Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

The Claus of doom

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coverage of series 2, 2006

  1. All aboard the TARDIS (15 April)
  2. Bad wolf? | Royal prey (22 April)
  3. Friends reunited (29 April)
  4. Tick tock! | Letters (6 May)
  5. Heavy metal (13 May)
  6. The Mick of Time | Letters (20 May)
  7. Do not adjust... | Letters (27 May)
  8. Ood ... you are awful (3 June)
  9. Talk of the devil | Letters (10 June)
  10. Careful what you wish for ... (17 June)
  11. Unearthly child (24 June)
  12. Time to move on | Letters (1 July)
  13. On the set with ... David Tennant (8 July) |
    Letters (July 22)
  14. The Claus of doom (23 December) | Letters (14 January)

coverage of other series
S1 | S2 | S3 | S4 | Specials | S5 | S6 | S7 | S8 | S9 | S10


Psycho Santas, a bovvered bride and one humongous spider? Happy Christmas, Doc!

Rose has gone, but the Time Lord remains. Surely he can't be lonely this Christmas? "Well, the Doctor's in mourning, really," says David Tennant. "Although Rose is alive and well, she's dead to the Doctor. He can never see her again. And this is someone who not so very long ago lost his entire people [when the Time Lords were wiped out]. So he's coming to terms with that, and at the same time dealing with Donna, who's a bit of a handful."

There's the answer: no. He won't be lonely. Quite the opposite. Donna, the title character of Doctor Who's festive special, The Runaway Bride, is played by Catherine Tate. Fans will recall her surprise appearance in the Tardis right at the end of series two.

"I got a call from my agent saying [writer] Russell T Davies had been in touch and would I be interested?" recalls Tate. "I said, 'Yes, absolutely, whatever it is!' I thought I might be a Cyberman on the comer of the screen or something."

Instead, she plays one-off companion Donna in a Christmas tale that sees the return of last year's robot Santas (left) and a huge new monster, the arachnid Empress of the Racnoss (overleaf), played by Sarah Parish.

This is an adventure, Tennant explains, that "happens at breakneck pace". Tate agrees. "There was lots of running for the Runaway Bride," she says. "David would be off like a whippet and I'd be lagging behind going, 'Can't you just pretend to run fast?' Then wardrobe would go, 'We can see your trainers. Can you put the satin court shoes on again?' I think what they'll do in post-production is slow him down and speed me up. Get an average speed."

A wedding dress: not the ideal running gear? "No, but at least I didn't have a constant change of costume. I never had to say, 'Box pleats don't suit me.' But it was a very pretty dress. It was like dress-up!"

Russell T Davies has also promised a major chase scene, which Tennant cryptically says "involves no running. It's one of those sequences involving a lot of green screen [for effects to be added] and real screen and everything in between, stunt people and us. If it works like it did in the script, it should be very exciting."

Tennant and Sarah Parish, last seen on screen together in Blackpool, are friends. He recalls seeing her in her Empress costume for the first time and says, "It was utterly freakish. She's just about unrecognisable. And when she starts chewing up the scenery, which she does with great relish, I don't know how many people will realise it's her. It really is a brilliant creation. She was in quite a lot of pain, bless her. But Sarah is the consummate trouper. She never complained, but I know her quite well and I could see, just at the back of her eyes, the discomfort."

"Absolutely exhausting", "very heavy" and "outrageously uncomfortable" are the words Parish uses to describe the experience — while adding that it looks "amazing" and "absolutely terrifying".

Each of her three filming days began with four hours in make-up — that's how long it takes to become a giant spider, the show's largest non-computer-generated monster yet.

"From the waist down it was just me, wearing a pair of cycling shorts," she explains. "From the waist up it was like a rubber suit, and from the neck up it was all prosthetics."

The head, she notes, "was really heavy. A huge head sealed to my own, so you couldn't get a hand in to scratch an itch. It was on for 12 hours, so if you had an itch it was a nightmare. I'd never worked with prosthetics before and you have to really work your face to actually see it moving."

To complete the Empress, Parish slotted into the abdomen part of the costume, behind which operators, shrouded in black, manipulated the beast's back end.

"I was jutting out of this spider, a bit like a figurehead on a ship, my back arched, kneeling in a mould of my knees," she recalls. "Then there's the huge, heavy prosthetic make-up, and I had to work the two front legs and my upper body, so it really looks like she's an alien. It was great fun to do, but absolutely exhausting."

Is she at all recognisable? "I'd say no, because I've got eight black eyes, eight legs, a big red bottom and a big pair of fangs. However, I did show a picture to my friend who went, 'Yeah, you can tell it's you'. Which I thought was slightly insulting."

Christmas fix over, series three, which is already being filmed, starts next spring. The 13 episodes feature Who writer Mark Gatiss on screen, a meeting with Shakespeare and at least three new monsters: galactic stormtroopers the Judoon; blood-sucking Plasmavores; and Carrionites. "I'll give you that last one as a little exclusive," says Tennant. Plus, of course, a new companion: Martha Jones, played by Freema Agyeman.

Until then, revel in feisty Donna, who's pitched into the Doctor's world of chaos on her wedding day. "They start off at loggerheads," says Tate, "because he doesn't want this woman shouting and slapping him. And she doesn't want this madman ruining the biggest day of her life. But they end up ..." she falters, wondering how much she should say.

Well, you can't help but love the guy, we venture. "Exactly. Exactly."

Caption: MY WEDDING HELL. What has the Doctor done to make a bride (Catherine Tate) go ballistic?


In The Runaway Bride, this year's festive Doctor Who, our hero (David Tennant) meets those murderous Father Christmasses again

Kiss of the spider-woman

As the Empress of the Racnoss, Sarah Parish was almost unrecognisable after four hours of prosthetics being applied. She then had to kneel in the spider casing (see the model below by Millennium FX) and operate the upper body

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  • APA 6th ed.: Griffiths, Nick (2006-12-23). The Claus of doom. Radio Times p. 18.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Griffiths, Nick. "The Claus of doom." Radio Times [add city] 2006-12-23, 18. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Griffiths, Nick. "The Claus of doom." Radio Times, edition, sec., 2006-12-23
  • Turabian: Griffiths, Nick. "The Claus of doom." Radio Times, 2006-12-23, section, 18 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=The Claus of doom | url= | work=Radio Times | pages=18 | date=2006-12-23 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=21 October 2021 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=The Claus of doom | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=21 October 2021}}</ref>