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|240 – "The Day of the Doctor"|
|Doctor Who episode|
|Script editor||Richard Cookson|
|Incidental music composer||Murray Gold|
|Originally broadcast||23 November 2013|
|240 – "The Day of the Doctor"|
|Doctor Who episode|
|Script editor||Richard Cookson|
|Incidental music composer||Murray Gold|
|Originally broadcast||23 November 2013|
"The Day of the Doctor" is a special episode of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who, marking the programme's fiftieth anniversary. It was written by Steven Moffat, an executive producer alongside Faith Penhale. It was shown on BBC One on 23 November 2013, in both 2D and 3D. The special was broadcast simultaneously in 94 countries, and was shown concurrently in 3D in some cinemas. It achieved the Guinness World Record for the largest ever simulcast of a TV drama and won the Radio Times Audience Award at the 2014 British Academy Television Awards.
The 75-minute episode shows the last day of the Time War, in which the War Doctor chooses to kill both Daleks and his own race of Time Lords to end the destructive conflict, paralleling this with a present-day choice by paramilitary organisation UNIT to destroy London rather than allow an alien invasion. It reveals how, contrary to previous plotline understanding, the Doctor follows Clara Oswald's plea to change his mind at the last instant of the Time War, and hides his war-racked home planet Gallifrey in time, rather than destroy it; however, the time distortions incurred leave his past selves with no memory of his changed decision.
The episode starred Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor and Jenna Coleman as his companion, Clara Oswald. Previous lead actors David Tennant and Billie Piper returned for the episode, Tennant reprising his role as the Tenth Doctor, while Piper portrayed a sentient doomsday weapon called the Moment, projected as an image based on her character Rose Tyler. She is invisible and inaudible to everyone but the War Doctor, played by John Hurt. Other appearances included a very brief view of the then-upcoming Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi), who would succeed Matt Smith in the following episode, and a guest appearance by Fourth Doctor actor Tom Baker, in his late 70s. Rounding out the guest cast, Joanna Page starred as Queen Elizabeth I, while Jemma Redgrave returned to portray Kate Stewart, the daughter of 1970s central figure Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. The special also featured the return of the Daleks, and the Zygons, shape-shifting aliens who had previously only appeared in the 1975 serial Terror of the Zygons.
As the episode celebrated fifty years of the programme, it referenced and alluded to various concepts featured throughout the show's run. It has been described by series producer Marcus Wilson as a "love letter to the fans" and by the controller of BBC One, Danny Cohen, as an "event drama".
Two mini-episodes written by Steven Moffat, "The Night of the Doctor" (14 November 2013) and "The Last Day" (21 November 2013), were released shortly prior to "The Day of the Doctor", depicting in-series events occurring during the Time War between the Doctor's own race of Time Lords and his nemesis, the Daleks.
In "The Night of the Doctor", Paul McGann reprised his role as the Eighth Doctor from the 1996 television film and subsequent Big Finish audio plays. He is a conscientious objector to the ongoing Time War and intends to rescue a crew member from a crashing spaceship via the TARDIS. Realising that her rescuer is a Time Lord she refuses to comply, preferring to die rather than go with him. She and the Doctor die as the ship crashes on Karn. The Doctor is resurrected temporarily by the Sisterhood of Karn (who control a secret Elixir of Life in the 1976 serial The Brain of Morbius). They persuade the Doctor to take action to end the Time War, offering him a selection of potions to control his regeneration. He reluctantly accepts that with all of reality threatened and the universe "on the brink", there is not much need for a doctor, and chooses a potion designed to initiate his regeneration into a hitherto unknown incarnation of the Doctor as a "warrior" (described in credits as the "War Doctor" and played by John Hurt).
"The Last Day" is filmed from the first-person perspective of a Gallifreyan soldier who has had a camera implanted in his head. The soldiers scan for Daleks at Arcadia, Gallifrey's second city and believed due to its impregnable defences to be the safest place on the Time Lords' home planet. During training exercises, a blurred object in the sky is identified shockingly as the first of a fleet of successfully invading Daleks, which kill the soldiers. The "Fall of Arcadia" becomes the central battle of the Time War around which "The Day of the Doctor" is centred.
