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"Last of the Time Lords" is an episode of the British science
fiction television series Doctor Who. It was broadcast on BBC One on 30 June 2007, and is
the thirteenth and final episode of Series 3 of the revived
Doctor Who series. It is the last of three episodes that
form a linked narrative, following "Utopia" and "The Sound of
Drums". This episode shows the departure of Freema Agyeman
Barrowman as Martha Jones and Jack Harkness respectively until Series
One year after the events of "The Sound of Drums", the Master has
conquered the Earth and enslaved its population. He holds the aged
Doctor prisoner, and prepares warships for a new Time Lord Empire.
Now it is up to Martha Jones to carry out the Doctor's plan and
save the universe.
A year after the appearance of the Toclafane, the human population is on the
verge of extinction. After escaping from the Valiant, Martha Jones has been
traveling across the Earth for a year, staying out of the
Master's detection through use of the TARDIS key acting as a perception filter. She returns
to England with the help of Thomas Milligan, a former doctor, and
seeks Professor Docherty to help her capture a Toclafane.
Using data gathered when a Toclafane was hit by lightning,
Professor Docherty is able to recreate the conditions, and the
three are able to stun one of the beings. When they open it up,
they discover that the Toclafane are humans from the year 100
trillion, who, having attempted to reach Utopia
and finding nothing but darkness, became insane in their search to
outlive the universe and cannibalised themselves to become the
child-like bio-mechanical Toclafane, brought to the present through
the Doctor's TARDIS and the Paradox Machine in
order to avoid a temporal paradox. Armed with this
information, Martha announces that she will face the Master, armed
with a special gun created by Torchwood and UNIT that can stop a Time Lord's regeneration, giving her a way of
defeating the Master. After Martha and Thomas leave, Professor
Docherty, desperate for any information on her recently kidnapped
son, reports Martha's presence to the Master.
Martha and Thomas meet up with several other human groups hiding
in shelters, and tells tales of her travels in the last year. The
Master along with his men land and begin to round up the humans,
seeking Martha and demanding she hand over the gun. After she does
so, the Master destroys it, then attempts to kill her, but Thomas
sacrifices himself to save her. The Master realises that killing
Martha in front of the Doctor would be more
satisfying, and brings her back to the Valiant. There,
Martha learns that the Master has kept the aged Doctor as a pet and
even further humiliating him by aging him further and putting him
into a bird cage, while he has kept Jack in chains. The Master reveals that
he is moments away from launching Toclafane fleets from Earth to
conquer the rest of the universe, and forces Martha to kneel in
front of him. However, the fleet fails to launch at the end of the
countdown, confusing the Master.
Martha reveals that she was not travelling on Earth to locate
the fictional anti-regeneration gun, but instead to tell people of
the Doctor and send their thoughts to the Doctor at the fleet's
launch moment; with their emotions, enabling the Doctor to use the
Archangel network to collect the vast amount of psychic energy and
use it to restore his body and ends the Master's control. At first
the Master just laughs, but then the Doctor glows with blue psycic
energy, and restores his body and looms over the Master. As the
Master cowers, the Doctor says the words that the Master was most
afraid to hear: "I forgive you". As Martha, Jack and the
others fight to keep the Toclafane from defending the Paradox
Machine, the Master teleports himself and the Doctor to Earth using
Jack's vortex manipulator and
threatens to detonate the fleet and destroy Earth in the process,
but the Doctor calls his bluff, reminding the Master that doing so
will kill him – the one thing the Master is incapable of – and is
able to make the Master surrender. The two return to the
Valiant just as Jack and other soldiers destroy the
Paradox Machine, causing time to rewind just before the rift
opened; only those on board the Valiant are still aware of
the events of the last year.
As everyone recovers back on Earth, Martha's mother, Francine
Jones, attempts to shoot the Master, but the Doctor is able to
persuade her not to do so. However, they are caught off-guard when
Saxon kills him herself. The Master, dying in the Doctor's
arms, refuses to regenerate as to be a prisoner for the rest of his
life. As the Doctor desperately pleads to the Master to stay alive,
the Master gives his final words, "The drumming, will it stop? Will
it ever stop?", and dies, sending the Doctor into an emotional
turmoil. Later, the Doctor burns the Master's body on a pyre, but an unseen woman's hand later
recovers his signet ring from the ashes, while the Master's
maniacal laughter echoes in the background.
