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The Sound of Drums
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Series Number: Series 3
Story Number: 187b
Doctor: Tenth Doctor
Setting: London; 2008
Writer: Russell T Davies
Director: Colin Teague
Producer: Phil Collinson
Broadcast: 23rd June 2007
Format: 1x45 minute episode
Prod. Code: 191 b
Previous Story: Utopia
Following Story: Last of the Time Lords
"And I looked down upon my new dominion, as Master of all, and I thought it... good."
The Master



The Doctor, Martha and Captain Jack return to the 21st century after the Master's theft of the TARDIS. A new Prime Minister has been elected: Harold Saxon. What are the Toclafane and what's at the heart of the Valiant?


The Story continues after the events of Utopia where the Doctor, Martha, and Jack were trapped by the Futurekind. The Doctor uses Jack's vortex manipulator to get to 21st century Earth

. When they arrive they discover Vote Saxon posters everywhere. Martha tells The Doctor that Harold Saxon is a politician on planet Earth and he must have won the election.
The Master gasses the cabinet
Meanwhile, Mr Saxon is on the news with his wife Lucy. He has, in fact, just won the election and is the new Prime Minister of Britain. Mr. Saxon then walks to a cabinet meeting. He meets Tish Jones (who worked for Richard Lazarus two days previously and now works at 10 Downing Street). After speaking to Tish, he walks into the cabinet where he meets his first cabinet. He then gasses the room after accusing them of deserting their political parties after Saxon's popularity rose.

Martha returns home with Jack and the Doctor and switches on the news. She tells them that Saxon was a party leader and that she recognized his voice when the Master regenerated. The group realizes that Saxon is the Master.

At Downing Street Lucy Saxon is speaking to Tish when a woman named Vivien Rook arrives from the Sunday Mirror saying she is here to interview Lucy about being the Prime Minister's wife and asks Tish to leave. After Tish leaves, Rook tells Lucy that she knows the truth about Saxon. She says he only appeared since the fall of Harriet Jones and that he made his past life up. Lucy refuses to believe this as Saxon
the crew in hidding
walks in and he produces four robotic balls the size of footballs. He tells one to kill Vivien as he and Lucy leave.

Meanwhile, at Martha's flat, the TARDIS crew watch a political broadcast by Saxon about first contract with an alien race called the Toclafane and that he and his wife will be meeting them. He claims that "we will take our place in the universe. Every man, woman, and child. Every teacher and chemist and lorry driver and farmer. I don't know--every medical student?" The Doctor looks behind the television and finds a bomb. The gang runs out on to the street just in time to see the flat explode. Martha, the Doctor and Jack get into a car and phone Martha's mum. Francine asks her to come to her house, claiming she has plans of getting back together with Clive. Francine hands the phone to Clive. He hesitates his breath for a moment and tells Martha to run. However, Miss Dexter, a government official loyal to Saxon, is listening to the conversation and tells the police to arrest the entire Jones family. Martha phones Tish at Downing Street, just as Tish is dragged away by guards. Martha, the Doctor, and Jack arrive at Francine's house but are forced to drive away as the police start firing at her car.

As the three of them abandon the car, Martha phones Leo, who luckily is in Brighton. As Martha warns her brother to hide, Saxon interrupts the phone call. The Doctor takes the phone and tells the Master how the Time War ended. The Master says that the Time Lords resurrected him in order to fight but he ran away in fear, explaining that he used a Chameleon Arch to turn him into a human, as the
The Paradox Machine
Doctor did in Human Nature. He informs the Doctor that he, Martha, and Jack have now been deemed terrorists and that Jack's friends have been sent on a wild goose-chase in the Himalayas. Whilst The Doctor stands with his back against a shop window the television inside shows the BBC News, it shows the faces of Saxon's cabinet ministers and then that of the doctor, jack and martha - implying that they have been framed for the murder of the cabinet ministers.

One of the Toclafane appears before the Master asking if "the machine" is ready. The Master informs it that it will reach a critical mass at 8:02 AM: two minutes after the "first contact." The Toclafane reminds him of the darkness that is coming which the Toclafane must run from, but he is confident of their deadline.

As the TARDIS crew hide in an abandoned warehouse, the Doctor gives Martha and Jack some insight on the Master's origins, explaining that at the age of eight, the Time Lords, look into the time vortex. Some are inspired; some run away and some are driven mad. The Doctor ran and never stopped, but believes the latter happened to the Master. Jack receives a posthumous message from Vivien Rook to Torchwood Three about the Archangel Network. The Doctor discovers that the Master has been hypnotizing people to vote for him, which also kept the Doctor from detecting him. The Doctor produces three keys equipped with perception filters allowing himself, Martha, and Jack to be seen, but not detected, if they put them on.

