The Empty Child


Ten years ago today Steven Moffat said hello with a two parter that’s famous for two things, a character and a catchphrase.

Captain Jack Harkness is a sexual omnivore and “Are You My Mummy” is the first of several such offerings from the fertile mind of The Moff whose primary focus is the area of sexual expression. It’s almost as if he’s obsessed with shagging, or fornication if you want to be old-fashioned and judgemental, something there was plenty of prior to the Sixties.

As, arguably, the first Doctor Who story ever to acknowledge sexual expression and activity in any meaningful way, the significance of these two eps shouldn’t be underestimated. However, although he doesn’t use the sledgehammer tactics he will later employ on Deep Breath, there does seem to be an awful lot of focus on the euphemistic “dancing”, perhaps more then the story really needs.

I’m all for plot and character providing thematic support but it seems to me that here Moff is laying it on a bit thick since the only character whose sexual expression is at all relevant is Nancy’s since she’s Jamie’s unmarried teenage mother. But then maybe ten years ago they felt they were empowered, nay obligated, to give the middle finger to the heirs of Whitehouse, but I’m not convinced it would harm the story if there were less dancing characters populating the plot. That said, full marks to all concerned for the phallic symbolism gag we get towards the end of story with song-and-dance-schlongmeister John “I’m not really a Yank at all, I’m a Jock” Barrowman sitting astride a giant cock the “bad wolf” bomb – including Adrian Salmon!

Leaving aside the writing and turning to the editing of it, the first thing to do was to work out how to join the two parts of the story, The Empty Child, and The Doctor Dances, together. Locating a crossover point to go from ep one to ep two was easy enough but when it came to resolving the cliffhanger and moving into part two, the first problem was that the theme music comes in just as Eccles’ is saying his last line “those would have been terrible last words”. That makes keeping that line impossible as the audio would give away that a cut had been made, so I had to cut away to Nancy on the previous line “I’m so glad that worked”.

Empty Child by Adrian Salmon DWM438

Cutting to Nancy and part two was complicated by the fact that the Director & Producer credits are laid over the opening shots, but luckily they are both static shots so I was able to grab the “clean” area of the shot and then use that to mask the credits. Simply joining the two eps together, with no further cuts other than the shorter “throw forward” at the end, gives you a movie length edit of one hour and twenty minutes. But there are a few places where you can tighten up the action.

For a start there’s the typewriter scene, which everybody knows was inserted when the second ep was found to be under-running. Then there’s the Doctor having a touch of thickitis in the nightclub, which doesn’t work as. For one thing, it’s obvious from the moment he enters the nightclub it’s the Forties, and for another, do you really think he wouldn’t at least glance at the controls before he left the ship to see what time they had landed in? Unless of course, his yearometer wasn’t calculating properly… So in this version we stick with Rose as, off screen, the Doctor hears the air raid siren and rushes out to find her.

We can also lose Jack being a total div and lighting up Big Ben in the middle of a fekking’ air raid. And we don’t really need Nancy confronting Mr Lloyd, we’ve already got more than enough references to sexual activity thanks to Jack “any lifeform with a pulse” Harkness, thanks all the same. All those cuts helped shave a further nine minutes off the initial edit.


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