Gridlock (Doctor Who)

Gridlock (Doctor Who)

Infobox Doctor Who episode
serial_name = Gridlock
number = 185
show = DW
type = episode
caption = Thomas Kincade Brannigan invites the Doctor into his car.cite episode | title = Gridlock | series = Doctor Who | credits = Writer Russell T Davies, Director Richard Clark, Producer Phil Collinson | network = BBC | station = BBC One | city = Cardiff | airdate = 2007-04-14]

doctor = David Tennant (Tenth Doctor)
companion = Freema Agyeman (Martha Jones)
guests =
* Ardal O'Hanlon – Thomas Kincade Brannigan
* Anna Hope – Novice Hame
* Travis Oliver – Milo
* Lenora Crichlow – Cheen
* Jennifer Hennessy – Valerie
* Bridget Turner – Alice
* Georgine Anderson – May
* Simon Pearsall – Whitey
* Daisy Lewis – Javit
* Nicholas Boulton – Businessman
* Erika Macleod – Sally Calypso
* Judy Norman – Ma
* Graham Padden – Pa
* Lucy Davenport – Pale Woman
* Tom Edden – Pharmacist #1
* Natasha Williams – Pharmacist #2
* Gayle Telfer Stevens – Pharmacist #3
* Struan Rodger – The Face of Boe
writer = Russell T Davies
director = Richard Clark
script_editor = Simon Winstone
producer = Phil Collinson
executive_producer = Russell T Davies
Julie Gardner
production_code = 3.3
length = 45 minutes
date = 14 April 2007
preceding = "The Shakespeare Code"
following = "Daleks in Manhattan"
imdb_id = 1000253
series = Series 3
series_link = Series 3 (2007)

"Gridlock" is the third episode from the third series of the revived British science fiction television series "Doctor Who" which aired on April 14, 2007. According to the BARB figures this episode was seen by 8.41 million viewers and was the seventh most popular broadcast on British television in that week.cite web
date = 2007-04-25
url =
title =Gridlock - Final Ratings
work =Outpost Gallifrey News Page
publisher =Source: BARB
accessdate =2007-06-03


The Doctor returns to a much grittier New Earth with Martha, to meet the Face of Boe one final time. But as New New York becomes a deadly trap, the streets are deserted except for shady Pharmacists. The Doctor and Martha must brave the ordeal of the mysterious Motorway in order to discover the terrible secrets at the heart of the city.


The Doctor takes Martha with his TARDIS to the year five billion and fifty three in New New York on the planet New Earth, a place to which he had previously taken Rose Tyler. They end up in an alleyway where street traders are selling mood patches to help people deal with "The Motorway", but as they are investigating this, Martha is taken away at gun point by a young couple, Milo and Cheen. Once in their vehicle, they explain that Cheen is pregnant and that they needed three adult passengers to qualify for the high-occupancy vehicle lane, the "Fast Lane", and that they will drop Martha off when they reach their destination unit mile|10|0 away in six years. Cheen also mentions rumours about something living down in the fast lane, saying that cars that go down there vanish, never to be seen again.

The Doctor chases after Martha's kidnappers and arrives at the (entirely enclosed) Motorway to find thousands of hover vans stuck in a tri-dimensional gridlock. The fumes in the air begin to affect the Doctor, but he is invited into the hover van of the cat person Thomas Kincade Brannigan and his human wife Valerie, who have a litter of kittens. The Doctor learns that the couple, along with all the other traffic on the road, has only travelled a short distance in several years, their vans having become their homes. Brannigan helps the Doctor to locate the vehicle containing his companion, heading towards the Fast Lane. As calls to the Police all get put on hold and Brannigan refuses to put his family in danger, the Doctor decides to try and reach Martha himself and begins to jump down from lane to lane, breaking in and out of vans with his sonic screwdriver. Shortly after the Doctor leaves Brannigan's van, Novice Hame, who has been sent by the Face of Boe to locate the Doctor, enters Brannigan's van, chasing after him.

Martha, Milo, and Cheen drive into the Fast Lane, and begin to hear strange noises all around, and a nearby driver warns them to escape into the slow lanes before being eaten by the creatures that live in the fast lane, but Milo refuses. The Doctor, finding himself in a van just above the Fast Lane, looks out the bottom and discovers that the floor of the Motorway is filled with Macra, alien beings that once ruled an empire but now have degenerated into hungry, crab-like non-sentient beasts, who attempt to capture and eat those that fly in the Fast Lane. As the Doctor watches, Milo's van is nearly caught by one Macra's huge claw, but Martha realizes that the beings are attracted by the light and motion generated by the van, and has Milo cut the power. This saves them from the beasts but leaves them with only a few minutes of breathable air in the van.

