Rose Tyler, Torchwood, Martha and more… Earth’s greatest heroes assemble to fight the New Dalek Empire.
The finale’s narrative brings closure to several prominent story arcs created during Davies’ tenure as show runner. In the episode, contemporary Earth and twenty-six other planets are stolen by the Daleks, aided by their megalomaniacal creator Davros and a shattered but precognitive Dalek Caan. As the Doctor (David Tennant) and his companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) try to find Earth, his previous companions Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman), Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen), and Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) convene to contact him and mount a defence against the Daleks. In the episode’s climax, the Doctor is shot by a Dalek and begins to regenerate.
The episode marks the first appearance of Davros since the 1988 serial Remembrance of the Daleks; he is portrayed by Julian Bleach. It is also the first Doctor Who appearance of Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper; Gareth David-Lloyd as Ianto Jones; Tommy Knight as Luke Smith; and Alexander Armstrong as the voice of Mr Smith. Adjoa Andoh and Penelope Wilton reprise supporting roles as Martha’s mother Francine Jones and former Prime Minister Harriet Jones respectively. Paul O’Grady and Richard Dawkins make cameo appearances as themselves as television personalities who attempt to assuage public fear.
The two-part finale’s epic scale and underlying plot was first conceived in early 2007 as the last regular-series story for departing producers Russell T Davies, Julie Gardner, and Phil Collinson: the fourth series finale is the last story produced by Collinson; and Steven Moffat and Piers Wenger replaced Davies and Gardner as show runner and executive producer respectively in 2010. Major concepts were already specified by July 2007 and the script was written in December 2007; Davies began on the 7th and finished on the 31st. Filming for the finale took place in February and March 2008, and post-production finished in mid-June 2008, only two weeks before the episode aired. To conceal as many plot elements as possible, “The Stolen Earth”‘s title was not disclosed until sixteen days before broadcast, preview DVDs omitted the scene where the Doctor regenerates—the last scene is the Doctor being shot by a Dalek—and the episode aired without a preview trailer for “Journey’s End”.