Believed Dead: an article by: GF Willmetts.

May 1, 2022 | By | Reply More

Picture this, you’re from Earth and been travelling with a certain Time Lord and finally decide you want to return and stay home. Assuming you haven’t come back after a few years, the Doctor is notorious for not returning you to even the right year let alone right day so no one knows you’ve been missing, what happens next if you come from the UK? You’ll have to forgive me on this but most of the Doctor’s companions were picked up over here than in other parts of the world. So how do you explain to the DSS where you’ve been and sorting out your national insurance, find your bank balance has been paralysed from lack of use or even closed as people assume you’ve died and all other details of living a normal life. You do become very much a non-person.

There have been a few companions who’ve had to sort it out. From what Sarah Jane Smith said in her own adventures, she had tracked down some of the earlier companions who’ve had successful careers after arriving back on Earth, mostly using what they learnt from travelling with the Doctor. Many of these arrived back prior to the sort of scrutiny we have today regarding being alive status. Presumably they sorted out the problems above. Mind you, we don’t really learn much about their lives prior to their time travels. Getting their official status reinstated, I suspect they’ll just say they had the urge to travel without saying where, although without the use of a passport it would have to be in the UK. Who’s going to believe they were time travellers?

Of course, any of them with some knowledge of UNIT can probably use the connection to sort out the red tape. Indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me if UNIT did under go some sort of debriefing with any known companions and pay for information in exchange. After all, these ex-companions aren’t criminals. When you consider the problems some of the returnees had coming back to a sterling economy, let alone inflation, that might not be a bad thing, assuming UNIT knows who they are. I doubt if they would see it as a disservice to the Doctor and would probably be cautious as to what they reveal, not so much to understand the technology but to prepare against alien threats. This would explain some of the advances in UNIT and Torchwood over the years. One only has to look at the example of Prime Minister Harriet Jones decided to attack and destroy the Sycorax, even if it did cause the end of her career for being too old.

Even so, this problem must also exist for all other people who’ve been off-world for extended periods of time but never covered and not returned to Earth regularly like the recent Doctor regenerations have been doing.

So, what about parts of the world? With the abductees from the 1977 film ‘Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’, certainly the red tape would have been wavered but for many of the earliest ones, any immediate relatives would be long deceased. It would be less surprising if a small town was created to keep them all together and adjust to modern life rather than drop into a situation they would not be prepared for. Certainly, ‘The 4400’ followed that premise, although all were settled in suburb of Seattle. Considering that they had to be under observation off-world and then on return to Earth might either be unsettling or something they were used to.

Of course, with a setting like the USA, it is possible to find work without identification checks or the likes of ‘The Fugitive’ or ‘The Incredible Hulk’ TV series would have made it rather difficult for these drifters, Richard Kimble and David Banner, to move on or basic necessities like eating and boarding houses. A similar situation would happen to any returnee who wanted to duck under the radar. I doubt if they would take the route of ‘Resident Alien’ where he replaces the real but dead Doctor Harry Vanderspeigle, helped by being able to hypnotise most people into not seeing his real appearance. Of course, in the earlier 1976 film ‘Man Who Fell To Earth’, Thomas Jerome Newton had the necessary forged documents and used it sell his dead wife’s wedding ring duplicates many times over to acquire the necessary currency. If humans were so lucky.

However, we are looking at the problems of humans arriving back on Earth and re-establishing their identities. We’ve seen how people who live on the planet do this for various reasons, the commonest reason is insurance fraud. Unless relatives or nearest of kin, not necessarily the same thing, have put in an insurance claim, the traveller won’t have that problem and it takes at least 7 years before someone can be declared dead, based on the time needed for divorce by absence. It can be longer but we are looking at the possibility and at how eager the will is needed to be read. There is also a matter of the traveller’s accommodation and who has been paying rent and paying utility bills. Chances are they haven’t and one can only hope some personal possessions are placed into storage than sold. In that eventuality, the traveller must also think about the reaction visiting nearest and dearest, not to mention talking to the police about any missing person notices. Have fun explaining where you’ve been without lying. I mean, really, you’ve been travelling in time and space. Better to plead amnesia and reduce the number of questions asked. I mean, who’s going to believe you’re a time/space traveller? Anyone would think you’ve making it up because you’ve seen a successful long-term TV series. Even apparent abductees in our own reality have gotten back to Earth within the right time frame.

If all was so easy for current companions. Rose Tyler told her mother in retrospect. Donna Noble had the right idea by bringing her luggage and obviously told her parents where she was going, even if we never see it taken out of the TARDIS afterwards. With the likes of Amy Pond and Rory Williams…well, they never got home…at least in their original time zone. The modern Doctors, taking advantage of current mobile phone technology and advanced Time Lord technology from the TARDIS allowed direct communication with home for his human companions who chose to use it which is quite an advancement.

So, what would you do if you are offered such adventures and had time to make arrangements? Tell family and friends you’re off travelling and see them when you can. Make sure your homes are sorted out if you have time or at least put anything valuable in storage. Quite how you can prevent identity fraud would be a lot more difficult, so we’ll have to assume you have a quiet word with your bank about large purchases.

Not given enough time, then everything is up in the air and I think you would have to have a serious think before going. Of course, you could be alien abducted and then you have no choice in the matter. Even so, alien abductions, as far as we know, have not happened for extended periods. At most a week but usually a couple days so the problems of above are less likely to happen. Human kidnappers keep human captives much longer and far more dangerous.

Of course, we could have a CE3K situation with all the missing people over the decades but either way, said aliens have to be in the local neighbourhood to keep coming back rather than travel any considerable distance. Always remember, there has neve been an instance of aliens on any world asking for your passport, visa or other forms of identification. Nor have they done any medical checks. One can only hope they’ve sorted out any contamination problems or can give you the right inoculations.

If you think returning to Earth must cause problems, imagine what it must be like if you decide to stay on an alien planet and a bureaucracy that you’re not familiar with. These things seem to be non-existent or we are never shown them in any series. Maybe its under the ‘happy ever after’ category and we are never allowed to see what happens next.

© GF Willmetts 2022

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Category: Doctor Who


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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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