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Wild Blue Yonder
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Escaping The TARDIS
Escaping The TARDIS
 An out-of-control TARDIS takes The Doctor and Donna to the furthest edge of the universe and abandons them on a mysterious spaceship with deadly secrets in every corner.

 To escape, they must face the most desperate fight of their lives, with the fate of the universe at stake.

General Information

Season: Forty (60th Anniversary Specials)
Production Code: 60th-2
Story Number: 302 (New Series: 146)
Episode Number:873 (New Series: 177)
Number of Episodes: 1
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Production Dates: May - July 2022
Broadcast Date: 02 December 2023
Colour Status: HD Colour
Studio: Wolf Studios (Cardiff, Wales)
Writer:Russell T Davies
Director:Tom Kingsley
Producer:Vicki Delow
Executive Producers:Jane Tranter, Joel Collins, Julie Gardner, Phil Collinson and Russell T Davies
Production Executive for BBC Studios:John Hamer
Executive Producer for the BBC:Rebecca Ferguson
Commissioning Editor for the BBC:Lindsay Salt
Co-Producer:Ellen Marsh
Director's Assistant:Daniella Wilson
Script Supervisor:Ruth Vickers
Script Editor:Scott Handcock
Editors:Tim Hodges BSC, Emily Lawrence (Assistant), Joseph Keirle (Assistant), Lucy Harris (Assistant) and Matt Nathan (VFX)
Colourist:Gareth Spensley
Head of Production:Alex Protherough
Production Executive:Steffan Morris
Production Manager:Delmi Thomas
Post Production Producer:Ceres Doyle
Post Production Supervisor:Liv Duffin
Location Manager:Daniel Wellstead
Supervising Location Manager:Iwan Roberts
Studio Manager:Richard Balshaw
Unit Manager:Kyle Yates
Production Designer:Phil Sims
Director of Production:Emily Russell
Director of Photography:Nick Dance BSC
Casting Director:Andy Pryor CDG
Online Editors:Christine Kelly and Geriant Pari Huws
Line Producer:Mark Devlin
Costume Designer:Pam Downe
Hair & Make-Up Designer:Claire Williams
Cameramen:Martin Stephens (Operator) and Elesha Pederson (Trainee)
Visual Effects:Realtime Visualisation
VFX Producer:Will Cohen
VFX Supervisors:Dan May and James Coore
Special Effects:Real SFX
Creature Design:Painting Practice
Creature FX:Millenium FX
Creature FX Designer:Neill Gorton
Stunt Co-ordinator:Derek Lea
Stunt Performers:Donna Williams, Kim McGarrity and Renato Gjini
Puppeteers:Brian Fisher and Sarah-Jane Waters
Incidental Music:Murray Gold
Sound Designer:Rob Ireland
Sound Recordist:Alex Thompson
Dubbing Mixer:Paul McFadden
Music Orchestrated By:Alastair King
Music Conducted By:Alastair King
Music Performed By:BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Music Mixed By:Jake Jackson
Title Sequence:Painting Practice & Realtime Visualisation
Title Music:Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Arranged by Murray Gold
Number of Doctors: 1
The Doctor: David Tennant (The Fourteenth Doctor)
Number of Companions: 1The Companion: Catherine Tate (Donna Noble) Guest Cast: Bernard Cribbins (Wilfred Mott) Additional Cast: Nathan Curtiss (Isaac Newton), Susan Twist (Mrs Merridew), Daniel Tuite (The Doctor Acting Double), Ophir Raray (The Doctor Beast Double), Tommaso Di Vincenzo (The Doctor Contortionist Double), Helen Cripps (Donna Acting Double)Setting: England 1666; Spaceship at the edge of the universe Villain:Not-Things

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
Duration Viewers
In Archive
873Wild Blue Yonder02 December 202354'24"7.1Yes

Total Duration 54 Minutes

Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 7.1


 This story exists and is held in the BBC's Film and Videotape Library.

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This story is the second of the three 2023 specials that was shown as part of the Doctor Who 60th Anniversary celebrations.

This story marked Donna Noble's first full adventure as a travelling companion following her memories of The Doctor being returned to her. This story continues immediately on from the end of the previous story "The Star Beast" and focuses on The Doctor and Donna being stranded on a spaceship at the edge of the universe after the TARDIS abandons them.

This is David Tennant and Catherine Tate second story together following their return to the show in the previous story, "The Star Beast". Additionally, Nathaniel Curtis stars as Isaac Newton and Susan Twist as Mrs Merridew. Daniel Tuite, Ophir Raray, Tommaso Di Vincenzo and Helen Cripps also appeared as stand-ins and acting doubles for David Tenant and Catherine Tate.

