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Doctor Who

Season 3 Episode 12

The Sound of Drums

Aired Saturday 8:00 PM Jun 23, 2007 on BBC America
out of 10
User Rating
522 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Location: London
Date: 2008
Enemies: The Master, the Toclafane
Harry Saxon becomes Prime Minister, and he faces off with the Doctor.
What are Saxon's dark ambitions?

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  • Plot-driven

    These plot-driven episodes really only work if you care about the plot, which I guess just wasn't unique or cool enough to hold my interest. Although John Simm turns in a great performance.
  • The Sound of Drums

    The Sound of Drums was a perfect and very entertaining episode of Doctor Who. I really enjoyed watching because The Doctor, Martha and Jack find The Master who has regenerated and learn that he has positioned himself to take over the world. It was awesome to watch The Doctor reminisce about his home world and to see glimpses of it. The Toclafane were intriguing and I liked the scenes near the end where their numbers are revealed. They remind me of mechanical fairies or bees. I couldn't believe what happened in the end and there was definitely a good cliffhanger! I look forward to watching what happens next!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • A bit disappointing.

    I was a little disappointed with this episode.

    It didn't really do much for me as it was basically talking, running and hiding. I almost fell asleep. Don't get me wrong, Dr Who stories are always fantastic, but this one didn't live up to the high standards.

    It isn't the worst episode of the series, just the worst episode of the season. I don't like to watch it as I find it boring. I guess the reason is they need to build up the finale, but that wasn't that good either.

    Series 3 as a whole was a bit of a let down and especially this episode.moreless
  • One hell of a feast

    Shock first hits when this episode starts feeling as if it skipped a big chunk of the story. This feeling continues throughout. The fact is once complete everything you need to know is there, and anything brushed over wasn't particularly important. The feeling of disorientation is quite effective at mirroring the confusion the Doc and co at thier current situation. As they make sense of it, so do you. Simm is a huge delight throughout, as are all the cast. The design of the regenerated Master proves a really good adversary to the Doctor, that completly rids the master of his 'lame' reputation. The tensions and revelations throughout make for very exciting viewing throughout, I dont think many would disagree that this episode has the best cliffhanger. The final scene is masterful! This story did make me cry "Oh its not about saving Earth again is it?!" But then those kinds of stories are going anywhere anytime soon, and they do normally make for the best episodes, and this episode is definatly one of them.moreless
  • "Do you hear it Doctor...? The sound of drums..." Contains spoilers.

    I missed this eppie when it aired, but I've got the DVD now. It is AWESOME! My favorite part is when the Master gases the entire cabnet and then sticks out his thumbs! Truly, the guy's insane, in a great kind of way. An excelent way to start the series final, with the Doctor... how old? "Run Doctor... I said run!"

    "You've gone insane!" *Master gives him the thumbs up*

    President: Are you taking this seriously?!

    Master: *nods head in sarcastic manner*

    "Do you hear it Doctor? The sound of drums..."

    I love this eppie so much. I can't stop watching it!

    Outstanding! (sorry, I'm a bit hyped right now. Too much sugar)


John Simm

John Simm

The Master

Guest Star

Alexandra Moen

Alexandra Moen

Lucy Saxon

Guest Star

Trevor Laird

Trevor Laird

Clive Jones

Guest Star

Adjoa Andoh

Adjoa Andoh

Francine Jones

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (14)

    • When the Doctor, Martha and Jack watch the Master on the tarmac meeting with the President, his cape is lined with red. This is a reference to the 3rd Doctor in the original series, who frequently wore capes lined on the inside with velvet.

    • The Master offers Lucy Saxon a Jelly Baby. These sweets were a favourite of the 4th Doctor (Tom Baker). He always kept a bag of them in the pocket of his coat and was always offering them to people.

    • When the Master runs to the window to watch the spheres descend, he presses against the wall, which visibly bows out.

    • When the Doctor is inside the Paradox Machine transformed TARDIS you can hear a chiming noise in the background. This is the Cloister Bell, the TARDIS alarm signal. First heard in Logopolis in the original series and in the Children in Need special as the Tenth Doctor is about to crash.

