The continued quest to write Loose Canon – An unofficial guide to the unofficial Doctors.
It never fails. Whenever I mention I’m working on a guide for alternate Doctors someone pipes up with a suggestion for entries. Sometimes, not often, it’s a useful suggestion: my Best Man, Andrew, pointing out that the Leader from Inferno was retconned into being an alternate Doctor by Paul Cornell in some of his books; or artist, Paul Hanley mentioning the existence of the Asian Doctor from the Chinese translations of the Target books. These were useful suggestions.
But more often than not, it’s someone just not quite getting the concept. The most common misconception is that I’ll be including people that nearly got cast in the role or were considered at one point. I won’t, mostly because there’s no real meat to write about apart from snippets in newspapers and gossip magazines, but also because it would become a much larger project if I were to include everyone that’s ever been considered. Especially if you look at the suspect list for the TV Movie alone. I’ll make an exception for David Troughton, mainly because I’m intrigued by the preliminary work that went into a possible regeneration within the books. That and his heritage make him noteworthy.
Sometimes, just sometimes, you have to put on a brave face and smile vacantly as people try and explain to you why Clara should get a chapter just because she pretended to be the Doctor and Steven Moffat messed with everyone by putting her eyes in the title sequence. But I can understand where those suggestions come from, even if I don’t agree with them. Then you get the occasional head scratching moments like when someone in the comments section for my opening column suggested that Romana should be in the book because of The Horns of Nimon.
Now, I must confess to not having watched Horns, so I took to the Internet to find a quick summary of the episode and I’m afraid I’m none the wiser as to what they were getting at. The only thing I could find that made her Doctorish was that she acquired her own Sonic Screwdriver, but that’s really not enough to qualify for this particular guide.
Fan fiction is another suggestion that comes up on a regular basis. Now, I have no issue with fan fiction at all – hell, I’ve been guilty of it from time to time – but if I was to include every Doctor that had been created by a literary-minded fan then I’d be forever more reading fan fictions of varying degrees of quality.
There are, however, a few notable exceptions. The 42nd Doctor that crops up in Lance Parkin’s unprinted epilogue for The Dying Days springs to mind, as does The Last Doctor from Paul Cornell’s short story of the same name. These gentlemen have written enough ‘proper’ Who that I’m inclined to read their unofficial stuff with a pinch of canon.
The Doctor from the Audio Visuals range is also, technically speaking, a fan creation. But those stories were brought to us by several fans that went on to become proper names within the Who world, that and Mr Briggs is blatantly having a ball playing the Doctor.
A suggestion that I understand completely, but disagree with, is the War Doctor. He came out of left field and doesn’t have a number assigned to him. I was sorely tempted given his popularity just now, but I can’t justify him as he’s an actual Doctor. However, Tom Baker’s appearance as the Curator in the same episode is worthy of inclusion for the same reason that the Valeyard is; he’s a possible future version of the Doctor. As is the Merlin mentioned in Battlefield and fleshed out (slightly) in the New Adventures.
Spoof versions are a bit trickier. I’ve always had a soft spot for Curse of Fatal Death and the fact it’s penned by Steven Moffat strengthens its inclusion so its Doctors are in. Mark Gatiss’ Doctor from Web of Caves gets a mention as he appeared on the BBC as part of Doctor Who night – that and Mr Gatiss knocks it out of the park. The Doctor that appeared as part of a sketch on The Lenny Henry Show also gets an honourable mention, partly as he appeared on the BBC and some Who DVDs, but mostly because I like him.
And I guess that’s what it ultimately comes down to; who I want to have in it.
Maybe that’s not the most scientific way of choosing, but until I have an editor hovering over my shoulder, it’s the way it’s going to be…