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The Universe The Doctor Built: an article by, GF Willmetts.

Since the Hartnell regeneration, the Doctor’s travels through time and space, resolving various problems on different planets have shaped reality and tweaked it. More so as these are not significant fixed moments in time that can’t or rather shouldn’t be changed.

There are still some areas where he knows he can tamper with but even so the places where he or she has been have still needed an intervention to resolve for it to move in the right direction.

Quite how the Time Lords knows the difference is a big question mark. One only needs to observe how the Earth-dwellers have survived alien invasions and moved out into the galaxy and realise their progress would have been a lot slower had the Doctor not sorted things out from time to time (sic).

The Universe The Doctor Built: an article by, GF Willmetts.

Although the Time Lords have chastised him as well, it’s hardly surprising with the time-space picture the Doctor is fulfilling his own destiny as well as rewriting areas of history at the points they were needed. The Time Lords themselves even deployed the Pertwee regeneration to do some modifications in the time stream, contrary to the reason why the Troughton regeneration was finally put on trail and sentenced.

This also explains how intergalactic police forces like the Judoon are now here when they weren’t for the Doctor’s earlier regenerations. There aren’t that many time travellers messing with reality and the primary ones are the Doctor and Master/Missy and might well be a consequence of some interference. Although the Daleks and some Cybermen variants have achieved time travel, they have been very careful not to violate their own earlier timelines lest more incursions are made by others to correct them.

When you consider that the Daleks have faced extermination by the Doctor several times, including the destruction of Skaro twice, they’ve always maintained some hidden factions to repopulate which should speak for itself. Even the Daleks will exhibit some level of caution for their own survival. Considering the earliest Cybermen kept troops in hibernation, it also tends to indicate they knew when to keep their heads down for an appropriate time.

This does tend to suggest that both Daleks and Cybermen have some awareness of their own timelines and might also have noticed that they can’t see ahead of their own current timeline. None appear to know their own personal futures.

A major advantage the Time Lords have, as far as we know, is an awareness of the reality timeline and know what is not to be violated. There are problems with some of the renegade Time Lords but the remaining members on Gallifrey are aware that some of these violations have to happen or you would think the Monk, Master and Rani would have been imprisoned than allowed to flee in their own TARDISes. As they cross over with the Doctor’s timeline frequently they have their place in events that need to happen that way.

There has to be some level of temporal censorship preventing even the Time Lords from knowing their own fates or these other renegades might have chosen other courses of action than they did. All they would be aware of is a sense of if they don’t let such events happen then they might well be messing with future consequences. The Time Lord creed of non-interference is more to do with preventing them all continually tampering and just watching for dangerous consequences.

Mind you, there is a lot to watch. The fact that the Master and the truly bad renegades have not done worse but might have done the right things by their actions will bear some thinking about.

That does present a problem as to whether the Doctor is aware of his own contribution to adjusting the overall universe timeline. After all, he rarely returns to places where there are significant changes and the very rare times he has done so, he’s seen a bad result and sought to correct it. Whether that has made him not to do so again or the TARDIS itself presenting more immediate challenges is hard to say.

As a time traveller, there’s always plenty more time to fit them in as long as avoids him/herselves in the timeline. Sometimes, it is the accumulative change from a single change in direction and letting things sort themselves out their own way. To continually correct similar mistakes or improvements on the same planet has only really been applied to Earth and its colony planets but when you consider how mankind has spread across the galaxy, the Doctor’s interference might be seen as ensuring this species particular destiny is fulfilled for some undisclosed reason.

Of course, the timelines are always changing and there is a possibility that this is leading to a more perfect version or at least what should be. The Doctor’s preposition with Earth probably comes from the knowledge of their position in the galaxy population as they expand across it and there have been many places where that could have ended prematurely.

From what we have seen with the Tennant Doctor, he also knows and been to mankind’s final fate or at least that of the planet Earth. However, there is still a matter of whether this will stay the same with his/her, shall we say, tampering with earlier events or are they ensuring that future will still happen the way it should.

Let’s have a closer look at this flow of timeline but in a generic way. Most of these centre around some event that will have a significant change in the timeline, usually by an invasion although that isn’t always the rule. Having someone significant survive, like Adelaide Brooke, has her commit suicide rather than change the timeline having been returned to Earth.

Saying that, you do have to wonder what the authorities had to say when they found her body on Earth but, as we know, they also cover up such things from time to time and they didn’t know how she had returned to Earth so history is maintained. After being seen as a ‘celebrity’ by humans with the Eccleston and Tennant regenerations, the Doctor has sought to reduce such status than be seen as a crutch to get mankind out of serious problems.