The American President arrives in Air Force One in London. He tells Saxon that UNIT has Control over the operation, citing a United Nations protocol. Winters insists on moving first contact to the neutral ground of the UNIT aircraft carrier Valiant and conducting the meeting with the Toclafane for himself. The Master brings along Francine, Tish and Clive, and the Doctor and friends follow using Jack's vortex manipulator. On board, they find the TARDIS, its cloister bell ringing, and the interior glowing an ominous red. It had been changed by the Master into a paradox machine, set to go off at 8:02 AM. The trio head for the room in which the first contact is being held. The Doctor has a plan: if he manages to put the TARDIS key around the Master's neck, then everyone will see the Master for who he truly is.

When the first contact begins, the Toclafane complain that the President is not the Master. The Master reveals himself to the entire world and tells the Toclafane to kill the President. The Doctor is captured by the guards and the Master temporarily kills Jack with his laser screwdriver
The Toclafane invading Earth
, equipped with LazLab's Genetic Manipulation technology. With DNA from the Doctor's hand (stolen during the events of Utopia), it allows the Master to artificially (and visibly) age the Doctor by 100 years. The Master brings in the Jones family to witness this attack.

With the paradox machine ready, the Master tells the people of Earth to witness the end of the world. The paradox machine activates, creating a massive rift above the Valiant from which six billion Toclafane descend from. He orders them to kill one tenth of the earth's population. When asked, he refuses to reveal the true identity of the Toclafane, saying it would break the Doctor's hearts. Whilst the Master is distracted, Martha glances at the Doctor, Jack and her family. She teleports to Earth using the manipulator, given to her by Jack, promising to return as she watches the Toclafane descend. The Master and his wife look down on the planet, calling it his "new dominion", with the aged Doctor between them, forced to confront his failure to stop the Master.



to be added


  • The Doctor, Jack and Martha return to Earth via Jack's vortex manipulator.
  • Jack reveals to the Doctor that he works for the Torchwood Institute.
  • On board the Valiant, the Master and his wife are seen eating jelly babies from a white paper bag. This refers to the same habit of primarily the Fourth Doctor.
  • 10 Downing Street was destroyed during the Slitheen attack. The Master here states it was rebuilt.
  • The Master's clothing was identical to that worn by Kamelion when he was in Lazarote and on the planet Sarn.
  • This episode shows the surface of Gallifrey, the Citadel and other Time Lords.
  • The Seal of Rassilon is visible on various elements during the Gallifrey flashback.
  • The Master watches The Teletubbies, much in the same way he watched The Clangers when he was imprisoned by UNIT in the 1970s.
  • The Doctor constructs a perception filter for himself, Martha and Jack using his TARDIS keys.
  • The Doctor states that Gallifreyans are 8 years old when they enter the Time Lord Academy.
  • Vivien Rook refers to the fall of Harriet Jones, which may have happened a few months before the master came to Earth or may have happened a few weeks before he became prime minister as it is referenced in The Chrstmas Invasion, on Rose's TV, that Harriet Jones is going through a vote of No Confidence, this may have taken a while
  • The Master mentions Lazarus and the Doctor's involvement with his machine.
  • The Master says the phrase 'please attend carefully' as a reference to DW: Logopolis, where he says the same line.

Story Notes

  • The Rogue Traders song "Voodoo Child" plays as the Master launches the attack on Earth, it contains the lyrics "So here it comes, the sound of drums. Here come the drums, here come the drums!".
  • This is the first 3 part story since Survival, which incidentally was the last of the ongoing series to feature the Master.
  • Sharon Osbourne, McFly and Ann Widdecombe appear as themselves endorsing Harold Saxon.
  • The 'sound of drums' heard throughout the episode is the rhythm of a few versions of the Doctor Who theme.
  • Martha asks whether the Master is the Doctor's secret brother, to which the Doctor replies that she's been watching too much TV. It was originally rumoured that the Master would be revealed as the Doctor's brother in a story at the end of Season 10; however, this storyline was pre-empted by the unexpected death of Roger Delgado. An unfinished statement made by the Master at the end of Planet of Fire spoken by Anthony Ainley has also been interpreted as a possible reference to this. Also, in Smith and Jones the Doctor states (for the first time on screen) that he had a brother as he states "Not anymore"
  • Assuming the American political system works the same in the Doctor Who universe as it does in the real world, the involvement of the American President-Elect indicates the events of this episode must take place between November 5, 2008 (the day after the US presidential election) and January 19, 2009 (the day before the inauguration of the new president). Also if Winters had use of Air Force One, then it is likely that Winters had just won re-election. If he had been re-elected, he would be the President, not the President Elect. Either the current President came with him (if the president isn't on board a plane, that plane is not "Air Force One") but did not involve himself in the proceedings, or the television press was simply incorrect in referring to the President Elect's plane as Air Force One. Russell T Davies has stated that he used the term President-Elect without realising what it actually meant, and that he intended for Winters to be the proper full President of the United States.
  • The Series 4 track, UNIT Rocks, plays on the PResident's arrival. However, it switches to the series one and two track, Unit, on his departure.


