Wild Blue Yonder (TV story)

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Wild Blue Yonder was the second of the three 2023 specials of Doctor Who, broadcast on 2 December 2023[2] as part of the 60th anniversary celebrations.

Wild Blue Yonder marked Donna Noble's first full adventure as a companion following the Doctor restoring her memories, with Wild Blue Yonder continuing immediately on from the end of The Star Beast. Wild Blue Yonder is also the first televised story to explicitly show a male incarnation of the Doctor being attracted to another person of the same sex, with the Fourteenth Doctor shown agreeing with Donna that Isaac Newton was "hot". Regarding Newton's brief appearance, Wild Blue Yonder also set a new status quo by having Donna accidently retcon the word "Gravity" into "Mavity".

Wild Blue Yonder also allowed both David Tennant and Catherine Tate to play both the Doctor and Donna respectively, but also the main antagonists of the story, the not-things, making Tennant the seventh actor of the Doctor to have played both the Doctor and one of the main antagonists in a story, following William Hartnell in The Massacre [+]Loading...["The Massacre (TV story)"], Patrick Troughton in The Enemy of the World [+]Loading...["The Enemy of the World (TV story)"], Tom Baker in Meglos [+]Loading...["Meglos (TV story)"], Peter Davison and Colin Baker in Arc of Infinity [+]Loading...["Arc of Infinity (TV story)"], and Matt Smith in Nightmare in Silver [+]Loading...["Nightmare in Silver (TV story)"].

Notably, after being referenced in the previous story, Wild Blue Yonder saw the return of Bernard Cribbins as Wilfred Mott, marking Wilfred's first appearance in the series since The End of Time [+]Loading...["The End of Time (TV story)"] in 2010. However, his appearance would be posthumous, as Cribbins passed away in 2022 after filming his scenes and before being able to film other scenes featuring Wilfred that had been written prior to his death, making Wild Blue Yonder the final onscreen appearance of Wilfred (although a body double was used briefly for the character in the following episode [+]Loading...{"noital":"1","1":"The Giggle (TV story)","2":"the following episode"}) and the final acting credit of Bernard Cribbins. Wild Blue Yonder was consequently dedicated to Cribbins' memory.

Wild Blue Yonder also explored the emotional impact of the Timeless Child revelation and the Flux on the Doctor. Particular, it showed that the events experienced by the Doctor's previous incarnation continue to weigh on the Fourteenth Doctor, with his current relationship to Gallifrey being "complicated".

Synopsis[[edit]]

The TARDIS, out of control, abandons the Doctor and Donna on a faraway, mysterious spaceship, with deadly secrets in every corner.

Plot[[edit]]

The Fourteenth Doctor and Donna Noble crash the Doctor's TARDIS in an apple tree in 1666, just as Isaac Newton was reaching his famous epiphany. Donna is delighted, in spite of the fact that that TARDIS is going haywire, and insists on making a joke about the gravity of the situation she and the Doctor find themselves in as they depart. Newton, still thinking about his epiphany, reflects on these last few words, trying to recall them. For his new discovery he has a name - "Mavity".

"Shavity? Havity? Mavity!"

The TARDIS then lands in an unknown spaceship, heavily damaged; the Doctor and Donna narrowly avoid a fire blast from the TARDIS incinerating them as they jump out. The Doctor places his sonic screwdriver into the latch in order to prime the TARDIS to regenerate and heal itself from the damage it has sustained. As the Doctor works, Donna wonders why the TARDIS played "Wild Blue Yonder", recalling how her granddad hated it because it reminded him about the war. The Doctor eventually triggers the TARDIS' self-repair and they leave the room to take a look around the ship. However, they quickly race back after hearing the TARDIS dematerializing as a result of the Hostile Action Displacement System. The two of them at first despair, until the Doctor explains to Donna that there's a good chance the TARDIS will return to them if they resolve whatever hostile action they have encountered. The two set off into the ship with renewed determination, marching down a long corridor. As they walk, the environment shifts around them and a loudspeaker blares "fenslaw". Because the TARDIS isn't present to translate the word, and because the Doctor doesn't speak the language, neither he nor Donna knows what "fenslaw" means.

The two come across a small hovercraft and a slow moving robot marching down the hallway. The pair find their way to a cockpit and try to decipher what they can from the ship's computer. There are no life signs on board, and the airlock had been opened once three years ago. The Doctor realises that the ship is one that had fallen through a wormhole and ended up on the edge of the universe, where not even starlight has yet propagated long enough to reach.

