Father’s Day was the eighth episode of series 1 of Doctor Who. It introduced Rose’s father, Pete, and established much of the back story for the Tyler family that would be used in future stories.
From a production standpoint, it was significant for being writer Paul Cornell’s first contribution to televised Doctor Who.
“Peter Alan Tyler, my dad. The most wonderful man in the world. Born 15th September 1954.”
When Rose was growing up, her mother would tell her about Pete Tyler, her father who was killed by a hit-and-run driver when she was only a baby. The driver was never found, and Pete died on the street alone before the ambulance could arrive.
In the TARDIS, Rose hesitantly asks the Doctor if they can go to see her father, Pete, before he died. The Doctor says that he can do this, but he is concerned Rose may not be able to handle it emotionally. He tells her to be careful what she wishes for. He takes her to Jackie and Pete’s wedding, where they witness Pete get Jackie’s middle names wrong during the vows much to her irritation. Back in the TARDIS, Rose then asks the Doctor for her to be there for him on the day he died, as she doesn’t want him to have to die alone.
The TARDIS materializes in 1987 on the street where Pete died. They stand on the pavement, Rose describing what happened as they watch it. Pete was late getting the wedding gift for Stuart Hoskins and Sarah Clark, and when he stepped out of his car to cross the road, an oncoming car rounded the corner and ran into him, killing him almost instantly. When this happens, the Doctor tells Rose to go to Pete, but she is unable to approach her father’s fallen body. By the time she recovers, the ambulance has arrived and he is already dead. She asks the Doctor if she can try again, and while he looks doubtful, he agrees.
Traveling back to the same moment, they wait around the corner from their earlier selves. The Doctor warns Rose to wait until her earlier self has left before going to see her father, lest it create a paradox. However, as Pete steps out of his car and the other car comes hurtling around the corner, Rose pulls away from the Doctor, passing their startled earlier selves and knocking Pete out of the way. The earlier Doctor and Rose vanish, and while Rose is overjoyed at having actually succeeded in saving her father, the Doctor looks on aghast. Rose introduces herself to Pete, who remarks on the coincidence of her name being the same as his daughter’s. When Rose says she is attending the Hoskins-Clark wedding, Pete offers her and the Doctor a lift. Above the city, unseen creatures scan the area hungrily with alien eyes.
At Pete’s flat, Rose looks around and remarks on all the various bits and pieces of entrepreneurship that her father is involved in, including health drinks and solar power panels, which he will now have the opportunity to exploit. The Doctor is angry with Rose, implying that she had planned this from the moment she heard that the TARDIS was a time machine. Rose says there was no plan, that she just saw a chance to stop it and did so, and questions why it is all right for the Doctor to save people but not for her to save her father. The Doctor calls her a selfish and stupid, another person who was more concerned with seeing what the universe could do for them. He knows what he is doing while she does not; the presence of two sets of them made that location a vulnerable point. They argue, more and more heatedly, until the Doctor demands the TARDIS key back and leaves, telling her she’s getting left behind. Rose hands over the key but tells the Doctor she knows he’ll never leave without her. Pete looks out of the kitchen at this point, thinking it a lover’s quarrel. Pete and she go to the wedding. At the wedding, the church is only a quarter full as Stuart Hoskin’s dad tries to persuade him not to go through with it. Outside the bride arrives with Jackie and baby Rose, but is asked to drive around the block due to all the people who haven’t turned up.
Across the city, the unseen alien creatures are seen from their vision to be stalking and attacking several people. As the Doctor walks back to the TARDIS, he senses that something is wrong. When he gets back to the TARDIS and unlocks it with his key, he finds it an empty box. In the meantime, Rose and Pete are driving to the church. Rose is puzzled when “Don’t Mug Yourself”, a piece of hip-hop music from the 21st century, plays anachronistically over the car radio, and her mobile phone voice mail is filled with copies of the message, “Watson, come here, I need you,” the very first thing said over a telephone by Alexander Graham Bell. They are almost at the church when a car nearly collides with them and abruptly vanishes, a car Pete recognizes as the same car that almost ran him down earlier. As their car runs off the road, Rose reflexively calls Pete “Dad”, but brushes it off when Pete asks her what she meant by that.
At the church they meet Jackie, carrying the younger Rose. Jackie eyes the adult Rose suspiciously. Jackie and Pete get into a shouting match, and Rose realizes that their marriage was far from perfect; it emerges that he’s cheated on her in the past, and she is despairing of his constantly failing get-rich-quick schemes… it seems the two are well on the way to divorce. It is at this moment that a young Mickey — who has witnessed all the children in a local play park disappear — runs around the corner, yelling about monsters. The Doctor runs towards Rose from the opposite end of the street, shouting for her to get in the church. Rose looks up and screams as she sees the creatures materialize in the sky above as winged reptilian monsters with multiple arms.
The creatures swoop down, devouring the vicar and the groom’s father before the Doctor ushers the rest into the church; the walls of the church are old and will stop the creatures for a while. When Jackie demands to know what is going on, he explains that there has been a wound in time and the creatures are like bacteria taking advantage of it, to sterilize the wound by consuming everything in sight. With great satisfaction, the Doctor orders Jackie to do as he says and make sure all the doors and windows are secure. Rose asks if this is her fault, and the Doctor does not answer. Pete overhears this.
