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The Waters of Mars
Series: Doctor Who - TV stories
Series Number: 2009 Specials
Story Number: 201
Doctor: Tenth Doctor
Companions: Adelaide Brooke
Enemy: The Flood
Setting: Bowie Base One
21st November 2059
Writer: Russell T Davies
Phil Ford
Director: Graeme Harper
Producer: Nikki Wilson
Broadcast: 15th November 2009
Format: 1x60 minute episode
Prod. Code: 4.16
Previous Story: Planet of the Dead
Following Story: Dreamland
"It's taken me all these years to realise that the Laws of Time are mine...AND THEY WILL OBEY ME!"
The Doctor

The Waters of Mars was the second of the 2009 Specials leading up to the end of the David Tennant era. It aired on 15th November 2009 on BBC One.



Mars. 2059. Bowie Base One. Last recorded message: "Don't drink the water. Don't even touch it. Not one drop."


The TARDIS arrives on Mars and the Doctor steps out in his spacesuit, seemingly just to relax and enjoy the landscape. Stumbling across a base inhabited by a team from Earth, the Doctor is detained by a remote-controlled robot called "GADGET" and brought inside. The base commander, Adelaide Brooke, is at first suspicious of the Doctor, but after a tense interrogation, decides to trust him. The Doctor learns that the date is 21st November 2059, and that this is in fact Bowie Base One, the first human outpost on Mars. History has it that on this date the base was destroyed in a mysterious explosion and Brooke and her crew were all killed. Unwilling to break the laws of time and interfere with a "fixed point" in history, the Doctor decides to leave. However, at the very same moment a crisis is developing: two crewmembers, Andy Stone and Maggie Cain, have been infected by a mysterious life form which takes over their bodies and causes them to gush copious amounts of water. Adelaide confiscates the Doctor's spacesuit, reasoning that he could be responsible for the infection in some way, and orders him to come with her and another crewmember, Tarak Ital, to investigate.

The Doctor tells Adelaide about time's certain moments

The infection spreads, with Andy passing on the condition to Tarak. The two men are contained in the base's "bio-sphere" section while Maggie is secured in the medical wing. In a conversation with colleague Yuri Kerenski, the organism occupying Maggie's body reveals its desire to reach Earth, a planet rich in water. The crew plan to evacuate in an escape shuttle, and the Doctor breaks the news to Adelaide that she must die today, on Mars, if events are to unfold as they should. However, he also tells her that her death will inspire her descendants to travel further into space and establish peaceful relations with numerous extraterrestrial species. Unwillingly, Adelaide lets him leave. As the Doctor is making his way back to the TARDIS, Maggie breaks out of confinement, infiltrates the shuttle and infects pilot Ed Gold, Adelaide's deputy. Before the condition takes a hold over him, Ed manages to trigger the shuttle's self-destruct mechanism, which traps the infection on Mars but also leaves the surviving crew with no means of escape. The destruction of the shuttle is witnessed by the Doctor who, overcome by defiance against time itself, returns to the base to save the others.

Realising that there is no way to change the course of history, Adelaide activates Bowie Base's self-destruct sequence. The infected personnel mount the roof of the control centre and exude more water, which pours into the room and claims GADGET's operator, Roman Groom, and Steffi Ehrlich. However, the Doctor uses GADGET to access the TARDIS, operate its controls remotely and transport the time and space machine into the base, rescuing Adelaide, Yuri and Mia Bennett from the resulting nuclear explosion.

The TARDIS materialises outside Adelaide's house on Earth. Mia and Yuri are shocked by their experiences on Mars and by the Doctor's power and depart, bewildered. In a conversation with Adelaide, the Doctor reflects on why he ultimately decided to save her and the others. He argues that the Time Lords' rules were only valid while their civilisation existed, and that since he is the last of his race he has total authority over time. He proudly declares himself the "Time Lord Victorious" and remarks that with this power he will now be able to save influential figures such as Adelaide as well as "little people" the likes of Yuri and Mia. Scolding the Doctor for his new found arrogance, Adelaide returns home and commits suicide, reverting the changes that the Doctor has made to the timeline.

