The Empress of Mars
Doctor Who Logo 'The Empress of Mars'
(Story Code 10.09)

by Mark Gatiss
The Twelfth Doctor and Friday

“Let’s face it, in this scenario, the humans are the invaders. On the other hand, the Ice Warriors have vastly superior armaments that will wipe the humans out. So what am I supposed to do?” – The Doctor

The Doctor, Bill and Nardole gate crash NASA’s Mission Control to watch the Valkyrie probe landing on Mars. But when the craft beams back an image of what it has detected under the ice of the Martian North Pole, the assembled engineers, scientists and time travellers are surprised to see the words ‘GOD SAVE THE QUEEN’… With the aid of the TARDIS, the Doctor determines that the message was made in 1881; together with Bill and Nardole, he travels to Mars, materialising the TARDIS inside a system of catacombs under the North Pole, where the ship has detected signs of life. As the trio explore the tunnels, Bill comes across a tent and a campfire; this proves the presence of oxygen, so the travellers remove their helmets and resume their search. When Bill wanders off and inadvertently falls down a hole the Doctor sends Nardole back to the TARDIS to get rescue equipment; however, as soon as Nardole enters the ship its controls set themselves automatically, and the TARDIS dematerialises… Bill wakes up in a tunnel, just as a nearby metal door in the rock opens; to Bill’s astonishment she is greeted by a Victorian British officer wearing a steampunk spacesuit. Meanwhile, the Doctor come face-to-face with the armoured might of a native Martian: a badly scarred, one-eyed Ice Warrior. The Doctor placates the creature with a Martian greeting, but then finds himself at gunpoint from a rifle-wielding British soldier, who calls the warrior ‘Friday’. Nardole manages to get the TARDIS back to the Doctor’s office in St. Luke’s university; he reluctantly ventures down to the Vault to ask Missy for her help in returning to Mars… Reunited with Bill at the British soldiers’ camp, the Doctor takes tea with officers Colonel Godsacre and Captain Catchlove, waited on by Friday. The colonel explains how he discovered a crashed interplanetary vessel during a campaign in South Africa, inside which was the Martian warrior, held in a cryogenic cell. After waking up the alien and nicknaming him ‘Friday’, Godsacre and the British forces stuck a deal: they would fix Friday’s ship and take him home, in exchange for the Martian’s help in mining his planet of its precious gemstones, using a device named the Gargantua, built from his ship’s artillery. The soldiers set off to loot Mars in the name of Queen Victoria and the British Empire, but the ship crashed; they are marooned until they can repair the alien vessel, and both supplies and morale are running low. The Doctor and Bill talk to Friday; once a proud and mighty warrior, he is now reduced to the role of butler. Out in the tunnels, the British soldiers continue their efforts to mine for jewels using the Gargantua; to their surprise they break through a rock wall, uncovering an ancient Martian tomb that contains the sarcophagus of an Ice Queen, her golden statue lying atop a huge jewelled plinth. Recognising the chamber as the entrance to a Martian Hive, the Doctor deduces the real reason for Friday’s deal; the Time Lord now faces a difficult choice on whom to help: the British are technically the invaders, but the Ice Warriors are advanced enough to wipe out the Victorian soldiers... Colonel Godsacre posts a guard on the tomb and sarcophagus; but one of the men, Jackdaw, becomes greedy: he drugs his Sergeant Major, leaving him asleep while he begins prising off the huge gemstones from the base of the sarcophagus. Unfortunately, the greedy soldier’s actions wake the sleeping Ice Queen; rising up from the sarcophagus, she executes the robber, and when two more soldiers arrive on the scene, her wrist weapon crushes one into a tangled mass. Friday arrives to greet his empress; proud at fulfilling his mission to resurrect her, he also bears the news that they have slept for five-thousand years, and have awakened when Mars is dead world. The Doctor, Bill and the soldiers arrive in the tomb; a stand-off quickly ensues, as both sides face each other with weapons raised. The Doctor intercedes, asking the Ice Queen, Iraxxa, for mercy for the