The Biggest Doctor Who Jaw-Droppers

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This past weekend’s Doctor Who episode, The Name Of The Doctor, featured a heck of a last minute reveal (which, for the spoiler phobic, we won’t discuss until the very last page of this feature, page 11). It’s hardly the first surprise that the Time Lord - or, if you will, Shock Doc - has delivered across his 50 years rattling around space-time. We take a look at some of our favourites…

Episode: The Tenth Planet
The Doctor: The first (William Hartnell)

One of the trademark elements of Who canon – which sees the main character regenerate when his body is too badly injured or otherwise affected to recover – was born out of 1960s BBC bootstrap practicality more than a desire to shock. With original Doctor William Hartnell’s health failing by 1966, the decision was made to replace him. Script editor Gerry Davis suggested the Doctor could die and return as someone else, with producer Innes Lloyd adding that it could happen regularly to renew our hero and facilitate re-casting when needed. So, in the final episode of The Tenth Planet, viewers were stunned by a process apparently modelled on a bad LSD trip as Hartnell ‘died’ and magically became Patrick Troughton.

Episode:** Mindwarp
The Doctor:* The sixth (Colin Baker)

Perpugilliam Brown, or Peri for short, was added to the show in the episode Planet Of Fire. A clear attempt by the producers to give the show a little shot of sex appeal (long before the days of Davies and Moffat), she was played by British actress Nicola Bryant as a California native. Peri became famous for her revealing outfits and peppy nature, but most people remember her macabre fate: kidnapped by arthropod creature Kiv, his brain is transplanted into her body and the Doctor must leave her behind. But this shocker is later revealed to be a fake-out in The Ultimate Foe with Peri really ending up happily married to, er, Brian Blessed. Still, it was shocking at the time.

Image: BBC

Episode:** Remembrance Of the Daleks
The Doctor:* The seventh (Sylvester McCoy)

Clearly sick and tired of being a galactic joke for their famous inability to climb stairs thanks to design issues and BBC budgets, the Daleks got the last laugh – not that they generally giggle – in 1988’s Remembrance Of The Daleks. In the story, set in 1963, the Doctor and Ace (Sophie Aldred) encounter the metal-dwelling mutants as a civil war between Dalek factions spills over on to the Earth. Relatively early in the episode, the Doctor ends up trapped in a school cellar as a Dalek teleporter operator menaces him. Assuming he’ll be safer up the stairs, the Doctor climbs, only to watch in horror as the cyborg creature rises to follow him. Gadzooks! These things are dangerous after all!

For McCoy's memories of that episode, incidentally, go to 32.57 here.

Image: BBC

Episode: Earthshock
The Doctor: The fifth (Peter Davidson)

Admittedly Adric (Matthew Waterhouse), a native of the planet Alzarius, was considered one of the Doctor’s more annoying and know-it-all companions. But spare a thought for the poor lad, who sacrifices his life trying to stop a Cyberman freighter crashing into Earth. He comes painfully close, entering codes into the ship’s locked navigation system, only for a dying Cyberwarrior to destroy the console. The Doctor and his other companions watch in horror from the TARDIS as the ship crashes to Earth, destined to become the real reason the dinosaurs died out. And Adric wasn’t even the first companion to die. That dubious honour goes to Adrienne Hill’s Katarina in The Daleks’ Master Plan.

Image: BBC

Doctor Who: Doomsday

Episode: Doomsday
The Doctor:** **The tenth (David Tennant)

While the power of this one was somewhat diminished in later episodes when she found ways to cross back over, the initial shock and sadness over Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) getting pulled into a parallel dimension away from David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor still burns in the memory. As they crack open a dimensional breach to banish swarms of warring Daleks and Cybermen, Rose loses her grip and is sucked towards the gaping maw. At the last moment, her alternate-universe father Pete Tyler (Shaun Dingwall) appears and grabs her, taking her back to the universe where he lives. Trapped in a parallel world, she sobs as the Doctor rests his head upon a wall and mourns his lost friend. Cue Murray Gold’s especially composed “Doomsday” track and floods of tears. Their all-too brief final farewell at Bad Wolf Bay only emphasised the heartbreak.

Image: BBC

Episode: The Ultimate Foe
The Doctor: The sixth (Colin Baker)

The Trial Of A Timelord serial proved a controversial and not always successful one. But it did provide fodder for much discussion, particularly when the Valeyard’s identity was finally exposed. The Valeyard was the prosecutor at the Sixth Doctor’s trial, played with plenty of scowly menace by Michael Jayston. After several episodes where the Valeyard presented evidence that the Doctor has transgressed the laws of time, it was revealed that he was actually an amalgamation of the Doctor’s own dark side, from somewhere between his twelfth and final* regenerations. The title cropped up again this weekend in The Name Of The Doctor.