At the end of a day teaching at Coal Hill School, Clara Oswald receives a message from the Eleventh Doctor and returns to the TARDIS before it is unexpectedly airlifted to Trafalgar Square by Kate Stewart of the military organisation UNIT. Kate gives the Doctor preserved instructions from his previous wife Elizabeth I of England that name him curator of The Undergallery, a secret vault of forbidden art housed at the National Gallery. As proof of the veracity of Elizabeth's message, the Doctor is shown a three dimensional painting made with Time Lord stasis cubes. The painting depicts the fall of Gallifrey's second city, Arcadia, on the last day of the Time War. Once in the Undergallery, the Doctor sees other paintings that have been broken from within, the figures previously in the paintings are now missing. While examining the paintings, a fissure in time opens above them and the Doctor jumps into it.
In the midst of the Time War, the War Doctor—a hitherto-unknown "hidden" incarnation of the Doctor—decides to trigger an ancient weapon of mass destruction called The Moment. His intention is for The Moment to destroy both the Time Lords and their adversaries the Daleks completely. The Moment is sentient and possessed of a conscience, which manifests itself in the form of future companion Rose Tyler. The interface challenges whether mass killing is the best option for ending the Time War and issues the Doctor a punishment; he will survive while the rest of his race dies. The Moment offers to show the Doctor what this will turn him into, and opens a fissure linking him to the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors. The three Doctors converge in the year 1562, where the Tenth Doctor has been tracking down a Zygon. The War Doctor meets his future incarnations, who have discovered the Zygon is in the form of Queen Elizabeth I. After some initial tension, the Doctors are all captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London.
Meanwhile, within UNIT's TARDIS-proofed Black Archive in the Tower of London, Clara learns the Zygons from Elizabethan England have used stasis cubes to enter more three dimensional paintings in the Undergallery. The Zygons have emerged in 2013 and taken the forms of UNIT members so that they could utilise UNIT's weapons and technology. While the three Doctors are in their cell, The Moment encourages the War Doctor to ask them the questions he needs answered before he decides whether or not to destroy Gallifrey. After a tense exchange, the Doctors mend their differences and use their sonic screwdrivers and the time difference between them to devise an escape plan. The Eleventh Doctor inscribes an activation code in a stone pillar for the vortex manipulator hidden in the Black Archive, Clara obtains the code and uses the manipulator to travel back and meets up with the three Doctors. The Doctors and Clara encounter the real Queen Elizabeth and learn through her of the Zygon scheme to conquer Earth. The Tenth Doctor marries Elizabeth before the three of them with Clara leave in the Tenth Doctor's TARDIS. Kate Stewart also learns of the Zygon plan and locks herself in the Black Archive with them, starting a countdown that will detonate a nuclear warhead underneath the archive that will destroy London and the Zygons. The Doctors, unable to land a TARDIS at the Black Archive, instead use the stasis cube technology to enter a painting of Arcadia. They exit the painting in the present in the Black Archive and use the archive's mind-wiping equipment to render the UNIT members and Zygons temporarily unaware which of them are which. The countdown is stopped and all present negotiate a perfectly fair peace treaty, as they no longer know which way to skew it.
The War Doctor, now convinced that detonating the Moment will save many more lives in the longer term, is returned to his time by the Moment. Having been told by Clara that the War Doctor had not destroyed Gallifrey yet, the other two Doctors follow him in their TARDISes with the intention of helping him so as to share his burden. Clara reminds them of their choice of the title "Doctor" and what it stands for, and the Doctors devise an alternative solution. They plan to use the stasis technology to trap the entire planet of Gallifrey and everyone on it in a single moment in time, which would be kept in a tiny pocket universe outside of their own. When Gallifrey disappears, the surrounding Dalek warships would obliterate themselves in the inevitable crossfire and both species will appear to have been wiped out. The Doctors relay their plan to the Time Lord General, who believes it is impossible because the calculations needed would require centuries to perform. The Doctors reveal that they have recruited their past selves and started the calculations needed a long time ago, using the time difference between incarnations to make the calculation seem instant. The General gives his consent, and the Doctors surround Gallifrey, which erupts in a bright light. Pieces of the destroyed Dalek fleet float by in the aftermath.
