Is Doctor Who adapting the lost 'Lungbarrow' story for Jodie Whittaker?
We’d say it’s unlikely, but that’s what we said about the Morbius Doctors…
It’s official – no Doctor Who theory is too outlandish any more. After series 12’s finale essentially canonised the Morbius Doctors and added Jo Martin’s Time Lord to the roster of regenerations, we’d say any and all bets are off for deep-cut fan ideas about the series as it continues.
Which is why we’re not dismissing out of hand the latest theory about Doctor Who: Flux, and specifically the idea that the series might be drawing from a story that never actually made it to TV – Lungbarrow, written by Marc Platt for Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor but left on the shelf until Platt adapted it into a book some years later.
“That was too internal a script to really work as a drama,” Doctor Who script editor Andrew Cartmel said in 2019.
“It was a brilliant, kind of gothic notion, but I think it was ideally suited to the novel that he [Platt] turned it into, into a sort of [Gormenghast author] Mervyn Peake prose thing.
“But I think as a piece of mainstream television drama, it just couldn’t really have happened, because it was too inward, too internal, too inherently undramatic.”
That story would have delved into the ancestry and backstory of the Doctor, centred around his/her ancestral home of Lungbarrow – and now some fans think they might have seen that abandoned family seat in new series 13 episode War of the Sontarans, specifically within a black-and-white vision scene where Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor gazed up at a ruined, floating house before the main action of the story kicked off.
It might seem a little outlandish, but Lungbarrow (and the system of growing Time Lords in “looms” introduced within it) is an influential piece of Doctor Who lore, even if it has never been officially made canon with the main series. Who’s to say showrunner Chris Chibnall hasn’t decided to take some inspiration from this seminal Doctor Who text as he similarly explores the Doctor’s lost origins?
After all, as noted he’s delved into strange corners of the classic series before. While the Brain of Morbius storyline (which introduced the idea of other Doctors existing before William Hartnell’s First Doctor) isn’t a major thread of his Timeless Child arc, the “Morbius Doctors” appear briefly on-screen during the Doctor’s quick refresh of her life in the series 12 finale.
This made clear that the revelations in that episode (basically that the Doctor had earlier lives, now wiped from her memory) opened the door to these extra incarnations being 'real', even if they’re unlikely to be featured heavily in the show itself.
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In other words, Chris Chibnall subtly pulled a much-debated idea from the depths of Doctor Who messageboards and incorporated it into his version of the series. Who’s to say he couldn’t do the same with Lungbarrow, by incorporating some of its themes and ideas (the Doctor’s long-lost home and family) into Flux?
Look, we’re just saying it’s possible. We’ll have to wait and see whether this house really is Lungbarrow or whether there’s something new going on. In the meantime, time to swot up on the Cartmel master plan. Clearly, nothing’s off limits any more.
Listen to the new episode of the Radio Times Doctor Who podcast:
Read more about Doctor Who:
- Doctor Who's Philip Hinchcliffe admits he didn't consider "the repercussions" of the Morbius Doctors
- Doctor Who overnight ratings revealed for series 13's War of the Sontarans
- Doctor Who's War of the Sontarans featured nod to a classic Jon Pertwee serial
- Doctor Who: War of the Sontarans’ 12 biggest questions
Doctor Who: Flux continues on BBC One on Sundays. For more, check out our dedicated Sci-Fi page or our full TV Guide.