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Dr Who

Up to date as of January 31, 2010

From TARDIS Index File, the free Doctor Who reference.

For the titular species, see Family of Blood.
"He's like fire and ice and rage, he's like the night and the storm at the heart of the sun. He's ancient and forever, he burns at the center of time and he can see the turn of universe and he is wonderful."
Tim Latimer
The Family of Blood
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Series Number: Series 3
Story Number: 186b
Doctor: Tenth Doctor
Companions: Martha Jones
Setting: England, 1913
Writer: Paul Cornell
Director: Charles Palmer
Producer: Susie Liggat
Broadcast: 2nd June 2007
Format: 2nd of 2 45 Minute Episodes
Prod. Code: 189 b
Previous Story: Human Nature
Following Story: Blink



John Smith continues to struggle between the life he's created and the life that is trying to catch up with him. The Family of Blood attacks the school, then turn on the village and surrounding countryside in a bid to draw out the Doctor.

Tim Latimer uses the watch to draw the Family away from the school, and then takes it to Smith, Joan and Martha where they are hiding.

It comes down to a choice for Smith: live and die as John Smith, or live as a Time Lord...


As the Family holds Martha Jones and Joan Redfern captive, John Smith is helplessly bewildered by their demands. Tim Latimer briefly opens the watch containing the Doctor's essence, thus confusing the Family with the Doctor's scent. This allows Martha to grab a gun from Mother of Mine, take her hostage and point the gun at Son of Mine, who points his gun at Martha. Eventually the Family members lower their weapons, and Martha tells Smith to evacuate the building. After everyone has left, an animated scarecrow grabs Martha and retrieves the gun. She escapes and runs outside, where she finds Smith and leads him away. The watch still tells Latimer to keep it hidden.

Smith, Joan, and Martha race back to the school and Smith sounds the alarm. Father of Mine investigates Martha's past movements while the rest of the Family return to the school. They send Sister of Mine inside to spy on the school's inhabitants.

Inside the school, Martha pleads with Smith about having the students fight, but Smith says that they are trained to defend King and Country. Headmaster Rocastle enters, initially angry, but approves Smith's actions upon hearing that Baines (Son of Mine) and Clark (Father of Mine) have gone insane and are chasing them, and that people have been murdered. The headmaster and Smith arm the boys and prepare for battle. Unable to stop them, Martha races to Smith's room to search for the watch, followed by Joan. Joan slowly comes to believe the origins of Martha and the Doctor. Latimer hides away with the watch.

Rocastle and Phillips head outside to assess the situation. Son of Mine demands that John Smith be handed over along with his Time Lord consciousness, and mocks Rocastle for teaching children to fight in the war that Son of Mine knows is coming. Rocastle states his devotion to King and Country. Son of Mine vaporizes Phillips. Rocastle runs back into the school, where he and Smith resume battle preparations, ordering the boys to set up barricades and a line of machine guns to repel the Family. Son of Mine summons his scarecrow "soldiers". Father of Mine finds the TARDIS. Joan asks Smith about his Nottingham childhood, noting that his knowledge is confined to facts. "How can you think I'm not real?" he protests. She argues that whoever he is, he knows it is wrong to have the boys fight.

Sister of Mine finds Latimer, who beams the Time Lord consciousness out of the watch, striking her with an image of the Doctor at his most merciless. This betrays his position, and the Family send their scarecrow army in to bring out the watch. This army's first line is machine-gunned, but Smith finds himself unable to fire. Sister of Mine appears and Rocastle thinks she is merely a girl and should be brought into the school for her own safety, despite warnings from Martha, Joan and Smith. Sister of Mine kills Rocastle. Smith instructs the boys to make an orderly retreat, but the Family and their scarecrows chase them and line them up to look for the watch. Finding that none of them have it, they are about to massacre the boys, when Latimer sends a beam from the watch on an upper floor. This distracts them, and the boys get away. Latimer escapes out a window.

The Family bring the TARDIS to the school, and taunt Smith (who is watching from the adjoining woods) to come to them. Smith denies having seen the TARDIS before, but Joan recognizes it as the blue box in Smith's journal. Seeing this latest evidence of the Doctor's existence, Smith pleads desperately to remain himself. The Family return to their ship and use their alien technology to bombard the village in an attempt to hasten Smith's surrender.

Smith, Joan and Martha retreat to the Cartwrights' empty cottage, Joan having deduced that Sister of Mine killed her human host's parents earlier in the day. Latimer arrives soon after, watch in hand. He says he has seen the Doctor, and describes him as both fearsome and wonderful. After Smith takes the closed watch, it causes him to speak in the Doctor's voice for a moment, explaining Latimer's telepathic abilities as being due to "an extra synaptic engram". Smith is horrified. Martha tries to convince Smith to open the watch and change back, saying that she loves the Doctor to bits and that he is needed. Smith sees the transformation back to the Doctor as his own suicide. Latimer and Martha then leave Joan and Smith alone. Smith has an agonised discussion with Joan, with both seeing a vision of how Smith can live out his life if he remains human: marrying Joan, having children, becoming a grandfather, and dying at home in bed with Joan at his bedside. Joan remains ambivalent, having discovered from Smith's journal the awful consequences of the Family gaining what they seek.

