Browse the WBW Podcast
Browse the WBW Podcast

Doctor Who is Redacted and we’re told Doc was The Chosen One all along

Transported through the boundary gateway to a post-apocalyptic Gallifrey, The Master imprisons The Doctor inside the Matrix, where he sets about rewriting six decades of lore, carefully crafted by generations of BBC writers, by way of a retconning drinking game. Regeneration, we learn, was spliced into Gallifreyan genes from an immortal child hailing from goodness-knows-where, ostensibly making said child the unwitting creator-God of the Time Lords. And by a coincidence of Skywalkerian proportions said inadvertent deity grew up to become The Doctor.

Not to worry. There’s way too much other stuff going on here as well. In the real world, The Master has welcomed Ashad, his death particle, and his fleet of Cyber Warriors to Gallifrey, and the only peeps who can save the day are the extended fam. With Yaz and Graham ordering the remaining humans to scoop out Cybermen on one side, and Ryan, younger, better Ryan, and whatshisface Barristan Selmy from Game of Thrones running around the Community blanket fort on the other, the Cybes don’t stand a chance. Tecteun, Tecteun, Tecteun be praised.

Here's what we think of N165 The Timeless Children

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken


Drew | @drewbackwhen


Here's what we think of N165 The Timeless Children

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken


Drew | @drewbackwhen


Here's what you think 7 Responses to “N165 The Timeless Children”
  1. Kieren Evans | @kjevans2

    Hi folks

    So this one, with the Master’s narrated powerpoint presentation. I’ll get to my thoughts on the Timeless Child in a bit but can we all agree that the Doctor finding out in this manner is not a good way to do so? It robs the Doctor of agency for a large part of the episode. It would have been better if the Doctor had found it out for herself.

    The Master’s disappointment at the Ashad’s desire for the cybermen to be robots is quite fun. Writers often use them just as robots when they are so much more so this feels like a wink at that.

    The Master being disappointed that shrinking Ashad didn’t trigger the death particle is interesting and does suggest that he doesn’t really want to do what he is doing. Also, how has it become a myth that Ashad has the Death Particle? Seems a bit weird. And at the end they just dump a bunch of future people on 21st century earth, hmm. I don’t think they ever bring them up again…And Deus ex Ko Sharmus, hmm.

    So the timeless child…I still haven’t actually decided on it even with a rewatch. As an idea it’s not actually too terrible, only if it’s made clear that when they wiped all trace of it they made the ‘Doctor’ a timelord and not remains whatever the timeless child with its unspecified amount of regenerations (yes, they don’t say the timeless child has unlimited). My biggest thing is it’s telling us about the Doctor’s past which I don’t like. I like it being mysterious, unexplored, that is this one’s biggest crime for me.

    1.8/5 Off to Not Shada with You


  2. Daniel McGinley | @danieljmcginley (TW) & @planet_of_giants (Insta)

    I’m not going to analyse this, just see my previous reviews; exposition, poor characterisation, irritating mannerisms, banal music, moralising lectures etc etc. Instead I’ll focus on how if felt.

    Like Ponken, I’ve watched and rated every story, including endless hours of grainy tele snaps (not always bad, but sometimes a grind). To go from beginning to end, only to be told it’s all been a lie, and the Doctor isn’t who we thought, dumps on sixty years of brilliance.

    The Doctor evolves. It’s one of the beauties of the show. Little hints of back story drip-fed over time and so long as you respect a few canonical givens, the character can be any sort or person. We’ve seen grumpy, hyper, mysterious, male, female. The charm was they were never anyone special, just someone who ran away. Now Time Lord GOD? How much leeway do you need Chibnall?

    This felt like losing a lifelong best friend. And whilst feeling devastated and sick, then being insulted. No worse, laughed at. Foolish enough to sit through all 336 episodes? Haha, you idiot. And to have the nerve to include some clips of previous – good – Doctor Who just to rub it in.

    WBW score numerically, deducting points for plot-holes or bad acting. Mine are based on enjoyment; some nonsensical stories are such fun! This doesn’t even get marks for having Doctor Who in the title as it is no longer that.

    0.1/5*. A disgraceful travesty.

    Daniel McGinley

    • James Evans

      The Timeless Child is literally no different to when the Doctor visits other planets. To those races the Doctor visit they’re “special” because they’re an alien on another planet. The Timeless Child doesn’t erase anything from the last 60 years, it adds to it. The Doctor having forgotten lives before their first incarnation doesn’t change anything the Doctor’s experienced from the First Doctor onwards and the adventures we’ve seen them have, that all still happened. The Doctor not being native to Gallifrey doesn’t devalue, cheapen or make the relationship we’ve seen them have with Gallifrey and the Gallifreyans less real/true, ever heard of adoption? DNA doesn’t define a family or home. The Doctor being an adoptee not native to Gallifrey actually fits with the Doctor and how they’ve characterised (a misfit that feels disconnected/out of place in the society that they were raised in) for the majority of the show. As an adoptee myself I know exactly what that’s like and it’s very common for adoptees to feel out of place/disconnected in the society/family that they are adopted into.