This story was written by Russell T Davies and directed by Tom Kingsley. This is Tom Kingsley’s first Doctor Who story.

This story allowed both David Tennant and Catherine Tate to play doubles, with them not only playing their main characters but also the main antagonists of the story, the Not-Things, making David Tennant the seventh actor playing the part of The Doctor to have played both The Doctor and one of the main antagonists in a story. This followed William Hartnell ("The Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Eve"), Patrick Troughton ("The Enemy of the World"), Tom Baker ("Meglos"), Peter Davison / Colin Baker ("Arc of Infinity") and Matt Smith ("The Eleventh Hour" and "Nightmare in Silver").

Donna is heard saying that The Doctor knows 27 million languages, which The Doctor corrects her as it is over 57 billion. The Ninth Doctor previously remarked he knew 5 billion languages without the need for the TARDIS’ translation circuits in "Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways". Furthermore, The Doctor remarks that he does not know the language used at the edge of the universe, recalling how his tenth incarnation did not know the language depicted by The Beast in "The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit". The need for the TARDIS to help translate alien languages has been established several times, notably more recently in "The End of the World", "The Christmas Invasion" and "The Fires of Pompeii".

The Doctor once more loses both his sonic-screwdriver and the TARDIS, forcing him to rely entirely on his intellect, as did the Ninth Doctor, in "Father's Day", and the Twelfth Doctor in "Oxygen".

Donna is heard jokingly saying ‘Allons-y’, mocking how the Tenth Doctor used to say this when traveling with her - as in "The Runaway Bride", "Partners in Crime" and "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead". She also calls him an idiot, a remark she also used to occasionally call him like in "The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky".

While being DoctorDonna gave Donna concurrent access to the everything The Doctor knows; making her aware of the adventures of the Eleventh Doctor, Twelfth Doctor, and Thirteenth Doctor. As Donna herself noted though, she cannot see these memories clearly and likened it to ‘looking into a furnace’.

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".

Upon The Doctor realising which Donna is the real one, he calls her ‘earth girl’, a nickname he called her sometimes like in "The Fires of Pompeii" and "The Stolen Earth/Journey's End".

It is revealed that Donna was born in Southampton.

The Doctor names the robot ‘Jimbo’. This name was first used when the robot featured in promotional materials for this story. The Ninth Doctor also previously gave this name to a metal spider in the 2005 story "The End of the World".

When questioning how the Not-Things grow if they were to have a set amount of mass, Donna remembers how Shaun would complain about this issue in the Venom films.

The TARDIS regenerates itself from severe damage as it did in "The Eleventh Hour", "The Woman Who Fell to Earth" and "The Ghost Monument". Unlike on previous occasions, in this story The Doctor triggered this rebuild rather than it automatically happening and it did not result in the TARDIS' appearance changing.

The Cloister Bell can again be heard tolling within the TARDIS.

The Doctor and Donna are stranded due to the TARDIS’ Hostile Action Displacement System (HADS) activating as it had done before in "Cold War" and "The Magician's Apprentice/The Witch's Familiar".

The Doctor reveals that he once spent three years in orbit because the HADS prevented him from landing anywhere.

Donna is heard ordering The Doctor to summon the TARDIS back. While he does not do so in this story, he has previously been able to call the TARDIS to his location in "The Time of The Doctor". Donna also comments on how he could snap his fingers as a way to communicate with the TARDIS, something he has done numerous times, such as in "Forest of the Dead" and "Day of the Moon".

This story features The Doctor and Donna travelling to the edge of the universe and unintentionally freeing an enemy who will go on to oppress humanity, and who The Doctor must face in the next story. The Tenth Doctor previously travelled to the end of time and unintentionally freed The Master in "Utopia", who then went on to oppress humanity and face The Doctor in the following story, "The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords".

According to a draft version of the script released by Russell T Davies, The Doctor and Donna have travelled past the Condensate Reefs and beyond the Realm of the Boltzmann Brains - beyond matter, light and life.

The Doctor is able to calculate how far they are from Earth by simply looking out to space. He previously did this with Rose Tyler in "The Impossible Planet".

This is the first story following previous showrunner Chris Chibnall's departure to reference the Flux and the fact that The Doctor wasn't born on Gallifrey and the events experienced by the Thirteenth Doctor continue to weigh on him, with his current relationship to Gallifrey being described as ‘complicated’. This occurred when one of the Not-Things, posing as Donna, mentions events that occurred in the 2020 story "Ascension of the Cybermen/The Timeless Children".

