Doctor Who: the nerdy in-jokes from series 2

From ampersands to The Apprentice, from dinner ladies to Dirty Den, here's a selection of nerdy in-jokes from Doctor Who series 2...

Last month we took a look at Doctor Who Series One as it celebrated its 10th Anniversary. Specifically, we delved deep into the murky world of in-jokes and sweet nerdy references.

Let’s take another trip back in time and have a look at the more notable and interesting references and in-jokes from Doctor Who Series Two, starring David Tennant and Billie Piper, where the credit of “Doctor Who” had been changed back to “The Doctor”. Pfft, party poopers.


New Earth

Old-skool fans would have been forgiven for being excited at the prospect, given that “New Earth” was a planet mentioned in the 1974 classic Invasion Of The Dinosaurs (though it didn’t actually exist in that story, it was a fake world). But all fans could get excited at the fact that this was the first adventure on a different planet for New Who (seen on screen, that is).

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Another debut comes for the Tenth Doctor, who gets to deliver the line, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…” The first of many during his time in the TARDIS. We also discover the new Doctor’s love of a little shop.

Giving a nod to the show’s recent history, eagle-eyed viewers can catch graffiti bearing the Series One arc words “Bad Wolf” in the opening playground scenes as the Doctor and Rose leave Jackie Tyler and Mickey Smith behind.

Returning was bitchy trampoline Cassandra who Rose had referred to as Michael Jackson in their previous encounter. This time, the young blonde chose another pop culture reference for Cassandra’s helper Chip – who Rose called “Gollum”. When performing the body-swapping scenes, Billie Piper wore a “WonderBra” when possessed, according to co-star David Tennant.

Also returning was the Face of Boe. Writer Russell T Davies had planned to kill off the big old head in this episode but decided to keep him on board for his final appearance in Series Three (where he would reveal a very interesting message to the Doctor).

Fact fans will observe that Cat Nun Sister Jatt was played by an actress who returned the following year to play companion Martha’s mum: Francine Jones.


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Tooth And Claw

Of course, famous for establishing the origins of the Torchwood Institute, this episode was initially pencilled in to open the series. Like New Earth, there are a few nods to the classic era.

Within minutes, David Tennant unfurls his very own Scottish accent (he’s from Scotland, in case you weren’t aware) as he introduced himself as “Doctor James McCrimmon”- Jamie McCrimmon was the long-running companion of the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton. (He also states he’s from the fictional town of “Balamory” – a popular BBC children’s show which ran from 2002-5.)

Pauline Collins, who plays Queen Victoria in the ep, first starred as Samantha Briggs in 1967 story, The Faceless Ones. This isn’t the first mention of this particular queen. In 1989’s Ghost Light, Sylvester McCoy thwarted a plan to assassinate her whilst Jon Pertwee’s Time Lord claimed in The Curse Of Peladon that he attended her coronation.

The Queen knighted the Tenth Doctor but this wasn’t the first time either. The Fifth Doctor, played by Peter Davison, was dubbed “Sir Doctor” by King John in The King’s Demons (though this was not the real king, it should be noted). Though not knighted, the First Doctor, William Hartnell, was slightly jealous when his companion Ian Chesterton was knighted by Richard the Lionheart in The Crusade.

Curiously, the Tenth Doctor describes 1979 as a “Hell of a year!” Curious because Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor didn’t think it was “vintage” and “more of a table wine.” Perhaps he hadn’t seen The Muppet Movie by that point.

In keeping with the previous episode, the Series One Bad Wolf arc gets a reference when, just before he transforms, the werewolf looks into Rose and says, “There is something of the wolf about you.“

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And, one for history fans, Tooth And Claw features the only mention of the Battle of Trafalgar in Doctor Who’s history (at the time of writing).


School Reunion

The return of Sarah Jane Smith saw bucketfuls of references and gags. Picking up where they left off, the plucky journalist informs the Gallifreyan that instead of dropping her off in South Croydon (during the final moments of The Hand Of Fear), she was, in fact, left in Aberdeen (a city in the North East of Scotland). Oddly, this meant that Aberdeen had been mentioned twice in successive episodes (and a third for the entire series, first being mentioned during a conversation between the Fourth Doctor and Leela in Underworld).

School Reunion also firmly established, as if it was needed, that “New Who” was most definitely a continuation of the classic series (incredibly, some fans were still in denial). The inclusion of Sarah Jane and tin robot K-9 demonstrated that the Doctor was most assuredly the same person.

