Home : Archive : TSV 41-50 : TSV 44 : Feature

The Doctor's Wife: Doctor Who Rumours and Hoaxes

By Jon Preddle

Most Doctor Who fans seem forever eager to learn the latest piece of news about the show. Every regular newsletter and fanzine has sought to be the first out with the latest news on the upcoming season of Doctor Who. Sometimes, in the absence of legitimate news items, fans are tempted to create their own false rumours. Some publications have an annual tradition of April Fools hoaxes (even Doctor Who Magazine has featured such jokes). Since 1982 there have been many rumours and hoaxes concerning Doctor Who. This article highlights some of the most amusing, clever and intriguing examples. Don't believe anything you read here (except for the notes in brackets).

The Four Doctors
The final story of Season 18 is called The Four Doctors and features the Doctor's regeneration. (This hoax was started by the Doctor Who Appreciation Society in 1980. Interestingly, at the time this was reported the official announcement of Baker's resignation had yet to be made, so the author of the piece was probably in the know).

Season Nineteen
Castrovalva features flashbacks to old stories. Christopher Bailey, author of Kinda, is in fact singer Kate Bush writing under a pseudonym; the 'evidence' being that somewhere on her album The Hounds of Love there's supposed to be a sample of dialogue from Kinda. Black Orchid is a cross between Agatha Christie and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Time-Flight will star Australian singer Olivia Newton-John and is set on a planet where aliens kill people by giving them headaches!

Season Twenty
Tegan's new regular outfit is a silver and purple spacesuit (this apparently stemmed from a publicity photo of Janet Fielding wearing a leather suit and choker). This will be the last season of Doctor Who (in fact from this year, rumours of series cancellation crop up every season). The plot of Arc of Infinity has the Doctor assigned by the High Council to track down renegade Time Lords, including the Master and Omega. The Ice Warriors will appear at the end of the first episode of Terminus. The Ice Warriors will appear in The Five Doctors, which is a story made for cinema release.

The Phoenix Rises
The loss of the Dalek story from the strike-shortened Season 20 would be filled by a new story featuring recently found footage from a William Hartnell story that was abandoned in 1964. Mixed with new footage with the current TARDIS line-up, The Phoenix Rises would use the latest in video effects to enable the Fifth Doctor to meet his former self. (The April 1983 issue of Doctor Who Monthly featured this hoax, and the only clue that it was bogus was that the starting date given for the recording of the new material was April 1st).

Season Twenty-One
The Ice Warriors will appear in Warriors of the Deep. Frontios sees the return of Richard Hurndall, reprising his role as the First Doctor, in a black and white retrospective story remembered by the Fifth Doctor after he bumps his head on the TARDIS console. The last story of the season is The Doctor's Wife by Robert Holmes (this was a hoax instigated by the producer in an attempt to identify the culprit leaking information about the series). The regeneration takes place when the Doctor and Maxil's bodies fuse together. Colin Baker's costume will be like a pirate, complete with eye-patch, and his new companion will be a mechanical cat. The Twin Dilemma stars Richard Hurndall and Peter Davison, with appearances by the Cybermats and the Ice Warriors.

The Opera of Doom
This is the title of the first story of Season 22, written by Barbara Clegg, Eric Saward or Peter Grimwade. The story is set in an old theatre with the Doctor trapped in a dimension where the play being performed on stage mirrors the true events he is facing. The Master and Magnus Greel were the lead antagonists. Litefoot and Jago return having turned their theatre into an opera house. They trick the Doctor into a series of deadly vocal duels with such old foes as Omega, the Master, Padmasambhava, the Rills and the Cybermen. Anthony Ainley would have played both the Master and Magnus Greel, MC-ing the event. (This was all nothing more than a hoax created by the fanzine DWB).

Season Twenty-Two
The Master will get a teenage companion. The Brigadier and Zoe appear in The Two Doctors. The writer of Timelash, Glen McCoy, is a pseudonym for Christopher H. Bidmead, Eric Saward or Peter Grimwade. The Ice Warriors will appear in the last story of this season.

