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The Runaway Bride
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Series Number: Series 3
Story Number: 178
Doctor: Tenth Doctor
Companions: Donna Noble (guest; leaves)
Enemy: Empress of the Racnoss
Lance Bennett
Setting: London; 24th December, 2007
Writer: Russell T Davies
Director: Euros Lyn
Producer: Phil Collinson
Broadcast: 25 December 2006
Format: 1 60-minute Episode
Prod. Code: 3.X
Previous Story: Doomsday
Following Story: Smith and Jones
"Drink the particle, become the key!"
Empress of the Racnoss



As Donna Noble is about to marry her boyfriend Lance on Christmas Eve, she suddenly finds herself aboard the TARDIS. As the Doctor tries to get Donna to the church on time, the alien Empress of the Racnoss watches closely from the throne in her spaceship. How is Donna the key to an ancient plot to destroy the Earth? With time running out, can the Doctor solve the puzzle, defeat the Empress and stop her army of robot Santas?


The Doctor is in his TARDIS as it orbits a supernova, finishes his farewells to Rose Tyler, when suddenly a bride appears in the control room. Both are astounded by this event. The bride, Donna Noble, demands the Doctor return her to the church in Chiswick where she was just in the middle of her wedding ceremony before appearing on the TARDIS. The Doctor tries to return there, but ends up near Oxford Street. Donna storms out of the TARDIS and tries to contact her family through a public telephone, while the Doctor wonders how she could have gotten aboard.

He then notices familiar masked Santas, recognising them as the robotic scavengers from the previous year's Christmas, leveling their weapons disguised as instruments at him; he distracts them by using his sonic screwdriver on a nearby ATM to make it spit out money and causing a crazed rush from the nearby crowd, and then goes off in search of Donna. He finds she has managed to collect some money and is taking off in a cab, though its driver is another one of the robotic Santas. Donna quickly realizes that her cab is not taking her to the church, and discovers that the Doctor has managed to engage the TARDIS in pursuit of the cab along a highway and is able to rescue her. However, such an endeavor has put a strain on the TARDIS, and he cannot use it for some time.

The Doctor gives Donna a ring to prevent the Santas from tracking her and tries to learn more about her, learning that she works at a security firm called H.C. Clements, and that that is where she met her husband-to-be, Lance. The Doctor takes Donna to her reception, to the relief of Lance, her family and their friends. The Doctor learns that H.C. Clements is owned by the Torchwood Institute, and that through footage taken by the photographer at the wedding earlier, that Donna was turned into Huon particles, a source of energy that hasn't existed for billions of years, since "The Dark Times", and cannot be masked by the ring he gave her earlier. He finds the reception hall surrounded by the Santas, and that they have rigged a Christmas tree's ornaments to fly off explosively at the crowd. Using the sound system at the reception and his sonic screwdriver, the Doctor is able to shake apart the robots, and trace the source of their control to a star-shaped spaceship hanging above the city, but shortly loses its signal.

The Doctor asks Lance to take him and Donna to H.C. Clements, learning that after Torchwood One's dissolution in the Battle of Canary Wharf, someone else took control of the company. The Doctor discovers a basement level not on the floor plans and the three travel to it, finding themselves in a long tunnel that eventually leads to the Thames Barrier. There, the Doctor discovers a laboratory where Huon particles have been manufactured and stored in liquid form. The Doctor determines that Donna was saturated in them, and due to the stress of her wedding day, causes the particles to catalyze and activate, pulling her into the TARDIS' own source of Huon particles. A large hole also extends across the room, the Doctor surmising that it was dug out by Torchwood's laser technology and extending to the center of the Earth.

As they explore, a half-humanoid, half-spider teleports into the lab, which the Doctor recognises being one of the Racnoss, a race thought wiped out billions of years ago by the Fledgling Empires during the Dark Times of the universe. The Racnoss calls itself the Empress, and has fashioned a large web above the pit, where the body of H.C. Clements still hangs. As the Doctor talks to the Empress, Lance sneaks around behind it with an axe, threatening to strike, but quickly reveals that he has been working with the Empress; he had spiked the coffee he gave to Donna every day with Huon particles as to allow them to mature in her, so that the Empress can use their activated energy to regain her ancient power. However, as the Doctor and Donna are targeted by more of the robotic agents under the Empress' control, the TARDIS materializes around them and they escape. The Empress is not thwarted as she knows exactly how to achieve the same result with Lance, and begins to force feed him the Huon liquid while trapping him in her web.

