REPROACH

SPECU-CRANK: DOCTOR WHO AND THE CANON OF DOCTOR WHOS

Here is a question which I expect you think you can answer. It’s very simple, and you definitely think you’re right about it. Here we go:

How many Doctor Whos have there been?

You know, don’t you? Write them down if you’re unsure. Don’t forget Colin Baker. Got your answer? Here, I’ll even give you some options:

a) Eleven, plus the new guy makes twelve

b) Twelve, plus the new guy makes thirteen

c) Fourteen, because they made that film in the sixties, plus the new guy

d) There’s a new guy?

e) I take baths

Here is a guide to interpreting your answer:

a) WRONG

b) WRONG

c) WRONG

d) Read something else

e) Stop reading something else, it’s distracting you

Why are you so wrong, I hear you plaintively ask except with ‘am I’ instead of ‘are you’ in your part of that sentence?

Answer: CANON.

Nothing is more important in science fiction than accurate recall of and obedience to the complete, non-self-contradictory set of official, approved facts about a fictional universe. All the best fans know this, which is of course why there can’t be a black Captain America or female Ghostbusters.

It’s not up to me, of course. Canon, you see. Won’t allow it.

So it really angries up my respiratory bypass system when so-called ‘fans’ like you think you know how many Doctor Whos there have been. I bet your list looked a bit like this:

  1. William Hartnell
  2. Patrick Troughton
  3. Jon Pertwee
  4. Tom Baker
  5. Peter Davison
  6. Colin Baker
  7. Sylvester McCoy
  8. Paul McGann
  9. Christopher Eccleston
  10. David Tennant
  11. Matt Smith
  12. Peter Capaldi

You may even have cleverly inserted John Hurt in between Eight and Nine without changing the numbering, because as War Doctor he doesn’t count.

You arrogant fool. Don’t you even know Peter Cushing played Doctor Who in two movies made in the sixties? Or that Ten once regenerated into his own hand, making Eleven not Matt Smith but A Hand? And that that hand later shagged Rose Tyler?

Don’t you know that Richard E Grant played Doctor Who in 2003’s one-off, official BBC-canon webcast ‘Scream of the Shalka’, putting him between your list’s Eight (post-Cushing Nine) and Nine (post-Cushing Ten (not counting the War Doctor (who doesn’t count)))?

Don’t you even know about the 1999 Steven Moffat-penned special ‘The Curse of Fatal Death’, in which Dr. Who is played by Rowan Atkinson, Richard E Grant (again), Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Joanna Lumley, making them Doctor Whos Nine through Thirteen, slotting in between Eight (Nine) and Nine (Ten (now Fourteen (not including the War Doctor (who looks a bit confused))))?

Haven’t you even seen 1976 serial ‘The Brain of Morbius’, where a machine shows the Fourth Doctor Who earlier incarnations of himself, played by George Gallaccio, Robert Holmes, Graeme Harper, Douglas Camfield, Philip Hinchcliffe, Christopher Baker, Robert Banks Stewart and Christopher Barry, making them Dr Whos One through Eight (pushing Hartnell to Nine and Capaldi to Twenty-Five (not counting the War Doctor (who seems to have stepped out)))?

Haven’t you read the 1991 novelisation of 1989 Seven TV serial ‘Battlefield’, which depicts a future regeneration with red hair who might be Merlin, or seen controversial 1986 serial Trial of a Time Lord, in which the evil Valeyard is revealed to be an amalgam of the dark side of Dr Who between his twelfth and thirteenth regenerations (not counting the War Doctor (I think he’s down the pub))?

Don’t you even know about the Watcher, or the Dream Lord?

I bet you don’t. Yet they’re both canon and therefore the accurate and complete truth about the show about the phone-box time-travel man from space.

And you say you love Doctor Who. You sicken me. So no, you may not watch the new ‘Thirteen’ trailer again. Work on your Cyberman design-change timeline instead.

MAT LARKIN, MELBOURNE

The author has neglected to mention the limited-edition stereoscope adventure released in the late 1960s where the Doctor underwent hypnosis and recalled a past incarnation, the memory of whom he had suppressed—and not just because he realised leopard skin underpants weren't actually "cool". [Eugene Sandow], photograph by Henry Goldman, 1902, State Library of Victoria, H96.160/715.

The author has neglected to mention the limited-edition stereoscope adventure released in the late 1960s where the Doctor underwent hypnosis and recalled a past incarnation, the memory of whom he had suppressed—and not just because he realised leopard skin underpants weren't actually "cool". [Eugene Sandow], photograph by Henry Goldman, 1902, State Library of Victoria, H96.160/715.