Mortimus, (PROSE: No Future) better known in male form as "the Monk", (TV: The Time Meddler, AUDIO: The Blame Game) or in female form as "the Nun", (AUDIO: The Wrong Woman) was a time traveller of the Doctor's own kind, who by most accounts was a renegade Time Lord. (PROSE: No Future, Divided Loyalties; AUDIO: The Side of the Angels, etc.)
Adopting the name, or at least the ethos, of "the Time Meddler", (COMIC: 4-Dimensional Vistas) they travelled in a TARDIS of his own throughout Earth's history, "meddling" with it in a manner the Doctor denounced as reckless and counterproductive. After an encounter with the First Doctor in 1066 Northumbria, the Monk attained their moniker through the Doctor and his companions due to their choice of disguise. (TV: The Time Meddler) While they have noted that it was mostly the Doctor who addressed him as such, (AUDIO: The Secret History) they later acknowledged that most people called them "the Monk". (AUDIO: The Blame Game) They did, however, express irritation at being called "the Meddling Monk", (AUDIO: Divorced, Beheaded, Regenerated) another descriptor used for them by the Doctor in Northumbria. (TV: The Time Meddler)
According to a dream about his childhood in the Deca that the Fifth Doctor experienced under the influence of the Toymaker, Mortimus had once been a friend of the Doctor's on Gallifrey until they fled to meddle in history. (PROSE: Divided Loyalties)
Like all Time Lords, Mortimus was taken from their family at the age of eight for the selection process in the Drylands. Staring into the Untempered Schism as part of a Time Lord initiation rite, they were driven mad by what they saw in the Schism. (PROSE: A Brief History of Time Lords)
According to a nightmare had by the Fifth Doctor, Mortimus and the First Doctor were both part of the Deca in the Time Lord Academy. When the Doctor uncovered Time Lord files regarding the Guardians, Mortimus was one of the first to delve into their secrets. They dropped out of the Academy after the Doctor, Rallon and Millennia took an illegal trip away from Gallifrey to the Celestial Toyroom. (PROSE: Divided Loyalties)
On Gallifrey, Mortimus was an initiate of one of the colleges of scholars in the Capitol, trusted with keeping secrets, (PROSE: No Future) and also worked for the Celestial Intervention Agency. (PROSE: The Quantum Archangel) During this period, they were responsible for the Legions' imprisonment. (PROSE: The Crystal Bucephalus) According to the Master, Mortimus "crossed and double-crossed" the CIA. (PROSE: The Quantum Archangel)
After becoming an agent provocateur for the High Council, Mortimus found an interest in intervening in history. Becoming aware of other worlds where everything they believed in was meaningless, Mortimus turned to politics, attempting to "create a purpose out of nothing". Finding politics to be full of betrayal, they retreated into hedonism, out of a desire for harmless fun. Through "some sort of controversy", the High Council betrayed Mortimus. (PROSE: No Future)
Fifty years after the Doctor and other members of the Deca left Gallifrey, the Monk escaped in a Mark IV TARDIS and decided to become a renegade as well, meddling with history for amusement. (TV: The Time Meddler) After they left Gallifrey, Irving Braxiatel heard that Mortimus had headed in the direction of Earth. (PROSE: The Empire of Glass)
The Monk's incarnations
The Monk claimed that they started fresh after every regeneration, adopting a policy of separation between his incarnations. While they claimed to drop all grudges held by their past selves and asked those that encountered him to consider the action of his other selves as the actions of different people, the Monk consistently held onto their grievance with the Doctor. (AUDIO: The Side of the Angels)
The chronology of the Monk’s life was complicated by their own meddling erasing parts of their past. One incarnation claimed to no longer know what number of regeneration they were as a result of this. (AUDIO: The Wrong Woman) To that end, while these incarnations fall within the Monk's personal lifetime can be placed in a logical order, the true sequence remains unclear:
- An early incarnation of the Monk, his very first incarnation according to some sources, (PROSE: The Mutation of Time) escaped Gallifrey in a Mark IV TARDIS and decided to become a renegade like many of his contemporaries, meddling with history for amusement. This incarnation, who dubbed himself "the Time Meddler", (COMIC: 4-Dimensional Vistas) would develop a grudge against the Doctor, (PROSE: No Future) having been stranded on an ice planet after the First Doctor stole his TARDIS's directional unit. (TV: The Daleks' Master Plan)
