In the third season of the current run of Doctor Who, Martha Jones asked the Doctor if he and his nemesis — the Master — were “secret brothers,” and it’s now possible she might not have been that far off.
A new story from BBC America’s Anglophenia revealed a list of things “you may not know” about “The Sound of Drums,” possibly the most infamous Doctor-Master showdown in Doctor Who history. The list had some interesting tidbits, but we were most interested in this idea of the Doctor and the Master being directly related.
The story says that Martha’s off-handed joke was actually “a nod to a rumour that the First Master would have been revealed as the Doctor’s long lost sibling during the classic Doctor Who’s tenth season, but for the untimely death of Roger Delgado, who played him.” This would have happened during the Jon Pertwee 3rd Doctor era of Doctor Who, specifcally the 1973 episode “The Frontier of Space”, which ended up being Delgado’s last appearance as the Master.
The writer of that episode was Malcolm Hulke, but the producer was Barry Letts, and the script editor was Terrence Dicks. Letts and Dicks are both hugely influential in establishing a ton of Doctor Who mythology, so if they were both considering writing-in the idea of the Doctor and the Master being siblings, it seems like on some level, it’s probably “true.”
The Anglophenia article also points out that the Doctor’s brother — who he has spoken of before — has been revealed in Who spinoff novels and audio dramas as a character named “Irving Braxiatel.” Of course, those novels and radio stories don’t count, and a sibling still hasn’t been revealed in the actual show.
And yet, the latest incarnation of the Master — Michelle Gomez’s Missy — told Clara that she’d known the Doctor since “he was a little girl,” which obviously implies multiple things. First of all, that the Doctor once had a female regeneration. And, secondly, that the Master and the Doctor have a long, complicated history (which, duh). John Simm’s version of the Master even sported some velvety-red lining inside of his coat, very similar to both the 3rd and 12th Doctor’s sartorial tendencies. Siblings bite on each other’s styles, right?
Making these two Time Lords long-lost siblings who keep finding each other periodically across their timelines seems impossibly complicated, which is Doctor Who’s speciality. And they just so happen to be enemies who still love and respect one another. That really sounds like the setup for just about every long-lost-sibling story ever told.
We’re not saying that the Master and the Doctor are definitely siblings, but the framework is certainly there for a good argument. And the Doctor and the Master do love their arguments.