Novice Hame finally catches up with the Doctor and teleports him away forcefully to the Senate where the Face of Boe is waiting. Hame explains that a "Bliss" drug created by the pharmacists wiped out the entire surface population, and only those in the Motorway were spared due to her actions to seal it off, keeping the travellers in constant traffic to avoid telling them the real problem. The Face of Boe has wired himself to the system to keep the Motorway operational. The Doctor determines that whatever danger that "Bliss" may have caused before has long passed, and works with Hame to try to power up the systems to unseal the Motorway but there is not enough energy left. The Face of Boe sacrifices his life energy to the system, allowing the ceiling of the Motorway to open, and the Doctor broadcasts a call for all drivers to escape that way and for Martha to come find him.

When Martha does so, the Doctor and Novice Hame are tending over the Face of Boe who is finally close to death. The Doctor tries to encourage the Face of Boe to live, as both the Doctor and the Face of Boe are the last of their respective kinds, but with its dying breath it whispers the secret it promised to tell the Doctor before: "you are not alone". As the Doctor and Martha leave Hame to mourn, the Doctor does not try to postulate the meaning of those words, but explains to Martha that he is indeed the last Time Lord, and tells her all about Gallifrey as they return to the TARDIS.


*As with the previous episode, the first Doctor/Martha scene here carries on directly from their last scene in the previous story, "The Shakespeare Code". As the Doctor leaves the TARDIS at the start of the episode, he pulls out the arrow that was embedded in the door at the end of that episode. The opening three episodes occurring in immediate succession was also the format for the first three episodes of Series 1, when Rose joined the Doctor.
*The episode marks the second appearance of the large crustacean Macra race. The Doctor refers to their vast gas mines which enslaved humans, a reference to the Second Doctor serial "The Macra Terror", remarking that the Macra have "devolved" from their previous, more intelligent, state.
*The Doctor's description of his home planet matches the one given by his granddaughter Susan in the 1964 story "The Sensorites":

"Oh, it's ages since we've seen our planet. It's quite like Earth, but at night the sky is a burnt orange; and the leaves on the trees are bright silver."
It also bears similarities to the description given to Grace in the 1996 telemovie.
*Alice and May Cassini are the first homosexual married couple featured in a "Doctor Who" episode.
*The numbered mood patches parallel the number coded mood controllers in the Ninth Doctor novel "Only Human" by Gareth Roberts; Davies confirms this was the inspiration in "Doctor Who Magazine" #382. The patches bear a green crescent, mentioned in "New Earth" as the "universal symbol for hospitals".
*The Doctor appears to have resolved his dislike of cats (as stated in "Fear Her") by this episode, in which he pets some of Brannigan's children and later hugs Novice Hame.
*In the car of the two Asian girls, there is a poster on the wall with the Chinese characters 悪狼, which mean bad wolf.
*The Face of Boe reminds the Doctor that "everything has its time", previously said by the Ninth Doctor in "The End of the World" and by Sarah Jane Smith in "School Reunion".
* The Face of Boe calls the Doctor "old friend", a hint at revelations to come about this character's true identity. [cite web |title="Last of the Time Lords" Podcast |url= |work= |date= 2007-07-27 |accessdate=2007-06-30 .]

New Earth

*This episode reveals the "great secret" promised to The Doctor by the Face of Boe in "New Earth" — "You are not alone". Discussing this in "Doctor Who Confidential", David Tennant said that Boe is not lying, yet that the Doctor is not wrong about being the last of the Time Lords, either. In the same episode, producer Phil Collinson said that the revelation would be revisited (but not immediately) and the audience would learn more about the Doctor and the Face of Boe in the process. It was not until "Utopia", "The Sound of Drums" and "Last of the Time Lords" that the meaning of the phrase and the significance of the Face of Boe's origins were discussed.
*The Doctor again recites the city's proper name as "New New New New New New New New New New New New New New New York", repeating his earlier performance to Rose in "New Earth".
*As Martha wakes up in the car, she hears her kidnappers claim that the skies above smell of apple grass. In "New Earth", the Doctor shows off apple grass to Rose.
*The Doctor refers to the Duke of Manhattan, a character who appeared in "New Earth".


