I've been analysing the episodes of the Russell T Davies era of Doctor Who, for the purposes of an upcoming post I'm composing for the blog, and the following three episodes stood out because I couldn't work out their temporal settings:

  • 42 (Series 3 Episode 7)
  • The Doctor's Daughter (Series 4 Episode 6)
  • Midnight (Series 4 Episode 10)

Is there any evidence for WHEN these episodes are set?

Either a direct statement, or indirect evidence based on deduction or connections with other episodes, would both be fine. Anything at all to put temporal bounds on each of these episodes.

  • The Doctor's Daughter is just set in a generic futuristic setting as far as I can tell. It's the same with Midnight and 42.
    – Valorum
    Jul 1, 2016 at 23:48
  • What do you mean by "When they are set"? The exact time of the episode itself? The timeline from the companion's point of view? Jul 1, 2016 at 23:48
  • @ThomasJacobs The time of the episode itself, in the universe's timeline (e.g. 51st century, year 200,000, etc.).
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jul 1, 2016 at 23:49

2 Answers 2


The Doctor's Daughter is easy, because Donna realizes the sequence numbers on the walls are dates (apparently in ISO format and the Gregorian calendar?):

Donna: Yeah! But you're, you're still not getting it. The first number I saw back there, was 6012-07-17. Well, look at the date today!

We know that episode takes place over something like a week, and ends on the 24th, so that places it from around 6012-07-17 to 6012-07-24.

As far as I known 42 does not have any clues in it that place it in a specific time period. However, we know there are humans transporting cargo across the galaxy (they are in another star system "half a universe" away from Earth). Generally speaking, humans did not spread out very far into space until The Second Great And Bountiful Human Empire, which has been name-dropped many times, and occurs in the 42nd century. The ship is also using old tech (the Doctor thinks it should have been outlawed by this point), so it's unlikely to be any later than the 51st century -- where Jack Harkness and River Song are from -- because human technology has advanced to time travel by then.

Midnight is a complete bust, though again we can probably place it safely in the 42nd century or later if we assume everyone else on Midnight that looks human is human.

  • I suspect the TARDIS translates alien dating systems.
    – Adamant
    Jul 2, 2016 at 0:41
  • 1
    "if we assume everyone else on Midnight that looks human is human" - even if they're human, they could still come from long long ago, and possibly a galaxy far far away.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jul 2, 2016 at 1:10
  • @Obie2.0 Actually Donna said I spent six months working as a temp in Hounslow Library, and I mastered the Dewey Decimal System in two days flat. I'm good with numbers! It's staring us in the face!
    – Machavity
    Jul 2, 2016 at 1:12

42 is set in the 42nd Century

The Doctor's Daughter is set in 6012

Midnight has no cues to suggest the date.

  • What's the source for that 42nd century claim? I just checked the transcript and there's no mention of "century" (or for that matter "empire" as referred to in Mike's answer).
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jul 4, 2016 at 14:42
  • Answers are usually better received if they provide evidence for the conclusions being drawn (authoritative quotes are ideal).
    – Blackwood
    Jul 4, 2016 at 14:56

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