Doctor Who - Aliens of London (c) BBC
Doctor Who – The Slitheen – Aliens of London (c) BBC

Aliens of London

First Broadcast April 16th, 2005 @ 7.00pm (7.63m viewers)

The fourth episode of Doctor Who’s reinstatement to our screens after the lengthy hiatus sees the Doctor and his companion return to Earth. Unfortunately, the TARDIS has got the date slightly wrong.

Doctor Who - Aliens of London (c) BBC
Doctor Who – Aliens of London (c) BBC

One of Russell T Davies’ key strategies for the return of Doctor Who was to make it relevant and relatable to the audience watching at home. This is why the new companion is accompanied by her mother and a boyfriend, planting her character firmly in 21st Century Earth. The outset of the episode poses the question of how life continues in the absence of Rose Tyler and how her decision to travel in the TARDIS impacts on those she leaves behind, something never addressed by the series before. Following this the remainder of the story nestles neatly into an invasion of Earth narrative but an intriguingly public one. The sequence of the spaceship crashing into Big Ben in London is an early contender to join the pantheon of Doctor Who’s iconic moments with a superb model shot, even if it was accidentally shot the wrong way round. The encounter with the ‘space pig’ and it’s terrible murder is a perplexing and surprisingly emotional deviation, designed to reveal aliens faking aliens and elevating the plot above that of a simple alien invasion of Earth. We also meet Doctor (Toshiko) Sato, later revealed to be covering for a hungover Owen Harper for those who followed Torchwood.

Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)

Doctor Who - Aliens of London (c) BBC
Doctor Who – Aliens of London (c) BBC

The Slitheen are a curious alien creature introduced in this episode. Ignoring the childish fart jokes, the concept of aliens infiltrating planet Earth by concealing themselves within the skins of human beings is an original idea and creates the trio of moments to deliver a memorable cliffhanger.  The effect of the creature emerging from its human host is well achieved but there is a noticeable difference between the smooth CGI Slitheen and the bulky costumes created for filming. However the Raxacoricofallapatorians proved particularly popular with younger viewers and would make multiple reappearances in the CBBC spinoff ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’, proving them to be a triumph of this first series.

Cast:

The Doctor  – Christopher Eccleston
Rose Tyler – Billie Piper
Jackie Tyler – Camille Coduri
Mickey Smith – Noel Clarke
Margaret Blaine – Annette Badland
Oliver Charles – Eric Potts
Harriet Jones – Penelope Wilton
Himself – Andrew Marr
Himself – Matt Baker
General Asquith – Rupert Vansittart
Commissioner Strickland – Steve Speirs
Joseph Green – David Verrey
Indra Ganesh – Navin Chowdhry
Reporter-  Lachele Carl
Dr Hoshi Sato – Naoko Mori
Reporter – Jack Tarlton

Crew:

Director – Keith Boak
Writer – Russell T Davies
Producer – Phil Collinson

 

Also first aired On This Day…

  • The Celestial Toymaker : The Dancing Floor
  • Doctor Who Confidential: I Get a Sidekick out of You

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