Monday, 14 March 2016


Happy Anniversary Pretentious Doctor Who Essays! To celebrate, I'm offering something that does not fit into any of my specific categories of study. I'm actually just going to share a bit of myself with you. 

A few years back, my friend Jeff Peeling (who knows his Doctor Who almost as well as I do) was putting together a fanzine. Knowing that I'm a bit of a writer, he asked if I'd be willing to put together a column that would introduce the show's format to someone who had never watched a single second of it. I hummed and hawed and tried to wrangle a better artist fee out of him. But, eventually, I came up with this: my own personal journey of how I discovered the show. 

I've made a few tweaks to the piece since I first submitted it to Jeff. I've mainly just updated a few factoids that I put down (ie: number of years that had past since the show first premiered). But it's, more or less, as it first appeared when I wrote it half-a-dozen years ago. And it definitely accurately encapsulates what my first experiences with Doctor Who were like...

                                EPISODE ONE:   DISCOVERING THE DOCTOR

"Write an article that explains Doctor Who to someone who's never seen the show before." the editor asks me. Sounds simple, right?  

But how do you really explain a show that is about to celebrate its 53rd anniversary? That has produced over 30 seasons and 250 stories? A show so old that a good chunk of its earlier episodes have actually been lost?    
I suppose I could start back at the show's humble origins and talk about that rainy Saturday afternoon in November way back in 1963. And mention how no one really watched the first episode because JFK had been shot the previous day and they had to re-broadcast it again a week later.   
Or I could talk about the show's "heyday" during the 70s. How it became a British institution. An icon in British culture that became as identifiable as hot dogs and baseball is in the United States (or, alternatively, hockey and beer in Canada!).  
Or I could talk about the great "Doctor Who comeback story" in 2005. How, after being cancelled for over 15 years (with just the briefest respite in 1996), it exploded back on our screens and created a whole new sensation in the UK and is making a huge splash, once more, in fan culture. To the point where it is now one of the most popular shows in the world.    
I could talk about all that (and, in many ways, I just did) but it still wouldn't seem like the right approach to explaining the show. Because none of these stories properly explains my own fascination with this series. None of it justifies the tens of thousands of dollars I have put into DVDs, novels, videotapes, magazines and other fan memorabilia. Or the endless hours I have spent on Doctor Who discussion forums (where I actually first met our illustrious editor) debating ridiculous points of continuity regarding the show's long and complicated history.  Or how there comes that magic moment with every woman I date where I must explain this "quirky habit of mine" to them and hope they don't think I'm so nerdy they will never date me again!
No analytical and/or historical dissertation of the show's format could justify the passion that pumps in my veins for this silly little "sci-fi show that could". So, I'll take the personal route, instead:  
I'll talk about how I discovered Doctor Who.

Our story begins in the Spring of '82. I was a boy just entering into adolescence. Growing up in a small Canadian town called Windsor that borders on the much bigger American city of Detroit. With a Dad who had a high-demand skill in the construction industry, it meant that enough income was rolling into our household to afford us all the great 80s luxuries. Ours' was the first house on the block to get a microwave and a VCR. More importantly, we also got the really cool stuff like Atari game systems and Commodore 64 computers!   
Life, overall, was pretty good for this cerebral-yet-artistically-bent 12-year-old. But there was still just one problem in his life:  
Young Rob Tymec was looking for a hero.  
Well, he had a few heroes already, of course. They were the usual suspects, though. His hard-working father. A cool uncle. A teacher who had really encouraged him with his writing. I'd even become a pretty big "Rush-nerd", by this point. And being a fan of this Canadian rock band really did mean you had a group of legitimate heroes to admire.    Because they weren't just musicians that had it made it big. They were  a band with some real principles and ideals that you could genuinely respect.   
But that still wasn't quite enough heroism for me. I needed a hero who was a bit more fantastical. Someone from the world of fiction. All my other heroes had their flaws. But someone who wasn't real was the perfect person to well and truly idealize. Heroes from fiction always seem to say and do all the right things.  And while I was firmly grounded with all my other heroes in life, I still needed just a touch of "unrealistic expectations" to round out my personality.   
I started by investigating the great literary figures that appeal to a young boy. Sherlock Holmes and Tarzan and all the rest. I liked them - but they just weren't quite "cutting it" for me. I'd also checked into pop-culture: Luke Skywalker and Captain Kirk were real cool cats, don't get me wrong.  But there wasn't quite enough there for me to really sink my teeth into.  Oddly enough, all the great comic book heroes weren't really my cup of tea, either. Which is usually where a geeky adolescent boy searching for a hero ends up resolving his quest.   
What I needed was someone who could give me what all that these different genres offered - and still something more. Someone who had the romantic and cultural background of Holmes, the daring-do of Skywalker and the raw power of Superman all rolled into one.   
And I finally first discovered that combination one Thursday afternoon as I was channel surfing.  