Season Twenty-Three
Robert Holmes collaborates with Pip and Jane Baker on Gallifrey, the season finale, in which the Daleks, possibly aided by the Master and the Rani, invade and destroy the Time Lords' planet. Peri is turned into a Dalek and shoots the Doctor, who then regenerates (producer John Nathan-Turner denied this rumour but BBC documentation confirms the existence of a proposed story called Gallifrey). Season 23 will be shorter than the previous season, perhaps as short as 14 episodes (of course this was one rumour that did turn out to be true). Robert Holmes will write three stories, each 2 episodes long. With Eric Saward's departure either Philip Martin or Pip and Jane Baker will be the new script editors. The Doctor's trial features flashbacks to old stories and the Brigadier, K9 and Kamelion are all witnesses at the trial. A young Rassilon will appear at some point during the season. Black actors Eartha Kitt and Grace Jones will appear in Mindwarp.

Season Twenty-Four
Michael Briant will be the new producer and wants Sherlock Holmes actor Jeremy Brett for the Doctor. Philip Martin is the new script editor and has commissioned himself to write a third and final Sil story. The new season will be only 12 episodes and one of the stories is Genesis of the Cybermen by Gerry Davis and Christopher H. Bidmead. Paradise Towers features redesigned Cybermen who lurk in the basement. Dragonfire sees the return of the Ice Warriors (now where have we heard that one before?).

Season Twenty-Five
Ben Aaronovitch is an American fan writer using a pseudonym. Two old companions, possibly Tegan and Jamie, will appear in the last story of the season. Stratford Johns will be in The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, or The Happiness Patrol. Anita Dobson will play the ringmaster in Greatest Show. Brian Blessed will appear in The Happiness Patrol. Silver Nemesis was to have featured the Master, but the script was rewritten after Anthony Ainley pulled out, feeling that he would be upstaged by the Cybermen. The story will reveal the mystery about the Doctor's past.

Season Twenty-Six
The first story is The Pools of Lanyth. Rock group Hawkwind has been asked to compose the incidental music for the first story (this rumour got as far as the group themselves, who denied it, but were quite interested). Kate Bush is to play Morgaine in Battlefield. David Bellamy will appear as himself in The Curse of Fenric. Rona Munro, the writer of Survival, is a pseudonym. The Master, the Valeyard and Gallifrey will appear in Ghost Light. The Brigadier dies in one of several endings filmed for Battlefield (this rumour was created by Nicholas Courtney himself). Several different endings were also filmed for Survival.

The Colourised Tenth Planet
A Canadian project colourised The Tenth Planet after having found most of but not the entire missing fourth episode. Using trick photography they replaced the missing footage. (This hoax originated in the April 1984 issue of Doctor Who Magazine. The clues were that the article's writer was John Wakefield - a character from The Ambassadors of Death - and that the production code given to the project was '01:04/84').

The Death of Yesterday
This was the title of a story by Christopher H. Bidmead involving the Valeyard using the Raston Robot to go back in time and hunt down the Doctor's old companions, including Sarah Jane and Tegan. (The hoax script had been concocted by two fans).

The Dalek Script
A script for the unmade pilot episode of Terry Nation's (very real) projected Dalek series for American television in the Sixties was unearthed. (This elaborate hoax involved a yellowed script created by the perpetrators, who had planted clues in the form of every Terry Nation story title from Doctor Who and Blake's 7 in the text).

The Daemons Episode Six
An original print of The Daemons was discovered to contain an extra episode! The story had been edited down to a five-parter at the insistence of BBC heads who didn't take kindly to the climactic sequence in which God appears in the cavern to destroy Azal. Accordingly Episodes Five and Six had all scenes featuring God removed. (This hoax was created by writer Justin Richards for the April 1993 issue of DWB. The fact that one of the fans who discovered the find was one April Loofer did make it a bit obvious, but several readers still fell for the hoax and even wrote demanding the BBC release the extended version!)

Michael Crawford as the Doctor
Information was discovered by David J Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker in their research for The Seventies revealing that Michael Crawford had been considered for the part of the Fourth Doctor. A screen test had been conducted involving Crawford, Elizabeth Sladen and two Daleks on the set of Death to the Daleks. Crawford, who was recording Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em at the BBC at the time, had played the part of the Doctor in his Frank Spencer costume. A copy of this test footage is in the possession of an unnamed private collector. (This hoax appeared in the April 1994 issue of Celestial Toyroom).

This item appeared in TSV 44 (June 1995).