  3. Michael Ridgway | @bad_movie_club


    • The Division seems cool, the Master is on top Loony Tunes form, there’s some nice Cyber carnage, and the Cyber Lords is a neat concept.

    • Cheeky shot of the Seventh Doctor during the Doctor’s matrix overload – from Delta and the Bannermen if I’m not mistaken (fyi- rating 5/5).


    • Why is the Cybermen’s armour so shit? Why are they such terrible shots? Do the Cyber Lords only have 12 regenerations, or infinite? Why don’t they blast Ko as soon as he walked into the room – he’s wasn’t moving fast. He’s in his 70s and had steps to walk down! Why is Ashad so gullibly trusting of the Master?

    • Opinions on the Timeless Child revelation probably depend on whether one is awed by the mystery-wrapped-in-an-enigma retcon, or equate it to Suella Bravermann. Maybe it also depends on whether the concept is ever mentioned again or consigned to the dustbin of Chinball’s reign. Had there been no explanation for Matt Smith’s regeneration into 13, I would have bought it. As it is, the crowd is booing. ‘Boo!’ they shout. And they are throwing plastic bottles filled with wee.

    2.3/5 plastic bottles of wee being thrown at the writers.

  4. Tanz Sixfingers | @tanzsixfingers

    Hello Who Back When Fam!!!
    I found this episode cringeworthy because of all the bad decisions being made, by both the characters and the writer.
    I am upset about the destruction of Gallifrey and the Time Lords (again), but didn’t Twelve go to the end of Time, and Gallifrey still existed, and Me was there? So either they rebuilt, this is another universe, or the master is playing tricks on us.

    If I were the showrunner, or lead writer, and was writing a script that involved the Master and his history with the Matrix, I would make damned sure I watched all the classic serials involving that, and I would be intimately familiar with the plots and results. Picking up my pin from my mini on “The Ultimate Foe”, during the Doctor’s trial, the Master was inhabiting the Matrix for some time, and admitted that it could be, and was, altered to falsify the data for the trial. So even though the Master assures her that this time he is telling her the truth, it probably is all lies, or 90% of it. (Don’t pathological liars always say “well, this time it’s true” when they are called out on it?)

    Given that the Valeyard was able to deceive the Doctor into thinking he had exited the Matrix back to the courtroom so he would sacrifice himself, when he was actually still in the Matrix, could they not have done the same thing in The Timeless Children, and therefore all of the upcoming Flux series is an illusion inside the Matrix? Maybe when she “blows the mind” of the Matrix, she actually just thinks she has?

    RTD will sort it out.

    Clearly the graphix people hadn’t seen the dialog, or the storyboards were changed, because when the Doctor sends them out to set bombs around the ship, she says “Meet in the corridor below the carrier.” But first of all, the carrier is miles long and bigger than the Citadel, and second, the carrier is supported by the ruins of at least 4 separate towers of the citadel. As a meeting place for quickly evacuating after setting bombs on timers, that sure is a vague location, especially since she has not actually seen the carrier since it came to Gallifrey.

    I give this a 1.2, simply because I like Sasha Dewahn as the Master, Jo Martin as the Fugitive Doctor, and Ashad, the Lone Cyberman. The rest is either crap or too much CGI cybermen.

  5. James Evans

    The Timeless Child was not a deity, god, or chosen one, and does not make the Doctor one either, they were a foundling of an unknown race that was adopted and brought to Gallifrey, they only appear special and unique because they’re an alien on another planet with a different biology to everyone else, it’s literally no different to when the Doctor is on Earth and visits other planets. When they’re on those planets with those races they’re “special” and “different” because they’re the only one of they’re kind there. It’s all about perspective and what side you’re looking at it from. Because we’re viewing the Timeless Child from the Gallifreyan point of view then yes, the Timeless Child will appear “special” because they’re an alien on Gallifrey, but view it from the Timeless Child/Doctor’s point of view then no, them being an alien doesn’t make them special because they likely come from a planet and race that have the same biology as them. The Timeless Child adds new layers of mystery by having the Doctor be an adopted foundling because it only shows them when they were a foundling by a monument, everything before that is a complete mystery like why they were there and where they come from, it creates loads of questions around the Doctor’s origins and corrects the mistake The War Games made by revealing the Doctor’s birth place/planet of origins and race, which removed a lot of the mystery of the Doctor. The title of the show just lost a lot of its meaning. But the Doctor is finally a mystery again.

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