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New Series Episode 30:
Smith And Jones
Intergalactic policemen called the Judoon hijack an entire Earth hospital to the Moon. They are tracking a blood-sucking alien fugitive called a Plasmavore... and the Plasmavore will stop at nothing to avoid capture. Fortunately, amongst those kidnapped by the Judoon is medical student Martha Jones, who finds herself forging an unlikely alliance with a strange patient who calls himself “the Doctor”.
With the departure of Rose Tyler at the end of Doomsday, executive producer Russell T Davies was faced with his first true encounter with a Doctor Who tradition: the introduction of a new companion. Davies had already conceived several additional supporting characters during the series' first two years on the air, but Rose had been the Doctor's primary companion throughout. Davies was therefore keenly aware that, although the new character would have to be as likable and versatile as Rose, she could not simply be a carbon copy. To this end, he created twenty-three year-old medical student Martha Jones: a slightly older, more sophisticated woman with book smarts to contrast Rose's more raw and instinctual nature. (At one point, it was suggested that Martha might come from 1914, but this was eventually jettisoned.)
As with Rose, Davies was eager that Martha's first story -- the premiere episode of Doctor Who's 2007 season -- should focus firmly on the new companion. It would also introduce Martha's family, in much the same way that Jackie Tyler and Mickey Smith had debuted in Rose. These included her divorced parents, Clive and Francine, her sister Tish, and her brother Leo. (This time, however, Davies had decided that Martha's supporting coterie would not be as prevalent in the programme as Rose's had been.)
With the casting of Freema Agyeman as Martha on February 15th, 2006, the selection of actors to play the remaining Joneses followed in the coming months, and included two performers who had been in Doctor Who before. Playing Francine Jones was Adjoa Andoh, who had been Sister Jatt in New Earth; Andoh had also been a regular in Casualty, and made appearances in programmes such as Jonathan Creek, The Bill, and the 1992 version of The Tomorrow People. Trevor Laird, cast as Clive, had appeared as Frax in the second segment of The Trial Of A Time Lord during Doctor Who's original run. Amongst his many others credits were episodes of The Last Detective, Casualty and Grange Hill. Gugulethu “Gugu” Mbatha-Raw had appeared in programmes such as Spooks, Vital Signs and Holby City before winning the role of Tish. Playing Leo, Reggie Yates was best known as a DJ and a presenter on Top Of The Pops, although he had also earned credits on shows including Grange Hill, The Bill and The Crust (which he had also created).
For the 2007 season, Davies was intent that episodes not be given titles at an early date in order to avoid leaks; he felt that too much information had gotten out prematurely about the 2006 stories, and that this had worked against the series. He was, however, considering following in the tradition of Rose by naming Agyeman's debut “Martha”. For a number of drafts, a key element of the adventure involved the Doctor and the Plasmavore each trying to reach the hospital basement, where the TARDIS was hidden. Davies subsequently felt that this was too banal a plot strand, however, and decided to have the time machine left behind on Earth instead. Also dropped was a set piece in which the Doctor and Martha flee from the Judoon by scaling down the outside of the hospital in a window cleaner's cradle. This had to be excised due to its length, but was later resurrected for the 2008 premiere episode, Partners In Crime.
Meanwhile, with the action of “Martha” taking place in a hospital, Davies chose to name its administrator after Mr Stoker, a character in the family programme Children's Ward. Given the presence of a blood-sucking creature in the episode, however, this was misconstrued by the design team, who assumed that Davies was referencing Dracula author Bram Stoker. As a result, the character's office door bore the legend “B Stoker”.
With The Runaway Bride having comprised the first production block for the new set of episodes, the second block consisted of “Martha” and The Shakespeare Code, which was to follow it in the broadcast order. The director assigned to these episodes was Charles Palmer, whose previous credits included Marple, Ghost Squad and Vital Signs. Palmer was also the son of Geoffrey Palmer, who had played Masters in The Silurians and the Administrator in The Mutants.
Filming for “Martha” started on August 8th. The principal stand-in for Royal Hope Hospital was the School of Sciences at the University of Glamorgan in Pontypridd, and Agyeman recorded her first scene as Martha there, for the early material in which Stoker escorts the med students on their rounds. After a second day at the University on the 9th, August 10th involved material on the London streets, completed at Quay Street in Cardiff. The rest of the 10th and the 11th were then spent at the Upper Boat Studios for sequences in the TARDIS and on the hospital verandah. Dialogue had been added to the episode to explain that Martha was a cousin of Adeola, the ill-fated character Agyeman had played in Army Of Ghosts the year before.
After the weekend, August 14th took cast and crew to the Usk Valley Business Park in Pontypool for more hospital sequences (particularly those set in corridors). Pontypool's Market Street was also the location where the TARDIS stood outside Leo's birthday party. Four more days at the University of Glamorgan followed, spanning the 15th to the 18th. August 19th, 21st and 22nd were spent at Singleton Hospital in Swansea. This provided the exterior of Royal Hope Hospital as well as further interiors, particularly the foyer. Unfortunately, recording at Singleton had only been intended to take two days, which resulted in the postponement of a final visit to the University of Glamorgan. On August 23rd, the kitchens of the Upper Boat Studios filled in for those of Royal Hope Hospital.
The delayed material at the University -- set in the X-Ray Room -- was finally completed on the 25th. Because Palmer was busy shooting scenes for The Shakespeare Code at this point, James Strong -- who had directed The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit the previous season -- was drafted to oversee the day's work. Greenscreen filming occurred at Upper Boat on September 12th, followed the next day by more exterior TARDIS scenes on Market Street. By now, the episode had received its final title of Smith And Jones.
Virtually all the material involving Martha's family was recorded on October 2nd at a variety of Pontypool locations; the only exception was Tish approaching Royal Hope Hospital, performed on Cardiff streets on the 13th. On October 19th, an additional scene in Martha's living room was taped at Upper Boat, because Davies felt that the transition to Leo's party was too abrupt. An extra hospital corridor scene of the Doctor and Martha and a new version of Martha resuscitating the Doctor were filmed at the Old NEG Glass Site in Cardiff Bay on November 7th. Subsequently, it was realised that the Doctor used his sonic screwdriver to open the X-Ray Room door even though it had been destroyed by that point; Palmer therefore remounted this scene at the Upper Boat Studios on January 17th, 2007. Meanwhile, it had been decided that the original special effect for the Judoon weapons -- in which the victim's skin would be seen to boil away -- was too frightening, and so this was altered.
The first two seasons of the new Doctor Who series had each debuted on Easter Saturday. In 2006, however, this had resulted in episodes airing well into July, and so it was decided that the launch of the third season would be better suited to mid-March (rather than April 7th, which was Easter Saturday that year). Originally, the transmission of Smith And Jones was intended to take place on March 17th. This was eventually shifted back a week to avoid the season finale of ITV1's successful Dancing On Ice, however, and then -- at a very late date -- by another week to avoid Sky Sports' broadcast of the European Championship qualifier pitting England against Israel. As a result, Smith And Jones finally aired on March 31st.
Meanwhile, on the 22nd, Davies at last confirmed that Doctor Who would be returning for a fourth season in 2008, and revealed that the production team had been aware of their secure future for quite some time. The BBC's faith in Doctor Who appeared to be vindicated when it was learned that not only had Smith And Jones equalled the ninth-place finish of the 2006 premiere, New Earth, in the weekly viewing charts, but that it had actually improved upon its total audience. Even with Martha Jones replacing the departed Miss Tyler, Doctor Who's future looked rosey indeed...
|Updated 14th August 2011|
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