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Published on August 12th, 2011 | by Alasdair Shaw

The Twelfth Doctor?

We all know the men who have played the Doctor. If we’re being honest most of us could probably give you their names and the years during which they played most people’s Time Lord of choice. If pressed we could even enter the murky waters of Doctors of an uncertain canon; Peter Cushing, Richard E Grant (twice!), Rowan Atkinson, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and even Joanna Lumley.

But there’s a canon Doctor that everyone seems to neglect; Michael Jayston.

And he did play the Doctor, whither you like it or not. Even if he did it under the guise of a Valeyard.

For those of you not versed in the Classic Series or Wikipedia the Valeyard appeared throughout Series 23, giving him more appearances as the Doctor than Paul McGann. His role as Valeyard saw him constantly at odds with the 6th Doctor throughout the Trial of a Time Lord. The  end of the trial saw the Master reveal him as the Doctor, albeit a dark distillation. Not unlike a certain Dream Lord we encountered in 2010. Not that I’m saying the two are linked….

It should come as no surprise that I’m a Valeyard fan. Sylvester McCoy was my Doctor, so of course I like my Doctors dark. It’s a large part of what I’m enjoying about Matt Smith’s interpretation of the Doctor.

Michael Jayston has gone one step further than McCoy and Smith though. Rather than just hinting at the sinister side of the Doctor, he is in fact the Doctor embracing his dark side. Which in itself highlights the problem that most fans have with the idea of the Valeyard; no-one likes to accept that he has a dark side. The Doctor is meant to be the hero, the unerring moral compass, the man who steps up and proclaims “This is wrong!” I can understand how his less pure impulses growing arms and legs would unnerve fans that hold the Doctor in this light.

However it’s a pedestal with a very shakey leg that these fans are placing the Doctor on. This is, after all, the same man that was prepared to smash in the head of a caveman to secure his own safety (back in 1963′s 100,000 BC), gave scant regard to abandoning his friends in an attempt to escape exile and to a man who overlooked the moral dilemmas involved with genocide until he was seconds away from committing it. And if the Fourth Doctor had any qualms about the Genocide of the Daleks they weren’t shared by the Seventh Doctor and whichever regeneration finally pulled the plug on them during the Time War.

All the Doctors, with the possible exception of the Fifth Doctor, have had more than a hint of darkness about them. None more so than the Seventh and the Eleventh looks to be becoming more comfortable with this aspect of himself with every passing episode.

So then why does the Valeyard continue to be met with such little regard? Is it because no-one referred to him as the Doctor apart from the Master? Possibly and since when was he a trustworthy source of information anyway?

For anyone who’s unsure of just where they stand on this issue I’d strongly recommend listening to the Big Finish audio He Jests at Scars. Here Michael Jayston reprises the role and we get to hear him as the Doctor without having to share screen time with Colin Baker.

Anyway, I’ll leave you with one final thought before I depart: If the Valeyard is indeed a Doctor from the future (a debate I’ll refrain from for just now) and the Anthony Ainley recognised him as the Doctor does that mean the phrase should be ‘Time has been rewritten’ rather than ‘Time can be rewritten’?

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About the Author

Alasdair Shaw dabbled in Who throughout the 80s, but didn’t really get into it properly until 1989. His sense of timing has not improved over the years. He’s a third generation Who fan as well as a father of two. His wife has a bad feeling about those two facts. When not working as a lab technician or writing for Kasterborous Alasdair runs the Doctor Who Reprint Society for which he writes In Print and Dangling Threads. He’s a big fan of the Valeyard, but that’s neither here nor there. He has never worked for UNIT and is not related to Dr Liz Shaw.




19 Responses to The Twelfth Doctor?


  1. Without rewatching the Trial of the Timelord (at this time) I was always under the impression the Valeyard was a sort of ‘inbetween’ Doctor. A sort of amalgamation of all his dark side in the flesh. For what purpose and how? I’m still unclear. Essentially, I’ve always taken him as a sort of ‘the Watcher’ character, an aspect of the Doctor, not a proper Doctor. But you certainly make a valid point, in that he shouldn’t be forgotten. And I’ll take your advice and look for that Big Finish adventure.

    • Alasdair Shaw says:

      To be fair the waters were muddied by the creative team at the time. The phraseology used by the Master falls short os outright stating that this is the Twelfth Doctor. However this was undoubtedly the initial intention.

      What separates the Watcher and the Valeyard, at least in my mind, is the level of interaction they have with the rest of the characters. The Watcher lives up to his name in a very stalker-like fashion whilst the Valeyard quite happily interacts and even manipulates.

      It’s quite similar to the relationship between Cho-Je and K’anpo Rinpoche. In fact I tend to view the Watcher as the first sign of the Doctor attempting to copy his mentor and the Valeyard as the culmination.

      Hope you enjoy “He Jests at Scars”!


  2. I really don’t think it’s a good show that we haven’t previously tackled the Valeyard in 7 years of Kasterborous!

    • Alasdair Shaw says:

      Interestingly enough a quick search provides a few fleeting references here and there.

      Seems fitting somehow…….

  3. Jan Bos says:

    I”m at the point of watching the third Trial of a Timelord
    and I”m not happy with revealing that the Valeyard is a dark Doctor. You spoiled it for me, so please can you warn the readers at that point for the spoiler ?

    • Dave says:

      How can it be a spoiler? Its 25 years ago.

  4. Simon says:

    To be fair, in the beginning when William Hartnell first appeared as The Doctor, the character was perceived as an anti-hero; neither a hero nor a villian, and the Valeyard in some respects works much the same way.