As well as expanding on the impact that both the Flux, and what The Doctor, in his previous incarnation had learnt about their past lives as the Timeless Child, this story reveals the guilt he has over the destruction caused by the Flux, with this story confirming what the lasting damage to the universe was; with half of the universe being destroyed, meaning only 37.5% of what the universe was in 1981 still exists, as The Master previously accidentally destroyed 25% (which included the Traken Union) with Entropy by closing off the Charged Vacuum Emboitements to E-Space in "Logopolis".

In the introductory scene Isaac Newton mishears Donna making a joke about gravity, instead naming it ‘Mavity’.

On learning that they have arrived in 1666, The Doctor advices Isaac Newton to avoid London. This is due to the Great Fire of London which the Fifth Doctor inadvertently caused in the 1982 story "The Visitation".

After finding a vehicle, The Doctor mimics the Thunderbirds character Parker, saying ‘Your car, milady’, with Donna responding ‘Thank you, Parker! ’ as Lady Penelope.

In issue 597 of the Doctor Who Magazine Russell T Davies teased five words that would play a part in this story: ‘Southampton’, ‘vegetable’, ‘bean’, ‘starlight’ and ‘Flux’. He also revealed that the history of both the Flux and the Timeless Child would be ‘dealt with very slightly in this episode’.

The Doctor is seen licking a substance to determine its properties, a trait that was present in the Tenth Doctor’s incarnation as seen in "The Christmas Invasion", "The Idiot's Lantern" and "Planet of the Dead". This carried onwards for the Eleventh Doctor in "The Eleventh Hour", and "Day of the Moon" as well as for the Thirteenth Doctor in "It Takes You Away".

Having been referenced in the previous story, and with Donna's whole reason for going with The Doctor being to visit Wilfred Mott, this story saw the return of Bernard Cribbins marking his first appearance in the show since "The End of Time" 13 years previously. However, this appearance would be posthumous, as the actor passed away in 2022 after filming his scenes for this story and over a year before this story was aired, making this story the final acting credit for his final performance in his long and distinguished acting career. The end credits also include a dedication to him which states: ‘In Loving Memory of Bernard Cribbins 1928-2022’.

After this story aired Russell T Davies revealed that there were more scenes written for Bernard Cribbins to be in, suggesting Wilfred Mott was supposed to have had a bigger role, following his appearance in this story, in the third and final special "The Giggle". However, the decision was made to reduce Wilfred Mott's role after it became clear that Bernard Cribbins' health would prevent him from being on-set for extended periods. Wilfred Mott though still appears briefly in "The Giggle" by way of a stand-in and an archival recording of his voice.

The title of this story was named after the song Wild Blue Yonder. This song is both referenced and played in this story.

David Tennant called this story ‘unlike any Doctor Who episode ever’, and referring to the specials as a whole as ‘Russell off the leash’.

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 the 7th September 2023.

The marketing of this story was kept incredibly vague and revealed very little about this story’s cast and plot - unlike the other two 60th anniversary specials, "The Star Beast" and "The Giggle". The BBC wanted to maintain the surprises of this story and Russell T Davies wanted one of the specials to be a complete mystery. According to director Tom Kingsley, the secrecy had nothing to do with any surprise returning actors or villains, but because ‘we thought you might find it fun to watch it without knowing what's going to happen next’.

A preview of this story, released in issue 597 of the Doctor Who Magazine, revealed a teaser of the plot and a snippet of dialogue between The Doctor and Donna. It also revealed a cast list consisting of David Tennant, Catherine Tate, and three other names that had all been replaced with the words ‘REDACTED’. These were later revealed to be Nathaniel Curtis, Susan Twist, and the late Bernard Cribbins.

Only limited details and cast list accompanied the programme listing in the 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’.

This story contains an error when the TARDIS returns to the spaceship, The Doctor’s sonic-screwdriver, that he had left in the lock at the beginning of this story, is visibly missing from the keyhole for one scene, but is present in the next shot when The Doctor is seen retrieving it.

A novelisation of this story, written by Mark Morris, is due to be published in paperback in January 2024, and then on audio in February 2024, as part of the BBC Target Collection.

First and Last

The Firsts:

 Bernard Cribbins' first appearance as Wilfred Mott since "The End of Time".

The Lasts (Subject to Future Stories):

 Bernard Cribbins' last appearance as Wilfred Mott.

