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Doctor's Dilemma

By Jon Preddle

In the letters column of TSV 53, Peter Adamson wondered if I could explain Patrick Troughton's regeneration into Trevor Martin. Actually it was Jon Pertwee's regeneration into Trevor Martin, but to coin a phrase: not a problem!

Trevor Martin starred in the second stage play, Doctor Who and the Daleks - Seven Keys to Doomsday, which opened in London on 16 December 1974, a mere 12 days before Tom Baker made his TV debut in Robot, so in in the eyes of TV viewers, the Third Doctor had already regenerated in Planet of the Spiders, and yet here he was regenerating into someone else. The play opens with the TARDIS landing and the ‘third’ Doctor (played by Martin), his face hidden from view, staggering out and collapsing. Helped back into the ship by two members of the audience, actually two of the cast, the Doctor's features are seen to change - Jon Pertwee's face fading into that of Martin's - courtesy of images projected onto large screens on stage.

There is one easy way of fitting Seven Keys to Doomsday into the TV canon, and that is between The Monster of Peladon and Planet of the Spiders. We can assume that one day the Doctor takes off from his UNIT duties in the TARDIS alone and arrives on the planet Karn. As stated in the stage play, the Doctor is then ambushed and wounded (this all happens off-stage) and, under the control of the Time Lords, the TARDIS lands back on Earth where he regenerates into ‘Martin’. At the end of the Seven Keys adventure, the Doctor intends to head for the troubled planet Vega but we can assume that he eventually ends up back on Earth - but looking like ‘Pertwee’ again. In order to explain this strange retro-regeneration, it is noted that the Third Doctor has one of the Crystals of Power (the keys of the title) in his pocket when he is attacked, so perhaps a curious property of the crystal triggered a temporary form of regeneration. As stated in Castrovalva it is possible for a regeneration to fail, so maybe the ‘Martin’ body was so unstable that the regeneration reversed itself and the Doctor changed back into his ‘Pertwee’ form. The Doctor later regenerated properly but this time into his ‘Tom Baker’ form.

Brad Schmidt asks: “How exactly does the Eye of Harmony power the TARDIS? I assumed it was an infinite power source, but many stories, such as Enlightenment and the book Option Lock, seem to refute this, with the TARDIS experiencing power drains.”

The best example of the TARDIS experiencing a near-total power drain is in Death to the Daleks. However it is clear that not all of the ship's systems are drained of their power because a) the outer plasma shell retained the shape of a police box, and b) the integrity of the ship's internal dimensions was not affected. In the movie the Master says: “Here is the Eye of Harmony; the heart of the structure. Everything gets its power from here”. The ‘everything’ that the Master refers to must be the TARDIS systems that actually run and maintain the time machine, such as life support, and the time drive. Each of these components and circuits would be powered by electricity, generated by the Eye, which is probably a highly sophisticated reactor. It is clear from stories such as Inside the Spaceship, in which the travellers show concern that the console has become electrified, that the TARDIS is powered by electricity. The fact that the console always short circuits when it explodes supports this. If we use an automobile as an analogy, some parts of the machine are driven directly from the engine, while others are powered by a battery, which is in turn recharged by the engine. So in the case of the power drains that the TARDIS has experienced, it is not the Eye that is being drained, but the TARDIS's equivalent of its battery.

Brad also asks: “When is the roundel-walled console room dropped by the Doctor in favour of the new Gothic one? Is it during Lungbarrow? I presume Gary Russell's explanation in the novel of the film (that the Doctor reformed the old one into the new one) is no longer applicable as both versions of the console room appear in the books The Eight Doctors and Genocide.”

As far as the quasi-canonical Universe of the novels goes, it would appear that it was indeed Lungbarrow, but Virgin's plan to explain the change was seeded much earlier, on page 31 of The Death of Art in fact, when the Doctor holds off deleting a copy of the Nôtre Dame cathedral that has formed within the TARDIS on the chance that he might incorporate the structure into the Cloister at a later date. Part of the cathedral was probably the chamber that becomes the new console room.

I would say that the Gothic-like room of the Movie was but only one of many console rooms that the TARDIS has. The TARDIS was given a third console room in Nightshade, one made of granite, so both the new and the old versions must exist at the same time.


Further to my ‘Peter Cushing films are canon’ feature in TSV 52, thanks are due to John Ainsworth and Gary Russell, who were able to supply me with the date of the issue of Eagle comic being read by Dr Who in Dr. Who and the Daleks. It is the issue dated 20 March 1965 (Vol 16 No. 12, in fact), which helps to provide a date setting for the film. WOTAN came on line in July 1966, so the reason why Dr Who cannot be found is because he left Earth in March 1965, some 16 months earlier! Alternatively it is still 1966 - and Dr Who is reading an old issue of the comic which he had lying around the house.

This item appeared in TSV 55 (October 1998).

Index nodes: Doctor's Dilemma, Seven Keys to Doomsday