A futuristic utopian colony world run by robots who speak emoji became a living hell for The Doctor and Bill in episode two of Doctor Who series 10 and viewers couldn’t help but think of another sci-fi series while watching the adventure unfold.
As the Vardy robots turned on the humans who’d entrusted them with the task of establishing a glorious new colony, some wondered if Smile was, in fact, a lost episode of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror.
It’s not a thought beyond the realms of possibility, though. Brooker did tell us he’d love to write a really horrible Doctor Who Christmas special.
Smile wasn’t his creation, though. It was the work of Frank Cottrell-Boyce, who previously penned series 8 episode In The Forest of The Night.
Cottrell-Boyce’s inspiration for the tale extended back to a time long before Black Mirror. If you look closely you’ll notice the colony ship in the episode is called Erehwon. That’s ‘nowhere’ spelled backwards, and a direct reference to Samuel Butler’s 1872 novel about a dystopian society where people live in fear of machines rising up to overtake them.
The Vardy (those killer micro robots who are almost reminiscent of the nanogenes in The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances) were named for a friend and Doctor Who robotics advisor.
Speaking of robots, the jury is still out on those emojibots, but fans did seem to agree on one thing: The Doctor’s personal emoji badge had fantastic eyebrows.
Oh, and one a side note, remember that Fleischmann cold fusion engine on the ship? It was named for scientist Martin Fleischmann, who together with Stanley Pons attempted to make cold fusion a reality in the 1980s.
No wonder the Doctor was so eager to march for the noble pursuit in London.
Doctor Who continues on BBC1 on Saturday at 7.20pm