“He can’t just run away crying all the time if he wants to join the army.”

barnAfter the previous episode ‘Robot of Sherwood’ gave us a mythical version of the Doctor’s origin ‘Listen’ gives us a much more humble glimpse at the early life of the Time Lord.

Due to the safe guards being removed Clara manages to pilot the TARDIS to the same barn seen in ‘Day of The Doctor’ but at a much earlier point. Here the child who will one day be the Doctor cries in the night.

Two adults enter, a man and a woman. The man has no sympathy for the child while the woman tells him that he doesn’t have to be alone and he can come inside with the other children.

There is much that is left unclear in this scene. The only thing that is confirmed is that this is the same barn that the War Doctor will activate the Moment in. I touched briefly on the possible location of the barn here and my feeling that it wasn’t on Gallifrey.

At the time the sky was swarming with Daleks, where as the War Doctor takes some time to walk to the barn. The colour of the sky also is different to what we’ve seen of Gallifrey. It could still be very close to the home world, explaining both why the Doctor might be there as a child and why the War Doctor would choose to use it to activate the Moment.

With the earlier visit to a children’s home it is hard not to get the impression that the Doctor was at an orphanage, especially with the reference to other boys. This would explain the unknown man’s lack of patience with the boy.

This wouldn’t quite fit with what we know of the Doctor’s family. The 2nd Doctor says that they sleep in his mind and various Doctor’s have made references to aunts not to mention the books and audios that give him cousins and brothers.

It could be that the 2nd Doctor was referencing his own children and grand children when he mentioned family. Mentions of other family members could just be the Doctor being fanciful or referring to people at the orphanage who he thought of as family.

The 7th Doctor in ‘The Curse Of Fenric’ seems to be uncertain if he has family. It could be that he was abandoned as an infant and taken into care, leaving him to wonder about his origins. Later they might have analysed his DNA and found he was half-human, further adding to the mystery.

Alternatively something could have happened to his family, requiring the Doctor to go to the orphanage. In the book ‘Lungbarrow’ his entire family is placed into suspended animation and the house closed off. While what is shown here doesn’t match the events in this episode something similar could have happened.

It doesn’t need to be an orphanage however. This could be the point in the Doctor’s life where he has been taken from his parents so that his training can begin. It would make sense for them to determine which children were best suited for being a Time Lord and who would join the military. The adults could therefore be teachers and carers.

They might also be servants and the barn is just outside the Doctor’s house. If he has a large family the boys could simply be a reference to his many brothers. Another possibility is that the mysterious adults were the Doctor’s parents.

At this point in the Doctor’s life it appears as if it is quite common for him to run away, crying. The cause of his tears is implied to be fear. The reason given for his exile is that he doesn’t want the others to hear him suggesting he feels shame about what he is experiencing.

The idea of the Doctor running away would seem to foreshadow the Doctor’s later escape from his world. As opposed to the noble reason given in ‘Robot of Sherwood’ what if the Doctor fled because he was afraid? Was it something on Gallifrey that scared him or because of something that he knew would happen there (maybe he foresaw the events of the Time War)?

Clara’s speech to the Doctor about fear is indicated to have a powerful effect on the Doctor. It could be that without her presence his life would have turned out very differently. For example he might have eventually fled into the wilderness never becoming a Time Lord.

Alternatively he might have joined the military, if that was the only life available to him. He might have given up thinking and feeling to numb the fear. It is likely that this alternative version of the Doctor would have received a proper name, for example Maxill. Could the officer we encounter by that name in ‘Arc of Infinity’ be the 6th incarnation of that Doctor?

Knowing that he doesn’t need to be ashamed of his fear we can presume that the Doctor buckled down and managed to become a Time Lord. It has previously been established the Doctor didn’t do very well academically so it isn’t surprising to find that it took a lot of effort just for him to scrape by.

We might also interpret this as a revelation that the boy that Clara would never have been a Time Lord. There have been previous incidents in which other Time Lords have claimed they are former class mates or teachers of the Doctor but what if that is impossible?

Could the Doctor have assumed the identity of Theta Sigma, maybe passing himself off as a new regeneration of the original to explain his different appearance. He might have had to do this to gain access to the Capital in order to steal the TARDIS.

This might be why the Doctor hides his true name. If the truth were to come out then he would loose everything. There could be a dark secret behind just how he did steal the identity of another Time Lord.

These speculations about the Doctor’s past can not only shape how you play the character but also give you ideas about new Timelord PCs and their backgrounds. Were they similarly given the choice between Time Lord or soldier? Did they get to decide or was the choice made for them?

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