[ARCHIVED] a viewing order for all the "contemporary" episodes in the modern Doctor Who, including both Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.

[WARNING: This post is now massively out of date. What you're really looking for is here, fully updated and including every episode across all the series.]

eco-dalek approves of natural recycler

TV Another Doctor Who related post. It's the season for it. Another boxset has just been released. Prompted by the popularity of the Eighth Doctor chronology, a twitter conversation and rediscovering this linky post about Buffy continuity I wondered if it would be possible to construct a viewing order for all the "contemporary" set episodes in the modern Doctor Who franchise, including both Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Of course, it is possible as you can see below (or after the link) in this list I've constructed from memory with the aid of Lance Parkin's seminal Whoniverse chronology AHistory and the Tardis Index File. In other words, there are probably a few arbitrary choices in here so please feel free to file the necessary corrections in the comments.  One arbitrary decision was to lump the episodes into calendar seasons just to make things legible.

There are a few interesting discoveries, not least that The Eleventh Hour, Matt Smith's debut mostly takes place in the period when The Master is the prime minister.  That much of Blink happens before the first series of Torchwood.  That the fictional version of 2009 is really, really busy considering it was the real world gap year for the main series.  That Planet of the Dead doesn't seem to fit right anywhere.

[BUT AGAIN WARNING: This post is now massively out of date. What you're really looking for is here, AT THIS LINK, fully updated and including every episode across all the series.]



DWs1: The End of the World (contemporary scenes)
DWs1: Rose



DWs1: Aliens of London/World War Three

DWs1: Boomtown

DWs1: The Parting of the Ways (contemporary scenes)
DWs2: The Christmas Invasion



DWs2: New Earth (contemporary scenes)

Spring / Summer
DWs2: School Reunion
DWs2: Love & Monsters
DWs2: Army of Ghosts / Doomsday

DWs3: Blink

TWs1: Everything Changes
TWs1: Day One
TWs1: Ghost Machine
TWs1: Small World
TWs1: Countrycide
TWs1: Greeks Bearing Gifts
TWs1: They Keep Killing Suzie
TWs1: Random Shoes
TWs1: Out of Time

DWs3: The Runaway Bride


TWs1: Combat
TWs1: Captain Jack Harkness (contemporary scenes)
TWs1: End of Days

DWs3: Utopia (contemporary scene)

DWs5: The Eleventh Hour

DWs3: Smith and Jones
DWs3: The Lazarus Experiment
DWs3: 42 (contemporary scenes)
DWs3: Sound of Drums / Last of the Timelords
SJAs1: Invasion of the Bane


SJAs1: Revenge of the Slitheen
SJAs1: Eye of the Gorgon
SJAs1: Warriors of Kudlak
SJAs1: Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?
SJAs1: The Lost Boy

DWs4: Voyage of the Damned



TWs2: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
TWs2: Sleeper
TWs2: To the Last Man
TWs2: Meat
TWs2: Adam
TWs2: Reset
TWs2: Dead Man Walking
TWs2: A Day in the Death
TWs2: Something Borrowed
TWs2: From Out of the Rain
TWs2: Adrift
TWs2: Fragments
TWs2: Exit Wounds


DWs4: Partners In Crime
DWs4: The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky
DWs4: The Stolen Earth / Journey's End
DWs4: Planet of the Dead *

Early Summer
SJAs2: The Last Sontaran
SJAs2: The Day of the Clown
SJAs2: Secrets of the Stars
SJAs2: The Mark of the Berserker
SJAs2: The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith
SJAs2: Enemy of the Bane

TWs3: Children of Earth

SJAs4: The Nightmare Man (flashback)

SJAs3: Prisoner of the Judoon
SJAs3: The Mad Woman in the Attic
SJAs3: The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith
SJAs3: The Eternity Trap
SJAs3: Mona Lisa's Revenge
SJAs3: The Gift

DWs4: The End of Time



DWs5: The Eleventh Hour (epilogue)
DWs5: Flesh and Stone (contemporary scenes)
DWs5: Vampires of Venice (contemporary scenes)
DWs5: Vincent and the Doctor (contemporary scenes)
DWs5: The Lodger
DWs5: The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang (contemporary scenes)


SJAs4: The Nightmare Man
SJAs4: The Vault of Secrets
SJAs4: Death of the Doctor
SJAs4: The Empty Planet
SJAs4: Lost in Time
SJAs4: Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith



TWs4: Miracle Day **

DWs6: Closing Time ***
DWs6: The Impossible Astronaut (contemporary scenes)
DWs6: Let's Kill Hitler (contemporary scenes)
DWs6: The God Complex (contemporary scenes)
DWs6: The Wedding of River Song

SJAs5:The Curse of Clyde Langer
SJAs5:The Man Who Wasn't There


DWs6: Night Terrors



DWs2: Fear Her


DWs1: Dalek
DWs1: The Long Game (contemporary scenes) ****



DWs7:  The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe (contemporary scenes) *****

[WARNING AGAIN: This post is now massively out of date. What you're really looking for is here, fully updated and including every episode across all the series.  PLEASE CLICK HERE.]