Of course, channel surfing back in the 80s was a lot different from what it is now. There were, maybe, only 20 channels to choose from and the TV I was surfing on didn't even have a remote! But I was still doing the equivalent of what we do now with 900 channels and a remote so big you almost need an armored exo-skeleton to lift it off the coffee table! Something managed to catch my eye as I moved up into the higher UHF range - where one found some of the weird local stations from Detroit that broadcasted the most mixed bag of programming one could imagine.   
My attention was suddenly grabbed by a group of little green men. 
I mean that quite literally. Channel 62 was showing some weird British show that had a group of men whose skin was totally green. Even their hair was green. They appeared to be savages of some sort as they wore animal skins (also green) and carried spears. They had gathered in this room to put these three "non-green" characters on a weird torture wrack.    One of their torture victims was a man with big "Chewbacca-like" bandoliers strapped across his chest. The second was a pretty woman. The third was this strange man with very curly hair and a ridiculously-long scarf.  I could tell, right away, that this third character was the show's lead. Even if he hadn't been speaking the bulk of the dialogue, you could see - just by the way he carried himself - that he was the main character.     The hero of the story.   
Intrigued and, at the same time, a bit amused (I could tell, very quickly, that the show suffered from a very low budget) I continued watching. The strange green natives left our three protagonists to die on the torture wrack. A short while later, our curly-haired hero finds a very clever way to escape their predicament and the three of them race out onto some swampland to confront a rather badly-superimposed giant squid. And then, at the very best part, the show ends. A cliffhanger!  
"How interesting," I thought to myself, "I wonder what will happen next."  
As I would later find out, I was watching the third episode of the Doctor Who story entitled Power Of Kroll.  But learning that information was a long way down the road for me. I wasn't even a hundred percent sure if I liked what I had just seen. After all, a lot of it did look outrageously cheap. So, even though I was wondering how the man with the crazy afro and scarf and the pretty woman were going to escape the giant puppet squid - I didn't bother to tune in the next day.   


I did, however, bother to tune in a week or two later. I was still curious about this strange show whose ending credits seemed like a trip down a surreal birth canal. So, when I found myself sitting around at home really bored on a Monday afternoon - I decided to tune in again and give this show another try.   
This time, I watched it from the beginning. I saw that it was called Doctor Who and that each story had its own title and an episode number of some sort. I found this level of organisation for a TV show interesting and watched intently.   
I discovered that Afro-Guy (who was referred to only as "the Doctor" - not "Doctor Who" as the show's title implies) also had this robot dog. But that the dog had broken down and he was trying to fix it in what appeared to be a big white spaceship. His female assistant was also doing something really weird. She was somehow able to change her appearance.     She was actually trying on new bodies until she found one that the both of them liked. But as bizarre as all that was, something even stranger happened a minute or two later. They stepped out of the big white spaceship and onto a location scene. And, although the inside of the ship was quite large, the outside of it was this small blue box that looked a bit like a phone booth. Now that, as far as I was concerned, was really screwed up. But also intensely cool.  What was up with this crazy ship of his?!   I very obviously needed to learn more about how this show worked...      
I was watching the first episode of a story called Destiny of the Daleks. Which was a good thing - because as I reached the end of Episode One I got to sample just a hint of the Doctor's greatest foes: those evil menacing salt-shaker-shaped Daleks.  And - just as the show affected British TV audiences way back in 1963 - I, too, became hooked. The menace these horrible robotic-seeming creatures inspired left me thoroughly engaged. For the rest of the week, I made plans to be at home for Doctor Who.  And it was well worth the social sacrifice.
As we reached the end of Episode Four I found myself very caught up in the climax of the story.  There had been this great plot revelation that these strange "Stevie Wonder aliens" (as I preferred to call them, at the time) that were figuring prominently in the story were the mortal enemies of the Daleks.  And that the Daleks had unearthed their original creator, Davros, to win the war against them. Davros was, essentially, a guy in a bad latex mask who pushed himself around in what appeared to be a futuristic-looking baby stroller. But as bad as some of these effects were, I was still captivated by everything that was going on.   
But I think the way the story resolved was what truly won me over as a fan. At the climax of the tale, the Doctor confronts Davros in his lair. Now, in all the other sci-fi I had watched up to this point in my young life, this meant it was time for a fight scene. Probably not between the Doctor and Davros, themselves', since Davros appeared to be crippled. But there might be some sort of shoot-out with the Doctor and one of these nasty Dalek monsters. Sure enough, a Dalek coasts out from the shadows at just the right moment to stop the Doctor from foiling Davros' plans.  
"All right," I think to myself, "now this Doctor guy's gonna find a gun in the room and take this nasty Dalek out once and for all!"
Even at Twelve, I knew how the format worked. It was time for the gunfight at the OK Corral (I would learn later on, of course, that the Doctor had been part of that event, too!). I was slightly dreading the moment because other fight sequences on the show had not been that well-executed. But still, I figured the whole drama of the moment might get me to look past the shoddy visuals.  