Only now understanding the full impact of his actions, the Doctor is overcome with horror and realises that there will be a price to pay for his interference. Ood Sigma inexplicably appears in the street, prompting the Doctor to ask him whether he has finally gone too far — whether the time has come for him to die. Unresponsive, Sigma vanishes, and the Doctor staggers back into the TARDIS to the ominous sound of the Cloister Bell. With a defiant "No!", he begins to work the machine's controls.




  • Adelaide was 10 years old when the Earth was stolen by the Daleks, and she witnessed one herself.
  • Whilst on Earth, the TARDIS the cloister bell is audible while the Doctor stands alone in the TARDIS.
  • "Bowie Base One" has similar layout like the Moonbase from Gerry Andersons TV series "UFO"
  • "What the hell is that noise?" the sound is a Proximity Alarm, used in the Movie: "2001, a Space Odyssey"
  • "Bowie Base One" is a reference to David Bowie's song "Life on Mars"

Earth history

  • Adelaide Brooke says that the last forty years on Earth have been chaos, with massive climate change, ozone degradation, and "the oil apocalypse"; humanity "almost reached extinction" during this period. Andy's obituary mentions "appalling storm conditions" in 2040, and climate change affecting agriculture in 2045.
  • Maggie believes the Doctor may be a Filipino or Spanish astronaut, as the Philippines are rumoured to be building a Mars rocket and Spain have a "space link" that they managed to keep secret. Andy Stone's sister worked for the Spanish space programme. Ed Gold believes the Doctor is from a non-state independent group, referring to the "Branson Inheritance", likely a reference to Richard Branson, a British industrialist who uses his vast wealth to fund commercial space flight.
  • Various lunar missions have been carried out, including ten German missions and Project Pit Stop, establishing a refueling station on the moon. Mars was landed on in 2041, with Adelaide Brooke as part of the crew. Thirty years after 2059, Brooke's granddaughter Susan will pilot the first lightspeed ship.
  • At least one of the webpages (the one showing Brooke's granddaughter) dates from the 2080s or later, suggesting the Internet still exists in some form in the late 21st century.
  • In 2059 flares emanating from the Solar System's Sun are preventing clear communications between Earth and Mars.
  • Although its name is not given in dialogue, one of the webpages shown on screen indicates that the name of the spacecraft that brought Brooke's crew to Mars and that of the vessel Ed Gold is forced to destroy, is Apollo 34.


  • "Bowie Base One" is a reference to the David Bowie song "Life on Mars", which was also the name of a BBC TV series set in 1973 which starred John Simm, who currently plays the Master.
  • Bowie Base One is located on Mars in the Gusev Crater.
  • The colony's plantation grows, according to the Doctor, the first vegetation seen on Mars for 10,000 years.

Races and species

  • The Doctor mentions the Ice Warriors and suggests that they may have frozen the Flood. The Ice Warriors' present apparent absence from Mars goes unexplained.


  • The Doctor said that he hates "funny robots" but notes that he'd be okay with a robot dog.
  • Gadget was built by Roman Groom using parts from the drones that constructed Bowie Base One.

Story Notes

  • This story was initially envisaged as a Christmas special, several festive references remain, such as the crew on Mars preparing for Christmas dinner, and it snowing when the Doctor arrives back on Earth as he exclaims how he likes snow.
  • This story was originally entitled; Red Christmas.
  • Lindsay Duncan becomes the oldest actress, and briefly the oldest individual, to be cast in the companion role (although like several before her, her official status as a companion will remain debatable). As Bernard Cribbins took on the companion role in DW: The End of Time, he will become the elder male actor and elder individual in this role.
  • The episode ends with a dedication to Barry Letts. The former Doctor Who producer and writer had died several weeks before the broadcast.
  • Phil Ford's original draft was called "A Midwinter's Tale", and was a sword and sorcery tale about a alien princess coming to Earth to be married. It ended with a long chase sequence in secret tunnels beneath Buckingham Palace. [1]


