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Teach Yourself Ballroom Dancing was a short story written by Robert Shearman for 2003's Short Trips: The Muses. It was notable for being a relatively rare instance of a solo adventure for the Sixth Doctor and for being one of the first professionally published stories to focus on with the concept of temporal paradox, later popularised by Steven Moffat's television episode, Blink.


Whilst Peri is enjoying a day out, the Sixth Doctor pops round to a dance instructor's studio for tuition in the art of the waltz. She initially declines, maintaining that she has a full class of children to teach. The Doctor returns the next day, having bought off all the parents. Now her only possible student, she begins to teach him. He learns very quickly and soon progresses to the foxtrot. Along the way, Becky reveals that much of the joy in her life has been sapped by her loveless marriage to David. When she announces that she has fallen in love with the Doctor, for he has been the first man to care about her ambitions in a very long time, the Doctor decides that he had best exit her life so as not to cause her further pain.

Some eighty years later from the Doctor's perspective, he meets Becky as a teenager. He decides to repay her earlier tuition by teaching her how to waltz. Thus, he effectively teaches himself how to dance. He realises too late, however, that he should have been teaching her husband-to-be; then they would have shared a common interest, and their marriage might have been happier. The Doctor departs, sad that he has been unable to properly help her.

Later, nearing his next regeneration, the Doctor returns to Becky, now in her eighties. He offers her the chance to travel with him in the TARDIS, but she declines, noting that she is now far too old for such an adventurous life. The Doctor leaves Becky's side for the third time in her life, while she dreams again her original, unfulfilled dream of being a professional dancer.



  • The Doctor travels to the 1970s to help repel an Auton invasion. He doesn't call on UNIT because he thinks he's already here in a previous incarnation.
  • The Doctor is thinking of learning ballroom dancing or pottery.
  • The Doctor and Becky order vegetarian lasagna.


  • As with all stories in Short Trips: The Muses, this story was inspired by one of the Muses of Greek mythology, in this case Terpsichore, the Muse of Dance.
  • This story posits a longer lifespan for the Sixth Doctor than is acknowledged in other media. His age is at least twice given as nine hundred years old (TV: Revelation of the Daleks, AUDIO: The One Doctor) and once given as "more or less" (TV: The Mysterious Planet). At the time of his regeneration, he claims to be nine hundred fifty-three. The time passage in this story is at least eighty years, and is intimated to be much more than that. Thus, it seems asynchronous with earlier stories, although the Doctor's age is anything but definite, characterised more by contradiction than agreement.
  • The Doctor tells the elderly Rebecca he's been travelling alone for a very long time since he last met her. Though unseen in televised Doctor Who, this long period of solo travels has its genesis in the fact that the Mel and Doctor we see in Terror of the Vervoids are from the personal future of the Sixth Doctor who is standing trial; that the Mel encountered in The Ultimate Foe has been dragged to the trial from that Doctor's future, as well. Thus, when we see him depart with Mel at the end of Foe it is to take her back to her proper time, when she is travelling with an older, post-Vervoids Sixth Doctor. The novel Business Unusual is the "missing story" of how Mel met the Sixth Doctor for the first time from her perspective, and shows the Sixth Doctor travelling alone between the time when he returned Mel to his older self and the time that she met him. It is in this the gap between The Ultimate Foe and Business Unusual that parts 2 and 3 of this story are set.
  • The Doctor can be said to at least entertain a romantic relationship with Becky here, even though he dismisses it fairly quickly. Like incarnations appearing outside the original 1963 run of Doctor Who, he indulges here in what can't be said to be wholly platonic kissing.


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