Doctor Who: "Planet of the Dead" is the second of five special episodes of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who broadcast between Christmas 2008 and New Years Day 2010. It was simultaneously broadcast on BBC One and BBC HD on 11 April 2009. The specials served as lead actor David Tennant's denouement as the Tenth Doctor. He is joined in the episode by actress Michelle Ryan, who plays Lady Christina de Souza, a one-off companion to the Doctor. The episode was co-written by Russell T Davies and Gareth Roberts, the first writing partnership since the show's revival in 2005. "Planet of the Dead" serves as the 200th story of Doctor Who. The episode depicts Christina fleeing the police from a museum robbery by boarding a bus that accidentally travels from London to the desert planet of San Helios, trapping her, the Doctor, and several passengers on board the damaged vehicle. After the bus driver dies trying to return to Earth, the Unified Intelligence Taskforce, headed by Captain Erisa Magambo (Noma Dumezweni) and scientific advisor Malcolm Taylor (Lee Evans), attempt to return the bus while preventing a race of metallic stingray aliens from posing a threat to Earth. At the end of the episode, one of the passengers delivers a warning to the Doctor that "he will knock four times", foreshadowing the remaining three specials. "Planet of the Dead" was the first Doctor Who episode to be filmed in high definition, after a positive reaction to the visual quality of spin-off series Torchwood and the financial viability of HDTV convinced the production team to switch formats. To ensure that the desert scenes looked as realistic as possible, the production team filmed in Dubai for three days, sending several props, including a 1980 double-decker Bristol VR bus, to the United Arab Emirates for filming. After the bus was unintentionally damaged in Dubai by a shipping container, Davies rewrote the script to explain the damage in the narrative.
The burglar Lady Christina de Souza steals a gold chalice once belonging to King Æthelstan from a London museum and hops on a double-decker bus. The Tenth Doctor joins her and the other passengers, just before the bus passes through a wormhole and ends up on the sands of the planet San Helios. The Doctor studies the wormhole and determines that the bus protected them from its effects like a Faraday cage, but he is unable to stop the driver from stepping back through the wormhole. When the driver's skeleton appears on Earth, UNIT forces are alerted, led by Captain Erisa Magambo and aided by scientific adviser Malcolm Taylor. While the others attempt to repair the bus, the Doctor and Christina scout ahead and spot what appears to be a sandstorm on the horizon. The Doctor contacts UNIT to get an analysis of the wormhole. The Doctor and Christina encounter two fly-like Tritovores, who take them to their wrecked spaceship. They explain they were going to pick up supplies at San Helios, which had recently housed billions of people but now is totally desert. The Doctor has them scan the approaching sandstorm and finds it really is a swarm of stingray-like aliens that are destroying the ecosystem. He suspects they are generating the wormhole to travel to their next planet to feed upon, and they must hurry and close the wormhole before the aliens can reach Earth. Christina uses her burglary skills to retrieve a power crystal and its mounting from the Tritovore ship, but accidentally wakes an alien stingray, which consumes the Tritovores. With the swarm nearly on them, the Doctor uses the crystal's mounting, an anti-gravity device, to enable the bus to fly. To control it, he persuades Christina to give him the gold chalice, which he uses to interface the bus's controls with the mountings. They fly back through the wormhole just as Malcolm shuts it down, but not before three stingrays sneak through, which UNIT quickly dispatch. Christina asks the Doctor to take her with him, but he refuses right before she is arrested; however, he allows her to escape and fly off on the bus before authorities can stop her. As the Doctor departs, Carmen, a passenger who has low-level psychic abilities, tells him that his "song" is ending and "he will knock four times".
Following Michelle's appearance with David Tennant in the one-off special. she returned to the Dr Who universe in 2009 to narrate 'Doctor Who: The Rising Night' audio story: When Harry Winter goes out collecting rocks to repair the wall around his father's farm, he makes a fatal mistake. He disturbs Lucifer's Tombstone, and awakens something demonic and dreadful.... The TARDIS arrives in the 18th-century village of Thornton Rising in the Yorkshire Moors - a village cut off from the world by an all-consuming darkness, where the sun has not risen for three weeks. Farm animals have been attacked, people have gone missing, and strange lights have been seen in the sky. The Doctor soon becomes involved in a nightmarish adventure, helped by a young local woman named Charity. But who is feeding on the blood of the locals, and where will the carnage stop?
In 2018 Michelle returned to Doctor Who, and her Doctor, by joining Big Finish, as she appeared on the 'The Tenth Doctor: Chronicles' again in the role of Lady Christina de Souza. In the story 'Last Chance' by Guy Adams: Trying to spare a few creatures from extinction, the Doctor bumps into an old acquaintance on the African plains – Lady Christina de Souza. They are about to find themselves on the endangered list… The same year Michelle appeared in a 4-story Series 1 Boxset of Lady Christina adventures, and it proved such a hit a Series 2 is due to release in July 2021.
