The History of the Time War

One of the many images available in the gallery for Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS is the picture shown on the left – that of an ancient book entitled The History of the Time War. Now i don’t remotely think we will learn anything of the Time War from this episode and I am sure this is just a teaser, however it did make me think about the Time War (or Last Great Time War) itself and that I hadn’t, until now, blogged about it…

The Time War – what we know

The Time War is the great off-screen reset that ushered in the RTD era and allows for discrepancies to be swept aside. It also provides a useful phase change between old and new Doctors (though Time Crash and the Destiny of the Doctor range also cross this divide).

Fans of course want both more and for it to remain a mystery. We know that the the war was between the Time Lords and the Daleks, resulted in both sides being consigned to history and that the rules have been broken with many Dalek stories and the Master re-appearing briefly.

The Time War also saw the return of Rassilon to an active role, the Master given more lives (we assume) and we have to presume Susan was also folded back into Gallifrey and is now time-locked (though I can’t rule out her re-appearing in the anniversary [dream on!]).

We also believe that the Eccleston Doctor is the Ninth Doctor running directly on from Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor; the McGann / Eccleston regeneration happened off-screen so there is some room for debate. We also suspect that the Eighth Doctor  fought in the Time War though the beginning of Rose does confuse in that Eccleston appears to be treating his face as new although we later find out his Doctor has been seen at many historic events.

What we might like

For every hard-core fan there is a theory – was there another Doctor (or more) between McGann and Eccleston, what happened to Susan, what exactly is a Time War…

Quickly into the mix comes the Cartmel Masterplan and the ideas in Lungbarrow about the true nature of the Doctor – maybe his nature as ‘The Other’ best places him to time-lock the whole war?

Conceptually time travel is not simple (and in the show the Doctor is not set out as the brightest Time Lord in that regard) and a Time War would be complex. In a minor way Big Finish have shown how a Time War skirmish might work with their connected early stories that led to Dalek Empire (see here) and there was a time war in both Eighth Doctor books and also in a comic strip. Beyond that there is a danger that any meaningful time war either degenerates into battle TARDIS fires time-torpedo and Dalek time-ship breaching the time-shields along with lots of going back in time killing Davros as a child and so forth.

Clearly there is scope to set some tales near the boundary – a random thought would be a Doctor goes back to stop Davros becoming the creator of the Daleks by changing events to (for example) stop the events that led him to being disabled. Of course the Doctor would end up causing the events or finding out that this version of history was worse.

Final Thoughts

For most fans I suspect we would rather speculate than have things spelled out – Big Finish are perhaps as well placed as anyone to bring us a Time War and Nick Briggs frequently dismisses the idea as something best left untold. This does thought make it one of the show’s biggest mysteries, perhaps up there with The Name of the Doctor?

What are your pet theories? Do you ever want the story told? Let me know!


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Luke Foord says:

    I like the idea that Big Finish are pushing towards it via the Eight Doctor box sets like Dark Eyes.


    1. Tony Jones says:

      So do I – roll on November!


  2. je says:

    What We Know in Detail:
    The Daleks created the Dogma Virus, which would corrupt Time Lord DNA and eventually wipe out the Time Lords. They sent the virus to Gallifrey through an organisation known as Free Time, who were working for them. (AUDIO: Panacea, Ascension)

    The Daleks then managed to hack into the Matrix, giving them a backdoor to invading Gallifrey. The Dalek Supreme led an invasion force into the Matrix with the intention of leading them out into Gallifrey itself. The plan was stopped by Romana II and one of her future incarnations, who created enough defences inside the Matrix to allow it to be shut down. Romana II trapped them in a time loop to ensure that a temporal war with the Daleks would be avoided.

