Spoilers are precisely defined here. Rules vary by the story's medium. Info from television stories can't be added here until after the top or bottom of the hour, British time, closest to the end credits roll on BBC One. Therefore, fans in the Americas who are sensitive to spoilers should avoid Tardis on Sundays until they've seen the episode.



The Longest Story in the World was the first short story in the Short Trips anthology Short Trips and Side Steps. It was written by Paul Magrs. It featured the First Doctor and Susan.


A girl has been asked, on pain of death, to tell a story that would entertain the Caliph. She decides to tell the longest story in the world, which will prolong her life. Each night she tells her story in the Caliph's bed chamber, with the Caliph, his guards, and his vizier as audience. Her story starts with an old man.

The old man and his adopted granddaughter live in a place where fantasy is considered sacriligeous. Nevertheless, the girl has a vivid imagination and entertains her grandfather with her stories of their future. She tells him of travels in a machine that he will create. As his granddaughter gets older, the old man starts to worry about indulging her, afraid that someone will find out and declare her a witch.
One day he tries to warn her about her stories, and she runs away. He can't follow her, so he goes home to wait for her. But when he arrives home, he finds armed men waiting for him.

The girl ends her story here. The Caliph is eager for more, and she promises to continue the story tomorrow.



  • The granddaughter in the story talks of how the travelling machine will be vast and like a city inside. This is a reference to the TARDIS.
  • There is mention also of his name and that he would adopt many on his travels. This is a reference to the Doctor's real name, which is unknown at present.
  • The Doctor is wearing Time Lord robes.


  • The Doctor and Susan are never mentioned by name, but their identity is obvious from the given descriptions.


A Brief History of Time Lords suggests that Susan was the President's daughter, whom the Doctor stole and took on as his own granddaughter.