Doctor Who Series 10: 7 Big Questions We're Asking After 'World Enough And Time'

6. Is Doctor Who The Doctor's Real Name?

BBC

If Whovians were asked to come up with a list of fan credentials, knowing that Doctor Who is the title of the show and not the Doctor’s real or assumed name would be a popular suggestion. The phrase has featured so many times during Moffat’s tenure we’ve lost count, but until this episode it had always been tongue in cheek or framed as a question – the oldest in the universe. With the notable exception of WOTAN’s “Doctor Who is required” (The War Machines 1966), the title has never directly been used in the show.

It’s not quite that clear cut however. The character has sometimes been credited as Doctor Who (most recently Christopher Eccleston). In the Peter Cushing movies and 1960s comics and merchandise the Doctor calls himself Doctor Who.

Steven Moffat has enjoyed teasing fans by giving prominence to various fan debates only to leave the answers open to interpretation: the Doctor’s half-human status is still up for grabs for instance. But he has also demystified others, such as by confirming that the Doctor can and has been a female. So which category does Missy’s insistence that the Doctor is Doctor Who fit into?

Although Missy is winding up Bill and Nardole, just as Moffat is the fans, that’s not to say that the Doctor didn’t invent Who as an alternative to his birth name. In the classic series, the Doctor quite liked the title, signing himself as Dr W in The Underwater Menace and using a customised number plate for Bessie - WHO 1.

It’s not unusual for a person or group to adopt a name given to them by their detractors (e.g. Christians) and who’s to say that the Master didn’t come up with the name in the first place? In fact in good old timey wimey fashion perhaps Missy gave him the idea here.

Contributor
Contributor

Paul Driscoll is a freelance writer and author across a range of subjects from Cult TV to religion and social policy. He is a passionate Doctor Who fan and January 2017 will see the publication of his first extended study of the series (based on Toby Whithouse's series six episode, The God Complex) in the critically acclaimed Black Archive range by Obverse Books. He is a regular writer for the fan site Doctor Who Worldwide and has contributed several essays to Watching Books' You and Who range. Recently he has branched out into fiction writing, with two short stories in the charity Doctor Who anthology Seasons of War (Chinbeard Books). Paul's work will also feature in the forthcoming Iris Wildthyme collection (A Clockwork Iris, Obverse Books) and Chinbeard Books' collection of drabbles, A Time Lord for Change.