The intercom blares "coliss" and the ship shifts again. The two wander into a room filled with drawers of baseplate repetition filaments. The Doctor asks Donna to move all the ones in a lower drawer to to a higher one, as the ship is on idle and needs to be powered back up. The Doctor finds another room with a spindle and works on adjusting it. As Donna moves the plates, it grows colder, which she murmurs about. The Doctor enters to acknowledge the change in temperature to her. As the two talk, the Doctor grows quiet, letting Donna lament on what her family would do if she failed to return to them, especially noting how, while her daughter would have to move on, her husband and grandfather would wait for her return every day. The Doctor then mumbles that his arms are too long. However, the Doctor is actually still back in the room with the spindle, and still working on adjusting it, as it grows cold and Donna appears to enter. The Doctor begins to ponder what would happen to the TARDIS if he never saw it again, fiddling with the panels as he fantasises it outlasting numerous civilisations while Donna uncharacteristically remains silent. Eventually, Donna mentions that her arms are too long. The Doctor turns to look at her and sees her arm to be stretched beyond all proportion, realizing that this isn't Donna.

Both the Doctor and Donna from the two rooms run back to each other, with their doppelgängers slowly following behind. They claim to be not-things that have come from the nothing outside. They chase the Doctor and Donna, who use the hovercraft to try and outpace them, but the not-things grow and twist in size, keeping pace, before eventually tangling together and blocking each other and the whole of the corridor, slowly beginning to untangle.

The Doctor and Donna climb upwards to a vent, but, as the intercom blares "brate" and the environment shifts, they become separated. The two walk around separately, trying to find the other, and two pairs of Doctors and Donnas unite. The four try to convince their partners that they're real, through conversation or other means. Donna manages to surmise the Doctor in front of her is fake when he fails to maintain the tie he removed. To scare her, the not-thing duplicate contorts his body and mock Donna's stupidity. Meanwhile, the real Doctor initially believes the Donna before him is a copy before she changes his mind by revealing, because of Meta-crisis, she knows about his role in the Flux. Convinced, the Doctor goes to hug her, only for the not-thing's illusion to fail. He trembles in rage at her, running as she mocks his past. The Doctor eventually stops running, before exploding with rage, striking a wall over and over. As the intercom blares "gilvane", he recomposes himself and carries on searching for Donna.

The Doctor uses salt to invoke a superstition at the edge of the universe.

Eventually, the four find themselves together in a room, and the Doctor and Donna figure out which of them is real by knowing enough about how the other acts. As the not-things begin to advance, the Doctor lays down a line of salt, insisting that they can't cross it without counting every grain. At first they are dismissive, saying it's a superstition, but the Doctor insists that it's a superstition and real at the same time. Giving in, the Not-Donna bends down and begins to count as the real Doctor and Donna interrogate the Not-Doctor, who they notice is slowly acclimatising. The Not-Doctor explains that they have heard the "noisy, boiling universe", and wish to venture there to play the games those in the universe do, that have given shape to the not-things: they want to wage war and plan to become perfect copies of the Doctor and Donna so the TARDIS will let them command it and they can escape. The Not-Donna blows away the salt, revealing she has figured out the superstition was a lie, and the not-things advance as the intercom blares "stond".

The Doctor and Donna run back to the cockpit and lock themselves in, with the not-things standing outside, slowly copying them more and more as the pair stresses. The pair realise the not-things chased them to raise their adrenaline, so they would think faster, and therefore can be copied easier. To combat this, they try to think as little as possible, but the Doctor struggles - the not-things persistent questioning causes him to give in and begin to figuring the ship out again. He opens the bridge's out hatch to see outside, finding the corpse of the ship's captain circling the ship, having killed themselves, and the not-things don't know why.

The intercom blares "ratico" as the Doctor explains that the captain killed themselves to stop the not-things from fully copying them and knowing what she did to stop them from reaching the rest of the universe, so slowly that the not-things could never know what it was. The Not-Doctor teases the Doctor, remarking he has now copied the Doctor's intelligence completely so, even though the Doctor tries to stop thinking, the not-things can still figure out the captain's plan: she has programmed the ship to slowly reconfigure into a bomb, with the words being a countdown and the robot as the trigger. The intercom blares "Vandeen."

