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Doctor's Dilemma

By Jon Preddle

The return of the column in which former Mastermind contestant Jon Preddle attempts to answer Doctor Who questions sent in by you. Send all questions to the club address.

First up this issue, a puzzler from Warwick Gray, who asks, "There's this bit in Logopolis which has always confused me. The Master's TARDIS is hidden inside the Doctor's, and the Doctor decides to 'flush him out' by taking his TARDIS into the Thames and opening the doors. What on Earth was he hoping to achieve, apart from drowning himself and Adric and possibly draining the Thames?!"

I love the bit about draining the Thames, and maybe it was the Doctor's intention all along to drown Adric! But seriously, I'm not exactly sure, and the book (p.44-45) changes the entire scene! But before I do what the DWM Matrix Data Bank writer does and say "I don't know," I'm at least going to give it a jolly good try!

The term used was "flush him out" (not in the book). By opening the doors underwater, the Doctor intended to flood the TARDIS - but only some sections. He knew the Master would be safe within his own TARDIS. The water would sluice through and force the Master to dematerialise in order to prevent his own TARDIS from being damaged. The Doctor would have had a difficult time in trying to locate the Master's TARDIS as it was disguised as a tree and a police box, let alone convincing him to leave!

A somewhat extreme measure, but the only one available given the circumstances. However, it didn't work, did it - no doubt the defence systems were still in operation!

Now an interesting question from David Ronayne. He asks about the dialogue on page 129 of Ian Marter's novel, Harry Sullivan's War, referring to Davros. How is it that Major Sawyer seems to know about the creator of the Daleks?

The dialogue, for those who don't have the book, goes like this:

Harry waved to his old friend with renewed optimism. "Just you wait and see, old chap! Professor Conrad Gold, or my name's Davros!"

  At the mention of that alien name, Major Sawyer's face went pale. "What do you know about him... I mean it?" he rapped.

  Mr Fawcett-Smith glared at Harry as though he had just broken all the clauses of the Official Secrets Act with a single word. "I say, Sullivan, steady on..." he whispered.

Okay, I have two answers to this problem. The first covers the continuity of the entire Doctor Who series. Keen-eyed viewers of Remembrance of the Daleks would have noticed that when Davros - the Emperor Dalek - escaped the Dalek ship, it was still in orbit above Earth in 1963. Now, assuming that the escape pod didn't leave our solar system, it is most likely that it crashed on Earth, or was later found in orbit by astronauts. No doubt Davros was found by the authorities and held in some secret laboratory - after all, he would be one of the first aliens encountered by Man. Therefore, in the context of Harry Sullivan's War, Sawyer was part of the team in charge of safekeeping Davros, or he could have read a report of the affair. Note the wording of the passage: "that alien name" refers to Sawyer's point of view, implying that Sawyer knows Davros is an alien. This explains why Sawyer refers to Davros as "him" but his change of pronoun to "it" could be a slip of the tongue. By saying "him", he was divulging too much.

However, since Remembrance was made in early 1988 and Harry Sullivan's War written two years earlier in 1986, what was Ian Marter's intention when he wrote this dialogue? Unfortunately Marter died in 1987, and we will probably never know but 'Davros' could be the code-name for a top secret military operation, but this doesn't explain the "him / it" slip by Sawyer. Is Davros also the name of an Earth scientist?

This is but one of several questions unanswered in the book. I get the impression there's an entire chapter is missing - the one giving all the important explanations. One glaring detail not resolved is the sequence on page 14 where Harry overhears the Brigadier talking about UNIT manoeuvres. We later learn that the Stewart Lodge was bugged. No doubt Harry overheard the Brigadier's voice coming from the bugging device. But to whom was the Brigadier talking? I like to think that he was dictating into a microphone, or dictating to a typist. Maybe he was writing his memoir!

This item appeared in TSV 21 (February 1991).

Index nodes: Doctor's Dilemma, Logopolis