And that's when something totally unexpected happened. The Doctor didn't find a gun to fight the Dalek with. In fact, he just started playing with his hat. Which struck me as rather odd. This was no time to be fiddling with your hat! Damn it, Doc, find that convenient weapon and shoot that Dalek down. Time's-a-wasting! But still, he just kept chatting with Davros and hat-fondling.    
And then, suddenly, something really cool happened. Cooler than the weird robot dog I had caught a glimpse of. Cooler than the spaceship whose inside was bigger than the outside.    Even cooler than the "Exterminate!" warcry of the evil Daleks. The Doctor took that hat he was so pre-occupied with and threw it over the eyestalk of the Dalek that was holding him prisoner. Thus rendering it temporarily blind. And in that moment of distraction - he finds a way to destroy the Dalek and stop Davros' sinister scheme.       
Why was this so incredibly cool to me? Because the show had done something that was totally against the established format of sci-fi adventure. The Doctor didn't find a phaser or whip out a lightsaber or anything bog-standard-yet-pleasingly-violent like that. Instead, he'd come up with a clever and creative improvisation to save the day. Essentially, he'd chosen brains over brawn. But had done it all with great style and panache.  
And in that very moment, I knew I'd found my new hero.  
This was the type of man-of-action that I could get behind. Sure, there had been other mad-scientist-type heroic characters that I'd encountered in other sci-fi stories - but they had seemed largely useless. They would berate the action hero for his brashness, but they still had to admit that if he hadn't thumped the nasty alien when he had, everything would have come to ruin. But the Doctor not only chose to rely on his wits and intelligence more than his fighting skills - he actually found useful ways of employing that ideology. And he did it all with such charming eccentricity that you couldn't help but love the guy. To this day, I still smile as the Dalek he blinded in Destiny of the Daleks explodes and all the Doctor can do is respond with a horrified:  "My hat!".        

Fantastic stuff!   
Now, I could still spend a few paragraphs explaining all these weird questions those first few episodes had raised in me as I watched them. And, in so doing, I could teach you all about the complex and mysterious legends surrounding the Doctor's origins. But that's for another article, perhaps. All you really need to know about Doctor Who has just been accounted for in what I've just written.
But, just in case you didn't quite get it all, let me summarise:        
Basically, the Doctor will always stand up against evil. But he will do his best to do so without sinking to Evil's own level. He will fight with creativity and brilliance rather than fists and weapons. And he will get the job done with a very definite sense of style. Anything else beyond these basic facts, to be quite honest, is largely irrelevant.       
Why is Doctor Who so great?  Because the show embodies the truest sense of heroism.    And that idea rings as true for this man in his mid Forties as it did for that boy of Twelve.    

