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Doctor's Dilemma

By Jon Preddle

The column in which you send in questions about anything related to Doctor Who and former Mastermind contestant Jon Preddle attempts to answer them...

To begin with, Warwick Gray asks, "When was the first instance of the theme music being used as incidentals in a story?"

I can't place the exact story, but the earliest instance I can recall is when the Doctor walks down a corridor in Meglos, to distinguish him from his doppelganger, I believe. Three bars of the theme have since popped up in a number of stories, including: Logopolis when the Doctor regenerates; K9 and Company when the Doctor is mentioned, and Earthshock at several points throughout the story, notably when Trooper Walters notes that one of the aliens on his scanner "has two hearts", and again when the Cyberleader spots the TARDIS ("I know that object."). The theme music is also used in The Five Doctors. Can anyone add to this list?

Warwick also asks, "At the end of The Dæmons, the Master gets captured. Why didn't the Doctor phone up the Time Lords and get them to cart him off, rather than run the risk of trying to imprison him on Earth?"

A possible answer to this is that as it was the Time Lords who first warned the Doctor about the Master, they may have wanted him to deal with the renegade. The Doctor was angry with the Time Lords for exiling him, which may have also stopped him contacting them. Maybe he did contact the Time Lords, but they wanted to wash their hands of the Master. Another interesting possibility is that the Master acted as a secret agent of the Time Lords, performing evil but necessary deeds. He could have got out of hand and the Time Lords were unable to stop him. Imprisoned on Earth he was safely out of the way in the same way the Doctor was. Also worth noting is that in The Deadly Assassin, the Time Lords had no knowledge of the Master, and his data extract had been removed. Maybe they had forgotten about him?

Next up, Clinton Spencer wants to know "How can the Doctor and companions walk out of the second console room (the old fashioned one) doors and come straight out of the TARDIS without going through all the corridors that the Doctor and Sarah did at the beginning of The Masque of Mandragora?"

It is important to keep in mind that the internal dimensions of the TARDIS do not correspond to those of the real world. This is clearly illustrated in The Invasion of Time in a scene where the Doctor and his friends each go through a different door in a TARDIS corridor and all end up in the sickbay. Borusa tells the Doctor that the "pedestrian infrastructure needs stabilizing." So while the two console rooms may be a long way apart and even on different levels, their exits can both be dimensionally linked to the outer police box doors.

Tavish Fraser asks "How come every single creature or race ever met by the Doctor and his companions speaks perfect English?"

In The Masque of Mandragora, the Doctor tells Sarah that he lets her share a Time Lord gift - the ability to understand and speak alien languages. Possibly this ability is passed on to anyone in contact with the Doctor, or who has travelled in the TARDIS. Maybe the TARDIS uses a translator device beamed telepathically to the Doctor and his companions? This is not always the case - in The Leisure Hive, the Foamasi could not be understood until they used a translator, and in The Creature from the Pit Erato had to use other peoples' larynxes to communicate. Some races do speak English, such as the Cybermen, Terileptils, Argolins and Axons among others, as we have seen them communicate before the Doctor becomes involved. But in terms of the programme, it is obvious why all races speak English - because we do! In Arabia, the episodes are dubbed into Arabic, so do Arab children ask their parents why aliens always speak Arabic, and not another language?

Jamas Enright wants to know how Terror of the Vervoids can take place after the Doctor's trial, and if Mel is stuck in a time-loop as a result. My rather long and complex answer to this tricky problem has already been printed - see TSV 3

Jamas then asks "have any of the Cybermen ever turned their heads, without turning their torso or whole body?" Yes - in The Tenth Planet; the cloth-faced Cybermen did not have the attached rigid neck pieces which restricted head movement.

Finally this issue, Jamas also asks how the Cybermen knew of the Doctor from Planet 14 in The Invasion, even though this is chronologically their earliest encounter with him. The answer is simple - no doubt there is an adventure set on this planet that we have not seen. Remember, the stories on screen do not represent all the Doctor's adventures, as the Seventh Doctor's era has proved on several occasions.

This item appeared in TSV 23 (June 1991).

Index nodes: Doctor's Dilemma, The Dæmons, Terror of the Vervoids, The Invasion