2020 marks an important anniversary for Doctor Who, specifically its modern incarnation. 15 years ago, the Time Lord’s show returned to the airwaves, with Christopher Eccleston being cast as the Ninth Doctor and Billie Piper being cast as Rose Tyler, #9’s first companion. A decade and a half later, the show is still going strong, with Jodie Whitaker’s Thirteenth Doctor currently keeping all of time and space safe in the TARDIS with her own team of human companions.
To celebrate modern Doctor Who’s 15th anniversary, as well as keep fans entertained as the COVID-19 pandemic has led to many people staying in their homes to help flatten the curve, three Doctor Who short stories have been released, one of which takes place shortly after the Thirteenth Doctor came to be, while the other two take place during the Ninth Doctor’s era. Let’s start off with 13’s tale.
Things She Thought While Falling
Every Doctor in the modern Doctor Who era has regenerated within the confines of the TARDIS, and sometimes that’s a more explosive process than expected. Such as the case when the Twelfth Doctor regenerated into the Thirteenth Doctor at the end of 2017 Christmas special “Twice Upon a Time.” 13 only had a moment to take in her new face before the TARDIS started malfunctioning and she fell out of the ship.
The Doctor Who Season 11 premiere, “The Woman Who Fell to Earth,” showed the Thirteenth Doctor falling through the carriage ceiling of a dormant train, coming across a strange alien orb and meeting Yasmin, Ryan and Graham. However, thanks to current Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall, we know what was going through 13’s head as she was plummeting to Earth.
“Things She Thought While Falling” depicts the Thirteenth Doctor still getting her bearings post-regeneration, but as her past incarnations often did, her mind is racing during the fall. Her thoughts included being frustrated with the Twelfth Doctor’s ragged clothes not including a built-in parachute, calculating the velocity of her landing, her time spent on a planet called Fintleborxtug and figuring out where exactly on Earth she was falling based solely on taste. By the end of this short story, 13 lands in the train and has officially kicked off the first chapter of her new life.
Doctor Who And The Time War
Although Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor kicked off the modern Doctor Who era, it was revealed in 2013 that there had been a secret incarnation of The Doctor who existed between the Eighth and Ninth versions, and operated during The Time War. The War Doctor, played by the late John Hurt, starred alongside David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor and Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor in the 50th anniversary special, “The Day of the Doctor,” and when the main narrative wrapped up, War realized he was “wearing a bit thin” and regenerated into 9.
But what if The War Doctor never existed, and the Eighth Doctor had regenerated straight into the Ninth Doctor? That’s what “Doctor Who and The Time War,” a.k.a. “Rose: The Prequel,” chronicles. Written by former Doctor Who showrunner Russell T. Davies in early 2013 before he learned the existence of The War Doctor, naturally this story isn’t canon, but it does provide a fun ‘what if’ scenario. Originally the plan was to share this story in a 2013 issue of Doctor Who Magazine, and seven years later, it’s finally seen the light of day, being posted online ahead of an airing of “Rose,” the first modern Doctor Who episode.
“Doctor Who and The Time War” depicts the Eighth Doctor at the end of The Time War, surrounded by carnage from all across the universe. Unleashing The Moment (which, as we saw in “The Day of The Doctor,” made itself look like Rose Tyler when communicating with The War Doctor), he brings this devastating conflict to an end, but is subsequently caught in a Time Lock. Fortunately, he’s rescued by the TARDIS at the last minute, and shortly thereafter, 8 turns into 9, with 9’s first word being “Blimey!”
This story also notes how The Eighth Doctor’s age had been drastically manipulated during The Time War, from being five million years old to reverting to a “mewling babe,” since the conflict used years as “currency.” Upon what he believes to be his final death, he estimates that his body is now around 1000 years old, which he rounds down to 900, hence why he mentions that particular age in “Rose.” Fortunately, The Doctor soon realizes that The Moment imprinted The Restoration upon him, resulting in his life cycle being reset and him regenerating into 9’s form.
Doctor Who: Revenge Of The Nestene
During the Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler’s first adventure together, they went up against the Autons, which were being controlled by the Nestene Consciousness, which had previously appeared in the classic Doctor Who years. While the Consciousness briefly returned during the first season of Matt Smith’s Doctor Who run, now we know what happened to this disembodied life force following the events of “Rose.”
Rather than being released to the public in written form, “Doctor Who: Revenge Of The Nestene,” a.k.a. Rose: The Sequel,” was shared as a video, with The Stranger actor and frequent Doctor Who audio drama performer Jacob Dudman reading the script. As it turns out, a tiny nugget of the Nestene Consciousness managed to escape the Ninth Doctor’s anti-plastic by hiding itself in an Auton disguised as a creepy clown.
After admiring the carnage and destruction it managed to unleash during “Rose,” this Nestene fragment starts planning out how to survive, conquer Earth and destroy The Doctor. After recalling how The Time War devastated its homeworld, this fragment uses its remaining energy to model its appearance after a dead politician it comes across.
Who is this politician? The individual isn’t named, but it’s strongly indicated that the Nestene Consciousness made itself look like Boris Johnson, who was a Member of Parliament for Henley from 2001 to 2008, and currently serves as the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister. Considering that Johnson has been a driving force in the Brexit withdrawal, it appears that in the Doctor Who universe, Johnson’s political moves have doubled as the Consciousness’ revenge against The Doctor.
It’s still early into 2020, so it’s possible more fun Doctor Who content like the stories above, whether they tie into the 15th anniversary or not, could be released later in the year. Regardless, Doctor Who will return to the airwaves either towards of the end of 2020 or early into 2021 with “Revolution of the Daleks” on BBC America. Stay tuned for any major updates on what Season 13 holds in store.