TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY: Doctor Who The Runaway Bride
Ten years ago today the Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Runaway Bride aired for the very first time on BBC One in the UK. 9.35 million of us tuned in to see David Tennant and Catherine Tate as The Doctor and Donna Noble in Russell T Davies' festive adventure.
Bride-to-be Donna mysteriously vanishes as she prepares to marry her boyfriend Lance in a glittering ceremony on Christmas Eve. She suddenly appears, to her complete astonishment, in the TARDIS with the Doctor. As the TARDIS races to get to the church on time, the Doctor and Donna are closely watched by the sinister figure of The Empress of Racnoss from her throne in her spaceship. It soon becomes clear that Donna is the key to an ancient alien plan to destroy the Earth.
The Runaway Bride was the first episode of Doctor Who to be filmed at the Upper Boat Studios on the outskirts of Pontypridd. Previous episodes were filmed in Newport.
Although the episode is set in London during December a lot of it was filmed in July in scorching temperatures in Cardiff.
Cardiff locations used included St Mary Street, St John The Baptist church and the corridors of the Millennium Stadium. The Empress Of Racnoss' lair was Newport Dock's Impounding Station and the TARDIS / Taxi car chase was filmed on Cardiff's link road.
Location work in London included working on the roof of an office block in Shoe Lane and at the Thames Barrier.
Writer Russell T Davies had been planning this story for a while and had originally thought to use it during Series 2. However when Billie Piper told him she would be leaving the show he decided to hold the story back and promoted it to being the Christmas Special.
Due to her busy schedule, Donna Noble actress, Catherine Tate was unable to attend the readthrough of the script. Her part was instead read by Sophia Myles, who had previously played Madame de Pompadour in The Girl In The Fireplace.
The opening scene of the episode was completely re-shot from the version seen in Doomsday, as the Director of Photography and lighting crew wanted to light the TARDIS interior differently for the special.
Due to legal reasons the production company had to print fake money for the cash machine scene where money flies out across the street.
The £10 notes featured the Tenth Doctor's face and the phrases "I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of ten satsumas" and "No second chances — I'm that sort of a man". The £20 notes featured the series producer Phil Collinson. The notes have since become collector's items with fans selling them on eBay.
The Friends: Introducing Donna
Donna Noble was halfway up the aisle of St Mary's church and about wed fiance Lance Bennett when she found herself on board the TARDIS, a side effect of the Empress of Racnoss' plans hatched with her accomplice, who just happened to be Donna's husband to be!
Donna met Lance when she was temping as a secretary for HC Clements, six months before their wedding day. He had offered to make her a cup of coffee and it was love at first sight for Donna. However it later emerged that the coffee contained Huon Energy in liquid form and that Lance was drugging her on behalf of the Empress, who was using Donna's body to catalyse the Huon particles, enabling her to release the remaining Racnoss from the centre of the Earth.
The Doctor later deduced that it was when these particles inside Donna had magnetised with those inside the TARDIS that she was drawn on board and was then able to reverse the process, summoning the TARDIS to materialise around them.
The Doctor confirmed that the Huon Energy, which is deadly to humans, had been drained from Donna by the Empress before she returned home.
Prior to her time at HC Clements Donna, who is the daughter of Sylvia and Geoff Noble and the granddaughter to Wilfred Mott, lived alone with her dog in London.
Donna liked Pringles, fashionable fads and celebrity gossip. She hated Christmas so much that she deliberately scheduled her wedding for Christmas Eve with a honeymoon in Morocco to follow.
The Doctor observed that Donna had the tendency to miss huge events that were happening all around her. She was too hungover to notice the Sycorax invasion ('The Christmas Invasion') and was scuba diving in Spain when the Cybermen manifested across the globe ('Army Of Ghosts' / 'Doomsday') .
Although the Doctor helped Donna to put her life in to perspective she turned down the opportunity to travel him following their encounter with the Racnoss, choosing to give up temping and go travelling alone instead.
She did however hope that their paths would cross again one day.....
The Foe: The Empress Of Racnoss
The Empress Of Racnoss was the last of her ancient race, legendary foes of and ultimately destroyed by the Time Lords. One Webstar, the Secret Heart, containing her offspring escaped but was entombed at the core of the planet Earth, which formed around it. The Empress needed an organic key full of Huon particles to free her children and as the Torchwood Institute had already drawn her attention, she recreated Huon particles artificially in its secret labs.
She convinced Lance Bennett, an employee of a Torchwood subsidiary company, to force feed co worker Donna Noble with a potentially fatal dose of Huon particles, thus creating the key she required.
When Donna escaped, the Empress had her Roboform mercenaries force feed Lance thus creating a spare key.
The Doctor realised he had to stop these old foes once and for all and destroyed the Empress' children using small explosives to flood the chamber beneath the Thames Barrier, into which they were crawling.
As her children died, the Empress escaped back to her own Webstar, swearing revenge, but a British Army tank, acting on the orders of Minister Of Defence, Harold Saxon, blew the Webstar to pieces, presumably killing the Empress too.
In the alternative world where Donna never met the Doctor, the Empress was killed but the Doctor did not escape the resultant destruction of the Thames Barrier and died there ('Turn Left').
Donna later recalled the Empress of Racnoss as she subconsciously fought the Master's influence ('The End Of Time')