primitives, and offering to help any other Martian survivors. To Bill’s surprise the empress asks for her advice, as the only other female present; backing-up the Doctor, Bill seems to be getting through to Iraxxa – until one of the soldiers misfires, his bullet striking the Ice Queen’s helmet. After Iraxxa opens fire in fury, the Doctor urges the British troops to safety; as the men hastily retreat to the tunnel outside Captain Catchlove trains the Gargantua on the two Martians, but Bill knocks his shot wild, bringing down the roof and sealing the entrance to the tomb. Then the weasly captain uses the opportunity to seize command, pulling away Colonel Godsacre’s scarf to reveal the mark of a hangman’s noose on the man’s neck - the officer was a convicted deserter, who escaped punishment when his hanging was bungled. Now in charge, Captain Catchlove orders his men to lock up the disgraced colonel in the brig, along with the Doctor and Bill. Back inside the tomb, Iraxxa wakes six more Ice Warriors from cryogenic slumber; the giants tunnel out of the chamber and emerge inside the British campsite, where they begin slaughtering the soldiers. Unable to turn the Gargantua on their attackers, Captain Catchlove orders his men to open fire with their rifles. While a pitched battle breaks out in the tunnels, Empress Iraxxa continues to awaken her army in the hive, activating the cells of hundreds of sleeping Ice Warriors. With his soldiers losing the battle to the Martians, Captain Catchlove sacrifices one of his men so that he can escape. Waiting in the brig, the Doctor, Bill and Godsacre are freed by Friday, who asks for their cooperation in stopping the war. After the cowardly colonel just runs away, the Doctor asks Bill and Friday to create a distraction so he can get to the Gargantua; Bill tries appealing to Iraxxa for her cooperation; although her pleas are ignored, they allow the Doctor to point the Gargantua up at the ceiling – straight towards the Martian North Pole. Under threat of destruction from millions of tonnes of ice, Empress Iraxxa seems about to agree to a ceasefire – but then Captain Catchlove appears and holds a knife to her throat, demanding that she call off her troops and help him escape in the spaceship. Intending to seal everyone else in the tunnels, Catchlove backs towards the lift with his hostage; but when the lift arrives it brings with it Colonel Godsacre, who promptly executes the traitor and resumes his command. Dropping his gun at the Ice Queen’s feet, Godsacre shows her the hangman’s mark on his neck and asks her to finish the job, on the condition that she spare his friends and world. Seeing honour in her opponent, Empress Iraxxa offers him the chance to die in battle like a warrior if he pledges his allegiance to her and Mars; the colonel accepts, and peace is finally made… A while later, the Doctor repairs the Martians’ communications system and transmits a call for help; the message is quickly answered by a representative of Alpha Centauri, who happily offers to help the Martians. The Doctor and Bill then take the lift to the surface of Mars, where they help Colonel Godsacre to create the fateful message out of rocks, a marker to help guide in the Alpha Centaurians’ ship; with nothing for him back on Earth, the colonel is looking forward to helping forge a new world on Mars. Returning to the tunnels, the Doctor and Bill are overjoyed to see the arrival of the TARDIS, which brings with it a sheepish-looking Nardole. When the Doctor sees who else is inside the TARDIS, he is furious that Missy has been let out of the Vault. Missy agrees to return to her cell, but she is more concerned that something is wrong with the Doctor…

Peter Capaldi (The Doctor), Matt Lucas (Nardole), Pearl Mackie (Bill Potts), Michelle Gomez (Missy), Anthony Calf (Colonel Godsacre), Ferdinand Kingsley (Captain Neville Catchlove), Richard Ashton (Friday), Adele Lynch (Iraxxa), Glenn Speers (Sergeant Major Peach), Ian Beattie (Jackdaw), Bayo Gbadamosi (Vincey), Ian Hughes (Knibbs), Lesley Ewen (Coolidge), Ysanne Churchman (Voice of Alpha Centauri)

Directed by Wayne Yip
Produced by Nikki Wilson
Executive Producers Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin
A BBC Wales production

TX (BBC 1 & BBC 1 HD):
10th June 2017 @ 7.15 pm

*Featuring the Twelfth Doctor, Bill and Nardole