Doctor Who: The 10 Best Alternative Universe Doctors
There are 11 Doctors, right? We all know that. Well, they've already announced Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth debuting this Christmas, so OK, there are 12 Doctors. Then again, we know that John Hurt is playing some incarnation of The Doctor in the 50th anniversary special, and that makes 13 Doctors. Does the Meta-Crisis Tenth Doctor count because that would make 14? Jeez, how many Doctors are there?
Actually, the number could be as high as 58, if not higher.
Depending on how deep you're willing to look into the expanded universe of Doctor Who there are many Doctors who may or may not exist in the Whoniverse as we know it. Which of these are true incarnations of the legendary Time Lord and which are not? Who can say, but today we look at ten of the best Doctors Who Aren't in hopes of unraveling the mystery.
Dr. Who: In 1965 the first of two movies starring Peter Cushing as a version of The Doctor, Doctor Who and the Daleks, was released. This version of The Doctor is both totally human and explicitly named Dr. Who unlike his BBC counterpart. The Tardis is his personal invention, and he travels through space and time battling the Daleks over the course of the two films. He greatly resembles the First Doctor in appearance and nature.
There are several theories onto the relationship of Dr. Who to The Doctor. The most prevalent is that the films exist in the Whoniverse itself, and were based on memoirs published by the First Doctor's companion Barbara Wright. Another is that Dr. Who is actually a fictional creation of The Doctor himself, designed by the First Doctor to throw an enemy known as the Five O'Clock Shadow off his track.
Bayldon Doctor: The Doctor Who Unbound audio story series fielded a fantastic set of stories involving alternative universe versions of the hero. In "Auld Mortality" we meet the first of them, played by Geoffrey Bayldon who had also been considered for the role of The Doctor twice in the '60s.
This Doctor wasn't the renegade who fled Gallifrey in a stolen Tardis. Instead, he was a science fiction author who was among the most beloved on the planet. He took little interest in the outside universe, even remarking that someone should do something about the ever-expanding Thalek Empire. He uses a possibility generator to research his novels, and eventually to enlist Hannibal's army in overthrowing a corrupting Gallifreyan councilman. He eventually does succumb to the lure of the stars, and steals away with his granddaughter.
Greenpeace Doctor: In 1989 there was a musical stage version of Doctor Who dubbed "The Ultimate Adventure" written by longtime show writer Terrance Dicks. It featured three new companions, Jason, Crystal, and Zog, and saw them taking on a tag team of Cybermen and Daleks.
Jon Pertwee reprised his role as the Third Doctor to lead the production; however, he fell ill and was replaced in two shows by his understudy, David Banks. It's interesting to note that Banks sported his own unique costume rather than Pertwee's, giving rise to yet another alternative universe Doctor. Banks wore a Greenpeace shirt (Hence the nickname) underneath beige coat and pants under a brown fedora hat. He returned to the role of Karl in the play when Pertwee recovered.
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Doomsday Doctor: "The Ultimate Adventure" wasn't the first stage play version of Doctor Who Terrance Dicks had crafted. Before that he staged a new Dalek adventure between the run of Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker with an alternative Fourth Doctor played by Trevor Martin. It was called "Seven Keys to Doomsday" and it ran at the Adelphi Theatre London in 1974.
Stylistically, Martin's costume was almost identical to Pertwee's, though his would change once again when the play was restaged in 1984 with Michael Sagar in the role. Martin had previously appeared as a Time Lord in "The War Games" and was joined onstage by costar Wendy Padbury, who had played his second incarnation's companion Zoe and now appeared as his, Jenny. Martin would return to the role in 2008 when he reprised his Doctor, a gruff and tough but eloquent man, in an audio adaptation of Dicks' script.
Dr. Smith: In the early '00s Telos Publishing put out a run of classic Doctor novellas that were especially excellent. All but two featured established Doctors. Of the two remaining no one is quite certain about. Cabinet of Light featured what is believed to be one of the two alternative Ninth Doctors who appeared before Christopher Eccleston assumed the role in 2005. He wore a black coat with green collar, white shirt, a loose collar on the coat, exposing his neck and pronounced throat, and was also known to wear a hat and muffler. He was gangly, but not tall, and was the first Doctor since the First shown to smoke. He often goes under the alias of Dr. Smith.
