First broadcast 14/05/05 starring Christopher Eccleston
Strange to think, for those of us at a certain age, that a story set in The Eighties is regarded as going back in time, but Paul Cornell’s heart-breaking time travel story did exactly that. Father’s Day was an exquisite exploration of that age-old question about changing the past and its future ramifications.
Oddly, for a time travel show, this was one of the few times (up until that point) that time-busting had been explored. The sight of The Doctor and Rose watching past versions of themselves (which we witnessed but seconds earlier) was shocking and also eerie as we know that sort of thing shouldn’t really happen, and then further compounded when Miss Tyler decides to intervene and save her dad.
There’s no doubting Rose did mess up, but we sympathise and Billie Piper, too, is on top form as the girl who just wanted to feel the love from her daddy once more. The man in question, Pete Tyler, is played with enormous likability by Shaun Dingwall becoming an instant one-off favourite. Of course, his popularity would mean a helluva dramatic return just one year later.
Design-wise, they’re terrific – full of horror, fear and otherness – and their CG realisation is still an utter treat to watch. The Reapers are a classic Who monster and genuinely scary with an impressive backstory. A real shame they weren’t brought back again when time was messed with (having said that, they’d probably be back every other week). Their eerie quality was evoked in other parts of the episode, such as the modern day sounds on the radio or the sound of the first telephone call. Incredibly touches from the production team.
On the face of it, Father’s Day is nothing more than your normal base~under~siege type story (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but the moral complexity of the tale, not to mention the fantastic emotional edge, make it so much more. And a story that doesn’t have a happy ending.