Doctor Who Logo 'The Empty Child'
Story Code 1.9

by Steven Moffat
The Doctor, Rose and Captain Jack

“There’s no heartbeat. No life signs of any kind. They just don’t die.” – Doctor Constantine

Detecting a small, cylindrical spaceship coloured mauve – the universal sign for danger – heading for Earth, the Doctor sets the TARDIS on a pursuit course; but the object jumps a time track and heads for a collision course with London. Time displacement causes the TARDIS to arrive in the capital on a night one month after the cylinder crashed; while the Doctor enters a nearby nightclub to question its patrons about the recent crash, Rose encounters a small boy wearing a gas mask and calling for his mother. Concerned, Rose follows the boy to the top of a building; she tries to climb a rope to reach him, only to find that the line is tethered to a barrage balloon – which is immediately swept away by a gust of wind, leaving Rose dangling in mid-air high above London. When the Doctor asks the club’s patrons about something falling from the sky, his enquiry is met with laughter; but once an air raid siren sounds he realises why: he and Rose have arrived during the Blitz in 1941, when the German air force constantly bombarded the city with bombs. As everyone runs for the shelters, the Doctor returns to the TARDIS to look for Rose, only to find no sign of her - however, the telephone in the TARDIS’ outer shell is inexplicably ringing. The Doctor is about to answer it when a young girl appears and warns him not to, but before he can ask why, the girl vanishes into the darkness; lifting the receiver, the Doctor is puzzled to hear the voice of a young boy calling for his mother. A short while later, the Doctor watches as a family leaves their house for the safety of their shelter; as soon as they have gone the girl sneaks into their house and begins stealing food. Rose finds herself in the middle of attacking German bombers and exploding flak; from the safety of a nearby officer’s club, Royal Air Force pilot Captain Jack Harkness watches her plight with the aid of an anachronistically high-tech pair of binoculars. Rose finally loses her grip on the rope and plummets to the ground far below, only to be caught and held in mid-air in a tractor beam; she is brought safely down to Earth, landing in Captain Jack’s arms, apparently in the cockpit of some sophisticated craft. Rose is immediately attracted to the handsome man, but then faints dead away. At the temporarily empty house, the girl, Nancy, serves up a huge meal to a group of hungry and homeless children, only to be surprised by an unexpected guest: the Doctor. He begins questioning them about the crashed capsule, but is interrupted by the appearance of the gas-masked boy, who asks to be let into the house. Nancy is terrified, and sends the children to safety out the back way, warning the Doctor not to let the boy touch him. After the Doctor hears the child’s eerily imploring voice emanating from the telephone, the radio, and even a toy, he opens the door to talk to the boy, but the child has vanished into thin air. Meanwhile, having cured her rope burns with subatomic machines called nanogenes, Jack tries to tell Rose that he is an American volunteer in the Air Force; however, Rose spots that Jack’s I.D. card is in fact made of the same psychic paper that the Doctor uses, a gimmick that proves a simple way of revealing that both of them are time travellers – and both single and available. Jack takes Rose outside to drink champagne on the roof of his invisible spaceship, which is parked in mid-air and tethered to Big Ben. At her hideout on a disused train, Nancy tells the Doctor that soldiers at Limehouse Green Station are guarding the crashed cylinder, and that he should talk to Doctor Constantine in Albion Hospital. Jack comes on to Rose, and encourages her to dance with him to the sounds of Glenn Miller. Assuming Rose to be a Time Agent - like he used to be before he became freelance - Jack reveals that the crashed cylinder was a Chula warship; he offers to sell its current location to the Time Agency, giving Rose and the Doctor two hours to agree to his terms – after that, an enemy bomb is due to destroy the cylinder. While spying on the cylinder at Limehouse, the Doctor learns from Nancy that her brother was recently killed by a falling bomb. Nancy leaves to find her friends, while the Doctor breaks into the hospital, where he finds hundreds of patients, all apparently dead, their faces covered with gas-masks. After meeting Doctor Constantine the Doctor finds that, impossibly, all the patients share the same symptoms: massive head trauma, a scar on their right-hand, and a gas mask fused to their face. Clearly in pain, Constantine explains that four weeks ago, a young bomb victim was brought in for treatment, but soon died from his injuries; those that treated him quickly exhibited the same physical ailments, an effect that rapidly spread throughout the hospital like a plague; however, although devoid of life signs, none of the patients are actually dead. Before he can continue, Constantine succumbs to his illness, his face somehow contorting and transforming into a gas mask… Having used his equipment to trace the Doctor’s alien technology, Jack and Rose arrive at the hospital and meet up with the Time Lord; Jack quickly realises that the Doctor and Rose are not Time Agents, and confesses that after seeing their time / space vessel, he decided to throw the capsule – in fact an ambulance, not a warship – at the TARDIS in the hope of conning them into giving him money. Elsewhere, Nancy enters a house to steal food, only to come face-to-face with the Child - her dead brother Jamie. As the boy advances towards Nancy, the patients at the hospital all suddenly rise up and close in upon the Doctor, Rose and Jack…

Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who), Billie Piper (Rose Tyler), Kate Harvey (Nightclub Singer), Albert Valentine (The Child [Jamie]), Florence Hoath (Nancy), Cheryl Fergison (Mrs Lloyd), Damian Samuels (Mr Llyod), John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness), Robert Hands (Algy), Joseph Tremain (Jim), Jordan Murphy (Ernie), Brandon Miller (Alf), Richard Wilson (Doctor Constantine), Noah Johnson (Voice of The Child), Dian Perry ( Voice of Computer)

Directed by James Hawes
Produced by Phil Collinson
Executive Producers Russell T. Davies, Julie Gardner and Mal Young
A BBC Wales production

21st May 2005 @ 6:25 pm

*Featuring the Ninth Doctor and Rose, and introducing Captain Jack Harkness

*Part 1 of a 2-part story

*The transmission time for this episode was brought forward from the usual 7.00 pm slot due to coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest

*This episode was cut for violence and horror shortly before transmission

*Working title: 'The Empty Boy'

*The club singer entertains her audience with 'It Had to Be You', a popular song written by Isham Jones with lyrics by Gus Kahn; Jack entertains Rose to the tune of 'Moonlight Serenade', performed by Glenn Miller and his ochestra

*Bad Wolf sightings: A convoluted and esoteric one: carrying a bag (basket) of food to the train carriage (her home), Nancy meets the Doctor and comments on the size of his nose and ears (á la Little Red Riding Hood meeting the Big Bad Wolf and remarking “Oh, what a big nose you have… and what big ears you have…”). Nancy then says "Goodnight Mister" - a reference to the children's playground game, 'Mr Wolf' (or "What time is it Mr Wolf?"), perhaps?

*Jack’s 'Chula' spacecraft is named after the writers’ favourite restaurant, on King Street in Hammersmith!