Did we enjoy this little personal diversion? If so, I have written a few more installments. Perhaps, on some other special occasion, I'll post another episode. 

Let me know what you think in the comments section. If you'd rather not hear anymore about my sad life as a nerdy teenager, I can stick to the pretentious essays.   



Wednesday, 9 March 2016


And so, we embark on the second installment of: "What is up with the Doctor's age?!". We looked at the issue of Age Gaps in the Classic Series, first. We sorted out where the Doctor may have gained a few centuries here and there as he went from 450 to almost a 1000. Now we're going to tackle some discrepancies regarding his age in the New Series.  


Before we get to that Big Question, let's look at some other age gaps that occur in the New Series. Some of it's pretty straightforward, of course. Particularly in the 11th Doctor's Era. But there are a few other spots that bear closer scrutiny...


It's likely that another significant age gap occurs between Survival and The 96 Telemovie. The Doctor's age isn't explicitly stated but there is a 900-year-old diary in the TARDIS (his previous diary only spanned 500 years). Doctor Seven also looks a bit older and there's been a few radical changes to his costume. We saw something similar happen between Seasons 17 and 18 so this leads me to believe that several decades have probably passed between Ace and Seven parting ways and the Doctor going to Skaro to collect the Master's remains. By the time we witness the opening scene in the Mega Jules Vernes Console Room, the Doctor is probably a little past 1000 years old.

Just to create a bit of context for that even bigger age issue, I'm going to say this is roughly where the Big Lie starts happening. Remember this for later...

Of course, as the New Series starts, the Doctor appears to be freshly regenerated into his ninth body. He's claiming to only be 900. To all intents and purposes, he only appears to live for a year before he regenerates again. Doctor Ten also seems to have a pretty short lifespan. The "each season represents a year" rule seems to be still in effect. Until we get to the Specials of 2009 where it appears as though he traveled alone in his "10b body" for 2 or 3 years and then regenerates at the age of 906.

And then we reach Eleven. Mister Moffat is nice enough to give us an incarnation with a longer lifespan and some fairly obvious age gaps. The first one we'll look at is prominently displayed in The Impossible Astronaut where he invites himself to his own death. We see a gap of 909 to 1103. Almost 200 years there (even double-checked my math on that one!). We should point out that the age gap, technically, happens between God Complex and Closing Time. After dropping off Rory and Amy, he travels by himself for a bit before finally facing his fate in The Wedding of River Song.

Of course, we should also factor in another really minor gap. He states his age as 906 in The End of Time - Part 2 but claims to be 909 by Impossible Astronaut. That's only a season that's passed but he's gained three years. So let's assume he took Rory and Amy for a nice honeymoon spin during A Christmas Carol but then brought them back home shortly thereafter. He still stops in intermittently between the 2010 Christmas Special and the beginning of Series 6 (which seems to be the general indication the first time we see Amy and Rory as the season opens). When he does pop in, he only takes the Ponds travelling for short periods of time. He is bringing them back to their normal lives after only a month or two in the TARDIS. In between his visits to Rory and Amy, he travels by himself for quite a while. Cumulatively, that travelling alone adds up to nearly 3 years.

The next super-obvious Age Gap is in Time of the Doctor where he puts on a good 700 years at the bare minimum. Possibly more. Throughout the course of the story, he does a similar trick to Clara that he did to Rose in Bad Wolf. Like Rose, Clara keeps finding her way back to him. But each time she returns, he's put on a few more centuries. 

But just before that giant easy-to-spot age gap there is, once more, a less noticeable one. When River "assassinates" him - he claims to be 1103. When the War Doctor confronts him in Day of the Doctor, he says he's "Twelve Hundred and something...". So, another century and some change has passed sometime between those adventures.

I would suggest that the dynamic we saw at the beginning of Series 6 happens again through the first half of Series 7. The Doctor takes Rory and Amy travelling with him for a few months, then travels on his own for a while. Then picks them back up again for some time - then travels by himself again. So, in between Asylum of the Daleks, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, A Town Called Mercy, Power of Three and Angels Take Manhatten the Doctor puts on a bunch of years travelling without companions.  