The Doctors and Clara return to the Gallery, unsure whether the plan worked or not. The War Doctor is content to think that he failed in doing the right thing before realising that neither he nor the Tenth Doctor will remember what happened, and will continue shouldering the guilt for centuries. The War Doctor departs in his TARDIS, and finds himself beginning to regenerate. The Tenth Doctor persuades the Eleventh Doctor to tell him about his impending death on the planet Trenzalore. The Doctor, now alone in the Gallery, begins to fantasise about retiring to become the museum's curator, when he is interrupted by the museum's true curator, who bears a strong resemblance to the Fourth Doctor. As they talk, the curator reveals that the painting's title, which was thought to be either No More or Gallifrey Falls is in fact the singular Gallifrey Falls No More, from which the Doctor surmises that his plan succeeded. The curator encourages the Doctor to go looking for Gallifrey before he leaves the Gallery.
In the closing scene, the Doctor describes a recurring dream, in which he and his eleven previous incarnations are looking together upon Gallifrey, which the Doctor vows to find and restore.
As the show's 50th anniversary special, the episode contains multiple references to previous episodes. It opens with the title sequence and theme arrangement used at the series' debut in 1963. Echoing the opening of "An Unearthly Child", the first episode of the first Doctor Who story, a policeman is shown walking past the sign for I.M. Foreman, the scrap merchant in whose yard the TARDIS was located, and its first few seconds are in monochrome (as had been the case in The Two Doctors, the last time more than one Doctor had featured in an official story). Coal Hill School, which the Doctor's granddaughter Susan Foreman attended when they were on Earth in 1963 in the very first story, also featured in the 1988 serial Remembrance of the Daleks. According to the school sign, the chairman of the school governors is now Ian Chesterton, one of the First Doctor's original three companions and a science teacher at the school, and the headmaster is W. Coburn, a reference to Waris Hussein and Anthony Coburn, who respectively directed and wrote An Unearthly Child. Clara rides out of Coal Hill School on the Eleventh Doctor's anti-gravity motorcycle from "The Bells of Saint John" at 5:16, the time An Unearthly Child originally aired on BBC1 television (the first broadcast began 1 minute 20 seconds after its scheduled time of 17:15 GMT on 23 November 1963).
When the TARDIS is picked up by UNIT, the call sign used by the helicopter to refer to UNIT is 'Greyhound leader', reflecting that of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, whose daughter Kate is now portrayed as having his role as commander of UNIT. Lethbridge-Stewart was a central character in the Third Doctor's era and also several of his successors', originally appearing in the Second Doctor serial The Web of Fear and making his last appearance in Doctor Who in Seventh Doctor serial Battlefield, which is also referenced. An image of the Brigadier is seen alongside images of various companions of the Doctor. The UNIT dating controversy, regarding whether the Third Doctor era stories took place in the 1970s or 1980s, is alluded to in dialogue by Kate Stewart, when she mentions that events occurred in "the '70s or '80s depending on the dating protocol used".
The Tenth Doctor's era is also heavily revisited. His marriage to Queen Elizabeth I, mentioned in "The Shakespeare Code" and The End of Time, is finally depicted. The Tenth Doctor mentioned the Fall of Arcadia in "Doomsday". When the Eleventh Doctor tells Clara that the situation is "timey-wimey stuff," and the War Doctor ridicules him for it, the Tenth Doctor remarks, "I have no idea where he picks that stuff up"; the Tenth originally used the phrase in "Blink". When he leaves after learning of Trenzalore, the Tenth Doctor remarks, "I don't want to go…", his incarnation's final words from The End of Time; the Eleventh Doctor tells Clara that "he always says that" after his TARDIS leaves. The Moment device was originally mentioned in The End of Time, but had not been explored in depth until now, where it takes the form of "Bad Wolf", a seemingly omnipotent being and personalisation of the Time Vortex itself, which manifested in Rose Tyler when she absorbed the Time Vortex in the first series finale, "The Parting of the Ways". During the negotiations with the Zygons Kate mentions the Sycorax from "The Christmas Invasion".
The Black Archive, containing alien artefacts collected by UNIT, has photographs of the Doctor's many companions. Additionally, River Song's high heels from "The Time of Angels"/"Flesh and Stone", the mass canceler from second series finale "Doomsday", a Supreme Dalek head from fourth series finale, "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End", a Dalek tommy gun from "Daleks in Manhattan"/"Evolution of the Daleks", the restraining chair which held both the Master and the Doctor in The End of Time, and a Cyberman head are contained within the Archive. The vortex manipulator in the Archive was donated to UNIT by Captain Jack Harkness, a companion of the Ninth Doctor who was reunited with the Tenth Doctor on multiple occasions.