The Doctor takes the TARDIS to the creation of the Earth to learn why the Racnoss has dug into the core of the planet, and finds that a Racnoss spaceship is the actual core of Earth, the rest of the planet forming around it, and that if the Empress were to use the Huon particles, she would be able to reawaken those still on the ship. Armed with that knowledge, he and Donna return to a corridor by the laboratory, but Donna is immediately captured into the Empress' web, while the Doctor is held at gunpoint. The Empress begins to activate the Huon particles and, knowing that her fellow Racnoss will be hungry, severs Lance from the web dropping him into the pit.

Meanwhile, the Empress' ship descends over the city, initially mistaken as a Christmas star before it starts firing on the city. The Doctor manages to sneak back into the laboratory and issues the Racnoss a final offer, to take her and her kind to a planet where they will not threaten anyone. She refuses, and the Doctor reveals himself as from Gallifrey, his long-gone race having previously defeated the Racnoss, and will do so again, using some of the explosive Christmas ornaments to burst apart the walls and flooding the room with water from the River Thames. The Doctor is caught up in his act and doesn't move until Donna says he can stop. The doctor is able to escape with Donna into the TARDIS, while the Empress teleports back to her ship, moments before it is blown out of the sky by tanks under orders of "Mr. Saxon".

The Doctor returns Donna home, but she is desolate having lost her job and her fiancé the same evening, and the Doctor uses a burst of energy from the TARDIS to make it snow in hopes to cheer her up, and offers her to join him on the TARDIS. She declines, but encourages him to find someone, recognizing that he had just lost someone himself. The Doctor tells her briefly about Rose, and then disappears into his TARDIS.

Cast & Characters

Production crew

to be added


Story Notes

  • A controversy occurred during filming of this story as guests at a hotel were awakened and frightened by gunfire and explosions during filming of one scene in the street below, including one who had just returned from the conflict in Israel.
  • Though set at Christmas, this story was filmed in late July, with an average temperature of thirty degrees, centigrade. David Tennant was quoted as saying he was "blinking boiling" during filming.
  • As part of the 2006 Children In Need concert, a four minute clip from this episode was shown. It features Donna riding in a taxi, unaware that it is being driven by a Robot Santa. The Doctor gives chase in the TARDIS down a motorway and tries to persuade Donna to jump between the two vehicles. The unveiling of Christmas-special preview footage for Children in Need became an irregular tradition afterwards, with the 2008 campaign featuring a preview of DW: The Next Doctor and the 2009 edition a preview of DW: The End of Time, Part One.
  • This is the first appearance of companion Donna Noble. It is debatable whether Donna qualifies as an actual companion for this episode, though in the eyes of the show makers, she gains this status. She also receives a lead credit at the start which so far only the Doctor and his companion have received. She returned in Partners in Crime and left in Journey's End, both in Series 4.
  • Catherine Tate was unable to attend the traditional first cast read-through of the episode. David Tennant's then-girlfriend, and former guest star Sophia Myles (The Girl in the Fireplace) read the part of Donna Noble on this occasion.
  • According to David Tennant on his DVD commentary, the reprise of the cliffhanger scene from Doomsday had to be refilmed for The Runaway Bride as the change of cinematographers would have resulted in a discontinuity in terms of lighting between the earlier footage and that shot for the special.
  • The "TARDIS car chase" sequence was the first part of the episode to be publicly screened when it was included in the Music and Monsters charity concert TV special, broadcast several weeks before the episode.
  • In the DVD commentary it is confirmed that a scene filmed, but cut from broadcast, would have continued on from Donna pointing out a piece of Rose's clothing by showing the Doctor angrily throwing it through the open TARDIS doors and into space. Executive producer Julie Gardner explained to David Tennant in the commentary that it was cut as being too melodramatic. The cut scene was not included with the other deleted scenes on the DVD release.
  • Two songs are heard during Donna's wedding reception: "Merry Xmas Everybody" by Slade, and an original song, "Love Don't Roam", which makes reference to Rose's disappearance. "Merry Xmas Everybody" would be heard again in the alternate timeline of Turn Left.
  • After the Doctor informs the Empress that he is from Gallifrey, she screams in anger, shouting "They (the Time Lords) murdered the Racnoss", Ironically, she is killed when her ship is shot down by Mr Saxon, who in actuality is the Master, a Time Lord
  • It should take Lance more then 30 hours to reach the center of the earth traveling at the terminal free fall of 120 MPH or 48 KPH.
  • For some shots in was suggested that the Torchwood helicopter be used for certain shots by Patrick Schweitzer, this was turned down.
  • The Doctor references Gallifrey by name for the first time since the revival of the series.


