The Unquiet Dead
9 April 2005
Alan David (Gabriel Sneed), Huw Rhys (Redpath), Jennifer Hill (Mrs Peace), Eve Myles (Gwyneth), Simon Callow (Charles Dickens), Wayne Cater (Stage Manager), Meic Povey (Driver), Zoe Thorne (The Gelth).
|Written by||Mark Gattis|
|Directed by||Euros Lyn|
|Produced by||Julie Garner and Phil Colinson|
The dead are roaming the streets of Cardiff in 1869 when the Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler arrive, just in time for Christmas. Teaming up with Charles Dickens, the TARDIS team encounter the Gelth, creatures sucked through the Cardiff Rift from the other end of the universe, their home lost. Surely inhabiting dead bodies is wrong, though! Can both sides be helped, or are these gaseous creatures not to be trusted?
- The Unquiet Dead was initially titled My Name’s Dickens… Charles Dickens. It later held the title The Crippingwell Horror. The Angels of Crippingwell was also considered as a title.
- Simon Callow, who plays Dickens, has also written extensively about the writer and is well known for playing Dickens on television and in a one-man show.
- The address on Sneed’s hearse indicates his mortuary is in Llandaff where the BBC Wales production offices are. Terry Nation, creator of the Daleks, was also born there.
- There are several literary in-jokes during Dickens and The Doctor’s conversation in the coach.
- The “American bit” in Martin Chuzzlewit, which The Doctor describes as “rubbish” and “padding”, was indeed inserted by Dickens to spice up the original serialised story when sales flagged, although the gambit failed to improve sales.
- The death of Little Nell, which The Doctor says always “cracks [him] up,” is cited (notably by Oscar Wilde in 1895) as an example of bathos, excessive sentimentality and purple prose that becomes unintentionally amusing.
Dickens also cries, “What the Shakespeare?”, a play on the common exclamation, “What the Dickens?” Contrary to popular belief, the phrase has nothing to do with Charles Dickens; “Dickens” is a euphemism for the Devil. Riffing on this comment, in the 2006 Big Finish Productions audio drama The Kingmaker, William Shakespeare cries, “What the Geoffrey Chaucer?” Shakespeare used the phrase “What the Dickens” in his work (The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act III, scene ii).
- Mark Gatiss stated in Radio Times that the original script was bleaker and more frightening, but he was advised by Davies to “make it more of a romp.”
- The Doctor calls Rose “Barbarella” for wanting to go out before changing into something more suitable for 1869.
- When Eve Myles was cast as Gwen Cooper in Torchwood, it was noted that the character she played in The Unquiet Dead had a similar name. Russell T Davies initially stated that there was no relationship between the two characters. In the fourth season finale episode, Journey’s End, written by Davies, there is a short conversation between The Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler, which suggests that Gwyneth’s physical characteristics remained as an echo in the Time Rift and eventually imprinted themselves into Gwen. Russell T Davies has explained it as “It’s not familial as we understand it. There’s no blood tie.
- Spatial genetic multiplicity means an echo and repetition of physical traits across a Time Rift.”
- According to Mark Gatiss on this story’s commentary, there was originally going to be a scene in which The Doctor was mistaken for Sneed’s new cleaner. Someone would have stated, “I thought you’d be a woman” to which The Doctor replies “No, not yet”, hinting that Time Lords can change sex.