- Another incarnation of the Monk fashioned himself as a hero, constantly at odds with both the Doctor and the Laws of Time. The Monk began to take upon human companions of his own in his quest to alter history for the better, though his actions incited Lucie Miller to describe him as "amoral" and a "murdering lunatic". (AUDIO: The Resurrection of Mars) After the loss of his companion Tamsin Drew at the hands of the Daleks, this incarnation blamed the Doctor and nearly succeeded in wiping him from history. (AUDIO: The Secret History)
- The incarnation of the Monk that followed, having claimed to start anew, bounced across the Doctor's personal timeline. (AUDIO: The Black Hole, The Blame Game, How to Win Planets and Influence People, The Side of the Angels, et al.) Having felt that they would not survive the Last Great Time War, the Monk turned himself human and hid away in a 16th century abbey in England. (AUDIO: Divorced, Beheaded, Regenerated) He would eventually strike up an unwilling partnership with Missy, who reprogrammed his TARDIS to only work while both of them were aboard, (AUDIO: Too Many Masters) until escaping with the aid of his future self. (AUDIO: Two Monks, One Mistress)
- The first known female incarnation of the Monk was well-spoken and projected a boisterous enthusiasm to obscure her slippery underside. Embracing the title of the Nun, this incarnation claimed to come after the moustachioed Monk, who she helped escape from Missy, (AUDIO: Two Monks, One Mistress) and faced off against the Tenth Doctor in the time period before the Last Great Time War, which he'd heen drawn to as an unintended result of the Nun's scheme to modify history. (AUDIO: The Wrong Woman)
- Long post-dating the Last Great Time War, this incarnation of the Monk returned to primarily calling himself Mortimus. While this incarnation was considerably more jovial than those that came before him, his schemes lacked any attempt of moral justification. After an encounter with the Twelfth Doctor, they ended up sent away in his TARDIS with the memories of his scheme erased by a memory worm. (PROSE: The Persistence of Memory)
The Monk was amoral and enjoyed meddling actively with history to his own selfish ends. They were also incredibly careless when it came to time travel. Unlike other Time Lords, the Monk didn't seem to care about the potential damage to fixed points or to the Web of Time. He also showed the habit of leaving behind anachronisms like a quartz wristwatch and an atomic cannon on a cliff where anyone could find it. (PROSE: The Time Meddler)
One of the reasons for his justification for his time meddling was they watched history repeat time and time again, and they watched as people made mistakes, and they believed that by manipulating events they could ensure those mistakes didn't happen. He had the view, as a Time Lord, they had the right to make decisions which affected history on a large scale. At the same time, they believed nobody was equal. (AUDIO: Subterfuge)
Despite his experience as a Time Lord, the Monk's attitude typically demonstrated a very short-term view when making his plans, intending to alter the outcome of the Battle of Hastings with only vague ideas of how things would work out later. The Monk justified his attitude by proclaiming that they actively helped others where the Doctor used the Laws of Time to justify inaction, although the Doctor argued that not taking action helped others develop further, where the Monk simply gave advanced technology to cultures before they had developed the maturity to use it properly. The Doctor also observed that the Monk often failed to consider the consequences of his actions; as an example, while the Monk's actions saved a woman from a terminal disease, the Doctor argued that by letting history take its course the woman's death could have inspired her family or others to do more research into that disease and led to far more cures and diseases being treated. (AUDIO: The Rise of the New Humans)
The Monk also showed a childish and petulant side to his nature, although they did have a temper, and they could get annoyed and exasperated easily, usually when they were disturbed during his plans like they frequently was in 1066 when his disguise as a monk led to him being forced to tend to injured Saxons even if the role was necessary since the Saxons were a part of his plans. (TV: The Time Meddler)
Throughout all of his lives, the Monk had a boastful side, and they sought praise and liked to think of himself as clever. (PROSE: The Time Meddler) He would boast about his plans and about his TARDIS, and they enjoyed mocking the Doctor whenever they met. Indeed, when they met the Eighth Doctor on Deimos, the Monk took particular delight in taunting the Doctor for his failures despite him being involved in manipulating the situation so the Doctor would need to save Lucie from the Ice Warriors. (AUDIO: The Resurrection of Mars)
