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.



White Man's Burden was the eleventh short story in the Short Trips anthology Short Trips: Past Tense. It was written by John Binns. It featured the Fifth Doctor, Turlough, Barbara and Ian.


Part one[]

The Doctor and Turlough have landed in Pretoria on 11 April 1877, expecting to see the announcing of the annexation of the Transvaal into the British Empire. However, nothing happens. The Doctor is concerned that someone or something has changed history, though he has set the TARDIS to detect such things and it hasn't found anything.

The Doctor and Turlough visit Melmeth Osborn's office. He is secretary to Sir Theophilus Shepstone, the drafter of the annexation proclamation. They cannot convince Osborn that the annexation must go on, and he cannot make them an appointment with Sir Theophilus before late tomorrow morning.

As they leave, they are accosted by Henry Rider Haggard, Sir Theophilus' clerk. He agrees with their stand on the annexation. The Doctor recognises Haggard as the author of the Allan Quatermain novels, some of which the Doctor used to research this event. Haggard is happy to find someone who agrees with them, and finds lodging for them. At a meal together, Turlough and Haggard discuss the Transvaal situation.

The next morning, 12 April, Haggard brings the Doctor a proclamation from Sir Theophilus that allows the Transvaal its independence. The Doctor and Haggard proceed to alter the proclamation slightly so that it announces the annexation instead.

During a small ceremony in Church Square, Osborn prepares to read the proclamation, but falters partway through. Haggard grabs the proclamation and finishes reading it.

History has been restored, and back in the TARDIS the Doctor and Turlough discuss the situation. Turlough wonders what would have happened if they had not been there, and the Doctor says they were part of the history all along.

Part two[]

On 10 April, Sir Theophilus is visited by Sir Joseph, commissioner of Natal, and his wife. They convince him that the annexation would be a harmful thing for the Transvaal.

As they leave his office, they drop the act. They are actually Ian and Barbara, trying to change history so that the British are not responsible for all the terrible things Barbara knows are coming. They are pleased with their efforts, but decide to stay long enough to see if they achieved their desired result. On the 12th, Barbara is devastated to see the annexation proclamation being read in Church Square. They return to the TARDIS.




  • Vicki is in the TARDIS taking care of the First Doctor, who is suffering from a fever. The two only appear briefly in description at the end of part 2, after Barbara and Ian return to the TARDIS.


  • Barbara tries to change history, despite claiming she learned her lesson from the Aztecs. (TV: The Reign of Terror)

External links[]