The Doctor: Half-Human on his Mother’s Side?
Guest contributor Stewart McDonald wonders if fans should so easily forget that infamous moment.
Ever since Paul McGann’s Doctor uttered that line back in 1996, we human beings have been in total denial about our favourite Time Lord’s heritage. We have put our foot down and refused to believe that the Doctor is actually half-human. And now the flames of fandom war have been stoked once again when Steven Moffat, show runner for Doctor Who, tested troubled waters by asking Whovians everywhere one question. A question that must never ever be answered…
No not that one, the other one:
“Keeping in mind that everything you know for sure is probably wrong, answer me this: in which story is it confirmed, definitively, that the Doctor is not human?”
- Steven Moffat.
And, of course, fans everywhere cried out in an uproar that shook all other fandoms out there: ‘How can he make the Doctor human?’ ‘This is stupid!’ ‘Get rid of him now!’ ‘Silence must fall!’ ‘Moffat hate! Moffat hate!’ Of course not all fans are like this. Most are sensible and will no doubt have searched all through the history of the show to not only find the definite episode to answer Moffat’s question, but to also show just why it can’t be.
But can it? Where exactly does it say that the Doctor is not half-human? Actually, don’t ask me. If you want the exact truth, go find it yourself. That’s not why I’m here. I’m here to ask a different question entirely.
Instead of asking how the Doctor can or cannot be half-human, we should ask why. Why can’t he be half-human? What’s wrong with him being half-human? What does this do to the show?
You know what, let’s find out. Allons-y!
(Yes I did just say that, don’t judge!)
Why Can’t He Be Half-Human?
That’s a good question, me. Why can’t the Doctor be half-human? Well the answer everyone seems to leap at is the fact that he is from another planet. Another planet which happens to be called Gallifrey located in the constellation of Kasterborous. A planet which also happens to be in another universe.
The Doctor is from an alien planet and apparently is a completely different species. As far as we know, Gallifrey is not a former human colony. It has existed for longer than Earth and is far more advanced than our puny planet. So it possibly couldn’t have any human influence, could it? But here’s the thing. As much as my memory allows, I can’t recall the Doctor, or anyone for that matter, saying that Gallifrey existed before Earth. It’s certainly older than Earth but that doesn’t mean it’s from a future point in human history. Does it?
A simple theory could be that at some point in humanity’s future, a group of colonists explore the Kasterborous constellation. They find a planet there with burnt orange skies and swaying mountains and the ability to support life. But what if they found something else there, too? What if they found a tear in the fabric of time and space? One that could let you see into the time vortex itself. What if they stabilised it and kept it from ever becoming unstable and destroying everything around them? And what if, over the course of considerably many years, exposure to the tear in the skin of reality caused the human colonists to change? To evolve faster than what should be possible. To develop a two hearted biology and an ability of cellular regeneration. What if the human colonists became Time Lords and gained the ability to see through time? What if they constructed a completely new society? A society almost totally free of war. They could build the domed citadels and the second city of Arcadia. They could eventually give a name to that hole in time and space.
Because of the varying effects it has on people who look directly into it, with the prime example being the Master, and that it seems to be uninfluenced by almost anything we know of, they could come to call it ‘The Untempered Schism’. And thus the Time Lords would be born.
It would make sense. The Time Lords have never really been able to interfere with the time vortex, merely travel through its infinite tunnel of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey… Stuff.
But we also have to account for the part of the Doctor’s mother being human. So this could come into play in two ways.
- The Doctor’s mother was a human visitor to Gallifrey where she met and fell in love with a Time Lord. She gives birth to the Doctor and any other siblings she may or may not have had.
- She was already on Gallifrey. As we all know, as a species evolves it tends to split. One side evolves into a more advanced being while the other remains unchanged. This could have happen to the Time Lords. The Doctor’s mother remained unchanged by the Untempered Schism’s influence and the Doctor’s father was a fully fledged Time Lord. The rest would follow like theory 1 with the exception of his mother not visiting the planet.
And so you have heard me say how it could work, but I have not answered if it should work. To answer that we have to look at the bigger picture.
What Would This Do to the Show?
For starters, it would account for why our favourite Time Lord and his entire species look suspiciously human. Other than ease of casting and costume design. This would explain why Time Lords appear to be human, why some of them sound like they’re from the North (Looking at you, Eccleston). The Time Lords, over the course of their evolution, would have kept the human form while their physiology changed underneath. This would make them the face changing, mostly objective and pompous race that we have seen on our screens since the end of the Troughton era.
This would also explain why the Time Lords look down on the Doctor’s interfering nature. They would be afraid that he would disrupt the timeline of not only Earth, but other planets he encounters on his travels. Thus their policy of never interfering in other people’s affairs. Unless there’s children crying, of course!
But what about the Doctor? Well it would account for his borderline passionate admiration and fondness for us humans. It would make sense, wouldn’t it? The reason why he defends our home world episode after episode is because he sees it as his true home. He feels like he belongs there. The half-human inside of him feels obligated to protect and watch over the planet his people originally came from. It would also account for why he sometimes chooses not to interfere. For why he sometimes has to sacrifice so much to make sure that history stays on track. He does it to ensure the Time Lords can exist.
He would be constantly battling both sides of his heritage. The Time Lord inside of him would constantly tell him not to get involved. The human inside of him would tell him to stick his sometimes large nose into things, to explore things from a much deeper and personal perspective. To me, that just seems fantastic.
Some people will no doubt disagree with me, saying that it would probably cheapen the show’s value by just making him human in some way. I stand firm and say it wouldn’t. I think it would increase the show’s value and potential and help us to get a glimpse into an otherwise unearthly character.
Okay, so we are down to one final question that I have to ask myself and all of you:
Should We Make the Doctor Half-Human?
For the most part, there is no reason why we shouldn’t. It is a plausible and executable idea. I personally have no objections to whether or not the Doctor should be half-human. The closest example I can find where that works in similar fashion is Spock from the original Star Trek series, or Torres, the half-human/half Klingon from Star Trek Voyager. Both examples are similar to the Doctor, even their personal struggles over which species they should side with.
In the end, it’s not up to me. The decision of the Doctor’s biology is not in my hands, but rather in the hands of Steven Moffat. Whether or not he makes him half-human is not my concern, but whatever he adds to the canon and history of Doctor Who, I will welcome it gladly.
I leave one last message to Whovian’s everywhere. Please do not be upset with Moffat for what he may or may not do to the Doctor. Just accept it and move on. If he tells us the truth of his parentage, so what?! He will still be the Doctor. And to take Clara Oswald’s speech she gave to the Time Lords through the crack slightly out of context, just remember one thing:
‘His name is the Doctor. All the name he needs. Everything you need to know about him.’