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Top Five References in Doctor Who

Guest contributor Mark White picks some of his top in-jokes and references.

As Doctor Who fans, we all love the in-jokes and references that only a die-hard fan would understand, whether it’s Tennant in a gas mask saying “Are you my mummy?” or as subtle as Smith remarking that he used to own a patchwork umbrella (in his sixth incarnation to be precise). References in a half-century old show are moments that fans can bond over; they’re checkpoints for the anoraks, and it gives us Whovians an “I know something you don’t moment” over the casual viewers in our families who put up with Who.

Perhaps more exciting and intelligent however, are the outside references and allegories, and I’m not talking about the Nazi/Dalek similarity, I’m talking about the Whoniverse itself. These are moments when someone says something that relates to Doctor Who, not the Doctor, and not just a moment of continuity. Like LINDA for example, being a portrayal of us Whovians, or the Doctor receiving the phone call about the Brigadier’s death and the sadness that scene carried when you consider that Nicholas Courtney had died in real life.

These aren’t just nods to those of us that watch and rewatch every Who episode, they’re golddust for the fans that trawl Wikipedia, YouTube and Steven Moffat’s bins for extra nuggets of information of Matt Smith’s love for Radiohead or the exact dimensions of a TARDIS. Let me take you through five more ingenious, amusing and cute moments of New Who writers winking at us through our very screens.

References to the Eleventh Doctor

time-of-the-doctor-extended-bbca-trailer-(24)The Eleventh Doctor is not only the only Doctor to have an episode named after his number (his debut, The Eleventh Hour), but he’s also the only one to be stalked by two number ones. If you look closely enough, elevens are littered through his tenure like plot twists in Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS: Matt Smith dons a number eleven shirt whilst playing football with Craig, his hotel room door in The God Complex has a number eleven on it, and he declares to Rory that they’re in “11/10″ much trouble. Only twice has anyone ever said out loud that he’s the Eleventh Doctor, but Moffat clearly understands that we’ve named them One to Twelve for shipping purposes, so if he could drop an “Eight point Five” reference around John Hurt, he’d make Tumblr a tidier place tag-wise.

Tennant the megafan

doctor-who-comic-relief-tennant-davisonIt’s common knowledge among Doctor Who fans that David Tennant was the biggest fan of the show before becoming the tenth man to fly the TARDIS; he’s our Obama, and he’s such an inspiration that I find it almost disappointing that Zoe Ball didn’t name me as Twelve. In what became a blurring of Tennant the fan and Ten the Doctor though, Steven Moffat paid tribute to David’s love of the show in Children in Need special Time Crash, when Ten told Five, “You were my Doctor”, before comparing all the elements that he’s borrowed five incarnations on. And while we’re at it, whose line was “I don’t want to go”? Ten’s or Tennant’s?

Clara is the show

clara-oswin-oswald-gravestone-snowmenWhen Clara theories were spiralling out of control and human sanity, a small fact – that some people still haven’t got their head around – confused the lot of us: why do Clara’s dates correlate with Doctor Who’s? She shares a birthday with the show, her diary omits years in which Who took season breaks, and wasn’t Oswald (Lee Harvey) the man who delayed the very first episode when he shot JFK? It was jokingly said during speculation, “Clara is Doctor Who: the show”, but that doesn’t seem so mad now: she’s a character that is everywhere over the last fifty years, always in the background, never seen or heard, and always saving the Doctor. Clara is a nod to the fans, the writers, the past Doctors, and everyone who ever made the show the fifty-year old goliath it is. Perhaps the biggest nod of them all, and a lovely tribute to everyone.

The Doctor’s parents in Human Nature

end-of-time-journal-verity…And on the subject of the Who’s Who of Who, Sydney Newman and Verity Lambert, two of the show’s creators, were referenced when a human John Smith named his parents as Sidney and Verity. A lovely reference to the pair, and another nod that Russell T Davies brought back in The End of Time when he named Joan Redfern’s granddaughter “Verity Newman”.

