The year of our Time Lord

Dear Johnny Fanboy,

I think the Doctor Who production team may have lost track of which year is currently the “present day” in the Doctor Who universe. I know I have. Is Series 3 set in 2007 or 2008?

In Aliens of London, when the Doctor sees Rose’s “missing” poster, it says that she’s been missing since March 2005. And since Aliens of London is set exactly one year after that date, it takes place in March 2006.
Boom Town is set “six months later” (according to an on-screen caption), meaning that it takes place in September 2006. And in the pre-credits sequence of Utopia, as the TARDIS makes its pit stop in Cardiff, Martha mentions how there was an earthquake there “a couple of years ago,” which makes it 2008.

However, in Aliens of London, we see the outside of the Trafalgar Theatre, where posters clearly show that the current production is Sweeney Todd, which ran from 22 July to 09 October 2004. In The Runaway Bride, Donna and Lance’s wedding programme shows the current year to be 2006, even though the events of
The Christmas Invasion (which would have taken place at Christmas 2006) have already happened (it’s possible that you cannot see this in sufficient detail on screen - it is shown close up in a feature on the episode in an issue of Doctor Who Magazine). Finally, dialogue in The Shakespeare Code implies that the final Harry Potter book hasn’t yet been released in Martha’s time (“Wait till you read Book 7 - oh, I cried,” says the Doctor), which would mean that she comes from a time earlier than 21 July 2007.

Can you explain these discrepancies?

Nick Hall

Johnny Fanboy replies:

The greater weight of evidence is that Series 3 is set in 2008. The other references are goofs and glitches to be ironed out, or things that are open to interpretation.

Regarding the Sweeney Todd reference in Aliens of London, maybe Stephen Sondheim shows get longer runs in the Doctor Who universe, or at least different show dates.

The dodgy wedding programme in The Runaway Bride could be attributed to a printing error that no one notices until it’s too late to change. It seems amazing that this could happen, but perhaps Lance is in charge of the programmes, and, since the wedding is a sham as far as he is concerned (as he’s working for the Empress of the Racnoss all along) he’s hardly likely to care about the typo, is he?

Regarding Harry Potter, Martha is obviously a keen fan, what with her quoting JK Rowling to save the world and all that, so I think we have to discount the possibility of her simply waiting for the paperback edition to come out. Perhaps has she just been too busy studying and helping out her demanding family members to have read The Deathly Hallows yet. Unless of course the Doctor is wrong about the fact that she hasn’t read it yet and she’s too polite to correct him. Or, like Stephen Sondheim shows, the Harry Potter books have later release dates in Doctor Who land.

Let’s not even get into how summery it always looks in Doctor Who’s England around Christmastime... Then again, maybe it’s global warming as a result of all that dimension-hopping in
Doomsday... Or I suppose we could chalk it all up to residual wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey weirdness from the Last Great Time War...!

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