Forest of the Dead


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Forest of the Dead

Series 4

Episode 9

First Transmitted

7 June 2008

Final ratings



Series 4 set


Series 4 Volume 3


Forest of the Dead
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Regular Cast

David Tennant (The Doctor), Catherine Tate (Donna)

Guest Cast

Alex Kingston (Professor River Song), Colin Salmon (Dr Moon), Eve Newton (The Girl), Mark Dexter (Dad), Sarah Niles (Node 1) [1], Joshua Dallas (Node 2) [1], Steve Pemberton (Strackman Lux), Talulah Riley (Miss Evangelista), Jessika Williams (Anita), O-T Fagbenle (Other Dave), Harry Peacock (Proper Dave), Jason Pitt (Lee) [2], Eloise Rakic-Platt (Ella) [2], Alex Midwood (Josuah) [2], Jonathan Reuben (Man) [2].


Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Euros Lyn
Produced by Julie Garner and Phil Colinson


Donna is gone, the Vashta Nerada are out for fresh meat and The Doctor is running out of options. Can he trust the mysterious Professor River Song, a woman from his future? Even if they work together, can anyone stop the shadows from claiming them all as their next meal?


  1. The working title for this story was River’s Run. When BBC Video announced the North American release of the Series 4 DVD box set, this title was used in the episode list and not Forest of the Dead. The Radio Times also used this working title. According to Doctor Who: The Writer’s Tale – The Final Chapter, the title was changed not long before broadcast.
  2. In River Song’s voiceover, she mentions the “skies of all the worlds might just turn dark”, a possible reference to the Darkness, a story arc element that plays out in the series 4 finale. Another Possible reference to his”Reboot” of the universe where as before he did so the Predestination Paradox was a universe with no lights in the sky and they were all shown to be “expiring” before.CAL was also the name of the computer graphics company that created the title sequence used between 1987 and 1989 forthe Seventh Doctor’s adventures. A result of this work was the creation of the first photo-realistic CGI TARDIS, featured in Bad Wolf.
  3. In the girl’s house, on a drawing on the wall, there is a picture of a blonde haired girl and a wolf. This may be a reference to Rose and Bad Wolf.
  4. This is the second episode in this series to have a character (River) share the name of a character from the Joss Whedon show Firefly. The first was Cobb in The Doctor’s Daughter
  5. Moffat’s recurring theme”everybody lives” returns again in this episode. (The Doctor Dances) In the BBC podcast associated with this episode, Moffat and Davies point out that so far in the four major storylines that he has contributed to the series, the only”final” deaths that have occurred have been due to old age (such as Billy Shipton and Kathy Nightingale) or illness (Madame de Pompadour). Moffat consequently promises (in the podcast) that he will kill people off in more dramatic fashion in future stories, proven to be true in The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone.
  6. The concept of downloading human consciousness as data – even after physical death – and the philosophical issues surrounding this is an issue being addressed by futurists in real-life, with scientists such as Ray Kurzweil speculating that technology will allow the uploading of consciousness to computers within a generation in his book, The Age of Spiritual Machines.
  7. A recurring theme in this and the preceding episode is”spoilers”. This is a term that was coined in the 1990s by science fiction fandom to address the circulatedition of information revealing the plots and endings of shows and movies. Interestingly, the fourth series of Doctor Who contains several examples of plot twists and cameos that were successfully protected from”spoilers”. Other examples of successful spoiler protection include the appearance of Catherine Tate at the end of Doomsday.
  8. Examples of plot twists that were not successfully protected from”spoilers” included the return of Rose in Series 4 – spoiled in part by people witnessing the filming – and the regeneration of Christopher Ecclestonat the end of Series 1 – spoiled by the BBC publicity office itself.
  9. As is routine for post-2005 Doctor Who, a “NEXT TIME” trailer for the next episode is shown at the end of the episode.


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