Other references are made to previous multi-Doctor anniversary stories, The Three Doctors and The Five Doctors. The Eleventh Doctor's dismissal of the Tenth Doctor and War Doctor as "Sandshoes and Grandad" to mock their respective footwear and age echo the First Doctor's description of his two successors in The Three Doctors as "a dandy and a clown". (The War Doctor's initial incredulous reaction upon seeing his future selves also reflects this moment.) Likewise, a Time Lord says, "I didn't know when I was well-off. All twelve of them." which recalls the Brigadier's line from The Three Doctors: "Three of them, eh? I didn't know when I was well off." More of the Brigadier's dialogue from the latter serial is alluded to when Kate asks for an incident report code-named "Cromer"; in the earlier story, upon being transported to another universe, the Brigadier initially believes himself to be near the coastal Norfolk town. A line from the First Doctor from The Five Doctors is also reused near the end as the Tenth Doctor tells the Eleventh, "It's good to know my future is in safe hands" (which the First told the Fifth in the earlier story, appended by "after all"). When the War Doctor appears, Clara remarks, "I think there's three of them," to which Kate responds, "There's a precedent for that," in reference to The Three Doctors.
Lines from past serials reappear in the special. The Eleventh Doctor resurrects the phrase "reversing the polarity" associated with the Third Doctor, to comical effect. In trying to compensate for the presence of three Doctors who utilise different console rooms, the Tenth Doctor's TARDIS console briefly changes to the War Doctor's console room, seen again later in the episode, before settling on the Eleventh's. The Tenth Doctor comments upon the Eleventh Doctor's TARDIS console, "Oh you've redecorated! I don't like it", a line originally used by the Second Doctor speaking to the Third in The Three Doctors and later reused by the Second and Eleventh Doctors respectively in The Five Doctors and "Closing Time". One of the War Doctor's final lines of dialogue prior to regenerating is "....wearing a bit thin", echoing some of the First Doctor's final words prior to regenerating at the end of The Tenth Planet, "this old body of mine is wearing a bit thin".
On 30 March 2013, a distribution error occurred, and many subscribers to Doctor Who Magazine received the issue five days before the official release date. The issue of the magazine included the official announcement that David Tennant and Billie Piper, who previously played the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler in Doctor Who respectively, were lined up to appear in the special, along with actor John Hurt. Moffat did not want to bring Rose the character back because he felt her story was wrapped up and did not feel comfortable adding to Davies' arc. However, he liked the concept of bringing back her Bad Wolf persona and felt that Piper needed to be in the special as she symbolised the rebirth of Doctor Who.
John Hurt did not actually audition for the part, but had been asked by the production team and "said yes with remarkable speed". His costume was meant to signify that he was "rougher, tougher", and had been around for a while; the audience had missed a lot. Hurt's request to keep his beard adds to this effect. .
Christopher Eccleston discussed plans for the anniversary episode with Moffat, but eventually declined to return as the Ninth Doctor. Sylvester McCoy, who played the Seventh Doctor, claimed that none of the surviving actors who portrayed the Doctor prior to Eccleston were contacted regarding the special. Colin Baker confirmed this while being interviewed on Australian television alongside McCoy and Paul McGann. However, McGann went on to say that he could still be in the 50th but at the last moment. Radio Times reported rumours that a Doctor from the classic era (pre-2005) would feature in the special, citing unknown sources. Freema Agyeman and John Barrowman, who played Tenth Doctor companions Martha Jones and Jack Harkness, respectively, both stated they would not be in the 50th, but may return to the show at some point. Barrowman stated that he would have liked to be in it, but speculated that the producers wanted to try some different things.
