To say that the Doctor Who series is convoluted is an understatement. With more than 800 episodes, the BBC television show which began in 1963 has spread around the world becoming a franchise including novels, spin-off videos, TV specials, audio stories, short stories and comics.
The very first episode has set the tone for generations of fans, because the Doctor is discovered by the highly intelligent, Susan Foreman. She is a student at London’s Coal Hill School. Her teachers follow her to the 76 Totter’s Lane junkyard, where they discover a strange man next to a police box. Susan’s voice is heard from inside, and when the teacher’s barge in, what they see is the amazing interior of what fans come to learn is the TARDIS; an object which is larger inside than its exterior dimensions. Though the man refers to himself as the Doctor, Susan calls him Grandfather. Though nobody understands how, the Doctor takes them all away to a different place in space and time.
The mysterious Doctor, has been synonymous with intelligent science fiction ideas ever since. The millions of fans who have watched his adventures over more than 50 years are avid collectors of Doctor Who trivia. More importantly, they are vigilant observers of continuity, and never seem to resist the challenges of unearthing the Doctor’s alien origins. He has remained a mysterious figure for decades.
While heated discussion revolves around which parts of the extensive Dr. Who franchise should be regarded as canon, fans also enjoy picking at unresolved hints, creative revelations, and discontinuities. Explanations of these often reach a level of fervor which is unequaled in the science fiction world. Adding fuel to the fire, is that the BBC has never described a formal canon. Other science fiction universes do have organized canons which help fans to understand the characters, the backstories and story lines. But, Doctor Who, remains open for alternative explanations about its mysteries.
Take a look at the theories with toothy longevity and some just posted in the May 2017 forums:
When the Doctor regenerates each time, the new incarnation changes not only his personality and face, but also his name.
What is the Doctor’s name? This continuing mystery has been a puzzle for as long as Doctor Who has been in existence. The first episode started it all. Susan called him Grandfather, but he called himself the Doctor. He’s been called many things throughout the decades, but nothing has confirmed his actual name. The story is that his name is written in Gallifreyan: an alien language which has not been translated. His name is described as “unpronounceable”. The Doctor himself finds it difficult to say his own name, and struggles with unexplained emotions because of it. If this theory pans out to be true, then the Doctor may very well have many different names…just like royalty. Fans everywhere have debated, and continue to debate this question. It’s one of the most popular puzzles of the series.
There were other Doctors before the first Doctor.
William Hartnell was the first actor who portrayed the Doctor. His face is what many fans consider to be the true first face of what would become the canon for the show. It is assumed that Hartnell’s performance is the Doctor’s first incarnation. But there are fans who are speculating that the Doctor has led other lives and had other faces before he was first seen on television. How crazy is that? Fans have turned to this reasoning because the classic episodes of Doctor Who hinted that there had already been regenerations of the Doctor’s face. After all, River Song, his love interest, states that his own first rule is “the Doctor lies”.
James Bond and Mary Poppins are Time Lords.
The parallels between James Bond and the Doctor are too tempting to avoid. James Bond is the same name inherited by each 007 who takes on the MI6 duties. His face changes periodically, just like the Doctor’s does. But, James continues to have new adventures. Some fans have intertwined the two characters by explaining that Bond, is in fact, a Time Lord who regenerates after he dies. The theory is tantalizing. Each Bond comes complete with the memories and capabilities of the previous one. Such a happy comparison!
The parallels between Mary Poppins and the Doctor begin with her handbag, which in similar fashion to the TARDIS, is obviously bigger on the inside than its outer dimensions would warrant. Both share the ability to travel on the clouds over London. The Doctor can travel into Time Lord paintings, and Mary Poppins is able to travel into chalk drawings. Both Mary and the Doctor wear similar outfits, and speak in proper English. Some fans have even speculated that Mary’s secret home is Gallifrey, and that her magical powers are amazingly similar to the Doctor because they share the same origins.
That’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! (Is that Gallifreyan? Hmm…we never knew…)
The word ‘doctor’ exists in the English language as a result of the Doctor’s travels throughout the universe and time.
In this fan theory, the Doctor has left an indelible impression as a healer. People all over the universe have been recipients of his help and care. For this reason, languages throughout the universe recognize the name of “Doctor”.
This theory is not new, but constantly in discussions. It was first posted in 1995. The “fan” who posted it was the head writer for Doctor Who, and the current showrunner. It appeared in the episode A Good Man Goes to War. Since then, it has been considered part of the canon of the Who universe. According to screenrant.com, at the time, when it appeared in the fan forum, the fan who posted it also called it “a particularly stupid theory”. But, it continues to resurface regularly as new fans enter the forums and the Who universe to share their ideas.
Something ominous is hidden away in the Vault.
The May 7, 2017 posts online at The Doctor Who Forum have been peppered with speculation about this one. Nobody knows what or who is the occupant in the vault. Some fans viewed the episode as spooky, creepy and weird. Some posted that the Doctor may be keeping Missy safely away from the evil forces which are gathering toward her. Some point toward a future incarnation of the Doctor kept safe in the vault until the time is right. Perhaps the vault-dweller is a new character who is the Doctor’s prisoner? The piano plays so viewers never see who the Doctor interacts with…and this is drawing out the curiosity in many fans. Keep watching for the latest reveal!