Could ‘Dr. Who’ Meet The Doctor?
Guest contributor Francis Milan examines.
“Hang on, what are you talking about? Who’s that devilishly handsome old chap in the spectacles?”
That, my friends, is the eponymous Dr. Who, from the mid-1960s spin-off film franchise that brought us two wonderful canon-disasters: Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.. Those of you who are relatively new to the show may not recognise him, but back when Doctor Who was fairly fresh on our screens and Dalekmania was sweeping the nation, film-makers Amicus Productions adapted two major Dalek stories from the TV series into vividly colourful cinematic extravaganzas. However, there were a few major alterations. Our protagonist was human scientist [supposedly, but we'll assume he was human for the purpose of this article] Dr. Who, a man who resided in London with his two granddaughters Barbara and Susan. Other characters included Barbara’s hapless boyfriend Ian, Dr. Who’s Barbara-esque niece Louise, and action-man policeman Tom (played by none other that Series 4’s Bernard Cribbins).
Some may agree with me when I say these two films are probably among least canonical things ever to come out of the show – but many have attempted to refute that. Across my time in the Whovian fandom, I’ve encountered many possible in-universe explanations suggesting that the Doctor and Dr. Who can exist alongside each other, and could, in theory, meet. Here are three of the best.
Pete[r Cushing]‘s World
In a recent issue of DWM, I came across a tweet submitted to the letters page suggesting that Dr. Who was, in fact, an aged Meta-Crisis Tenth Doctor post-Journey’s End. It would explain his human anatomy, yet very Doctor-ish traits. In order to adapt to modern-day Earth life, MetaDoc decides he must construct a human identity for himself, opting for the alias ‘Dr. Who’ as a fun play on words regarding a question he had often been asked in his previous adventures. In one of Journey’s End deleted scene, the Doctor supplies MetaDoc with the means to grow his own TARDIS – so, in a sense, Dr. Who did make the time machine himself. Furthermore, he has Torchwood at hand to supply him with any other necessary components for time travel, while Rose will probably be the grandmother of Barbara, Louise and Susan.
It’s not a long stretch to imagine that the inhabitants of Pete’s World have never encountered Daleks. Because with presumably no Doctor-equivalent existing there to defend any attacks, the Daleks would have torn the planet to pieces on numerous occasions – which they evidently haven’t. Therefore, when Dr. Who arrives on Skaro in the far future, none of his party recognise the metal menaces. “Ah-ah-ah,” you say. “Stop right there. Surely MetaDoc, Rose, Pete and Jackie raise their children on stories of Daleks, considering the events of Journey’s End.” Well, I’m stumped there. Maybe they just… didn’t? They just wanted to move on with their domestic Pete’s World lives? (If anyone has a better idea, do have a go in the comments.) As stated by Mickey in Rise of the Cybermen, Pete’s World is exactly the same as the Doctor’s but a little bit different, which would explain the slight tweaks in both Dalek plots – such as the Dalek designs (colourful and with blasters that shoot gas) and the dates (the Earth invasion took place in 2150 A.D. instead of sometime after 2164).
This is the common theory that very nearly made it into the show. Following Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright’s (the TV versions) return to 20th Century Earth in 1965’s The Chase, they slotted back into normal life, probably hatching a cunning excuse for their sudden disappearance two years previously. However, they’d been given the sack from their teaching jobs at Coal Hill for being so unreliable. In order to attain an income, they pitch their TARDIS experiences to filmmakers Amicus Productions, who theatricalise them with tweaks which make the Doctor and Co more accessible for cinema audiences. The duo later regretted selling the film rights, and withdrew them before a third film could be made. (In reality, there were plans to remake The Chase for the third movie, but Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. was a bit of a box office flop, so it never got past planning stages.) Following this, UNIT did their best to withdraw every copy of the film, as they could prove dangerous.
Recently revealed in an issue of DWM, Steven Moffat intended to feature the posters of both Dr. Who movies in the Black Archive. In The Day of the Doctor, Kate Stewart would have briefly walked past them while saying the line:
“We can’t let information about the Doctor and the TARDIS fall into the wrong hands – the consequences could be disastrous…”
Sadly, even with the size of the 50th anniversary’s budget, the BBC couldn’t afford the rights to feature the posters. To think, we were only a single copyright infringement away from this theory being the truth…
Picture this: A future incarnation of the Doctor, in an attempt to evade an alien race with a particularly powerful sense of smell, uses the Chameleon Arch to make himself human and decides to lay low for a while in 1960s London. (A scenario similar to that in Human Nature). Here, he suffers from severe amnesia and leads himself to believe that he was the one who invented the time machine he woke up inside. With a subliminal recollection of past lives he decides to name it Tardis, for no other reason than it sounding good in his head. He dreams of a life as an alien Time Lord, and after building up a family, he names his children after companions he dreamt of once having. His grandchildren, in turn, are named after two companions: Susan and Barbara.
Cushing’s incarnation is hundreds of regenerations away from Capaldi’s. and as he and the TARDIS have grown old together, the machine has taken on a few adaptations and enhancements. Now it has the ability to travel between universes, as explained by Dr. Who in Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.:
“It is capable of taking us to any age, on any planet, in any universe…”
Therefore, the Daleks he encounters are from a different universe, while his London home isn’t necessarily. It explains the fact that the Daleks and Dr. Who don’t recognise each other, and the Dalek plots have slight tweaks.
So, there you have it: three theories proving that it is entirely possible that the two heroes co-exist alongside each other, and could potentially meet. However, feel free to disprove them in the comments section; I’d love to hear everyone else’s theories and retcons. It’s one of the things we Whovians do best!
But before I go, there’s something else I want to say. Maybe – just, maybe – Peter Cushing is the Doctor Who. And the entire television series we know and love is the dream of a batty old scientist who dreams of a million lifetimes to venture the stars…