Spoilers lie ahead…
The Monks have taken over the planet, and I forone welcome our new decomposing overlords. Fortunately they’ve given us permission to publish this list of references, similarities and generally interesting things that we found inside The Pyramid At The End Of The World. They’ve also asked that we let you know it is your duty to leave anything that you feel we’ve missed in the comments section…
There’s a president for that
The Doctor’s role as president of the world comes into play again here; it was first established in 2014’s Death In Heaven that UNIT had arranged for an Earth president to be inducted in times of emergency to have authority over every country on the planet. Due to his unique nature and status, the Doctor was considered to be the only viable candidate.
Bill refers to an orange-faced president, suggesting that perhaps American politics in the Doctor’s universe have run similar to our own in recent years. This was not always the case; though the eleventh Doctor met Richard Nixon in 1969 in The Impossible Astronaut, Barack Obama was taken over by the Master in 2010’s The End Of Time and 2005’s Rose showed via poor Photoshop that the ninth Doctor was present at the assassination of JFK, the US president at the time of 2008’s The Sound Of Drums was one Arthur Winters, who was murdered by the Toclafane on the orders of the Master.
The Doctor returns to Turmezistan, whose name roughly translates as ‘generic Middle-Eastern country’, for the first time since 2015’s The Zygon Invasion, when it was host to a Zygon training camp.
Having captured the world’s imagination for centuries, it should come as no surprise that pyramids have popped up in Doctor Who on occasion; the first such instance was in the 1965/6 epic The Daleks’ Master Plan, when the Doctor confronted the Monk at the Great Pyramid of Giza. In 2011’s The Wedding Of River Song the pyramid was then used to house Area 52 on an Earth where all of history was happening at once. There was a pyramid on the Rings of Akhaten in the 2013 story of the same name, and it’ll come as no surprise to learn that 1975’s Pyramids Of Mars featured a few pyramids – some of which were, erm, on Mars.
This isn’t the twelfth Doctor’s first meditation; 2014’s Listen opened with him sitting atop the TARDIS as it floated above the Earth. And 2015 saw a mini episode called The Doctor’s Meditation, which acted as a prequel to series opener The Magician’s Apprentice. Believing his end was near, the Doctor headed to medieval England to meditate. However, after just three hours he became bored and set into motion a number of projects to act as a distraction.
In the 1970s the Doctor had close ties to the United Nations, as UNIT – the military organisation for whom the Doctor worked during his exile to Earth – were a part of the UN at the time, and throughout the show’s classic run. This was intended to be the case when the series (and UNIT) returned in 2005, but after UNIT’s first appearance in Aliens Of London/World War Three the real UN contacted the BBC to say they were no longer happy to be associated with the fictional group and requested that the name be changed. Sure enough, come 2008’s The Sontaran Stratagem they were now the Unified Intelligence Taskforce, and have remained so ever since.
Actor Tony Gardner makes a welcome Doctor Who debut. Best known to a generation for his role as Brian Johnson in long-running CITV sitcom My Parents Are Aliens, Gardner is an actor with some of Britain’s finest comedy series on his CV, including The Armando Iannucci Shows, Lead Balloon, Fresh Meat and Bluestone 42. He also appeared alongside Peter Capaldi in The Thick Of It as director of communications Dan Miller, and becomes the third regular cast member from that series to appear during Capaldi’s reign, following Chris Addison in 2014 and Rebecca Front in 2015.
One I neglected to mention last week – the Monk is again played by Jamie Hill, who also played the Foretold in 2014’s Mummy On The Orient Express. Additionally, the UN secretary general is portrayed by Togo Igawa, who previously appeared in the seminal Torchwood tale Cyberwoman.
The Doctor is quick to rule out the idea that the Monks might be vampires, having previously encountered actual vampires in 1980’s State Of Decay. That story revealed that all vampires were descended from the Great Vampires, giant creatures who roamed the universe during the Dark Times and who went to war with the Time Lords – after which it became a Time Lord’s duty to kill the King Vampire – even at the cost of his or her own life.
Four to Doomsday
The Doomsday Clock is a real thing, maintained since 1947 by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board. Since the inauguration of Donald Trump the clock has been stuck at two and a half minutes to midnight, the closest it’s come since the Cold War. Sadly, the clock is purely a metaphorical concept – there is no actual physical clock.
As well as being the title for a 2005 episode in which the Slitheen attempted to start a third world war, World War Three as a possibility has reared its head on several occasions – usually due to the Doctor averting it, as in 1971’s The Mind Of Evil and 1974’s Robot. The third Doctor prevented a group of time travellers from starting the war in The Day Of The Daleks, while the fifth stopped the Silurians from doing so in 1984’s Warriors Of The Deep.
The windows in the room in which the Doctor and friends do their thinking are covered by panels with circular holes in – the effect of which is very similar to the roundels which covered the wall of many a classic Doctor Who console room.
The Doctor claims that this isn’t his first dead planet, and he’s absolutely right – that honour goes to the Daleks’ homeworld of Skaro in the fifth ever episode of the series back in 1963, entitled, well, The Dead Planet.
Another race of seemingly benevolent aliens who turned out to be more than met the eye were the Axons from 1971’s The Claws Of Axos. They offered Earth the miraculous Axonite material which could seemingly replicate any other substance. However, in reality the Axonite was another part of the larger Axos organism, which planned to drain the planet and all its inhabitants of energy.
Give Peace A Chance is the name of a 1969 song written and performed by John Lennon, with Yoko Ono.
As you may have read earlier in the week, this episode received a minor edit due to the tragic events in Manchester. While it’s not our place to go into detail about what was cut here, the trim had no impact on the plot.
Let me Google that for you
The Doctor tells his colleagues to use Google – despite the fact that they then go on to use fictional search engine GriffinFinder. Sadly, unlike searchwise.net a few weeks back, this appears to have been created especially for Who and we can’t delve down the rabbit hole with any conspiracy theories on this one. Google has appeared in the ‘Whoniverse’ before, though – Clara used Google+ in The Bells Of Saint John, while Toshiko in Torchwood and Sarah Jane Smith in The Sarah Jane Adventures used the search engine – the latter to find information on previous Doctor Who companions…
A machine that goes ‘ping’ forms a crucial part of the opening sketch from underrated British comedy Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life. It mustn’t be confused with the machine that goes ‘ding’, which was used by the tenth Doctor to detect Zygons (and download comics from the future) in 2013’s The Day Of The Doctor.
Not a reference, but an observation – Bill’s phone is clearly pretty fantastic – despite being a modern smartphone, the battery holds steady at 50% throughout most of the episode…
We’ll never know for Cher, but the combination that opens the airlock may be a reference to the singer’s 1969 album 3614 Jackson Highway.
For the second week in a row, I’ll end on some fun with emails… Douglas’s inbox contains emails from J Plant and P Spriggs – a neat couple of agricultural names – plus Dr Sherives, K Moore, Dr D Newton, Dr Palmer, S Lamont – none of whom we can place, so let us know if you spot any significance – and, erm, one P Hilton, whose email contains the phrase ‘Erica you had a big one last night’.
Probably best we leave it there… If I’ve missed anything, pop it in the comments below!