Doctor Who: The Newbies Guide
The Shakespeare Code
This is the second story of Series Three.
Other Guides to this Story
The tenth Doctor wears a brown pinstripe suit with trainers. He is much more jovial and good-humoured than his ninth incarnation, appearing to have largely recovered from the mental scars of the Time War. He does, however, have a hard edge to his personality, being the sort of man who doesn't give second chances. In Doomsday he had to leave his companion Rose Tyler in an parallel timeline, and he is still coming to terms with her loss.
Martha Jones is a medical student from 21st Century London. She encountered the Doctor when her hospital was taken to the moon in Smith and Jones. This is her first trip in the TARDIS.
Recurring and Historical Characters
William Shakespeare was an English playwright in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, and his plays are the earliest written source for a wide range of English words and phrases. He is well-remembered today for a number of plays, including Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, MacBeth, and Love's Labours Lost. Some of his plays have been lost, including Love's Labours Won, Shakespeare has appeared in a number of other Doctor Who stories, though none of those appearances are relevant to this one.
You will get slightly more out of this episode if you are broadly familiar with Shakespeare's work.
It's probably cheaper to get familiar with Shakespeare's work by reading the plays than it is to watch them performed. Most modern editions even come with annotations,explaining bits that aren't obvious to modern audiences.