“Trust me for 20 minutes”

hello-im-the-doctorNo one was sure that Matt Smith was the right Doctor for the part, least of all my mum, who has David Tennant on her calendar. Most of us agree though that Matt Smith became the Doctor when he uttered those immortal words, “Hello, I’m the Doctor, and basically run”. But why that moment? Well, Amy didn’t trust the Eleventh Doctor either: she’d had four psychiatrists because of him, and well, maybe she was an Eccleston fan? It was a moment of Eleven asking for her faith, just for him to prove himself, that swayed her though. He was asking us to trust him too, and when we did, he worked his magic, and earned the Atraxi confrontation. Say what you like about Moffat, he’s never taken his audience for granted.

Have you noticed any others, such as Matt Smith’s disdain for Twitter being replicated in The Power of Three? I’d like to hear them all, until every tangible line between the show and reality is blurred enough that Doctor Who becomes an official religion (seriously, why’s that not happened?).

Step back in time...

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172 comments
black cavalier
black cavalier

2 of the 11th Doctor's Season 7 episodes directly reference the Big Finish Audio Plays.

In the Cold War, set on a Soviet submarine, Clara almost gives her & the Doctor away by questioning how she can understand the Russian that the crew are speaking.

In the Big Finish radio play, The Angel of Scutari (#122), the 7th Doctor's companion Hex has almost the same, word for word, exchange questioning why he can understand a French soldier.

Also, the whole premise of the Nightmare in Silver (partial Cyberman turned into a side show) is taken directly from the radio play The Silver Turk (#153).

Whovian_Brownoat
Whovian_Brownoat

"least of all my mum, who has David Tennant on her calendar." I want this calendar.



Jackovit
Jackovit

I luv the show, But I am concerned bout Clara's role ( I luv her ) In Asylum of the Daleks. Very very clever ( outsmarted the Daleks ) Snowmen. Sexy and Clever, ( Chasing and kissing the Doctor, And that scene on the roof, Explaining about why the umbrella  ) And her roles have not been as well written for her since, That's bout the only gripe I have. Great show. Luved The day of the Doctor,

Polyphase
Polyphase

Excellent article :)

Remembrance of the Daleks is set in the same time and place as An Unearthly Child and there is a Meta-Reference "This is BBC television, the time is quarter past five and Saturday viewing continues with an adventure in the new science fiction series Doc—"

DaireConstantineOReilly
DaireConstantineOReilly

I thought the article was gonna mention outside references like Referencing things in the real world and in pop culture not stuff we already know.

SeanBarnes
SeanBarnes

William hartnell "if i ever wear a stetson again, feel free to shoot it off my head". 50 years later, river shot off matt's stetson....

TheDreamer
TheDreamer

"You dont understand regeneration. It's a lotery." Time and The Rani (I think)

"Regeneration. It's a lotery." Day of the Doctor.

IanOTimelord
IanOTimelord

I liked the reference to Tegan in the Crimson Horror, telling Clara  he once knew a gobby Australian who wanted to get back to Heathrow

grumpyoldcow
grumpyoldcow

Love the article. Thank you.

I like the little touches that seem insignificant but add richness to episodes, like with Matt Smith's Doctor how he can hardly pass a mirror without checking his teeth, and, the times he's sniffted things without apparent reason.

Brilliant touches.

Judge Claude Frollo
Judge Claude Frollo

We forgot about AISAT.

"Brave heart, darling!"

"I don't want to go!"

"It's bigger on the inside!"

JailBanksters
JailBanksters

Clara: Chapter 11 is the best.

There were 11's all over the place.


dschram
dschram

The "philosophy/religion" of Dr Who is Whovianism. Click on my avatar and check my profile, my Tumblr blog is the Gospel According to Doctor Who.

DaftDalek is Ceter Papaldi
DaftDalek is Ceter Papaldi

In The Day Of The Doctor Coal Hill School's headmaster is W. Coburn, refering to Anthony Coburn, writer of An Unearthly Child! Ian Chesterton is also the Head of Governors.

AztecsDaleksAndCavemen
AztecsDaleksAndCavemen

Oh oh also two stories in particular are analogies about the fans.


- The Greatest Show in the Galaxy is a negative reference to the fans

- Love & Monsters in a positive reference to the fans.

