incident is not actually depicted.
- The Fifth Doctor references LINDA. (TV: Love & Monsters)
- The Tenth Doctor mentions "Time Lords in funny hats", encountered by the Fifth Doctor on his two visits to Gallifrey. (TV: Arc of Infinity, The Five Doctors)
- The Seventh Doctor mentioned the TARDIS console room's "leopard skin" desktop theme to his enemy-turned-companion Elizabeth Klein. (AUDIO: Klein's Story)
- This is the first televised multi-Doctor story to account for the ageing of the actor returning to play a previous Doctor, by explaining it as a byproduct of being taken out of his timeline - although the concept of time differential was already introduced, and applied to Tegan and Nyssa, in TV: Mawdryn Undead. This development is also referenced in the audio adaptation of Cold Fusion, when the Fifth Doctor asks the Seventh if his voice sounds older.
- The Cloister Bell is heard. (TV: Logopolis, The Sound of Drums, etc.)
- The Fifth Doctor knows how to complete the phrase "wibbly wobbly, timey wimey". He previously heard it uttered by River Song. (AUDIO: A Requiem for the Doctor) Jo Grant may also have been the originator of the phrase, while acting as a companion to the Third Doctor. (COMIC: The Heralds of Destruction)
- The Tenth Doctor knows how to avert the disaster as he remembers watching himself do so from the perspective of the Fifth Doctor. This is similar to AUDIO: Peri and the Piscon Paradox, The Four Doctors and PROSE: Cold Fusion in which the Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors respectively remember the events portrayed from the point of view of their fifth incarnation.
- The Tenth Doctor playfully mocks the Fifth Doctor about going hands-free, not carrying a sonic screwdriver around. The Fifth Doctor lost his own screwdriver when he fought the Terileptils, one of whom destroyed it, in September 1666. (TV: The Visitation)
- A similar event happened when the Seventh Doctor's TARDIS collided with the Saturnius in the Time Vortex. The merging of both ships caused huge temporal anomalies that threatened the lives of the crew aboard. (AUDIO: The Unknown)
- The Fifth Doctor appears prematurely aged. The Fourth and Tenth Doctors previously appeared in such a state. (TV: The Leisure Hive, The Sound of Drums, Last of the Time Lords) While those instances were done using heavy makeup or CGI, this instance was written in to account for Peter Davison's real aging since his last appearance in the role.
Home video releases
- Initially released in a vanilla edition alongside Voyage of the Damned on 10 March 2008. Extras include the Children in Need Special: Time Crash and Confidential Cutdown.
- It was released in the Series 4 DVD box set in November 2008 along with the rest of the series.
- It was included in the collection season 19 Blu-Ray box set in December 2018.
- It was released in the Series 4 Blu-ray set in November 2013 along with the rest of the series.
- This release was initially bundled with the first four series of the revived Doctor Who.
- Time Crash - Episode Guide. BBC - Doctor Who - Season 4 (28 March 2008). Retrieved on 20 November 2018.