The Doctor drops off Jack in Cardiff to rejoin his team,
deactivating his vortex manipulator to prevent Jack from jumping
around time and space. As Jack departs, he reflects on his
immortality and what he might look like in a million years, and
notes to the Doctor and Martha that in his youth on the Boeshane
Peninsula, his good looks earned him the nickname "the Face of Boe," revealing
that the minor character who the Doctor saw die in Gridlock is
actually Jack, millions of years old. Martha takes her leave of the
Doctor, opting to look after her family and finish her medical
degree, recognising that while she loves the Doctor, he cannot
return that; Martha however gives him a cell phone so they can stay
in touch and travel again one day. As the Doctor pilots the TARDIS
away, now with his severed hand aboard, it is struck by a large
force and the bow of a ship called the Titanic bursts through a wall of the
control room, leaving the Doctor perplexed how that could
- Reggie Yates
is credited as playing Leo Jones; however, the
character Leo only appears in this episode as background. The audio
commentary for the episode mentions that Leo was originally
scheduled to appear in the sequence showing Martha's return to
Britain, but Yates was double-booked.
- Zoe Thorne also voiced the Gelth in "The Unquiet Dead".
- Uncredited as the hand that picks up the Master's ring was
production manager, Tracie Simpson.
- In the episode's commentary, writer Russell T Davies called the
implication of Jack's nickname ("the Face of Boe") "a theory" as to the Face of
Boe's origins, prompting Executive Producer Julie Gardner to urge
him to "stop back-pedalling" about the two characters being the
same. Davies then mentioned the addition of a line in "Gridlock" in which the Face of
Boe calls the Doctor "old friend", suggesting a strong connection
between him and the Doctor.
- Davies also jokingly termed the hand seen removing the Master's
ring from the ashes of his funeral pyre "the hand of the
- The Master makes reference to the Sea
Devils (which the Third Doctor and the Master encountered
together in the 1972 serial The Sea Devils) and the Axons
(which they met in 1971's The Claws of Axos).
- Earth is referred to as Sol 3, the third planet from the star
Sol, as it was in The Deadly
- The Master's laser screwdriver is said to be isomorphically controlled, a property the Doctor
attributed to the TARDIS controls in Pyramids of
- Clips from "Smith and Jones", "Utopia"
Sound of Drums" are used in this episode.
- The hand seen picking up the Master's ring was included in
order to leave open the possibility of reintroducing the character
at a later date.
In part one of The End of Time, the hand is
revealed to be that of a disciple of Harold Saxon.
- Martha mentions that both UNIT
and Torchwood have been studying Time
Lords for several decades. Torchwood was set up in "Tooth and Claw" for the
specific purpose of tracking the Doctor, while the Doctor worked
for UNIT in the mid-20th century. During the
Doctor's tenure with UNIT, a full season of stories
revolved around the Master, ending in his capture by UNIT in The
- The 2007 Children in Need mini-episode "Time Crash" takes place
within the last few minutes of this episode.
- The Story of Martha, a new series novel,
chronicles the journey and tales of Martha Jones during her year on
- The Master says to The Doctor, "You used to have companions who
could absorb the Time Vortex", referring to "Rose Tyler".
- The Master refers to the aged version of the Doctor as "Gandalf" from J. R. R.
Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
- Whilst attempting to mend a television to pick up the broadcast
from the Master, Professor Docherty remarks on a fondness for
Countdown and states that
"it's never been the same since Des took over. Both Deses",
referring to Des Lynam
O'Connor's hosting of the show after the death of Richard Whiteley in 2005.
- When Professor Docherty was interrupted with Martha Jones, she
said she didn't care if it was the Queen of Sheba.
- While working on a troublesome computer to access the data from
the one Toclafane struck down by lightning, Professor Docherty
says, "Who ever thought that we would miss Bill Gates?"
Production and publicity
- This episode, along with "Utopia" and "The Sound of
Drums", are treated in several sources as a three-part story,
the first such story in the revived series of Doctor Who.
However, Russell T Davies has said that he regards "Utopia" as a
separate story, but notes that the determination is arbitrary.
- "Last of the Time Lords" was a subtitle proposed at one stage
for a film version of Doctor Who that was in development from
1987 to 1994.
- This episode was planned to be broadcast live to the crowds
London in Trafalgar Square via a giant screen.
However, a local curfew after the nearby attempted terrorist bombing the
previous day prevented the screening. Freema Agyeman and John Barrowman
attended the event.
- In order to keep the episode's details secret, access to
preview copies of this episode was restricted.
There was a similar moratorium on copies of "Doomsday" the previous year and
on the series four finale "Journey's End" the following
- The episode was allocated a 50-minute timeslot for its initial
with "Daleks in Manhattan" previously,
and 55-minute timeslots for the BBC Three repeats.