    • Seconds before the explosion in Martha's flat, on the back of the TV, for a second it is shown that the maker of the set is Magpie Electronics; a reference to the TV maker in the episode The Idiot's Lantern, who made Magpie brand televisions.

    • Both the official Doctor Who website's Fear Forecast for this episode and Radio Times note the Valiant's similarity in appearance to Cloudbase from Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, although it is unclear as to whether this was deliberate on the part of the production team. The Valiant also resembles the Helicarrier used by S.H.I.E.L.D. in Marvel Comics which is the former publisher of Doctor Who Magazine and thus, of the Doctor's comic adventures.

    • President Winters refers to himself as "President Elect" which means that he is not yet President of the United States of America and so has no actual authority, nor would his airplane use the call-sign "Air Force One". This may be an error on the part of writer Russell T. Davies.

    • Martha's car gets shot at and it is clear that the side of the car was hit. However, despite the back window being smashed, there were no dents or scratches on the rest of it.

    • The Master watches Teletubbies in this episode, and seems quite enthralled by them. In The Sea Devils (1972), The Master- then played by Roger Delgado- watches an episode of The Clangers and is similarly taken by them.

    • This is the second time the Doctor has witnessed the death of a U.S. President. A photo in Rose also implies that he was present at the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

    • Sharon Osbourne, Anne Widdecombe and McFly all had cameo appearences in this episode, stating their support for Harold Saxon as Prime Minister.

    • Mr Saxon's first press conference was filmed at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay.

    • The music used at the end of the episode as the Toclafane arrive is Voodoo Child by Rogue Traders (which contains the lyrics "...here come the drums...").

    • Martha suggests that the Master could be the Doctor's 'secret brother' which the Doctor dismisses. The original plan in the original series was for the two to be brothers: in Planet Of Fire, the Master states "How could you do this to your own...". The final word was supposed to be 'brother' but the producers got cold feet and thus cut it.

  • QUOTES (27)

    • Captain Jack: (About Saxon) We've got the perception filters; I say we use them to sneak up behind him and break his neck.
      The Doctor: Now THAT sounds like Torchwood.
      Captain Jack: Still a good plan.

    • Mr. Saxon: A glorious day! Downing Street rebuilt, the Cabinet in session... let the work of government begin. (flings official papers all over the room) Oh, go on. Crack a smile. It's funny, isn't it? Albert? Funny? No? Little bit?
      Albert: Very funny, sir. But if we could get down to business, there is the matter of policy, of which we have very little...
      Mr. Saxon: No no no, no. Before we start all that, I just wanted to say... thank you. Thank you, one and all. You ugly, fat-faced bunch of wet, snivelling traitors.
      Albert: (embarrassed cough) Yes, quite. Ah, very funny. But I think...
      Mr. Saxon: No! No, that wasn't funny. Hmm. You see, I'm not making myself very clear. Funny is like this (puts on exaggerated smiley face). Not funny is like this (frowny face). And right now, I'm not like... (smiley face) ...I'm like... (frowny face) ...because you are traitors. Yes, you are! As soon as you saw the vote swinging my way, you abandoned your parties and you jumped on the Saxon bandwagon! So... this is your reward.
      (He sits down and puts on a gas mask)
      Albert: Excuse me, Prime Minister, do you mind my asking, what is that?
      Mr. Saxon: (muffled) A gas mask.
      Albert: I beg your pardon?
      Mr. Saxon: (removes mask) It's a gas mask. (replaces mask)
      Albert: Yes, but, um... why are you wearing it?
      Mr. Saxon: (muffled) Well, because of the gas.
      Albert: I'm sorry?
      Mr. Saxon: (removes mask) Because of the gas. (replaces mask)
      Albert: What gas?
      Mr. Saxon: (muffled) This gas.
      (The "phones" on the table spray out toxic gas into the Cabinet room)
      Albert: You're insane!
      (Saxon smiles and gives him a big "thumbs up". The members of the Cabinet die)

    • Mr. Saxon: So, Earthlings! Basically, um... end of the world. (holds up laser screwdriver) Here come the drums!

