The IDW comic ‘The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who’ by Paul Cornell explores what happens when the 11th Doctor accidentally ends up in the real world where he is just a character from a television show.
This idea has been explored in other comics and books but is particularly well-done here. It serves as an interesting look at how the Doctor regards himself and how he might react to find out that people observe his adventures.
Obviously this discussion will spoil some parts of the story.
‘There is just nowhere that goes.’
When we join the 11th Doctor he has just collected a painting from Andy Warhol and is finding it very difficult to find a space for (at least in the TARDIS console room). The painting depicts each one of his incarnations (with a silhouette of the War Doctor).
The Doctor is reluctant not to display the picture since it took ages to sit for, implying that each of his previous incarnations sat for the artist. This raises the possibility of several unseen adventures with each of the Doctors and Warhol.
This could have taken place over the course of his entire life or if this adventure takes place post-‘Day of The Doctor’ they might have all gone as a group, before returning to their respective time streams.
‘Parallel Universe, Unable To Compute Exit Point.’
While travelling through the vortex the cloister bell rings. The TARDIS is then sent through a hole to our reality, bringing the time machine to a crashing stop. This is akin to ‘Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel’ where the TARDIS is drained of power upon arriving in a parallel dimension.
Lack of power isn’t the problem here, just finding the way back to the Doctor’s reality. Conceivably the TARDIS could still explore time and space, just that it might not match anything that it has in its data banks, resulting in random trips. That is if our reality would even allow time travel.
Parallel universes are trouble either way, something that PCs should beware of. Falling into one can be a good way to take characters out of their comfort zone, as they don’t know what they’ll encounter when they step through the door of their TARDIS.
‘Dr Who To Film Locally.’
The fact that Doctor Who is being filmed in the area is noteworthy enough to make the Examiner newspaper board this probably isn’t Cardiff.
‘They made a tv show about me?!’
While the Doctor believes that Matt Smith only looks a little like him he never refutes the events depicted in the episodes shown to him, even confirming that the monsters looked exactly as shown.
He does, however, say that they are only part of his life. While the books, audios and comics might depict those other parts (and we never see him shown those mediums) it is understandable that 50 years isn’t enough to relate every thing that happens in his 1200 long life.
‘Sarah Jane Smith is alive and well and living in Ealing.’
The sad death of Elizabeth Sladen doesn’t apparently mean the death of the character she portrayed. Further more the Doctor hints that she never dies. He doesn’t go into the details but he assures us that he knows what happens to his best friend.
This opens the way for further adventures with Sarah Jane Smith and exploring her ultimate fate. The fact that the 11th Doctor is aware of them suggests that he or his prior incarnations were involved.
‘Where everything I’ve done has become a story.’
The Doctor makes the comparison to the Land of Fiction. Where as that was a place where fiction became real, here reality has become fiction. This does create a ‘chicken and the egg’ paradox.
Do the events in the Doctor’s reality create the fiction created in our reality or the other way round? It would seem strange for our reality to only start relating events in the Doctor’s life in the last 50 years.
It could be that our reality only recently came into existence, fully formed. It might be that the parallel universes only came into synch 50 years ago, allowing the information to be subliminally replicated here.
‘I was played by Peter Davison?!’
While in our reality the Doctor learns about the actors who portrayed him. Surprisingly, in his reality, he saved Peter Davison from a krynoid and Peter Capaldi from a mandrel. The audio ‘Pier Pressure’ also had the 6th Doctor crossing paths with a young William Hartnell.
In the Doctor Who universe these actors careers were probably very different, without taking the role of the Doctor. It does mean that PCs might believe they are encountering a previous Doctor when in fact it is just an actor who looks like them.
It could be that the Doctor has to keep rescuing these actors because they resemble previous incarnations (the Doctor apparently didn’t realise that Peter Davison looked like his 5th incarnation). His enemies could be attacking these actors who just have the misfortune of looking like the Doctor.
‘I don’t think I’m better than everyone else, and if your lot do..’
The Doctor questions why people are drawn to his adventures and seems perturbed that there is some apparent elitism. That liking his stories and having an interest in science rather than fashion, music and blokes makes people feel better than others.
It is clear that the Doctor thinks everyone show accept each other and tolerate different interests. That no one should set themselves apart from others based just on what they like or don’t like.
He is shown that the Doctor Who fandom is a community that has brought out real talent in others, as well as acceptance. This shows him the positive impact he has had on others but he still doesn’t consider himself a perfect hero to look up to.
This is a revealing insight into his character. The Doctor doesn’t do what he does for hero worship or to be an example to others. He has regrets for what he has done and probably worries about what message this has given to his newly revealed audience.
Of course this probably takes place prior to ‘The Day Of The Doctor’ when he still regrets his actions during the Time War.
‘It’s like I’ve got a twin.’
The Doctor meets Matt Smith at a Doctor Who convention. Since he has long hair (and presumably isn’t wearing a wig’) this is probably taking place before the end of May 2013. He reveals that they are filming an episode where the events of this comic take place. Since there is a script (with an ending) this implies that the depiction of events occurs before they do in the Doctor’s reality (at least on this occasion).
‘Delete The Doctor.’
Having come to the conclusion that there are no monsters in our reality the Doctor is attacked by a Cyberman. We learn that it was one of the Cybermen that was drawn into the void during ‘Doomsday‘ and that it blasted a hole through into our universe.
The events of that episode were broadcast in 2006. We don’t know when the Cyberman was able to create the hole but it might have been on our world for quite some time. It could been concentrating on researching our reality but there could be some unfortunate people who have been cyber-converted.
We first see it at the Doctor Who convention before it manages to follow the Doctor back to the house he is staying at and hide in a closet. Presumably it has been upgraded with stealth mode.
‘You…will meet us again, Doctor!’
With the co-ordinates of his universe stolen from the Cyberman he uses the TARDIS (and the script) to send the Cyberman back home the long way. This could be through the void or the time vortex.
We’ve seen evidence that Cybermen can enter hibernation so it could survive its journey. Matt Smith implies that the Cyberman’s threat might be accurate (possibly hinting at ‘Time Of The Doctor’.)
If it isn’t there could be a rematch in your own adventures. After all this Cyberman would have a vast amount of information about the Doctor. In its time in our reality it could watched the episodes and downloaded everything on the internet about him.
‘Goodbye Anti-Real World….Non-Real World-’
The Doctor returns to his own reality but what are the future consequences of this cross-over? Might the Doctor return once again for further adventures? He might even travel into the shows past.
You could set a campaign in our reality, invaded by monsters from the Doctor Who universe. Who will believe the PCs that there are real Daleks about to attack or that the local shop display is actually a bunch of Autons?
They might not have the Doctor to help them in the flesh but they do have access to his adventures. PCs can draw upon their players knowledge of the show to help them in-game. Even then this could be a much darker, horror filled game.
PCs could find themselves in our reality, meeting the players and discovering that they are just characters within a roleplaying game. Their situation would be much worse as non only are they considered fictional here they aren’t even official canon!
If PCs know that the Doctor and his universe is real how will they react when they discover something bad about him. With the frequency of leaked spoilers they could find out before they occur in his reality, giving them a chance to warn him.
This might even lead PCs from our reality crossing over to the Doctor Who universe. They’d have the same adventure of being able to draw upon their knowledge of the show but now they are in the adventure they don’t know what’s coming.