* After the discussion in the comments, I've decided the Doctor was mistaken when he said it was Easter at the beginning of Planet of the Dead (well he does say he keeps missing it -- why not again?). Certainly no one else on the bus mentions it.

** Miracle Day is 22nd March 2011 (and goes on for months). The Impossible Astronaut is set 22nd April 2011. Not even Lance Parkin could get us out of this one. The Doctor visits Earth just in the middle of it all going to the wall and does nothing? Rory and Amy don't mention it?

*** I'm guessing. Amy and Rory have to have been on Earth for a bit, long enough to want to visit Colchester and for Amy to become a model. The implication is that this happens after he's dropped them off in The God Complex, but it could equally be after the end of The Wedding of River Song, but Craig's newspaper suggests its three days before The Impossible Astronaut but it would take longer than that to get to Utah and they haven't (as far as we know) had the Doctor's invites yet. So I'm bunging it here anyway.

**** Sort of. Are these five year old episodes really "contemporary"? Feels odd now not to include them (especially now that Moffat's scooted on ahead to 2013 in the story of the Doctor, Amy and Rory which I've also added above now) but what happens in 2017 when we reach Enemy of the World? I know, time can be rewritten, blahbablahbablah (helpfully explaining why no one can identify the Dalek in Dalek). Steven's far less interested in creating a relatively consistent contemporary reality than Russell making this whole exercise a bit of a moot point (this note posted 29/2/2012)

*****  This had its own production block well away from from DWs6 and months before production began again.  I'm following the old pattern for convenience even though it doesn't make much sense.

(Hopefully the abbreviations are self explanatory. I've lumped the 2009 specials in with Season 4 because that's how they were considered in production terms.)


  1. Anonymous11:12 am

    Some of The End Of Time would be before Rose

  2. True enough and those regeneration visit sequences are all of indeterminate timescales. Plus there's the bit at the end of The End of the World. But I wanted to keep things simple and tried to keep to the more interesting revelations. I originally had the stop offs in 2012 too (Dalek, Fear Her, The Long Game) but ultimately left them off so that I could show that we've finally caught up again with the contemporary episodes of the BBC tv version of franchise.

  3. Anonymous12:10 pm

    when you say contemporary scenes in the Big Bang, do you refer to all the 'museum' stuff, or simply the ending? If the former, that's inaccurate as it was set in 1996. :)

    Great list though.

  4. That's right, the stuff at the end. I'm not treating 1996 as a contemporary period in this case.

  5. Any particular reason Planet of the Dead comes so early (before the rest of S4)?

  6. Technically, the contemporary scenes of "Flesh and Stone" and "Vampires of Venice", in that they're both the night before Amy and Rory's wedding should be listed as Summer 2010.

  7. Radagast: Because it doesn't really fit anywhere else and it's mentioned as happening in 2009 in the story somewhere. I think I'll have to rewatch it and have another go.

    jng2058: Quite right too. Added them. Thank you.

  8. Radagast: rewatched it. It's a dating nightmare. One of the passenger talks about the events of Journey's End as way of getting round having them not panic about being on an alien world which means it has to be after Journey's End. But it also happens at Easter that year which is April (assuming the calender is the same in the Whoniverse which series 5 establishes it must be and there's no way those three stories occur in March/April.

    You could if you're being really interesting put it in 2010 after The End of Time and before the contemporary epilogue scenes for The Eleventh Doctor but EoT is such a huge event too it seems unreal that the characters wouldn't refer to it, plus in s5, Amy not initially knowing who the Daleks are is a major plot point.

    Frankly, nu-Who has its own UNIT dating style controversy here.

  9. Anonymous2:30 pm

    Planet of The Dead Happens Just After The Stolen Earth/Journey's End. It's mentioned in the episode that it's only recently happened

  10. Hello to readers of Life Universe and Condom.

    Anonymous: Yes, that's true, but as I said in the comment above, The Stolen Earth/Journey's End clearly happen later in the year than Easter. Plus every indication in the production details surrounding the episode suggest that they were aiming for us to believe it happened some time after the s4 finale.

    Nevertheless, it still looks wrong in 2010 so I'm going to shift it back to where you suggest and assume the Doctor simply got the date of Easter wrong and it's not set at Easter at all.

  11. Amy not knowing who the Daleks were is because they got sucked into the crack when they got to Ledworth.