Smith appears at the Family's ship and stumbles into things as he gives up the watch in return for the Family stopping the bombardment (and, apparently, to preserve his human identity). When they open the watch in triumph, they find it empty. Smith has changed back into the Doctor, misdirected their senses so as to seem human, and in falling around pushed buttons which lead to the machine overheating and destroying itself. The Family and the Doctor escape, but Son of Mine narrates the fate that befalls the Family afterward. He now realises that the Doctor made himself human out of kindness to the Family; the Doctor would have preferred that they die out peacefully. After all the death they caused, however, he deals out the ultimate punishments to them. They wanted to become immortal by absorbing a Time Lord, and then conquer across time and space, and so the Doctor grants this wish in other ways: he traps Father of Mine in chains forged at the heart of a dwarf star, Mother of Mine in the event horizon of a collapsing galaxy, Sister of Mine in every mirror in existence. (It is said that whenever one sees something moving in the mirror, even for a second, it is she. Son of Mine also states that the Doctor visits her once a year, every year, indicating that the narration is taking place some years after the events of this story.) Finally, the Doctor suspends Son of Mine in time, and dresses him as a scarecrow to watch over the fields of England as its protector.

The Doctor then visits Joan, who is certain that Smith is dead. The Doctor states that Smith still exists within him, and claims he is capable of everything that Smith was. He invites her to travel with him, but Joan refuses to go with the stranger who wears her dead lover's face. Instead she accuses him of causing the deaths around the school, and sends him away. She watches him leave and then starts to cry, clutching Smith's A Journal of Impossible Things to her chest. The Doctor returns to the TARDIS, where Martha awaits him. She brushes off her earlier confession as an act of desperation, which he seems to accept. He thanks her for looking after him and they hug.

Latimer appears to see the Doctor and Martha off. He states that he now "knows what he must do", is given the now-empty watch by the Doctor, and watches the TARDIS leave. Latimer later saves Hutchinson and himself on the Western Front, based on his premonition in the previous episode. We cut to the future, when an elderly Latimer attends an Armistice Day commemoration, still holding the watch. The Doctor and Martha observe from a distance, wearing poppies. They silently acknowledge each other as the service continues.



to be added


Story Notes

  • Smith's Journal of Impossible Things was created by artist Kellyanne Walker, based on text provided by (writer) Paul Cornell. Kellyanne's brief was to reflect the fact that Smith wasn't an excellent artist - and that these were images and thoughts from his dreams that he had rushed down on paper before he forgot them.
  • Joan Redfern was the third character in the revived series to decline an invitation to travel with the Tenth Doctor, after Sarah Jane Smith and Donna Noble but Donna would ultimately travel with the Doctor in Series 4


  • 6.6 million (overnight)
  • 7.21 million (Final ratings)
  • 0.76 million (repeat on BBC 3)


to be added

Filming Locations

  • St Fagans in Cardiff

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • In the dance, why doesn't the Family shoot Martha? She wouldn't have enough time to react to the gun being fired (as seen elsewhere in the story) They may have been afraid of hitting and killing Mother of Mine, who is after all being used as a shield by Martha.
  • What happened to the scarecrows? Without the Family to animate and control them they reverted back to their previous state.
  • Why didn't the Family of Blood die after they were imprisoned for eternity? The Doctor wanted them to pay for what they had done, so he used his knowledge to grant them immortality in a way they would not like.
  • If all that is required to defeat the Family is to distract them long enough so-as to tamper with the controls of their spaceship, rendering them effectively helpless, why does the Doctor choose to employ such an overcomplicated plan that puts a lot of innocent humans in danger and only leads to the very killings for which the Doctor feels obliged to punish the Family so severely for at the climax? They were actively shooting at him when he ran from them, and had to escape and hide from them before he could get them to such a point.
  • Considering the Family's ship was theirs, why weren't they aware that the Doctor having pushed all the switches would have had a bad/unwanted effect on the ship? The Family has only been alive for a short period of time, and most of that time was spent chasing after the Doctor. They only had enough time to learn the bare necessities of flying the ship and would worry about the rest of the controls after they had gained their immortality.
  • No explanation is given for how exactly the Doctor manages to capture and punish each member of the Family at the end of this episode, apparently demonstrating the possession of unprecedented powers on his part. The Family realise that they should stop, they look up at the Doctor after the explosion and, realizing they have no way to escape, possibly give themselves up to him.
  • It isn't possible that the Doctor can trap Sister of Mine in every mirror because a mirror is basically an object with a reflective surface, in fact, you see things by the light being reflected off them, so everything except pure black is a mirror.  We're talking about a species that has harnessed the energy of black holes to travel through the space/time continuum and used bowships to fight giant vampire bats in space. It may not be possible per se, but the Time Lords were capable of a lot of impossible. That, and the Doctor is definitely not one to mess with. If anyone could find a way to trap a body within the confines of what we call a mirror for all time, it'd be him.


  • When Hutchinson calls Latimer a "filthy coward" Latimer responds by saying, "Oh, yes, sir! Every time!" this is a reference to DW: The Parting of the Ways. It is revealed in the Doctor Who Confidential for these two episodes that they wanted to make Latimer a bit Doctor-ish in his character, so they included this as a nod to that quality of his.

DVD and Other Releases

Series 3 Volume 3 DVD Cover
  • This episode was released alongside Human Nature and Blink
  • It is also part of the series 3 DVD boxset.

See Also

External Links

  • Official BBC Website - Episode Guide: The Family of Blood
  • Official BBC Website - Human Nature (New Adventure novel) online version
  • Official BBC Website - Paul Cornell on adapting Human Nature for TV
Series 3
Christmas Special: The Runaway Bride

Smith and Jones  • The Shakespeare Code  • Gridlock  • Daleks in Manhattan  • Evolution of the Daleks  • The Lazarus Experiment  • 42  • Human Nature  • The Family of Blood  • Blink  • Utopia  • The Sound of Drums  • Last of the Time Lords

Animated serial: The Infinite Quest

This article uses material from the "The Family of Blood" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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