Since Doctor Twelve took over, there seems to be no indication of age gaps. It's difficult to tell since he's not really stating a specific number of years that he's at. He's just been saying that he's 2 000 years old. 

Okay, New Series age gaps sorted out. Let's finally address the proverbial Elephant on the Table. 

Fandom went through a fair amount of shock when Doctor Nine claims to be only 900 years old in Aliens of London. It made no sense to me, of course. I remembered the Doctor saying he was 953 in Time and the Rani. By my reckoning, the Ninth Doctor should be much older. Even if the Eighth Doctor was a "shorter" incarnation (which is entirely possible since, at that time, we believed he was the one who fought in the Time Wars), Doctor Nine should still be somewhere around 1020. 
Of course, things get even more confusing as we witness the glorious 50th anniversary celebration and the War Doctor claims he's about 400 years younger than the Eleventh. This would put him in his 800s.  How did he revert to the age he was during his fifth incarnation?
There are two principal schools of thought surrounding this controversy. The first is that the Doctor has either become confused about his age or is flat-out lying (or a combination of the two). This certainly seems feasible. Particularly the idea that he loses count, sometimes. The fight between the Doctor and Romana in Ribos Operation supports this. But the fact that the Doctor is taking on young-looking bodies more and more frequently as he gets older might also indicate some vanity is at play, too. Still, it can be a bit of a stretch. Losing three years like he did in Ribos is believeable. Could he really forget about a century or so? Or can he really be that vain?
The second popular theory is that the Time Wars, somehow, messed up his personal timeline and he's actually lost a part of his life. Some believe that, since the Time Wars, Gallifrey has been retro-actively removed from the Universe. Which means all the years that the Doctor lived on Gallifrey during his youth no longer exist. Depending on when you think the Doctor left his home planet, this would account for two to four centuries of his life. Perhaps the Eighth and War Doctors both lived for a few centuries, each. So, by the end of the Time Wars, he's around 1100 to 1300 years old. But then, he loses the years he spent growing up on Gallifrey and this bumps him back to 900. Of course, this theory becomes a bit more tenuous now that we've learnt that Gallifrey wasn't truly destroyed during the war. But it's still feasible.  Perhaps a weapon was used on the Doctor that erased his personal timeline. So Gallifrey still exists - but his time spent on it was, technically, removed from his life. This seems just as likely as him fibbing or forgetting about his age. 


Okay, those are your two principal schools of thought on the matter. Where do I sit? Well, as usual, I've created a hybrid of the two.

The line of dialogue that I love to jump on is in The Empty Child: "900 years of travel in a phone box!", the Doctor grumbles after Rose goes missing, "You think I'd finally pick someone who listens!" (or words to that effect) He doesn't say he's 900 years old, that time. But rather, he states he's been travelling 900 years. We should also note that he's alone when he's admitting it.

So, here's what I'm thinking happened:  

We're in the Wilderness Years. The Seventh Doctor is travelling around after Survival. Ace is gone. Maybe he's had another companion or two. But he's alone, now. His thousandth birthday is nearly upon him. This might be the Time Lord equivalent of turning 40. It's really eating away at the Doctor. He's sure people will think he's ancient if he admits his true age. 

So the Doctor makes a decision. From hereon in, he's not going to count the time he spent on Gallifrey as part of his age. Just the time he spent travelling in the TARDIS. That will shave off a few centuries and let him feel young again for a while.

So, how long did the Doctor live on Gallifrey before he flew off on his adventures? Romana makes a claim in Ribos Operation but I say she was wrong and the Doctor just couldn't be bothered to correct her (there were far more pressing things to argue about, at the time). Judging by how the Doctor looks in the flashback sequence in Name of the Doctor and how he and Susan seem to be acting, in general, during Season 1, I'd say he was around 440 when he left Gallifrey. It seems to me that he was only travelling for a handful of years before he ran into Ian and Barbara. So, let's say he was about 445 when Unearthly Child begins. This way, his claim to be about 450 when Season 5 begins lines up fairly well.

As Doctor Seven is travelling alone between Survival and The 96 Telemovie, he cuts out 440 years of his life. Suddenly, he's 560 again. That's what he keeps telling everyone, at least, whenever he sites his age. When we finally reach Rose, the Doctor is saying he's 900. It's a lie, of course. But no one would know it. He's been maintaining this illusion for a good 340 years, now.

