The Curator: An Alternate Theory
Guest contributor Joseph Bonaldi offers an alternate theory on Tom Baker’s Curator.
Ever since the legendary Tom Baker walked on screen in The Day of the Doctor fans have been speculating as to who this person might be. Some argue that he is the Fourth Doctor and others that he is some future incarnation of the Doctor who chose to reuse an old, and popular, face. I, however, think there is another answer out there, that the Curator was not actually a version of the Doctor at all but rather his inspiration.
We’ll start by first looking at the other two possibilities first. The first possibility seems the most far-fetched. The obvious reason is that Tom Baker is noticeably older than his role in Who many years ago. While Time Crash worked to fix that with Five it doesn’t seem to work in this instance. The question begs itself, why it didn’t work on David Tennant? Clearly he was a bit older in Day than his reign as the Doctor before, but surely something like that wouldn’t have been ignored if they had an answer. So it doesn’t seem likely that this Curator is actually Four in disguise.
Then maybe he’s a future Doctor right? He does say something to the effect of: “In the coming years you may wish to revisit some old favorites.” Which can seem like an admission that he is a future incarnation but I’m not so sure. Every regeneration ends with the Doctor noticeably surprised by his new body. He’s never been able to control his regenerations before so are we expected to believe that in the future he suddenly learns how? The Night of the Doctor is largely about one singe instance where he has the opportunity to control what he becomes. Why would Moffat go to such effort to mark this as a special circumstance if he was just going to disregard that in the next episode?
No, what I think is more likely is that the Curator is his own separate character and Peter Capaldi has something to do with this. In an interview last year, Moffat explained that he and Russell T Davies had a theory as to why Capaldi already played multiple characters in the Whoniverse and yet is still set-up to play the next Doctor. My theory is this: What if the Doctor takes his face from someone he’s met? Maybe it’s subconscious maybe he just stores every person he’s ever met in his head and somehow the cells in his regeneration pick out who he’ll be next.
Regeneration seems random but when you think about it there are potentially infinite amounts of faces in the ever expanding universe of Who. No matter what face the Doctor picks since it’s not inherently “his,” maybe it belongs to someone else. So maybe while the Doctor is off saving the universe his body is picking out potential matches and storing them away, waiting for the day that it’ll need to pick out a new body. The quote, “In the coming years you may wish to revisit some old favorites” could work here too then. If his body does pick out his next face based on something they saw then surely that counts as calling them “his old favorites.”
So then maybe the Curator is just someone the Doctor met on his travels. It’s not impossible. It has already been established that we don’t see all of the Doctor’s adventures and he can travel anywhere in time so it stands to reason that he could have popped by 2013 long enough to meet up with the Curator, subconsciously like his style, and pop off to save the world yet again all too unaware that his body has already picked out his next face.