  • 15th November 2009 - 10.32 Milion
  • 33.9% of TV share

Filming Locations

  • Victoria Place, Newport
  • National Botanic Gardens of Wales, Carmarthenshire
  • Taff's Well quarry, Cardiff, Wales

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • How did 4 people get in the TARDIS if it had only just materialised with 3 seconds left and when some people were lying on the floor? (The countdown and timing of the TARDIS materialisation are presented for dramatic effect, and are not necessarily in-sync).
  • How could the Doctor get GADGET to match up the key with the TARDIS lock? (The Doctor is a genius well beyond human capabilities, particularly at understanding and using new technology.)
  • If no Human had never heard of the Ice Warriors then how can the events of NA: The Dying Days not be known by the Humans? (The novels may not be considered canon, by the current production team, also that event may have been in flux. It is never explicitly stated that Humans have never heard of the Ice Warriors. When the Doctor mentions them, Adelaide simply states, "I haven't got time for stories.")
  • After the explosion of the shuttle, several fires are burning all around the site. Taking into account the initial explosion was fueled by the base's oxygen, and given that Mars has no appreciable atmosphere, how can these smaller fires burn in the vacuum? (Mars does have an atmosphere, albeit one with a pressure roughly equivalent to one hundredth that of Earth's atmosphere. There is a lot we don't know about Bowie Base One. We don't know what sort of fuel they're using, and we don't know how the self-destruct mechanism on the rocket works.)
  • In DW: Father's Day The Reapers turned up due to Rose Tyler saving her father when somebody who was dead is now alive - surely this should be the case now for Yuri and Mia as they should have died but are now alive. (The Reapers only showed up in Fathers Day due to Rose saving her father's life, as then, that altered the timeline meaning that in the future Rose wouldn't have travelled to the past to save her father, causing a paradox, the Doctor only changed the future when he saved Adelaide's life. Had Adelaide's granddaughter travelled back in time to save her grandmother, for instance, that would more likely have caught the Reapers' attention. The Doctor explicitly stated in "Father's Day" that Pete's death was made a more vulnerable point in time by the presence of two sets of the Doctor and Rose, as they had gone back on their own timeline to allow Rose a second chance at speaking with her father after she ran away the first time. Also, as Adelaide almost immediately kills herself, thereby maintaining the timeline save for relatively minor alterations, there was no need for the Reapers to appear.)
  • The news article on Adelaide claims that she was born in 1999 and yet was also 10 when her parents died in 2008. (Newspapers, or family's writing obituaries, often blur the specific ages - e.g., 9 years, 9 months is rounded up to 10 years. Additionally, as it can be reasonably firmly established that the Dalek moving of the Earth had to have taken place in 2009, she could very well have actually been 10. This would mean that the year in the news article was a simple typo.)
  • The news article on the mission refers to "Dr Tarak Ital MD." It would be correct to write either the "Dr" or the "MD," but both at once is redundant and grammatically incorrect. Ital's obituary also misspells "Havana". (It is correct if the person has both an MD and a PhD.)
  • The article on Susie Fontana Brooke's first "Faster then Light" flight lists Adelaide's team at the end as hers. (That part of the article is talking about Susie's grandmother, so the team listing is correct.)
  • Why would the Doctor comment on Mia's age when Roman is two years younger than her? (The Doctor knows she will die young, so he has sympathy for her.)
  • When it is revealed that Maggie is one of the creatures, the outer shot shows her hair back while in the closer shot, it is around her face.
  • Why didn't the Doctor simply take the crew into the distant future or the distant past? History would have been preserved as the records would show the crew were killed in the nuclear explosion. (At this point the Doctor wasn't just concerned with saving the crew - he was, as he said, fighting the very laws of time themselves. In that state of mind, delivering the crew to another point in time would not have been as great a victory for him. He wanted to break the laws of time. Additionally, stranding the crew in a different time or place for the rest of their lives would not have been much of a rescue.)
  • Didn't the Doctor's helmet break already in DW: The Satan Pit? (There was more than enough time for the Doctor to have fixed or replaced it. Also, it is possible that that was Ida Scott's helmet)
  • In Yuri Kerenski's profile near the beginning of the episode, Tarak Ital's name is incorrectly spelt as "Tarek".
  • Despite the Doctor's warning to let not even one drop of water escape, GADGET runs through an entire stream of water on its way to the TARDIS, possibly getting some on the inside, and is then seen standing in the snow in London. (It's highly unlikely that the water would infect GADGET as he is a machine, not organic. Additionally, given the Martian atmosphere and his high rate of speed, it is doubtful that any water remained on him by the time he reached the TARDIS. Not to mention, right after running through the water, GADGET entered a room with a number of fires in it. The heat could easily have evaporated the water.)
  • If the Daleks planned to destroy the universe with the reality bomb they wouldn't have had to worry about killing Adelaide and altering history. (Destroying someone whose death it perceived was a fixed point could have disturbed the web of time, maybe even leading to the Daleks' ultimate plan being compromised.)
  • The Doctor refers to the Ice Warriors as if they no longer exist, or at least not on Mars. Yet DW: The Seeds of Death occurs in the middle of the 21st century (close to the events of Waters of Mars) and we learn they come from Mars. DW: The Ice Warriors, another Martian attempt to conquer earth, occurs in a future ice age, and the Peladon stories both occur in the distant future. (The Doctor simply refers to them as an "ancient" race, which does not necessarily imply that they no longer exist.)
  • The first of the web pages brought up in the episode claims that Adelaide had a seven-strong crew with her, though there were 9 people on-site not counting the Doctor.
  • If The Flood can scream to a point that it cracks ice several feet thick, then why would Maggie have needed to break down the door to escape the medical centre? (The scream isn't to crack the ice, it is to call the other members/parts of the Flood. They respond by emerging, and cracking the ice is a part of that. Maggie uses the same scream earlier to communicate with the other Flood-infected crew members.)