The Doctor attributes humans forgetting many of the 19th and 20th century alien invasions of Earth to them having poor memories but there is also a distinct possibility that his meddling has also contributed to their forgetfulness or at least significant areas of it as Earth history is constantly being corrected and we have seen several alternatives, witness ‘Inferno’ and ‘Day Of The Daleks’ in the Pertwee regeneration. Some of these invasions might actually have been relegated to alternative histories by further corrections earlier in the universe timeline.

His TARDIS has also not been unknown to travel in different timelines and some might not have ended up at their extreme elements of destruction and not sorting out one timeline, corrects the primary timeline at the same time. Just because we don’t see the alternative realities, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist and have been shown several times in the Tennant regeneration. However, when you consider he was trapped by the Master and reality had to be reoriented one would take it reality was suffering after-shocks for some time, although it did make it easier for a human clone of the Doctor and Rose to live in an alternative reality.

This does not explain why these so-called ‘fixed points’ are immutable and not others. Although the Doctor did not change the ‘Genesis Of The Daleks’, he did adjust the Dalek genome to give a little humanity to them that they didn’t have before although we haven’t fully seen what they would be like before that. Based off that, we must have seen the more humanised Daleks than the originals that would have more ruthless.

The occasions when they have been tampered with does have dire circumstances for reality but is it because of the event or lack of it? Never underestimate the butterfly effect where the change of one event can have massive repercussions further down the timeline. It might actually be a cascade moment from one fixed point to the next. In many respects, the Doctor’s actions might also be preventing that from happening.

The primary purpose of the Time Lords of Gallifrey, as they see it, is to record history as it should be happening rather than to interfere with it. As such, they would have seen some not all of the events when renegade Time Lords have contributed to the timeline in some beneficial or malevolent way and become part of history. They can hardly turn around and tell them to carry on that way. Far better to ensure they carry on by forcing their rebellion. Although it does leave a little matter of the War Chief and even researching him has thrown up anomalies.

As I tend to regard fiction outside of novelisations to not be part of the televised exploits of the Doctor, one has to consider that the War Chief had indeed been tampering with what would have been a fixed point in time and his complete death and eradication from the timeline would allow a different malevolence in the form of the Master who wouldn’t share his time travel secrets with alien races. The timeline is served. Possibly.

The significance of ‘The War Games’ was allowing the Doctor to be captured and returned to Gallifrey to face his first trial. The Troughton regeneration gave a good account of his activities but it served its purpose in forcing a regeneration, incapacitating the TARDIS and placing the Doctor back on Earth where he would be needed for a couple years. If the Time Lords truly wanted him stopped, then they wouldn’t have left him with a TARDIS or finally allow him to return to meddling. This truly suggests that the Time Lords must have realised the Doctor’s place in the time stream, as indeed with the other renegades and reduce their interference with their activities.

Then again, when you consider the occasional attempted and succeeded invasions of Gallifrey and the final Time War, they might also have been aware that even their own position in the timeline was not infinite. A rather cruel paradox on their own purpose in timeline events. One should also consider the problem for any time-travelling species that inevitably they will wipe out their own presence in the timeline or know some other event might also restore themselves from an alternative timeline. Had the Time Lords been a little more upfront with manipulating change in the timeline, maybe their presence would have been more prolonged. As pointed out above, they might well have not been aware of their own fate.

So we come back to the few renegade Time Lords. When is a renegade actually a good person? In many respects, the Time Lords place the likes of the Master, Monk, Morbius, the Rani and the Doctor under the same renegade category. However, something they all have in common is violation of non-interference with other species. What differentiates the Doctor is that he’s been mostly beneficial, sometimes even correctly what his fellow renegades have done.

Considering that when the Doctor was exiled to Earth, a covert organisation unit of the Time Lords assigned him particular tasks in time/space to reduce his sentence and their accountability, you would have to wonder why they didn’t recruit him? I suspect the time it took for them to make a decision, let alone implement would have found him wanting. Even with all the regeneration lifetimes available to him/her, there is a certain period and appearance that the Doctor must adhere to in events. Leaving these decisions to his/her TARDIS as to when these are done has probably ensured his/her own travels for so long.

Unlike the other renegades, the Doctor has also been the only one to have a series of mostly human companions accompany him/her on his travels. When its been noted what these companions have done after leaving him and making a mark on their own timelines, then they are fulfilling important events in galactic history that they wouldn’t have done otherwise.

Certainly, in the case of Sarah Jane Smith, her own adventures cover events when the Doctor couldn’t possibly be everywhere. As such, whether the Doctor knows this or not, his/her actions are moulding reality beyond his/her immediate actions.

Have we seen the final version of this reality the Doctor is creating in his wake? Maybe some in parts. We have seen a version of the end of the planet Earth and even of the human race but not how it happened. Mankind and its colonised worlds has been through multiple revolutions, hibernations, invasions and wars. One can only wonder if a different species would have been as successful or less benevolent overall. There is certainly no comment from the Daleks or Cybermen on this matter.

GF Willmetts

July 2021


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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