The plan revealed, the not-things turn to leave the bridge to reach the robot, but the Doctor uses the bridge's controls to stop them. However, it is only a matter of time before they use his copied intelligence to break out. With no other way to prevent the not-things from stopping the countdown, the Doctor speeds the countdown up and the not-things break free. All four run after the robot as the intercom blares "Blinss." The Not-Donna tries to keep the pair away as the Not-Doctor races towards the robot to stop it; she fails to stop the Doctor, who manages to push her away as he rushes past, but the not-thing does tackle Donna down. As the intercom blares "Sensill", the Doctor nearly reaches his not-thing copy, but it becomes quadrupedal in order to out speed him. The Doctor stops running, knowing he can't possibly catch up now. Although, he realises that, as the hostile action is resolved from his efforts to delay the not-things and speeding up the countdown, the TARDIS should know the threat is basically over. As if on cue, the TARDIS begins to rematerialize, still playing "Wild Blue Yonder" from within as the intercom blares out "One." The Doctor enters the TARDIS and pilots it to the pair of Donnas; he tries to determine which Donna is real, and pulls in the one that answers his questions to his satisfaction.

As he leaves, the other Donna cries, insisting that he got the wrong one, and that she's real. To her horror, the intercom blares out "Tacsladia", which she recognises as "Zero". The robot pushes the button and the explosion begins, destroying the Not-Doctor and rushing to meet Donna. On the TARDIS, the Doctor turns to face the Donna on board, having scanned her - her arms are ever so slightly too long. He ejects her and the real Donna rushes in, the pair hugging as the TARDIS dematerializes, flying away from the exploding ship.

As they travel back to London, reflecting on their adventure, the Doctor ponders as to whether it was a good idea to use the salt, a superstition, on the edge of the universe where the walls of reality are thin. He dismisses it, instead questioning Donna if the Meta-crisis allowed her to really access all of his new memories. Donna says she does not, but asks if the Doctor wants to talk about what happened since he left her. The Doctor replies not, stating he will be fine "in a million years".

The Doctor and Donna land the TARDIS, back near the alley from which they took off in 21st century London, though a day or two off, according to the Doctor. As they exit they find Wilfred Mott, who is happy to see Donna until he notices and is shocked to see the Doctor with the same face he last saw him with fifteen years ago, and becomes emotional and overjoyed to see him again. The Doctor in turn hugs him in delight, saying seeing Wilf again has made him feel so much better and now there's nothing wrong in the world. Wilf says that he's never lost faith in the Doctor, believing he would come back to save them. As the Doctor asks what they need saving from, small explosions and riots break out, and a plane crash lands not far away. Wilf tells him the entire world is coming to an end, as Donna and the Doctor rush him to cover.

Cast[[edit]]

Crew[[edit]]

General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics

Movement

Casting

General post-production staff

Special and visual effects

Sound



Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.
          

Note: Standby art director Ifan Lewis was erroneously credited as "Ifan Lewis Lewis"


Worldbuilding[[edit]]

  • Upon referring to Newton as "Sir Isaac" before his knighthood, the Doctor quips "spoilers" at him.
  • Newton mishears Donna's joke about "the gravity of [their] situation", and instead names his theory as "mavity". Donna later refers to the ship having artificial "mavity", which the Doctor picks up on, just as she gets confused when he slips up and says gravity field before he corrects himself to "mavity field".
  • The Doctor once spent three years in orbit because the HADS prevented him from landing anywhere.
  • Despite being infinite, the universe still has an edge. The Doctor credits the explanation to Camboolian flat mathematics.
  • Being the DoctorDonna gave Donna concurrent access to the everything the Doctor went through after they parted ways, but she cannot see these memories clearly, comparing it to "looking into a furnace".
  • Donna was born in Southampton when her mother was visiting her aunt Iris.
  • According to superstition, Vampires, Demons and Ghosts cannot cross a line of salt until every grain has been counted.

Cultural references[[edit]]

  • After finding a vehicle, the Doctor says, "Your car, milady", with Donna responding, "Thank you, Parker!".
  • When questioning how the not-things grew if they were to have a set amount of mass, Donna remembers how Shaun would complain about the same issue in the Venom films.