"The Day of the Doctor" was written by Steven Moffat, current head writer of Doctor Who, and produced by Marcus Wilson with Nick Hurran directing. Moffat was developing ideas for the 50th anniversary episode as early as late 2011, when he stated that the team "knew what [they] want[ed] to do" and were "revving up" for the episode in an interview discussing his work on The Adventures of Tintin, and began writing the script for "The Day of the Doctor" in late 2012, announcing that, as a security precaution, he had not produced any copies, instead keeping it on his computer "under lock and key" until it was needed. Moffat stated prior to the episode's release, "Most things that have been said about the 50th are not true... Normally I am responsible for the disinformation and the rubbish rumors—I usually put them out myself, but I haven't needed to for this one." On the importance of the episode, Moffat has stated that it will "change the narrative" of Doctor Who.
Moffat stated in an interview with Doctor Who Magazine that he initially began the story process with the idea that it would be the Ninth Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston, that would have been the incarnation that ended the Time War, in spite of misgivings in his own mind regarding it:
Yes, but do you know, I was always nervous of that one, because it doesn't fit with "Rose" at all. He is a brand new Doctor in "Rose", he's absolutely, definitely new. It couldn't have been is [sic] who pushed the button in the Time War, cos that's a new man, very explicitly, in that episode. I also had trouble, I have to be honest, imagining it being Paul McGann's Doctor[volume & issue needed]
Once it became clear that Eccleston would decline to appear, Moffat turned to an alternative concept he had been formulating, featuring a "mayfly Doctor" who appears for a single episode, asking, "Would it be weird in the run of the series to have the 45th Doctor turn up and be played by Johnny Depp or someone? Would that be a cool thing to do?". He also indicated that the "classic Doctor" he would most like to feature in a new story was William Hartnell's First Doctor, stating, "You'd want him to come and say 'What in the name of God have I turned into?' That's the confrontation that you most want to see, to celebrate 50 years. Going round and round in circles on it I just thought, 'What about a Doctor that he never talks about?' And what if it is a Doctor who's done something terrible, who's much deadlier and more serious, who represents that thing that is the undertow in both David and Matt. You know there's a terrible old man inside them. Well, here he is, facing the children he becomes, as it were."
Moffat felt that it was important to bring something different to the return of Billie Piper, as she had returned as Rose Tyler in various cameo appearances throughout series 4, most prominently in the finale "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End", in which she had a central role, and The End of Time. This led to the development of the Moment, which had previously been referenced in The End of Time. Piper agreed with Moffat's sentiments, despite loving the character of Rose.
Knowing that Matt Smith was planning to leave, Moffat wrote the special specifically with the brief appearance of the Twelfth Doctor during the sequence of all of the Doctors uniting to save Gallifrey, prior to casting anyone in the role. Moffat later stated that it was his "plan from the start" that all the Doctors would fly in to save Gallifrey, and he knew there would be a new one at that time. He wrote it before knowing who would be cast.
Typically, Doctor Who's anniversary stories are named after the number of returning Doctors, as with The Three Doctors and The Five Doctors. Moffat explained his choice of title to SFX magazine, commenting that "... it's very rare in Doctor Who that the story happens to the Doctor. It happens to people around him, and he helps out – he's the hero figure who rides in and saves everybody from the story of the week. He is not the story of the week. In this, he is the story of the week. This is the day of the Doctor. This is his most important day. His most important moment. This is the one he'll remember, whereas I often think the Doctor wanders back to his TARDIS and forgets all about it."
"The Day of the Doctor" took approximately five weeks in 2013 to film; regular filming began on 28 March 2013 and ended on 4 May. The first three days of shooting—28 March, 29 March, and 1 April—took place entirely at the show's Roath Lock studios in Porth Teigr, Cardiff Bay; some of the scenes set in the National Gallery and the Eleventh Doctor's TARDIS were filmed in the period.[location 1]
Filming for the episode's outdoor scenes began on 2 April 2013. The first outdoor scene was filmed at the Ivy Tower in Tonna, Neath.[location 2] The outdoor section of the scene involving Clara driving her motorcycle into the TARDIS, as well as the beginning of the sequence in which UNIT airlifts the TARDIS via helicopter, was filmed on Gelligaer Common Road in Bedlinog.[location 3] The remaining of the latter scene was later filmed on 6 April at MOD St Athan,[location 4] and on 9 April in Trafalgar Square, London.[location 5]
On 17 April 2013 Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman, Billie Piper and David Tennant filmed scenes in Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales, and some scenes were shot in Chepstow Castle. On 2 May 2013, scenes in Cardiff were being filmed for scenes that take place at Totter's Lane and Coal Hill school, locations which had previously featured in the first 1963 serial An Unearthly Child, the 1985 serial Attack of the Cybermen, and the 1988 serial Remembrance of the Daleks. Filming for the special was completed on Sunday 5 May 2013. From 4–5 May 2013, Paul McGann returned to Doctor Who to record "The Night of the Doctor". The final piece of filming for the special took place on 3 October, five months after principal photography wrapped, with Peter Capaldi filming his cameo, concurrent with filming his official first appearance for "The Time of the Doctor".
