First Broadcast March 26th, 2005 @ 7.0pm (10.81m viewers)
This is a big moment. This is Big Bang II.
Doctor Who had been absent from the schedules of BBC One since 1989, with the exception of the thoroughly enjoyable 1996 TV Movie, but with this episode the programme was finally back where it belonged. Sadly, Paul McGann’s stint as the Doctor proved to be a false dawn and it would take a further nine years to return to our screen. The show was biding it’s time, waiting for one man with a vision, Russell T Davies.
Davies came to the attention from his critically acclaimed work on ‘Queer as Folk’ and ‘The Second Coming’ which starred a certain Christopher Eccleston, plus episodes for many other productions and even the Coronation Street video special ‘Viva Las Vegas’. For this long-time Doctor Who fan, who had even written the New Adventures book ‘Damaged Goods’, there was only one show he wanted to write for, admitting that if the BBC wanted him he wanted to do Doctor Who. Equally important was BBC Controller of Drama Jane Tranter who was equally keen to bring back Doctor Who to revitalise the BBC One schedule on Saturday nights. After Tranter’s maternity leave concluded, issues regarding the rights were solved and the quest for funding the show began up against the sneering apathy of much of the BBC, including a returning Michael Grade, and it’s skeptical commercial arm BBC Worldwide. As a result, the whole process took a significant length of time and looking back it was a small miracle that it actually came back.
The broadcast was heralded with lots of advertising, trailers, interviews and given a regular time slot of 7pm on Saturday nights. What Peter Capaldi would give for such treatment! The episode itself had a very daunting task, reintroducing the world of Doctor Who to an audience who may or may not have seen it before and, more importantly, a new generation of children. The younger viewers of this episode had to be introduced to huge concepts of the TARDIS and monsters and this alien who sounds from the North of England. However, Russell T Davies’ genius is that he makes the first episode all about Rose Tyler, the clue is in the episode title really. The companions have long been the tool used by writers for audience identification and understanding of the plot. By introducing this ‘girl next door’ character who works in a shop, has a boyfriend and lives with her Mum but is taken on the trip of a lifetime, allowed the audience to also be swept up in the adventure. Christopher Ecclestone’s 13 episodes in the role are almost in reintroducing the British viewing public, and also the world, the original ideas and concepts which had been constructed over the show’s original run, including the Daleks and regeneration. ‘Rose’ is the starting point of that journey.
When the Doctor explains to Rose who he is, in a wonderfully written and delivered speech, the audience is building a sense of this mysterious character and a new incarnation of him for more diligent fans. Eccleston took the role because of his desire to work with Russell T Davies again, particularly on stories also written to appeal to children, his gravitas as an actor bringing real credibility to a show that had been largely scorned during its years in the wilderness. The Ninth Doctor is witty, energetic and, of course, heroic with a seriousness that alluded to an underlying torment which would be expanded on throughout the series. The Doctor’s history and legend are explained by loveable nutter Clive and even Jackie Tyler’s most alluring advances, flatly dismissed by the Doctor, demonstrates his lack of interest in trivial sexual experiences. In a neat twist, however, this man does not prove the hero but it is that ‘girl next door’ who ultimately saves the day.
Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)
‘Rose’ is absolutely stacked full of memorable moments, a deliberate tactic to capture the attention of the audience and hopefully get them to tune in again next week. The Doctor’s first use of a new sonic screwdriver, his speech about who he is, the first sight of the familiar TARDIS Police Box and the first time Christopher Eccleston says the words “I’m the Doctor”, to name but a few. For older fans it was the thrill of finally seeing the Autons smash through shop windows, the production team on ‘Spearhead from Space’ prevented from doing so because it would cost too much money. To younger viewers the moment which stood out may have been the scene where Mickey gets eaten by a wheelie bin. Viewers of all ages, however, were to be blown away by the new TARDIS interior, as Rose Tyler is, stumbling aboard this ship which is bigger on the inside that it appears on the outside, a new ‘coral’ design which retained hints of the past but provided a fresh interpretation.
In 2015 ‘The Force Awakens’ reintroduced Star Wars to a new generation and did so spectacularly, recapturing the essence of the past but presenting it in a manner that appealed to this new audience. If J.J. Abrams needed an example of how to achieve this before setting out on this daunting task he needed to look no further than this episode of Doctor Who. It’s legacy, however, is that it can be credited with revitalising family viewing as in 2005 few programmes appealed to youngsters and adults alike. There is no question that this episode’s success has meant that we have now been allowed to enjoy a Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth and even a War Doctor in the 50th Anniversary special which would not have happened without ‘Rose’. For that our gratitude is extended to every single person involved in bringing this episode to the screen and that gratitude is eternal, much like Doctor Who.
Writer – Russell T Davies
Director Keith Boak
Producer – Phil Collinson
Doctor Who – Christopher Eccleston
Rose Tyler – Billie Piper
Jackie Tyler – Camille Coduri
Mickey Smith – Noel Clarke
Clive Finch – Mark Benton
Caroline – Elli Garnett
Clive’s Son – Adam McCoy
Auton – Paul Kasey
Nestene – Nicholas Briggs
Auton – Alan Ruscoe
Also first aired On This Day…
- The Ark: The Bomb
- The Talons of Weng-Chang: Part 5
- Doctor Who: A New Dimension
- Doctor Who Confidential: Bringing Back the Doctor