The Eighth Doctor compared the Monk to his previous self when they heard the story from Lucie of how the Monk had taken her to a planet to prevent the birth of a dictator by burying his parents under an avalanche that also destroyed the settlement. The Doctor pointed out that the Monk and his own past incarnation, the Seventh Doctor, were not too dissimilar; they both believed the ends justified the means for some "greater good," and how the Seventh Doctor had a similar mindset for devising masterplans while believing that the needs of the many outweighed the means of the few. (AUDIO: The Resurrection of Mars)
His TARDIS was his "pride and joy," (AUDIO: The Resurrection of Mars) and they loved showing it off to the Doctor, boasting about its features and comparing its superiority to the Doctor's TARDIS, (TV: The Time Meddler) but when they travelled to Earth to flee from the Last Great Time War, they were a bit too zealous in making sure no-one could track him down, making it easy for Missy to strand him in the past. At the same time, they had no problem with abandoning his ship when it was heavily damaged, though it was his own fault. (AUDIO: Divorced, Beheaded, Regenerated)
During a later encounter with the Monk when they discovered the other Time Lord was helping the Daleks re-conquer Earth in the 22nd century, the Doctor stated the Monk was "like a child, a dangerously powerful child," and they "needed to grow up. Fast." Tamsin Drew also claimed the Monk was a child before she learnt the truth of the Daleks' presence on Earth. The Doctor also claimed the Monk to be "out of his depth." (AUDIO: To the Death)
The Monk claimed that they started fresh after every regeneration, adopting a policy of separation between his incarnations. He dropped all grudges held by his past selves and asked those that encountered him to consider the action of his other selves as the actions of different people. (AUDIO: The Side of the Angels) However, this could be attributed to his overarching nature to reflect any responsibility and blame for his past actions onto anyone else, further exaggerating his blatant arrogance and fecklessness. (AUDIO: The Secret History)
The Monk often came across as a wannabe rather than a true villain or hero, with his greater plans and objectives fundamentally undermined by his own inability to recognise his limitations, such as participating in an alliance with the Daleks to conquer Earth because they believed that the Daleks would be defeated eventually. (AUDIO: To the Death) The consequences of his attitude were most clearly demonstrated when they were able to implement a complex plan that saw him taking the Doctor's place in the belief that they could be better than the Doctor, only for his former ally to see the future they would create and recognise that the Monk's active interference in history were making things worse than they would have been if the Doctor had been allowed to continue existing and adopting his usual pattern of stepping in during great danger but otherwise allowing people to make their own mistakes. (AUDIO: The Secret History)
Behind the scenes
The Monk was almost never actually referred to as "the Time Meddler" or "the Meddling Monk" by themself or others, both of these "names" being taken from the titles of the overall serial and the second episode. However, the Doctor comes close to giving the character these names within the serial, calling him "a time meddler" and "that meddling monk", and later referring to "the Meddling Monk" in the novelisation of Shada, but more as a general epithet than a name. In 4-Dimensional Vistas, the Fifth Doctor refers to the character as "the Time Meddler" and in To the Death and Divorced, Beheaded, Regenerated, Lucie Miller and Missy call him "the Meddling Monk".
The title "the Monk" derives more from Steven and Vicki's attempt to call them something within the confines of The Time Meddler. By the events of the audio story The Book of Kells, the Monk is shown to have appropriated the title, using the name "Abbot Thelonius" as a sly reference to jazz great Thelonius Monk through wordplay reminiscent of the Master's aliases. However, in The Secret History, the Monk remarks that the Doctor is the only person who ever calls them "the Monk".
The first villainous Time Lord?
Peter Butterworth's unnamed time traveller in TV: The Time Meddler had the distinction of being the first compatriot of the Doctor and Susan to appear on television. There is some difficulty, however, in assigning to him the quality of "first Time Lord other than the Doctor" to appear in the series, as the name of "Time Lord" had yet to make its debut in the series at the time; indeed, it was far from established that the Doctor was a humanoid alien rather than a human from an advanced future civilisation. Absent the context of later continuity, The Time Meddler seems to set itself firmly in the latter tradition, with both the Doctor and the Monk equating "history" and "human history" in dialogue, treating Earth's history as if it were their own; the trinkets and keepsakes collected by the Monk notably all come from various periods of Earth's history, to the exclusion of any other planet.
