Sunday, 20 September 2015



It's 1986.  Fans have been following the last twelve episodes of Trial of a Time Lord. Some have even been enjoying it. Most have been complaining (as fans do when a new season comes out - but even moreso than usual!). But, suddenly, in the first few minutes of Episode 13 - the ultimate revelation gets made during the Master's surprise appearance:

"There is some evil in all of us, Doctor. Even you. The Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature. Somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation. And I have to say you do not improve with age!"

Oh look! A clip to watch! I'm getting more tech savvy and have figured out how to create links! Watch it and see just how bad I've paraphrased the dialogue!

Whether or not you were enjoying Trial of a Time Lord back then, one has to admit that was a pretty big jaw-dropping moment. The direct anti-thesis of the Doctor has been called into existence and wants to steal his remaining lives. The title often assigned to these particular episodes is The Ultimate Foe and it's very apt. As far as arch-nemesises (arch-nemesie? how does one pluralize that?!) go, it doesn't get more personal than this!

Since that fateful scene was transmitted, the origins of the Valeyard have been vigorously debated. How does he exist? Is he an actual incarnation of the Doctor from the future? Does he not realize how ridiculous he looks in that skullcap?

There have been some complaints among fandom that the Valeyard just can't exist. That there's no logic to him. How can you create a being like that? It just doesn't make sense.

For the next few paragraphs, I'm going to try to disprove that. I'm going to show that there have been various allusions made about the nature of Time Lords throughout the Classic Series that show a basic idea of who the Valeyard might be. I'll even try to demonstrate that New Who has made a compensation or two for him.

Before we proceed any further, let's get the most important fact across first: the Valeyard is not a future incarnation of the Doctor. John Nathan-Turner, himself, wanted this to be emphasized. He is a seperate entity of his own that was somehow created from the Doctor in his far-flung future. He is a part of the Doctor, in some way. But he is not the actual Doctor. The Doctor won't become him, someday. This is why the offer of the Doctor's remaining lives is so appealing to the Valeyard. He's probably not even a proper Time Lord in his current form. So he's, more than likely, longing quite strongly for the ability to regenerate.

All right, that's out of the way. Let's try to examine what the Valeyard could be.



There's two stories from the Classic Series that, I think, point most strongly to his origins: Planet of Spiders and Logopolis. In these adventures, we see beings that I like to call the Shaydes of Time Lords. These are strange entities that seem to exist between incarnations and are individuals in their own right. We're not sure, exactly, how they're created and what their true natures are - but we've definitely seen examples of them.

Our first encounter with a Shayde, of course, is in the story Planet of Spiders. As we get to know K'anpo Ripoche, we learn that he is an old mentor of the Doctor's who used to live beyond the Citadel in the mountains of Gallifrey. Now posing as a monk on Earth, he reveals that Cho-je - the other monk he is working with - isn't quite who he seems, either. He is, in fact, the same Time Lord. K'anpo (or, perhaps, we should refer to him simply as the Mentor) describes Cho-je as a "projection of my future self."

(Yes, I could add another clip, here. But I hate when people make their blogs more about clips than they do about text. Our A.D.D. isn't that bad, folks. And, even if it is, we should learn to exercise some self-restraint.)

The Mentor's description of Cho-je are important words. He doesn't say: "He is my future self". This is not different incarnations crossing each others' time streams like we've seen in stories like The Five Doctors or Time Crash - this is something quite different. And this isn't just a point of dialogue - we see a visual re-inforcement of this idea when the K'anpo incarnation of the Mentor dies. Had this just been two incarnations in the same place, K'anpo should've just turned into Cho-je and there would have been two of them there, at once. A Present Day Cho-je and a Future Cho-je. But Cho-je disappears and K'anpo, then, turns into him. So, until the regeneration happens, the Cho-je we've been seeing walking around twirling that weird spinny thing by the door and quoting paradoxical proverbs to Sarah Jane Smith has had a special existence of his own. He comes from the Mentor but is not truly a future incarnation of him. He is something unique that the Mentor has, somehow, managed to project from himself.

The second Shayde that we see in Logopolis is a better visual representation of this idea. Unlike Cho-je, the Watcher does not resemble the Fifth Doctor in the slightest. So it's easier to see him as being an entity onto himself. A strange being who seems to be in an interim state between the two incarnations. It helps that his appearance, in general, almost looks cocoon-like. It makes him seem like the chrysalis stage of a future incarnation. But he is still his own man. He follows the Doctor around, waiting for the regeneration to happen. But he also seems to make individual choices. Such as going off to pick up Nyssa to bring her to the planet Logopolis to join the rest of the TARDIS crew.

Finally, as the moment of regeneration occurs, he steps forward and merges with the Fourth Doctor to produce the Fifth. We see a series of transitional images as Doctor Four shifts to the appearance of the Watcher. And then the Watcher gradually shifts to Doctor Five. Again, the visuals give an indication that the Watcher was a separate creature that existed between the two incarnations. Once the regeneration process starts, the Shayde returns to the host body and his existence ends. The next incarnation emerges in his wake.

How do these Shaydes exist, exactly? We can't be sure. We have a vague idea of how they can be created, though.

The Mentor is, quite obviously, a transcendentalist of sorts. He meditates quite deeply and quite frequently. Perhaps there is some sort of meditative process where a Time Lord can reach deep into his own subconsciousness and bring forward a Shayde. That a Shayde can be summoned through sheer, concentrated willpower. But only through an intensely well-disciplined mind.