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The Plot

WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
The TARDIS On Fire
The TARDIS On Fire

With the TARDIS out of control, after his travelling companion Donna Noble accidentally spills her coffee over the TARDIS console at the end of the previous story "The Star Beast", the TARDIS crash lands in an apple tree - under which is Isaac Newton just at the point of reaching his famous epiphany of discovering gravity when fruit start to fall to the ground around him. They ask him what year it is, and from his answer of 1666 they figure out his identity. 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, that she and The Doctor find themselves in. They then depart leaving a bemused Isaac Newton.

After their encounter with Isaac Newton the TARDIS then lands in a large and apparently empty spaceship. The Doctor places his sonic-screwdriver into the TARDIS key-hole, in order to prime the time machine to heal itself from the damage it has sustained. The Doctor and Donna start to take a look around the spaceship before hearing the sound of the TARDIS dematerialising. On returning, to where they left the TARDIS, they discover to their dismay that it has disappeared. The Doctor tells Donna the TARDIS has reset its numerous functions, including its HADS, the Hostile Action Displacement System, and that it will only return once they have resolved whatever danger they are about to encounter. The two set off into the spaceship with renewed determination, marching down a long corridor. As they walk a loudspeaker blares out with an unrecognisable word and the environment shifts around them. However, neither The Doctor or Donna understand what this announcement means as they can no longer rely on the TARDIS to translate for them.

They soon come across a small hover-vehicle and a slow-moving robot, that The Doctor names ‘Jimbo’, who is slowly moving down the spaceship's long corridor. Using the hover-vehicle the pair find their way to a cockpit where The Doctor tries to decipher what he can from the spaceship's computer. He discovers that there are no life signs on board, and the airlock had been opened once three years ago. The Doctor realises that the spaceship has fallen through a wormhole and has ended up on the very edge of the universe where there are no stars and no signs of life. The intercom then blares out with another unrecognisable word and the spaceship shifts again. In a side room they discover it is filled with drawers of baseplate repetition filaments. The Doctor asks Donna to move all the ones in a lower drawer to a higher one - the spaceship is on idle and needs to be powered back up. Leaving Donna to her task, The Doctor finds another room with a spindle and works on adjusting it. As Donna moves the filaments it grows colder, which she murmurs about. The Doctor, back in the room with Donna, acknowledges the change in temperature to her. And as the two talk The Doctor starts to mumble about his arms being too long.

Repairing The TARDIS
Repairing The TARDIS

However, unknown to Donna, The Doctor actually is still back in the room with the spindle and is still working on adjusting it, he to notices it growing cold as Donna enters. He is surprised at how fast Donna was able to complete the task that he left her to do. As the two talk Donna comments that her arms are too long. The Doctor turns to look at her and sees her arm to be stretched beyond all proportion. The Doctor instantly realises that this isn't the real Donna. And with the real Donna, realising that it is not the real Doctor that she has been talking to, they both run, from their separate rooms, back to each other, with their doppelgängers slowly following behind. The Doctor realises that the doppelgängers are intelligent, but lack the concept of size and shape and constantly distort and morph into animalistic versions of them. Claiming to have come from nothing, to be Not-Things, they chase The Doctor and Donna, who use the hover-vehicle to try and outpace them, but the Not-Things grow and twist in size, keeping pace with The Doctor and Donna, before eventually tangling together and blocking each other and the whole of the corridor.

As the Not-Things slowly begin to untangle themselves The Doctor and Donna climb upwards to a vent. But when the intercom blares out again the environment shifts resulting in the two of them becoming separated. As the two walk around separately, trying to find the other, both pairs of The Doctor and Donna unite. The four try to convince their partners that they are real. But both of the Not-Things make mistakes enabling the real Doctor and Donna to flee again, with the Not-Things in pursuit, when the intercom once again blares out with another unrecognisable word.


The four find themselves together in another 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 until they have counted every grain. At first the two Not-Things are dismissive, saying it is just a superstition. But The Doctor insists, it is a superstition, and real, both at the same time. The Donna Not-Thing bends down and begins to count as they interrogate The Doctor Not-Thing, who they notice is slowly acclimatising. The Doctor Not-Thing 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. The Donna Not-Thing realises she has been duped and so blows away the salt, and the duo advance as the intercom blares again.

The Doctor and Donna run back to the spaceship’s cockpit and manage to lock themselves in, the Not-Things standing outside, slowly copying them more and more as the pair stresses and thinks. In order to combat this The Doctor and Donna try to think as little as possible, but they find themselves unable to do so - the spaceship just has so many unanswered questions. They then hear a banging outside and The Doctor realises that this is what was the captain of the spaceship. Still tethered what was the captain is bumping against the outside the spaceship. The Doctor realises that whoever opened the airlock three years ago was not entering the spaceship but was exiting so as to escape from the Not-Things.