Miniatures constructed by Mike Tucker and his company The Model Unit were using in filming for the Time War sequences, including a model of a Time Lord staser cannon and the War Doctor flying his TARDIS into and subsequently destroying several Daleks. The Dalek models used were 18-inch voice interactive toys produced by Character Options. The technique of using Dalek toys as models for filming was a common method of presenting entire armies in the classic series.
"The Night of the Doctor", an additional 7-minute special, was released on 14 November 2013, and featured the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann)'s regeneration into the War Doctor (John Hurt). Another 4-minute special, entitled "The Last Day", was released on 20 November 2013 and saw the start of the Fall of Arcadia.
On 4 November 2013, the BBC released the official synopsis: "The Doctors embark on their greatest adventure in this 50th anniversary special. In 2013, something terrible is awakening in London’s National Gallery; in 1562, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion. All of reality is at stake as the Doctor’s own dangerous past comes back to haunt him."
The first trailer for the special was shown to attendees of San Diego Comic-Con in July 2013. The BBC's decision not to release the trailer online to international fans was met with controversy. On 26 July, the BBC responded to criticisms by saying the trailer was intended to be exclusive to Comic-Con attendees and that content for all other audiences would be forthcoming at a later date.
On 28 September, the BBC revealed that the trailer for the special had been specifically shot and was in post-production. On 19 October 2013, a specially made teaser trailer, directed by Matt Losasso, was shown on BBC One, and was then subsequently posted online. It contained icons from the history of the show and had a monologue by Matt Smith, as well as body doubles and CGI to create shots of previous Doctors.
A clip from "The Day of the Doctor" was shown at the BBC's Children in Need show on Friday 15 November. The official trailer for the episode aired in the United Kingdom at 8 pm GMT on 9 November. Due to the leak of a trailer earlier on 9 November on BBC Latin America's Facebook page, the BBC officially released it ahead of schedule. A second official trailer was shortly released later.
Furthermore, before the release of the main trailers, a short clip previewed the Eleventh Doctor and Clara examining a seemingly impossible painting. On 10 November 2013, a short clip of the Eleventh Doctor announcing "The clock is ticking" interrupted a BBC One ident. This was followed on Monday 11 November by another ident interruption, with the Eleventh Doctor stating "It's all been leading to this..."
On 28 September, the BBC unveiled a Twitter hashtag (#SaveTheDay) and an ident that was used to promote the special. Respectively, the hashtag and the ident were shown before and after the premiere of Atlantis on BBC One. The hashtag was used to reveal all subsequent promotional material. On 7 November 2013, a video starring Smith in character as the Doctor was released promoting the hashtag, promising exclusive content. A website was launched to reveal the content.
The British Board of Film Classification rated the episode PG for mild violence and threat. The Australian Classification Board also rated the episode PG for "mild science fiction themes and violence", noting there was "very mild impact" with regards to sexual themes. The episode broadcast at 7:50pm in the UK, and was preceded and followed by other Doctor Who related programmes and broadcasts, including broadcast of an after-party.
The episode aired in over 100 countries on either 23 or 24 November 2013 in cinemas and on television.
The episode originally aired on BBC One, BBC One HD, and in 3D on BBC One HD Red Button. It aired on Prime in New Zealand, BBC America in the United States, ABC1 in Australia, and on Space in Canada. In English speaking Asia and Africa, it was released by BBC Entertainment.
The episode was originally released in Cineworld, Vue, Odeon, and independent cinemas. It was released in Hoyts, Event, Village and limited independent cinemas in Australia. It aired in Cineplex cinemas in Canada and in Event Cinemas in New Zealand. In the United States it was released in AMC, Century, Cinemark and Regal cinemas. In Mexico, the episode was released exclusively in 20 select Cinemark 3D theatres.