Notes[[edit]]

Bernard Cribbins' stand-in in The Giggle
  • Wild Blue Yonder was dedicated to the memory of Bernard Cribbins, who passed away over a year before transmission. Russell T Davies revealed that there were more scenes written for Cribbins to be in, but the decision was made to reduce Wilfred's role after it became clear Cribbins' health would prevent him from being on-set for extended periods: Cribbins would ultimately pass away shortly after production wrapped on the specials in July 2022,[3] making his appearance in Wild Blue Yonder the final performance in his career.
    • Wilfred still appears in The Giggle by way of a stand-in and archival recording of his voice.
  • The title of the episode was named after the song "Wild Blue Yonder".[4] The song in question is both referenced and played by the TARDIS in the special itself.
  • Unlike the other two 60th Anniversary Specials, The Star Beast [+]Loading...["The Star Beast (TV story)"] and The Giggle [+]Loading...["The Giggle (TV story)"], the marketing of Wild Blue Yonder was kept incredibly vague and revealed very little about the plot. The BBC wished to maintain the surprises of the story and Davies wanted one of the specials to be a complete mystery.[4] According to director Tom Kingsley, the secrecy had naught to do with "any surprise returning actors or villains", but because "[they] thought [audiences] might find it fun to watch it without knowing what's going to happen next".[5]
  • In the preview released in DWM 597 for Wild Blue Yonder, a teaser of the plot featured a cast list consisting of Tennant, Tate, and three other names that had all been replaced with a "[REDACTED]".[4] These were later revealed to be Nathaniel Curtis, Susan Twist, and Bernard Cribbins.
    • This preview also revealed a teaser of the plot and a snippet of dialogue between the Doctor and Donna.[4]
  • No cast details accompanied the programme listing in Radio Times, which had the synopsis "In the second of Doctor Who's 60th anniversary special episodes, the Tardis takes the Time Lord and Donna to the furthest edge of adventure. To escape, they must face the most desperate fight of their lives. Starring David Tennant, Catherine Tate and Susan Twist." (original published text)
  • David Tennant called Wild Blue Yonder "unlike any Doctor Who episode ever", referring to the specials as a whole as "Russell [T Davies] off the leash".[6]
  • This is the first episode following showrunner Chris Chibnall's departure to reference the Flux and the fact that the Doctor wasn't born on Gallifrey.
  • George Cheetham and Helen Langford were Stand-Ins for Tennant and Catherine Tate.
  • In The Official Doctor Who Podcast, Russell T Davies likened Wild Blue Yonder to a spiritual homage of the Fourth Doctor serial Underworld [+]Loading...["Underworld (TV story)"], due to both relying heavily on greenscreened sets.
  • Following the release of Wild Blue Yonder, the official Doctor Who YouTube channel edited the description of its uploads of several clips to replace mentions of "gravity" with "mavity". [7]
  • This story's debut was mentioned alongside the other 2023 specials in the non-fiction feature Back in Business published in Doctor Who The Official Annual 2024 on 7 September 2023.

Comparison between BBC and Disney+ versions[[edit]]

There are slight differences between the version broadcast on BBC One and the one shown on Disney+:

  • The Whoniverse ident was shown at the beginning of the episode on the BBC version. However, on the Disney+ version, the BBC ident was shown.
  • The Disney ident was shown at the end of the episode on the Disney+ version.
  • The Executive Producers' credits were shown after the title sequence in the BBC version, however, they were shown in the end credits in the Disney+ version.
  • In the end board for the BBC version, the Bad Wolf logo was shown on the left and the BBC Studios Productions logo on the right. In the Disney+ version, they were switched.
  • Only for the Disney+ version, the Director's credit was shown before the Producer's credit.

Myths[[edit]]

  • The Doctor and Donna would land on a corrupted TARDIS and be menaced by evil versions of the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors. (This was proven false)

Filming locations[[edit]]

to be added

Ratings[[edit]]

  • 4.83 million (UK overnight).[8]
  • 7.14 million (UK final).[8]

Production errors[[edit]]

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • When the TARDIS returns to the Doctor, the sonic screwdriver is visibly missing from the keyhole it was placed in, but is present in the next shot when the Doctor retrieves it.