In Cabinet of Light The Doctor is aided by a hardboiled time-sensitive detective who is hired to help keep the Tardis out of the hands of a Nazi cult. He was a convoluted man, cheerful, but full of the same sinister cunning of his Seventh incarnation.
Pete's World Doctor: This is admittedly my own speculation, but no one I have ever brought it up with has ever had an answer or even realized that there was a question to be asked on the subject. When The Doctor and Rose visited Pete's World they stopped the Cybermen and reunited Rose with her father, who was alive in this timeline whereas she didn't exist. Later, the Tenth Doctor dropped his Meta-Crisis clone and Rose off in the dimension to live as man and wife, essentially sealing them away from the universe we know.
What I've always wondered is... where is that universe's proper Doctor? There's no reason to assume that he and Gallifrey and the rest of the Whoniverse we know of aren't also somewhere in the heavens over Pete's World. Shouldn't there be an actual Doctor in that world as well, not just Meta-Crisis? It's my theory that the Hurt Doctor is in reality Pete's World's Doctor crossing over into the main universe, with Rose and Meta-Ten either following him or joining him to stop whatever calamity is imminent.
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Shalka Doctor: Another alternative Ninth Doctor was played by Richard E. Grant in "Scream of the Shalka" was a one-off flash-animated special celebrating the show's 40th anniversary. It was produced by Cosgrove Hall and broadcast on the official BBC Doctor Who website. It's one of the few officially recognized animated outings for The Doctor, and it's also by far the best. In it The Doctor saves a small sleepy town from aliens that haunt it, inspiring terror with their screams.
To get a glimpse of the Shalka Doctor you have only to imagine Grant as The Great Intelligence. He brings much of the same snideness to the role, but uses that same powerful expression tempered with an iron kindness. Interestingly enough, The Master is his companion, having been implanted into a robot body in order to earn atonement. Plans were made to expand the six-part serial into a full-length film, but were scrapped when the reboot series was greenlit.
See also: Doctor Who: A Regeneration FAQ
The Valeyard: The only alternative Doctor to appear in the series proper (Unless I'm right about the Hurt Doctor) is The Valeyard played by Michael Jayston during the Sixth Doctor's time. Unknown to the Time Lords, the Valeyard was a future incarnation of The Doctor seeking to frame his past self for crimes and ultimately execute him in a plot to steal his regenerations.
The Valeyard is one of the biggest headaches when it comes to establishing the canon of Doctor. Though name-dropped in "The Name of the Doctor" there is no telling if he is some sort of concrete destiny for The Doctor, or merely a possible one. Regardless, he represents the darkest parts of The Doctor, and one of the reasons he says, "Good men don't need rules... today is not the day to find out why I have so many."
Exile Doctor: Before Peter Capaldi was announced as the Twelfth Doctor the biggest topic for debate was whether or not we would finally get a non-white or (Gasp!) a female Doctor. The thing is, we've already had a female Doctor. Not only that, she was an American!
Or at least Arabella Weir was born in America. She played another of the Unbound Doctors in audio stories, "Exile." Her Doctor was on the run from the Time Lords, and had recently regenerated into a female after her previous incarnation committed suicide. Her Doctor is one of the most melancholy of all the Doctors, frequently drunk and hiding in exile on Earth to escape pursuit from Gallifrey. She was prone to talking to her past selves while drinking. Nonetheless, when called to act she too stood against evil.
The Other There are hints that The Doctor is more than a Time Lord, more than even the last of the Time Lords. During the Seventh Doctor's run script editor Andrew Cartmel began to lay seeds throughout Seasons 25 and 26 for something called Cartmel's Masterplan that would establish The Doctor as one of the three godlike figures that founded Time Lord society.
The Masterplan never came to fruition on television, but parts of it survived in the New Adventure line of novels. If you only ever pick up one Doctor Who novel make sure it's Lungbarrow. The book offers strikingly different looks on what we currently know of Gallifreyan society, and strongly connects The Doctor to this mysterious and powerful figure from the planet's past. The Other is also mentioned in the novelization of "Remembrance of the Daleks," where text reveals that The Other may not even have been from Gallifrey at the beginning. If he is indeed a Doctor, this could finally resolve the hint the Eighth Doctor dropped that he was half-human on his mother's side and explain his affection for Earth.
On the other hand... maybe it's just one more story amidst the thousands that surround The Doctor wherever and whenever he goes.
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