You think you know Doctor Who? Just like his sprawling time machine, the Doctor’s mythology and mystery are too expansive and weird to be contained in a finite space. Here are 10 things you might not know about Doctor Who.
10 – The Doctor almost met God.
John Wiles, who took over as producer of the show after original producer Verity Lambert left in 1965, wanted to push the show in a more experimental direction. And one of his ideas was a story called “The Face of God.” According to Wiles, “the TARDIS is stopped in mid-air by this enormous face which claims to be that of God himself. Of course towards the end it would be proven that all was not as it seemed.” Wiles was surprised to see his idea appear, nearly a quarter of a century later, in the movie Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. (You can just picture William Hartnell asking, “What does God need with a time machine?”)
9 – At least three different races have secretly guided the human race and helped us develop our current technology. The Daemon, Azal, reveals that the Daemons have helped humanity to advance to its present state of sophistication, and now we’re to be tested (in “The Daemons.”) The Fendahl also turns out to have guided the whole of human history to the moment where it could be released (in “Image of the Fendahl.”) And Scaroth, last of the Jagaroth, uses his various time-splintered selves to help the human race advance more quickly throughout history, so he can build a time machine in the 20th century. (“City of Death.”) Plus there’s some implication the Osirians (from “Pyramids of Mars”) did some guiding of humanity here and there. You have to wonder if they weren’t falling over each other at some point.
7 – The Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, tried to create a couple of Doctor Who movies. One of them was Doctor Who Meets Scratchman, a film in which the Doctor would have tangled with the Devil (aka Scratchman, as he’s sometimes called in folklore) along with Daleks and robots called Cybors. There were also scarecrows made of bones, which came to life. And both Vincent Price and Twiggy would have co-starred. And then there was Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen, which Baker tried to develop with then-writer Douglas Adams — who wound up using many of the ideas in his third Hitchhiker’s book, Life, The Universe and Everything.
6 – Mick Jagger’s estate, Stargroves, was used in two 1970s Doctor Who stories. These were “Pyramids of Mars” and “Image of the Fendahl.” As far as we know, Jagger wasn’t actually present during the filming of either story, and they only shot exterior location shots at Stargroves. Nor were any Jagaroth involved.
5 – The Doctor was originally planned to be an anti-science reactionary. With a time machine. All of the original documents behind the creation of Doctor Who are online at the BBC, and they make for fascinating reading. Among other things, there’s a memo outlining a very different type of show about a team of “Troubleshooters” who solve problems. Also, various ideas for how the Doctor’s time machine could be disguised — like, it’s a clear bubble, or we never even see it at all — are tossed out. But the craziest notion is that the Doctor is traveling through time and space to find a perfect, idyllic past, free of science and technology. “He is an extension of the scientist who has opted out… One symptom of this is his hatred of scientists, inventors, improvers. … He malignantly tries to stop progress (the future) wherever he finds it, while searching for his ideal (the past).”
4 -Tom Baker wanted to have a talking cabbage as a companion. At least, so legend has it. The talking cabbage would have been an alien creature that sat on the Doctor’s shoulder, and could have served as a replacement when Louise Jameson (Leela) left the series. Baker was also quite keen on the idea of the Doctor having a much older woman as a companion.
2 – The Daleks almost didn’t appear in the new series at all. The original co-creator of the Daleks, Terry Nation, owned the copyright of the show’s most famous monsters. At various points during the show’s history, the Daleks had been off limits (notably 1968-1971) and Nation’s Estate was leery of letting the revamped show use them in 2005. While Rob Shearman was working on his script, “Dalek,” negotiations broke down altogether — the show couldn’t include the Daleks at all. Shearman explained to Den of Geek:
I’m afraid I panicked a bit for a week or two. I came up with other ideas for new episodes altogether, but I was trying too hard – and eventually Russell sat me down, gave me a new monster to plug the gap, and sent me back to work. The identity of that monster, the fact it wasn’t an iconic Dalek, changed the entire script from top to bottom – it made it much funnier, actually, which I rather liked. What he gave me was a silver ball, and told me that within it he’d later reveal an entire human head from the end of time – they had come out of nowhere, these mysterious creatures, killed the Time Lords, killed the Daleks….
Russell told me that he had in mind that those silver balls were part of a season three idea he’d now brought forward – and, sure enough, at the end of season three there they were, now called the Toclafane. He’s a clever chap, Russell.
Of course, in the end, the Terry Nation estate relented and the Daleks were able to appear after all. But it’s fascinating to imagine how things could have played out differently if the Toclafane had been the villains of season one.
1 – The Doctor could have had an evil son. The show’s original star, William Hartnell, was keen on doing a storyline called “The Son of Doctor Who.” No, this wouldn’t have been an earlier version of “The Doctor’s Daughter.” As Hartnell explained:
At one time (in late 1964) I thought we might extend the series and I suggested giving the Doctor a son and calling the programme The Son of Doctor Who. The idea was for me to have a wicked son. We would both look alike, each have a TARDIS and travel in outer space. In actual fact, it would have meant that I had to play a dual role when I `met’ my son.
Would this son have been the father of the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan? The BBC shot down the idea, so we’ll never know.