The Timeless Children was the tenth and final episode of series 12 of Doctor Who.

The episode brought to light an account of the Doctor's origins in which, prior to becoming the First Doctor, they had lived many forgotten lives as the Timeless Child. This new thread in the ongoing tapestry brings the Doctor, once again, to the forefront of Time Lord history.

In this new account, the Timeless Child was discovered near a boundary to another dimension or reality by the Shobogan traveller Tecteun, who took her in as her own. Their regenerative abilities were attentively studied by Tecteun, and eventually replicated. This is put forward as the true origin of regeneration on Gallifrey. A radical result of this retroactive continuity is that the Doctor, in their earliest lives, was the biological template upon which Time Lord society was founded.

It also offers a new explanation for pre-Hartnell incarnations like the so-called "Morbius" Doctors, and continues to push the mystery around the "Fugitive" Doctor played by Jo Martin.

The Timeless Children also brought another redesign of the Cybermen not long after the warrior-class Cybermen in Ascension of the Cybermen in the form of CyberMasters - a branch created by the Master with the ability to regenerate.

The episode also brought about another shift in the current status quo, with the Doctor's companions, Ryan, Graham, and Yaz being returned to the 21st century without the Doctor, for their own protection, with the group still being separated by the end of the episode.

Synopsis Edit

Gallifrey is dead, the Master is in control of an army of Cybermen ready to take over the universe, and Graham, Ryan, and Yaz are trapped, being hunted down with the last remnants of humanity. But for the Doctor, one question remains... Who is the Timeless Child?

Plot Edit

The Master persuades the Doctor to join him on Gallifrey; after some hesitation, the Doctor agrees and is then forced to enter the Matrix. He shows her the secret history of Gallifrey and reveals that the Shobogans, not the Time Lords, were the indigenous species on the planet. One of them named Tecteun, a space explorer, was the first to leave Gallifrey and spent an untold amount of time searching the stars; eventually, she found a lone child left abandoned. Taking pity on the child, Tecteun adopted her and discovered the child had the ability to regenerate. After studying the child for many years (and forcing several regenerations to occur), Tecteun was successful in her studies. Once Tecteun tested it on herself and successfully regenerated, the society of Gallifrey increased exponentially and the Shobogans residing on the Citadel had the ability grafted into them, transforming them into Time Lords; they chose to limit one's regenerations to twelve. The Master reveals that the Doctor herself is the "timeless child". Tecteun and the child were inducted into a clandestine organisation called the Division, the details of which were redacted from the Matrix. The Doctor's memories were subsequently erased, prior to the childhood she remembers; only snippets remain, masked as the story of the Irish policeman Brendan.

With the Doctor trapped in the Matrix, the Master lures Ashad to Gallifrey and shrinks him with his tissue compression eliminator, taking the Cyberium. With its knowledge, the Master creates a race of infinitely-regenerating Cybermen which he will use to take over the universe. In the Matrix, a vision of the Ruth Doctor gives the Doctor a means to escape by overloading the Matrix with all of her memories from her past regenerations.

On board the Cyber-carrier, Bescot is killed, while Yaz, Graham, Ravio and Yedlarmi successfully hide from the invading Cybermen in empty Cyber-armor. They subsequently arrive at the Boundary and save the lives of Ryan, Ethan, and Ko Sharmus from Cybermen forces sent to the planet by Ashad. The group gather and agree to all go through the portal to Gallifrey.

The Doctor regroups with her companions, and they decide to destroy the troop carrier containing the Cybermen; as they prepare the explosives, The Doctor discovers Ashad's minaturised body containing a "Death Particle" capable of destroying all organic life on a planet. Finding a room of default and unused TARDISes, she programs one to take her allies home. The Doctor attaches the minaturised body of Ashad to the explosive and sets off to confront the Master. Despite being goaded by the Master to detonate it, she is unable to but Ko Sharmus appears and offers to take it as penance for failing to suitably hide the Cyberium. The Doctor escapes in another TARDIS as Ko Sharmus triggers the Death Particle, the explosion consuming Gallifrey and presumably destroying the Time-Lord Cybermen hybrids along with the Master.

