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John Smith and the Common Men was a comic story published in the 50th anniversary issue of Doctor Who Magazine, issue 467.


The Eleventh Doctor has forgotten who he is and believes he is just an ordinary man called John Smith who works in the Department of Commonality.


"Smith" is woken up by his alarm on a Monday morning and gets ready for work, thinking about his life. When he arrives at work, he comments that the clock on the corner of the building has always been five minutes slow and it bothers him, but he won't complain about it.

He enters the building and goes to his desk (passing all the other Common Men — all of whom wear the same bow tie and tweed blazer), which is next to the desk of a man called Harry Sullivan. Harry starts chatting with "John" and mentions something about his sister's boyfriend filming a protest. "John" panics and tells him to shut up because personal cameras are illegal and he doesn't want to get into trouble.

Tuesday morning arrives and once again, the clock is five minutes slow. "Smith" ignores it and gets on with his work like he does everyday, until his routine is completely changed by his boss, Mr Waites, who gives him a promotion. "Smith" doesn't want the job because the thought of working with the public scares him but he can't turn it down and starts work as an Assistant Mediator the next day, telling people that he can't help them with their problems.

The Brigadier is one of the people who come to see him. His pension has been cancelled. "Smith" tells him, "I'm sorry but I can't help".

Jamie McCrimmon also comes to see him. He is being sent to a work camp. "Smith" tells him, "I'm sorry but that's above my authority".

Ace comes to see him too. She is getting sent to a Correction Unit. "Smith" tells her, "I'm sorry but that's out of my hands".

Then Clara arrives. She starts to cry because she's lost her job as a nanny and has no money left. When "Smith" starts to tell her he can't do anything for her she begs him to help, but he turns her away.

On Thursday "Smith" has had enough (once more it is noted that the clock is slow) so he goes to see Mr Waites and asks for his old job back. Waites will only do that in return for something valuable. "Smith" tells him about Harry's sister's boyfriend's camera and this works. Harry gets arrested. "Smith" does nothing. Mr Waites returns to congratulate "John" and says that he will be staying here forever. This sends "Smith" over the edge because he can't deal with this life forever and asks why the clock hasn't been fixed. Waites insists that it's fine, but "Smith" disagrees and in a fit of anger, climbs out of the window, goes out to the clock and pulls the big hand down to the correct time. The hand breaks and he falls. He knows that he is going to die but he doesn't really care and the ground rushes up to meet him...

The Doctor, back in his purple coat and bow tie, jolts awake. He is in a weird rainbow room, on one of the several metal bed that are hooked up to a giant blue head — "Mr Waites" — by wire-like tentacles. It is a mind parasite, which feeds on the realities the people wired to it create. It refers to their dreams as "the Hellscape" and thinks that nobody can escape it, that the Doctor's escape was merely a fluke.

Just then, Clara wakes up and goes ballistic at the parasite for putting her in such a horrible reality. She and the Doctor pull the tendrils off the other people to save them and then the Doctor grabs two and attaches them to the parasite's face. It explodes.

Clara and the Doctor walk away, virtually unscathed, and the Doctor congratulates Clara for realising the dream was fake. He thinks it's because of all of the lives she's lived, but she tells him that the actual reason she knew it wasn't real was because he wasn't in it, and "what kind of a world doesn't have the Doctor?"



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Original print details[]

(Publication with page count and closing caption)