    • Mr. Saxon: And so it came to pass that the human race fell, and the Earth was no more, and I looked down upon my new dominion as Master of all and I thought it… good.

    • Mr. Saxon: Shall we decimate them? That sounds good. Nice word, decimate. Remove one tenth of the population!

    • The Doctor: The Toclafane. What are they? Who are they?
      Mr. Saxon: Doctor… if I told you the truth… your hearts would break.

    • Mr. Saxon: We meet at last, Doctor. Oh-ho! I love saying that.
      The Doctor: Stop this, stop it now!
      Mr. Saxon: As if a perception filter's going to work on me. (sees Jack and Martha) And look, it's the girly and the freak, although I'm not sure which one's which.
      (Jack charges at Saxon, who shoots him down with his laser screwdriver)
      Mr. Saxon: Laser screwdriver. Who'd have sonic? And the good thing is, he's not dead for long. I get to kill him again!

    • President Winters: My fellow Americans, patriots, people of the world. I stand before you today as ambassador for humanity, a role I will undertake with the utmost solemnity. Perhaps our Toclafane cousins can offer us much, but what is important is not that we gain material benefits but that we learn to see ourselves anew. For as long as man has looked to the stars, he has wondered what mysteries they hold. Now we know we are not alone.

    • Martha: What's it for? What does a paradox machine do?
      Captain Jack: More important, can you stop it?
      The Doctor: Not until I know what it's doing. Touch the wrong bit; blow up our solar system.
      Martha: Then we've got to get to the Master.
      Captain Jack: Yeah, how are we going to stop him?
      The Doctor: Oh, I've got a way. (off their looks) Sorry, didn't I mention it?

    • The Doctor: (regarding them being the last of their kind) All we've got is each other
      Mr. Saxon: Are you asking me out on a date?

    • Mr. Saxon: (to the American President) Anything I can do? I could make the tea, or isn't that American enough?

    • The Doctor: (about The Master) He's a Time Lord, which makes him my responsibility. I'm not here to kill him; I'm here to save him.

    • (The American President takes over the plans for first contact with the Toclafane)
      Mr. Saxon: So America is completely in charge?
      President Winters: Since Britain elected an ass, yes!

    • President Winters: First contact policy was decided by the Security Council in 1968 and you've just gone and ignored it.
      Mr. Saxon: Well, you know what it's like. New job, all that paperwork. I think it's down the back of the settee. I had a quick look. I found a pen, a sweet, a bus ticket and… have you met the wife?

    • The Doctor: (after preparing the TARDIS keys with the perception filters) Just shifts your perception a tiny little bit. Doesn't make us invisible, just unnoticed. Oh, I know what it's like! It's like… It's like when you fancy someone and they don't even know you exist. That's what it's like. Come on.
      (Martha looks at Jack)
      Captain Jack: You too, huh?

    • The Doctor: You work for Torchwood?
      Captain Jack: I swear to you, it's different. It's changed. There's only half a dozen of us…
      The Doctor: Everything Torchwood did, and you're part of it.
      Captain Jack: The old regime was destroyed at Canary Wharf. I rebuilt it, I changed it, and when I did that, I did it for you, in your honour.

    • Captain Jack: So, Doctor, who is he? How come the ancient society of Time Lords created a psychopath?
      Martha: And what is he to you? Like a colleague or…?
      The Doctor: Friend, at first.
      Martha: Thought you were going to say he was your secret brother or something.
      The Doctor: You've been watching too much TV.
      Captain Jack: But all the legends of Gallifrey made it sound so perfect.
      The Doctor: Well, perfect to look at, maybe, and it was. It was beautiful. We used to call it The Shining World of the Seven Systems, and on the continent of Wild Endeavour, in the mountains of Solace and Solitude, there stood the citadel of the Time Lords. The oldest and most mighty race in the universe, looking down on the galaxies below, sworn never to interfere, only to watch. Children of Gallifrey are taken from their families at the age of eight, to enter the Academy. Some say that where it all began, when he was a child. That's when the Master saw eternity. As a novice, he was taken for initiation, stood in front of the Untempered Schism, that's a gap in the fabric of reality through which could be seen the whole of the vortex. We stand there, eight years old, staring at the raw power of time and space, just a child. Some would be inspired, some would run away… and some would go mad.