The Doctor's allies arrive on contemporary Earth in their TARDIS, which materialises as a house to blend in with the housing estate where it has landed. The Doctor lands the other TARDIS, in the shape of a tree, near her own, but as she prepares to take off, she is arrested by the Judoon and teleported to a prison located inside an asteroid.

Cast Edit

Special guest appearance by

Uncredited cast Edit

Crew Edit

to be added

References Edit

Species Edit

  • Shobogans were the original indigenous species of Gallifrey, some of whom genetically altered themselves into the Time Lords through Tecteun's research on the Timeless Child.
  • The Timeless Child's species are a species from another reality or dimension that have the ability to regenerate infinitely and continuously change their appearance. Tecteun was able to splice elements of their DNA into herself and other Shobogans, creating the Time Lords.

Biology Edit

Organisations Edit

  • An early incarnation of the Doctor was recruited by The Division, an organisation which officially did not exist nor had operatives and acted against the non-interference policy of the Time Lords.
  • The Judoon possess a "cold case" unit.

Culture Edit

  • When showing the destroyed Citadel to the Doctor, the Master references "Ozymandias", a sonnet by Percy Shelley.
  • When the Master requests an alliance with the Cyberium, he references the TV show The Apprentice, claiming he "deserves to be its business partner, because he has performed well in all the tasks", which was a common excuse used to become Lord Sugar's business partner.

Weapons Edit

  • One death particle was able to wipe out all organic life on a planet.

Story notes Edit

  • This episode used the same kind of "cold opening" used in Spyfall: Part Two; a recap of the preceding episode.
  • This episode had the most extensive use of archive footage in any of the Doctor Who episodes or any other media, and indeed any of the spin-offs as of 2020.
  • Tecteun's and the Timeless Child's regenerations mark the first time female to male regeneration has been seen onscreen. However, the first depiction of a female regenerating into a male in any media was in AUDIO: Enemy Lines. In the case of the Timeless Child, multiple regenerations were shown, both female to male and male to female.
  • The episode's cliffhanger ending calls back to the cliffhanger endings of both Doomsday and Last of the Time Lords, in which the dumbfounded Doctor repeatedly utters the word "what?" in response to the events suddenly and rapidly unfolding around them.
  • This episode is the first time in the show's history, discounting full red and full blue from various previous stories, that clips from the William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton eras have been shown in colour.
  • This marks the second time the theme music has been used during a TV story, playing across the Doctor's Matrix mind-blow-up sequence. The first time was in The Woman Who Fell to Earth.
  • This story confirms that the faces in the mind battle with Morbius in The Brain of Morbius are incarnations of the Doctor, something long debated amongst fans, on the grounds that these 8 faces did not appear since, with following stories seemingly debunking them.
  • The Timeless Children made such a huge impact on the fandom as a whole that the episode made it into the satirical website News Thump.[4]
  • The episode used an anagram for actor Sacha Dhawan on the Doctor Who website; "Barack Stemis" which, if re-arranged, means "Master is Back" and playing a false character called "Fakout".[5][6] This tactic, discounting in-universe examples from 2007's Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords, has not been seen on television since The King's Demons in 1983. Back then it was used in the credits of the episode. Another more recent example is Mark Gatiss being credited, in the old tradition, as Sam Kisgart, for his role as a parallel universe Master, though this was more of a tongue-in-cheek reference to the classic trope than a genuine attempt at audience subterfuge.
  • This story is the third consecutive finale for an even-numbered season to feature both the Master and the Cybermen, following Death in Heaven and The Doctor Falls.
  • In the scene corresponding to the point where Tecteun's male incarnation stands alongside two other Time Lords in full high-collared regalia, the episode's script release mentions that "we can assume [the other two] are Rassilon and Omega".[7]

Ratings Edit

  • 3.78 million (BBC overnight)[8]
  • 4.69 million (BBC final)[9]

Filming locations Edit

to be added

Myths Edit

Production errors Edit

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • The extreme close-up shot of the bomb activating the Death Particle is in the wrong format, which causes a horizontal stretch of the image. This is due to a wrong de-squeeze of the footage filmed with an anamorphic lens.

Continuity Edit

Home video releases Edit

  • This story was released on DVD and Blu-ray as part of the Series 12 boxset.

External links Edit

Footnotes Edit

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