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Ncuti Gatwa
Dot and Bubble
Fifteenth Doctor Logo


Synopsis


The Virtual Doctor
The Virtual Doctor
 The world of Finetime seems happy and harmonious.

 But an awful terror is preying on the citizens.

 Can The Doctor and Ruby make them see the truth before it’s too late?

Source: BBC Website


General Information

Season: Forty One (New Series 14)
Production Code: 14-5
Story Number: 309 (New Series: 153)
Episode Number:880 (New Series: 184)
Number of Episodes: 1
Percentage of Episodes Held:100%
Working Titles:"Monsters, Monsters, Everywhere"
Production Dates:
Broadcast Date: 01 June 2024
Colour Status: HD Colour
Studio: Wolf Studios (Cardiff, Wales)
Location: Cardiff Bay Barrage and Swansea University Bay Campus, Wales
Writer:Russell T Davies
Director:Dylan Holmes Williams
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
Script Supervisor:Richard Pask
Script Editors:Scott Handcock and Rosheed Bello (Assistant)
Editors:Chris Roebuck BFE, Emily Lawrence (Assistant), Joseph Keirle (Assistant) and Matt Nathan (VFX)
Colourist:Gareth Spensley
Production Executive:Steffan Morris
Junior Production Executive:Charlotte Cox
Production Manager:Delmi Thomas
Post Production Producer:Ceres Doyle
Post Production Supervisor:Liv Duffin
Location Managers:Baljinder Sidhu, Jason Keatley, Alex Moore (Assistant) and Shuaib Said (Assistant)
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:Sam Care
Casting Director:Andy Pryor CDG/CSA
Online Editor:Christine Kelly
Line Producer:Mark Devlin
Costume Designer:Pam Downe
Hair & Make-Up Designer:Claire Williams
Cameramen:James Chesterton ACO (Operator), Andrea Jovanovska (Trainee), Chai Lee Tan (Trainee) and Farah Rose (Trainee)
Construction:4Wood TV & Film and Real TV
Visual Effects:Automatik VFX
VFX Producer:Will Cohen
VFX Supervisors:Sean Varney and Sebastian Barker
Additional VFX:BBC Wales Graphics and Egg VFX
Special Effects:Real SFX
Creature Design:Painting Practice
Creature FX:Millennium FX
Stunt Co-ordinators:Derek Lea and James Grogan
Stunt Performer:Anthony Skrimshire
Puppeteers:Jeremiah Krage, Matt Lyons, Nick Kellington and Phil Woodfine
Creature Choreographer:Paul Kasey
Incidental Music:Murray Gold
Sound Recordist:Alex Thompson
Re-recording Mixer:Paul McFadden
Music Conducted By:Alastair King
Music Performed By:BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Music Supervisors:Ollie White and Marnie Davidge (Assistant)
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: Ncuti Gatwa (The Fifteenth Doctor)
Number of Companions: 1The Companion: Millie Gibson (Ruby Sunday) Additional Cast: Callie Cooke (Lindy Pepper-Bean), Eilidh Loan (Cooper Mercy), Aldous Ciokajlo Squire (Harry Tendency), Niamh Lynch (Hoochy Pie), Millie Kent (Valerie Nook), Billy Brayshaw (Blake Very Blue), Pete MacHale (Gothic Paul), Max Boast (Dr Pee), Elloise Bennett (Rotterdam Twin 1), Olivia Bennett (Rotterdam Twin 2), Tom Rhys Harries (Ricky September), Jack Forsyth-Noble (Weatherman Will), Milo Callaghan (Alan K Sullivan), Susan Twist (Penny Pepper-Bean), Ellie-Grace Cashin (Suzie Pentecost), Jamie Barnard (Brewster Cavendish)Setting: Finetime City Villains:Finetime Dots and Finetime Slugs

The Episodes

No. Episodes Broadcast
(UK)
Duration Viewers
(Millions)
In Archive
880Dot and Bubble01 June 202443'32"3.4Yes

Total Duration 44 Minutes


Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 3.4


Archives


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



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Notes


"Dot and Bubble" was written by Russell T Davies and directed by Dylan Holmes Williams.

In this story the Fifteenth Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa), with his companion, Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson), attempt to save the population of the city of Finetime from human eating giant slugs. Primarily communicating through virtual means with Lindy Pepper-Bean (played by Callie Cooke), The Doctor and Ruby try to help the residents of Finetime escape.