* Some publicity has been given to the fact that "Gridlock" is the 727th episode of "Doctor Who". This broke the old record held by the various "Star Trek" series, which had a total of 726 combined episodes amongst them. "Doctor Who" has been recognised by the "Guinness Book of World Records" as the longest-running science fiction series in the world, based on the original series' 26-year continuous run and the more than 43 years since the programme's 1963 debut. [cite news
title=Dr Who 'longest-running sci-fi'
publisher=BBC News
*According to Russell T Davies in "Doctor Who Magazine", this episode uses the most CGI so far in all the series. He also states in the online commentary that this episode will probably be the last visit to New Earth, but not to future planets.
*Those on the Motorway sing the hymn "The Old Rugged Cross", and the hymn heard at the end of the episode is "Abide With Me".


* The episode was aired 40 minutes later than its regular airtime due to the FA Cup semi-final between Manchester United and Watford. Had the match gone into extra time, the episode would have been postponed until the following week [Cite news
title=Radio Times: Programme Details
quote=The Doctor takes Martha to New Earth - though if the FA Cup semi-final overruns, she won't get there until next week.
] since the episode, which would have been broadcast after 8pm in the case of a delay, would have been on air too late for younger viewers. [cite web|url=|title=Possible Episode Delay Latest|publisher=Outpost Gallifrey|date=2007-04-12|accessdate=2007-04-17]
* During Radio 4's "The Now Show", broadcast on Friday 13 April 2007, Mitch Benn (an ardent Liverpool and Doctor Who fan) sang a song imploring Manchester United to win so that the BBC would not postpone "Doctor Who".
* A trailer for the episode was shown during half-time of the Manchester United v Watford match. After this was shown, "Match of the Day" host Gary Lineker welcomed viewers "back to the TARDIS", rather than back to the match.
* The BBC One continuity announcer introduced the episode with "Next up is "Doctor Who", but first travel news with Sally Calypso," referring to the news-reading character who was first to speak in the episode.
* This episode was repeated on BBC Four at 8.15 p.m. on Tuesday 21st August 2007 as part of the channel's "Motorways Season". ["Radio Times" 18–24 August 2007: Tuesday 21st August - Digital & Cable]

Outside references

*Ma and Pa at the start of the episode are based on the farming couple in the painting "American Gothic", both having identical hairstyles, glasses and fashions. [ Fact File] , BBC "Doctor Who" website.]
*Will Cohen, The Mill's Visual FX Producer, revealed on the "Doctor Who Watch" page in "Radio Times" that the films "Blade Runner", "The Fifth Element" and "Star Wars", specifically the planet of Coruscant influenced the look of New New York.
*Russell T Davies based the businessman's appearance on Max Normal from the "Judge Dredd" comic books. [See "Doctor Who Confidential" episode "Are We There Yet?"]
*Davies stated on the online commentary for this episode that Sally Calypso was an "homage" to "Halo Jones", which featured a similar character named Swifty Frisko. Both "Halo Jones" and "Judge Dredd" originated in the anthology comic "2000AD".
*The Doctor says that he received his coat from Janis Joplin.
*Also in the online commentary, Davies noted that Brannigan's appearance was based on "Ratz", the CGI disembodied cat's head that was a "virtual presenter" of CBBC's "Live & Kicking" in the early 1990s.
*The hymns "Abide with Me" and "The Old Rugged Cross" are sung during the "Daily Contemplation" that is broadcast to the vans on the motorway.


The episode won the 2007 Ursa Major Award for "Best Anthropomorphic Dramatic Short Work or Series". The Ursa Major Awards are prizes given in the field of anthropomorphic and "funny animal" literature and art. [cite web|url=|title=Award Winners, 2007|publisher=Ursa Major Awards|accessdate=2008-05-25]


External links

*BBCDWnew | year=2007 |id = 303| title = Gridlock
*Doctor Who RG | id= who_tv25 | title=Gridlock | quotes=y
*Brief | id=2007c| title=Gridlock | quotes=y
* [ "He has arrived"] — episode trailer


*DWRG| id=gridlock | title=Gridlock | quotes=y
*OG review | id=2007-03| title=Gridlock | quotes=y

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