According to Russell T Davies in Doctor Who
Magazine 384, this is because it ran over-length but they did
not wish to lose the material. The official run time from freemaagyeman.com for the episode is almost 52
minutes. The final episode of The Trial of a Time Lord
was also extended by five minutes in 1986.
- In the audio commentary, the producers reveal that Graeme Harper
filled in to direct some scenes after director Colin Teague was
- At the start of this episode, The Master enters the bridge of
the Valiant as "I Can't Decide" by the Scissor Sisters
plays in the background. He refers to it as "track 3", its place on
the Scissor Sisters' second album, Ta-Dah.
- Two sets of audio commentaries were recorded for the episode:
one with producers Russell T Davies, Julie Gardner and
Collinson, which was intended for podcast broadcast to coincide with the
episode's initial UK telecast, and the other featuring actors David
Tennant, Freema Agyeman and John Barrowman, which was included on
the UK DVD release of the episode as part of the Series 3 box set.
However, the Region 1 (North America) release of the DVD
saw the actor commentary replaced by the earlier podcast version,
although a production error resulted in the set's booklet not
indicating this substitution (and the booklet also omits Tennant's
- This episode marked the last regular-episode use of the Doctor Who theme music
arrangement by Murray
Gold that had been introduced in 2005 and used (notwithstanding
minor modifications and an extension of the closing theme in 2006)
thereafter. The opening theme would be heard once more in its 2005
arrangement in the Time Crash short episode, before both
opening and closing themes would be revised beginning with
Voyage of the Damned and continuing into Series 4 in
According to official BARB ratings, "Last of the Time Lords" was
watched by 8.61 million viewers. It received an Audience
Appreciation Index of 88, considered "excellent" for a drama.
Stephen Brook, writing on Guardian
Unlimited's Organgrinder blog, said the episode was
"certainly an epic conclusion... but not a satisfying one." He felt
it was too epic and too rushed, and "the resurrection of the
Doctor... left me cold." Stephen
James Walker, in his book Third Dimension: The Unofficial
and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who 2007, summed up the
episode as "bleak and depressing", and listed the ill treatment of
the Doctor, the use of a reset button and the underuse of
Captain Jack as among the problems he had with the story.
"Doctor Who UK airdate
announced". News (Dreamwatch). February 27, 2007. http://www.dwscifi.com/articles/show/227.
- ^ a
""Last of the Time Lords"
Podcast". 2007-07-27. http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/check/doctorwho/ram/313_commentary?size=au&bgc=CC0000&nbram=1&bbram=1&nbwm=1&bbwm=1. Retrieved
- ^ a
"Doctor Who - Fact File -
"The Last of the Time Lords"". http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/episodes/2007/facts/fact_313.shtml. Retrieved
- ^ Davies, Russell T (4 March 2009 (cover
date)). "Production Notes". Doctor Who Magazine (Royal
Tunbridge Wells, Kent: Panini Comics)
(406): p 4. "And I certainly feel the Series Three climax was two
stories, no matter what the DWM season poll says.
I'm sorry! I just do! I could rattle off the reasons, but we're
into the mystical land of canon here, where the baseline of the
argument simply comes down to "because I think so!"".
Lofficier, Jean-Marc (1997).
Doctor Who: The Nth Doctor - An in-depth Study of the films
that almost were. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 0426204999.
- ^ "Gripping finale of Doctor Who
closes Pride show in Trafalgar Square". Pride London. http://www.pridelondon.org/media/. Retrieved
- ^ "Doctor Who dropped at London
Pride 2007". Outpost Gallifrey. http://www.gallifreyone.com/news-archives.php?id=7-2007#newsitemEElFkAZAyyvWqDoaUZ. Retrieved
- ^ "What did Lizo think of
Doctor Who?". CBBC.
2007-06-18. http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews/hi/newsid_6760000/newsid_6763700/6763787.stm. Retrieved
"Fear Forecast: "Army of
Ghosts"". BBC Doctor Who website. BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/episodes/2006/fear/f-armyofghosts.shtml. Retrieved
Doctor Who - Saturday, 30
Doctor Who - Sunday, 1
Doctor Who - Friday, 6
press release, quoted on TV Shows on DVD, Nov. 18,
2007 (accessed Nov. 20, 2007)
Brook, Stephen (2007-07-02). "Doctor Who: it's season
finale time!". Guardian
Unlimited. http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/organgrinder/2007/07/doctor_who_its_season_finale_t.html. Retrieved
Walker, Stephen James (2007). Third
Dimension:The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who
2007. Telos Publishing. pp. 264. ISBN