Doctor Who series 12 finale The Timeless Children was absolutely full of shocking revelations for Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor, most notably the twist that the Doctor had a whole series of lives we hadn’t previously known about.
Despite a similar idea being posited in classic Tom Baker episode The Brain of Morbius (with the ‘Morbius Doctors’ apparently confirmed in the finale as well) it’s fair to say the idea was fairly controversial with fans – but ex-showrunner Steven Moffat doesn’t agree, telling RadioTimes.com he thinks it fits perfectly with the series’ inconsistent past.
“Who says what’s canon?” Moffat told us. “One episode the show says that [William Hartnell is] the First Doctor, another episode he’s not.”
Notably, he explained, in early episodes fans could read between the lines to believe that Patrick Troughton’s Second Doctor was familiar with the regeneration process, despite later stories suggesting he was only the second body the Doctor had ever changed into.
“The big [plot hole] that no-one ever mentions is in [1966 episode] The Power of the Daleks, just to get nerdy,” he said.
“The Doctor talks as if he’s done this before. The first time it happens, he wanders around that first episode behaving as if, ‘Och my old body wore out, I got a new one.’
“He does not behave as if it’s his first time. And later on it’s retconned into the idea that it was the first time. But that doesn’t fit.
“Doctor Who never fits!” he laughed. “None of it fits together if you really look at it. Why would it? It’s made by teams and teams of different people who never ever met.
“So I’m perfectly happy with all of that, it’s great fun.”
Previously, Moffat had told RadioTimes.com that he’d been disappointed by the Morbius Doctors’ removal from canon as a child – so was he happy to see them reinstated in The Timeless Children?
Well, it turns out that was actually a bit of a clue that Moffat knew what Whittaker’s Doctor was about to find out…
“I’m not daft, I’d guessed where that was going at that stage,” Moffat laughed. “Even by then, I figured they were going to do something with that.
“I’m not sure I ever completely decanonised them in my head. I mean, who says?”
Clearly, when it comes to Doctor Who there are better discussions to be had than whether something “fits” within the often contradictory canon. Like, for example, whether Moffat’s latest Doctor Who short story is technically a Doctor Who story at all…
Steven Moffat’s short Doctor Who story The Terror of the Umpty Ums is available to read online now.
Doctor Who returns to BBC One in late 2020/early 2021