Within four or five years after he starts perpetuating the lie about his age, the Doctor goes through another regeneration. We see some more of his vanity kicking in. Doctor Eight is quite young and handsome. And more-than-happy to claim that he's only about 565 years old. I'd estimate that his eighth incarnation lasts a good 35 years or so before he makes the fateful decision on Karn to become the Doctor of War.

We see from the reflection on the wall at the end of Night of the Doctor, that this new incarnation is pretty young-looking, too. As we reach Day of the Doctor, he's looking a fair amount older. That's why I want to give this particular incarnation a good 300 years of existence (those Time Wars waged on for quite some time - they may have even had a special timestream of their own). From what we've seen of Time of the Doctor, 300 years still shouldn't be quite enough to look so much older but I'm going to say that the stress of constantly being in battle sped up his aging process.

So, now, as Doctor Eleven states he's "Twelve Hundred and something" - the War Doctor assumes it's the upper 1200s and the age difference of 400 years makes sense. He's probably around 895 or more, at that point. He regenerates at the end of the 50th anniversary tale and may even decide to just round things up to 900 as he steps into his ninth body. 1000 doesn't seem so scary anymore and he can deal with it. Just to help compensate a bit, his next few bodies after his ninth are nice and young-looking, again.

By his twelfth incarnation, the Doctor has grown comfortable with being old. So he regenerates into an older form again and has no problem admitting that he's 2000. But, in truth, he's actually closer to 2400. But it's been so long that he's been denying those three-hundred-and-some-change extra years that he doesn't even remember that he's lying about his age, anymore.

It would be awesome, of course, if we got a snippet of dialogue at some point in a future episode where the Doctor finally admits to his lie and starts putting himself at around 2400 when he states his age.

A fanboy can dream....


All right, everything regarding the discrepancies of the Doctor's aging process appears to be covered. Both in Classic and New Series.

But wait! There is one last issue we should probably talk about:

In the frankly phenomenal Heaven Sent, we learn that the Doctor spent about 4.5 billion years trapped in his confession dial. Re-setting his life over and over through a teleporter until he could smash his way through a harder-than-diamond wall and escape. It was a beautiful and awe-inspiring story. But does this mean that the Doctor is over four-and-a-half billion years old, now?

Moff was nice enough to address this in his column in a recent issue of Doctor Who Magazine. I'm in agreement with how he sees it.

Basically, because the Doctor is constantly re-setting his life with the teleporter, he's only truly aged the amount of time he's spent in the confession dial since the last time he re-set himself and the moment he smashes his way through the wall and escapes onto Gallifrey. That very last cycle he spends is the only real aging he's actually done. Yes, he's lived that cycle over and over for several billion years but, because he's being reborn each time, the last cycle is the only one that really counts.

According to Moff, that last cycle was only a matter of weeks. Or, a few months, at best. So the Doctor is still only at 2000 or so when he emerges from the confession dial onto the surface of Gallifrey. Not 4.5 billion years.

Okay, I think that's all, now. Any problem regarding the Doctor's aging process seems to have been addressed. No doubt, when some new episodes get made, more issues will present themselves'. Which is good. It'll give me new material to write.

Missed Part One? Here it is:

Tuesday, 1 March 2016


Okay, this is a big one. Possibly one of the biggest continuity glitches in the whole history of the show. Proper dating of UNIT stories is about the only thing that comes close to the magnitude of this problem. 


Let's start with the backstory:


The first time the Doctor ever reveals his age is in the story Tomb of the Cybermen. He claims, much to the dismay of Jamie and Victoria, that he's somewhere around 450 years old.

The next time we get a solid admission of age is from the Fourth Doctor. Now he's putting himself at around 750. At one point, there are some slight discrepancies that Romana actually calls him out on, but we'll say he's somewhere around that age.

There is some nonsense about the Third Doctor being several thousand years old - disregard it. He's speaking figuratively. He claims to have several thousand years' worth of experience - which could easily be taken as the span of years that he's traveled through time (ie: he's gone back to the caveman era and gone so far forward in time that he's seen the Earth perish - that's thousands of years). At least, that's how I take it.

