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Rantings from the Padded Cell

By Jon Preddle

If the series had not been cancelled in 1989, this year we would be seeing the 35th season of Doctor Who. It is therefore interesting to speculate as to which regeneration the Doctor would be on if it had been business as usual at the BBC for the past nine years.

It has been well-documented that Sylvester McCoy was prepared to play the Doctor for at least another year - the 1990 season, the series' 27th. Assuming that McCoy wouldn't sign on for a fifth term, the Seventh Doctor would have regenerated at the end of the 162nd story.

When Jonathan Powell was head of the BBC he had basically stated that three years would be the maximum length for a ‘Doctor’. On the assumption that every subsequent season would still be the 14 episode / four-story standard, the eighth Doctor's three seasons would have been the 28th (1991), 29th (1992), and 30th (1993). In that year we would probably also have been treated to a 30th anniversary celebratory story of some sort, featuring the surviving six Doctors (The Six Doctors perhaps?!).

The 31st season (1994) would have been either the eighth Doctor's last, or the ninth Doctor's first. Again, applying the same standards, the tenth Doctor may have made his debut in the 1997 season or the 1998 season - this year!

So, in this fictional nine-year-season run (which would have added a further 36 adventures and 126 episodes to the TV canon), the Doctor could realistically be only three incarnations away from becoming the Valeyard. In the reality of the 1996 TV Movie the Doctor is in actual fact better off, having only used up one regeneration between 1989 and 1996, instead of three!

Jon adds: When this article was written in 1998, no one had any inkling that the series would return in 2005. But what's interesting, is that I'd theorised we'd be seeing the tenth Doctor “this year!” And indeed ten years later, in 2008, guess who's the current Doctor!

This item appeared in TSV 55 (October 1998).