Outside, the creatures continue to devour every human they come across, and Pete notes that the lack of other activity outside indicates that the creatures are probably everywhere. The Doctor looks out the back window of the church, and sees the car supposed to run Pete down appearing and disappearing as it circles the church, the driver repeating the actions he never got to complete. Pete notices the car. The Doctor tells him quickly not to worry about it. Pete talks to Rose, and wonders aloud why he instinctively seems to trust her. He remembers she called him “Dad” and deduces she is really his daughter, all grown up. They tearfully embrace as the creatures continue to batter against the church doors, trying to get in.
The Doctor is ensuring that the church doors and windows are sealed when he is cornered by Stuart Hoskins and Sarah Clarke. They recognize that he is the only person in the church who knows what is going on and nervously enquire whether he can save them. Sarah, who is obviously pregnant, insists that they are nothing important, but the Doctor begs to differ once he hears the story of how they met. He has never had the lives these two people have; they are two ordinary people with a potentially happy future, and that makes them special. He promises he will do everything he can to save them.
Pete is delighted at how Rose has turned out. They talk in the vestry about the future and time travel, but Rose is strangely vague about what he is like in the future. Jackie comes in with the young Mickey, and is jealous again. Pete tries to explain who Rose is, but Rose tells him not to let Jackie know. In the basilica, the Doctor is looking after the infant Rose. The adult Rose shows up. The Doctor apologizes for snapping. He was not really going to abandon her, but confesses that he has no idea what to do and that nothing will stop the creatures forever. When the Time Lords were still around, paradoxes like this could be repaired, but now there is nothing to stop the creatures, who are continuing to sterilize the entire Earth of human life until pockets of survivors in old refuges like this become all that’s left of the human race. The TARDIS key glows hot in the Doctor’s pocket, and the Doctor realizes it’s still connected to the TARDIS, sparking hope. Although the TARDIS’ interior dimensions were thrown out of the wound in time, the ship is still linked to the key and he can summon it back.
The Doctor uses a mobile telephone battery in conjunction with the sonic screwdriver to charge up the key. The shadowy shape of the TARDIS begins to materialize slowly around it. He tells everyone not to touch or disturb the process — once the TARDIS has fully materialized, he can try to repair the damage.
Pete has another talk with Rose, asking her whether he was a good father. She tells him that he was always there for them, told her bedtime stories every night and took them on picnics in the country on weekends. Pete realizes she’s lying; he knows he’s the kind of man who will constantly let her down instead of the man who is there for her all the time. The Doctor tells Rose that when time is sorted out again, everyone will forget what has happened, but what Rose changed will remain changed. Pete has realized that he is supposed to be dead and his survival is jeopardizing everything. Rose tells Pete that the fault is hers, but Pete replies that he is her father — it is his job for it to be his fault.
Jackie overhears Pete, who tells her who Rose is, but Jackie does not believe him. Pete takes the infant Rose from Jackie to get her to compare the features. Before the Doctor can stop him the infant Rose is thrust into the adult Rose’s arms, causing a paradox and one of the creatures to materialize within the church. It devours the Doctor, then chases the remaining people around the church until it collides with the still-materializing TARDIS. This causes the creature to disappear, however the TARDIS is also lost forever. When they meet, they blink out of existence. Rose runs to the key, which is now dead, and is left stunned and distraught at the Doctor’s death as Pete tries to comfort her. All hope is now lost, and everyone is left waiting in the church for the end to come as the church grows weaker against the creatures.
Pete watches the car repeating its movement around the church through the window. He tells Rose that the Doctor had figured out that Pete’s death could stop what is happening and tried everything to avoid putting her through it again, but now there’s no more options… to set things right, he has to die like he was supposed to. Rose begs him not to sacrifice himself, but he tells Rose that he’s happy he had these extra hours with her, and now he’s going to do what a father is supposed to do to. He shows Rose to Jackie properly and Jackie finally recognizes Rose as the grown up version of her daughter. Pete tells Jackie that she has to live to raise Rose, and the three embrace.
Pete grabs the wedding gift and runs out of the church, watching for the car as it materializes in its never-ending loop, and steps in front of it just as a creature starts towards him. As Pete crumples to the street, the creatures screech and vanish.
The Doctor, restored to life with everyone else the creatures devoured, tells Rose to go to Pete, and she does so. By the church, the congregation, including Stuart’s restored father, rushes out to see the aftermath of the accident. Rose cradles Pete’s head and holds his hand as the driver of the car watches on, and Pete smiles up at her as he expires. The Doctor and Rose walk, hand in hand, back to the TARDIS.
In the end Rose, did manage to change history a little. Jackie tells the young Rose that the driver, a young man, stopped and waited for the police. It was not his fault — for some reason Pete just ran out in front of the car. There was also a young girl there who stayed with Pete when he died, and then left. Nobody ever learned who she was.
“Peter Alan Tyler, my dad. The most wonderful man in the world. Died the 7th of November, 1987.”