The Sixth Doctor says he's a Nine-Hundred-year old Time Lord when he's visiting the planet of Necros and re-states that in Trial of a Time Lord. He's pretty vague about it so we don't know if he means he's precisely 900 or just somewhere around that mark.

The very last time the Doctor mentions his age in the Classic Series is fresh after his sixth regeneration in Time and the Rani. He claims to be 953. You can't get more precise than that.

Things start getting wonky, now. During Day of the Doctor, we meet the War Doctor who asks the Eleventh Doctor how old he is. Doctor Eleven says he's "Twelve Hundred and Something." The War Doctor states that his eleventh incarnation is four hundred years older than him. So ... wait .... that puts the War Doctor at about 800 and something. The War Doctor is two incarnations after the Seventh. How did that happen?

It gets worse as we run into Doctor Nine, of course. He's claiming in Aliens of London that he's only 900 years old. Doctor Ten puts himself at 903 during his big speech in Voyage of the Damned and says he's 906 just before he regenerates into his eleventh form (well, technically, it's his thirteenth - but let's not go there!).

Thus far, Doctor Eleven appears to be the longest-living incarnation. The two different versions of him that we see in Impossible Astronaut show a difference of nearly two centuries. He's 909 when he receives the invitation from himself. And then 1103 when River "kills" him. As previously stated, he's twelve hundred and a bit by Day of the Doctor. Then we finally get to Trenzalore - a planet he probably defended for a good 800 years or so. This is validated when Doctor Twelve (who is really the fourteenth Incarnation - but, really, we must stop going here!) is claiming in Deep Breath to be over 2 000 years old.


Before we try to solve this conundrum of the Doctor, somehow, aging backwards - there's another issue we need to look at. Doctor Who, the TV Series, is over 50 years old. Which is a wonderful thing, of course. But within the span of those 50 years, we've seen the Doctor age a good 1500 years or so. Most fans seem to see a season of the show as representing about a year of the Doctor's life. With that logic, however, that would mean that the show should be 1500 years old.

Obviously, there are periods of the show where we aren't witnessing the Doctor's adventures and a score of years pass. Age Gaps - as I like to call them. These Age Gaps have to happen during times when the Doctor isn't travelling with companions. A Time Lord's metabolism is obviously much slower than ours. So he can age a good fifty to a hundred years and barely show it. But if such times were to occur in a human's life, we would definitely see a change in their appearance. So times when the Doctor is travelling alone would constitute the best periods for age gaps. However, times when the Doctor is travelling with a non-human could also work well. Whether it's an alien or a robot companion. An alien that he's travelling with could also have a slower aging process. So a score of years might not show on them. And, provided a robot is well-maintained, we won't see the effects of passing time on them, either.

So, with that in mind, let's see if we can find age gaps to fit the timescale we've been seeing the Doctor move through.


The first big gap we need to fill is 450 to 750 between Doctors Two to Four. If you subscribe to the idea of Series 6b, then we can say that the Second Doctor spent a good century or so doing secret missions for the CIA before being re-captured and sentenced to a proper exile. A good chunk of that travelling was done alone. But then he eventually decides to pick up Jamie and Victoria shortly before he's finally caught, again, by the High Council (going and getting Jamie might have been what gets him detected - perhaps the Time Lords were keeping an eye on Jamie for a bit after returning him to his Time Zone to ensure that he'd settled back into things, properly). Still, several years do get spent with Jamie and Victoria before the Doctor is called to justice by his people. Which would account for why both the Doctor and Jamie look considerably older in The Two Doctors. So, let's say a good 150 years elapse between The War Games and Spearhead From Space.

The next workable age gap would be between The Green Death and The Time Warrior. The Doctor, saddened by the loss of Jo, purposely steers clear of Earth for a bit. He spends a good half-century on his own. Or maybe he does travel with a few more companions but we never see them. It may also be possible that he does take Jo and Cliff for a honeymoon trip to Karfel. Which would get the events of Timelash to make better sense. Nonetheless, it may seem to the Brigadier and UNIT that it's only been a matter of months since last they saw their Scientific Adviser but, by the Doctor's timeline, it's been about 50 years.

