a potential problem for the future and a thought-provoker
for die-hard Doctor Who fans as well as the BBC.
per Who mythology, the Doctor can only regenerate twelve
times and we are currently on the Tenth Doctor. What are the
BBC going to do when the series eventually reaches the Twelfth
Doctor and he needs to regenerate - again - and the BBC wish
to continue the series?
(A sad Doctor Who fan)
the BBC won't have to confront this problem until the Doctor
reaches the end of his thirteenth incarnation (twelve regenerations
after the First Doctor makes thirteen Doctors in total) but
I take your point. However, the mythology already contains
some handy get-out clauses.
far back as The Deadly Assassin, the very story that
laid down the "twelve regenerations" rule, it was also established
that a Time Lord could extend his or her existence by gaining
access to a suitably powerful energy source. In this story,
the Master, having used up all of his lives, tries to regenerate
again by exposing his decaying body to the energies of the
Eye of Harmony on Gallifrey. Though the Fourth Doctor stops
him, the Master manages to achieve a partial recuperation
into a slightly less emaciated form.
In another Gallifrey/Master story, The Five Doctors,
the Time Lords offer the Master "a complete new life cycle".
It is not explained how they aim to achieve this (though I
guess it would probably involve the Eye of Harmony), but the
Master does not doubt that this is possible. In the same story,
it is alleged that Rassilon, the legendary ruler from Gallifrey's
distant past, achieved "timeless, perpetual bodily regeneration",
though he ultimately chose eternal sleep because he realised
that immortality was "a curse, not a blessing".
In The Sound of Drums, The Master reveals that the
Time Lords "resurrected" him to fight for them in the
Time War, though again it is not revealed how they
managed this feat.
Though Gallifrey and its Eye of Harmony no longer exist, the
Rift has proven to be a more than adequate substitute power
source for the TARDIS (in Boom
Town and Utopia), so when the writers
eventually need to facilitate a thirteenth regeneration for
the Doctor, or indeed a complete new life cycle, the Rift
might prove to be useful. So too might the power of the Time
Vortex, as used by Rose Tyler to destroy the Daleks, save
the Ninth Doctor and resurrect Captain Jack in The Parting
of the Ways. Given his moral objections to immortality
in stories such as The Brain of Morbius and Utopia,
the Doctor may resist attempts to artificially prolong his
life, but others (such as his companions) might decide that
the universe needs him too badly to allow him to pass away.
It's also worth pointing out that adventures in other media
have suggested that the Doctor had some kind of existence
before the incarnations seen on TV. Ben Aaronovitch's novelisation
of Remembrance of the Daleks and Marc Platt's novel
Lungbarrow both hint at a connection between the Doctor
and the Other, a contemporary of Rassilon. It is implied that
the Doctor could be a reincarnation of the Other. This might
explain the pre-Hartnell faces seen during the mind-bending
contest in The Brain of Morbius (if the faces are those
of the Other or subsequent reincarnated forms). In a deleted
scene from Remembrance of the Daleks, the Doctor tells
Davros that he is "far more than just another Time Lord".
So, when the Thirteenth Doctor eventually utters his final
words, it needn't be the end, if the moment has been prepared
for. Where there's life, there's hope. It's far from being