10 Years Later, Doctor Who Might Have Just Solved One Of Its Weirdest Mysteries
Where did the Curator come from?
Although the Doctor Who 60th-anniversary specials weren't as stuffed-to-the-gills with as many cameos as fans maybe would have liked, the final David Tennant and Catherine Tate special, “The Giggle,” did, seemingly create a new paradigm that could solve a mystery the show set into motion 10 years ago.
In “The Day of the Doctor,” the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) met a seemingly much older incarnation of himself, known only as “The Curator,” played by 4th Doctor actor, Tom Baker. But how does the Doctor eventually become The Curator? The surprising ending of “The Giggle” may have the answer. Spoilers ahead.
By the end of “The Giggle,” not only did we get two living versions of the Time Lord known as the Doctor — David Tennant’s 14th Doctor and Ncuti Gatwa’s new 15th Doctor — but each Doctor also got their own TARDIS. While the new Doctor flew off right away, the other Doctor decided to stay on Earth — perhaps indefinitely. Although we hear about the 14th Doctor taking Rose and Mel on all sorts of adventures (including Mars!) his overall plan is to keep things much more down-to-earth than usual. We even see the TARDIS parked in the backyard of the Noble-Temple home and are given the very clear impression that this other Doctor could remain on Earth for a very long time.
Having a second full-fledged version of the Doctor co-existing with the “regular” incumbent Doctor is certainly a new move for the series, but the storyline of “The Giggle” actually helps to smooth out various canon contradictions. As showrunner Russell T. Davies said on the aftershow, Doctor Who: Unleashed (available in the U.K.), one line from the Toymaker was meant to explain canon confusions with the Doctor’s personal timeline.
When the Toymaker says, “I made a jigsaw of your history,” this is supposed to mean that the Toymaker is responsible for various inconsistencies with the Doctor’s biography, including the idea he might be half-human (from the 1996 TV movie), the idea of the Timeless Child (from “The Timeless Children”), and, perhaps, even other vague plotlines like the idea of the Doctor becoming the Valeyard (“Trial of a Time Lord”) or the Doctor’s eventual death on Trenzalore (“Time of the Doctor.”) As Davies put it: “It just relaxes the rules to say he is whatever you want him to be.”
Could the 14th Doctor Regenerate Into the Curator?
One of the ways this is seems true is the notion that the Doctor will, at some future date, regenerate into another previous self, the face of Tom Baker’s 4th Doctor. In “The Day of the Doctor,” the Curator (played by Baker) told the 11th Doctor outright that, “in the years to come you might find yourself revisiting a few [old faces] but just the old favorites.”
With David Tennant’s 14th Doctor, we’ve now seen this happen outright. The 13th Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) regenerated and became David Tennant again. So, who's to say that at some point down the line, the 14th Doctor won’t regenerate and become... Sylvester McCoy again? Or Peter Davison? Or Jo Martin? Or, of course, Tom Baker?
None of this means this hypothetical event will ever be depicted on screen. The Curator has already had several off-screen adventures in the form of various Doctor Who audio dramas, which means the link between the bi-generation seen in “The Giggle” and the Curator may be made clear in that format.
Then again, the existence of the 14th Doctor does open up the possibility of an entire second future biography for the Doctor, which means, they could arrive in the form of the Curator, the long way around. For now, if fans have head-canon about the 14th Doctor ending up looking like Tom Baker, there’s literally nothing that’s happened on the show to suggest that we’re wrong.
New Doctor Who streams on Disney+. 2005-2022 Doctor Who is on Max. The classic 1963-1989. era is on both Tubi and Britbox. The 15th Doctor makes his debut in the Doctor Who Christmas special, “The Church on Ruby Road,” airing December 25.
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