Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death

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Missing image
Rowan Atkinson as the Doctor and Julia Sawalha as Emma.

Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death was a four-episode special of Doctor Who made for Red Nose Day in the United Kingdom, and broadcast on 12 March 1999.

A parody of the original series, it starts off with the Doctor (played by Rowan Atkinson) and his assistant Emma (played by Julia Sawalha) meeting the Master (played by Jonathan Pryce) on the planet Tersurus and subsequently being captured by the Daleks. During the course of the story, the Doctor is forced to regenerate several times, turning into (in order) Richard E. Grant (the conceited Doctor), Jim Broadbent, (the shy Doctor) Hugh Grant (the good-looking Doctor) and Joanna Lumley. The story ends with the Master and the (newly-female) Doctor taking off together.

The script was written by Steven Moffat, the producer was Sue Vertue and the director was John Henderson.

Curse of Fatal Death was originally viewed worldwide via the Internet in four episodes. These episodes were later reedited into a two-part story that was released to home video a few years later.


  1. The planet Tersurus was first mentioned in The Deadly Assassin, where a severely deteriorated Master, at the end of his last regeneration, was found. The spin-off novel Legacy of the Daleks by John Peel relates the events leading up to the Master's arrival there.
  2. All the actors playing the Doctor in the special had been previously rumoured to have been up for the regular role at some point or another, including Lumley. Atkinson was one of many actors considered for the role of Eighth Doctor in the 1996 Doctor Who television movie.
  3. Richard E. Grant was later cast as the Doctor in the animated 40th anniversary adventure Scream of the Shalka, though his Ninth Doctor was relegated to unofficial status following the announcement of a new series in 2004.
  4. Steven Moffat is a famous fan of Doctor Who, and included many small continuity references in the script. He has subsequently written two episodes for the new 2005 series.
  5. Julia Sawalha's first major role was Lynda Day, editor of youth newspaper The Junior Gazette in the series Press Gang, created by Steven Moffat. She was considered for the role of the Doctor's companion during the series run, but turned it down. Prior to Fatal Death, a "what if" article in Doctor Who Magazine #255 featured her as companion to a hypothetical Eighth Doctor played by Richard Griffiths.

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