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The Five O'Clock Shadow was the fourth short story in the Short Trips anthology Short Trips: A Day in the Life. It was written by Nev Fountain.

It featured an unspecified Doctor and saw him create fictional doppelgängers of himself and Susan Foreman, who were none other than Dr. Who and Susan as they appeared in the theatrical film Dr. Who and the Daleks and its sequels. As such, the story presented a potential origin for those two characters within the mainstream Doctor Who universe.

The story was mostly written in rhyming couplets, deviating between patterns of ABAB, AABB, and ABABCDCDEE.


Dr Who tells a bedtime story to his young companion Suzy — of how they came to be.


It's five o'clock once more. Dr. Who comes sit by the bed of Suzy and tells her a bedtime story in rhyme. As the TARDIS was flying through time, it hits a metaphorical "snag", getting stuck in one instant of time: five o'clock.

As Dr. Who and Suzy wonder how to put things right, the Five O'Clock Shadow, an incarnation of all of the Doctor's repressed angst about facing reality, is released and starts to torment them while monologuing about its eldritch nature. It reveals to Susan that she is nothing more than an artificial construct, a mathematical projection based on the companion the Doctor would like to have — and that the Doctor made thousand more such constructs in the past to stave off change and loneliness, including, once, two at a time, John and Gillian.

However, the Doctor standing alongside Suzy opposite the Shadow reveals himself as actually being Dr. Who, and just as much a construct as Suzy; the two of them were a distraction prepared by the real Doctor while he managed to get the TARDIS working again.

Dr. Who's bedtime story to Suzy ends on the TARDIS taking off, leaving the Five O'Clock Shadow behind, headed for some wondrous location to drop off Dr. Who and Suzy.




  • The story suggests that John and Gillian, like "thousand other" companions of the Doctor, were actually created by the Doctor using a functionality of the TARDIS to create sentient simulacra based on sheer ideas.


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