    • (Saxon watches the Teletubbies on TV when a Toclafane Sphere appears)
      Mr. Saxon: Have you seen these things? This planet's amazing. Television… in their stomach. Now that is evolution.
      Toclafane Sphere: Is the machine ready?
      Mr. Saxon: Tomorrow morning. It reaches critical at 8.02 precisely.
      Toclafane Sphere: We have to escape, because it's coming, sir. The darkness, the never ending darkness. The terribly terrible cold. We have to run and run and run.
      Mr. Saxon: Eight o'clock tomorrow morning. Tell your people. The world is waiting.

    • Mr. Saxon: Doctor.
      The Doctor: Master.
      Mr. Saxon: I like it when you use my name.
      The Doctor: You chose it. Psychiatrist's field day.
      Mr. Saxon: As you chose yours. The man who makes people better. How sanctimonious is that?
      The Doctor: So… Prime Minister, then.
      Mr. Saxon: I know. It's good, isn't it?
      The Doctor: Who are those creatures? 'Cause there's no such thing as the Toclafane, that's just a made up name like the bogeyman.
      Mr. Saxon: Do you remember all those fairytales about the Toclafane when we were kids? Back home. Where is it, Doctor?
      The Doctor: Gone.
      Mr. Saxon: How can Gallifrey be gone?
      The Doctor: It burnt.
      Mr. Saxon: And the Time Lords?
      The Doctor: Dead. And the Daleks… more or less. What happened to you?
      Mr. Saxon: The Time Lords only resurrected me because they knew I'd be the perfect warrior for a Time War. I was there when the Dalek Emperor took control of the Cruciform. I saw it… I ran. I ran so far, made myself human so they would never find me because… I was so scared.
      The Doctor: I know.
      Mr. Saxon: All of them? But not you. Which must mean…
      The Doctor: I was the only one who could end it, and I tried, I did, I tried everything.
      Mr. Saxon: What did it feel like, though? Two almighty civilizations burning. Tell me… how did that feel?
      The Doctor: Stop it!
      Mr. Saxon: You must have been like God.
      The Doctor: I've been alone ever since, but not anymore. Don't you see? All we've got is each other.
      Mr. Saxon: Are you asking me out on a date?
      The Doctor: You could stop this right now. We could leave this planet; we could fight across the constellations if that's what you want, but not on Earth.
      Mr. Saxon: Too late.

    • Mr. Saxon: Britain, Britain, Britain… what extraordinary times we've had. Just a few years ago, this world was so small and then they came, out of the unknown, falling from the skies. You've seen it happen. Big Ben destroyed, a spaceship over London, all those ghosts and metal men, the Christmas star that came to kill. Time and time again, and the government told you nothing. Well, not me. Not Harold Saxon, because my purpose here today is to tell you this, citizens of Great Britain…. I have been contacted. A message for humanity from beyond the stars.
      (Saxon gives the nod and the picture changes to a Toclafane sphere)
      Toclafane Sphere: People of the Earth, we come in peace. We bring great gifts. We bring technology and wisdom and protection and all we ask in return is your friendship.
      Mr. Saxon: Oh, sweet. And this species has identified itself. They're called the Toclafane.
      The Doctor: What?
      Mr. Saxon: And tomorrow morning, they will appear. Not in secret, but to all of you. Diplomatic relations with a new species will begin. Tomorrow, we take our place in the universe.

    • Mr. Saxon: Oh, but you're absolutely right. Harold Saxon doesn't exist.
      Vivien Rook: Then tell me… who are you?
      Mr. Saxon: I am the Master, and these are my friends...
      (four of the Toclafane materialise around Mr. Saxon)