In the end, the name of "Time Lord" was not used until TV: The War Games, which also introduced a new antagonistic member of the Doctor's own kind; the War Chief. In terms of authorial intent, it could thus be argued that the War Chief was the first true "evil Time Lord" antagonist on television — although one might also make a case for the Celestial Toymaker in TV: The Celestial Toymaker, who was, according to Donald Tosh in BBC DVD: The Time Meddler, initially meant to be a member of the Doctor's own race, and was, unlike the Monk, clearly presented as nonhuman — although this idea was largely abandoned by later continuity, which instead depicted the Toymaker as either a Great Old One or a Guardian of Time.
Indeed, PROSE: Doctor Who and the Doomsday Weapon explained that the Doctor and the Master were the only two Renegade Time Lords ever to leave Gallifrey, and PROSE: The Three Doctors stated that the Master was the only Time Lord the Doctor had ever fought before Omega; both of these books implicitly squared away the War Chief as an earlier incarnation of the Master, which was Malcolm Hulke's personal belief, but they made no mention of the Monk whatsoever (nor of the Toymaker).
Sourcebooks of FASA's The Doctor Who Role Playing Game took this to its logical conclusion by presenting Peter Butterworth's character in The Time Meddler as an earlier incarnation of the Master, who had been "disguised" as "the Monk", and the War Chief as not the Master himself, but a disciple of his, who had been acting under his guidance. However, stories in the Doctor Who Role Playing Game are not considered valid sources on this Wiki due to their branching narratives and interactive elements.
According to NOTVALID: How The Monk Got His Habit, which is not accepted as a valid source for in-universe articles on this wiki, Mortimus had spent many years satisfying his hedonistic yearnings in Earth's 1970s under the unassuming name of "Roger" by his fifth incarnation. He had acquired a taste for Earth tobacco — which made his voice turn gravelly over time — as well as for Earth's pop music, which they often played on his TARDIS's hi-fi system.
He was "a suave, debonair-looking man", with jet-black, shoulder-length hair, and they bore a long moustache, as well as neatly-trimmed cavalry whiskers. He wore a plum-coloured velvet suit with "tight, figure-enhancing" hipsters.
- The unproduced Peter Capaldi-era story How The Monk Got His Habit, pitched by Peter Harness, would have revealed the origins of the Monk's habit to meddle in history and of his disguise as a human monk, involving the Twelfth Doctor. A younger Monk (prospectively cast as Matt Berry), only meaning to have a bit of fun, would have been seen to go back to 1917 Russia to make the real Grigori Rasputin listen to the Boney M track "Ra-Ra-Rasputin". To the Monk's surprise, this would have caused Rasputin to go completely mad, throwing human history out of whack; for his penance, the Doctor would have had his old schoolmate regenerate into Rasputin's form and live out his lifetime exactly as it was supposed to go — thus showing not only the first of the Monk's time-meddlings, but also how they got into the habit of posing as a monk; Rasputin being known as "the Mad Monk". A window into the period of the Monk's life prior to these events was revealed in a short story of the same name, presented as the first scene of the unfinished novelisation to the unproduced story, which Harness released as part of Doctor Who: Lockdown! and which is not considered a valid source on this Wiki.
- The Monk is also the first recurring villain after the Daleks, and the first individual foe to return for a rematch.
- According to NOTVALID: Dalek: Spoof Scenes, in a version of events where the Last Great Time War was fought against the Drashigs rather than the Daleks, the Ninth Doctor cited the Monk as one of the people who'd perished in the War, alongside Damon and Spandrell.
- John Dorney and David Richardson initially wanted the Monk to appear in the storyline which eventually became Daughter of the Gods. They issued David K Barnes a list of characters from the early years of Doctor Who and tasked him with writing a story around them as if emulating a "five-year anniversary special" from 1968. However, while most of the characters on the list made it into the final work, the Monk was ultimately dropped once the main story began to take shape. (VOR 128)