  • 9.4 million viewers


to be added

Filming Locations

  • This is the first episode to be filmed in the new Upper Boat studios.
  • Filming also took place in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. (Representing the Torchwood base)

Discontinuity, Plot Holes and Errors

  • At the end of DW:"Doomsday" Donnna's lipstick is blue, but in this episode it's red.
  • Wouldn't the Bullets hit Donna & the Doctor since they start firing before the TARDIS fully materialized? (It had materialised enough to deflect the bullets.)
  • The Empress says the Roboforms are 'such very good shots' but after the TARDIS materializes, they miss it by a considerable amount. (The TARDIS has defences of unknown type, which could certainly handle deflecting the bullets. The Roboforms have also been seen to miss their shot before, meaning the Empress may have overstated the quality of their marksmanship.)
  • How did the Roboforms tie up Lance and Donna and how did the Empress cut the rope? The Empress clearly used her blade-like limbs to cut the web.
  • When both Lance and Donna are tied up towards the end, only Donna released the Huon energy, why?
  • The Racnoss plan involved getting Donna to HC Clements, how would this have worked without the Doctor taking her there? Donna worked there. Lance would most likely take her down there if the Doctor didn't.
  • How do the Santa Robots find Donna so quickly after she arrives back in the TARDIS? They have special ways of sensing the huon particles inside of Donna.
  • It takes an amazingly short amount of time for the waters of the Thames to journey to the centre of the earth and drown the children of Racnoss. And why doesn't the heat of the Earth's mantle evaporate it? The children of the Racnoss were already climbing up to the surface.
  • The Doctor says the TARDIS could take a couple of hours to heal itself, but the Doctor and Donna come back inside after their conversation which was nothing close to an hour. (Just because they entered the TARDIS, doesn't mean they left straight away.)
  • The wedding is on Christmas Eve, so how come Donna invites the Doctor in for Christmas dinner? And at night? Some families celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, mostly so they can relax and not have to worry about the cooking and cleaning on Christmas Day.
  • If the events of TW: Out of Time are happening on the same day, shouldn't the Doctor have detected the Cardiff Rift distortions? Only the end of Out of Time is happening on the same day. Even if he did pick up the temporary opening that Diane Holmes flew into in search of new adventures, he has no reason to be concerned with it.
  • The Doctor calls Donna by her full name before watching the creation of the Earth, but Donna only used her first name when introducing herself. (She told him off screen, or he found out her surname at the wedding reception.)
  • Presumably Mr Saxon had been around for six months, sometime between DW: The Christmas Invasion and DW: Love & Monsters, so why didn't he attack the Doctor during Series 2? He needed the Doctor to go to the end of the universe and leave the TARDIS for him to steal. He also had more important things to do with his time, such as establishing the Archangel Network, designing the Valiant and becoming Prime Minister.
  • At the end the Doctor agrees to join Donna for Christmas dinner, but when he enters the TARDIS to park it, it is like he is about to leave. This is the point, the Doctor wasn't going to stay, and Donna figured this out.
  • It was never explained how the Doctor escaped the Roboform that cornered him in the secret tunnels. It's called deliberate mis-direction - so that when the santa bot comes in you don't realise it's the doctor straight away. Not a plot hole.
  • During the reception, when the Doctor is using the guests mobile phone to search about HC Clements, for a brief second you can see the mini video player beginning to play.
  • When the Doctor makes it snow at the end, towards the left of the screen the snow moves in such a way that it is obviously being shot out of a cannon. (Wind from the atmospheric disturbance which was used to cause the snowfall would also account for it.)
  • The Roboform masks are now completely different. The Roboforms would've made a change to look more convincing, in The Christmas Invasion, the Roboforms wore metal masks, in this story they went for plastic. Normal Santa impersonators wouldn't wear a metal mask. Also, not to forget, these Roboforms were owned by the Empress of the Racnoss, not the Sycorax, she might of chosen a different style of costume as well as different types of weapons as we see in this episode.
  • Where was Wilfred??? As stated in the Sontaran Stratagem he was in bed with spanish flu so he couldn't come.



DVD Releases

The Runaway Bride DVD Cover
  • This episode was released as the sole story on Doctor Who: The Runaway Bride, alongside the full Children In Need 2006 concert. Extras include Music and Monsters, the Dr Who Confidential/ Children in Need 2006 Special Concert
  • It is also included in the Series 3 DVD boxset.

External links

  • BBC Episode Guide to The Runaway Bride
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide - Detailed Synopsis - The Runaway Bride
  • Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel) - A Brief History of Time (Travel): The Runaway Bride
  • The Whoniverse - The Discontinuity Guide to: The Runaway Bride
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures: Story Locations - The Runaway Bride
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 Runaway Bride" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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