"The Day of the Doctor" received mostly positive reviews. Ben Lawrence of The Daily Telegraph gave the special five stars, calling it "charming, eccentric and very, very British." Den of Geek's Simon Brew praised the special, calling it "terrific", and stating that it was "pulsating with comedy, ambition, and top to bottom entertainment." Jon Cooper of The Mirror gave the episode five stars, stating that it "not only gives hardcore fans a beautiful reinvention of their favourite show but also gives casual viewers a stonking story and a reminder why we all love this show so much." SFX gave the episode five out of five stars, noting that it was not perfect but those were "churlish niggles". The magazine praised the three Doctors and commented on how it linked the past, present, and future of the show.
Jim Shelley of The Daily Mail called the episode "a clever, chaotic, infuriating combination of nifty, knowing tiny detail and big, hollow, pompous bluster." However, he disliked the effects, accusing the BBC on pandering to the American audience, as well as disliking the Zygons, deeming them not "scary enough," and naming Matt Smith and David Tennant "irritating." Mashable's Chris Taylor stated that the episode is "one designed to please fans and newcomers alike," and that it "shows why the Doctor is finding his way into ever more homes and hearts." The Guardian 's Viv Grospok criticised various elements of the episode, though concluded that "it was all worth it."
Social analytics website SecondSync revealed that Doctor Who generated almost 500,000 "tweets" on Twitter during its broadcast, with the peak number of tweets occurring at the beginning of the broadcast, at 12,939 tweets per minute.
Overnight figures revealed that the episode had a total of 10.18 million viewers for the live broadcast in the United Kingdom. When time-shifted viewers were taken into account, the figure rose to a total of 12.8 million viewers, which makes it the highest rating since "The Next Doctor" (2008), which had a total of 13.1 million viewers. The box office takings for the cinema screenings totalled £1.7m (US$2.2m), which placed it at number three in the UK film chart for the week, behind The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Gravity. In addition, "The Day of the Doctor" became the most requested show within 24 hours on BBC iPlayer with 1.27 million requests, which rose to 2.9 million by 3 December 2013. It was named the most-watched drama of 2013 based on the final viewing figures. It received an Appreciation Index of 88.
The live simulcast on BBC America had a total audience of 2.4 million viewers, briefly becoming the largest audience in the channel's history, until the broadcast of "The Time of the Doctor" just over a month later.
Worldwide, cinema screenings brought $10.2 million at the box office. The cinema screenings in the USA, on a total of 660 screens nationwide, took a total of US$4.8m (approx £3m) at the box office. The special had a total of 1.95 million viewers for its two broadcasts in Australia, with 590,000 watching the live broadcast on ABC1, and another 1.36 million watching the repeat at 7:30pm, while the cinema box office takings totalled AU$1.54m, putting it at number three in the Australian film chart. In addition, the episode received 51,000 plays on the online ABC iview in a single day. A total of 42,000 viewers watched the simultaneous screening in New Zealand, with a total of 177,510 viewers watching the 8.30pm repeat, which was Prime's highest rating show for the day. The figure includes live and timeshifted viewers. This means there was a total of 219,510 viewers for all screenings. A total of 1.7 million viewers watched the two broadcasts on Canadian channel Space, making it the most watched entertainment programme in Canada on the day, with the 1.1m watching the live broadcast at 2.50pm EST being the channel's largest ever audience.
"The Day of the Doctor" won the publicly voted Radio Times Audience Award at the BAFTA Awards in May 2014. "The Day of the Doctor" was also nominated for the 2014 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form).
The Day of the Doctor was released on DVD and 3D Blu-ray on 2 December 2013 in the UK. It was released on 4 December 2013 in Australia, and on 10 December 2013 in North America. The special was re-released on DVD and Blu-ray on 8 September 2014 as part of a "50th Anniversary Collectors Boxset" alongside "The Name of the Doctor", "The Night of the Doctor", "The Time of the Doctor", "An Adventure in Space and Time" and "The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot". This re-release features new footage of the specials' read-through. The special is streamed on Amazon Prime and Netflix.
All filming locations are extracted from Doctor Who Magazine's Special Edition Volume 38: The Year of the Doctor: The Official Guide to Doctor Who 's 50th Anniversary.
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