The New Year 2021 episode of Doctor Who opens with a nod to another famous scifi franchise.

long time ago

A reference to Aliens occurs shortly afterwards.

57 years later

Starting near 35:50, there is a whole scene which is a better follow up to Aliens than Alien 3.


Are there other scifi references in this episode of Doctor Who? Have there been any interviews with cast or crew that confirm them?

Three other candidates (in decreasing order of certainty):

  • The idiot Prime Minister introducing the Daleks as 'defence drones' (multiple scences, starting at 33:40) is strongly reminiscent of Omni Consumer Products and their 'Enforcement Droid 209' in Robocop.

  • The Doctor's plan to use the 'spare' Tardis to destroy the 'Death Squad' Daleks reminded me of Apollo sacrificing the Pegasus in the two part Battlestar Galactica episode 'Exodus'. Admittedly, this is highly tenuous, and my memory may be shaky - I haven't watched the Galactica remake since it first aired.

  • The manner in which the Dalek creature takes over Leo Rugazzi (21:40) struck me as a reference to the Drakh Keeper in Babylon 5. However, the same thing has happened in Doctor Who before, so I suppose this doesn't really count.

  • Some other possibilities to consider -- when the Doctor describes her plan to deal with the Daleks, she calls it a "nuclear option", which calls to mind Ripley's plan in Aliens ("take off and nuke the site from orbit"). Also, the scene where Jack and Yaz plant bombs in the Dalek clone nursery may be inspired by a similar scene from Genesis of the Daleks.
    – occipita
    Jan 6, 2021 at 0:33

1 Answer 1


The opening title was definitely a Star Wars homage. Chibnall absolutely loves this kind of jokey homage as so many of his episode titles are puns on other films and popular culture, including Dinosaurs on a Spaceship (Snakes on a Plane), Spyfall (Skyfall), 42 ('24') and The Woman Who Fell To Earth (The Man Who Fell To Earth).

The others you list are more like common sci-fi tropes than specific references. You might well be right about the inspiration, but I'm not sure they were original concepts before the sources you cited. The Dalek acting like an 'Alien' facehugger was too close not to be inspired by that, but I didn't feel it was the first time the Daleks in their true Kaled form have been made to look like that. When they were scuttling around in Moffat's Twice Upon A Time it seemed like they were being made more Alien-like.

Another trope you didn't mention was the way the Dalek clones were being grown in chambers suspended in fluid. It is an idea seen in Alien 3, but also the visual of the chambers stretching vertically as far as the eye can see reminded me of the fetus fields in The Matrix.


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