The Stolen Earth/ Journey’s End ★★★★★

All the Time Lord's friends unite when the Daleks seize the Earth. Davros returns and the Doctor almost regenerates in this thrilling finale

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Story 198
Series 4 – Episodes 12 & 13

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First UK transmission
s
Saturday 28 June 2008
Saturday 5 July 2008

Cast
The Doctor – David Tennant
Donna Noble – Catherine Tate
Rose Tyler – Billie Piper
Jack Harkness – John Barrowman
Sarah Jane Smith – Elisabeth Sladen
Martha Jones – Freema Agyeman
Mickey Smith – Noel Clarke
Jackie Tyler – Camille Coduri
Harriet Jones – Penelope Wilton
Wilfred Mott – Bernard Cribbins
Davros – Julian Bleach

Writer Russell T Davies
Director Graeme Harper

The casts of Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures must unite when the Daleks launch their most diabolical plot. Earth is transported across space to power a Reality Bomb. Dalek creator Davros returns from the dead and, only for the second time in his life, the Doctor is shot by a Dalek, nearly triggering a regeneration. In a rapturous finale, the Doctor and his many companions all pilot the Tardis to draw the Earth back home. Donna has become part Time Lord: to save her life, the Doctor must wipe her memory and leave her behind. Journey’s End was deservedly the No 1 show in that week’s ratings, with 10.6 million viewers.

Taking the bronze medal in our 2015 poll is this fabulously exhilarating two-part season finale from 2008 – the highest placed adventure written by Russell T Davies. I’m delighted it’s scored so well, only a percentage decimal point between the episodes in fourth and second place.

It was the culmination of everything that was great about the RTD period: wit, spectacle, surprise, emotion… And it brought together all the Doctor’s chums – Rose, Mickey, Jackie, Jack, Martha, Donna, Sarah, as well as Bernard Cribbins as Wilf and Penelope Wilton as Harriet Jones, and characters from the spin-offs The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood – and pitted them against the Daleks. Not only that but their creator Davros, too, in a chilling performance from Julian Bleach.

The finale was packed with memorable images. I adore that moment when our heroes unite and pilot the Tardis – and only the churlish would groan at the preposterous image of the police box hauling planet Earth back to its rightful position in the cosmos. It’s glorious!

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But the shocker that got the nation talking – it was even reported on the BBC News – was the cliffhanger ending to The Stolen Earth. As David Tennant’s immensely popular Doctor ran towards his beloved Rose for a long-awaited reunion, he was lasered by a Dalek. And then back inside the Tardis he started to regenerate… It guaranteed 10.6 million tuned in for Journey’s End the following week and shot Doctor Who to No 1 in the ratings.