I’ve already reviewed the Doctor Who special The Day of the Doctor, which was packed full of references to the show’s 50-year history. Here are some of the major ones I picked up which you may have missed. (No doubt I’ve missed many more!)
The opening minutes are jam-packed with references. Starting with the William Hartnell era title sequence (modified only with the inclusion of a contemporary BBC logo), we open with a uniformed policeman strolling past the sign for the junkyard at 76 Totter’s Lane, just as in the first ever episode, An Unearthly Child
Clara Oswald is now a teacher at the nearby Coal Hill school, where original companions Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright taught the First Doctor’s granddaughter Susan. According to the sign outside the school, Ian is now chairman of the board of governors and a ‘W Coburn’ is headmaster – presumably a relation to Anthony Coburn, writer of An Unearthly Child.
Note also that amidst the text Clara has written on her board in the classroom are the words ‘no more’, a phrase which takes on significance throughout the story. As Clara rides out of the school on her motorbike, she passes under a clock showing 5:15pm – the time An Unearthly Child originally aired on 23rd November 1963.
The female UNIT scientist Osgood wears a long multicoloured scarf similar to that worn by Tom Baker‘s Fourth Doctor. She’s presumably related to Tom Osgood, a UNIT technical officer during the Third Doctor’s time.
Matt Smith‘s Eleventh Doctor is left hanging in mid-air from the TARDIS as it flies over London, just as in the opening moments of his first appearance in The Eleventh Hour.
We know that David Tennant‘s Tenth Doctor has met Elizabeth I before. In The Shakespeare Code, set in 1599 (37 years after the events of the special), the Queen recognises Ten and orders him killed – presumably because of the way he ran out on her straight after their wedding here. Later in Ten’s timeline, he confirms to Ood Sigma that he married her (The End of Time).
Rose Tyler appears to John Hurt‘s War Doctor in Bad Wolf form, which she assumed after being inhabited by the TARDIS’ time vortex (The Parting of the Ways) to save Christopher Eccleston‘s Ninth Doctor.
Ten takes Elizabeth for a ride on a white horse, reminiscent to his rescue of Reinette, Madame de Pompadour (The Girl in the Fireplace).
Both Ten and Eleven get to utter their trademark catchphrases, “Allons-y!” and “Geronimo!” Eleven even warns Ten about “Spoilers!”, River Song-style.
Ten and Eleven attempt to “reverse the polarity” of the time fissure, a piece of technobabble frequently used by the Third Doctor.
Kate Lethbridge-Stewart‘s comment on the presence of three Doctors – “There’s a precedent for that” – refers to the tenth anniversary special The Three Doctors.
This isn’t the first time the Doctor has been incarcerated in the Tower of London. The Third Doctor once mentioned that one of his previous incarnations had been locked up there with Sir Walter Raleigh in 1592.
River Song’s red heels from The Time of Angels are among the items stored in the Black Archive.
As the TARDIS shifts between different configurations, we briefly see the return of the original wall roundels – although none of the Doctors can state what they’re actually for – and Ten comments on Eleven’s TARDIS design, “Oh, you redecorated – I don’t like it.” This is a line which has been used in various guises over the years – most recently by Eleven in Closing Time – and originates from the Second Doctor passing comment on the Third Doctor’s TARDIS in The Three Doctors.
As his regeneration begins, the War Doctor comments that his body is “wearing a bit thin”. The First Doctor says exactly the same thing prior to his regeneration in The Tenth Planet.
The War Doctor then adds, “I hope the ears are a bit less conspicuous this time.” Unlucky. Although we do not see the full sequence (owing to Eccleston’s refusal to take part) it does now mean we have seen at least part of the full set of Doctor regenerations.
Ten tells Eleven that his “future is in good hands”, the same words used by the First Doctor to the Fifth Doctor in the 20th anniversary special The Five Doctors.
After Eleven tells Ten about Trenzalore, the latter says, “I don’t want to go” – which will become his final words before his own regeneration.
As the Doctor’s faces flash past in the closing credits sequence, John Hurt is included in his correct place between Paul McGann and Christopher Eccleston.