    You do bring up an interesting point, though. There has been the increasing suspicion that the 12th Doctor will be a dark incarnation, or at the very least a referral to someone who’s lived for so long he’s grown weary of being seen as the hero without much to show beyond his experiences.

    I think the reality is that every character has a darkness and, without it, they don’t know the difference between that and the light. If it rears its head every once in a while in the show, it keeps stories interesting.

  5. Pharap says:

    It depends whether you count the audio books and other books as canon. I wouldn’t really count them as canon.

    Also, Matt smith isn’t that dark, he’s just got a bit more mystery about him and he gets angry quite alot. When it comes to morality he still wouldn’t do the genocide thing. Ten was alot darker than Eleven is.

    I agree that the doctor has some darkness to him, but the valeyard was not himself the Doctor, he was an aspect of him, much like the watcher or the dream lord, or even (arguably) the metacrisis Doctor. Since the valeyard’s origins were never fully explained, and he was only described as an aspect somewhere between the doctor’s 12th and final incarnations, you cannot rush to the conclusion that he ‘is’ the Doctor. He could just as easily be a mutated clone or the result of a metacrisis with another timelord.

  6. Mugen Pharoah says:

    I think Robert Holmes’ original intention was that he was a future incarnation, but with the whole last part fudge that got watered down and more vague.

    I’ve always, since the original broadcast, found the Valeyard fascinating – there are so many possibilities with him. I’ve always felt he was the real deal, and in light of the modern series maybe there to change the past, to avoid the time war, his own future death..anything really. he is said to have the Doctor’s handwriting too. And who’s to say that the thirteen lives rule is solid anymore? Especially since SJA ‘Death of the Doctor’..so he could be a full incarnation “somewhere between the Doctor’s twelfth and final incarnation”

    There is an unofficial novel called ‘Time’s Champion’ which explores the end of the Sixth Doctor’s life and the Valeyard, which is worth a read. I also enjoyed ‘He Jests at Scars’.

    Also unknown to the doctor (spoiler warning!!!!!) the Valeyard survives at the end. I like to think the Dream Lord is the (ahem) seed of the Valeyard (he ‘teleports’ in a similar fashion)

    Michael Jayston is a fantastic actor and manages to be threatening while wearing a funny hat. If that doesn’t make you a Doctor…..

  7. Anonymous says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Doctor is somewhat based off of Sherlock Holmes– and Lord knows THAT character has a dark side! Considering that the Moff writes for both DW and Sherlock…

    While I’ll admit I’m one of those folks who prefers her Doctor to be a shining beacon of moral rectitude, he’d be a pretty boring character if he were a Care Bear all the time. If you love Care Bears, more power to you, but DW has never been in that genre of children’s show. It shouldn’t be. The drama inherent in our Doc going Moriarty on us is really too delicious to pass up. I’d be sorely disappointed if the new series let that storyline go by the wayside.

    Furthermore, like Holmes, the Doctor needs a good friend in order to function. Donna says he needs “someone to stop” him. I wonder if in spite of the news of her imminent departure if it will be Amy, someone who knows what it’s like to stray over into the dark side and then regret it, will be his Watson right when he needs one most. Perhaps that’s where all this first question stuff is going. It’ll be interesting to see.

    One more note: It’s nice to hear somebody say something nice about “Trial.”


  8. I have thought that the Valeyard might be a character not unlike the Master who “stole” the Traken leader’s body. For instance, is it possible, since there is mention that the Valeyard was promised the remaining regenerations of the Doctor that he is not the Doctor, but some other entity who aligned with the Master, or somehow got into a position to merge with the Doctor and therefore had “strains” of the Doctor’s morality within that he had to purge and by “killing” the real doctor in the past, he could eradicate those qualms. None of it makes that much sense and how odd that the Doctor would become truly ‘evil’ – dark, yes – tortured, indeed – but evil, no!

  9. Emma says:

    You are forgetting, in trial of a time lord, the master also told us the Valeyard is a subject from a regeneration gone wrong between the 11th and 12th. With the way Matt is going with the evilness of his doctor, I believe this evilness will just split when he regenerates. That split being the vale yard. My friends believe the twelve one (the other half) will be a hippy. I sure hope not…


    • The Master says “twelfth and final”, so it could really mean anything…

  10. Morgan says:

    The novelization of “Ultimate Foe” confuses matters further as it has the Master state “The Valeyard, Doctor, is your penultimate reincarnation… Somewhere between your twelfth and thirteenth regeneration” implying that the Valeyard is the Doctor’s THIRTEENTH incarnation and like the Master the Doctor will find a way to get a 14th incarnation.

  11. Kingkid says:

    No one has pointed out that the 10th doctor clearly and directly states in “The End of Time” he cannot cross his own time line, and as 9 shows us thats besause it creates a rip in the fabric of time. If valeyard and Doctor are diffrent regenerations of the same being they shouldnt have been able to interact that offten.

    Further timelords can recignise eachother dispite regenerations, Assuming the doctor dosen’t know its himself, why wouldn’t the others know right off? I think he is a diffrent person created useing some part of the doctor.

    • Morgan says:

      Mainly because any claim that the Doctor cannot cross his own timeline is thrown out the window by the classic series stories Three Doctors, Five Doctors, and Two Doctors. Also Battlefield has him indirectly interacting with a future version of himself.

    • Rule One says:

      The Doctor said he can’t cross his own time line? Wow, must be true then. Oh wait, Rule One. The Doctor lies.

  12. josh says:

    What about River Song? in the impossible astronaut she’s there in the same place, at the same time as the astronaut, as herself, and as pregnant Amy’s baby. That’s one big ball of tangled time-stream yarn!

  13. Jef. says:

    So… is John Hurt the Valeyard? …are we at that point at last ?

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