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Doctor's Dilemma

By Jon Preddle

First up this issue are a couple of questions from Lower Hutt reader Jamas Enright. Jamas wants to know why the Vogans in Revenge of the Cybermen use the same symbol as the Time Lords, seen in all of their adventures from The Deadly Assassin onwards.

This circular symbol, seen on the back of The Trial of a Time Lord novels, was devised by BBC designer Roger Murray-Leach for Revenge of the Cybermen. He also designed The Deadly Assassin - where the same symbol appears as the Prydonian Chapter Seal, a simple case of a designer liking something he has done and reusing it, hoping no one would notice!

However, an explanation within the Whoniverse is more complex - but try this on for size: In Revenge of the Cybermen, the Doctor seems to know all about the Cyber-wars and the attack on Voga. This implies that he was there. In The Five Doctors, the Third Doctor reminds Sarah of how determined the Cybermen are. This suggests that they encountered the Cybermen during this war as some point during their time together (in Season 11). What probably happened was that the Third Doctor accidentally dropped his own copy of the Chapter Seal in the caves of Voga. The Vogans found it and used it as a decoration to remind them of the man who helped them. Just look at the expression of pure surprise on the Fourth Doctor's face when he enters the chamber on Voga and sees the symbol!

Returning to The Five Doctors, the Third Doctor seized the opportunity to make up for the loss of his own seal by confiscating the one given to the Master by the High Council!

Mention of The Five Doctors leads me neatly into Jamas' second question, which concerns the multi-Doctor stories. He asks why the Fifth and Sixth Doctors felt themselves drawn during The Five Doctors and The Two Doctors respectively, and yet no other Doctor? We know that there are future regenerations out there, says Jamas, so why didn't they respond also?

This is a complex question, which deserves a complex answer, so I shall address each story individually.

In The Five Doctors, President Borusa was time scooping the Doctors to Gallifrey. He started with the First Doctor and worked his way along the Doctor's timestream, plucking out each incarnation in a way so that all traces were erased. The scoop was drawing too much power from the Eye of Harmony, and so it ran out of power, leaving the Fourth Doctor stuck in limbo, and the Fifth Doctor continually fading. No doubt Borusa would have gone on to scoop all thirteen Doctors had he been able to.

The Two Doctors is a somewhat different case. The Five Doctors, and indeed The Three Doctors, had been brought about by the intervention of the Time Lords, but in The Two Doctors, the meeting between incarnations was simply by chance. When the Second Doctor was attacked, he sent out a mind slip SOS that was picked up by the Sixth Doctor. There are two possible reasons why this Doctor was the only one to respond to the SOS.

The mind link could have been received by all of the Doctor's incarnations, but for some reason they were not able to respond - the First Doctor was not able to pilot the TARDIS, the Third was exiled on Earth, etc. Only the Sixth was in a position to do anything.

The second possibility concerns time. When the Second Doctor sent the mindslip SOS, he was located in 1985 - so too could have been the Sixth Doctor, and indeed their minds were still linked during most of the adventure. This explains why the Sixth Doctor also felt the Androgum effect. The link was severed when the Second Doctor and Jamie left in their TARDIS. If this is the case, then if the Sixth Doctor hadn't already been in 1985, then the Second Doctor might never have been rescued!

Jamas has also provided his own theory as to why the Doctor has no recollection of any past involvement during the multi-Doctor stories. He suggests that when the Doctor regenerates, he loses all memory of any meeting with a future self that occurred during that incarnation.

Next up are a couple of questions from Jonathon Park, aged 10½, of Canterbury, who asks firstly about the Doctor's change of tie between The Trial of a Time Lord and Time and the Rani. In Terror of the Vervoids, chronologically the last story in The Trial of a Time Lord sequence, he wears a yellow tie with black stars, yet in Time and the Rani - chronologically the following story - he wears a red tie with white dots. Jonathon wants to know how the Doctor could have his red and white tie on - the same tie that he wore during the trial itself - when he regenerates, if in the Vervoid story - which falls between these two events - he is wearing a different tie? You may be thinking that there's an obvious solution to this one, but Jonathan specifically requests "please don't say he changed it!"

The future Vervoid story sees the Doctor not only wearing a yellow starry tie, but also a hideous purple and blue striped waistcoat, yet according to the latest "Gallifreyan Fashions: Spring to Winter Catalogue" purple and blue striped waistcoats are never worn with red and white dotted ties! So the Doctor was left with no choice but to ask Mel to choose a new tie to go with the new waistcoat. She selected the colour and put it on for him. So you see: the Doctor didn't change it - Mel did!

When the TARDIS went out of control at the beginning of Time and the Rani, he realised that no way would he be caught dead in this tie and waistcoat (and who could blame him?), so again he managed to convince Mel to change them again for him. So that she wouldn't be tempted to dictate his attire in the future, he smashed her over the head with his hat stand, but unfortunately lost his balance, hitting his head on the console, and thus bringing about another regeneration. Rather simple, I would think...

Jonathan's second question is a little more straightforward. He wants to know how Jamie could still have his knife in The Mind Robber if he stuck it into Stike in The Two Doctors?

Not only does the TARDIS have a huge wardrobe room, it also has a selection of weapons too, as mentioned in The Gunfighters. Jamie simply found a new knife in the TARDIS after leaving Spain with the Second Doctor, and this was the one seen in The Mind Robber!

That's all for this issue. Keep sending in those questions.

This item appeared in TSV 24 (August 1991).

Index nodes: Doctor's Dilemma, Revenge of the Cybermen, The Five Doctors, The Two Doctors