Lady Christina, Series 1 Jetsetter, adventurer, and owner of a very unusual London bus, Lady Christina de Souza likes the finest things. Even if they don’t belong to her. And the more exotic – or alien – the better. But Christina’s activities have caught the attention of UNIT, and now Sam Bishop is on her trail... 1.1 It Takes a Thief by John Dorney - The French Riviera has always provided rich pickings for the aristocratic cat-burglar. Lady Christina is enjoying the high life while adding to her collection. But when suspicion falls on her after a robbery-turned-murder, Christina decides to catch the culprit herself... 1.2 Skin Deep by James Goss - Sylvia Noble always knew she deserved better. So, when a chance encounter with aristocracy propels her out of Chiswick and into high society, she’s delighted. But the beautiful people have their own agenda – and Christina is surprised when those plans involve her father. 1.3 Portrait of a Lady by Tim Dawson - When her plot to steal a priceless painting runs into trouble, Christina crashes into an undercover UNIT operation – and Sam Bishop. Soon, her Number 200 bus is racing from Europe to South America and into the depths of the Pacific, chasing a mysterious and unstoppable foe… 1.4 Death on the Mile by Donald McLeary - Lady Christina has been offered a job: the heist of a lifetime. She simply has to break into Edinburgh Castle. At the same time, UNIT are investigating alien activity at the Military Tattoo. And where there’s treasure and treachery, there are also Slitheen…
Lady Christina - Series 01
Lady Christina - Series 02
Michelle backstage on Series 02
Lady Christina, Series 2 Jetsetter, adventurer, and owner of a very unusual London bus, Lady Christina de Souza is travelling the globe and catching up with the rellies. First, a treasure hunt with her reprobate father in the Indian Ocean. Then, a flying visit to the Australian outback in search of a lost Great Aunt... But Sam Bishop and Jacqui McGee of UNIT are on her trail. As one reunion takes a dangerous turn, Christina has a hard decision to make – for the good of the family! 2.1 The Wreck by James Goss - When Christina joins her father on a cruise off the coast of Zanzibar, she is surprised to meet his new fiancée Bunny. But Lord Alfred has his eyes on another trophy altogether. An underwater shipwreck, containing treasures as deadly as they are beautiful… Are the de Souzas ready to pay the price to bring them to the surface? 2.2 Outback by Sarah Grochala - In need of respite, Christina seeks out her Great Aunt Eugenia, and finds herself looking for answers in the Australian outback. Has her aunt really been abducted by aliens? What secrets lie within the Jajutuma crater? And why are Sam Bishop and Jacqui McGee of UNIT on Christina’s trail? 2.3 Long Shot by John Dorney - Royal Northcote: highlight of the racing calendar. Lady Christina hopes for a win, as do Sam Bishop and Jacqui McGee, looking into some mysterious deaths. With secret agents and rogue family members on the scene, an assassin closes in on their target. But Lady Christina is at her best when the odds are stacked against her.
Audio clips from 'The Rising Night' read by Michelle.
The Eighth of March 2: Protectors of Time
Big Finish released a special Doctor Who story compilation to celebrate International Women's Day in 2022. Starring Lalla Ward, Georgia Tennant and Michelle Ryan, to name a few, is available to order from Big Finishas a 3-CD boxset or download.
Synopsis Scattered through time and space, many women have crossed paths with the Doctor. Some were fellow TARDIS travellers, some were allies defending the Earth, and one was the Doctor’s daughter...
2.1 Stolen Futures by Lizbeth Myles Romana and K-9 have stayed in E-Space to help an ancient and noble people, freed from their shackles. But first they must heal divisions in the ranks, and those who see a very different future for the Tharil race... 2.2 Prism by Abigail Burdess Lady Christina de Souza is crashing an exclusive party in search of a priceless diamond. Out in deep space, time travellers Jenny and Noah collide with a strange diamond-shaped vessel. What is Prism? And what does it want with the Earth? 2.3 The Turn of the Tides by Nina Millns In the footsteps of Sarah Jane Smith, Rani Chandra is investigating strange weather phenomena, calling on an old friend for help – Jo Jones! But UNIT is also on the case, led by science officer Jac. Soon all three women will be on a mission to the Moon...
Doctor Who: Once and Future: Two's Company
Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Camille Coduri (Jackie Tyler), Michelle Ryan (Lady Christina), Christopher Naylor (Harry Sullivan), Michael Maloney (The Renegade)
The Time War. The Doctor has been injured and brought to a Time Lord field hospital. His body glows with energy, but this is no regeneration into a future form - instead, the Doctor’s past faces begin to appear as he flits haphazardly between incarnations… Staggering to his TARDIS, the Doctor sets out to solve the mystery of his ‘degeneration’. Who has done this to him? How? And why? From the Earth to the stars, across an array of familiar times and places, he follows clues to retrace his steps, encountering old friends and enemies along the way. Tumbling through his lives, the Doctor must stop his degeneration before he loses himself completely... Back on Earth, the Doctor finds a clue in the search for the origins of the degeneration weapon. In his Sixth body, he meets Jackie Tyler and Lady Christina de Souza - thrown together by fate, or something more? - in pursuit of a powerful item of jewellery. Meanwhile, a Time Lord renegade has duped Harry Sullivan into helping him stop the Doctor's travels before they begin - and all are set on a collision course.
Script editor Matt Fitton said:“With these 60th anniversary stories, it was great to work out what the shopping list of characters would be, who we’d throw into the mix, how they’d bounce off each other and who would work well together. “We felt it would be really fun to put Lady Christina and Jackie together. They’re at two different ends of the social spectrum and so having them run into each other would make for an interesting mix. We’re also doing our best to represent lots of different eras of Doctor Who. And with this particular setting, we’ve got an older Harry Sullivan turning up as well. “We’re bringing together people we’ve worked with quite a lot over the years. We know they’re fun and enjoy recording, so it’s a great group of people - both characters and actors.”
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