Every really good hero needs a really evil adversary, and in the Doctor Who world that role is filled by the Master. Every bit as evil as the Doctor is good, this former classmate and friend to the Doctor has gone on to be the epitome of cackling, madman evil. Frequently over the top, often dangerous and almost always entertaining, the Mater really is one of the great bad guys in fiction.
Little is known about the Master’s life before the TV series. We know that he was friends with the Doctor and that they attended the academy together. That’s about all we know, at least officially. But in the spin-off novels, we learn a bit more. Those novels may not be official, but some of them are very much worth reading.
For the purposes of this article, I’m going to treat each Master as a separate entity, much as I would if I were writing about the Doctor. There’s six on screen version of the Master and we’re going to cover them all.
The First Known Master (Roger Delgado)
The character of the Master first appeared in “Terror of the Autons”, a Third Doctor story. He was crafted to be the opposite to the Doctor in every way. Not exactly a Moriarty/Holmes sort of deal, but more like what the Doctor might see in the mirror.
This opposite nature showed up not only in his goals and methods, but also in the most basic of ways. The Doctor at this point was often arrogant and impatient, frequently given to being rude to everyone and showing no tolerance for stupidity. The Master, by contrast, was polite, considerate and would actually take time, when asked, to explain what he was doing and why. Sure, he often lied and would frequently kill people, but you got the impression he viewed killing as a regrettable necessity rather than a lifestyle choice. Like all good villains, he was also the hero in his own narrative.
This version of the Master, as with others, desperately craved the Doctor’s respect and approval, and it’s perhaps quite telling that, at one point, when hallucinating his greatest fear, he pictured a giant version of the Doctor towering over him and laughing.
This version was also not above working alongside the Doctor when needed, and, in fact, the original plan for ending the Third Doctor’s adventures was to have the Master die while trying to save the Doctor. Those plans were scrapped when, sadly, Roger Delgado was killed in a car accident. The Master subsequently disappeared from the Who universe.
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