Doctor Who © BBC

Who IS The Doctor?


The Eight Doctors
"Good question. Any ideas?"

The Doctor: An Overview

"The Doctor is an underachiever who never saw the point of exams, brought up on a planet that was basically a big university. He was a member of the social elite, but never saw the point of the rituals and social structures that kept that elite in power. He's an aristocrat who has rejected the comforts of his former life and the role that was expected of him. He has no real powers other than a keen intelligence and a lot of learning. He solves problems not through violence, but through wit and reason. No one can be The Doctor, he's more than human, but we can try to be like The Doctor - peaceful, intelligent, witty, reasonable, aware of what is truly important." - Lance Parkin

Throughout the fourteen (going on fifteen) incarnations whose adventures have been recorded in some detail, The Doctor has exhibited a variety of personality quirks, interests, and abilities, some of which change, or seem to be forgotten, from one regeneration to the next. There are, however, some elements which are common to all the Doctors. The Doctor has a brilliant, if undisciplined, mind. They are passionately interested in many subjects, especially science, history, art and literature. They are insatiably curious, to the extent that they have often endangered themself and their companions in their quest for knowledge. They are a born meddler who seems incapable of walking away from other people's problems. Through all of their lives they have been somewhat arrogant, and they do not suffer fools gladly, though they are usually patient with those who are willing to learn from them. They generally carry an assortment of odd items, some of which seem to be completely useless until one of them turns out to be exactly what's needed to get them out of a sticky situation. Though the TARDIS contains wardrobe rooms which are filled with costumes from many times and places, their peculiar sense of style means that they rarely make use of them. Once they decides on clothing which suits their current personality, they seldom deviate from it unless forced to do so. Despite this, they have the uncanny ability to blend in almost everywhere they go, so much so that people often don't notice their strange attire. They have an amazing ability to ingratiate themself with people who were suspicious of them only minutes before. Sometimes they achieve this by solving a problem for them, but on many occasions it seems to be simply the result of their charismatic personality. Though they are often impatient with their companions, they have great affection for most of them, and have willingly risked their life for all of them on many occasions. Probably the most important constants about The Doctor are their desire for justice, their willingness to put themself on the line to defeat evil wherever they find it, and, of course, their amazing ability to find that evil wherever they go.

The Doctor's Background

The anonymous time traveler we call The Doctor was born on the planet Gallifrey (The Time Warrior) in the constellation of Kasterborous (The Brain of Morbius), to a Gallifreyan father and a human mother (Doctor Who TVM). Physically they are much like other Gallifreyans, with two hearts which pump blood that is recognizably not human (Spearhead from Space, Doctor Who TVM), and a respiratory bypass system which enables them to recycle oxygen for a brief time (Pyramids of Mars, The Two Doctors, and others). The only apparent physical characteristic which they inherited from their mother is their eyes. Although their color may change when The Doctor regenerates, they retain a human retinal pattern (Doctor Who TVM). This may explain their occasional need for spectacles or magnifying glasses (The Sensorites, Castrovalva, and others), which never seem to be used by full-blooded Gallifreyans. The planet Gallifrey is much like Earth, but some of the trees have silver leaves, and its night sky is a burnt orange color (The Sensorites). The Doctor has memories of lying on a hillside with their father while watching a meteor shower in this night sky (Doctor Who TVM). Aside from their granddaughter, Susan, and an uncle they once mention (Time and the Rani), we hear of no other members of their family. When speaking to their companion Victoria Waterfield about her father's death, they say that their family sleeps in their mind, and that it takes an effort for them to remember them (The Tomb of the Cybermen). They tell Kathleen Dudman, the future grandmother of their companion Ace, that they are not sure if their family is alive (The Curse of Fenric). In the new series, however, they say their entire family is dead (Father's Day). The Doctor has been only slightly more forthcoming about their childhood. We do know that they lived in a house in the mountains of South Gallifrey, near a hermit (The Time Monster, Planet of the Spiders) who told them ghost stories, including those of the Fendahl and the Great Vampires (Image of the Fendahl, State of Decay). Omega (The Three Doctors, Arc of Infinity) and the Time Lord renegade Salyavin (Shada) were among their early heroes. They had a childhood dream of driving a steam engine (Black Orchid). Their childhood games included conkers (The Highlanders), trains (The Evil of the Daleks), and hopscotch (The Invasion of Time, Remembrance of the Daleks), and their ability with a yo-yo (The Ark in Space, The Brain of Morbius, and others) suggests lots of practice. At some time in their childhood, they were accepted at the Prydonian Academy and began the studies which would make them a Time Lord.

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