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James I

James VI of Scotland, later James I of the United Kingdom, succeeded Elizabeth I in 1603 and continued her Protestant reforms. (PROSE: The Dying Days, Birthright)


Childhood and ascension[]

James was the son of Darnley and his wife. (PROSE: Girl Power!) When he was a baby, his father was murdered and, at the age of one, his mother abandoned him. His mother was later scapegoated for the murder and, unwilling to forgive her for abandoning him, James chose not to visit her before her beheading.

In the absence of his parents, James, King of Scotland, (PROSE: The Dying Days) was raised by regents, of whom one was assassinated, one died in battle and one died in "suspicious circumstances". (TV: The Witchfinders)

James succeeded Elizabeth I as King of England. (PROSE: Birthright) According to one account, he became the first monarch of the United Kingdom, (PROSE: The Dying Days) although another account stated that this was Anne just under a century later. (AUDIO: Phantasmagoria) He was crowned in July 1603 in a coronation attended by Sir John Lethbridge whose daughter, Mary, went on to marry James's advisor, General William Stewart, who travelled from Scotland with the King. (PROSE: The Soothsayer, Birthright)

Rule in England[]

A translator was required as James's Scottish accent was so thick that his courtiers could not understand him. (PROSE: The Dying Days) Over his reign, he granted Royal Charters for various organisations, including the institution that later became St Luke's University. (PROSE: Girl Power!)

An influential version of the Bible was ordered by him and eventually bore his name. The First Doctor and Vicki Pallister once passed by the room where the translators were busy working on what would become the King James Bible. According to Barbara Wright, James' rule was characterised by relative religious tolerance. Though a staunch Protestant, he discouraged persecution of Catholics. Barbara claimed that he realised that "to govern well it made sense to unify people rather than drive them apart."

For a brief time, the TARDIS came into James' possession, but he was mostly annoyed by it, calling it a "wooden puzzle box" because he and his courtiers could not gain entrance to it. In the end, he entreated the Doctor to perform an exorcism upon it, just to ensure it was not possessed of evil spirits. The Doctor agreed and performed an elaborate ceremony at the Guildhall in London. During the middle of this ceremony, eagerly attended by James, the Doctor and his three companions entered the TARDIS and dematerialised. (PROSE: The Plotters)

On 5 November 1605, Guy Fawkes and other Catholic conspirators planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill James and his sons, Henry and Charles, installing his daughter Elizabeth as a puppet queen in what was known as the Gunpowder Plot. The attempt was thwarted by James's men (GAME: The Gunpowder Plot) and Fawkes's failure was celebrated every year as Bonfire Night. (PROSE: The Night After Hallowe'en)

In an aborted timeline, James was killed during the Gunpowder Plot when Berthold Schwarz destroyed Parliament after Fawkes' failed attempt. This was later reverted by the Thirteenth Doctor, Yasmin Khan, and Schwarz's future self, letting history continue as normal. The Doctor and Yaz decided against seeing James in person, having previously met him in his future. (PROSE: Black Powder)

In 1609, James attended one of William Shakespeare's plays at the Globe Theatre. Shakespeare, having returned from Venice, attempted to inform James about wild alien technologies he had discovered. The First Doctor and Vicki, however, distracted the King by performing the play on the stage while Shakespeare was stopped. (PROSE: The Empire of Glass)

James visited Bilehurst Cragg to witness the witch hunts lead by Becka Savage and met the Thirteenth Doctor, Yasmin Khan, Graham O'Brien and Ryan Sinclair, taking a liking to the latter and calling him a "Nubian prince". After one of his men was killed by the Morax, he had the Doctor dunked and, after she escaped, was kidnapped by Becka to become the Morax king. He killed the Morax by lighting her on fire, angering the Doctor. He invited Ryan to become his personal guard, but he politely refused and returned a pendant that James had given him to ward off evil. (TV: The Witchfinders)


King James died in 1625. (WC: Case File Eight) Upon his death, he was succeeded by his son Charles, who ruled England, Scotland and Ireland as Charles I until his execution on 30 January 1649. (PROSE: The Roundheads)

Behind the scenes[]

  • In the real world, there's some question as to whether the title James I of the United Kingdom would be appropriate, since the United Kingdom was not technically formed until 1707, almost 82 years after James' death. He is most often styled, James I of England and James VI of Scotland. However, the Eighth Doctor specifically calls him James I of the United Kingdom in The Dying Days. However, due to it being the Doctor calling him that, because he has access to all time/space knowledge, the usage of the title is vague.
  • James I's obvious attraction to "Victor" (believing Vicki Pallister to be a boy) in The Plotters and his less-overt fondness of Ryan Sinclair in The Witchfinders is based in real-world scholarly speculation that King James was attracted to men, as either gay or bisexual. In particular, he is generally understood to have been in an intimate relationship with George Villiers.[1] Historians Bucholz and Key noted that, in the debate about King James' sexuality, it is certainly clear that he "preferred the company of handsome young men".[2][3]
  • According to The Brilliant Book 2012, a book that contains non-narrative based information, James encountered the Eleventh Doctor's companions, Amy Pond and Rory Williams, on their honeymoon in 1605. Because the Tenth Doctor had taken the virginity of his cousin and predecessor Elizabeth I, he tried to have them arrested and thrown in the Tower of London after Rory told him of their friendship with the Doctor.
  • True to his depiction in The Witchfinders (albeit somewhat exaggerated), James I expressed a strong interest in the paranormal and supernatural, having written a dissertation on the subject that later became a book titled Daemonologie in 1597, six years before he became King of England.
  • He was portrayed by Alfred Lynch in Churchill's People, Bill Paterson in Life of Shakespeare, Hugh Ross in God's Frontiersmen, Jonathan Pryce in The New World and Derek Riddell in Gunpowder.


  1. Filled with 'a number of male lovelies': the surprising court of King James VI and I. BBC Scotland (27 September 2017). Retrieved on 27 November 2018.
  2. Jeffery, Morgan (25 November 2018). Doctor Who series 11, episode 8: Will Alan Cumming's King James I return? And 7 more HUGE questions. Digital Spy. Retrieved on 27 November 2018.
  3. Bucholz, R. and Key, N. (2013). Early Modern England 1485-1714: A Narrative History. Chicester: Wiley.