In an amusing face-off, or companion-off, between Rose and Smith, the following stories are referenced from the classic series: Pyramids Of Mars, The Time Warrior, Robot, The Sontaran Experiment, Revenge Of The Cybermen, The Android Invasion, Death To The Daleks, Genesis Of The Daleks, Planet Of Evil, Invasion Of The Dinosaurs and Terror Of The Zygons; whilst from the new series we get: The Unquiet Dead, Aliens Of London/ World War Three, The Parting Of The Ways, The Empty Child and Tooth And Claw

And in another nod to the difference between then and now, Rose claims, “I’m not his assistant!” with regards to her relationship with the Doctor. In the past, the word “assistant” was often used to describe the role of the companion (see Steven Moffat’s Comic Relief sketch The Curse Of Fatal Death for a neat gag about this).

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Another companion reappearing was K-9. This was, in fact, Mark III of the tin dog. The first version left at the end of The Invasion Of Time with Leela whilst the second left with Romana at the end of Warrior’s Gate. This third incarnation was a gift from the Doctor to Sarah Jane Smith and was featured in their original spin-off show, K9 And Company. They would also appear together in The Five Doctors (though that story seems to be forgotten about in School Reunion). Mark IV appeared at the end of this episode, marking the first time John Leeson voiced two different versions within the same episode and they would go on to star in The Sarah Jane Adventures for five brilliant series (and also pop back in Doctor Who for the Series Four finale).

Returning to Rose for a second, we’re reminded of her love of chips (or fries if you’re that way inclined, and she namechecks her best buddy Shareen once more (previously mentioned, though never seen, in The End Of The World, The Unquiet Dead and Aliens Of London).

In a prescient move, those with eagle-eyed ears will spot Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart in the background.


The Girl In The Fireplace

Not quite an “in-joke” or even a reference, but the story’s writer Steven Moffat was slightly annoyed at publication Radio Times spoiling the mirror-smashing horse finale. So much so, he went on to a popular forum to ask fans not to read the particular article.

Sticking with Moffat, his “banana” theme from the previous year’s The Empty Child two-parter resurfaced when he invented the Banana Daiquiri. The Sherlock co-creator also regurgitated some of his previous material from a collection of Doctor Who short stories. Moffat contributed “Continuity Errors” to 1996’s Decalog 3 – Consequences, his first official piece of Who work. In that adventure, the Seventh Doctor is asked, “What do monsters have nightmares about?” to which he replies, “Me!” Which is word for word what is spoken between the Young Reinette and the Tenth Doctor.

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However, it should be noted that Father’s Day writer Paul Cornell got there first. In his 1992 novel Love And War, the Seventh Doctor proclaims, “I’m what monsters have nightmares about!” (Lance Parkin would also use, “I am the man that gives monsters nightmares!” in his 1997 novel, The Dying Days.)

Speaking of recycling, a dress worn by Helen Mirren in the 1994 film The Madness Of King George was used by Sophia Myles in the ballroom scene while Steven Moffat would reuse the notion of the Doctor being an “imaginary friend” in the time-hopping relationship with Amelia Pond in the first Matt Smith story, The Eleventh Hour.

And for those who like their “firsts”, The Girl In The Fireplace debuted the use of the word “snogged” in Doctor Who’s history (Madame de Pompadour was also the first non-companion in the televised adventures to kiss the Time Lord).


Rise Of The Cybermen / The Age Of Steel

As you would expect with the return of a class series baddie (though, technically, the Cybusmen are new creations), this two-parter included numerous nods to the past.

Imitating an amusing moment from Leela in The Robots Of Death, where she believed a yo-yo was part of the magic of the TARDIS, Mickey was left with his hand on the console for half an hour when the Doctor got lost in a conversation with Rose.

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Actor Colin Spaull, who plays Mr Crane here, starred as Lilt in the Colin Baker 1985 story, Revelation Of The Daleks. Also returning from the classic series is director Graeme Harper – the man behind the superlative The Caves Of Androzani and the aforementioned Dalek story. Other stories from the past referenced are: Genesis Of The Daleks (“Do I have that right?” from the Tenth Doctor is a nod to Tom Baker’s “Have I the right?” when confronted with obliterating the Daleks); The Five Doctors (again from the Tenth Doctor, he and his gang will attack the conversion factory from “above, between, below” – the very same three words the Second Doctor uses when citing a rhyme to enter the Tomb of Rassillon); The Tenth Planet (Jackie Tyler was celebrating her 40th birthday in the story, as was the Cybermen’s first appearance in 2006).

A favoured expression by the Cybermen in the classic years, particularly the Eighties, was “Excellent!” Though the new versions aren’t so keen on this word, their creator Lumic does get to wheel it out.

The brilliant Big Finish audio Spare Parts, which was a Fifth Doctor adventure, was originally the basis of Rise Of The Cybermen though this changed as the story progressed. Mickey does get to say, “spare part,” however. We also discover the origin of why the Ninth Doctor called Rose’s boyfriend “Ricky” in Boom Town, as we meet Mickey’s parallel self (where Rose is her parents’ dog).

And continuing Doctor Who’s long-running relationship with another BBC children’s show, Blue Peter presenter Gethin Jones played one of the Cybermen.