  • 6.9 million viewers - Overnight ratings
  • 1.09 million viewers - BBC3 Sunday repeat ratings
  • 7.51 million viewers - Final ratings

Myths & Rumours

  • In the episode Utopia, the rumour that John Simm's character, Mr. Saxon, is actually the Master in disguise was verified, with the regeneration of Professor Yana/The Master.
  • The drum beat was based upon Ron Grainer's theme music for Doctor Who. As noted below, according to Russell T Davies an alarm clock inspired it.

Filming Locations

to be added

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • The Master had no way of knowing that Jack possessed a Vortex Manipulator, yet he seemed to expect that the Doctor's group would find their way back to the present, as evidenced by his televised speech, wherein he puts emphasis on the word "Doctor", and the traps he laid for Martha. How could he expect them to get back without the TARDIS? The Master knows the Doctor well so he knows that the Doctor has the capability to return to Earth. Also, as Timelords can feel each others' presence, he can likely feel the doctor in London
  • When the Master first puts on his gas mask, it is the correct way up. It then cuts to a different shot where it is up-side down. It then goes back to the first shot where it is the correct way up again. He could have changed it, we do not know the speed of event's.
  • When the Master refers to the Battle of Canary Wharf, he only mentions the Cybermen but not the Daleks hovering above London. Because the Daleks weren't around for as long, people may not have noticed, also the Cybermen were shown to be in peoples' homes.
  • When Vivian interviews Lucy, she tells Tish to take the coats out of the room, by calling her Tish, but Tish had never introduced herself to Vivian. She may have before the scene started; or, if she's a thorough journalist, she's done her research.
  • President Winters refers to himself as "President Elect" when introducing himself to the Toclafane, but in all other instances is referred to as the U.S. President. "President Elect", someone who has won the election but not yet taken office, is strictly an informal term, carrying no real legal weight, or the way it works in the Doctor Who Universe might be not the same as real life. This was a simple scripting error.
  • When the Master stands up on the Valiant to announce his that he is "the Toclafane's Master", President Winters is visible in the background, only the Toclafane aren't there. In the next shot, they return, buzzing around Winters' head. Perhaps they moved higher away from the camera and then floated back down to float around Winters' head.
  • When the Jones family is being taken in and Martha drives in, they shoot the back window which breaks but is then repaired in the next scenes. No it is not, the window has totally gone.
  • It has been previously shown and indicated that Time Lords have extremely long, almost indefinite, life-spans and can remain healthy and strong in one incarnation for centuries, indeed the First Doctor regenerated at the age of 450, yet the Master reduces the Doctor to infirmity by aging him a mere 100 years. His health failed because of artificial aging not natural aging see DW: The Leisure Hive
  • When the Doctor's flashback of Gallifrey is shown, the Time Lord headdresses are different and that they do not have the Seal of Rassilon on each side. Perhaps there are different headdresses for different parts of the Time Lord society but the Seal of Rassilon is seen below the Untempered Schism.
  • When the Master explains that he grew mad because of the Untempered Schism, this would appear to contradict how he came to be in the story of his name as he was Death's companion. The production team may not be taking The Big Finish audios as canon. Perhaps being Death's companion along with the Untempered Schism are just a couple of reasons why he went mad.
  • Why does the Master need to become Prime Minister? Possibly because he is an egotistical, delusional, megalomaniac with a power fixation? In addition, getting elected to the highest seat of office in the land also proves that the hypnotic control effect of the Archangel Network is working.
  • If the TARDIS had been locked to the co-ordinates it had most recently visited, i.e. 21st century London and the planet Malcassairo in the year 100 trillion, how did the Master travel to Utopia to 'recruit' the Toclafane? Still, the Master could choose any spatial destination, although the temporal coordinates were affixed. The Doctor indicates that the coordinates are locked approximately.
  • The flashback of the Master as a novice looking into the void depicts him as a boy. But it is stated in NA: Lungbarrow that Time Lords by his time were born/created in Looms as fully grown adults. The production team may not count the various novels as canon, and perhaps some time lords were exceptions to the rule.
  • The sky of Gallifrey was exactly the same as ours in all its previous appearances, and not orange. (The sky is similar to how it was described previously. The sky here on Earth sometimes changes colour depending on atmospheric conditions, it is reasonable that this is true for other worlds as well.)
  • On the in universe website:, it states that Harold Saxon 'Dared to stand apart from the party system' which suggests that Mr Saxon has no political party. So how could he be elected prime minister? As the prime minister of Great Britian is the leader of the political party with the majority of votes. This isn't strictly true under the parliamentary system. Remember, the Master chides his cabinet for abandoning their own parties and joining with him. It would seem that the Master became Prime Minister under some kind of coalition government. Much like Churchill wartime coalition government
  • When Martha, Jack and Doctor in the car Martha says 'its all your fault' to the Doctor surely it's not his fault as Martha was the person who aroused Yana's interest in the Fobwatch. She means it as the Doctor set the TARDIS to go to Earth where the Master had her family arrested, and she was just angry so she might not know what she was talking about.


