Doctor Who’s greatest sporting triumphs

As the Olympics get under way in Rio, we count down the Time Lord’s top 10 sporting highlights

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Not too many Doctor Who fans will be offended if we suggest that, as a species, they tend not to be major jocks. Yet, if the Olympic Committee decided to add running down corridors as an event, you’d see more than a few Whovians in Rio this summer…

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Actually, sport – and not least the Olympics – have featured more heavily in Doctor Who than you might immediately think. Cricket was a favourite of the Fifth Doctor (bowling skills were also used to great effect by Ten). And Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor turned out to have quite a knack for football.

The Doctor once entered the Olympics too, and has even carried the torch – both in the show and in real life.

And, of course, let’s not forget Rose Tyler’s bronze medal for gymnastics…

10. It’s just not cricket (The Daleks’ Master Plan, 1965)

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The Doctor’s first brush with a major sporting occasion doesn’t exactly cover him in glory, as he manages to land the TARDIS right in the middle of The Oval cricket ground – just as England are battling against the clock for a win. Cricket buffs being what they are, the match commentators hastily check Wisden to see if a police box has ever materialised out of thin air in the middle of an international fixture before. (No, is the answer.) The Doctor, meanwhile, doesn’t appear to understand the rules of the game at all. But then, let’s be honest, who does?

FYI In 1976, Douglas Adams submitted a Doctor Who storyline to the BBC entitled The Krikkitmen, in which invaders from the planet Krikkit stole the Ashes during a Test Match at Lords. The idea was rejected but, true to form, Adams later recycled the idea into one of his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books.


9. Star player (Four to Doomsday, 1982)

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By the time of his fifth incarnation, the Doctor was such an aficionado of the ‘gentleman’s game’ he chose to dress as an Edwardian cricketer (albeit an Edwardian cricketer who’s still half in his pyjamas). When aliens capture him aboard their spaceship and confiscate his cricket ball, our hero protests: “It’s a memento. I used to bowl a very good Chinaman. I took five wickets once for New South Wales.”

Later, the Doctor is floating in space trying to reach his drifting TARDIS. He throws his cricket ball at the aliens’ spaceship and uses the momentum of the rebound catch to push himself towards the police box, thus proving that, even in the depths of space, the Doctor is an Englishman at hearts.

FYI For the spacewalk sequence, Peter Davison was pushed around the studio on an office chair. (They edited the chair out, obviously.)


8. Bowled over (Human Nature, 2007)

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Despite having altered his DNA to turn him into human schoolmaster John Smith, the Tenth Doctor has clearly retained some muscle memory of his cricketing prowess. While out walking with his lady love Joan in Farringham village, Smith sees a piano about to fall on a baby’s pram. Almost without thinking, he grabs a cricket ball from a young boy, throws it at some scaffolding, which collapses and hits a plank that sends a brick flying through the air, knocking down a milk churn which stops mother and baby in their tracks, moments before the piano smashes to the ground in front of them. Owzat!

FYI The teenage David Tennant was such a big fan of Peter Davison’s Doctor, his granny knitted him his own Time Lord cricketing jumper. Tennant is now married to Davison’s daughter – but hey, doesn’t everyone go to school dressed as their wife’s dad at some point?


7. It’s not getting it up… (The Power of Three, 2012)

Bored with waiting for the “slow invasion” by millions of mysterious black cubes that have appeared across the Earth, the Doctor fills the time by creosoting Amy and Rory’s fence, doing the hoovering, mowing the lawn and doing keepy-uppy with a football. Five MILLION keepy-uppies, to be precise. Who says science geeks aren’t good at sport?

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FYI Matt Smith didn’t need to fake those ball skills: a former youth player with Northampton Town, Nottingham Forest and Leicester City, he was all set for a professional career until a back injury put paid to his lifelong dream. But at least football’s loss was Doctor Who’s gain.