The Idiot’s Lantern

Like another Mark Gatiss episode, the Doctor arrives at the wrong time and place (just like 2005’s The Unquiet Dead). And like Tooth And Claw, the Time Lord is taking Rose to see a gig. Sadly, for the couple, Elvis in New York was replaced by alien activity in London.

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Imitating a moment in the 1996 Paul McGann TV movie, the Doctor rides a scooter out of the TARDIS and, later in the episode, would quote hit single Never Too Late from pop princess Kylie Minogue. Just the following year saw the singer star in the Christmas Special, Voyage Of The Damned.

Margaret John, who plays Grandma Connolly, is another actress to have crossed from classic to new Who, having first appeared in the 1968 story Fury From The Deep. During the episode’s climactic scenes at the Alexandra Palace television station transmitter, the Tenth Doctor had a line referencing his issue with radio transmitters (a nod to Tom Baker’s finale, Logopolis, where he fell to his “death”), but it was cut from filming.

Magpie Electricals, the television shop featured in the story, does not die with its owner. The brand is seen in the following year’s The Sound Of Drums (Martha Jones’ telly), Voyage Of The Damned (microphone), The Beast Below (on board the Starship UK) and even the Eleventh Doctor’s first TARDIS console had some Magpie parts. Cardiff’s Torchwood also had a Magpie Electricals television.


The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit

Juts over halfway through the second series and we get our first quarry! Woo hoo! Older fans were used to the sight of quarries being used in Doctor Who every other week (or so it seemed) doubling for other worlds. Also worth noting is the fact that this two-parter is the first story of New Who with no scenes set on Earth whatsoever.

In a couple of incredible “What ifs?”: the Slitheen were initially going to be used until some money was freed and the Odd designed and produced (certainly one of the show’s most memorable aliens); and Dalek creator Davros was at one point considered as what could be lurking at the bottom of the pit. For those who mourn the lack of Slitheen fun, there is a fart joke included in The Satan Pit.

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Classic fans’ ears will have pricked up at the voice of the Beast, provided by Gabriel Woolf. The actor played Sutekh the Destroyer in the Fourth Doctor four-parter Pyramids Of Mars. While not stated, the implication of his casting and the nature of the beast is clear. The Doctor explains the “Horned Beast” is represented all across the universe, mentioning Draconia (home of the Draconians), Daemos (origin of Azal from 1971’s The Daemons) and even the Kaled god of war (the Kaleds would become the Daleks).

Sticking with the Beast, its offspring Abaddon (mentioned by the Ood in The Impossible Planet), would go on to cause havoc in modern-day Cardiff in the Torchwood Series One finale. He was certainly his father’s son.

Incredibly, as it’s such a regular feature in the new series, this was only the second time the Doctor wore a complete space suit; the previous occasion was the Patrick Troughton Cyberman romp, The Moonbase. The orange suit seen here would be used again in the Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi eras.

“I was a dinner lady,” Rose tells one of her Ood chums, referring to her brief stint a few episodes back in School Reunion whilst we discover that TARDISes were “grown” not built (and we find out how in a deleted scene from Series Four).

Word fans will be excited by the fact that The Impossible Planet sees the very first use of the word “mortgage” in Doctor Who whilst the closing scene where the Doctor claims he and Rose are the “stuff of legend” was the final scene they filmed for the series (though we’ll reveal an addendum to this in the section on the finale proper).


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Love & Monsters

The first “Doctor-lite” story of the new series (one could argue that both the Hartnell and Troughton eras contained similar episodes when the lead actor was on holiday/ill) does have some remarkable factoids for the even the most factoid-hungry fans. Most notable is the fact that Love & Monsters contains the first four series arcs from 2005: Victor Kennedy mentions both Torchwood and Bad Wolf in the same sentence (referring to “Torchwood files” and the “Bad Wolf virus”); a newspaper has a story about Mr Saxon (the Master’s alter ego in Series Three); whilst the Abzorbaloff is from Clom (The Stolen Earth would reveal it is one of the “missing” planets that would form a part of Davros’s reality bomb). Phew.

Speaking of Clom, it’s the twin planet of Raxacoricofallapatorius – home of the Slitheen (last seen in Boom Town). Another alien making an appearance is the Hoix, and it would reappear in the Eleventh Doctor’s first finale, The Pandorica Opens (it would also appear in the Torchwood Series Two episode, Exit Wounds).

Of course, we can’t talk about Love & Monsters without referring to the main monster, the Abzorbaloff. Continuing again the strong tradition of links with Blue Peter, the children’s show had run a “Design a Monster” competition and it was won by nine-year-old William Grantham. Sadly, however, his original vision of his creation being the size of a double-decker bus was not realised on screen.

