Me: You saw this episode before I did.
Sue: What? Are you sure about that?
Me: Quite sure. I was at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire watching Tangerine Dream in concert. You texted a massive spoiler to me 15 minutes into the gig.
Sue: That doesn’t sound like the sort of thing I’d do. Surely I would have waited for you to come home first.
Me: That’s what I thought too. But you didn’t. You said you couldn’t wait. That’s when I knew the programme didn’t belong to me any more.
Sue: Oh. I feel really guilty now.
Me: It’s been 10 years, love. I’ve gotten over it. Just about.
The episode begins in a very familiar environment. And I’m not talking about Satellite Five.
Sue: How did the BBC get away with this? Big Brother isn’t a BBC show. And this music sounds exactly like the real Big Brother theme. I’m surprised they didn’t sue.
Me: It is the Big Brother theme!
Sue: Eh? How the hell was that allowed to happen? Ooh, look, it’s Tanya off of EastEnders. And that sounds like Davina McCall… It’s a shame they couldn’t get the bloke who does the voiceovers (she means Marcus Bentley). Even we managed to get him.
The Doctor sinks into the diary room chair. Cue titles.
Sue: What a bizarre way to start an episode. I like it, though. It’s funny.
Me: Try imagining Jon Pertwee trapped on the set of Mrs and Mrs or The Golden Shot. Because I sure as hell can’t.
Sue: Yeah, but back then the media weren’t threatening to take over the whole world, stupid. Not like there are now, anyway. Don’t you know anything?
While the Doctor is left to play Big Brother, Rose winds up as a contestant on The Weakest Link.
Sue: Is The Weakest Link still going?
Me: It was off the air for thousands of years before it finally came back. It was one hell of an Interregnum, but the fan fiction was spectacular. Anyway, The Weakest Link still feels fairly topical compared to these two. Can you remember their names? Because I can’t.
Sue: Yeah, it’s Trinny And Susannah.
Two robots – TRINE-E + ZU-ZANA (geddit?) – aren’t impressed with Captain Jack’s farm boy look so they give him a make-over.
Me: I think they removed Jack’s naked buttocks from this scene at the last-minute.
Sue: Did they suddenly remember that they were making a children’s television programme? Is that why Russell made Torchwood, so he could show John Barrowman’s bum without anyone complaining?
Me: It’s a good a reason as any, I suppose.
The Doctor adjusts to life as a Big Brother contestant.
Sue: The American version of Big Brother is so much better. The British one went downhill after a while, but the American one just keeps getting better. None of this “Don’t discuss your nominations” bollocks – that’s all they ever do on the American version, and it’s brilliant.
Me: Do you think anyone will understand these cultural references 30 years from now?
Sue: Only geeks who are obsessed with old television programmes. People like you, Neil. So don’t worry about it.
Jack admires his new look.
Sue: He looks exactly the same! You can’t replace a T-shirt with the same coloured vest and call it a ****ing make-over. What a con!
Me: I’m just grateful that Russell didn’t set this sequence in the TV show that featured a mad woman examining your poo. We got off lightly.
One of the Big Brother contestants is about to be evicted. From existence. They don’t even get to pose naked for Nuts magazine first.
Me: You must admit, this is quite funny, Sue.
Sue: Funny? It’s horrific. But it’s really clever, too. Like The Hunger Games, but on a tighter budget. And Big Brother was still massive back then, so this would have been quite scathing at the time. I’m surprised Channel 4 agreed to go along with it.
Jack removes a gun from his bum crack.
Sue: (Howling with laughter) Good luck explaining that to the kids!
And then Rose starts having Bad Wolf flashbacks.
Sue: She wasn’t even in that scene! What a load of bollocks.
Meanwhile, Doctor and Lynda are flirting with each other in a corridor.
Sue: Rose will be well jealous when she finds out about this. Actually, this makes the Doctor seem a bit creepy, if I’m honest.
The Doctor finally realises that he’s on Satellite Five (see The Long Game).
