The Test of Time was a two-part black-and-white multi-Doctor comic story featured in The Doctor Who Fun Book. Unlike most other stories in the book, it was a serious adventure set in the Doctor Who universe, tying into the events of An Unearthly Child and The Web Planet.
On two occasions, the First Doctor is taken out of Time by the Father of Time himself, a powerful entity set on subjecting the Doctor to the "Test of Time", sending him on a series of adventures more dangerous than ever before. But who is Time, really? Who indeed…
Test One (1)
As the TARDIS is floating in deep space on 16 August 1963, Earth-time, Susan Foreman notices a hourglass-like artefact in the control room which she has never seen before. The First Doctor is puzzled, as he is equally unfamiliar with the object.
To both travellers' surprise, the artefact begins rapidly growing in size as the face of an elderly man appears within the glass. The hourglass seems to burst with power, and suddenly, a scythe-wielding, robed figure is standing in the TARDIS control console: a being whom an irate First Doctor recognises as "the Father of Time himself". Explaining his nature to Susan, the Father of Time states that "before the oldest of the Time Lords existed there was only Time himself" and that he has decided to test one of those who would use his name — namely, the Doctor.
The Father of Time then sends the TARDIS to Skaro in the "unforeseeable future", explaining that his first test is simply a matter of "escaping the sands of time", though he withholds the name of the planet and of its inhabitants from the Doctor and Susan. As they step out, Susan observes that everything she touches on the planet crumbles to the touch, prompting the Doctor to hypothesise that "some kind of mighty war" must have been waged on this world.
Two of the masters of the planet call out to Susan and the Doctor, insisting that "no slaves are allowed in Zone X", but before they can exterminate the intruders, the ground fractures beneath them, swallowing the two Daleks. The gloating voice of the Father of Time informs the Doctor and Susan that he did not wish to see them escaping "the creatures of this planet", but rather the planet itself.
The Doctor and Susan run back to the TARDIS, only to find out that it is the same size inside as outside; Time explains that he has temporarily disabled the TARDIS because it would be too easy an escape for the Doctor. The Doctor then thinks to try one of the lifts leading down into the Daleks' mine shafts: in his opinion, the planet is tearing itself apart, and his and Susan's only hope of escape is to ride out the storm at the very heart of the planet.
The Father of Time compliments the Doctor's strategic thinking, explaining that the planet has been ravaged by the damage its occupants did to it throughout Time; he plucks them out of this time period just as the radioactive planet finally implodes and promises to return the TARDIS and her two occupants, safe and sound, to "a new life" while he plans for Test Number Two. As Time's presence recedes, the Doctor and Susan step out of the TARDIS to find themselves at 76 Totter's Lane, in front of the gates to I.M. Foreman's scrapyard.
Test Two (2)
Much later, while facing a Zarbi in the company of Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, the Doctor suddenly hears the voice of the Father of Time announcing that "it is time for the Final Test" and disappears right in front of Ian and Barbara's eyes. He reappears inside a future version of the TARDIS control console that is unfamiliar to him, watching Time's face through the TARDIS screen. Time explains that he is inside his own TARDIS alongside five more of his incarnations.
Indeed, the First Doctor finds the Second, Third, Fifth and Sixth Doctors frantically huddled around the disassembled TARDIS control console, trying to put it back together. Time explains that he has incapacitated the TARDIS and set it on a course for the heart of the Sun, hence why it is vital that he help his other selves repair the Ship's controls.
Seeing that the bickering Doctors aren't getting anywhere, the First Doctor berates them for forgetting that they needn't rely on machinery, being Time Lords. Following his lead, his other selves join hands with him, and, together, calling on their pooled temporal powers, they reverse time itself; pulled back in time, the TARDIS escapes its fate to the congratulations of the Father of Time, who begins to send all of the Doctors back to their own times and places.
As he hurtles back towards his adventure on Vortis, the Doctor catches one last glimpse of Time as his robe falls back to reveal he is wearing a scarf and a recorder. And he wonders — just WHO is Time?
- First Doctor
- Second Doctor
- Third Doctor
- Fourth Doctor
- Fifth Doctor
- Sixth Doctor
- Susan Foreman
- Father of Time
- Ian Chesterton
- Barbara Wright
- Zone X Daleks
- This comic story depicts Skaro's final destruction in the "unforeseeable future" as a direct result of the Daleks' mistreatment of their own homeworld. A scant few years after this story's release, the televised story Remembrance of the Daleks would purport to show the destruction of Skaro in quite different circumstances, as it was destroyed by its second sun going supernova due to the Seventh Doctor tricking Davros into activating a booby-trapped Hand of Omega — though later stories, most notably the novel War of the Daleks and the TV stories Asylum of the Daleks and The Magician's Apprentice, showed that Skaro either survived those events or was eventually restored.
- The story's ending hints very strongly, though it does not outright state, that the incarnation of Time seen in this story is none other than the Doctor's distant future self.
- The First Doctor and Susan Foreman are deposited by the Father of Time in front of I.M. Foreman's scrapyard to a "new life". (TV: An Unearthly Child) He is later plucked out of his timeline again by Time while on an adventure with Ian and Barbara facing the Zarbi on Vortis, the Web Planet. (TV: The Web Planet)
- The Doctor and Susan will later return to the war-torn planet at an earlier point in its timeline, once again finding that the petrified plant-life there crumbles to the touch. It is then that they will learn the name of the creatures: Daleks. (TV: The Daleks)