AztecsDaleksAndCavemen
AztecsDaleksAndCavemen

The Christmas Invasion made two nods to the Jon Pertwee era. 

- The first is when The Doctor falls out of the TARDIS having just regenerated, referencing Spearhead from Space. 

- The second one is Harriet Jones' decision at the end of the episode, reflecting the decision made at the end of Doctor Who and the Silurians.

TheOncomingFish
TheOncomingFish

There was a reference made to Matt Smith having to wear a wig in The Time of the Doctor when the Doctor reveals he's been wearing a wig throughout the whole episode. That was pretty funny. 

Great article!

Muxerman
Muxerman


"Brave heart Tegan." - Almost every Fifth Doctor episode with Tegan

"Brave heart Clara." - Eleventh Doctor to Clara in <i>The Crimson Horror</i>


















ThunderGenBR
ThunderGenBR

"State your name, rank and intention." 





"The Doctor, doctor.... Fun"










NewWho2012
NewWho2012

It's like The Day of the Doctor you kind of had to be a fan to understand that. The subtle jokes Moffat puts in "It's er...timey wimey thing." "Timey what? Timey Wimey?" "I have no idea how he makes that stuff up" (Coming from Ten who originally uttered it) Plus mentions to Wi-Fi in the Tower of London, again presenting Eleven's obsession with Wi-Fi. Plus Reversing the Polarity and "You've redecorated I don't like it." Great episode but you had to be a fan to understand it! 

PaddyB
PaddyB

"Look! The round things!"

"I love the round things!"

"I love the round things!"

"What are the round things?"

"No idea."

AlessandroArsuffi
AlessandroArsuffi

"Codename, Cromer. Seventies or eighties depending on the dating protocol". Loved that line on the UNIT dating conundrum.

shyx111
shyx111

In "The Curse of Fatal Death" Emma says the Doctor was "Never cruel, never cowardly", in the 50th the Doctor's promise is "Never cruel, never cowardly. Never give up, never give in". Or Moffat's 1995 Usenet post on how our word "doctor" means "a healer and wise man", because of the Doctor's action on earth through history, that in 2011 became River's speech in A Good Man Goes to War.

AlessandroArsuffi
AlessandroArsuffi

The whole "Trial of a Time Lord" story arc is a reference to the charges of violence to the show during the hiatus year in 1986.

The Cogitator
The Cogitator

About the Master:

MARTHA: I thought you were going to say he was your secret brother or something.

DOCTOR: You've been watching too much TV.

That was the plan if McGann had got a series commissioned back in the 90's...

Tardis Stowaway
Tardis Stowaway

I think the "What? What? WHAT?" line has to be one of the best. It was all over Tennant's era, made a few appearances in Smith's and I re-watched Torchwood (I think it was an episode of Miracle Day) recently and even spotted it in there!

gunslinger19
gunslinger19

What about night of the doctor?

"Will it Hurt?"

"yes."

and

"Im a doctor, but probably not the one you were expecting."

:D

lukefoord
lukefoord

This ties in with Clara's dates correlating with the show. Another thing I noticed at the time that struck me instantly was Clara's mother's grave indicated she died on March 5th 2005. That when Doctor Who returned to our screens and coincidentally when 'Rose' is set. Therefore Clara's mum was killed by an auton during the invasion. I makes perfect sense! She was 44 when she died and there was no logical explanation. She didn't die of old age, and no mention to an illness or shock death like being hit by a bus. Therefore it marries up pretty good that Ellie Oswald was killed during the Auton invasion, giving aliens a role in Clara's life really early on and foreshadowing her importance.

blueboxgirl
blueboxgirl

There's also the whole bald doctor thing from TDOTD. i thought that was great coz there was so much publicity about matt cutting his hair and having to wear a wig.....:)

PimpMyTARDIS
PimpMyTARDIS

They're quite keen on anagrams: Torchwood is an anagram of Doctor Who and Astrid from the Voyage of the Damned was an anagram of TARDIS

DaireConstantineOReilly
DaireConstantineOReilly

One could argue that season one was the Rose Show, but in NuWho each season is always focused heavily on the companion, that's the way modern TV works. But Clara is still the Most useless companion ever created, she was there for the sole purpose of the

P L O T. There's more character development in a piece cardboard. I loved Rose, Amy, Donna, Martha, Ace and Susan etc etc. Theses characters were real people, Clara is eye candy that speaks in one liners (it's wierd) and that's it, sorry people but she is.

if u like Clara u either have no brain or are just a horny teenager or middle aged man. I admit Rose was Fine as he'll (she was Hot) But she was REAL.

