Pazzione Gallifreya was inspired by a story in the children’s magazine, Doctor Who Adventures. In that story, The Doctor goes to the opera and meets the lead tenor who turns out to be an alien fugitive from an unjust regime, whose secret he decides to protect. I liked the idea a lot, but since it had been done I had to find another plot. For a while, the story was called The Phantom of New Sydney Opera, and I was going to do some kind of monster in the opera house story. Then I got to thinking about what opera was going to be performed, and ruled out all the obvious ones. In the comic strip, The Doctor went to see Turandot, but I’ve already written a story centred around Turandot. Then I recalled inventing an opera called Pazzione Gallifreya as a favourite of The Doctor’s mum and dad in the Marion and Kristoph stories. Why not have the Pazzione performed at the opening night of New Sydney Opera House. The Doctor would be thrilled to be there.

Of course, doing any opera story with a culturally naïve character involved automatically invokes the Pretty Woman scenario. And of course, Donna has to fall in love with Opera. It helps, of course, that she is able to understand the words, thanks to the TARDIS.

So the plot of the opera, and Donna’s reaction to it, gets mixed in with what would be, on its own, a bit of a thin plot about The Doctor chasing an alien assassin, only to find out that the alien isn’t the problem, but the person who employed the alien – who wants to kill the Lord President of Gallifrey.

The problem there, of course, is that the Lord President of Gallifrey is the other Doctor, the Ninth Doctor. The assassin got it all mixed up, and Ten came to the rescue of his other self, without him even knowing about it. I did originally intend that Ten and Donna would have dinner with Nine and Rose, but explaining the situation to Donna would have been far too much trouble. I decided to keep them apart.

The ongoing King of Belgium gag was irresistible!