Sue: There’s a lot of recycling in this season, but I understand why. They probably didn’t have a lot of money at first, so this must have saved them a fortune. It’s a very clever way of stretching their resources.
Me: It’s Revenge of the Cybermen all over again.
Sue: Yeah, except this is good.
There are several game shows broadcasting from Satellite Five, all of them deadly.
Sue: Let’s see, you could have The Chase – that’s pretty self-explanatory: just replace the quiz experts with leopards. Survivor, obviously. Or Bullseye, where the contestants run around with bullseyes painted on them while archers shoot at them. Hey, I’d be really good at running an evil TV corporation. I know – what about Take Me Out, but with assassins?
The Doctor offers Lynda a ride in his TARDIS.
Sue: Lynda would be a great companion. She’s lovely. I don’t understand why the Doctor doesn’t take her with him. Unless…
And then the penny drops.
Sue: Oh no. They ****ing kill her, don’t they? They must do. Rose doesn’t kill her because she’s jealous, does she? I think I would have remembered that.
The Doctor realises that he inadvertently created this mess when he interfered with Satellite Five 100 years ago.
Sue: How ****ing clever is that? And he can’t go back and fix it, because that would break the rules of time. Which means loads of people have died. Thanks to him, everybody died.
The Doctor suspects that someone has been playing games with him.
Sue: When you first saw this, did you think it was the Master?
The subtle references to The Web Planet and the Virgin New Adventures sail over Sue’s head, and she isn’t thrilled when I stop the episode to point them out to her, mainly because she’s trying to answer the questions posed by the Anne-Droid, even the ones she can’t possibly get right.
Sue: Damn it. I would have said ‘Shoes’ as well.
The Anne-Droid is just as scary as the real thing.
Sue: Anne Robinson will end up with the same number of facial expressions as this robot if she doesn’t lay off the Botox soon. Just saying.
Rose loses the game and is disintegrated. Sue puts a hand over her mouth and gasps.
Me: Why are you surprised? You know Rose doesn’t die.
Sue: I know. I just got caught up in the story. I barely remember this at all, but it’s making me feel nostalgic.
Me: Well, you definitely saw it because this is where you texted me during the Tangerine Dream gig.
Sue: What did I say?
Me: ROSE IS DEAD. Followed by three kisses.
Sue: Did I? Shit. Sorry.
The Doctor, Lynda and Jack are arrested and jailed for breaking into a TV studio, although it doesn’t take them long to escape.
Me: I remember the good old days when a jailbreak like that would have taken a whole episode. God, I miss those days.
Sue: I worry about you sometimes, Neil. And I’ll tell you what’s really clever about this – you actually believe that Rose is dead because the Doctor’s already found himself a replacement.
The TARDIS has been squirreled away in the satellite’s archives.
Sue: I can’t believe Jack has a key to the TARDIS. I’m surprised the Doctor trusts him not to break it, what with his track record.
Rose is still alive. Sue didn’t bother texting that part to me, so I spent the entire concert believing they’d done an Adric on me, which was distracting to put it mildly.
Sue: Christopher Eccleston is really good in this episode. He should have stayed a bit longer. He’s finally getting into the swing of it now. What a shame.
Someone has been manipulating Earth for hundreds of years. But who could it possibly be?
Sue: Is it the Murdochs?
Close but no cigar. It’s the Daleks.
Me: You also sent me a text saying there were loads of Daleks in this episode. But it didn’t matter because I’d already knew about that.
Sue: Were you reading the Doctor Who forums?
Me: (Sighing) No, I saw the BBC trailer.
Sue: Surely the Doctor knows that he’s completely wrong now. About killing all the Daleks and the Time Lords, I mean. It’s pretty bloody obvious now, isn’t it?
Rose is taken hostage by the Daleks and the episode concludes with the Doctor promising to rescue her.
Sue: I bloody loved that. And next week looks great, too. Who’s speaking at the end of the trailer, with the deep voice? I know it isn’t the Master, but I can’t remember who it is, either. Is it Davros?
Me: My money’s on Adam.