*(at least until the Sarah Jane Adventures spin-off provided a possible get-out clause on that front)

Image: BBC

Episode:** The Tenth Planet
The Doctor:* **The first (William Hartnell)

Their current incarnation may be typified by shiny armour and much blethering about “delete” and “upgrades” but back in 1966, the cybernetic creatures were much less technically sophisticated and yet somehow much more chilling. Created by unofficial scientific adviser Kit Pedler and writer/script editor Gerry Davis in 1966, the Cybermen first appeared as humanoids who began to trade parts of their frail human bodes for robo-limbs. Sure, they looked like man-sized sock-puppets wearing tubes and tinfoil, but they were still creepy, and would go on to attempt to conquer Earth and elsewhere for years. Along with the Daleks, they remain the Doctor’s most reliable foes.

Image: BBC

Episode: The Doctor Who TV movie
The Doctor: The eighth (Paul McGann)

We’re used to the Time Lord lip-locking with all manner of people these days, even if he isn’t quite up to the level of Captain Kirk (or even Captain Jack). But back in the dim and distant past of, er, 1996, the Doctor smooching his companion was a shocker that sent die-hards reeling. Of course, it wasn’t the only surprise lurking within the TV Movie, which replaced McCoy with McGann in a bid to draw in more non-fans (a trend that continues apace today), especially when you consider the revelation that the Doctor is half-human. It’s sort of been glossed over since, which might be best for all involved. We’re also trying to forget Eric Roberts’ slinky Master. Speaking of…

Image: BBC

Episode: Utopia
The Doctor:** **The tenth (David Tennant)

A nice bit of bait and switch here, as we meet kindly old Professor Yana (Derek Jacobi), who has been toiling away at the end of the universe with nary a restaurant in sight. He’s trying to help humanity leave for Utopia, but the Doctor’s arrival and discussion about Time Lords stirs something in the old man. When he opens his fob watch (similar to one we saw the Doctor use to disguise himself as a human in Human Nature), the truth is revealed: the Professor is actually The Master. Switching from cuddliness to smooth arrogance, Jacobi’s character is shot, and regenerates into the lunatic John Simm. And so a classic villain, memorably played by the likes of Roger Delgado, Geoffrey Beavers, Anthony Ainley and, er, Eric Roberts, blasts into modern Who canon.

*Episode: The Doctor’s Wife
The Doctor:* The eleventh (Matt Smith)

The Doctor has always had a soft spot for his wayward mode of transport, but it took Neil Gaiman, under Steven Moffat’s stewardship, to make that relationship flesh and blood. With the TARDIS’ matrix drawn from the craft and placed in the body of Idris (Suranne Jones), we’re introduced to a wacky, wonderful side of the old vehicle. Revealing that “she” was the one who chose the Doctor to go off exploring with (rather than him simply stealing a defective device), the interplay between Idris and Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor is a delight to behold and even more emotional when Idris dies and the matrix returns to its rightful place. Even this year’s trip around the TARDIS’ corridors couldn’t match up to the impact of actually meeting her.

Image: BBC

Tinker Tailor Solder Spy

Episode:** The Name Of The Doctor
The Doctor:* The eleventh, Matt Smith

So we come bang up to date with this weekend’s show, The Name Of The Doctor. After hopping through the Doctor’s timeline trying to save him from Richard E. Grant’s Character, The Great Intelligence, Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) collapses into the Doctor’s arms. But not before we meet another man (John Hurt) in the Doctor’s mind, who the Doctor says is “me.” But he then goes on to explain, “I said he was me. I never said he was The Doctor…” Cue fan heads exploding and a multitude of theories springing up, just as Steven Moffat would wish. Is this the Eighth Doctor, aged-up (we never saw his regeneration)? Are his actions are part of the Time War? Is this the man the Doctor took his name from? Is he a later incarnation? The original Doctor? Or something else entirely? We’ll have to wait and see on November 23, when the 50th anniversary special brings Smith together with David Tennant, Billie Piper and Hurt for a big adventure.

Meanwhile, we’re sure you have your own favourite moments, so why not Tweet us @empiremagazine with the hashtag #shocktorwho? Or add your comments below. Theories about Hurt also welcome, though please be mindful of spoilers for those who have yet to see the show…