Behind the Scenes of Planet of the Dead - Part Two
Excerpts from Tom Spilsbury and Benjamin Cook’s article for DWM (#407)
Of course, it may have seemed like a long wait for a new episode since The Next Doctor last Christmas, but it was even longer for the production team - with David Tennant returning as the Doctor for Planet of the Dead after eight months away, starring in the RSC’s Hamlet. “There was a proper, genuine excitement when David returned to Cardiff,” says Russell [T. Davies]. “I’m not kidding, we were all buzzing! When I got to the readthrough, I realised, powerfully, how much I’d missed it.”
“David was in fine form at that readthrough,” says Gareth [Roberts, co-writer of Planet of the Dead], “and obviously glad to be back. The cast in any TV production always looks to the leading actor to set the tone, and he was straight back in there as the Doctor, no problem, sparking. I was sat right opposite him, and it was rather like being caught in an electric storm.”
“We’re not Doctor Who fans by accident,” smiles Russell. “There really is something unique and special about that Time Lord and the life that he leads. Both the character and David himself fill the production with energy, and we’re all aware that we haven’t got many of these good times with David left.
The Doctor and Martha land in Louis XIV’s France. They’re walking and chatting through the street until some shouting and fighting call their attention.
A man is left wounded on the street by a cloaked humanoid with strange marks on the face. Martha goes to tend the man meanwhile The Doctor runs after the attacker.
Meanwhile Martha is attending the wounded man, another person comes to help her, dressed in black male clothes but with delicate features and a soft voice. Working together, they quickly save the live of the man and take him to his bed for rest.
Martha and her still unknown partner are still taking care of the man when The Doctor arrives, the cloaked figure escaped but left something behind, a strange alien object The Doctor wants to study.
They end up on Martha’s new friend’s house, where The Doctor quickly see through her male disguise, so she has to confess that he’s right, she’s a woman and her name is Claudine.
In the meantime The Doctor studies the alien object, Martha and Claudine start to talk and bond. They’re both impressed by the medical knowledge of the other one.
Martha asks Claudine why she’s dressing like a man and she tells her that is because the laws don’t permit women being doctors, and that she must what it feels like having to be the simply maid of a male doctor even with her knowledge.
Martha can’t resist it and she tells Claudine about how she’s not just The Doctor’s maid, she’s from the future, where women can be whatever they want to be.
Claudine doesn’t know what to believe at the beginning, but she soon starts thinking is true as her adventure with Martha and The Doctor unfolds.
The alien menace takes them to Versailles. The Doctor is quickly arrested by Fabien and threatened with prison and has to be rescued by Martha and Claudine, Fabien doesn’t believe a word of what they’re telling him but Claudine convinces him of give The Doctor a chance because she trusts on them.
The Doctor, Martha, Claudine and Fabien save the day and they’re congratulated by the King who offers The Doctor lands and riches, which he rejects with the excuse that he was just passing through.
The Doctor and Martha say goodbye and come back to the TARDIS, meanwhile he’s starting the dematerialisation process, The Doctor tells Martha about a great medicine pioneer named Claude Masson who was supposed to work for Louis XIV and how he thinks now that someone had to write the name wrongly in the history books.