There have been many forks in the timelines over the years, but here are our five favourite Doctor Who alternate realities.
From jumping time tracks in ‘The Space Museum’ to staring out though the door of the TARDIS at a desolate future in ‘The Pyramids of Mars’, Doctor Who has always been fascinated with ‘What If?’ scenarios.
After the Monks’ attempts to insinuate themselves into our world as though they have always been there, we take a look at some of our favourite alternate realities and parallel Earths…
5. “All of Earth’s history happening at once” from ‘The Wedding of River Song’
Thanks to River Song altering a fixed point in time (something we had been told repeatedly should not be attempted) and failing to kill the Doctor as she was destined to; Earth became a glorious mismatch of time and events.
From dinosaurs in the skies to Charles Dickens appearing on BBC Breakfast and the Holy Roman Emperor Winston Churchill being attended by his Silurian physician, time remained permanently fixed at 5.02 in the afternoon while elements of history impossibly occurred at once.
The Doctor’s companions existed in this mixed-up reality too, with Amy refashioned as a secret agent and Rory as a soldier who works for her. Of course, the Doctor managed to put it all right in the end by bowing to the inevitable and letting River appear to fulfil her destiny…
4. “The Land of Fiction” from ‘The Mind Robber’
After the apparent destruction of the TARDIS, the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe found themselves in a mysterious reality where stories and characters from fiction came to life.
From life-sized clockwork soldiers to Rapunzel and Gulliver, the time travellers had to engage in a battle of wits to escape the land of fiction and return to reality – and not before the Doctor gets a job offer he really can refuse!
3. “Pete’s World” from ‘Rise of the Cybermen’ and ‘The Age of Steel’
On the parallel Earth seen during Series 2, colloquially known as ‘Pete’s World’ as Rose Tyler’s father was still alive there; the UK was known as The People’s Republic of Great Britain.
While there were many similarities, and indeed people were duplicated such as Jackie Tyler and Mickey Smith, this Earth favoured ear-pods rather than mobile phones and made extensive use of Zeppelin-style airships for travel.
This was the universe of the John Lumic’s Cybermen – mechanical bodies created to house the human brain and free it from the frailties of the flesh, with emotional inhibitors to stop them understanding the enormity of the “upgrade”.
Eventually, in ‘Doomsday’ and later in ‘Journey’s End’, this reality also became the home of Rose and Jackie Tyler, as well as the Tenth Doctor’s half-human meta-crisis incarnation.
2. “The Year that Never Was” from ‘The Sound of Drums’ & ‘The Last of the Time Lords’
Having been elected Prime Minister as Harold Saxon, thanks to his mind-control system of satellites, it was a simple step for the Master to claim dominion over the Earth.
His rule was maintained thanks to the creation of a paradox machine, bastardised from the Doctor’s TARDIS, which allowed his futuristic human minions, the Toclafane, to rule the skies and murdering swathes of the population.
With the planet closed to space traffic, Russia had been turned into a giant shipyard, Japan was burned to the ground and we even heard that the Master has been carved himself into Mt. Rushmore.
Fortunately, wrestling control back from the Master by turning his own Archangel Network against him – with the help of the combined psychic energy of the remaining population – the Dobby Doctor was able to reverse the effects of this future by destroying the paradox.
Only those on the Valiant, UNIT’s airborne carrier ship designed by the Master and adopted as his base, remember the horrific events of “the year that never was”.
1. The Fascist Republic UK in a parallel world from ‘Inferno’
For a three episode stint in the middle of the seven-parter which closed Jon Pertwee’s first season, the Doctor was zapped into a parallel Earth. While the premise remained the same, a slightly bonkers plan to drill to the Earth’s core and release untapped energy reserves, it was a markedly different Britain.
On this Doctorless Earth, the Brigadier was the ruthless Brigade-Leader, scientist Liz Shaw became Section Leader Elizabeth Shaw and Sergeant Benton became the ill-fated Platoon Under Leader Benton. With events running a little ahead from our reality, the Doctor saw the terrible fate that awaited those who came into contact with the ooze from the drilling project and was able to stop the drilling when he returned home.
Of course, ‘Inferno’ is also fondly remembered for the Brigadier’s eye patch – the source of an enduring anecdote surrounding a practical joke played on set.
Have you got a favourite alternative universe from Doctor Who? Let us know in the comments.