  • The Master watches the Teletubbies in a similar fashion as he did with the Clangers in DW: The Sea Devils. (This was confirmed to be intentional on the DVD Commentary)
  • Tish Jones wears the exact same clothes that Diana Goddard wore in DW: Dalek.
  • This is the first appearance of Gallifrey on screen since DW: The Five Doctors.
  • The Time Lords seen in this episode are wearing the ceremonial dress first seen in DW: The Deadly Assassin and last seen in DW: The Ultimate Foe.
  • The outfit the young Master wears is similar to that which the Time Lords wear in DW: The War Games.
  • This is the first time a Gallifreyan child has appeared on screen, although there had been previous references to "time tots" during the Fourth Doctor era, and Susan Foreman, the Doctor's granddaughter, was said to be 16 in DW: An Unearthly Child, Romana also mentioned being a time tot
  • The events of DW: Aliens of London, DW: The Christmas Invasion and DW: The Runaway Bride are mentioned and footage is shown.
  • The Master states that he was resurrected, which neatly absolves any continuity problems caused by DW: Doctor Who: The TV Movie.
  • The Master states that Downing Street has been rebuilt; it was destroyed in DW: World War Three.
  • Harriet Jones last appeared in DW: The Christmas Invasion.
  • Professor Lazarus and his Genetic Manipulation Device appeared in DW: The Lazarus Experiment.
  • The Master still has the Doctor's hand which he lost in The Christmas Invasion, Jack had with him while in charge of Torchwood (TW: Everything Changes et al), took with him when he met up with the Doctor (Utopia)
  • The Master wears variations of various outfits from different stories; A black single breasted suit, white shirt and black tie (from DW: Planet of Fire, albeit without the black leather gloves worn in the original costume). He also wears a black overcoat with red satin lining,  (like Jon Pertwee's early outfit) and black leather gloves during his airport meeting with President Winters.
  • The Seal of Rassilon is visible for the first time on screen since Doctor Who: The TV Movie and last featured on a novel cover of EDA: The Gallifrey Chronicles.
  • The Doctor has been artificially aged many years on a previous occasion: on Argolis in DW: The Leisure Hive.
  • The Master's line, "Peoples of the Earth, please attend carefully" in this episode is similar to his call for the attention of the "peoples of the Universe" during the events of DW: Logopolis.
  • References to Tom Baker are made in this episode; the Master's opening line in his televised introduction of the Toclafane ("Britain, Britain, Britain...") is the beginning line to the introduction each episode of the comedy series "Little Britain", which Baker narrates. Also, the Master is seen offering Lucy Saxon Jelly Babies, the Fourth Doctor's favorite sweet.
  • When Jack logs onto the Torchwood system the Torchwood theme tune plays in the background.
  • When the Doctor, Martha and Jack first arrive back in 2008 the Doctor describes time travel without a capsule as "nasty". In NSA: Only Human a Neanderthal named Das accidentally uses a (dirty) rip engine to travel to modern day Bromley and is unable to return to his time without the vortex pressures tearing him apart as a side effect of his unprotected journey.
  • Martha Jones' television set is built by Magpie Electricals, the same electronics company who helped the Wire in DW: The Idiot's Lantern.
  • In an interview with Doctor Who Magazine Russell T Davies stated that the eponymous drumbeat was not inspired by the opening bars of Ron Grainer's original Doctor Who theme tune (as many fans believed) but by his alarm clock which plays a sound similar to the aforementioned sound of drums when it goes off.

DVD and Other Releases

Series 3 Volume 4 DVD Cover

See also

External Links

  • Official BBC Website - Episode Guide: The Sound of Drums
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

The Master - TV Stories
Terror of the Autons  • The Mind of Evil  • The Claws of Axos  • Colony in Space  • The Dæmons  • The Sea Devils  • The Time Monster  • Frontier in Space  • The Deadly Assassin  • The Keeper of Traken  • Logopolis  • Castrovalva  • Time-Flight  • The King's Demons  • The Five Doctors  • Planet of Fire  • The Mark of the Rani  • The Ultimate Foe  • Survival  • Doctor Who: The TV Movie  •
Utopia/ The Sound of Drums/ Last of the Time LordsThe End of Time

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


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