Macra - Doctor Who (c) BBC
Macra – Doctor Who (c) BBC

Gridlock

First Broadcast April 14th, 2007 @ 7.40pm (8.4m viewers)

Of all the creatures in Doctor Who’s history to return in the modern version of the show, few could’ve predicted that the Macra would be granted a reappearance. Originally featuring in 1967’s ‘The Macra Terror’, these giant crabs infiltrated an Earth colony in the far future, brainwashing the inhabitants to mine the poisonous gasses which they fed upon. Sadly, very little footage from that four-part adventure still survives, save for some Australian censor clips, and there was only one publicity shot of the Macra creature created for the production. As a result, the Macra were certainly not an obvious candidate but it was with great delight that 40 years on from their introduction they appeared once again and benefited from some modern CGI treatment.

 

The Macra Terror - Doctor Who (c) BBC
The Macra Terror – Doctor Who (c) BBC

The plot of this story is not reliant on the Macra however and instead focuses on the Doctor being separated from new companion Martha Jones as she is abducted moments after the TARDIS landing in New New York. He curses himself for showing off, forgetting his responsibility to look after her properly because now she could be in unknown danger. His quest is then to find his travelling companion and return her to Earth safely, resulting in some clambering between vans that required some extensive green screen work to achieve. It is also a very amusing idea to use that feeling suffered by most motorists stuck in traffic jams, that their lives may well come to an end in the apparently interminable gridlock. To some, the thought of being stuck in a traffic jam for years is a far more horrific prospect than others presented by the programme because so many of us can relate. In this episode, we also see the Doctor become very vulnerable, full of regret and mourning the loss of the Time Lords, something which he, of course, was responsible for. It is curious that such emotions would be prevalent to the Doctor in this moment given what he would be told towards the conclusion of the tale.

Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)

You are not alone

Gridlock - Doctor Who (c0 BBC
Gridlock – Doctor Who (c0 BBC

It is an emotional moment that brings a tear to the viewer’s eye when the Face of Boe sadly passes away, concluding a trilogy of stories to feature the enigmatic creature. His final words haunt and perplex both the Doctor and the viewer, pondering what the Face of Boe could possibly mean. Of course, all would be revealed towards the end of the 2007 season with the return of another foe from the past, the Master, but at the time, it was a fun piece of dialogue designed to trigger debate and speculation throughout fandom. Whilst Doctor Who is not often a programme to be discussed around the proverbial water cooler, moments like this do provide such welcomed occasions.

Cast:

The Doctor  – David Tennant
Martha Jones – Freema Agyeman
Brannigan – Ardal O’Hanlon
Novice Hame – Anna Hope
Milo – Travis Oliver
Cheen – Lenora Crichlow
Valerie – Jennifer Hennessy
Alice – Bridget Turner
May – Georgine Anderson
Whitey – Simon Pearsall
Javit – Daisy Lewis
Businessman – Nicholas Boulton
Sally Calypso – Erika Macleod
Ma – Judy Norman
Pa – Graham Padden
Pale Woman – Lucy Davenport
Pharmacist #1 – Tom Edden
Pharmacist #2 – Natasha Williams
Pharmacist #3 – Gayle Telfer Stevens
The Face of Boe – Struan Rodger

Crew:

Writer – Russell T Davies
Producer – Phil Collinson
Director – Richard Clark

Also first aired On This Day…

  • Planet of the Daleks : Episode Two
  • Doctor Who Confidential : Are We There Yet?

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