While not considered a ‘Doctor-lite’ story, "Dot and Bubble" does focus less on The Doctor and Ruby but more on the character of Lindy Pepper-Bean. This makes "Dot and Bubble" the first story since the 2007 Tenth Doctor story "Blink" to focus primarily on a character who is neither the Doctor or a companion.

Similar to the previous story, Ncuti Gatwa was still filming Sex Education when this story began production limiting his availability but he does have a larger presence than he had in the previous story "73 Yards".

Similar to other stories in this season, Susan Twist guest starred as another seemingly disparate character (though briefly) this time as Lindy’s mother, Penny Pepper-Bean. The Doctor recognises Penny Pepper-Bean as the face of the screens of the Villengard Ambulances from the planet of Kastarion 3, as depicted in "Boom", while Ruby Sunday says she recognises her from elsewhere, recalling other characters with similar appearances that were seen in previous stories in this season. In the other previous stories Susan Twist has played a hiker in "73 Yards" and was a tea lady in "The Devil's Chord". Susan Twist also played Mrs Merridew in last season’s Fourteenth Doctor story "Wild Blue Yonder". At the time that "Dot and Bubble" was broadcast it has not been revealed how these separate characters are connected.

Tom Rhys Harries appeared as Ricky September. The remainder of the guest cast included Eilidh Loan, Aldous Ciokajlo Squire, and Niamh Lynch, among others.

Russell T Davies has admitted he took inspiration for this story from Black Mirror but with more freedom. Several critics also noted the similarities in tone and premise especially with the Black Mirror episodes ‘Fifteen Million Merits’, in 2011, and ‘Nosedive’ in 2016.

Russell T Davies initially conceptualised the idea in 2009 when the upcoming showrunner Steven Moffat asked Russell T Davies to return to the programme after his initial departure and write a story for the Eleventh Doctor and his companion Amy Pond. Russell T Davies has stated that the idea for this story was originally pitched to Steven Moffat in April 2010, but the discussion only lasted a few minutes before it was decided that it would be impossible to make at that time. This was due to the budget constraints that the heavy visual effects would have required. Following the co-production deal with Disney that began in 2023, which allowed for an increased budget enabling this story to finally be produced.

This story explored the reliance of social media on a young population while featuring underlying themes of racism and elitism. The Finetime residents' rejection of The Doctor in the final scene is widely interpreted as due to his race.

Only white actors were cast in the guest roles due to this story’s theme of racism; Russell T Davies has acknowledged his hope that some viewers would notice from the very beginning of this story that the residents of Finetime are all visibly white, which could be taken as an early sign of this story’s final twist.

"Dot and Bubble" was the second story of the Season Forty One (New Series 14) to be produced, though the final scene of this story was the very first to be filmed by Ncuti Gatwa for the main part of this season. It was filmed in the first production block along with the previous story, "73 Yards". Filming took place in December 2022 and January 2023.

Because the weather on set was unpredictable, the scene with Weatherman Will was filmed multiple times with different fictional weather forecasts.

Millennium FX designed the slug creatures, which took three people to operate during filming.

In this story The Doctor is seen wearing the outfit he wore in "The Church on Ruby Road".

The Doctor experiences racial prejudice from the residents of Finetime.

The Tenth Doctor and Martha Jones previously dealt with racism in 1599 during the events of "The Shakespeare Code", and in 1913 during the events of "Human Nature/The Family of Blood". The Twelfth Doctor and Bill Potts also talked about racism during the 1814 frost fair, as seen in "Thin Ice". While Yasmin Khan had to deal with racism for much of her life as presented in the 2018 Thirteenth Doctor story "Rosa" and in the BBC New Series Adventures novel "The Good Doctor" written by Juno Dawson.

It was also hinted the Kaled's racism against other races caused their war with the Thals which led to the origin of the Daleks, as expressed in the 1963 First Doctor story "The Daleks" and in the 1975 Fourth Doctor story "Genesis of the Daleks".

The population of Finetime refusing The Doctor's help because of prejudice is similar to how Drahvins refused the help of Rills in the 1965 First Doctor story "Galaxy 4"; and also how many Kaleds rejected the idea of many including Major Brogan and Scientist Shan making peace with the Thals in the Big Finish Productions audio stories "I, Davros: Innocence" and "I, Davros: Corruption".