International Broadcasts

DVD Release

  • It has been announced that the four specials plus The Next Doctor will be released in North America on both DVD and Blu-Ray in a box set on 2nd February 2010.[4]

External Links

  • BBC - Doctor Who - The Waters of Mars - Episode Guide
  • Original script, posted online by Russell T Davies in conjunction with the release of his book REF: Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale.
  • Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel) - A Brief History of Time (Travel): The Waters of Mars
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures: Story Locations - The Waters of Mars


  1. The Doctor Who News Page: Waters of Mars in New Zealand
  2. report
  3. The Doctor Who News Page: Waters of Mars - Confirmed Canadian Airdate
  4. The Doctor Who News Page: Waters of Mars American Airdates
2009 Specials
Planet of the Dead  • The Waters of Mars  • The End of Time  
See also: The Next Doctor  • Dreamland  • The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith 
Aliens and Enemies of the 2009 Specials
Planet of the Dead: The Swarm  • Tritovores  • Macmillan
The Waters of Mars: The Flood  • Gadget  • Dalek
The End of Time: The Master • Rassilon  • Judoon  • Ood  • Ood Sigma  • Ood Elder  • Vinvocci  • Time Lords  • Trefusis  • The Governor  • Joshua Naismith  • Sontaran  • Hath  • Sycorax  • Adipose  • Raxacoricofallapatorians  • Graske
Dreamland: Viperox  • Viperox Queen  • Lord Azlok  • Gray aliens  • Mister Dread  • Alliance of Shades  • Skorpius Flies
Ood TV Stories
The Impossible Planet/ The Satan Pit  • Planet of the Ood  • The End of Time
Minor appearances: The Waters of Mars

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


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