    • Vivien Rook: All of it- the schooldays, his degree, even his mother and father- it's all invented. Look, Harold Saxon never went to Cambridge. There was no Harold Saxon. The thing is… it's obvious. The forgery is screaming out, and yet no one can see it. It's as if he's mesmerised the entire world.
      Lucy Saxon: I think perhaps you should leave now.
      Vivien Rook: Eighteen months ago, he became real. This is his first honest-to-God appearance, just after the downfall of Harriet Jones and at the exact same time they launched the Archangel Network.
      Lucy Saxon: Mrs. Rook, now, stop it.
      Vivien Rook: Even now they've said that the Cabinet's gone into seclusion. I mean, what does that mean, 'seclusion'?
      Lucy Saxon: How should I know?
      Vivien Rook: But I've got plenty of research on you. Yes, good family, Roedean, not especially bright but… essentially harmless, and that's why I'm asking you, Lucy, I am begging you, if you have seen anything, heard anything, even the slightest thing that would give you cause to doubt him…
      Lucy Saxon: I think…
      Vivien Rook: Yes?
      Lucy Saxon: There was a time when we first met… I wondered… but he was so good to my father… and he said…
      Vivien Rook: What? Just tell me, sweetheart.
      Lucy Saxon: The thing is… I made my choice.
      Vivien Rook: I'm sorry?
      Lucy Saxon: For better or for worse. Isn't that right, Harry?
      (Harold Saxon is standing at the doorway)

    • Captain Jack: (about Saxon) Former Minister of Defence, first came to prominence when he shot down the Racnoss on Christmas Eve. (to the Doctor) Nice work by the way.
      The Doctor: Oh, thanks.
      Martha: But he goes back years, he's famous! Everyone knows the story. Look, Cambridge University, rugby blue, won the athletics thing, wrote a novel, went into business, marriage, everything. He's got a whole life.

    • Vivien Rook: Mrs. Saxon… I have reason to believe that you are in very great danger. All of us, in fact. Not just the country, but the whole world. (Mrs. Saxon laughs) No, I beg of you. Hear me out.
      Lucy Saxon: What are you talking about?
      Vivien Rook: Your husband is not who he says he is. I'm sorry, but… it's a lie. Everything's a lie.

    • Martha: It's the day after the election. That's only four days after I met you.
      The Doctor: We went flying all 'round the Universe while he was here all the time.
      Martha: Are you going to tell us who he is?
      The Doctor: He's a Time Lord
      Martha: And the rest of it? I mean, who'd call themselves the Master?
      The Doctor: That's all you need to know.

    • Mr. Saxon: This country has been sick. This country needs healing. This country needs medicine. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that what this country really needs, right now… is a Doctor.

    • Captain Jack: The moral is, if you're going to get stuck at the end of the universe, get stuck with an ex-Time Agent and his vortex manipulator.
      Martha: But this Master bloke, he's got the TARDIS. He could be anywhere in time and space.
      The Doctor: No, he's here. Trust me.
      Martha: Who is he anyway? That voice at the end, that wasn't the Professor.
      Captain Jack: The Master's a Time Lord. Then he must have regenerated.
      Martha: What does that mean?
      Captain Jack: It means he's changed his face, voice, body, everything. New man.
      Martha: Then how are we going to find him?
      The Doctor: I'll know him, the moment I see him. Time Lords always do.

  • NOTES (5)

    • International Airdates:
      Turkey: January 16, 2011 on CNBC-e

    • Overnight viewing figures for this episode were 6.9 million, with a final viewing figure of 7.51 million.

    • The Master reveals that the Time Lords resurrected him to fight in the Time War. In his last televised appearance, he was sucked into the Eye of Harmony in the Doctor Who television movie, The Enemy Within.

    • This episode is the first time that Gallifrey has been shown since the Doctor Who story from the original series The Five Doctors.

    • Colin Teague, who directs this episode, is the first, and currently only, director to have directed on all three connected series: Doctor Who, Torchwood, and The Sarah Jane Adventures.


    • The Doctor: (about the Time Lords) The oldest and most mighty race in the Universe, looking down on the galaxies below, sworn never to interfere, only to watch.

      The Doctor's description of the Time Lords bears similarities to descriptions of The Watchers, characters in Marvel Comics, who also pledged to only watch the Cosmos and never interfere.

    • The Master: Britain, Britain, Britain...

      This quotes from the beginning narration of the television series Little Britain, narrated by former Doctor Who Tom Baker.