The Doctor explains to Donna that the spaceship’s captain, to stop the Not-Things from reaching the rest of the universe, committed suicide three years ago by ejecting herself into space after setting off a series of actions so the Not-Things could not figure out what she had done. He correctly deduces that the spaceship has been very slowly reconfiguring itself into a bomb and that the strange words they have being hearing is a countdown and the robot they encountered in the corridor is slowly moving towards a self-destruct button in a last-ditch effort to kill the Not-Things. As the intercom blares out again all four of them race to stop the robot triggering the bomb. The Doctor speeds up the countdown to prevent the Not-Things from stopping the self-destruct. But The Doctor Not-Thing gives up on trying to copy The Doctor and becomes quadrupedal in order to reach the robot first.


Then both The Doctor and Donna hear the sound of the TARDIS returning and The Doctor realises that the danger it had sensed when they arrived is being resolved and the TARDIS is about to re-materialise. With the TARDIS returning they can finally understand how far the countdown has reached as the intercom blares out with the number ‘One’. This leaves The Doctor very little time to determine which Donna is real but is able to pull her into the TARDIS once she answers his questions to his satisfaction.

Still aboard the doomed spaceship, as the TARDIS dematerialises without her, the real Donna is devastated, insisting that The Doctor has chosen the wrong one, that she is the real Donna. With the TARDIS no longer able to translate the intercom once again blares out with an unrecognisable word. At which point the robot pushes the detonation button and the spaceship begins to destroy itself with the explosion rushing down the corridor to meet a distraught Donna.

Inside the TARDIS, The Doctor turns to face who he thought was Donna. But after noticing that her wrist is slightly too thick, and unbeknown to the Donna Not-Thing he pilots the TARDIS back to the spaceship to rescue the real Donna. On arrival The Doctor ejects Donna Not-Thing as the relieved, real Donna rushes in. The TARDIS instantly dematerialises and is seen flying away from the exploding spaceship that kills both Not-Things trapped onboard.

The TARDIS returns back near the alley from which they took off in London but The Doctor and Donna discover it is a day or two off. On exiting the TARDIS they discover Wilfred Mott who says that he never lost faith that The Doctor would come back to save them. Confused by this strange welcome The Doctor and Donna look around as small explosions and riots break out around them. They then witness a passenger aircraft flying very low above them. The Doctor, Donna, and Wilfred take cover against the TARDIS as the plane crashes nearby and explodes. Wilfred Mott is emphatic; the entire world is coming to an end and The Doctor needs to save them...

Exploring The Spaceship
Exploring The Spaceship
The Doctor
The Doctor
Not The Doctor
Not The Doctor
Who is Who?
Who is Who?
A Tight Squeeze
A Tight Squeeze
Which is the Real Donna?
Which is the Real Donna?
Wilfred Mott
Wilfred Mott

Quote of the Story

 'It destroyed half the universe, because of me. We stand here now, on the edge of creation, a creation which I devastated, so yes I keep running! Of course I do! How am I supposed to look back on that?'

The Doctor

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Release Information

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)Code NumberCover ArtRemarks
60th Anniversary SpecialsDecember 2023BBCDVD 4563Photo-montageDVD containing the 3 special 60th Anniversary stories.
60th Anniversary SpecialsDecember 2023BBCBD 0579Photo-montageBlu-Ray containing the 3 special 60th Anniversary stories.
60th Anniversary SpecialsDecember 2023BBCBD 0581Photo-montageLimited Edition Blu-Ray Steelbook boxed set containing the 3 special 60th Anniversary stories.

In Print

FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)PublisherAuthorCover ArtRemarks
Wild Blue YonderJanuary 2024BBC BooksMark MorrisTarget Collection. ISBN: 978-1-78594-846-6
Wild Blue YonderFebruary 2024BBC AudioMark MorrisAudio version of the BBC Books Target Novel read by Bonnie Langford (Melanie Bush).
Doctor Who Magazine - PreviewIssue 597 (Released: December 2023)

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Photo Gallery

The Doctor and Companion

David Tennant
The Fourteenth Doctor


Catherine Tate
Donna Noble

On Release

DVD Cover
DVD Cover

Blu-Ray Cover
Blu-Ray Cover

Blu-Ray Steelbook Cover
Blu-Ray Steelbook Cover


In Print

BBC Books Target Collection Cover
BBC Books Target Collection Cover

BBC Audio CD Cover
BBC Audio CD Cover



Doctor Who Magazine - Preview: Issue 597
Doctor Who Magazine - Preview: Issue 597

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