    Acting through his own authority and unaware that Romana had succeeded in defeating the Daleks,Narvin sent Valyes to Skaro to meet the Fourth Doctor, and give him a mission to avert the creation of the Daleks. (AUDIO: Ascension) The Doctor’s mission on Skaro during the Thousand Year War had certain objectives:

    If possible, to avert the creation of the Daleks

    Otherwise to alter their development and make them less aggressive

    To find some intrinsic flaw or weakness to exploit in the Daleks

    The Doctor believed he might have set back the history of the Daleks for a thousand years. (TV: Genesis of the Daleks) This attempt to avert their creation created hostilities by the Daleks towards Time Lords and would eventually lead to war. (WC: Captain Jack’s Monster Files: Dalek, COMIC: Hunters of the Burning Stone, AUDIO: The Dalek Conquests, Ascension)

    In revenge of the Time Lords plot to destroy them, the Daleks attempted to create a duplicate of the Doctor to send to Gallifrey and assassinate the High Council of the Time Lords. (TV: Resurrection of the Daleks, AUDIO: The Dalek Conquests)

    The final Dalek attempt to attack the Time Lords involved the Hand of Omega, which Davros attempted to use to make the Daleks have mastery over time like the Time Lords. The Seventh Doctor tricked Davros into using the Hand of Omega to destroy Skaro’s sun. (TV: Remembrance of the Daleks, AUDIO: The Dalek Conquests)

    After this, the Daleks next step was to start a war with the Time Lords. (AUDIO: The Dalek Conquests)

    The main force was made of a fleet of Dalek flying saucers, which had a total of ten million, and they unleashed the full might of the Deathsmiths of Goth. The Time Lords used over a million Battle TARDISes. (PROSE: Peacemaker)The start of the War. (COMIC: Agent Provocateur)

    The Eighth Doctor joined the Time Lords in the fight against the Daleks after witnessing the death of a child at the hands of a Dalek. (PROSE: Museum Peace) The Sontarans told legends of the Doctor leading Time Lords into battle. (TV: The Sontaran Stratagem)

    In the first year, Davros was killed at the Gates of Elysium when his command ship flew into the jaws of theNightmare Child. The Doctor tried to save him, but failed. Eventually, Caan, the last survivor of the Cult Of Skaro,time shifted back into the war and saved Davros from the time-locked event at the cost of his own sanity, bringing him into the post-war universe. (TV: The Stolen Earth, Journey’s End)

    During the war, the entire chain of Hotel Historia was destroyed, (COMIC: Hotel Historia) Polymos was destroyed, (PROSE: The Dust of Ages) andKolox was destroyed, leaving behind the Kolox Nebula. (COMIC: The Skrawn Inheritance) Another of the battlefields was Arcadia, where the Doctor fought. (TV: Doomsday) At the heart of the war, millions were killed and brought back to life every second. (TV: The End of Time)

    The Time Lords resurrected the Master, believing him an excellent soldier. The Master was at the Cruciform, but when the Dalek Emperor took control of it, he ran in fear. (TV: The Sound of Drums) Later in the war, Rassilon was President and led the battle to save Gallifrey during the final days of the War (TV: The End of Time).

    Towards the end of the war, the Daleks sent a capsule to Earth in the year 70 to spread the Dalek Factor amongsthumans. The capsule’s engine exploded and the Dalek was killed soon after impact. It released only a small amount of the Dalek Factor, leading to only one in five hundred million humans having it. (PROSE: I am a Dalek)

    During the War, the Eighth Doctor tried to regain the Great Key, which had been stolen by unknown forces. After being imprisoned for a month, with the help of Chantir, he overpowered the guards and escaped with the key. With the key, he believed that the De-mat Gun could be replicated and the Medusa Cascade closed. The Doctor planned to modify the gun so that instead of it removing an individual from time and space, it would remove millions. (COMIC: The Forgotten) This modified De-Mat Gun became the Moment, the weapon that would destroy Gallifrey. (TV: The End of Time,COMIC: Don’t Step on the Grass)


    1. Tony Jones says:

      Thanks for the detail, Je. One day I’ll catch up on the Gallifrey stories!


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