Another BBC children’s show that has a link, a rather unusual one, with his episode is Why Don’t You? When writer Russell T Davies was in charge of the morning show, he concocted the Liverpool Investigation ‘N’ Detective Agency within it. They were otherwise known as, wait for it, LINDA. Luckily, for Russell, Love & Monsters was set in the country’s capital. Also worth noting is the memorable but short-lived chum of the Ninth Doctor, Lynda.

Sticking with Davies, the writer planned in earlier drafts of the story to have more flashbacks to alien incursions on Elton’s life, with references to Terror Of The Autons, Terror Of The Zygons and Remembrance Of The Daleks planned.

Best of all though, and punctuation fans will love this one, Love & Monsters is the ONLY episode in the history of Doctor Who to use an ampersand in its title. We’ll give you a couple of minutes to sit down and take that one in.

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Fear Her

Consistently voted as the worst of New Who by fans (and fairly close to the worst ever), this episode was a late entry due to Stephen Fry dropping out of the writer roster. His story has never emerged.

Anyway, regardless of quality (it’s actually pretty inoffensive) Fear Her has got a few nuggets to enjoy. Though a futuristic view of London at the time (set in the same year as the previous year’s Dalek), it’s now a look back to 2012 – the year of the London Olympics. Though the Tenth Doctor carried the torch into the Olympic Stadium to help save the day, David Tennant wasn’t offered the role when the actual day came (much to the chagrin of his many fans).

After a nod in Series One from Rose, Star Trek gets another outing when the Doctor pulls out the Vulcan “live long and prosper” hand greeting. The idea of the Doctor watching Star Trek may make some queasy.

Fans’ ears will prick up at a mention of the “Shadow Proclamation” by the Doctor, the intergalactic force first mentioned in the very first ep of New Who, Rose (and who we would meet in the flesh in the Series Four finale). Ears will prick up even more when the Time Lord casually spouts, “I was a dad once,” before changing the conversation quickly. A stout reminder that the Gallifreyan was a family man (a facet first broached in the show’s debut An Unearthly Child where he’s a grandfather to Susan).


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Army Of Ghosts / Doomsday

Though the 20th Anniversary story did feature a Dalek and lots of Cybermen, the 2006 finale was the first time the two iconic Doctor Who bad boys had faced one another. Surprisingly, there aren’t many references to the classic era at all. In Torchwood you’ll see an Egyptian sarcophagus (a la Pyramids Of Mars) whilst the Doctor namechecks the Eternals (seen in the fantastic Peter Davison story Enlightenment).

Keeping up with nods to pop culture, the theme from hit movie Ghostbusters is sung by the Doctor no less and Eastenders pops up, with Barbara Windsor chastising the “ghost” of Dirty Den (originally played by actor Leslie Grantham, who starred in 1984’s Resurrection Of The Daleks). The popular BBC soap had already been mentioned in this series, when the Tenth Doctor commented, “this is going to be the best Christmas Walford’s ever had,” in The Impossible Planet).

A second BBC show link comes from The Apprentice. Footage of Canary Wharf, where Torchwood is based, comes from filming on the Alan Sugar “reality” series. Working at this particular incarnation of Torchwood was Adeola Oshodi, played by actress Freema Agyeman. Freema got the role of the next companion in Series Three, and cousin of Adeola, Martha Jones

Another employee was Ianto Jones, who would go on to become Captain Jack’s boyfriend, appear in the Doctor Who Series Four finale and then die in Torchwood: Children Of Earth (but that’s okay, Peter Capaldi died on that series too). Doctor Who’s other spin-off show, The Sarah Jane Adventures, picks up on the fact that a crashed UFO is under Mount Snowden – where we would find a UNIT base in the story Death Of The Doctor.

Recent Who lore didn’t go unchecked. Rose speculates that the ghosts (which turned out to be Cybermen) were the Gelth, seen in Series One’s The Unquiet Dead. Oddly enough, many fans thought the very same thing when the title was announced. Another Series One gem came in the form of Harriet Jones. Though not seen, she gets a mention as she’s President in Pete’s World – the Doctor comments, “I’d keep an eye on her!”, referring to her dubious actions at the end of The Christmas Invasion. The Beast from The Satan Pit gets a subtle wink when the Time Lord asks Rose to set the co-ordinates on a terminal to the number six – resulting in 666, the number of the Beast. Coincidentally, this act would send all the Cybermen and Daleks to the Void, or “hell” as it was described earlier.

If you’re looking for a first in this story, then it’s quite a biggie. David Tennant premiered the much-repeated French phrase, “Allons-y!” He also looking for someone called Alonso to say it to, but that wouldn’t happen until the following year in Voyage Of The Damned.

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Finally, in a rare move for Doctor Who, the final scene of this series was the final scene filmed. Whilst the cast and crew were celebrating at the wrap party (after finishing work on The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit).

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