ShayHatchard
ShayHatchard

I think that's one of my favorite lines ever and just echoes us all! :)

Adric the Genius
Adric the Genius

@AlessandroArsuffi And the two references to UNIT Scientist Malcolm in The Day of the Doctor, likely the same Malcolm as in The Planet of the Dead.

DavidCole86
DavidCole86

@shyx111  "Never cruel or cowardly" is a classic Terrance Dicks description of the character, originating, I believe, in the 1974 DW Annual.

 Notsosmartguy  the dalek of Jersey
Notsosmartguy the dalek of Jersey

I thought it was also supposed to be the plan during the Pertwee era too. But before the episode was made Delgado was killed in that car crash.

DaireConstantineOReilly
DaireConstantineOReilly

Why did Moffat go "all Out" with the 11th References. 12 won't have theses referred ds of he is more serious.

DaireConstantineOReilly
DaireConstantineOReilly

character development ,WOW AMAZING. I like that theory but Moffat wiped out all of RTD's Ivasions. So there,

Romanadvoratrelundar
Romanadvoratrelundar

@lukefoord Woah, I noticed the dates but it never occurred to me that she died during the invasion! This might just become a story arc!

TheDreamer
TheDreamer

@TheFirstMaster @HopeAbigailMacLeod  Cheers. No worries. I like my errors to be pointed out to me. How else will I stop making them? :) Not sure why I misspelled it, though... I'm fairly certain I usually spell that one right. :/  I'll go write it down 100 times. 



DavidCole86
DavidCole86

@DaireConstantineOReilly I agree with 99% of what you said there, but to say that if one likes Clara they "either have no brain or are just a horny teenager or middle aged man" is disingenuous. I like what Jenna brings to the role despite what little she's had to work with. Yes, she's so far been driven by the plot, but there is a strong character basis there. She's demonstrably intelligent – University educated – and observant, curious, quick witted, flirtatious, selfless, caring and maternal. She's rationally minded; she doesn't believe in ghosts and thinks destiny is “rubbish.”


She works with children, putting a planned life of travelling on hold and taking it upon herself to step in as a surrogate mother to two children towards whom she has no legal or familial responsibility. She's also impulsively protective of them.                                                                                                                                            

She's guarded around those she doesn't know, slightly controlling ("bubbly personality masking bossy control freak!"), and a natural leader when the need arises. She had strong relationships with her parents, and has inherited her mother's love of cooking and her father's (or possibly also her mother's) love of football – she grew up wanting to be Brian Robson and made it her goal to master her mum's soufflé recipe. She's sentimental towards her mother's memory, keeping the leaf that brought her parents together inside her treasured copy of the travelling book that belonged to her mum.



Her character development so far has been subtle, but it has been there. Russell T Davies's approach was to infodump the basic character information of his companions right off the bat; we knew Rose and Martha within two minutes. Moffat's approach is much more plot-driven, and his characters more sketchily drawn; he seems to lay down a few key character traits at the beginning and then see what happens, fleshing them out as the need arises and watching what other writers do with them and incorporating their character work on the fly. Another factor that hasn't helped recently is the lack of two-parters, which hasn't allowed the characters as much room to breathe (and I have more than a few issues with his writing of women).                                                                                                        




I'd really like to see Clara become more 'real' next series, but she's not the blank page that received wisdom would have her be, and I like her. And no, not just because she's hot.














godstrike
godstrike

@Notsosmartguy  Wasn't it also hinted at in Planet of Fire, when The Master meets his demise (again) his last words to The Doctor are  "Won't you show mercy to your own ..."