As well as the more obvious racism, at the end of this story, the Finetime residents' racism is highlighted (or at least hinted at), before the Finetime residents get to meet The Doctor in person. Namely:

 
  • When The Doctor first appears in Lindy's Bubble, she immediately blocks him in outrage. When Ruby appears, Lindy is annoyed but does not dismiss her immediately.
  •  
  • For no apparent reason Lindy is upset at the idea that The Doctor and Ruby are in the same room.
  •  
  • When Lindy realises that The Doctor is the same man she blocked early in the morning, she states ‘I thought you just looked the same! ’.
  •  
  • When introducing The Doctor to her friends in the Bubble, she alludes that he will be disciplined after the crisis has finished, noting ‘he's not as stupid as he looks’.


  • The name ‘Vivienne Nook’, one of Lindy's friends, is similar to ‘Vivienne Rook’, a character from Years and Years, another television show written by Russell T Davies. It is also similar the character ‘Vivien Rook’ in the 2007 Tenth Doctor story "The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords".

    The ‘Dot’ used by the Finetime residents looks similar to a device called the ‘light bee’ in Red Dwarf.

    The Doctor still calls the TARDIS a ‘ship’. He previously did so in the 2017 Twelfth Doctor story "Twice Upon a Time".

    The Doctor remarks that his TARDIS is unable to enter Finetime because of its high shielding. The TARDIS was previously unable to enter the Black Archive in London, for similar reasons, in the 2013 Eleventh Doctor story "The Day of The Doctor".

    Lindy Pepper-Bean tries to call the police but is consistently dismissed by an automated message stating that the lines are busy. The Tenth Doctor faced a similar dilemma in the 2007 story "Gridlock".

    The ending of this story, with the reveal that Lindy and the other residents of Finetime are racist, marked the first time that The Doctor has experienced prejudice and racial discrimination because of the colour of his skin, and was the second time an incarnation of The Doctor had been a target of prejudice after the Thirteenth Doctor in the 2018 story "The Witchfinder". Consequently, because of the racist behaviour displayed by the residents of Finetime causing them to refuse any help from the Fifteenth Doctor, the ending showed a rare example of The Doctor failing to save everyone in danger in a story despite his best efforts to convince them otherwise.

    This story was released on the 31st May 2024 on Disney+, and on BBC iPlayer on the 1st June 2024, before being broadcast at 6:50pm on BBC One that same day.

    The end titles include the caption: ‘Produced with the support of Incentives for the Irish Film Industry provided by the Government of Ireland’.


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    The Plot

    WARNING: May Contain SpoilersHide Text
    Lindy Pepper-Bean
    Lindy Pepper-Bean

    Lindy Pepper-Bean is one of several wealthy young adults, from the nearby Homeworld, that live in the city of Finetime that is shielded from the dangerous Wild Woods that surround the city. They primarily live through a social media-like interface, in the form of a Bubble projected around their heads by small floating robots called Dots, with the city's computer directing their every movement and decisions.

    As Lindy wakes up to another day in Finetime she activates her Bubble and sees that several of her friends are missing but is unconcerned by this. She is then interrupted by The Doctor appearing in her Bubble, warning her of extreme danger, but she immediately blocks him. Lindy then goes about following the instructions of the city’s computer to get up and arrive at her place of work where she has to carry out an obligatory 2 hours of ‘work’.

    However, while Lindy is at her place of work, Ruby Sunday appears in her Bubble and claims to be running a system check for Finetime Enterprises. After questioning her on the whereabouts of her colleagues, who should be in the room with Lindy, Ruby convinces Lindy to look through a gap in her Bubble where Lindy finds them gone.

    The Doctor
    The Doctor

    After some coaxing from Ruby, Lindy reluctantly drops her Bubble and alongside her she sees a giant slug-like creature eating one of her colleagues. With her Bubble reactivated Lindy discovers that along with Ruby another person has joined her social group. This is The Doctor, and the two convince her to run, though she struggles to move without the guidance of the Bubble.

    Lindy eventually manages to reach the outside and convinced to remove her Bubble again Lindy witnesses multiple giant slugs eating the residents. But strangely they seem to be ignoring some of the residents, including herself. Hiding from the horrors she has witnessed Lindy then views a message from her mother Penny, whom The Doctor and Ruby recognise, though from different places. The Doctor recognises her from the face of the robotic Ambulance, that he encountered on the battlefield on the planet Kastarion 3 (see "Boom"), while Ruby recognises her from the woman hiker that she met in Wales (see "73 Yards").