The Fourth Doctor seemed to get very adept at going into self-induced trances (Terror of the Zygons, The Invisible Enemy, Nightmare of Eden are just a few stories that immediately spring to mind where he seems to induce a trance-like state almost instantly). He mentions to Sarah Jane that he's been learning some helpful meditation techniques from a budhist monk. Perhaps he spent a considerable time in meditation in untelevised moments and eventually learnt the same technique the Mentor used to create his Shayde. That scene in Logopolis where he is staring off distantly as he sits in the Cloisters could be him trying it. Adric interrupts him so he's not sure if he's completed the process properly. Perhaps that is why the Watcher looks the way he does. Instead of bearing the appearance of the next incarnation as the Mentor's Shayde did in Planet of Spiders. The Watcher only got to his cocoon-like image because the full mediation technique could not be employed.

It seems to me that the Valeyard is also a Shayde. When the Master says he is from "somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation" he's being completely literal about it. He is like the Watcher - a special being that can be summoned into existence between incarnations. He can probably only last for a very limited period of time before he must re-join the host body and induce the next regeneration.  According to what we've seen onscreen, at least, this seems the most sensible explanation.

It also gets the ending of Trial of a Time Lord to make more sense. A Shayde must re-join its host body. But, in desperate situations, any Time Lord body will do. So, as the Valeyard is caught in the Matrix after the Doctor induces the Ray Phase Shift, the Keeper of the Matrix comes along and finds him there (there is a visual cue in an earlier scene that shows the Keeper exiting the courtroom - presumably to go into the Matrix and effect repairs). Rather than return to the Doctor, the Valeyard hijacks the Keeper's form and assumes his identity. This also induces a regeneration, of course. This is why no one seems to care that the Keeper resembles the Valeyard in that last scene of Trial. Time Lords rely more on telepathic recognition than visual. So, to all intents and purposes, that is the Keeper standing in the courtroom giving a sinister laugh. At least, in the minds of the Time Lords, it is. We know differently, of course.


There is one more story from the Classic Series that helps to support the idea of the Valeyard. At the end of Episode Three of The Three Doctors, Omega becomes so enraged with Doctors Two and Three that he forces the third incarnation to face "the dark side of his mind". A strange, surreal encounter ensues with a weird creature that vaguely resembles an Alzarian Marshman fighting Terry Walsh in his Jon Pertwee wig in a dark studio.

Given that Omega has complete control over reality in this story - a sequence like this isn't too bizarre.  If he wants a dark studio with a fleshy-headed mutant to represent his dark side he can wish that up into existence in a second. But what if this sequence is indicative of a how a Time Lord's personality works?

Here you have these beings that live for extended periods of time under what seems to be extremely self-repressive conditions (listen to that graphic description that the Doctor gives of Time Lords in The Doctor's Daughter). Surely, centuries upon centuries of burying their most evil impulses can build up some legitimate psychic momentum. Admittedly, the psyche of a Time Lord sounds like a serious case of shizoid disassociation. To live for that long under such a condition - that dark side that they never let out has to become a legitimate force to be reckoned with.

Omega, existing in a Singularity Point that he controls, was able to manifest his dark side physically for a moment and use it to beat the pulp out of the Third Doctor. But what if this is just one of many ways to draw out a Time Lord's evil alter-ego? Surely, the High Council would know any other methods that might exist to accomplish such a task.

And that weird being that Omega created seemed pretty unbeatable. Which indicates that the dark side of a Time Lord's mind is definitely a powerful thing. Could it be so powerful that, under the right circumstances, it can manifest itself as a legitimate physical being? 


By looking into Classic Series lore, I get the impression that the Valeyard is a hybrid of sorts. He is a Shayde extracted from between the 12th and 13th incarnation of the Doctor. He was pulled from that final regeneration and brought back into the past (a major violation of Gallifreyan Mean Time, when you think about it. This High Council really was corrupt!). Once they had the Shayde, the Time Lords were able to access the Doctor's Dark Side and infuse the Shayde with it.

And thus, the Valeyard was born.

Okay, this all the Classic Who evidence that supports the probability of the Valeyard. There's some nice stuff in the New Series that helps continue this idea and also creates some new theories we have yet to explore. But this essay has rambled on long enough. Since Moffat is giving us a bunch of two-parters in Series 9, I thought I would do the same. Stay tuned for a second installment of WHO IS THE VALEYARD? - NEW SERIES STUFF...

I'm sure you're all bristling with anticipation.


  1. I thought the issue people had with the Valeyard isn't "how can he be?" so much as "what the hell is his actual plan?" His goal seems to be to prevent his own existence by taking away all subsequent Doctors, such that he'll never be willed into being in the first place.

  2. From what I've been reading, everyone seems to be speculating on how the Valeyard was created. Ever since Amy's Choice, I seem to see online articles cropping up all over the place about this subject. None seem to really draw from things we've seen in the Classic Series. They just want to say it's the Dream Lord or Meta Crisis Doctor. Which I'll discuss a bit in the second part....

  3. A very interesting and fascinating look at The Valeyard. I look forward to your NEXT post and what we will be discussing.

  4. Very well written and argued. Ive wondered for some time if the Valeyard has nothing to do with the Doctor but that his claim to be a dark version of The Doctor was a ploy by the Master to manipulate the doctor and scare him

    1. Anything's possible, I suppose. The fact that the show never really gives us much information about his origins means any kind of theory is highly applicable.


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