Commissioned on the strength of Dark Season, the first BBC drama series he created and wrote, Century Falls was Russell T. Davies’ second television creation, moving firmly into darker territory. Like Dark Season, it also shows Davies’ strong Doctor Who influence, as well as elements that would crop up in his own later Doctor Who revival.
The connections between classic Doctor Who and Century Falls are enough to make one wonder if it was more than mere coincidence. Visual effects were overseen by Tony Harding, the BBC FX artist who originally designed K-9, and the part of the elderly Alice Harkness was played by Eileen Way, who played the part of “Old Mother” in the very first Doctor Who story, An Unearthly Child. Mary Wimbush had played Sarah Jane Smith’s Aunt Lavinia in that oft-mentioned character’s only televised appearance, and Bernard Kay had guest-starred alongside the first three Doctors in various roles. One could be forgiven for thinking that the production was cast and staffed from the end credits of past Doctor Who episodes.
Superficially, Davies’ love for reusing certain names – Harkness, Cooper, Naismith, etc. – crops up, but as with Dark Season (and arguably, the premiere episode of the revived Doctor Who), many themes recur as well, including a character with strange and possibly dangerous powers and motives, a trait which echoed forward to the introduction of the ninth Doctor. The psychic elements of the story hearken back to late ’80s McCoy-era Doctor Who; the notion of engineering the return of all of Century Falls’ families bears a strong resemblance to one of the final original Doctor Who stories, The Curse Of Fenric. The “inescapable” nature of Century Falls, along with the theme of a dark chapter of history repeating itself, may also be callbacks to the eerie 1977 series Children Of The Stones; however, Century Falls steers clear of anything more sci-fi than psychic powers.
At roughly the same time, Russell T. Davies was also writing episodes of Children’s Ward as a freelancer, and carried over some of the dark supernatural plot elements into The Grand, a decidedly more adult drama series which ran in 1997 and 1998; even the character name of Esme Harkness carried over to that show. Immediately after the two-year run of The Grand, Davies began work on Queer As Folk, which ran a single season in the UK, but saw its American remake run for several years.
Century Falls seems to have been slightly less well-remembered than Dark Season; neither series was available on DVD until Davies had become the showrunner of the new Doctor Who and there was suddenly demand for his earlier sci-fi-flavored output.