Which now means that when the Fourth Doctor ponderously contemplates his age in Pyramids of Mars, it all makes sense. A good two hundred years have passed since Tomb of the Cybermen and this moment.

The next big gap we need to cover is the 200 years that pass from Fourth Doctor to the Seventh. Based on the idea of the Doctor travelling alone or with alien companions, there are multiple opportunities where this could've happened right in the Tom Baker Era. There's that gap where the Doctor is alone between Deadly Assassin and Face of Evil. Then we have the fact that he is travelling with only K9 between Season 15 and 16 and Romana between Season 16 and 17. Yes, Romana regenerates into Princess Astra's form at the beginning of Season 17, but she may have just been suddenly reminded of how pretty she was after spending a decade or two away from Atrios. Destiny of the Daleks doesn't have to happen immediately after Armageddon Factor.

But the problem with all three of these gaps is the Doctor's age gets stated explicitly several times in and around these periods. In Seeds of Doom, the Doctor says he's 749 (oddly enough, he puts himself at 756 in Brain of Morbius, but as Romana said, herself, he's losing track). As the Doctor and Romana the First are sparring in Ribos Operation, Romana points out that he's now 759. By Power of Kroll, he's saying he's 760.  So a good decade seems to passed within the framework of the first two gaps that we've mentioned. Unfortunately, we still can't add a whole lot more years between Season 16 and 17. Romana and the Doctor both mention their ages quite frequently during the season that Douglas Adams script edited. And, although information about their age seems to get a bit garbled, we're still not seeing anything near the two centuries we're hoping for. At best, it's been a handful of years. Less than a decade.

Our next big oppurtunity happens between Seasons 17 and 18. Again, it's still just the Doctor and Romana so we can gain a century or so without seeing a huge difference in external appearance. Nonetheless, there are a lot of indicators that significant years have elapsed from Horns of Nimon to Leisure Hive. The Doctor seems a bit older and more subdued. There's been some radical changes to his outfit. Even the Universe, itself, seems to have become a bit "slicker". Let's definitely say that we've had a good century-or-so go by.

Except that one bit of dialogue in Leisure Hive seems to negate this. After being aged 500 years in Tachyon Generator, the Doctor claims he must be around 1250. Which would mean he was 750 when he went into the generator. This statement, however, already contradicts his stated age in several stories from the Key to Time season. If he gained 500 years, the Doctor should be saying he's 1260. So let's just say the Doctor's either getting really foggy about his age or really modest. Between losing count and feeling daunted by the fact that he's approaching 900, he's trying to keep his age around 750. In the same way that humans will say they're "29" way after they've passed it. Even by himself, the Doctor perpetuates this lie.

So, by the time he hits his fifth incarnation, our favorite Time Lord is probably in his late 800s. We've got a period between Time Flight and Arc of Infinity where he's only travelling with Nyssa. Another decade or so may have passed during that time. He's alone with Turlough between Resurrection of the Daleks and Planet of Fire so he might have gained another decade there, too. Trakenites and people from Trion probably have both gotten advanced enough to slow their aging process down and extend their lifespans. Yes, the Doctor and Turlough are talking about Tegan and the Daleks at the beginning of Planet of Fire but who's to say that it's a reference to Resurrection? Perhaps, after several years of travelling the Universe they've gone back to Earth to help weed out Dalek duplicates and have met Tegan along the way.

So as the Doctor complains about being a 900-year-old Time Lord feeling like a boy on scrumping spree in Revelation of the Daleks, we can find adequate age gaps during the adventures of Doctors Four and Five to compensate for this claim. Is Doctor Six exactly 900? Probably not. He's probably a bit past it - but not much. Which means we need one more age gap to get his claim to be 953 in Time and the Rani to fit. Which is not difficult. After Ultimate Foe but before he meets Mel (and, subsequently, experiences the events of Terror of the Vervoids), the Doctor has a few decades' worth of unseen adventures. Like the gap between Green Death and Time Warrior, there may have been some companions with him that we never saw. Or he may just be travelling alone.

Okay, aging discrepancies during the Classic Era have been resolved. But there's still that Biggie we need to deal with - how did the Doctor age in reverse between Classic and New Series? Part Two will look into that mystery. 

Stay Tuned....