    Ruby Sunday
    Ruby Sunday

    Lindy is then confused to see that The Doctor and Ruby are in the same room, and she recognises The Doctor as the man she previously blocked. She calls a group chat to inform the rest of her friends what is happening. During which Gothic Paul is eaten in front of them.

    The Doctor and Ruby instruct Lindy and her friends to evacuate Finetime via conduits that lead to an underground river so that they can wait for rescue by their families from Homeworld. Lindy’s Dot however, runs out of power, forcing her to find the conduit on her own. Lindy though finds herself amongst a group of giant slugs. She is eventually aided in person by another resident, Ricky September, a pop singer that she idolises. He reveals that unlike the other residents, he turns his Bubble off regularly and can function without it. He has therefore been aware of the giant slugs for quite some time. He later learns that Homeworld has already been consumed by the giant slugs but does not inform Lindy, so as not to upset her.

    The two find the entrance to the conduit and Lindy is able to charge her Dot. As Ricky opens the door, The Doctor realises that the giant slugs were created and bred within Finetime by the Dots and that the residents are being directed to their deaths. He deduces that it is likely that the city’s computer has grown frustrated with the childish population and has been working alphabetical through the population, sending them to their death one-by-one. This is therefore why the giant slugs have been ignoring Lindy. But The Doctor then realises that alphabetically Lindy is next on the list.

    A Finetime Slug
    A Finetime Slug

    Suddenly Lindy finds herself no longer able to control her Dot as it reveals its true colours and tries to attack her. When Lindy is cornered, she selfishly reveals Ricky's true surname is ‘Coombes’ and so alphabetically he should be the computer’s next target, and not her. As Ricky tries to fend off the attacking Dot alone Lindy enters the conduit, closing the door behind her, so abandoning Ricky to be killed by her Dot.

    Lindy finally meets up with the few remaining fleeing residents that The Doctor and Ruby managed to rescue earlier. She lies to them about what happened to Ricky. Despite The Doctor encouraging them all to come with him in the TARDIS, to find a new home, they disdainfully refuse out of racial prejudice and instead plan to take their chances in the Wild Woods.

    The Doctor dismisses their racial slur against him and begs them to come with him. But the survivors have no interest in going with him even when he warns them that they will die, as the Wild Woods are dangerous. They ignore him completely and Ruby returns to the TARDIS, shocked and disgusted by the refugees' racist and ungrateful attitude. The Doctor can only scream in frustration as the group launch their raft onto the river. Unable to stop them The Doctor, filled with sorrow and anger, returns to the TARDIS, knowing that the residents will surely die on their own.

     
    Ricky September
    Ricky September
    Gothic Paul
    Gothic Paul
    Penny Pepper-Bean
    Penny Pepper-Bean
    Lindy Leaves Her Workplace
    Lindy Leaves Her Workplace
     
    Lindy Outside
    Lindy Outside
    Ricky September Helps Lindy
    Ricky September Helps Lindy
    Rogue Finetime Dot
    Rogue Finetime Dot
    An Exasperated Doctor
    An Exasperated Doctor




    Quote of the Story


     'My name is The Doctor, and your life is in danger, okay? There are creatures out there in the real world; there are monsters, and they are coming to get you.'

    The Doctor



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    Release Information

    FormatTitleRelease Date (UK)Code NumberCover ArtRemarks
    Video
    DVD
    The Complete Fourteenth Series Box SetDue: August 2024Photo-montageDVD boxed set containing 7 stories from New Series 14 along with the 2023 Christmas Special "The Church on Ruby Road"
    Video
    Blu-Ray
    The Complete Fourteenth Series Box SetDue: August 2024Photo-montageBlu-Ray boxed set containing 7 stories from New Series 14 along with the 2023 Christmas Special "The Church on Ruby Road"
    Video
    Blu-Ray
    The Complete Fourteenth Series Box Set (Limited Edition Steelbook)Due: August 2024Photo-montageLimited Edition Blu-Ray Steelbook boxed set containing 7 stories from New Series 14 along with the 2023 Christmas Special "The Church on Ruby Road"


    In Print

    No Book Release
    Doctor Who Magazine - PreviewIssue 604 (Released: June 2024)

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    Ruby Sunday
     
       




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    Blu-Ray Steelbook Cover
    Blu-Ray Steelbook Cover

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    Doctor Who Magazine - Preview: Issue 604
    Doctor Who Magazine - Preview: Issue 604

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