Continuity[[edit]]

  • This isn't the first episode to reveal that the Doctor was involved with Isaac Newton's discovery of gravity; in TV: The Pirate Planet [+]Loading...["The Pirate Planet (TV story)"], the Fourth Doctor claimed to have thrown the apple onto Isaac Newton's head, and subsequently explained gravity to him over dinner. However, this is seemingly contradicted in Wild Blue Yonder as the Fourth Doctor is not present in any scene, nor does the Fourteenth Doctor acknowledge this fact.
  • The Doctor repeatedly mentions Donna spilling coffee on the TARDIS console in The Star Beast [+]Loading...["The Star Beast (TV story)"].
  • On learning that he and Donna have arrived in 1666, the Doctor advices Newton to avoid London, referencing the Great Fire of London the Fifth Doctor inadvertently started with the Terileptils in The Visitation [+]Loading...["The Visitation (TV story)"].
  • The Doctor finds himself enthusiastically agreeing that Isaac Newton was hot, causing Donna to comment his preferences were "never far from the surface". Indeed, the Doctor, while not explicitly admitting it, has demonstrated an attraction, or at least not been bothered to partaker in romantically inclined exchanges, to individuals of the same sex before, notably Jack Harkness in The Parting of the Ways [+]Loading...["The Parting of the Ways (TV story)"], Frank in Evolution of the Daleks [+]Loading...["Evolution of the Daleks (TV story)"], Rory Williams in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship [+]Loading...["Dinosaurs on a Spaceship (TV story)"], and Yasmin Khan in Legend of the Sea Devils [+]Loading...["Legend of the Sea Devils (TV story)"].
  • Donna comments on how the Doctor could snap his fingers as a way to communicate with the TARDIS, something they both learnt he could do in Forest of the Dead [+]Loading...["Forest of the Dead (TV story)"].
  • The Doctor and Donna are stranded because the Hostile Action Displacement System activated, a feature of the TARDIS that first appeared in The Krotons [+]Loading...["The Krotons (TV story)"].
  • Donna names a robot "Jimbo", the same name the Ninth Doctor gave to a metal spider in The End of the World [+]Loading...["The End of the World (TV story)"].
  • The Doctor is able to calculate how far away he and Donna are from Earth based by simply looking out to space, a trick he previously used on Krop Tor in The Impossible Planet [+]Loading...["The Impossible Planet (TV story)"].
  • Donna recalls leaving her family standing in an ally by Camden Market in The Star Beast [+]Loading...["The Star Beast (TV story)"].
  • The Doctor admits that he wonders "where the TARDIS goes at random", imagining that it would "[land] on some outcrop by the sea", similar to its appearance in The Ghost Monument [+]Loading...["The Ghost Monument (TV story)"]. He further imagines an alien civilization worshiping the TARDIS and flourishing around it before eventually collapsing while the TARDIS remains standing, as had previously occurred in Rise and Fall [+]Loading...["Rise and Fall (audio story)"].
  • Donna notes how she was unable to eat the tuna madras her mother prepared for her because of the Doctor and the Meep arriving at her house in The Star Beast [+]Loading...["The Star Beast (TV story)"].
  • The principle of shapeshifters causing sudden drops in temperature was previously seen in TV: Horror of Fang Rock [+]Loading...["Horror of Fang Rock (TV story)"].
  • When posing as Donna, one of the not-things mentions that the Doctor was not born on Gallifrey, which they learned in The Timeless Children [+]Loading...["The Timeless Children (TV story)"]. In the same conversation, the Doctor states that the Flux "destroyed half of the universe because of [them]", referring to the events of The Vanquishers [+]Loading...["The Vanquishers (TV story)"].
  • Upon seeing one another, Donna and her not-thing counterpart remark that they like the other's appearance. Amy Pond had a similar interaction when meeting her future self in Time [+]Loading...["Time (TV story)"].
  • Upon the Doctor realising which Donna is the real one, he calls her "Earth-girl", a nickname the Meta-Crisis Doctor called her in Journey's End [+]Loading...["Journey's End (TV story)"]. Likewise, Donna calls him "Spaceman", a nickname she regularly called him, such as in Partners in Crime [+]Loading...["Partners in Crime (TV story)"], The Fires of Pompeii [+]Loading...["The Fires of Pompeii (TV story)"] and Journey's End [+]Loading...["Journey's End (TV story)"].

Home media releases[[edit]]

DVD and Blu-Ray[[edit]]

This story was released on DVD and Blu-Ray in the United Kingdom on 18 December 2023, along with The Star Beast [+]Loading...["The Star Beast (TV story)"] and The Giggle [+]Loading...["The Giggle (TV story)"]. The Bluray release is encoded to Region B, atypical of BBC releases which usually do not have any kind of region encoding on the disc.

Contents:

Digital releases[[edit]]

This story is available on BBC iPlayer in the United Kingdom, in Ultra High-Def (4K). It is also available on Disney+ in other territories.

Footnotes[[edit]]